France’s armed forces ministry has provided local authorities with a guide to 100 Africans who fought for France in World War Two, so that streets and squares may be named after them.
France’s reappraisal of its colonial past is fuelled by the global anti-racism protests and Black Lives Matter.
There are many Senegalese and North African soldiers on the list, but none from what was French Indo-China.
Africans played a big role in the liberation of France in 1944.
French Junior Defence Minister Geneviève Darrieussecq, presenting the 210-page booklet, said “the names, faces, lives of these African heroes must become part of our lives as free citizens, because without them we would not be free”.
Last month a statue of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who drew up rules for French colonies in the 17th Century, was vandalised. Many statues identified with slavery and colonialism have been knocked down or vandalised in Europe and the US.
“Rather than knocking down, I ask you to build,” Ms Darrieussecq told mayors. “Rather than erasing, I ask you to consider turning our public spaces into places to teach.”
She said that “today very few of our streets are named after these African combatants, so the aim is to build”.
She said plaques should explain the role of an African war hero commemorated with a statue or street name.