In France, “pan concerts” accompany President Macron’s travels. A way of protesting also widely used in Africa.
For several days, the sounds of pans have accompanied the movements of President Emmanuel Macron. Pans that have become symbols of the protest against pension reform. In the Hérault, where the French president went recently, a prefectural decree was even published, prohibiting “sound devices”, or pans. But by the way, where does this tradition of "pan concerts" come from, particularly observed in recent months in Gabon.
It all started in France, in the Middle Ages, with charivari. In the 1830th century, the noises of demonstrators were particularly used to denounce ill-matched marriages. It was five centuries later that the "casserolades" became political. In the XNUMXs, opponents of Louis-Philippe banged very hard on saucepans with their utensils to show that they were resisting power.
A tradition that has traveled, especially in South America, but not only. Because in Africa, the "concerts of saucepans" have also become symbols of protest. In history, first of all, with for example the “casserolades” of the Pieds noirs, who wanted Algeria to remain French, against General De Gaulle and his proposal for a policy of self-determination for the country. In recent years, these "concerts" have resumed across the continent.
All of Africa protests to the sound of saucepans
In North Africa, in particular. In 2017, as protests drag on after the death of a fish seller, citizens use their pans to expose state corruption. Also in Algeria. At the start of 2019, in the midst of Hirak, the saucepan is also used quite a bit when Algerians take to the streets, week after week.
But these “saucepan concerts” have also been particularly popular in sub-Saharan Africa. In Burkina Faso, in 2022, associations then demand a drop in the price of fuel. To be heard, they call on Burkinabès to use saucepans in the streets of Ouagadougou. In Senegal too, the same year, Ousmane Sonko had called on his supporters to take out the pans at the time of the legislative elections.
But the best organized movement was that of Gabon. A movement that took on its full meaning because the country was in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic. Unable to regroup in the streets, the Gabonese had been invited to perform "pan concerts" to challenge the restrictive measures linked to Covid-19. Little by little, this movement had turned into an anti-Bongo protest. Observers even saw in it the beginnings of a "pan revolution". Because the call launched by the collective “Free citizens” had lasted. Every evening, at 20 p.m., the Gabonese banged on saucepans.
Asked about this movement, the presidency admitted that “the pan movement is the desire for part of the population to democratically express criticism of the measures taken by the government. We totally accept it”. A movement that has run out of steam. But even today, several centuries after its birth, the “concert of saucepans” remains an effective tool of protest.