The multifaceted teachings of the celebration of the national holiday: The embarrassment of intellectuals and the demonstrative pedagogy of statues

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An event as significant as was the celebration of the anniversary of our accession to national sovereignty cannot remain without teaching for those who have good judgment; so we try in the present reflection, now that the fever of the festivities has died down, to draw from it the best that it offers us.

Everything that the event is supposed to have brought positive to the minds of the citizen and the impact that it will not fail to generate on the economic development of our country has already been said so well that there is no there is no longer any reason to decline the list here at the risk of falling into redundancy. In our understanding and in a synthetic way, the event revived in us the civic and patriotic spirit, the confidence in our values, the pride of the Beninese woman as well as the search for the positive in our actions and behaviors. Any honest citizen should be so proud of it; also proud of the President of the Republic. We then choose to take the risk of displeasing by mentioning the lessons that the event has taught us intellectuals for the sole purpose of increasing in us the sense of responsibility in the decisions we take for the good conduct of business. public, even if they seem trivial at first sight. We will also consider the potential impact that this celebration of the sixty-second year of independence will have on the average citizen.

Point of view on the reference to the year of the independence of our country

Perhaps in the future we should speak only of a national holiday, disregarding any reference to independence, in particular the year in which it was obtained. Political independence is inherent in any sovereign country and we have acquired our sovereignty once and for all. Moreover, the mention of independence each year brings back the idea of ​​the colonial period and of emancipation; and that seems neither necessary nor happy. Proclaiming it every year is as if we were having trouble appropriating both our sovereignty and our independence.

An epitaph wording with syntactic controversy

We forbid ourselves to rub the knife in the wound, because it is not in the interest of any good citizen to do so, especially since generally speaking error is a human thing. In saying this, we are prejudging an individual error committed by an individual in the accomplishment of a personal work; but when it comes to a work of national scope, which moreover the Head of State has, in all assurance, entrusted to a team of experts, the error is not allowed. I agree that I have some hesitation if not modesty in recalling this writing error on the stele of the statue of the Amazon. Moreover, the entire enlightened population of Benin has already been sufficiently informed. What I would like to highlight, however, is that under other skies and other political regimes, those responsible for such a blunder which, moreover, did not fail to scratch national pride on the international chessboard while we celebrated it with great pomp precisely, will never again have any opportunity to reoffend; It is the least we can say. It is true that one does not make a mistake knowingly; and it even happens that several of us commit it, especially when we unfortunately do not dare to criticize each other within a team because of a misreading of managerial leadership. The reaction of the government, which did not seek to justify the epitaph beyond measure in its first writing, is to the credit of the Head of State and it is fitting to be grateful to him. Latin Quarter of Africa that we once were, it is appropriate that we cover this attribute. What has just happened has hardly helped; we should admit it in all humility.

As for the obelisk as a monument, the Head of State’s speech could not have been clearer. Materially, we leave the old war memorial in place to remind our memories of the occupation of our land and the soldiers who took part in it. Morally, we thus break definitively with the habit of going there to lay a wreath under the vibrations of the ringing of the dead. We therefore do not transpose the symbol of Placondji to the Mathieu garden. For 61 years and consecutively, our heads of state were going to commemorate and perpetuate quite simply without asking questions, on August 1st what the colonist did on July 14th of each year. And the historians and the academics and we intellectuals of all persuasions were there, watching them do it without reacting. Such a collective error committed over such a long period becomes a generational fault and covers us with shame. There is no other word to say it and we should all beat our necks as much as we are. Being educated and aware of politics is a responsibility whose seriousness we do not always measure towards the bulk of the people. However, it is not excluded that the attention of our Heads of State was, at one time or another, drawn to the situation and that they did not take it into account. Who knows.

Regarding the epitaph inscribed on the stele: ” in memory of the children of Benin devoted to the homeland ”, it should be noted that the prepositional phrase ” in memory of ” is used to transmit and perpetuate the memory of someone a ; it therefore implies the death of the person. It is then excluded that the devotees in question include citizens who are still alive. The ”in memoriam” does not refer to the living. We recognize their merits during their lifetime and we celebrate them with the ”in memoriam” when they are gone; this shouldn’t be controversial.

The impact of monuments on the level of our historical culture

Visual or photographic memory represents 80% of all the information transmitted to the brain to stay there for a long time. The three monuments inaugurated on the occasion of the celebration of the national holiday represent whole sections of our history from the period before our accession to national sovereignty. This period is generally perceived as that of submission while resistance to the invader is not sufficiently highlighted. The erection of the three monuments has the advantage of directly addressing our visual memory, thus helping to fix more easily in our minds the history of our country better than through textbooks. And it’s the best way to help effectively fill in the gaps that the average citizen might have in their knowledge of their country’s history. For good measure, however, it should be remembered, honor where honor is due, that since 1978 on Place Goho in Abomey and under the regime of President Kérékou, the statue of King Béhanzin has been enthroned. The latter is universally cited as a decisive emblematic figure of the resistance to the French colonial army. Bio Guerra is certainly less known on the international scene, but his statue erected on the square of the same name in Parakou does not contribute less to the demonstrative pedagogy of our history.

Impact of the celebration on respect for moral and civic values

Facing the Amazon, the Head of State urged us to bravery, combativeness, honor and extreme sacrifice, if necessary. Facing the obelisk and the statue of Bio Guerra, he urged us to defend the cause of the nation without stopping. In front of the deputies he said: “What is more a fundamental achievement to the merit of all of us, it is this new state of mind which characterizes us and which I will not stop evoking” Let us be allowed to presume that in evoking this new state of mind, the High Authority refers above all to the decision-makers within the framework of the new development strategies that it has put in place, because it is clear that the state of mind of the bulk of the people are always wicked and it is necessary to tell each other and to recognize it honestly in order to put themselves in a position to establish adequate strategies to curb it. Beninese wickedness is to morale what corruption is to material goods. They are of the same ilk and have the same capacity for nuisance on their respective lands, equally and simultaneously curbing the emancipation of people and the development of the country. And if we have been able to find the appropriate material means to fight against corruption, we should be able to find a solution to wickedness; it is neither more nor less a matter of political will. Our mentalities that everyone complains about cannot change on their own or on their own. President Boni yayi had attacked it in some way, it should be recognized. He had then placed his first mandate under the sign of ”Change” and the second under that of ”Refoundation”. It was necessary to begin by publicly acknowledging the evil. This is what he did in 2016 during his second term. Let us remember that he publicly stigmatized – and this was a first in our political history – during a raid on the Dantokpa market, the destructive spirit of the Beninese. He even went further by reminding us that Béhanzin had said that this country was cursed. His declaration was followed the next day by that of his Minister of Microfinance, who denounced the rigidity of the Beninese spirit. Statements without a doubt, because it is not certain that King Béhanzin uttered these words, but having undoubtedly had the beneficial effect of a mass psychoanalysis. And it was time. We were then justified in thinking that measures were going to be taken to counter the evil. But nothing happened. We like to hope that the Rupture regime can fix it.

And so that history does not reproach the intellectuals of today for not having thought about it as they are reproached today for having let the Heads of State honor our invaders for more than a half a century, we recall that voices were raised to draw attention to the impact of evil on our development. In his political essay ”Change: ideology or reality”, the clergyman Rodrigue Gbejinou rightly wrote in 2008 that “in our society the managers of tradition place progress in the past and in the minds of our ancestors . Anyone whose actions and words are disturbing, even if they are doing good, is systematically eliminated. The good done by the other is fiercely opposed. In their book entitled ”I want change” Messrs. Jérôme Carlos and Thomas Boya had already warned in 2006 that to ensure change and progress “Africans should free themselves from the ugly feelings of wickedness, envy, resentment, jealousy…” In an article dating from September 2011 and entitled: the wickedness or the destructive spirit of society, we ourselves denounced the negative impact that this scourge exerts on the management of public affairs. And so as not to leave this reflection with an impression of unfinished business, we will work to make proposals to fight against this social evil that is wickedness in our next issue. King Béhanzin had certainly not cursed this country.

Ambassador Candide Ahouansou

The multifaceted teachings of the celebration of the national holiday: The embarrassment of intellectuals and the demonstrative pedagogy of statues