Benin Local Customs

  • CFA COINS IN BENIN
    CFA COINS IN BENIN
    by DAO
  • Local Customs
    by DAO
  • Local Customs
    by DAO

Benin Local Customs

  • THE CURRENCY OF BENIN

    The currency of Benin is the West African CFA Franc. You may see it written as "F CFA" and you will hear it pronounced "see-fuh" or "see-fah". Officially it is the Communaute Financiere Africaine (CFA) Franc issued by the Central Bank of the States of West Africa (BCEAO). If you are looking for the exchange rates for their currency you will need to...

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  • THE FLAG OF BENIN

    The flag of Benin was first adopted on 16 November 1959, but was not actually flown until 1 August 1960. Strange enough. It was re-adopted on August 1, 1990. A bit of a strange story. Benin gained independence from France 1960, as the Republic of Dahomey, the name of a medieval African kingdom. On November 30, 1975 a Marxist coup saw the country...

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  • Sexual Health Education

    I was surprised to see on the bathroom door of my room in Natitingou, a poster explaining how to use a condom with pictures and a pocket containing 3 free condoms. It seems the government are, admirably, taking Aids and sexually transmitted diseases seriously and encouraging the use of condoms. I found this a little strange and unusual in a tourist...

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  • Cotton

    Cotton accounts for about 40% of GDP in Benin and is grown in the North. There is a large movement towards organic cotton production which is better for the health of the farmers and a few international organisations are helping to develop this. Traditionally cotton working was a man’s job but recently more smaller farms and co-operatives have been...

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  • Safety and Security

    I didn't have any problems or issues at all in Benin with safety. I didn't walk anywhere alone at night but I did take a few late afternoon walks alone with no hassle at all.In Grand Popo I walked through the old town, by the river and along the beach and a few people stopped me to ask my name and a few other questions but that's all.In Cotonou I...

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  • Lucky Ducks

    Despite the variety and abundance of food I was offered, and tried, in Benin I never saw Duck on a menu. I even ate pigeon and saw guinea fowl offered. When I asked why, in a country with so many lakes and rivers, Duck was not a popular dish I was told that Ducks are sacred and it is not common to eat them. If ducks are crossing the road, drivers...

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  • Proverbs

    There are many proverbs in Benin. They were used by the elders to educate younger people and pass down their wisdom of daily life. Historically the proverbs would be illustrations rather than written. The proverbs of the kings were shown on the top of their Asen, the metal poles they carried. The proverbs are well documented in the museums - one of...

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  • Talking Drums

    Drums were, and still are to an extent, an important method of communication in Benin and West Africa. The drums were used in all important ceremonies – Voodoo ceremonies, funerals, praising the kings and communication with the ancestors. As well as important events they were used for everyday communication, for example to warn of a snake in the...

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  • The Asen - Messages of the Kings

    The Asen is the metal pole with a decorative top that the Kings used to carry with them and it represents the ancestors. Every year in Porto Nouvo descendants of the kings gather in front of the collection of Asen and hold a ceremony in honour of the ancestors. Each King had his own special Asen with a motto which is represented in the decorative...

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  • The Protection Belt

    Young children, whose families practise the traditional religion, often wear a bead belt around the waist. Pregnant women also wear them. Birth, Life and Death are central to the traditional religion and the belt protects the women and the unborn child while she is pregnant and protects the small children, when they are young, from misfortune and...

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  • The Tribes of Benin

    The main tribe in Benin are the Fon who originally came from the South but now make up about 40% of the population and are spread throughout the country. The Yoruba are the other main tribe of the South and they came from Nigeria. In the North the main tribe are the Somba. The map in the picture is taken from the museum in Porto Nuovo and shows all...

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  • You Mustn't Say.............

    In Benin the historical tradition dictates that when talking about certain things you must say what you want to convey in a different way! Everybody kinows what you mean - you just can't say it.It was considered unlucky to say certain things, particularly regarding the Kings. If the king dies - he has not died but has travelled to Allada, the...

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  • Religion in Benin

    There are many Christians in Benin and I saw many churches and cathedrals, as well as some mosques, but most people also follow the traditional religion of Voodoo. The Kings of Dahomey allowed the people to take up and practise Christianity but they never converted themselves and always followed the traditional religion. The slaves returning from...

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  • Language in Benin

    The main language in Benin is French with tribal languages also spoken – Yoruba and Fon. Some people speak a little English in the hotels but not much. And all the signs and descriptions in the museums are in French. If you are not French speaking I would recommend you get an English speaking guide. Most of the museums have an English speaking...

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  • Voodoo

    Most of the people in Benin follow the traditional Voodoo religion, particularly in the South and in the villages. Voodoo is not the evil practice of sticking pins in dolls that resemble your enemy as we have been led to believe. It is a very complex system of beliefs based on the one god that created the world, called Mawa-Lissa (a woman!) and a...

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  • The Blessing of Twins

    Twins are considered extremely special and a great blessing in Benin. If a woman gives birth to twins she becomes a very important person with great status and is considered very lucky. The twins are treated as special and everything must be shared equally between them.If one of the twins dies the surviving twin has to carry around with them a...

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  • The Gozin

    The Gozin is a clay pot that was used in traditional ceremonies. If a King ruled for 10 years a ceremony was held in celebration, and then held every 10 years he ruled after that. The Gozin was carried to the river by young girls who must be virgins. They filled it with water and carried it back to the village where the water was used to purify the...

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  • New buildings

    I was fasinated by the way the Benionise build thier houses, especially when it comes to the second 3rd and 4th floors. They use strong branches to brace up the next floor before pouring the concrete, as far as I could see in the time I was there, they do that by the bucket full, instead of by the truck load like we do back home in Australia. They...

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  • Sewing shop

    On one of the side streets in Cotonou, I found this sewing shop, the lady made me a traditional dress in a few days for only 5000 cfa which is about $13 Australian, in doing so she provided the lining, lace, thread and zip. All I had to do was give her the material that I purchased at the markets, showed her the dress I would like from a poster of...

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  • Anything can be bought for the...

    Anything can be bought for the right price in Benin, including the officers of immigration and customs and security police in the airports. You have to learn to deal with all the vendors whither on the street are in the shops. Every thing is negotiable. This one of the many open air markets where you can buy fresh produce. Most of the vendors here...

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Benin Local Customs

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