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Catholicism, The Elites And The Creation Of Béninois Nationalism

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Chapter Summary

The Catholic Church played an important role in the establishment of colonial Dahomey, and the Churches continue to play various roles in the imagining of Benin down to the present day. Fr Francis Aupiais made remarkable contributions in two areas, which contributed to situating the Catholic Church in the socio-political space that, it can be argued, it has held in Dahomey-Benin ever since: the rehabilitation of African culture and the education of an early colonial local elite. Aupiais' election to the Constituent Assembly in 1946, and his replacement by Jacques Bertho following his sudden death just after the election, sealed this alliance between a certain conservative elite and the Church. It is certainly significant to note that in the period 1980-2001 the Catholic Church almost doubled the number of its parishes in Benin, with half of these being established in the terminal years of the PRPB, 1980-1990.

Keywords: African culture; Benin; Catholic church; colonial Dahomey; constituent assembly; early colonial local elite; Fr Francis Aupiais; Jacques Bertho



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