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In Hope of Change: Active Audiences and their Solidarity in the Post-Charisma Era in Benin and Togo
This paper explores the characteristics of people’s hope and longing for social change in two African states with contrasting political situations after democratization. Benin and Togo experienced common democratization processes, including a National Conference, a generational change of political actors, and the proliferation of private, pro-democracy radio programs. However, Togo has retained aspects of the old system, including its hereditary leader, while Benin has experienced smooth transfers of power. Following a brief review of the recent political histories of these countries, we will investigate people’s political consciousness through interviews with active audience members who actively participate in interactive radio programs. After a long political domination in Togo, the dictator Eyadema died in 2005. Immediately thereafter his son succeeded him in power and has successfully suppressed his people’s objections thus far. In Benin, the political leaders of the Democratic Turn have retired, and the generational change of leadership has been recognized as practical. Nevertheless, a cycle of corruption on the political scene, a hope for newcomers, and a scandal of the president elect has not been overcome. This raises questions such as, what did the people hope and vote for? People in changing societies place their hopes on an uncertain future rather than focusing on the tumultuous political and cultural past. Despite the people’s hope for a new future, the government advocates change in continuity and stability. The paper clarifies what kind of change the Beninese and Togolese long for and how they call for solidarity via this interactive media programs.