“Inventing a different Africa”

(By Roger Gbegnonvi)

This is the exact title of the book by the Beninese teacher-researcher, Yaovi Soédé (2017, 270 p.) The twenty books he has signed to date almost all sigh after the rebirth of Africa caught between “poverty and witchcraft”, one calling for the other. Suffering and despair when Soédé considers the development of Africa from the window of witchcraft everywhere at work. Suffering and despair echoed by another Beninese: “And if witchcraft developed Africa? » (2021, 358 p.) Because Florent E. Hessou will have made this desperate prayer: that the sorcerer’s evil generates the good of progress so that Africa does not sink as it seems to be on its way. However, if we are to believe Axelle Kabou, a native of Cameroon, whose witchcraft rivals in macabre ardor that of Benin, Africa is digging its own grave. What feelings prompted the girl from Douala to exclaim: “And if Africa refused development? (1992, 208 p.) Suffering and despair: a people of men and women whose sorcerous civilization authorizes those who stand up and walk to bite the dust! Is there a future for these people?

If the two Beninese authors listened from time to time in 2022 to such community radio stations broadcasting from Cotonou, they would be edified by the discourse of the spirited disenchanters during the hours of paid advertising. Bagou in devil. Knowledge received from a powerful spirit or a hunter ancestor who lived a hundred years. Witchcraft and its series of misfortunes, they are going to deliver the whole universe, against cold hard cash. The ancestral secret of effective potions, they hold it. And here, impromptu, is a listener on the line. He praises the thaumaturge for unbewitching him with total success; he also wishes to have a new appointment with him. Live on the air! A simmering kitchen-marketing before going on stage? The fact remains that following these programs, one takes the pulse of a society struggling under the empire and influence of witchcraft. And we don’t want to laugh.

There are, however, two questions. 1-Why Christianity and Islam, willingly practiced by this society, have not reduced or, at least, attenuated the spiral of witchcraft? 2-Why does it remain so active that Christians and Muslims sometimes resort to the above despellers? A possible answer: religion does not prevent war and therefore cannot prevent the witch war that the Beninese Gaston Zossou calls “The war of things in the shadows” (2003, 167 p). In the dark. Because, shameful, the wickedness of the witch hides, she calls herself ”hidden”. Advancing on tiptoe in the starless night, it does not make waves of dead bodies and handicapped people like the war in Biafra, it slaughters its victims one by one. The sorcerer’s agent is unknown… or suspected. He will therefore never answer for his crimes in court. Cowardly wickedness, witchcraft escapes the law. An odious wickedness, witchcraft is a perfect crime against humanity.

Now wickedness is proper to man, proper to his dark side. And it will be deplored that, here and elsewhere, experts in wickedness clouded this night, tore out the stars. Can man advance without their light? To “Invent a different Africa”, according to Yaovi Soédé’s wish, the man will reconnect in action with the double mantra of ancient Greece: “kalos kai agathos”, Beauty and Good. Aesthetics and Ethics. Created day by day and sown in action by all the Soédé, Kabou, Hessou and Zossou. Beyond ideology and religion. A diurnal Africa, rid of the cultivated evil of witchcraft, is an Africa of Beauty and Goodness cultivated and made available by Africans of light whose hearts are still beating to the new and generous rhythm of another Africa. To move forward, therefore, confident that the Beautiful calls out to the Good and that the Good calls out to the Beautiful.

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May 7, 2022 by Judicaël ZOHOUN

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“Inventing a different Africa”

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