The place to Explore Benin and its Culture
The Republic of Benin, formally known as Kingdom of Dahomey, is a small country located on the West coast of Africa whose capital is Porto Novo. With an estimated population of less than 11 million habitants, Benin is also home to 42 migrated African ethnic groups. With over 50 dialects spoken in Benin, the official language is French. During the colonization period, the French, Dutch and Portuguese had their trading post along the coast line principally in the cities of Porto Novo, Cotonou and Ouidah (pronounced as We-Dah) . Benin is composed of 8 major ethnic groups. These major ethnic groups are (from the largest to the smallest):
Each one of the groups bring a formidable medley of flavor, culture, history and beauty to the country. Although the customs and languages are different, Beninese (People of Benin or as they would say in French, Béninois) people have managed to synchronously and happily live together. Beninese are very conscious of it diversity and take pride in respecting others and their culture.
Benin is mainly known for being on of the country that is part of the slave trade as well as being the birth place of Vodoun (Voodoo for others). There are many unseen, unspoken and undiscovered part of the country that will be explored through this blog with the hope to entice more curiosity towards a country I am a native of and truly love.
I am a Beninese living in New York City. My father is from the North of Benin (Parakou to be exact) and my mother from the West (Bassila). However, each one of their roots are a perfect example of what the ethnic migration have created. My father roots goes deep down to Mali whereas my mother’s goes to Nigeria. These are 2 different countries with separate customs and values yet, they both beautifully came and are coexisting well together. So what does that mean for me? It means that there is a strong sense of proudness about my ethnicity I’ve embraced at an early age. It has also fostered my avid curiosity about some of other Beninese compatriots. In addition to them, Benin has also integrated some of the cultural aspects for colonizers as part of it make-up. I compared Benin to New York City in a sense. You have a melting pot of different people from different background living together and yet remain very close and loyal to their own cultural background. This is an aspect not to be taken for granted and at times, doesn’t always work well with other groups .
In Benin, people are chill, peaceful, humble and down-to-earth. The doors are always open, a helping hand and heart is never too far and there is always a reason to dance and celebrate. Respect is unequivocally an important character no matter the circumstances. I believe this is why, a country with multiple customs, has managed to remain authentic and intact up to this day. My goal is to share some of the most authentic and unseen aspect of it with the hope that it will educate and entice others’ desire to want to discover more about Benin.