Music of Benin

Last updated
Dance of greeting, Benin, taken before 1969 COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Meisjes en vrouwen dansen een begroetingsdans TMnr 20007959.jpg
Dance of greeting, Benin, taken before 1969

Benin has played an important role in the African music scene, producing one of the biggest stars to come out of the continent in Angélique Kidjo. Post-independence, the country was home to a vibrant and innovative music scene, where native folk music combined with Ghanaian highlife, French cabaret, American rock, funk and soul, and Congolese rumba. It also has a rich variety of ethnomusicological traditions.

Benin country in Africa

Benin, officially the Republic of Benin and formerly Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. The majority of its population lives on the small southern coastline of the Bight of Benin, part of the Gulf of Guinea in the northernmost tropical portion of the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country's largest city and economic capital. Benin covers an area of 114,763 square kilometres (44,310 sq mi) and its population in 2016 was estimated to be approximately 10.87 million. Benin is a tropical nation, highly dependent on agriculture, and is a large exporter of cotton and palm oil. Substantial employment and income arise from subsistence farming.

Angélique Kidjo Beninese musician

Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, known as Angélique Kidjo, is a Beninese-American singer-songwriter, actress, and activist who is noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos. Time magazine has called her "Africa's premier diva". The BBC has included Kidjo in its list of the African continent's 50 most iconic figures. The Guardian has listed her as one of its Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World and Kidjo is the first woman to be listed among "The 40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa" by Forbes magazine. The Daily Telegraph in London described her as "The undisputed queen of African music" during the 2012 Olympic Games River of Music Festival. In March 2013, National Public Radio (NPR) in America, called her "Africa's greatest living diva". Kidjo is listed among the "2014 Most Influential Africans" by New African magazine and Jeune Afrique. Forbes Afrique put Kidjo on the cover of their "100 most influential women" issue in 2015. On June 6, 2013, Kidjo was elected vice-president of the Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d´Auteurs et Compositeurs (CISAC). She now resides in New York City, where she is an occasional contributor to The New York Times. Kidjo has received Honorary Doctorates from Yale University, Berklee College of Music and Middlebury College. She is the 2018 Harvard University Jazz Master In Residence.

Ghana Republic in West Africa

Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana means "Warrior King" in the Soninke language.


National music

The national anthem of Benin, adopted upon independence in 1960, is "L'Aube Nouvelle" (The New Dawn) by Gilbert Jean Dagnon. The Gangbe brass band is an internationally prominent Beninese ensemble.

National anthem Song that represents a country or sovereign state

A national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people. The majority of national anthems are marches or hymns in style. The countries of Latin America, Central Asia, and Europe tend towards more ornate and operatic pieces, while those in the Middle East, Oceania, Africa, and the Caribbean use a more simplistic fanfare. Some countries that are devolved into multiple constituent states have their own official musical compositions for them ; their constituencies' songs are sometimes referred to as national anthems even though they are not sovereign states.

Independence condition of a nation, country, or state which exercises self-government, and usually sovereignty, over the territory

Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over the territory. The opposite of independence is the status of a dependent territory.

Traditional music

The majority of Benin’s 9.32 million people live in the south. The population includes about 42 ethnic groups overall. These include coastal populations of Yoruba in the southeast, who migrated from what is now Nigeria in the 12th century, the Fon in the south central area around Abomey, Mina, Xueda and Aja who came from what is now Togo.

Yoruba people Ethnic group of West Africa

The Yorùbá people are an African ethnic group that inhabits western Africa. The Yoruba constitute about 44 million people in total. The majority of this population is from Nigeria, where the Yorùbá make up 21% of the country's population, according to the CIA World Factbook, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Most Yoruba people speak the Yoruba language, which is the Niger-Congo language with the largest number of native, L1 or first language speakers.

Nigeria Federal republic in West Africa

Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal republic in West Africa, bordering Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, and Benin in the west. Its coast in the south is located on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The federation comprises 36 states and 1 Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja, is located. The constitution defines Nigeria as a democratic secular country.

Fon people West African ethnic group, largest in Benin

The Fon people, also called Fon nu, Agadja or Dahomey, are a major African ethnic and linguistic group. They are the largest ethnic group in Benin found particularly in its south region; they are also found in southwest Nigeria and Togo. Their total population is estimated to be about 3,500,000 people, and they speak the Fon language, a member of the Gbe languages.

Northern peoples include the Dendi in the north-central area, who came from what is now Mali in the 16th century, the Bariba and Fula people in the northeast and the Betammaribe and Somba in the Atacora Range.[ citation needed ]

The Dendi are an ethnic group located in Togo, northern Benin, Niger and Nigeria, mainly in the plains of the Niger River. They are part of the Songhai people. Derived from the Songhay language, the term "Dendi" translates to "down the river." The community consists of 195,633 people. Among them, only 4,505 live in Nigeria. In Niger they live in around the city of Gaya. Their mother tongue is Dendi.

Mali Republic in West Africa

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa, a region geologically identified with the West African Craton. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi). The population of Mali is 18 million. 67% of its population was estimated to be under the age of 25 in 2017. Its capital is Bamako. The sovereign state of Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara Desert, while the country's southern part, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers. The country's economy centers on agriculture and mining. Some of Mali's prominent natural resources include gold, being the third largest producer of gold in the African continent, and salt.

Bariba people ethnic group

The Bariba people, self designation Baatonu, are the principal inhabitants of Borgou and Alibori Departments, Benin, and cofounders of the Borgu kingdom of what is now northeast Benin and west-central Nigeria. In Nigeria, they are found spread between western Kwara State and the Borgu section of Niger State. There are perhaps a million Bariba, 70% of them in Benin, where they are the fourth largest ethnic group and comprise approximately 1/11 of the population (9.2%). The Bariba are concentrated primarily in the north-east of the country, especially around the city of Nikki, which is considered the traditional Bariba capital. At the end of the 18th century they became independent from the Yoruba of Oyo and formed several kingdoms in the Borgou region. The colonization of Benin by the French at the end of the 19th century, and the imposition of an Anglo-French artificial border, ended Bariba trade in the region.

In 1972, the Kérékou government came to power and instituted curfews and other measures that inhibited musical expression. Kérékou encouraged indigenous folk music. Some musicians, like Tohon Stan, adapted folk styles for mainstream audiences at home and abroad, including tchinkoumé, a funeral music played using water percussion which was adapted into tchink-system music. [1] Sagbohan Danialou, a multi-instrumentalist from Porto Novo, is another very influential musician who transformed traditional Vodou religious rhythms such as kakagbo into popular music. [2]


A curfew is an order specifying a time during which certain regulations apply. Typically it refers to the time when individuals are required to return to and stay in their homes. Such an order may be issued by public authorities but also by the head of a household to those living in the household. For instance, an au pair is typically given a curfew, which regulates when they must return to the host family's home in the evening.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.

Funeral ceremony for a person who has died

A funeral is a ceremony connected with the final disposition of a corpse, such as a burial or cremation, with the attendant observances. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember and respect the dead, from interment, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor. Customs vary between cultures and religious groups. Common secular motivations for funerals include mourning the deceased, celebrating their life, and offering support and sympathy to the bereaved; additionally, funerals may have religious aspects that are intended to help the soul of the deceased reach the afterlife, resurrection or reincarnation.

Ignacio Blazio Osho was perhaps the most influential musician of the post-independence period, alongside Pedro Gnonnas y sus Panchos, Les Volcans and Picoby Band d'Abomey. Pedro produced the song Feso Jaiye, [3] which became a hit and was performed by many bands at the 2nd All-Africa Games in 1973.

Gnonnan Sossou Pierre Kouassivi, known by the stage name Gnonnas Pedro was a singer and musician from Lokossa, Benin. He is perhaps best known as the lead singer of Africando between 1995 and his death in 2004, but had been well known in his home country of Benin and beyond since the 1960s.

Nel Oliver debuted in France in 1976, borrowing elements from all over Africa and the United States to create "Afro-akpala-funk".

The “Tout Puissant” Orchestre Poly-Rythmo are still a household name in Cotonou and one of Africa's most prolific groups with over 50 LPs, hundreds of 45s and CD re-issues of their work. They have toured both Europe and the United States; according to a concert review in the New York Times, the band "belongs on the very short list of the world's greatest funk bands." [4]

Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke is one of the most important young musicians in jazz, infusing African influences. Loueke currently lives in New York and is a member of Herbie Hancock's band.

Wilfrid Houwanou is a Beninese singer-songwriter who goes by the stage name name “ROBBI” (formerly Robbi Slo).

Zeynab Ouloukèmi Habib, born in Abidjan in 1975, has given concerts around Africa and won a Kora Award for Best Female West African Artist in 2005. She released her first album Intori in 2001, a second album D'un endroit à l'autre in 2004, and a third album Olukèmi in 2011. [5]

Gangbé Brass Band, from Cotonou continued the trajectory of transforming traditional Vodou music, combining it with jazz and brass band traditions. [6] Gangbe has released four albums: Gangbe (1998), Togbe (2001), Whendo (2004) and Assiko (2008), and tours extensively in Europe and North America.

The last few decades of the 20th century saw numerous other developments, including the rise of reggae brought from Jamaica by Yaya Yaovi.

In Beninese hip hop and R'n'B, popular artists include Swaggeraux and Swaggereuse Republic, Zeynab, King Jerry Bee a.k.a. Kerekou De Showbiz, Yvan, Nila, Secteur Trema, Dibi Dobo, Pépé Oleka, Kuamy Mensah, Afafa, Diamant Noir, Cotonou City Crew, Ardiess, H2O, Dhalai-k, Kaysee Montejàno, LKS-Clan, Kaizah, Esprit Neg, Nasty Nesta, Mister Blaaz, Self Made Men, B-Syd, DAC, K-libr Volkaniq, Méthod X, Enod, Duce, Roccah, Jay Killah, Polo Orisha, Mutant, Adinon, Jupiter, 3K6, Kemtaan, 3 Game, CTN Heroes, Cyano-Gêne, ADN, 3e Monarchie, WP Baba Djèdjè, Orpair, Big C, Young J, Marshall Cyano, Wilf Enighma, Sam, Radama Z, Shinnin, E-ray, Cruiz AG, Sam Seed, Inox, BMG Yari, Fool' Faya, Mamba Noir, Beezy Baby, Eric le blanc, Assane Sas, Vision, All Baxx, Moona, Sakpata Boy, Trust Infinity Crew, Riacemau.

Benin is also home to zouk musicians such as Richard Flash, Martin Hod, and Miss Espoir.

See also

Related Research Articles

Porto-Novo City and commune in Ouémé, Benin

Porto-Novo is the capital of Benin, and was the capital of French Dahomey. The commune covers an area of 110 square kilometres (42 sq mi) and as of 2002 had a population of 223,552 people.

Music of Mali

The Music of Mali is, like that of most African nations, ethnically diverse, but one influence predominates; that of the ancient Mali Empire of the Mandinka. Mande people make up 50% of the country's population, other ethnic groups include the Fula (17%), Gur-speakers 12%, Songhai people (6%), Tuareg and Moors (10%) and another 5%, including Europeans. Mali is divided into eight regions; Gao, Kayes, Koulikoro, Mopti, Ségou, Sikasso, Tombouctou and Bamako.

Mathieu Kérékou politician

Mathieu Kérékou was a Beninese politician who served as President of Benin from 1972 to 1991 and again from 1996 to 2006. After seizing power in a military coup, he ruled the country for 19 years, for most of that time under an officially Marxist–Leninist ideology, before he was stripped of his powers by the National Conference of 1990. He was defeated in the 1991 presidential election but was returned to the presidency in the 1996 election and controversially re-elected in 2001.

Music of Madagascar

The highly diverse and distinctive music of Madagascar has been shaped by the musical traditions of Southeast Asia, Africa, Arabia, England, France and the United States as successive waves of settlers have made the island their home. Traditional instruments reflect these widespread origins: the mandoliny and kabosy owe their existence to the introduction of the guitar by early Arab or European seafarers, the ubiquitous djembe originated in mainland Africa and the valiha—the bamboo tube zither considered the national instrument of Madagascar—directly evolved from an earlier form of zither carried with the first Austronesian settlers on their outrigger canoes.

Music of the Republic of the Congo

The Republic of the Congo is an African nation with close musical ties to its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Democratic Republic of the Congo's homegrown pop music, soukous, is popular across the border, and musicians from both countries have fluidly travelled throughout the region playing similarly styled music, including Nino Malapet and Jean Serge Essous. Brazzaville had a major music scene until unrest in the late 1990s, and produced popular bands like Bantous de la Capitale that played an integral role in the development of soukous and other styles of Congolese popular music. The Hip-Hop group "Bisso na Bisso" also hails from Congo-Brazzaville.

Peoples Republic of Benin former country

The People's Republic of Benin was a socialist state located in the Gulf of Guinea on the African continent, which would become present-day Benin. The People's Republic was established on 30 November 1975, after the 1972 coup d'état in the Republic of Dahomey. It effectively lasted until 1 March 1990, with the adoption of a new constitution, and the abolition of Marxism-Leninism in the nation in 1989.

Outline of Benin Overview of and topical guide to Benin

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Benin:

Languages of Benin languages of a geographic region

Benin is a diverse country linguistically. A total of 55 languages are spoken in Benin, with 50 being indigenous. Of those, French is the official language, and all the indigenous languages are considered national languages.

Benin, officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in Western Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north; its short coastline to the south leads to the Bight of Benin. Its size is just over 110000 km2 with a population of almost 8500000. Its capital is the Yoruba founded city of Porto Novo, but the seat of government is the Fon city of Cotonou. About half the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou is a band from Cotonou, Benin which plays afrobeat, funk, soukous and other styles, often based on Vodun rhythms. The group is sometimes referred to as "Tout Puissant" Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou.

Benin–China relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Benin and the Peoples Republic of China

Benin – China relations refers to the current and historical relationship between Benin and the People's Republic of China. Relations first established bilateral relations in November 1964. In January 1966, Benin recognized the Republic of China (Taiwan) and withdrew relations from the People's Republic. Benin and PR China reestablished relations in 1972 under the regime of Mathieu Kérékou in Benin. Benin and PR China regularly exchanged high level visits, with Kérékou personally visiting Beijing in 1976, 1986 and 1998. Relations have focused on commercial development. Since 1972, Benin has supported PR China's One China Policy.

Fatoumata Diawara Malian musician and actress

Fatoumata Diawara is a Malian singer-songwriter and multiple Grammy Award nominee currently living in France. She received two nominations at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album for her album Fenfo and Best Dance Recording for Ultimatum featuring the English band Disclosure.

Marie-Cécile Zinsou is a French-Beninese art historian and entrepreneur, She is president of the Fondation Zinsou, founded in 2005 in Cotonou, Republic of Benin, West Africa, which promotes contemporary art in Africa and leads cultural, educational and social initiatives. In 2014 she opened the first museum of contemporary art in Benin.

Zeynab Habid is a Beninese singer of world music born on September 25, 1975 in Abidjan in Ivory Coast. She won the Kora Awards in 2005 in the Category Best Female Artist in West Africa and has been Unicef's National Goodwill Ambassador since 2007.

Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble

Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble is a Finnish–Beninese afrobeat and funk band. Its leading lights are the Finnish guitarist Janne Halonen and the Beninese singer, percussionist and saxophonist Noël Saïzonou.

Adande may refer to the following people:


  1. "the brothers gnonlonfoun vodun gangbe and jomion the uklos". Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  2. "nicolas moncadas orogod vodun and sagbohan danialou". Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  3. Golden days highlife #13 "Feso jaiye" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  4. Pareles, Jon (July 12, 2010). "From West Africa, a Recipe for Spicy Trans-Atlantic Funk". New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  5. "ZEYNAB, DU TALENT ET DES AMBITIONS" . Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  6. "Benin: Transforming traditions". Retrieved 30 January 2014.