Accepted paper:

Inheritance of contentious memories in urban Africa and sense of social justice


Ouedraogo Abdoulaye (Université de Ouagadougou)

Paper short abstract:

Memories of struggles, specifically those which have been defeated, might be passed down through generations. As young urban people in Burkina Faso were demonstrating in October 2014 in the name of Sankara, this panel invite to address the ways contentious memory has been passed on in Sub-saharan Africa.

Paper long abstract:

In "The Plebeian Experience » (2014), Breaugh relates how the popular memory, most of the times on the side of those who were defeated, has been passed on from generations to generations and has led to spontaneous uprisings that left their print in history. Even though he has been murdered 30 years ago, Sankara remains a key figure of contentious politics and an active element in the production of collective memory (Lababre 2001). Young people who demonstrated in Ouagadougou in October 2014 against Blaise Comparore's project to run again after 27 years in office, had written on their placards "Sankara, Look at your sons. We carry on your fight". They mentioned also Norbert Zongo, a journalist of investigation murdered in 1998, even if none of them had read his articles neither taken part in 1998/2000's protests. Burkina Faso's situation invites researchers to look at the paths contentious memory follows to remain vivid even in hostile conditions and how do they contribute to build a popular sense of justice. Which are the trails used by memory to stay alive? By which vectors, memory of the defeated struggles has been passed on to younger generations: family, media, music, school, militancy? What is its influence in contemporary social and political struggles? If Burkina Faso has inspired this proposal, this panel intends to adopt a regional perspective. The historical figures of defeated struggles are numerous in Sub-Saharan Africa (Samory Touré, Ruben Um Nyobe, Patrice Lumumba…) (this paper has been developed in co-operation with Sylvie Capitant)

panel P066
Sentiments of Justice in Africa: Contestations at the Intersection of Rural and Urban Imaginations