Fashoda syndrome, or a 'spirit of Fashoda', is the name given to a tendency within French foreign policy in Africa, giving importance to asserting French influence in areas which might be becoming susceptible to British influence. It is named for the Fashoda incident (1898) which is judged to have given rise to it. In The State of Africa, the British historian Martin Meredith says:
- "Ever since an incident in the Sudanese village of Fashoda ... the French had been vigilant in guarding against anglophone encroachment in what they considered to be their own backyard — le pré carré. In his memoirs, General de Gaulle listed the disasters that had afflicted France in his youth and that had led him to devote himself to upholding France's 'grandeur': the first on the list was the Fashoda incident. The 'Fashoda syndrome', as it was known, formed a basic component of France's Africa policy. To ensure that African issues received due attention, the French presidential office included a special Africa Unit — Cellule Africaine — with a wide remit to cover everything from intelligence work to bribery."
Meredith judges that the 1990 French intervention in Rwanda was an expression of the "syndrome". Rwanda lies on the border between "Francophone" and "Anglophone" Africa. In 1990, there was a short-lived invasion by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a coalition of Tutsi exiles and those advocating democratic reform. Many of the RPF had grown up in Tutsi refugee camps in formerly British-controlled Uganda and had learned to fight in the Ugandan army, and Uganda was seen by Paris as being, at that time, within the British sphere of influence.
- Martin Meredith, The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence (New York: PublicAffairs, 2006), 493.
- Brauman, Rony. "Devant le mal. Rwanda: un génocide en direct". Médecins sans frontières. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
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