This book, divided into two broad sections, examines the state in the Republic of Benin and the socio-political role of the Christian churches. The first looks at the remarkable pre-colonial kingdom of Danxomέ and its place in the imagining of the modern
contrat social béninois. The second section looks at both the historical role of the mainline churches and the more recent development of a
The study concludes that the churches are above all a commentary upon the society in which they find themselves. Rather than an overt challenge to the state, they articulate social distress and the desire for a different future. In times of stress they may prove to be the only viable institutional buttress as well as the arbiter.
This study seeks to make a contribution to the understanding of the public role of Christian churches in Africa.
Patrick Claffey who was born in Ireland, worked for 25 years as a Catholic missionary in Togo and Benin (West Africa). This was during a period of immense and often dramatic change (1977-2002) when the post-colonial state was running into serious difficulties. He returned to academic work in 1999 using his experience as the basis for a Ph.D. thesis at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He currently lectures Social and Political Studies at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin.
"This book is a bold and successful attempt to disentangle the threads of religion and politics in a complex society. It is an important reminder that religion never floats free from its social context, and that local histories often reveal more about the public role of Christian churches in Africa than grand theories do. As well as being an excellent academic text, it is also an engaging and quietly self-reflective work."
Jane E. Soothill, The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London,
African Studies Review, Vol. 51, No. 2