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Accepted Paper:

“Too young,” “Immature,” and not Committed Enough: The Decline of Faith-Based Student Organizations in Togo and Benin?  
Frédérick Madore (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)

Paper short abstract:

This paper offers an assessment of the current situation of Islamic and Christian student activism at the University of Lomé (Togo) and the University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin) by placing the narratives of past and present actors on these two campuses at the center of the analysis.

Paper long abstract:

Although religious student movements have been present at the University of Lomé (Togo) and the University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin) since the creation of these two public institutions in 1970, these organizations are at a crossroads according to many former activists. This paper offers an assessment of the current situation of Islamic and Christian activism on these campuses by placing the narratives of the former and current actors at the center of the analysis.

The paper is divided into three sections. The first one discusses the disengagement from activism and the problem of maturity that is central to the narratives of elders who critically assess the current state of faith-based associations on campus. The second part presents more nuanced analyses from other former activists, but also from students themselves, who point out that these new dynamics characterizing activism today are a testimony to the significant transformations of the university and the exacerbation of the difficulties faced by students in recent years. Finally, the last part deals with university authorities, who are less receptive to the demands of faith-based organizations. This leads to the question of the application of secularism, but also the place occupied by Freemasonry, the competition of endogenous religions, which is particularly noticeable in Benin, as well as the strategies adopted by the associations.

This research is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Togo (2019, 2021, 2022) and Benin (2019, 2022) as well as the reading of the mainstream and Islamic press in both countries.

Panel Reli02
Training for good life or a good society? Religious students’ individual and collective aspirations in public universities in sub-Saharan Africa
  Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -