The cultures of Benin

The cultures of Benin

Benin, officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, by Nigeria to the east and by Burkina Faso and Niger to the north.

Songs and dances are a part of the social fabric of Benin and celebrate joyous events such as festivals, childbirth, rites of passage, or occasions of sorrow such as mourning of the dead. Art has been a spiritual and functional healer to the local communities. Brightly coloured tapestries tell the history of Benin and collectors worldwide admire the local bronze crafts. In the erstwhile kingdoms of Bariba and Dahomey, the Kings laid a lot of emphasis on the development of arts and crafts. Weavers, jewellers, woodcarvers, potters, and iron and brass workers received patronage and the ancient Kingdom of Abomey became a haven for artists and craftsmen. The region of Baname is known for woodcarving, Porto Novo is famed for its Yoruba artefacts and you can buy unique pottery in Tourou.

Benin is regarded as the “cradle of voodoo’. This ancient practice originated here and migrated to Haiti, the Caribbeans and Brazil with the slaves who were traded into these countries. Today, 61% of the population still adheres to tribal religions and practices. Simply put, voodoo is the worship of the spirit in all things, blessing the worshipper with certain supernatural powers. Voodoo ceremonies are said to be exotic and colourful affairs accompanied by the dances of costumed fetish priests and feverish drumming. The rituals of voodoo stretch from the elegant to the scary.



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