Benin Brief History

Little is known about the history of northern Benin. In the south, according to oral tradition, a group of the Adja people emigrated during the 12th or 13th centuries to the east of Tado, on the Mono River, and founded the city of Allada, becoming the capital of Great Ardra., a State that reached its maximum power from the beginning of the 16th century until well into the 17th century.

The dynastic disputes between three crown princes supposed in 1625, the dismemberment of the kingdom, remaining Kokpon, like king of Great Ardra, while another brother, Mai-Aklin, founded the city-state of Abomey, and the third, Agdanlin, founded the city from Ajatche or Little Ardra (called Porto-Novo by Portuguese merchants). The Adja of Abomey organized a strongly centralized kingdom supported by a professional army. Over the years, they mixed with the indigenous population of the region, giving rise to the ethnic group known as Dahomey.

At the end of the 17th century, the main economic activity of the Dahomey was the slave trade. They made their forays into neighboring towns, capturing people who were sold as slaves to European traders. Throughout the 18th century, it is estimated that approximately 20,000 slaves were being sold a year, mainly from Greater Ardra and Ouidah, located on what was called the Slave Coast. To establish direct contact with European merchants, King Agaja of Dahomey (1708 – 1732), began the practice of using women as soldiers, and conquered most of the south (except Porto-Novo). This expansion led the Dahomey to clash with the powerful Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, which subdued Abomey in 1738 and forced the Dahomey to pay an annual tribute, a tribute that continued until 1818. However, until the end of the 19th century, Dahomey continued to expand its rule and continued with the slave trade, despite efforts by Great Britain to end it.

French colony

In 1863, Porto – Novo accepted a French protectorate hoping to receive protection against Dahomey’s rule. This French protectorate was part of the colonial measures of the French government in its struggle with the Germans and the British to gain control of the region. To strengthen its position, France tried to approach Dahomey, being rejected by the armed resistance of King Behanzin (1889 – 1893), until his defeat in 1892 – 1993. Then, France established a protectorate in Dahomey and exiled Behanzin to the island of Martinique, in the French West Indies. Between 1895 and In 1898 the French added the northern region of present-day Dahomey to their control, and in 1904 the colony became part of French West Africa.

During the colonial rule the port of Cotonou was built, as well as railways, and the yields of palm products increased. The primary education that the government left in the hands of the Catholic missions spread among the infant population.

In 1946, according to localcollegeexplorer, Dahomey obtained a relative administrative autonomy, endowing itself with its own Parliament that legislated on local matters of little political and economic relevance for the interests of the metropolis, and obtained representation in the French National Assembly. In 1958, Dahomey became part as an autonomous state within the French Community.

Independent nation

The 1 of August of 1960, Dahomey obtains its independence, being named the country ‘s first president, Hubert Maga, supported by Parakou and the north and Sourou Migan Apithy, Porto-Novo politician. From the beginning, the independent Dahomey lived in permanent governmental instability, caused by economic problems (especially fiscal), by rivalries between the north and the south of the country and by social instability.

In 1963, after continuous and massive anti-government demonstrations by workers and students, the armed forces organized a successful coup and placed Justin Ahomadegbé in power (in alliance with Apithy). In 1965 the army replaced the President with Colonel Christophe Soglo. At the end of 1967, a movement of young officers led by Lieutenant Colonel Alley de Alphonse, dismissed Soglo, pledging to reestablish civilian rule and the return of the military to barracks. But in 1968, after the elections were held, the results were disapproved. Emile Zinsou he was appointed President, and shortly after, in 1969, he was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Émile de Souza.

In 1970, Dahomey tried to hold new elections, but serious disagreements between northern and southern politicians led to their cancellation. A military triumvirate formed by Maga, Ahomadegbé, and Apithy was then created, who should take over the government, presiding over it for a period of two years. The first leader was Maga, who in May 1972 was replaced by Ahomadegbé. However, in October of that same year, the army intervened again, removing Ahomadegbé from the leadership of the government and appointing the eleventh president since independence, Mathieu Kérékou. In 1975, to distance the modern state from its colonial past, Dahomey changed its name to the People’s Republic of Benin.

Kérékou declared Benin a Marxist-Leninist state, seeking financial support from the governments of the socialist bloc. Incessant strikes and continuous coup attempts by the army led to the creation of a militia.

Recent history

In 1989, the government renounced Marxism as a state ideology. In 1990, after the celebration of a National Conference, a new Constitution and the holding of multi-party elections were approved by Referendum. In these, in 1991, Nicéphor Soglo defeated Kérékou and was elected president of Benin.

Benin Brief History