Official name: Republic of Benin
Official language: French(official), Fon, Adja, Bariba, Mina, Yoruba, Ditamari
Political capital: Porto Novo
Economic capital: Cotonou
Independence : 01/08/1960
Area: 114763 km2
Population: 12,864,634 (2020)
Religion: Islam, (23%), Christianity (37%), tradition (40%)
Currency: CFA Franc
International/regional organizations: UN, ILO, FAO, UNESCO, WHO, IMF, AU, ECOWAS, UEMOA, OIF.
HISTORY OF BENIN REPUBLIC
The current territory of Benin is
The territory currently known as Benin is the result of the encounter between various West African civilisations which has founded very prominent kingdoms at their arrival on this territory. The most known of these kingdoms founded from the 16th century are Allada, Dahomey, Kétou, de Nikki, Xogbonou (Porto-Novo) and Savalou.
In the precolonial period, the territory was a mix of several cultures and languages. The Ewe-speaking peoples in the South were mainly located in the town of Tado (in modern Togo). During the 16th and 17th centuries, the most powerful state in this area was the kingdom of Allada, but in the 18th and 19th centuries its place was taken by Dahomey. The Bariba inhabitants in the north, a very large group of people, which formed the Kingdom of Nikki, one of the most important states that formed part of a confederacy including other Bariba states located in what is today Nigeria. Even though they were not built as kingdom, the Somba, were also part of the independent states which form the territory.
The territory was invaded by foreigners starting in the year 1400. The Portuguese were first to explore the coast of Benin in 1472 without trading there until 1553.
Later in the 17th century the Dutch, English, French, and other Europeans expressed interest to human being’s trade. Known as slave trade, it gained scope during the second half of the 17th century when the coast of Benin, especially the coastal kingdom of Ouidah became known to Europeans as the “Slave Coast,” and remained high until the 1840s. The slaves exported were predominantly war captives and were drawn from the entire area of modern Benin. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, Dahomey was a major supplier of slaves for the transatlantic trade. After the abolition of slavery in the mid-19th century, the Dahomey kingdom has gradually reoriented its economy towards export agriculture.
The French conquest
During the 17th century several of the European nations engaged in the Atlantic slave trade maintained trading factories in the Dahomey area to establish their colonial interest. The French was first to build a factory in Allada in 1670 but moved from there to Ouidah in 1671 and later built a fort (known as Fort Saint Louis) in Ouidah in 1704.
In 1842 the French fort at Ouidah extended its activities as a base for the new trade in palm oil, and in 1851 the French government negotiated a commercial treaty with King Ghezo of Dahomey. Subsequently fears of preemption by British colonial expansion led to the extension of formal French rule in the area. A protectorate was briefly established over the kingdom of Porto-Novo in 1863-1865 and was definitively restablished in 1882.
King Gbehanzin, who had succeeded to the Dahomean throne in 1889, resisted the French claim to Cotonou, provoking the French invasion and conquest of Dahomey in 1892–1894. Gbehanzin was then deported and exiled, and the kingdom of Dahomey became a French protectorate.
From 1904 Dahomey formed part of the federation of French West Africa, under the governor-general in Senegal.
In 1946 Dahomey became an overseas territory of France. It was created an autonomous republic within the French Community in 1959 and achieved complete independence on August 1, 1960. During the period of decolonization, the nationalist movement in Dahomey became fragmented, with the emergence of three regionally based political parties led by Sourou-Migan Apithy (president in 1964–65), Justin Ahomadégbé (1972), and Hubert Maga (1960–63 and 1970–72), drawing their principal support respectively from Porto-Novo, Abomey, and the north.
The ensuing instability resulted in six successful military coups d’état between 1963 and 1972 and periods of army rule in 1965–68 and 1969–70. In a last military coup, on October 26, 1972, power was seized by Major (later General) Mathieu Kérékou. From 1974 Kérékou pursued a Marxist-Leninist policy, based on nationalizations and state planning of the economy. The country was renamed the People’s Republic of Benin in 1975.
The late 1980s and early 1990s were a turbulent period for Benin. In 1989 Kérékou proclaimed the end of marxism-leninism, and the National conference of the living forces, a meeting held in february 1990, establishing democracy as the States new ideology including the promulgation of a new constitution in 1990 and the liberalization of the economy. From 1990 till date Benin was led by Mathieu Kerekou, Nicephore Soglo, Boni Yayi and Patrice Talon (the current president).
GEOPOLITIC OF BENIN REPUBLIC
Benin’s major natural resources lie on the country’s main export items which are cotton (which counts for over 40% of the country’s GDP and for an estimated 80% of the country’s annual exports.), cashews, seafood, and butter. Gold, building materials, iron, phosphates, tin, lithium, uranium, as well as nickel, rutile, zircon, limestone, marble, kaolin, silica sand, clay, gravel and ornamental stones and diamond are also considered to be part of the mining resources of the country.
Iron deposits grading 46% and 52% have been identified at Loumbou-Loumbou (266 million tonnes) in the north and Madécali (240 million tonnes) in the north-east. Also in the northeast and west of the country, and towards the south coastal region, Benin has deposits of phosphates. The one at the Niger border has an average content of 25%. None of these minerals have been exploited till now.
The trade relationship of Benin is mostly oriented to Asia. In fact, in 2018 the total value of exports from Bangladesh, India and Vietnam, represented 246.69 billion CFA francs or 54.78% of Benin’s exports. Indeed, Bangladesh, Benin’s first partner, exports are estimated at 119.83 billion CFA francs (26.61% of the total value of exports) in 2018 against 54.07 billion CFA francs a year earlier, followed by India with, 74.12 billion CFA francs in 2018 against 44.53 billion CFA francs in 2017, an increase of 66.44%. In third position, the value of exports with Vietnam is estimated at 52.74 billion CFA (59 694.01 Tons) in 2018 against 59.80 billion CFA francs (88 195.90 Tons) the previous year. The main products are cotton and cashew nuts in shell.
Even if trade relationship between France and Benin have not been so visible in the recent years what could look as an absence of deep cooperation between the two countries, it is important to point out that relationship between the two countries are quite diversified and historical and are reflected in a series of agreements and treaties of political and cultural partnerships since the breaking of colonial ties. Given the attractiveness of the business climate in Benin, it should be noticed that about forty French companies are established in Benin and mainly concentrated in the food industry, logistics, construction and public works. This Franco-Beninese relationship, even if it raises questions from citizens, goes back in history.
Moreover, with its solid institutions, the Republic of Benin is a model of democratic stability in sub-Saharan Africa and in the world.
CURRENT DEVELOPMENT POLICY
The in 2000 elaborated vision of the government based on Benin Alafia 2025 is: « Benin is, in 2025, a flagship country, a well-governed, united and peaceful country, with a prosperous and competitive economy, cultural influence and social well-being ».
With the persistence of major challenges that continue to affect the development of Benin, the current power has set up the Government Programme of Action « Benin Revealed » whose main objective is to « Relaunch in a sustainable manner the economic and social development of Benin ». In order to be effective in terms of results, this Programme of Action is reinforced by the adoption in 2018 of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2025 with the major challenge to be met, the development of human capital. The National Plan perfectly integrates the SDGs and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
It takes as its area of intervention: (i) human capital and the well-being of populations; (ii) economic productivity and competitiveness; (iii) the environment, climate change and territorial development, and (iv) governance. Benin has resolutely embarked on a process of continuous improvement of its progress towards achieving the MDGs by 2030.
In this dynamic and taking note of the imperatives of the Political Declaration of the Heads of State at the summit on SDGs in September 2019, the Government of Benin is committed to making the next decade a decade of ambitious and accelerated actions, by redoubling efforts for more noticeable progress through the elaboration of a Ten-Year Framework of Actions for Accelerating SDGs (CDA-ODD) with a view to revisiting the bottlenecks and major problems related to the implementation of SDOs and identifying specific measures and investment projects and programmes likely to significantly impact the implementation of SDOs and resolve recurrent problems related to them.
Benin has decided for the strategic objective of making agro-industry, services and tourism the engine of strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth within the framework of more effective national and local governance by focusing on the development of human capital and infrastructure.
The National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2025 maps out for Benin a trajectory for the national economy by achieving strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth of around 10 per cent in 2025 thanks to three levels: (i) diversification of agricultural production with support for the development of services (rural infrastructure, logistics, innovations, biotechnologies); (ii) agro-industrial transformation and increased development of services (business environment, tourism, logistics transport, digital, innovations); and (iii) export of knowledge through innovations and biotechnologies.
The willingness of Patrice Talon’s government to explore the Beninese subsoil in order to extract the resources to boost the country’s development is confirmed. After the seminar on mines, quarries and oil, the Head of State is already working to put in place the mechanisms for implementing his recommendations. These include the improvement of the institutional and business environment, the updating of the mining and petroleum codes, good governance, securing investments through guarantee funds and return on investment. The numerous reforms undertaken by the government put the country in a pole position to attract foreign investors. This reflects the influx of foreign companies exploring the Beninese subsoil.
SDG1: NO POVERTY
Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of humanity’s greatest challenges. While the number of people living in extreme poverty has decreased between 1990 and 2015, a very large proportion of the world’s population still struggles to meet their basic needs.
Some 736 million people live on less than $1.90 a day (2015); and the number of people without access to adequate food, clean water and decent sanitation remains far too high. SDG 1 is thus aiming at eradicating poverty by targeting seven lines.
in Benin Republic the proportion of population with access to basic social services is only 24.3% in 2018 (Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) covering the period 2017-2018) against 25.4% in 2014. Against this relatively low level of indicators, the Government of Benin has taken important steps to reverse the trend.
Tata Adjatché Sukpo Manha Awinyan
Even though the history of the amazon of Dahomey is well known by african history passionates, individual amazons are rarely told about. Tata Adjatché Sukpo Manha Awinyan is an exception to this. Originally from Ekpo and the holi cultural (a subdivision of Yoruba people) area in the south of Benin, she was spared by the Amazons of Dahomey and was made captive of war in the palace of Abomey. But then she has been raised according to the values of the palace, namely as amazon.
After a long process of initiation, she took an oath to kill an enemy with her own hoe as a gift to King Glèlè whose father, Ghezo, were killed during a battle. After she kept her oath the King celebrated her bravery through various artistic representations as this is usually done for kings and gods, and married her.
She was immortalized in the palace of Abomey for and even a grigri was associated to her under the name « sukpo ma ha awinya » (meaning flies do not cover a rock), to say that the enemies of Dahomey will not be able to encircle Dahomey because they will never find anything to live on. She becomes following her alliance with the king, Tata (queen) Adjatchè sukpo ma ha awinya « . She left her position as queen in 1889 following the death of Glèlè, and died in 1924.
Hubert Coutoucou Maga
Hubert Coutoucou Maga, was a politician from Dahomey . He arose on a political scene where one’s power was dictated. He was elected to Dahomey’s territorial assembly in 1947 and founded a political movement – based in the north of the country – later renamed the Dahomey Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique du Dahomey). In 1951, Maga was elected to the French National Assembly, where he served in various positions, including as Prime minister of Dahomey from 1959 to 1960. When Dahomey gained its independence from France on August 1, 1960, Maga was appointed to the presidency, and was officially elected to that post on December 11. Due to the economy’s collapse, and in response, he launched a four-year plan in January 1962, the basis of which was to increase agricultural production by forcing the nation’s youth to work on the land.
On November 13 the PRD (Parti Republicain du Dahomey) and RDD (Rassemblement Démocratique du Dahomey) officially merged to form the Dahomeyan Unity Party (P.D.U.) and Maga was elected to lead the party. He created a new constitution for Dahomey, styling it after that of the French Fifth Republic, more authoritarian. Social unrest continued and on October 28, 1963, a coup d’état took place during which Hubert Maga lost power to Colonel Christophe Soglo
- Paulin Étienne EDAH (2020) Impacts de la théorie des arts et cultures Vaudou. https://www.edilivre.com/impacts-de-la-theorie-des-arts-et-cultures-vaudou-paulin-etienne-edah.html/
- Stanley B. Alpern (2014) Les amazones de la sparte noire: Les femmes guerrières de l’ancien royaume du Dahomey. Traduit en français par Christiane Owusu-Sarpong https://www.editions-harmattan.fr/index.asp?navig=catalogue&obj=livre&no=45054
- Paulin Hountondji (2019) African Philosophy as Critical Universalism ttps://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030019945
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