Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, the 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 share households.
- Countryaah: 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 high status.
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. According to Countryaah, of 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 January 10.
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.