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Full Story Of Benni City / Benni(Edo) Republic

Benin (/bɛˈniːn/ (listenben-EEN/bɪˈniːn/ bin-EEN;[9] FrenchBénin [benɛ̃]), officially the Republic of Benin (FrenchRépublique du Bénin) (formerly known as Dahomey), is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso to the north-west, and Niger to the north-east. The majority of its population lives on the small southern coastline of the Bight of Benin, part of the Gulf of Guinea in the northernmost tropical portion of the Atlantic Ocean.[10] The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country’s largest city and economic capital. Benin covers an area of 114,763 square kilometres (44,310 sq mi)[4] and its population in 2018 was estimated to be approximately 11.49 million.[11][12] Benin is a tropical nation, highly dependent on agriculture, and is a large exporter of cotton and palm oil. Substantial employment and income arise from subsistence farming.[13]

The official language of Benin is French, with several indigenous languages such as FonBaribaYoruba and Dendi also being commonly spoken. The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism, followed closely by IslamVodun (commonly referred to as Voodoo outside the country) and Protestantism. Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation ZoneLa Francophonie, the Community of Sahel–Saharan States, the African Petroleum Producers Association and the Niger Basin Authority.[14]

Little is known of Benin’s early history. From the 17th to the 19th century, the main political entities in the area were the Kingdom of Dahomey, along with the city-state of Porto-Novo, and a large area with many different nations to the north. This region was referred to as the Slave Coast from as early as the 17th century due to the large number of enslaved people who were shipped to the New World during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. After enslavement was abolished, France took over the country and renamed it French Dahomey. In 1960, Dahomey gained full independence from France. The sovereign state has had a tumultuous history since then, with many different democratic governments, military coups, and military governments. A Marxist–Leninist state called the People’s Republic of Benin existed between 1975 and 1990. In 1991, it was replaced by the current multi-party Republic of Benin.[15]

Etymology[edit]

During the colonial period and at independence, the country was known as Dahomey. On 30 November 1975, it was renamed Benin.[16] “Dahomey changed its name to the Republic of Benin (République du Benin) in memory of pre-19th century greatness of Ancient Benin of Nigeria”,[17] referring to the historic Kingdom of Benin.

The current country of Benin combines three areas which had distinctly different political systems and ethnicities prior to French colonial control. Before 1700, there were a few important city-states along the coast (primarily of the Aja ethnic group, but also including Yoruba and Gbe peoples) and a mass of tribal regions inland (composed of Bariba, Mahi, Gedevi, and Kabye peoples). The Oyo Empire, located primarily to the east of modern Benin, was the most significant large-scale military force in the region. It regularly conducted raids and exacted tribute from the coastal kingdoms and the tribal regions.[18] The situation changed in the 1600s and early 1700s as the Kingdom of Dahomey, consisting mostly of Fon people, was founded on the Abomey plateau and began taking over areas along the coast.[19] By 1727, king Agaja of the Kingdom of Dahomey had conquered the coastal cities of Allada and Whydah, but it had become a tributary of the Oyo empire and did not directly attack the Oyo allied city-state of Porto-Novo.[20] The rise of the kingdom of Dahomey, the rivalry between the kingdom and the city of Porto-Novo, and the continued tribal politics of the northern region, persisted into the colonial and post-colonial periods.[21]

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The Dahomey Kingdom was known for its culture and traditions. Young boys were often apprenticed to older soldiers, and taught the kingdom’s military customs until they were old enough to join the army.[22] Dahomey was also famous for instituting an elite female soldier corps, called Ahosi, i.e. the king’s wives, or Mino, “our mothers” in the Fon language Fongbe, and known by many Europeans as the Dahomean Amazons. This emphasis on military preparation and achievement earned Dahomey the nickname of “black Sparta” from European observers and 19th-century explorers such as Sir Richard Burton.[23]

Early Portuguese colonization and the slave trade[edit]

The Portuguese Empire was the longest colonial presence in Benin, beginning in 1680 and ending in 1961, when the last forces left Ajudá.

The kings of Dahomey sold their war captives into transatlantic slavery.[24] They also had a practice of killing war captives in a ceremony known as the Annual Customs. By about 1750, the King of Dahomey was earning an estimated £250,000 per year by selling African captives to European slave-traders.[25]

Though the leaders of Dahomey appear to have initially resisted the slave trade, it flourished in the region of Dahomey for almost three hundred years, beginning in 1472 with a trade agreement with Portuguese merchants. The area was named the “Slave Coast” because of this flourishing trade. Court protocols, which demanded that a portion of war captives from the kingdom’s many battles be decapitated, decreased the number of enslaved people exported from the area. The number went from 102,000 people per decade in the 1780s to 24,000 per decade by the 1860s.[26] The decline was partly due to the Slave Trade Act 1807 banning the trans-Atlantic slave trade by Britain in 1808, followed by other countries.[25] This decline continued until 1885, when the last slave ship departed from the coast of the modern Benin Republic bound for Brazil in South America, which had yet to abolish slavery. The capital’s name Porto-Novo is of Portuguese origin, meaning “New Port”. It was originally developed as a port for the slave trade.

Dahomey Amazons with the King at their head, going to war, 1793.

Among the goods the Portuguese sought were carved items of ivory made by Benin’s artisans in the form of carved saltcellars, spoons, and hunting horns – the first pieces of African art produced for sale abroad as exotic objects.[27]

Precolonial period[edit]

Map of the Kingdom of Dahomey, 1793.

The current country of Benin combines three areas which had distinctly different political systems and ethnicities prior to French colonial control. Before 1700, there were a few important city-states along the coast (primarily of the Aja ethnic group, but also including Yoruba and Gbe peoples) and a mass of tribal regions inland (composed of Bariba, Mahi, Gedevi, and Kabye peoples). The Oyo Empire, located primarily to the east of modern Benin, was the most significant large-scale military force in the region. It regularly conducted raids and exacted tribute from the coastal kingdoms and the tribal regions.[18] The situation changed in the 1600s and early 1700s as the Kingdom of Dahomey, consisting mostly of Fon people, was founded on the Abomey plateau and began taking over areas along the coast.[19] By 1727, king Agaja of the Kingdom of Dahomey had conquered the coastal cities of Allada and Whydah, but it had become a tributary of the Oyo empire and did not directly attack the Oyo allied city-state of Porto-Novo.[20] The rise of the kingdom of Dahomey, the rivalry between the kingdom and the city of Porto-Novo, and the continued tribal politics of the northern region, persisted into the colonial and post-colonial periods.[21]

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The Dahomey Kingdom was known for its culture and traditions. Young boys were often apprenticed to older soldiers, and taught the kingdom’s military customs until they were old enough to join the army.[22] Dahomey was also famous for instituting an elite female soldier corps, called Ahosi, i.e. the king’s wives, or Mino, “our mothers” in the Fon language Fongbe, and known by many Europeans as the Dahomean Amazons. This emphasis on military preparation and achievement earned Dahomey the nickname of “black Sparta” from European observers and 19th-century explorers such as Sir Richard Burton.[23]

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Early Portuguese colonization and the slave trade[edit]

The Portuguese Empire was the longest colonial presence in Benin, beginning in 1680 and ending in 1961, when the last forces left Ajudá.

The kings of Dahomey sold their war captives into transatlantic slavery.[24] They also had a practice of killing war captives in a ceremony known as the Annual Customs. By about 1750, the King of Dahomey was earning an estimated £250,000 per year by selling African captives to European slave-traders.[25]

Though the leaders of Dahomey appear to have initially resisted the slave trade, it flourished in the region of Dahomey for almost three hundred years, beginning in 1472 with a trade agreement with Portuguese merchants. The area was named the “Slave Coast” because of this flourishing trade. Court protocols, which demanded that a portion of war captives from the kingdom’s many battles be decapitated, decreased the number of enslaved people exported from the area. The number went from 102,000 people per decade in the 1780s to 24,000 per decade by the 1860s.[26] The decline was partly due to the Slave Trade Act 1807 banning the trans-Atlantic slave trade by Britain in 1808, followed by other countries.[25] This decline continued until 1885, when the last slave ship departed from the coast of the modern Benin Republic bound for Brazil in South America, which had yet to abolish slavery. The capital’s name Porto-Novo is of Portuguese origin, meaning “New Port”. It was originally developed as a port for the slave trade.

Dahomey Amazons with the King at their head, going to war, 1793.

Among the goods the Portuguese sought were carved items of ivory made by Benin’s artisans in the form of carved saltcellars, spoons, and hunting horns – the first pieces of African art produced for sale abroad as exotic objects.[27]

French colonial period[edit]

See also: Second Franco-Dahomean War

The French conquest of Dahomey in 1893

By the middle of the nineteenth century, Dahomey had begun to weaken and lose its status as the regional power. This enabled the French to take over the area in 1892. In 1899, the French included the land called French Dahomey within the larger French West Africa colonial region.

In 1958, France granted autonomy to the Republic of Dahomey, and full independence on 1 August 1960, which is celebrated each year as Independence Day, a national holiday.[28] The president who led the country to independence was Hubert Maga.[29][30]

Post-colonial period[edit]

For the next twelve years after 1960, ethnic strife contributed to a period of turbulence. There were several coups and regime changes, with the figures of Hubert MagaSourou ApithyJustin Ahomadégbé, and Émile Derlin Zinsou dominating; the first three each represented a different area and ethnicity of the country. These three agreed to form a Presidential Council after violence marred the 1970 elections.

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The flag of the People’s Republic of Benin

On 7 May 1972, Maga ceded power to Ahomadégbé. On 26 October 1972, Lt. Col. Mathieu Kérékou overthrew the ruling triumvirate, becoming president and stating that the country would not “burden itself by copying foreign ideology, and wants neither Capitalism, Communism, nor Socialism”. On 30 November 1974 however, he announced that the country was officially Marxist, under control of the Military Council of the Revolution (CMR), which nationalized the petroleum industry and banks. On 30 November 1975, he renamed the country to the People’s Republic of Benin.[31][32]

The CMR was dissolved in 1979, and Kérékou arranged show elections in which he was the only allowed candidate. Establishing relations with ChinaNorth Korea, and Libya, he put nearly all businesses and economic activities under state control, causing foreign investment in Benin to dry up.[33] Kérékou attempted to reorganize education, pushing his own aphorisms such as “Poverty is not a fatality”, resulting in a mass exodus of teachers, along with numerous other professionals.[33] The regime financed itself by contracting to take nuclear waste, first from the Soviet Union and later from France.[33]

In 1980, Kérékou converted to Islam and changed his first name to Ahmed. He changed his name back after claiming to be a born-again Christian. In 1989, riots broke out when the regime did not have enough money to pay its army. The banking system collapsed. Eventually, Kérékou renounced Marxism, and a convention forced Kérékou to release political prisoners and arrange elections.[33] Marxism–Leninism was abolished as the nation’s form of government.[34]

The country’s name was officially changed to the Republic of Benin on 1 March 1990, after the newly formed government’s constitution was completed.[35]

Yayi Boni‘s 2006 presidential inauguration

In a 1991 election, Kérékou lost to Nicéphore Soglo. Kérékou returned to power after winning the 1996 vote. In 2001, a closely fought election resulted in Kérékou winning another term, after which his opponents claimed election irregularities.

In 1999, Kérékou issued a national apology for the substantial role that Africans had played in the Atlantic slave trade.[36]

Kérékou and former president Soglo did not run in the 2006 elections, as both were barred by the constitution’s restrictions on age and total terms of candidates.

On 5 March 2006, an election was held that was considered free and fair. It resulted in a runoff between Yayi Boni and Adrien Houngbédji. The runoff election was held on 19 March and was won by Boni, who assumed office on 6 April. The success of the fair multi-party elections in Benin won praise internationally. Boni was reelected in 2011, taking 53.18% of the vote in the first round—enough to avoid a runoff election. He was the first president to win an election without a runoff since the restoration of democracy in 1991.

In the March 2016 presidential elections, in which Boni Yayi was barred by the constitution from running for a third term, businessman Patrice Talon won the second round with 65.37% of the vote, defeating investment banker and former Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou. Talon was sworn in on 6 April 2016.[37] Speaking on the same day that the Constitutional Court confirmed the results, Talon said that he would “first and foremost tackle constitutional reform”, discussing his plan to limit presidents to a single term of five years in order to combat “complacency”. He also said that he planned to slash the size of the government from 28 to 16 members.[38]

In April 2021, President Patrice Talon was re-elected, with more than 86.3% of the votes cast, in Benin’s presidential election.[39] The change in election laws resulted in total control of parliament by president Talon’s supporters.[40]

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