Tribute to Gbèmawonmèdé, a timeless artist.

11th Jul, 202321:53:34 PM GMT


On Friday, June 30, 2023, one of the most brilliant artists in the history of Benin passed away at the age of 85. Pierre Dossou Aïhoun, better known as the artist Gbèmawonmèdé, passed away after fifty years of singing the values of social liberalism, tolerance and the primacy of life and love, but also the infinite generosity of God... Indeed, Gbèmawonmèdé was much more than just a musician. He was also a master of orality, a philosopher, a free-spirited, lively and deep thinker. And his thought deserves to be not only scrutinized more, and taught in our faculties of human sciences, particularly in Philosophy and Sociology, but also popularized with the young generation often in lack of endogenous reference marks.

When I visited him in 2017 at his home with a team from the African School of Economics (ASE), I was struck by his strong conviction, the clarity in his expression and the originality of his moral philosophy. "'Illegitimate' children are blessed by God, just like 'legitimate' children," he said. And to add: “Morality evolves. No one is the exclusive repository of the will of God. Not even the religious authorities. Let us accept the new realities of life that God makes us discover…”. Statements of incredible depth that deserve serious consideration.

In the coming months the ASE, in collaboration with specialists, will produce unique audiovisual elements on the life, work and philosophical thought of Gbèmawonmèdé. A way to immortalize this icon of Beninese music and this great traditional thinker.

Leonard Wantchekon,
Princeton, July 10, 2023

Be part of ASE's transformative vision

Learn More