Independence Day in Benin Date in the current year: August 1, 2024

Independence Day in Benin Independence Day is a major public holiday in Benin. It is celebrated on August 1 each year to commemorate the day when Benin gained independence from France in 1960.

Prior to European colonization, the territory of present-day Benin was inhabited by various tribes and included a few important city-states in the coastal region. In the early 17th century, the Fon people founded the Kingdom of Dahomey that conquered areas along the coast and became a major regional power. The kingdom was known for its culture and traditions, especially military customs.

The economy of the Kingdom of Dahomey was largely built on slave labor and slave trade. They sold their war captives to European slave traders. Because of this flourishing trade, the region was nicknamed the Slave Coast. According to research, between two and three million African slaves were exported out of this region and traded for textiles, alcohol, tobacco, and other goods.

In the 1807, the United Kingdom adopted the Slave Trade Act that prohibited the slave trade in the British Empire (although the practice of slavery itself wasn’t abolished). Other countries soon followed suit, and the slave trade in the Kingdom of Dahomey began to decline. The last slave ship departed from the region in 1885, carrying slaves to Brazil that hadn’t yet prohibited the slave trade.

When Dahomey lost its status as the regional power, the French saw it as an opportunity to take over the area. Two Franco-Dahomean Wars weakened the kingdom, and the territory became a French protectorate in the 1890s. About a decade later, Dahomey became part of French West Africa, alongside French Guinea, French Sudan (now Mali), Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso). The French constructed a port at Cotonou (which is now the seat of government) and built railroads, while Roman Catholic missions expanded school facilities.

After the Second World War, the world’s colonial system began to collapse, and colonies started to gain more autonomy. Dahomey gained the status of an overseas territory of France in 1946, obtaining its own parliament and representation in the French national assembly.

In 1958, Dahomey became a self-governing republic within the French Union, a political entity created to replace the old French Empire. After a transitional period, the Republic of Dahomey became fully independent from France on August 1, 1960, with Hubert Maga as the country’s fist president. The anniversary of this event is now celebrated as a public holiday.

After a period of turbulence, the country was renamed the People’s Republic of Benin in 1975. The name was derived from the Bight of Benin, part of the Gulf of Africa.

Independence Day is the national holiday of Benin. It is celebrated on a great scale throughout the country. Festivities include patriotic speeches delivered by the president and other politicians, hoisting of the national flag to the sound of the national anthem, etc. The biggest celebration takes place in the capital city of Porto Novo.

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