Customs and traditions
The family, family and clan are important in
a Beninier's social life. The family is expected to
stand up for the individual, while at the same time he
is expected to be loyal to the extended family. Women
often decide on the children and the household (although
the children are considered to be men), but in society
life is the men who dominate.
Especially in the countryside it is common with large
families, where everyone has their own house around a
common courtyard. New houses are often built of cement
with thatched roof, which is considered particularly
nice, older ones are made of clay with thatched roof.
However, more and more people live in the cities, which
have a mixture of colonial and modern buildings, but
even here relatives like to live near each other and
Overview of the capital city of Benin, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
A woman who marries usually moves in with the man's
family. Previously, arranged marriage was the norm, but
today more and more partners choose themselves. Polygamy
is allowed but is becoming more and more unusual.
The most important class difference nowadays is that
between rural residents and those living in the larger
cities. Many strive to become like the big cities'
well-educated elite, who speak French, dress and eat
Western etc. In the countryside, the clan chiefs have
It is important to give proper health. You shake
hands (the one who is the oldest starts but women never
take the initiative), ask how the family is feeling,
etc. Good friends can kiss on the cheek. It is not
uncommon for men to hold hands, but public affection
between the sexes or other emotional expressions is
rarely seen. If you are offered something to drink or
eat, which is common, it is considered unfair to refuse.
A common pleasure is national sports football. Many
Beninis enjoy dancing, often traditional dances.
In the countryside most of them wear traditional
clothing: a kind of long shirt with wide sleeves called
boubou. Women instead wrap themselves in a
so-called pagne (a colorful fabric ham). In the
cities many westerners dress.
Getting on time, or keeping time, is not so important
to the Beninis. If you have agreed to meet someone, it
is best to remind them.
Beninis prefer spicy food. The basics of Beninese
cuisine are jams, cassava, corn, beans, rice and
couscous. Gari and djenkoume are
different pastas, the first made of cassava, the second
made of corn. Corn flour is used for a bread, la
pate, or for a porridge. For this you eat different
sauces, such as galine (seafood, tomatoes,
onions and the strong pilipili) or lamounou
dessi (fish, smoked shrimp, vegetables and chili).
In the south, seafood is most common, in northern meat
(chicken, beef but also lamb, goat, hare and bush rat).
They also eat vegetables such as tomatoes, okra and
eggplant as well as very fresh fruits, such as oranges,
bananas, pineapples and mangoes. plantains, a
kind of banana, usually cooked or fried as chips. Local
drinks are soft drinks fizzi or sodabi,
made on palm wine, and there are several different types
of native beer.
Since many still lack refrigerators, food must be
traded on the market almost every day. It is the women
and girls in the family who are in charge of food
preparation, but more and more men are learning to cook.
The food is often prepared outdoors, even in the cities.
Western food is also common there; many young people are
fond of so-called junk food. Street stalls selling light
meals are common.
National symbols and holidays
Benin's green, red and yellow flag was introduced at
independence in 1960, where the green stood for hope of
renewal, the red for the ancestors' courage and the
yellow for the country's wealth. During the left
dictatorship between 1975 and 1990, the flag was
converted to a green field with a red star in one
corner, but when the one-party state was abandoned, the
original flag was reintroduced. The national song,
L'Aube Nouvelle (A New Day's Dawn), can be heard on
course, it will be played on National Day on August 1
(Independence Day). Other important holidays are New
Year's Day and May 1st. Add to this a mix of various
religious festivals (Christian, Muslim and animist, see
Religion). At these, music, and dance, food and drink
often play a big role, just like at weddings and
funerals. Traditional weddings can run weekly. At
funerals there are various rites, often originating in
the voodoo cult, although the deceased was considered a
Christian or a Muslim. In the city of Ouidah, the annual
national voodoo festival draws thousands of visitors on
Opposition is greatest in the south
In the local elections, parties supporting President
Boni Yayi, who have their roots in northern Benin,
receive a large majority in the country as a whole, but
in all the major cities in the south, the opposition
takes home the victory.