Independence Day in Benin
Observed annually on August 1st as a public holiday in Benin, Independence Day is a day that commemorates the country’s independence from France on this date in 1960. Benin originally began as a French colony and then was incorporated into French West Africa at the turn of the 20th century.
Over the years, it would eventually become a self-governing autonomous republic in the greater French Community, but wouldn’t become fully independent until 1960. This country is now known as the Republic of Benin and is bordered by Togo to the West and Nigeria to the east.
The History Of Independence Day In Benin
The region where Benin is now situated was known as the Slave Coast. It was used by Europeans for the enslavement and exportation of Africans for the slave trade. The Portuguese made agreements with local warlords to supply slaves for the slave trade. This resulted in the growth of a Dahomey, a kingdom that became the dominant power in the entire region.
When the slave trade was abolished, Dahomey’s power and influence faded and this allowed the French to take over the region during the 19th century. It would become a colony and French Dahomey was incorporated into French West Africa in 1904.
Dahomey would become an overseas territory of France in 1946 when the Fourth French Republic was established. On December 4th, 1958, the Republic of Dahomey would become a self-governing autonomous republic in the greater French community.
On July 11, 1960, Dahomey became independent and would gain its full independence on the 1st of August of that year. Hubert Maga would become the first president of Dahomey. In 1975, the name of this country would be changed to Benin — after a bay in the Gulf of Guinea known as the Bight of Benin.
Observing Independence Day In Benin
This holiday is observed with a lot of fervor throughout Benin. It’s celebrated with speeches given by politicians and civic leaders. It’s also observed with the playing of the national anthem, dances, and various festivals. Some of the largest celebrations in the country take place in Porto Novo, the capital city of Benin.