Western Africa

Benin

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Art Spaces (1 )
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After being transformed into the largest supplier of human slaves, Benin was once a great African kingdom. The arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century marked the fall of one of Africa’s most powerful territories, while tens of thousands of people were being deported at a time and Benin’s waterfront earned the name “Slave Coast”. In 1872, the country was colonized by the French and it became known by the name Dahomey. After the decolonization movements, Dahomey became a self-governing state and in 1960 it finally gained full independence. However, several military coups determined the post decolonization period. The last of these uprisings resulted in a strict Marxist government which soon became an oppressive dictatorship that ended in 1990 when the new Republic of Benin held its first free and fair elections. Today, democracy is still the dominant political system and Benin is one of the most politically stable regions in West Africa. Although, the country’s economy is still severely underdeveloped. Benin’s culture is extremely heterogeneous, due to geographic factors, to different ethnic groups – be it Fon, Yoruba, or Edo – and to a strong impact from colonialism. With strong religious roots to inform most of the traditions, Benin’s culture is certainly one of the most unique and interesting in Africa, strongly influenced by the Voodoo religion, whose syncretism spills over on many aspects of culture. Some 60 percent of Beninese follow this religion – which is still found here in its purest form and decreed an official religion by the government. Artistic traditions in Benin are very ancient. Benin is especially known for its oral history traditions and for its distinct craftsmanship, especially wood carving, weaving, and brass casting, producing the famous ‘Benin bronzes’ made to decorate the palace of the Oba. Music has the greatest importance in the country. The drumming sounds can be heard at most festivals and religious events as a way to express religious fervor.

Benin

Art Maker (15)
Art Spaces (1 )
Cities in Benin
Cotonou

The name "Cotonou" means "by the river of death" in the Fon language. ...

Western Africa
Cotonou
Artist Studio (6 )
Art Spaces(1 )
Ouidah

Ouidah is the center of voodoo and here takes place the most important voodoo festival every year. The city is believed to have been founded by King Kpase of the Kingdom of Whydah towards the end of the XVI century. ...

Western Africa
Ouidah
Artist Studio (2 )
Art Spaces(1 )
Porto-Novo

Porto-Novo is the administrative capital of the government of Benin and one of the oldest cities in the country. The territory was once part of the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, which had offered it protection from the neighboring Fon, who were expanding their influence and power in the region. ...

Western Africa
Porto-Novo
Artist Studio (6 )
Zogbo

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Western Africa
Zogbo
Artist Studio (1 )
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