REPUBLIC OF BENIN
République du Bénin
- Location: Western Africa
- Capital: Porto Novo
- Language: French, Fon, Yoruba
- Population: 8,680,953
- Total Area: 110,000 sq km
- Currency: CFA Franc
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Alcohol is widely available in the country, especially in the villages where palm wine tappers make brisk business selling fresh palm wine in gourds and calabashes.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 2.15 liters
- Most Popular Drink: Sodabi
The Republic of Benin was colonized by France and gained independence in 1960. It was formerly called Dahomey but the name was changed to Benin in 1975, as the nation is located close to the Bight of Benin. Shaped like the letter P, the country shares a border with Nigeria, the most populous nation on the continent. The nation is located in the Tropics and the climate has been described as being hot and wet. The capital city is Porto Novo but the largest city is the Cotonou, which is also the major port for the nation and the administrative centre.
The people of the republic are called Beninois (pronounced Benin-wua) and are from various ethnic groups, like many other African nations. The Fon is the largest ethnic group in the country and make up almost half of the population. The Yorubas are next in number and are related to the Yorubas found in the southwestern region of Nigeria. Other groups are the Holi, Mina, Bariba, Fulani and the Jogou. Beninois are predominantly farmers and anglers. Wherever you visit in the country, you cannot but be impressed with the warmth of the people. In a city called Natitingu in the northwestern part of the country, I was welcomed like royalty. The country is the home of the world-renowned singer, Angelique Kidjo.
While traveling round Benin, I had a feeling that the people were not just ordinary agriculturalists; they are also very good cooks. Among the Yorubas, I ate a meal of iyan, and it was really a fantastic experience. Iyan is made from pounded yam. The yam tubers are harvested fresh and are then sliced. The slices are boiled and then pound by hand in a wooden mortar. At the end of the day, a white and smooth paste results. Iyan is served with vegetable soup called efo or egusi. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, I also realized that making it was not an easy task. In other parts of the country, especially the forested regions, bush meat is very popular.
I observed that many Beninois believe that after eating good food, it is very good to complete it with a jug of drink. Thus, there is an abundance of fruit juices, soft drinks (especially Coca Cola), sodabi, beers and wines. In Cotonou, most of the alcoholic drinks are produced locally but some eateries serve expensive wines and liqueurs from other parts of the globe.
Although a relatively small nation, there are numerous lovely places to visit in Benin. In the capital city of Porto Novo, I visited the National Library and was truly impressed with the gargantuan collections. In the city, there is also the CAZAM Art Gallery. Perhaps the most interesting places is Cotonou with the French Cultural Center and its breath-taking beaches along the Atlantic coastline.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2013 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria)
Gallery of Shot Glasses