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. The Yoruba community today remains one of the original ethnicities that inhabited the area. The most known artifacts from the Benin region are the Yoruba wooden masks (guelede) used in traditional ceremonies, representing images and spirits of the dead. Although the city was originally called Ajashe by the Yorubas, and Hogbonu by the Gun (the earliest migrants), it was later established as a port for the slave trade by the Portuguese Empire and named “Porto-Novo” because of its resemblance to the city of Porto in Portugal. Porto-Novo possesses a unique cultural identity and social reality based on peaceful coexistence: since Afro-Brazilians settled in Porto-Novo after emancipation in Brazil, Brazilian architecture and South American culinary influences became relevant in the city’s cultural life.
Mentioned in this article