Jour des morts

Jour des morts

Comment le vol de cadavres au Gabon reflète la politique du pays.

Image credit Lionel Cédrick Ikogou-Renamy.

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For Aranud Esquerre , “the living have unimaginably changed their relationship to human remains. It is undoubtedly through this thought that the reflection that we begin here, supported by an empirical field investigation at once exciting and dangerous, at the heart of the Gabonese political power in collusion with the fetishism, the sorcery that we are interfered. The latter leads to a finding that, whenever a political election is in sight in Gabon, graves are systematically desecrated and looted since October 2006.

This November 2, 2012, the cemetery Mindoubé welcomes the world. The family members of the deceased come for the traditional cleaning of the graves or to “spend time” with the dead, as they say in Libreville. This is the sign of a society that has not broken with death as in postmortal western society . In Gabon, All Saints’ Day is an important day, during which Christians commemorate the feast of saints and dead. Of Catholic origin, this celebration is characterized by requiem masses and the traditional cleaning of graves in cemeteries. It is a moment of communion with the disappeared and the highlighting of the place of the dead in the social life of the living .

Crédit d’image Lionel Cédrick Ikogou-Renamy.

On November 2nd, however, brawls broke out as well as cries of indignation. The reason for this anger is that some places in the cemetery have been rendered inaccessible by lack of maintenance, sewage, and collapse of the fence. Indeed, the cemeteries in Libreville are all in a state of extreme abandonment and are sometimes closed to the public. Some graves are literally buried in tall grass. Or the family discovers that, due to lack of space, several dead people were buried on the same compound, a common practice in Libreville, where we speak of “elevator” burial. Even worse, parents realize that graves have been desecrated. A few meters from the entrance of the cemetery, a privileged area by the desecrators of graves, Mr. Mba discovers that his sister’s resting place was smashed and looted. And most importantly, his sister’s grave was emptied.

Selon mon enquête de terrain, c’est plus de cent cinquante tombes qui ont été vidé de leur contenu à Mindoubé entre 2009-2012.  L’indifférence des pouvoirs publics contraste avec la colère, l’indignation et la frustration des parents des défunts rencontrés sur les lieux.  Pourtant, le vol des morts n’est pas une question taboue au Gabon.  Au contraire, c’est un phénomène social manifeste qui fait la « une » des journaux et du kongossa (rumeur) à Libreville, lesquels accusent généralement les hommes et femmes politiques, sénateurs, députés, ministres et autres officiels d’y être impliqués.

Dans cette économie du corps, du magique et du politique, les cimetières à Libreville et dans le reste du Gabon alimentent le marché occulte des restes humains. Ils sont devenus des sites d’extraction d’une « matière première » exceptionnelle que nous appelons « or blanc », au sein d’un vaste réseau de recyclage magique et thérapeutique du corps humain.

Crédit d’image Lionel Cédrick Ikogou-Renamy.

Finally, this article starts from the looting of the dead, observed during All Saints Day in Gabon, in order to highlight the nature and mixes of all kinds that structure the Bongo-PDG political system; who uses the body (dead and alive) to live. It is a necrophagous political system that does not hesitate to draw its vital force in death. All this suggests that Gabonese political power is in reality the sovereign power theorized by Foucault.

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