The film Yesterday’s slaves. Democracy and ethnicity in Benin

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are happy to inform you about the recent launch of a 29
minute documentary movie shot in Benin in December 2009 by Camilla
Strandsbjerg and Eric Hahonou.

The film Yesterday's slaves. Democracy and ethnicity in Benin / Les
esclaves d'hier. Démocratie et ethnicité au Bénin explores the social
construction of collective identities, the effects of democratisation and
decentralisation reforms, and citizenship issues. It deals with the Gando
of Northern Benin. The Gando are a Fulfulde-speaking group of slave
descendants that emerged politically in the context of democratic
decentralisation reform. Today, Gando, who were once seen as a sub-group
of Fulani or Baatombu/Boo people, claim they should be recognized as 
a new ethnic group and their rights to access to political representation.
This challenging claim should be understood as a quest for a full-fledged

The film presents the testimony of a former slave. His personal trajectory
is both singular and archetypical. Entrusted to Fulani people because he
was suspected as infant to be a witch, he was then cured from his
witchcraft and enslaved his whole childhood. In many ways his life
reflects the historical process of the Gando people's physical and
economical emancipation. 

The film is available in a DVD format with subtitles in French and
English. (see cover).

Our aim is to disseminate knowledge about the social construction of
collective identities to a larger audience, as well as development workers
and the general public. It is also a tool for teaching that deals with the
social construction of collective identities, the legacies of slavery in
West Africa, infanticide and inter-ethnic fosterage in relation to
witch-children, the recent rise of emancipatory social movements, the
sociopolitical effects of democratic decentralisation, and the struggles
for citizenship.

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