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Victor's and Barbara's Travel Diaries

 Dahomey (now Republic of Benin)  1970
In October 1970 we drove west from Lagos Nigeria, along to the neighbouring West-African country, Dahomey.  (Dahomey subsequently changed its name to the Republic of Benin in 1975).  The road trip was interupted frequently by children with ropes woven from palm leaves slung across the road. They demanded "cadeaux",  French for "gifts",  the Francophone equivalent of Nigeria's "dash me master". Well-armed, we responded with bags of sweets.

We found Dahomey to be less-deveolped than Nigeria, possibly because it still relied on palm oil and coconut trade, having no oil. We visited the biggest city Cotonou, which was relatively small at that time, just over 70,000 people, whereas now it has expanded officially to 700,000, ten times bigger in 42 years. We found all the people to be friendly, though most could barely speak a dozen words of French. Interestingly, the main language in this eastern part of Dahomey is Yoruba, the same language spoken in western Nigeria. Another amazing discovery we made  was in Cotonou's main street, where there was a French boulanger and patisserie, staffed by Frenchmen!  Nothing of this sort was allowed in Nigeria, where very strict expatriate quota rules applied.
A market in Cotonou Dahomey. A village in dahomey
A market in Cotonou, Dahomey. A village in Dahomey