Saturday, 1 August 2020

The Culture and Traditions of Beninese People

Angelique Kidjo – Award winning singer/songwriter from Benin.


Culture and tradition are inseparable in the daily lives of people of Benin. This can be observed through the daily life of Beninese people and whether you are in towns and villages of the South, North, East, West or Central Benin. One of the most obvious one to witness in the culture is the dress style that is deeply traditionalist before being influenced today by the modern style of dressing. Beninese, in major part of their time, are wearing the “Bomba” which is designed as tunics and trousers for men and a loincloth and a top for women.

Boumba – Traditional Style in Benin

With modernity style growing over time, Beninese cities such as Cotonou, Porto- Novo, Parakou began by changing their dress code by introducing more western outfits such as dress pants, tailored shirts, jackets and jean. But in recent years, a fusion between traditional and modern dressing have emerged. Thus shirts, pants and even coats are designed by Benin designers using traditional cloths that once were only dedicated to the confession of Bombas.

Dress & Bag By OLOWOU PRINT from Benin – Local Custom designer using raw Beninese organic material to make modern African prints and designs


Music of Benin

Beyond the clothing style, we have the music that strongly reflects Beninese people’s  identity. Despite the influence of the musical rhythms of other Afrrenownedesries, Europe (in particularly France) and America with the United States at the forefront, Benin values its own musical rhythm inside the country. To some extent some countries around the world adopted some of the most famous musicians  such as Angélique Kidjo from Benin.

Angélique Kidjo – International Grammy Award Winner Singer/Songwriter from Benin

Benin has managed to maintain its musical rhythms such as zinli, tchinkoume, Toba, the AKPALA the TEKE etc.. These musical rhythms are promoted nationally and in some cases internationally through Beninese artists such as Alekpehahou, Gbessi, Amikpon, Sabgohan, Dossou – Letrik  and more. For some years,  Beninese music has undergone a musical fusion with other world music types especially Congolese, Ivorian , Black American and French. Thus today we have Tchink System Created and promoted by Stan Tohon, the Zekede by Blaise Antonio and the Djihou by Willy Cute. Dance is an important element of music and has been rooted in Benin since the dawn of time and continues to this day. Beninese dance is remarkably renowned internationally with several dance groups such as the National Ballet and several other Beninese appearances around the world.

National Ballet of Benin:

List of Living Languages Spoken in Benin

Beninese culture and tradition are intertwined in their everyday lifestyle. For example, with issues related to health, the vast majority of Beninese refer to traditional medicine before using modern medicine.
Many other attitudes influenced by the local culture and tradition are noted in Benin .This includes the use of local languages ​​at a workplace even though French has been appointed as the official language.  When it comes to shopping, Beninese choices are vast. Unlike western ways where shopping is done in supermarkets, Beninese rather go to local or farmers markets. There is a lot of emphasis in eating and purchasing the freshest ingredients as well as pride in produces that are made locally. This explains why modern supermarkets are not predominant in Benin and also, the local Beninese markets,  such as Dantokpa, are very well regarded in the western part of Africa.

Dantokpa Market – Ankara, Traditional African Print cloths

Back To Your Roots – Beninese Views and Value on Heritage:

Among these traditional aspects, we can also mention the commitment of all Beninese to their villages even if they are located in cities. This state of affairs is particularly noticeable during election periods when many urban Beninese return to their respective villages to vote for their brother or sister of the village. This is a true reflection of how Beninese are proud of their heritage and no matter where and how far they are, they always know where home is and will return as much as possible.

It is worth noting that culture and tradition can not be separated in Benin are they are guarantors of identity of a rapidly developing country which inevitably suffered direct consequences such as modernity and westernization especially in cities.

•Culled from www.unseenbenin.wordpress.com


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