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The A-Z that is Africa: Benin

You dont know such a country exists? Shame on you. Well maybe you know it by the name of Dahomey/Slave coast as it used to be the port of deport for the captives that were being shipped across the Atlantic. Still doesn’t ring a bell? Okay, let me feel you in

Official country name: The Republic of Benin
Capital: Porto-Novo
Location:Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
Government type: Presidential republic

Head of State: President Patrice Talon (since 6 April 2016)

Background, History and Culture:

It was mainly based on slave trade then Coastal areas of Dahomey began to be controlled by the French in the second half of the 19th century; the entire kingdom was conquered by 1894. French Dahomey achieved independence in 1960; it changed its name to the Republic of Benin in 1975. This lead to Mathieu Kerekou’s rise of power and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989 leading to free elections that he lost to former Prime Minister Nicephore Soglo marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy.

In the tiny West African nation of Benin, Voodoo remains the state religion which is also practised in New Orleans, Lousiana in form of voodoo dolls, voodoo queens, and gris-gris. During the transatlantic slave trade, Benin found itself near the epicenter of the Slave Coast, and a huge percentage of newly-arrived slaves that set foot in the French colony of Louisiana were of Fon origin. The roots of voodoo came with them.

Followers believe in the existence of one supreme god, who is attended by various spirits (loa), often manifested by the elements and each of whom has its preferred sign (color, fruit, number, etc) and sacred element. Animal sacrifice of goats and chickens is common in certain rituals, performed by elders in order to harness the power of the spirit world.

Population: 9.4 million

Ethnic groups: Fon and related 38.4%, Adja and related 15.1%, Yoruba and related 12%, Bariba and related 9.6%, Fulani and related 8.6%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4.3%, Dendi and related 2.9%, other 0.9%, foreigner 1.9% (2013 est.)
Major languages: French (official) Fon, Ge, Bariba, Yoruba, Dendi

Religions: Muslim 27.7%, Catholic 25.5%, Protestant 13.5% (Celestial 6.7%, Methodist 3.4%, other Protestant 3.4%), Vodoun 11.6%, other Christian 9.5%, other traditional religions 2.6%, other 2.6%, none 5.8% (2013 est.)

Currency: CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc

Natural resources:small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

Benin Cuisine:

Mixed meat egusi with pounded yam

Kuli Kuli

Ago glain served with peri peri

Aloko (fried plantain)

Traditional wear:

Isn’t this benin bride attire beautiful?


Tourist attractions/places of interest:

Basilica of Ouidah

Porto Novo

Ganvie (The Venice of Africa)

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2 Responses

  1. Fifi

    We need affordable travel packages for Africans in Africa. I would love to work in Lagos and explore West Africa. Benin looks inviting. Definite bucket list destination stop.

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