In September 2019, the African branch of the Lions Club will experience an important moment: the proclamation of the 8th Constitutional Area of the world service club. It brings together the 30,000 African members who will now have an African leadership that will appoint officers, manage the budget and send members to the International Board of Directors.
The official proclamation took place in May 2019 at the International Convention held in Milan. The Africa Forum in Lusaka is the continental proclamation and it is the occasion to decide on the location of the permanent representation of the Lions Club on the continent. The country chosen is Benin, the secretariat would be installed in Cotonou, which provokes a contestation and a noisy refusal of the Eastern and Southern African countries, whereas it is their leaders who endorsed this choice.
It was a bottom-up protest, which angered the leaders who were concerned about their legitimacy in the face of the current International President, the former International President and the three vice-presidents who were attending the Assembly.
In parallel, three years later, another place, another country, another scale, but a similar struggle. At the Pan African Parliament, an agitated assembly took place under the astonished gaze of journalists and the public, who followed the voting session online on YouTube and commented on the fight.
These are two scenes of power that in fact have little impact on official public life. However, both reveal the symbolic significance of the issues discussed there: political representation, case management, administrative importance, prestige and credibility conferred by hierarchical titles.
Footage by JF de Hasque : september 2019 assembly ang Gala Lions Club, Lusaka
Footage by Pan African Parliament : may 2021, PAP’s Assembly, youtube Channel.
This version was presented at Baraza Lecture series, University of Florida, 2022.