Jerry John Rawlings is a former Ghanaian military leader and politician who ruled the country from 1981 to 2001 and for a brief period in 1979. He led a military junta until 1992 and served two terms as the democratically elected President of Ghana. Rawlings came to power in Ghana as a flight lieutenant of the Ghana Air Force following a coup d'état in 1979 and, after handing power over to a civilian government, took back control of the country on 31 December 1981 as the Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council. In 1992, Rawlings resigned from the military, founded the National Democratic Congress, became the first President of the Fourth Republic, he was re-elected in 1996 for four more years. After two terms in office, the limit according to the Ghanaian Constitution, Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as presidential candidate in 2000, he serves as the African Union envoy to Somalia. Jerry John Rawlings was born in June 1947 in Accra, Ghana, to Victoria Agbotui and James Ramsey John, a chemist from Castle Douglas in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland.
James Ramsey John was married in England to someone else and his descendants now live in Newcastle and London. Rawlings attended Achimota School. Rawlings' family had little influence in his ideology, as the tribes his family belonged to, the Nzema and the Ewe, were sub-groups of minimal importance, he was the only child born to his mother; this lack of a prominent lineage that became a political advantage for Rawlings, as it signaled freedom from family or tribal pressures. Rawlings is married to Nana Konadu Agyeman, who he met in Achimota College, they have three daughters: Ezanetor Rawlings, Yaa Asantewaa Rawlings, Amina Rawlings. Rawlings finished his secondary education in Achimota College in 1967 and had no education outside of Ghana, he joined the Ghana air force shortly afterwards. In March, 1968, he was posted to Takoradi in the Western Region to continue his studies, he graduated in January 1969, was commissioned a Pilot Officer, winning the coveted "Speed Bird Trophy" as the best cadet in flying the Su-7 ground attack supersonic jet aircraft.
He earned the rank of Flight Lieutenant in April 1978. During his service with the Ghanaian Air Force, Rawlings perceived a deterioration of discipline and morale, reflecting the corruption of the Supreme Military Council at that time; as promotion brought him into contact with the privileged classes and their social values, his view of the injustices in society hardened. He was thus regarded with some unease by the SMC. After the 1979 coup, he involved himself with the student community of the University of Ghana, where he developed more leftist ideology through reading and discussion of social and political ideas. Rawlings grew discontent with Acheampong's government, which had come to power through a successful coup in January 1972. Acheampong was not only accused of corruption, but of maintaining Ghana's dependency on pre-colonial powers that led to economic decline and impoverishment. Rawlings was part of the Free Africa Movement, an underground movement of military officers who wanted to unify Africa through a series of coups.
On 15 May 1979, five weeks prior to civilian elections and six other soldiers staged a coup against the government of General Fred Akuffo, but failed and was arrested by the Ghanaian Military. He was publicly sentenced to death in a General Court Martial and imprisoned, although his statements on the social injustices that motivated his actions won him civilian sympathy. While awaiting his execution, Rawlings was sprung from custody on 4 June 1979 by a group of soldiers. Claiming that the government was corrupt beyond redemption and that new leadership was required for Ghana's development, he led the group in a coup to oust the Akuffo Government and Supreme Military Council. Shortly after, Rawlings established and became the Chairman of a 15-member Armed Forces Revolutionary Council composed of junior officers; the AFRC would become the Provisional National Defense Council. The PNDC arranged the execution by firing squad of 8 military officers, including Generals Kotei, Joy Amedume, Roger Felli, Utuka, as well as the 3 former heads of state, Afrifa and Akuffo.
The killings of the Supreme Court justices, military officers Major Sam Acquah and Major Dasana Nantogmah occurred during this time. The executions were dramatic events in Ghana history, which had suffered from few instances of political violence. Rawlings implemented a much wider "house-cleaning exercise" involving the killings and abduction of over 300 Ghanaians. Elections were held on time shortly after the coup, without AFRC intervention in civilian rule. Power was peacefully handed to President Hilla Limann on 24 September 1979, whose People's National Party had the support of Nkrumah's followers. Rawlings believed the Limann regime to be unable to resolve Ghana's neocolonial economic dependency and led a second coup against Limann and indicted the entire political class on 31 December 1981. In place of Limann's People's National Party, Rawlings established his party, the Provisional National Defence Council military junta as the official one-party government. Although the PNDC claimed to be true representatives of the people, it lacked experience in the creation and implementation of clear economic policies.
Rawlings, like many of his predecessors, attributed current economic and social problems to the "trade malpractices and other anti-social activities" of a few businesspeople. In December 1982, the PNDC announced its four-year economic programme of establishing a state monopoly on export-import trade
Minister of Foreign Affairs (Burkina Faso)
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Burkina Faso is a government minister in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, responsible for conducting foreign relations of the country. The following is a list of foreign ministers of Upper Volta/Burkina Faso since its founding in 1960: Rulers.org – Foreign ministers A–D
Nigeria 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, 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. Nigeria has been home to states over the millennia; the modern state originated from British colonial rule beginning in the 19th century, took its present territorial shape with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914. The British set up administrative and legal structures while practising indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms. Nigeria became a formally independent federation in 1960, it experienced a civil war from 1967 to 1970. It thereafter alternated between democratically elected civilian governments and military dictatorships until it achieved a stable democracy in 1999, with the 2011 presidential election considered the first to be reasonably free and fair.
Nigeria is referred to as the "Giant of Africa", owing to its large population and economy. With 186 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world. Nigeria has the third-largest youth population in the world, after India and China, with more than 90 million of its population under age 18; the country is viewed as a multinational state as it is inhabited by 250 ethnic groups, of which the three largest are the Hausa and Yoruba. The official language is English. Nigeria is divided in half between Christians, who live in the southern part of the country, Muslims, who live in the north. A minority of the population practice religions indigenous to Nigeria, such as those native to the Igbo and Yoruba ethnicities; as of 2015, Nigeria is the world's 20th largest economy, worth more than $500 billion and $1 trillion in terms of nominal GDP and purchasing power parity respectively. It overtook South Africa to become Africa's largest economy in 2014.
The 2013 debt-to-GDP ratio was 11 percent. Nigeria is considered to be an emerging market by the World Bank. However, it has a "low" Human Development Index, ranking 152nd in the world. Nigeria is a member of the MINT group of countries, which are seen as the globe's next "BRIC-like" economies, it is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies set to become among the biggest in the world. Nigeria is a founding member of the African Union and a member of many other international organizations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and OPEC; the name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country. This name was coined in the late 19th century by British journalist Flora Shaw, who married Lord Lugard, a British colonial administrator; the origin of the name Niger, which applied only to the middle reaches of the Niger River, is uncertain. The word is an alteration of the Tuareg name egerew n-igerewen used by inhabitants along the middle reaches of the river around Timbuktu prior to 19th-century European colonialism.
The Nok civilisation of Northern Nigeria flourished between 500 BC and AD 200, producing life-sized terracotta figures that are some of the earliest known sculptures in Sub-Saharan Africa. Further north, the cities Kano and Katsina have a recorded history dating to around 999 AD. Hausa kingdoms and the Kanem–Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West Africa; the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people consolidated in the 10th century and continued until it lost its sovereignty to the British in 1911. Nri was ruled by the Eze Nri, the city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture. Nri and Aguleri, where the Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the Umeuri clan. Members of the clan trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure Eri. In West Africa, the oldest bronzes made using the lost-wax process were from Igbo-Ukwu, a city under Nri influence; the Yoruba kingdoms of Ife and Oyo in southwestern Nigeria became prominent in the 12th and 14th centuries, respectively.
The oldest signs of human settlement at Ife's current site date back to the 9th century, its material culture includes terracotta and bronze figures. Oyo, at its territorial zenith in the late 17th to early 18th centuries, extended its influence from western Nigeria to modern-day Togo; the Edo's Benin Empire is located in southwestern Nigeria. Benin's power lasted between the 19th centuries, their dominance reached further. At the beginning of the 19th century, Usman dan Fodio directed a successful jihad and created and led the centralised Fulani Empire; the territory controlled by the resultant state included much of modern-day northern and central Nigeria. For centuries, various peoples in modern-day Nigeria traded overland with traders from North Africa. Cities in the area became regional centres in a broad network of trade routes that spanned western and northern Africa. In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin significant, direct trade with peoples of modern-day Nigeria, at the port they named Lago
The Tuareg people are a large Berber ethnic confederation. They principally inhabit the Sahara in a vast area stretching from far southwestern Libya to southern Algeria, Niger and Burkina Faso. Traditionally nomadic pastoralists, small groups of Tuareg are found in northern Nigeria; the Tuareg speak the Tuareg languages. The Tuaregs have been called the "blue people" for the indigo-dye coloured clothes they traditionally wear and which stains their skin. A semi-nomadic Muslim people, they are believed to be descendants of the Berber natives of North Africa; the Tuaregs have been one of the ethnic groups that have been influential in the spread of Islam and its legacy in North Africa and the adjacent Sahel region. Tuareg society has traditionally featured clan membership, social status and caste hierarchies within each political confederation; the Tuareg have controlled several trans-Saharan trade routes and have been an important party to the conflicts in the Saharan region during the colonial and post-colonial era.
The origin and the meaning of the name Tuareg have long been debated, with various etymologies hypothesized. It would appear that Twārəg is derived from the broken plural of Tārgi, a name whose former meaning was "inhabitant of Targa", the Tuareg name of the Libyan region known as Fezzan. Targa in Berber means " channel". Another theory is that Tuareg is derived from the plural of the Arabic exonym Tariqi; the term for a Tuareg man is the term for a woman Tamajaq. Spellings of the appellation vary by Tuareg dialect. However, they all reflect the same linguistic root, expressing the notion of "freemen"; as such, the endonym refers only to the Tuareg nobility, not the artisanal client castes and the slaves. Two other Tuareg self-designations are Kel Tamasheq, meaning "speakers of Tamasheq", Kel Tagelmust, meaning "veiled people" in allusion to the tagelmust garment, traditionally worn by Tuareg men; the English exonym "Blue People" is derived from the indigo color of the tagelmust veils and other clothing, which sometimes stains the skin underneath.
Another term for the Tuareg is Imuhagh or Imushagh, a cognate to the northern Berber self-name Imazighen. The Tuareg today inhabit a vast area in the Sahara, stretching from far southwestern Libya to southern Algeria, Niger and Burkina Faso, their combined population in these territories exceeds 2.5 million, with an estimated population in Niger of around 2 million and in Mali of another 0.5 million (3% of inhabitants. The Tuareg are the majority ethnic group in the Kidal Region of northeastern Mali; the Tuareg traditionally speak the Tuareg languages known as Tamasheq, Tamashekin and Kidal. These tongues belong to the Berber branch of the Afroasiatic family. According to Ethnologue, there are an estimated 1.2 million Tuareg speakers. Around half this number consists of speakers of the Eastern dialect; the exact number of Tuareg speakers per territory is uncertain. The CIA estimates that the Tuareg population in Mali constitutes 0.9% of the national population, whereas about 3.5% of local inhabitants speak Tuareg as a primary language.
In contrast, Imperato estimates. In antiquity, the Tuareg moved southward from the Tafilalt region into the Sahel under the Tuareg founding queen Tin Hinan, believed to have lived between the 4th and 5th century; the matriarch's 1,500 year old monumental Tin Hinan tomb is located in the Sahara at Abalessa in the Hoggar Mountains of southern Algeria. Vestiges of an inscription in Tifinagh, the Tuareg's traditional Libyco-Berber writing script, have been found on one of the ancient sepulchre's walls. External accounts of interaction with the Tuareg are available from at least the 10th century. Ibn Hawkal, El-Bekri, Ibn Batutah, Leo Africanus, all documented the Tuareg in some form as Mulatthamin or “the veiled ones.” Of the early historians, fourteenth century Arab scholar, Ibn Khaldûn has some of the most detailed commentary on the life and people of the Sahara, though he never met them. Some studies have linked the Tuareg to early ancient Egyptian civilization. At the turn of the 19th century, the Tuareg territory was organised into confederations, each ruled by a supreme Chief, along with a counsel of elders from each tribe.
These confederations are sometimes called "Drum Groups" after the Amenokal's symbol of authority, a drum. Clan elders, called Imegharan, are chosen to assist the chief of the confederation. There have been seven major confederations: Kel Ajjer or Azjar: centre is the oasis of Aghat. Kel Ahaggar, in Ahaggar mountains. Kel Adagh, or Kel Assuk: Kidal, Tin Buktu Iwillimmidan Kel Ataram, or Western Iwillimmidan: Ménaka, Azawagh region Iwillimmidan Kel Denneg, or Eastern Iwillimmidan: Tchin-Tabaraden, Teliya Azawagh. Kel Ayr: Assodé, Agadez, In Gal and Ifrwan. Kel Gres: Zinder and Tanut and south into northern Nigeria. Kel Owey: Aïr Massif, seasonally south to Tessaoua In the late 19th century, the Tuareg resisted the French colonial invasion of their Central Saharan homelands and annihilated a French expedition led by Paul Flatters in 1881. However, in the long run Tuareg broadswords were no match for the more advanced weapons of French
Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
Roch Marc Christian Kaboré is a Burkinabé politician and banker and the President of Burkina Faso, in office since 2015. He served as the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso between 1994 and 1996 and President of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso from 2002 to 2012, he served as President of the Congress for Democracy and Progress. In January 2014, he left the ruling CDP and joined a new opposition party, the People's Movement for Progress, he was elected as President of Burkina Faso in the November 2015 general election, winning a majority in the first round of voting. Upon taking office, he became the first non-interim president in 49 years without any past ties to the military. Kaboré was born in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso called Upper Volta, he attended school from 1962 to 1968, when he received his CPS. On completing this basic education certificate, he attended the Collège Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, a selective school in Ouagadougou, he studied there from 1968 to 1975, passing his BEPC or General Certificate in 1972 and his baccalauréat in 1975.
He went on to study economics at the University of Dijon. There, he completed his BA in 1979 and his Master's in 1980. Kaboré met Sika Bella Kaboré, while both were studying in France; the couple have three children. Kaboré, like his father, Charles Bila Kaboré, worked as a banker for the International Bank of Burkina, he was promoted to head Burkina Faso's largest bank during the presidency of Thomas Sankara. In 1984, aged 27, he was named the General Director of the BIB, he served in the government of Burkina Faso as a Minister, was a Special Adviser of the President, has been a Deputy in the National Assembly. He became Prime Minister in 1994; when the Congress for Democracy and Progress was formed in early February 1996, Kaboré resigned as Prime Minister and became the new ruling party's First Vice-President, as well as Special Adviser at the Presidency. On 6 June 2002, he was elected as President of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso, succeeding Mélégué Maurice Traoré. In the May 2007 parliamentary election, Kaboré was re-elected to the National Assembly as the first candidate on the CDP's national list.
Following the election, the National Assembly again elected Kaboré as its president. He received 90 votes, while Norbert Tiendrébéogo received 13. Kaboré, along with a number of other prominent figures in the CDP, announced his resignation from the party on 6 January 2014; those who resigned said that the party was being run in an undemocratic and damaging manner, they expressed opposition to plans to amend the constitution to eliminate term limits, which would allow President Blaise Compaoré to stand for re-election in 2015. On 25 January 2014, a new opposition party led by Kaboré, the People's Movement for Progress, was founded. At an MPP convention held at the Ouagadougou Palais des Sports on 4–5 July 2015, Kaboré was confirmed as the MPP candidate for the presidential elections due to be held on 29 November 2015. In the election of 29 November 2015, Kaboré won the election in the first round of voting, receiving 53.5% of the vote against 29.7% for the second place candidate, Zephirin Diabré.
He was sworn in as President on 29 December 2015. He appointed Paul Kaba Thieba, an economist, as Prime Minister on 7 January 2016; the composition of the new government was announced on 13 January, with Kaboré taking charge of the ministerial portfolio for defense and veteran affairs. Jean-Claude Bouda, who served as Minister of Youth, was appointed on 20 February 2017 to take over from Kaboré as Minister of Defense. Media related to Roch Marc Christian Kaboré at Wikimedia Commons
Niger or the Niger the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River. Niger is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin to the southwest, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria to the northwest. Niger covers a land area of 1,270,000 km2, making it the largest country in West Africa. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara Desert; the country's predominantly Islamic population of about 21 million live in clusters in the far south and west of the country. The capital city is Niamey, located in Niger's southwest corner. Niger is a developing country, which ranks near the bottom in the United Nations' Human Development Index. Much of the non-desert portions of the country are threatened by periodic drought and desertification; the economy is concentrated around subsistence, with some export agriculture in the more fertile south, export of raw materials uranium ore. Niger faces serious challenges to development due to its landlocked position, desert terrain, inefficient agriculture, high fertility rates without birth control, the resulting overpopulation, the poor educational level and poverty of its people, lack of infrastructure, poor healthcare, environmental degradation.
Nigerien society reflects a diversity drawn from the long independent histories of its several ethnic groups and regions and their short period living in a single state. What is now Niger has been on the fringes of several large states. Since independence, Nigeriens have lived under five constitutions and three periods of military rule. After the military coup in 2010, Niger became a multi-party state. A majority of the population lives in rural areas, have little access to advanced education. Early human settlement in Niger is evidenced by numerous archaeological remains. In prehistoric times, the climate of the Sahara was wet and provided favorable conditions for agriculture and livestock herding in a fertile grassland environment five thousand years ago. In 2005–06, a graveyard in the Ténéré desert was discovered by Paul Sereno, a paleontologist from the University of Chicago, his team discovered 5,000-year-old remains of two children in the Ténéré Desert. The evidence along with remains of animals that do not live in desert are among the strongest evidence of the'green' Sahara in Niger.
It is believed that progressive desertification around 5000 BC pushed sedentary populations to the south and south-east. By at least the 5th century BC, Niger had become an area of trans-Saharan trade, led by the Berber tribes from the north, who used camels as a well-adapted means of transportation through the desert; this trade made Agadez a pivotal place of the trans-Saharan trade. This mobility, which would continue in waves for several centuries, was accompanied with further migration to the south and interbreeding between southern black and northern white populations, it was aided by the introduction of Islam to the region at the end of the 7th century. Several empires and kingdoms flourished during this era, up to the beginning of colonization in Africa; the Songhai Empire was an empire bearing the name of its main ethnic group, the Songhai or Sonrai, located in western Africa on the bend of the Niger River in present-day Niger and Burkina Faso. In the 7th century, Songhai tribes settled down north of modern-day Niamey and founded the Songhai city-states of Koukia and Gao.
By the 11th century, Gao had become the capital of the Songhai Empire. From 1000 to 1325, The Songhai Empire prospered and managed to maintain peace with its neighboring empires including the Mali Empire. In 1325 the Songhai Empire was conquered by the Mali Empire but was freed in 1335 by prince Ali Kolen and his brother, Songhai princes held captive by Moussa Kankan, the ruler of the Mali Empire. From the mid-15th to the late 16th century, Songhai was one of the largest Islamic empires in history. Between the Niger River and Lake Chad lay Hausa kingdoms and fertile areas; these kingdoms flourished from the mid-14th century up until the early 19th century, when they were conquered by Usman dan Fodio, founder of the Sokoto Empire. The Hausa kingdoms were not a compact entity but several federations of kingdoms more or less independent of one other, their organization was somewhat democratic: the Hausa kings were elected by the notables of the country and could be removed by them. The Hausa Kingdoms began as seven states founded according to the Bayajidda legend by the six sons of Bawo.
Bawo was the only son of the Hausa queen Bayajidda or who came from Baghdad. The seven original Hausa states were: Daoura, Rano, Gobir and Biram; the Mali Empire was a Mandinka empire founded by Sundiata Keita circa 1230 that existed up to 1600. At its peak circa 1350, the empire extended as far west as Senegal and Guinee Conakry and as far east as western Niger; the Kanem-Bornu Empire was an empire that existed in modern-day Chad, Cameroon and Libya. The empire first existed and prospered as the Kanem Empire as early as the 9th century and as the Kingdom of Bornu until 1900. In the 19th century, contact with Europe began with the first European explorers—notably Monteil and Barth —to travel to Niger. Following the 1885 Berlin conference during which colonial powers outlined the division of Africa into colonial spheres, French military efforts to conquer existing African states were intensified in all French colo
Benin the Republic of Benin and Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, 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 and its population in 2016 was estimated to be 10.87 million. Benin is a tropical nation dependent on agriculture. Benin is a big exporter of palm oil; the substantial employment and income arise from subsistence farming. The official language of Benin is French. However, indigenous languages such as Fon and Yoruba are spoken; the largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism, followed by Islam and Protestantism. Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, La Francophonie, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Petroleum Producers Association and the Niger Basin Authority.
From the 17th to the 19th century, the main political entities in the area were the Kingdom of Dahomey, along with the city-state of Porto-Novo, 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 renamed it French Dahomey. In 1960, Dahomey gained full independence from France; the sovereign state has had a tumultuous history since with many different democratic governments, military coups, military governments. A Marxist–Leninist state called the People's Republic of Benin existed between 1975 and 1990. In 1991, it 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 November 1975, it was renamed to Benin, 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 country of Benin has no connection to Benin City in modern Nigeria, nor to the Benin bronzes; the form "Benin" is the result of a Portuguese corruption of the city of Ubinu. The new name, was chosen for its neutrality. Dahomey was the name of the former Fon Kingdom of Dahomey, limited to most of the southern third of the present country and therefore did not represent Porto-Novo, central Benin, the multi-ethnic northwestern sector Atakora, nor the Bariba Kingdom of Borgu, which 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. Before 1700, there were a few important city-states along the coast and a mass of tribal regions inland; the Oyo Empire, located to the east of modern Benin, was the most significant large-scale military force in the region. It conducted raids and exacted tribute from the coastal kingdoms and the tribal regions.
The situation changed in the 1600s and early 1700s as the Kingdom of Dahomey, consisting of Fon people, was founded on the Abomey plateau and began taking over areas along the coast. By 1727, king Agaja of the Kingdom of Dahomey had conquered the coastal cities of Allada and Whydah, but it had become a tributary of the Oyo empire and did not directly attack the Oyo allied city-state of Porto-Novo; the rise of the kingdom of Dahomey, the rivalry between the kingdom and the city of Porto-Novo, the continued tribal politics of the northern region, persisted into the colonial and post-colonial periods. The Dahomey Kingdom was known for its culture and traditions. Young boys were apprenticed to older soldiers, taught the kingdom's military customs until they were old enough to join the army. Dahomey was famous for instituting an elite female soldier corps, called Ahosi, i.e. the king's wives, or Mino, "our mothers" in the Fon language Fongbe, known by many Europeans as the Dahomean Amazons. 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.
The kings of Dahomey sold their war captives into transatlantic slavery. They had a practice of killing war captives in a ceremony known as the Annual Customs. By about 1750, the King of Dahomey was earning an estimated £250,000 per year by selling African captives to European slave-traders. Though the leaders of Dahomey appear to have resisted the slave trade, it flourished in the region of Dahomey for three hundred years, beginning in 1472 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 from 102,000 people per decade in the 1780s to 24,000 per decade by the 1860s. The decline was due to the Slave Trade Act 1807 banning the trans-Atlantic slave trade by Britain and the United States following in