A number of students have encountered technical difficulties in submitting their applications. In order to accommodate their requests, the student application deadline has been extended to January 30, 2014.

In tandem, we have also decided to keep faculty applications open on a rolling basis.

On January 21, 2012, I attended my uncle Gilbert Boko’s funeral in Dovi Dove (Zagnanado, Benin). These were times of sadness, but they also celebrated the life of an extraordinary man.

I was with my brother, Ferdinand (At 0.04 seconds into the video, he is the one who is on the left side of the screen). While greeting one of his colleagues seated at a table, he starts to sing a song. The lyrics are as follows:

“Serve me a drink…
There are always drinks at funerals…
I say, serve me a drink.
Does the deceased have the opportunity to drink like us?...”

I quickly grasp the lyrics and the melody of the song, then start to clap my hands to accompany him. (I am dressed in white in the video.) 

Less than a minute later, a dozen of men and women who do not even know each other, have picked up the wordings and the melody and join us spontaneously.

The connections are immediate and encompass all of us. One of the people, starts to dance, as each one claps to cheer him on. Our musical group improvises and grows.

We were on the verge of ending our musical interlude when my 75-year old aunt, Madeleine, joins our group and starts dancing frantically. We are enthralled in an atmosphere of wild excitement. As is customary, we thank her by putting a few bank notes on her forehead.

Then, the show ends, each of us embodying the joy and warmth of this unique musical experience which lasted just three minutes.

This may seem to be a trivial scene set in Benin, but at a deeper level, it is a true manifestation of the power of music in African culture. These moments were captured on an amateur video. In the same spirit, ASE will celebrate and promote African culture, music, dance and living traditions. We will accomplish this through the activities of the Institute for African Studies.

Here is the video:



by Leonard Wantchekon


The French version of the narrative follows.


Une Ouverture Sur La Musique Populaire Africaine: Une Expérience Personnelle

Par Léonard Wantchékon

Le 21 janvier 2012, j'étais à l'enterrement de mon oncle Gilbert Boko à Dovi Dove (Zagnanado, Bénin). Moment de tristesse, mais aussi de célébration de la vie d'un homme extraordinaire.

J'étais avec mon frère Ferdinand (A 0.04 secondes, il se trouve à gauche de l'écran). Au moment de saluer un de ses collègues assis à une table, il entonne une chanson qui dit:

"Sers moi à boire...
Il y a toujours a boire aux ceremonies funèbres...
Je dis, sers moi à boire.
Le défunt a t-il cette chance d'avoir à boire comme nous?..."

Je capte très rapidement les paroles et la mélodie de la chanson, puis commence à taper des mains pour l'accompagner. (Je suis en blanc.)

Moins d'une minute après, une dizaine d'inconnus, hommes, et femmes qui eux aussi ont saisi les paroles et la mélodie de la chanson se joignent spontanément à nous. 

La communion est immédiate et totale. L'un deux, un inconnu, se met à danser sous l'applaudissement des membres de ce groupe musical improvisé qui ne cesse de grandir.

Nous étions sur le point de nous disperser et voilà que tante Madeleine, agée de 75 ans, se joint au groupe et se met à danser frénétiquement. L'ambiance est électrique. Comme de coutume, on la remercie en lui déposant quelques billets sur le front. Puis, le show prend fin dans la joie et la bonne humeur.

Cette expérience extraordinaire qui a duré pendant trois minutes environ, démontre le pouvoir de la musique à transcender toutes les barrières et à réunir spontanément des gens de profils divers et qui se connaissent à peine. Une scène peut-être banale au Bénin, mais qui témoigne de la force de la musique dans la culture Africaine. Elle a été captée sur vidéo amateur. Dans le même esprit, l'ASE va célébrer et promouvoir la culture africaine, la musique, la danse et les traditions. Nous allons atteindre cet objectif par le biais des activités de l'Institut des études africaines.

Voici la vidéo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky1DeR-Mz0I&feature=youtu.be

An ASE student information and recruiting session will be held on December 18th from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, at la Maison de la Presse, in Conakry (Guinea).

Part I: It has come to our attention that many potential applicants are having technical difficulties with the online application.

If this is the case, please fill out and send the paper application along with the required documents to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Here is the link to the application form: http://www.africanschoolofeconomics.com/images/stories/applicant_info/ASE-ApplicationForm-Fillable.pdf


Part II: To date, we have 50 scholarships available. We encourage all candidates to apply early so that their applications can be evaluated for a scholarship.

Applying to the African School of Economics (ASE), Please click here.

Professor Leonard Wantchekon was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences 233rd Class of Members in a ceremony on October 12.

"The Induction Ceremony recognizes the achievement and vitality of today’s most accomplished individuals who together with the Academy will work to advance the greater good,” said Academy Secretary Jerrold Meinwald. “These distinguished men and women are making significant strides in their quest to find solutions to the most pressing scientific, humanistic, and policy challenges of the day.”

Founded in 1780, the American Academy is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious learned societies, and an independent research center that draws from its members’ expertise to conduct studies in science and technology policy, global security, the humanities and culture, social policy, and education.

Members of the 2013 class include winners of the Nobel Prize; National Medal of Science; the Lasker Award; the Pulitzer and the Shaw Prizes; the Fields Medal; MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships; the Kennedy Center Honors; and Grammy, Emmy, Academy, and Tony Awards."


[From the Princeton News Office.]