Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Africa from A-Z: Benin

The third country in my Africa from A-Z series is Benin.  My friend Ryan was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin before joining us in Mali for a third year.  When I think of Benin I think of Nadine, our sweeter than sweet Peace Corps nurse turned embassy nurse who has Beninese roots, voodoo (Benin is, after all, touted as the birthplace of voodoo!) and that the country is a must-see for adventure traveling.  If you are looking to visit Benin, here are some helpful travel hints.  Unfortunately, I have not yet had the chance to visit but surfing the web for information on the country is a close second (or third to first-person experiences!).
One of Ryan's PCV friends from Benin traveled around West Africa on a motorcycle (after completing his service) with a friend of his from village to photograph people from the nomadic Fulani tribe scattered throughout the region.  Their website, found here, is a must visit - the photos will take your breath away.  Here is a link to their facebook page.
The man who made the video above was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin in the 90s and then revisited with his wife and children in 2007.  What a dream come true for a lot of volunteers!
UNICEF Benin put together this video about a standardized grading tool developed to encourage parent participation, even in the face of their own illiteracy, in their child's academic life.  I wonder how it really works??
Angelique Kidjo looks to be Benin's musical star!  Here are some more musical treasures!

One of the many top things to see and do in Benin looks to be a visit to the Pendjari National Park.  Elephants, hippos and even bats! :)

Benin from A-Z:

Awful story of a Peace Corps Volunteer, Kate Puzey, murdered in Benin.  A truly tragic story - she and her family remain in my thoughts and I hope posts like this will keep Kate, Benin and the safety and security of everyone at home and abroad in the forefront of their thoughts. 
African button earrings!
This necklace is awesome.
Looking for the movie theater in Cotonou?  Here it is!
Living National Treasures (I love anything with the word treasures in it!)
Looted treasures.
Benin highlights.

From BBC:
  • President: Thomas Boni Yay
  • Population: 9.1million (UN, 2011) 
  • 1975 - November - Dahomey is renamed the People's Republic of Benin.
  • Capital: Porto-Novo
  • Major languages: French (official) Fon, Ge, Bariba, Yoruba, Dendi
  • Main exports: Cotton, palm oil 
** My friend Kafui who I met at the 2010 Global Shea conference in Mali just let me know that the 2012 Global Shea conference will be held in Benin in April as well as the Cashew conference which will take place in September.  Thanks Kafui!
I'd love to hear from you - have you ever visited Benin?  Am I missing any must-see or must-dos in the country?  Next week I'll learn more about Botswana - has anyone ever been?  Anything I must learn??

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