Benin is known as the former Dahomey, which was an African
kingdom with its
heyday from the early 1600's to the late 1800's, where it played
a key role in the
extensive slave trade. The monument behind us is called ...
...Point of No Return and stands in memory of the 12
million slaves, who through
many years were shipped off from this coastal area
near the town of Ouidah.
We were told by ...
...our guide, that the number amounted to no less than 20% of
all slaves on that
time, who were shipped across the Atlantic to perform the hard
work in the
In 1721 the Portuguese built a fort in Ouidah, which today
is a historical
museum, where past dramatic events are documented and...
...you can see some of the iron chains that the slaves were
held together with.
This illustration shows the slave trade. The
king of Dahomey on his throne at
the top of the image, and the white slave
merchants seated on the left.
A major part of the sold slaves came from
neighboring countries, where they
were taken prisoners during the many wars and
conflicts, which Dahomey
was involved in.
In 1894 the Dahomey dynasty was ousted from power, and the country
a part of French West Africa, as several of its neighbors. Only in 1960 the
country again became independent and took the name Dahomey back, which in
was changed to Benin.
The Voodoo religion with black magic and zombies comes from
Benin, and has been
practiced on African soil for over 6000 years. Religion is
developed and inherited
through stories, so there are no sacred
writings. The slaves took their
faith and rituals with them across the Atlantic, where Voodoo today is religion in
for example Haiti.
Over 50 million people around the world believe in Voodoo,
where The Great Lord
is the supreme God, and under him are hundreds of
spiritual Gods with impact on
each their part of life on Earth. Voodoo was In 1996 Voodoo was recognized as
religion in Benin on equal terms with Christianity
and Islam, and the number of
Voodoo followers is steadily increasing.
The fluttering white flag are signaling that here lives a voodoo
priest, who is
open for those who may need to get in touch with the spirits.
Ouidah is to Voodoo, what Mecca is to Islam, so the city is
the place to visit on
January the 10th, which is officially Voodoo Day in Benin with
parties all over town.
We drove from Ouidah to Cotonou, and checked into the
excellent Marina Hotel,
...according to this rusty sign isn’t far from the Danish
A half hour drive from the center of Cotonou is Lake Nokoué,
where you can visit
one of Africa's largest villages on stilts, Ganvie. With
our guide we jumped aboard
a Pirogue (West African fishing boat), and...
...before long we arrived at the first cabins in Ganvie
village that has...
...20,000 residents. Among those surely a few national
The Tofinu people put the first poles in the lake 300-400 years ago, so they could
be out of reach from the Dahomey warriors, who according
to their religion wasn't
allowed to fight on the water.
When you grow up in a city on water…
...you learn how to build your own boat made of plastic
If you want to spend the night here, it can be done by
Raphael, who rents out rooms.
We settled for a cold Coke on the patio and watched...
...the hectic life on the lake, where pirogues were heading
in all directions.
A bit to much to call Ganvie the ”Venice of Africa",
but it is certainly worth visiting.
Not surprisingly, fishing is the main industry…
...whereas rearing up goats is less successful.
I recommended they'll try the water buffalo instead.
Dry-shod back on the mainland, where a few unsavory
which we couldn't help but laugh at.
First an elderly
lady stopped right in front of us, lifted up her dress and pissed
babbling streams on the middle of
Immediately after Peter slapped a mosquito in the taxi, just to note that his palms
were now covered in blood. We had no more
water, so he had to clean his hands
with his spit, and he missed more than ever his hand sanitizer.
Benin is one of the poorest countries in the World, and one of the most serious
problems in the vulnerable communities are child trafficking. It is estimated that
over 50,000 children are sold each year by their
Some of them end up in Nigeria to do hard...
...and dangerous work in one of the quarries in the neighboring country.
Many of these children are severely injured, while others never see
their parents again.
From the plane our last images of Benin were villages and reed houses...
... and a meandering river through a lush landscape on our
way to Ghana.