Benin spirituality

He had been teaching Yoga in his country and after initiation at the Ashram, his spirituality just blossomed. He has been training Yoga teachers from all over Africa and now has students in all parts from Algeria to Zaire to Tanzania. Before going on to the conference in Burkina Faso, I had the opportunity of fulfilling my lifelong wish to visit the country of ancient civilization, Benin. Here is a brief account of that visit. The parallels between Yoga and other Traditions of India and the spirit of the countries like Benin are most striking and a much detailed study will be required to do it full justice.

I was particularly interested in going to Benin, because it is the cradle of Voodoo. Voodoo is often associated with witchcraft and black magic, but it is in fact a deeply spiritual tradition.

Its basic tenet is the concept of an omnipresent God Creator, too complex for man to understand or communicate with. The visit was prepared by Pascal Kpadjouda a. He gave an introduction into the outlines of Voodoo.

We listened to the chanting, watched traditional dancing, and received blessings. This text gives the highlights of these four encounters. Kpadjouda started by explaining that Voodoo represents God on earth, and that one who lives in harmony with Voodoo will have peace and tranquility in his life. The teachings cover practices taught to the priests and other adepts, as well as the wisdom of how to live daily life, which is taught to everyone.

Transmission is important, and may be of knowledge or of power. The powers and practices of a particular Voodoo are not exclusively transferred to priests, but may also be transferred to laymen. However, the person to receive such a transmission is first observed carefully. He or she must be wise and well behaved, may not have a temper, and must be inclined towards justice.

benin spirituality

God has created everything, and put man on earth as the master of creation. But man does nothing of his own accord, and has to consult the divine will before acting.

Messages from God Creator come down to man through the intermediary of the Voodoos.It is bordered by Togo to the westNigeria to the eastBurkina Faso to the north-westand Niger to the north-east. The majority of its population lives on the small southern coastline of the Bight of Beninpart of the Gulf of Guinea in the northernmost tropical portion of the Atlantic Ocean.

Substantial employment and income arise from subsistence farming. The official language of Benin is Frenchwith several indigenous languages such as FonBaribaYoruba and Dendi also being commonly spoken.

The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicismfollowed closely by IslamVodun commonly referred to as Voodoo outside the country and Protestantism. Little is known of Benin's early history.

Dark secrets: Voodoo in Benin

From the 17th to the 19th century, the main political entities in the area were the Kingdom of Dahomeyalong with the city-state of Porto-Novoand a large area with many different nations to the north. This region was referred to as the Slave Coast from as early as the 17th century due to the large number of enslaved people who were shipped to the New World during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. After enslavement was abolished, France took over the country and renamed it French Dahomey.

InDahomey gained full independence from France. The sovereign state has had a tumultuous history since then, with many different democratic governments, military coups, and military governments.

Init was replaced by the current multi-party Republic of Benin. During the colonial period and at independence, the country was known as Dahomey. On 30 Novemberit was renamed to Benin[15] after the body of water on which the country lies—the Bight of Benin. This had been named by Europeans after the Benin Empire in present-day Nigeria.

The new name, Benin, was chosen for its neutrality. Dahomey was the name of the former Fon Kingdom of Dahomeywhich was limited to most of the southern third of the present country and therefore did not represent Porto-Novo a rival to Yoruba state in the southcentral Benin which is also dominated by the Yorubathe multi-ethnic northwestern sector Atakoranor the Bariba Kingdom of Borguwhich covered the northeastern district.

The current country of Benin combines three areas which had distinctly different political systems and ethnicities prior to French colonial control. Beforethere were a few important city-states along the coast primarily of the Aja ethnic group, but also including Yoruba and Gbe peoples and a mass of tribal regions inland composed of BaribaMahi, Gedevi, and Kabye peoples.

The Oyo Empirelocated primarily to the east of modern Benin, was the most significant large-scale military force in the region. It regularly conducted raids and exacted tribute from the coastal kingdoms and the tribal regions. The Dahomey Kingdom was known for its culture and traditions. Young boys were often apprenticed to older soldiers, and taught the kingdom's military customs until they were old enough to join the army.

This emphasis on military preparation and achievement earned Dahomey the nickname of "black Sparta " from European observers and 19th-century explorers such as Sir Richard Burton.

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The kings of Dahomey sold their war captives into transatlantic slavery. Though the leaders of Dahomey appear to have initially resisted the slave trade, it flourished in the region of Dahomey for almost three hundred years, beginning in with a trade agreement with Portuguese merchants. The area was named the "Slave Coast" because of this flourishing trade. Court protocols, which demanded that a portion of war captives from the kingdom's many battles be decapitated, decreased the number of enslaved people exported from the area.

The number went frompeople per decade in the s to 24, per decade by the s. It was originally developed as a port for the slave trade. By the middle of the nineteenth century, Dahomey had begun to weaken and lose its status as the regional power. This enabled the French to take over the area in InFrance granted autonomy to the Republic of Dahomeyand full independence on 1 Augustwhich is celebrated each year as Independence Day, a national holiday.

For the next twelve years afterethnic strife contributed to a period of turbulence. These three agreed to form a Presidential Council after violence marred the elections. On 26 OctoberLt. On 30 November however, he announced that the country was officially Marxistunder control of the Military Council of the Revolution CMRwhich nationalized the petroleum industry and banks.

On 30 Novemberhe renamed the country to the People's Republic of Benin. Establishing relations with ChinaNorth Koreaand Libyahe put nearly all businesses and economic activities under state control, causing foreign investment in Benin to dry up.In the tiny West African nation of Benin, Voodoo remains the state religion.

Enter a world of python temples, haystack cults and oozing fetish shrines Barefoot, I stepped onto a putrefying mound of candle wax, palm oil and the feathers and blood of sacrificed goats and chickens. I was ready to converse with the spirit god Dankoli. In a shady woodland glade before the charred tree-stump fetish, adorned with jawbones, I hammered a wooden peg into the gooey shrine. After beseeching the god to grant my wish, I sealed our deal by anointing the shrine with blood-red palm oil and spitting out three mouthfuls of fiery homemade gin.

I won't reveal what I wished for. Anyhow this was not my real inspiration for visiting Benin, a peaceful democratic West African minnow squeezed between Nigeria and Togo. Written nearly 30 years ago, it tells of Dom Francisco de Silva, a 19th-century Brazilian migrant who became Benin's most notorious slave trader.

Chatwin's narrative of bloodthirsty African kings, slavery, and French and Portuguese ambitions, is enthralling. Handcrafted voodoo statues for sale at the Benin Voodoo festival, near Ouidah Shutterstock. While Voodoo certainly isn't fiction here, witnessing it in action seems unlikely at first. In Cotonou, Benin's largest city, the tourist office told me to return in January, because I'd only see Voodoo at an annual festival in Ouidah offering choreographed ceremonies for Benin's trickle of largely French tourists.

This is far from the truth. Beninese worship a pantheon of Voodoo deities and with a good guide and a few financial inducements, authentic ceremonies can be witnessed all year round.

With this knowledge I headed to Porto Novo, a lagoon-facing former French colonial city ofpeople, minutes drive from busy Cotonou, and on the flat coastal plain of south Benin's Voodoo heartland. An attractive city of spirits worshipped by the animist Goun people, Porto Novo's most visible ghosts are world-weary French houses with honey-coloured facades and peeling shutters, and I spent my first morning exploring its fine museums.

Kings are ten-a-penny in Benin although, as museum guide Mireille explained, Benin's monarchy endured a hiatus during French colonisation in the s and its year flirtation with Communism. Porto Novo's ceremonial king no longer resides inside Honme's maze of red-earthen compounds.

Nor does he take advantage of the royal bathhouse where two new queens were once prepared for the reigning monarch every 21 days, or the mysterious chambre noire where successive rulers consulted the spirits about their destiny. Its door was firmly shut. Nearby, the hefty wooden doors of a curious-looking building shaped like an enormous haystack — the lodge of the god Zangbeto — were closed too.

benin spirituality

Members of this secretive cult patrol Beninese streets after dark like unofficial police, dressing in haystack costumes and sporting sticks to beat unruly citizens. I walked around late every evening hoping to witness them, but I never did. And then fate eventually smiled upon me.

I met an English-speaking teacher called Yvette who took me to see a local Fa reader. In a cupboard-sized room, crammed with potions, the medium Casmin Fabiyi fingered his Fa beads threads of eight wooden disks like a rosary.The population of Benin is approximately Culturally diverse, Benin's people follow a diverse mix of Christian, Muslim and West African traditional beliefs.

Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religious group in Benin and is followed closely by Islam and Vodun. In Benin, Christianity is the most practiced religion with more than half of the entire Christian group belonging to Roman Catholicism. Christianity entered Benin during the late 16th century.

The Roman Catholic Christians in Benin have women and men in religious order and priests. Islam was brought into Benin by the Songhai-Dendi traders and Hausa from the north.

Most Muslims in Benin practice the Sunni which is an Islamic branch with the existence of Shi'a Muslims who are very few and are mostly expatriates from the Middle East. A lot of the nominal Muslims in Benin practice Islam together with their traditional local religious beliefs. Vodun which means spirit in the Ewe and Fon language is widely practiced by many West African countries mostly in the southern and central regions of Benin.

Vodun religious beliefs are entirely different from other African traditional beliefs since it is syncretized with Christian beliefs to some extent together with indigenous American traditions and the traditional beliefs of the Kongo people. Vodun majorly concentrates on spirits and divine elements that rule the earth, deities which govern human society and natural forces as well as spirits of individual trees, streams and rocks and defenders of a certain nation, clan or tribe.

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Vodun is the center of the religious life and has female priesthood which can be hereditary being passed down from mother to daughter.

The Vodun worship believes in a divine Creator known as Mawu or Mahu a female being who gave birth to seven children and gave them dominion over seven different realms of nature.

The Benin Empire

Christianity first entered Benin around the year and gained momentum during the 19th century. InEnglish Methodists began in Benin spreading among the Gun people from the coastal region. Just like most nominal Muslims, some nominal Christians also practice traditional local religious beliefs.

Benin's constitution provides for freedom of religion which is also respected by the government. Culturally diverse, Benin's people follow a diverse mix of Christian, Muslim, and West African traditional beliefs.

He is a frequent World Atlas contributor. All rights reserved.

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Cotonou Cathedral, Benin. What are the religious beliefs in Benin?

benin spirituality

Benjamin Elisha Sawe Writer. This page was last updated on April 25, By Benjamin Elisha Sawe. Your Chicago Citation Copy to Clipboard. Your Harvard Citation Remember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.

Copy to Clipboard. Load comments.Since gaining its independence inBenin has struggled to find its identity. Since then, the economy has slowly improved and there is an increasing sense of growth, stability, and optimism in Benin. However, this progress has brought to light the deep issues of tribal rivalry, a poorly developed infrastructure, extreme poverty, and most importantly, the great spiritual need in the country.

The birthplace of voodoo, Benin is home to more than 10 million people with urgent spiritual needs. While Roman Catholicism and Islam are the most prominent religions, voodoo exerts a strong influence on every aspect of life in Benin. Many fearfully worship several gods and ancestors and work to appease them through rituals and ceremonies with offerings and animal sacrifices.

Those who practice voodoo live a life of constant fear, as they must keep the spirits pleased to avoid illness and bad fortune. While Christianity is growing in Benin, the gospel is being infected this spiritual cancer. The people of Benin need to hear the truth of the Gospel and to understand the freedom available to them in Jesus Christ.

While Benin has been a burden on our heart for years, ABWE has had little actual missionary activity in the country. In the past our main focus has been on building a leadership training effort out of neighboring Togo, where ABWE has a large presence. In the coming years, we are working to build an influential ministry team of ABWE missionaries and national leaders from Benin and Togo to disciple and share the gospel with the spiritually needy people of Benin.

We are looking for people to join a new pioneer team who will study the animist culture, build strong relationships, learn to share truth in culturally relevant ways, and mentor leaders. They need YOU. Skip to main content. Search form Search this site. Start the Conversation Now. Browse a list of all locations. Overview of our work in Africa. Ministry Focus.

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Latin America. Middle East. North America. ABWE is also at work in countries that restrict evangelism. Learn about limited access.Obokhian Welcome! The Edo people trace their indigenous spiritual sciences to the well known and ancient kingdom of Egypt. It is through Egypt that most African magic and spiritual sciences had its origin. Egypt, an African civilization, spread its spiritual sciences through the continent by traders, scholars and those priest that fled Egypt as a result of several invasions.

From Egypt spread its spiritual sciences that manifest in one form or another in smaller increments to the rest of Africa and subsequently to the world. Therefore, it is through African spiritual sciences that one can get a closer view at the remnants of Egyptian magic.

Edo cosmology is a unification of monotheism and polytheism. Monotheism because there is a high god that in uncontested. Polytheism because there are lesser deities that assist the high god in carrying out the order of the cosmos.

The reality of Voodoo in Benin

The physical world is a reflection of the spiritual world. In order to understand indigenous African spiritual science, one must look at its deities.

benin spirituality

Most are aggressive deities and work swiftly. He is truly benevolent and grants most wishes with His powerful Ise ase. Osanobua is God Almighty. Osa gha mudia ne ihokho, to setin bun ughavban—When God stands with the mushroom, it can break an axe. Uhunmwun personal deity of your head Uhunmwun is the personal deity of the Head.

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Your Head controls the implementation of your destiny and good luck. Your Uhunwun enables you to be successful. The Head controls the body or hands.

The hands allow the ideas of the Head to manifest. Obo a mien uhumwun, evbie—If the hand does not meet the head it does not sleep! Uhunmwun is what Yoruba worship as Ori and Ori Inu. In addition, Oronmila is one of the great oracles of Benin. He is the same as the Yoruba Orunmila or Ifa. Oronmila is a divination deity. There are many divination deities and systems in Africa. The oracle travelled. Oguega deity of wisdom Oguega or Iha Ominigbon refers both to the indigenous system of divination in Great Benin, as well as the prophet who brought it to Benin City.

Identical to Ifa divination, although more concise and faster. Agan ma bie ukpoko l ra of Oguega egba!

Minute Faith ~ Yoruba Spirituality

Esu deity of confusion Esu is an ancient deity in Great Benin and is the messenger who takes sacrifice to erinmwin spirit world. Sacrifice is essential to indigenous African religion and spirituality. Therefore, Esu place of importance is very lofty. Esu mu iyeke de owa, o no ovbukho.

A kpe ghe te o ghi mu ero de ode vbo?Religion in Benin census [1]. Christianity is the most widely professed religion in Beninwith Consequently, it plays an important role in shaping the country's social and cultural life. According to the estimate by the government of Beninthe population of Benin is Among the most practiced African Traditional Religions in Benin is the Vodun system of belief which originated in this area of Africa.

Other African Traditional Religions are practiced in the Atakora Atakora and Donga provinces and Vodun and Orisha or Orisa veneration among the Yoruba and Tado peoples is prevalent in the center and south of the country.

The town of Ouidah on the central coast is the spiritual center of Beninese Vodun. The Tado and the Yoruba Orisha pantheons correspond closely:.

Christianity first reached Benin ingaining more permanent footing in the 19th century. English Methodists arrived inoperating amongst the coastal Gun people. There are priests and men and women in religious orders. Nearly all Muslims adhere to the Sunni Maliki branch of Islam.

Many nominal Muslims also practice traditional local religious beliefs. Three out of twelve departments have a Muslim majority: Alibori Other religious groups in Benin include Eckankar and Baha'is. The Constitution of Benin provides for freedom of religionand the government generally respects this right in practice. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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