L'usage des mémoires et discours dans les pratiques de légitimation : "Le cas de l'autorité locale chez les Lokpa du Nord-Bénin et chez les Lokpa et Lama du Nord-Togo, 1898-2010"


Dr. Essoham Solitoke

Research Area:


This project aims at analysing the use of memory by the Lokpa chiefs. The reconstruction of history has the inherent problem of being incomplete, especially with respect to errors and possible distortions. History is a representation of the past while the memory is still a current phenomenon, a living link to the eternal present. Living memory remains a crucial tool for documenting the history of events, people and their way of life. The Lokpa belong to the people of oral memory. They occupy the boundary area of northern Benin and northern Togo. The chiefs sustain their legitimacy of authority through recourse to oral history that interprets the cultural heritage and their position as authority figures. However, historical accounts are increasingly becoming contentious because of their relationship to the legitimacy of power in the present. Collective memory is therefore manipulated by local actors in order to serve interests of today. This is done partly by interpretations of historical facts and their representations by actors through subjective and selective remembrance. In this sense, the inherent challenge of reconstruction of the past is affected by forgetfulness and memory. The question remains; how can we deal with the resulting errors, distortions and selective conservation? The main objective of this research is to determine through a microhistorical perspective the interpretation of the facts, the subjective and selective nature of memory and the process of their utilisation by chiefs for the social construction of their authority and its legitimacy.