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Benin is located in west Africa and is bordered by Togo and Nigeria. The official language is French, but the tribal languages, Fon and Yoruba, are also commonly spoken. Many children are taught in their local language in school and do not learn French until later. Benin has a strong cultural tradition in literature and music, as well as a long-standing tradition of oral literature extending back before the French language became dominate. Approximately 42% of the population is Christian (mostly Catholic with a mix of other denominations), while there are also many who practice Islam and Vodun.
Snapshot of Benin – The official language of Benin is French, but the tribal languages Fon and Yoruba are also commonly spoken. Many children are taught in their local language in school and do not learn French until later on. Benin has a strong cultural tradition in literature and music. Approximately 42% of the population is Christian (mostly Catholic with a mix of other denominations), there are also many who practice Islam and Vodun. Other animistic religions are also common among indigenous tribes. Food in Benin varies by region; in the south, corn is used in many meals to make a dough that is served with peanut- or tomato-based sauces. Vegetable fat is often used instead of meat in meals because it is less expensive, however fish and chicken are the most commonly used types of meats in the south. In the north, yams, beef and pork are used in many meals.
Snapshot of Togo (part of the Benin Contonou Mission)
Togo’s official language is French, however Ewé and Kabiyé are both recognized as national languages. Ewé is spoken in the south, while Kabiyé is more commonly spoken in the north. Several other indigenous languages are also present in the country. Most Togolese continue to practice a variety of indigenous religious beliefs. About 30% of the population is Christian and another 20% is Muslim. Traditional culture is still very dominant, as illustrated by wooden sculptures showing worship of the ibéji. Folk songs and percussion-based dance music are used in different festivals and celebrations, though hip hop and other modern forms of music are gaining popularity. Soccer is the most popular sport in Togo. Corn is the staple food in Togo, though fufu (a dough made from cassava), and pâté (a type of meat and/or vegetable paste) are also commonly eaten. Corn-on-the-cob, peanuts, and omelettes are often found at roadside stands. Fish is eaten more often than other types of meat, though hunting for wild bush meat is still a common practice as well.
The Church was first established in Cotonou, Benin in the late 1990’s and covers quite an extensive area. While the area is quite large, membership has been growing faster there than in almost any area in the world. Membership in the past five years has quintupled. Much of this growth has been attributed to the increase of missionaries, strong membership, and an increase in member missionary work. While much has been done to further the work, there is still plenty of room in the area for growth and progression; it is a very active and exciting time to serve there.
Food in Benin varies by region; in the southern areas, corn is used in many meals to make a dough that is served with peanut or tomato-based sauces. Vegetable fat is often used instead of meat in meals because it is less expensive; however, fish and chicken are the most commonly-used types of meat in the southern areas, as well as the occasional beef, goat, and bush rat. Rice, beans, tomatoes, and couscous are also highly prevalent; oranges, bananas, kiwis, pineapples, and avocados also grow in the area. In the northern areas, yams, beef and pork are used in many meals as well as cheese, fruits, and couscous, rice, and beans.
Roads are often in poor condition, and there is no public transportation system. Most travel is done via biking and walking.
Perhaps the largest proponent for potential danger lies in eating food that has not been prepared correctly. When eating food, particularly if it has been prepared on the street, be sure that it is always still hot and has been fully cooked, reducing the risk of bacteria. Malaria is a risk factor, also, as mosquitoes are in high concentration; a large amount of standing water increases their presence and reproduction.
Many of the public holidays come from Christian, Islamic, and Vodoun traditions, such as Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad), All Saints Day, and the Feast of Sacrifice. Siestas (naps) are a common custom.
Because of the high mosquito population, bug spray and insect precautions are a must.
Quartier Cadjehoun # 1158
01 BP 3323 Cotonou