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 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. Kérékou was born in 1933 in north-west French Dahomey. After having studied at military schools in modern-day Mali and Senegal, Kérékou served in the military by joining the French Army in 1960. Following independence, from 1961 to 1963 he was an aide-de-camp to Dahomeyan President Hubert Maga. Following Maurice Kouandété's coup d'état in December 1967, Kérékou, his cousin, was made chairman of the Military Revolutionary Council. After Kérékou attended French military schools from 1968 to 1970, Maga made him a major, deputy chief of staff, commander of the Ouidah paratroop unit.
Kérékou seized power in Dahomey in a military coup on 26 October 1972, ending a system of government in which three members of a presidential council were to rotate power. During his first two years in power, Kérékou expressed only nationalism and said that the country's revolution would not "burden itself by copying foreign ideology... We do not want capitalism or socialism. We have our own Dahomean social and cultural system." On 30 November 1974, however, he announced the adoption of Marxism-Leninism by the state. The country was renamed from the Republic of Dahomey to the People's Republic of Benin a year later; the People's Revolutionary Party of Benin was established as the sole ruling party. In 1980, Kérékou was elected president by the Revolutionary National Assembly, it has been suggested that Kérékou's move to Marxism-Leninism was motivated by pragmatic considerations, that Kérékou himself was not a leftist radical. Kérékou's regime included officers from both the north and south of the country, but as the years passed the northerners became dominant, undermining the idea that the regime was not based in ethnicity.
By adopting Marxism-Leninism, Kérékou may have wanted to win the support of the country's leftists. Kérékou's regime was rigid and vigorous in pursuing its newly adopted ideological goals from the mid-1970s to the late 1970s. Beginning in the late 1970s, the regime jettisoned much of its radicalism and settled onto a more moderately socialist course as Kérékou consolidated his personal control. Kérékou survived numerous attempts to oust him, including an invasion of the port city of Cotonou by mercenaries contracted by a group of exiled Beninese political rivals in January 1977, as well as two coup attempts in 1988, it was hoped that the nationalizations of the 1970s would help develop the economy, but it remained in a poor condition, with the state sector being plagued by inefficiency and corruption. Kérékou began reversing course in the early 1980s, closing down numerous state-run companies and attempting to attract foreign investment, he accepted an IMF structural readjustment programme in 1989, agreeing to austerity measures that cut state expenditure.
The economic situation continued to worsen during the 1980s, provoking widespread unrest in 1989. A student strike began in January of that year. In the period of reforms towards multiparty democracy in Africa at the beginning of the 1990s, Benin moved onto this path early, with Kérékou being forced to make concessions to popular discontent. Benin's early and smooth transition may be attributed to the dismal economic situation in the country, which seemed to preclude any alternative. In the midst of increasing unrest, Kérékou was re-elected as president by the National Assembly in August 1989, but in December 1989 Marxism-Leninism was dropped as the state ideology, a national conference was held in February 1990; the conference declared its own sovereignty. During the transition that followed, Kérékou lost most of his power. During the 1990 National Conference, nationally televised, Kérékou spoke to the Archbishop of Cotonou, Isidore de Souza, confessing guilt and begging forgiveness for the flaws of his regime.
An observer described it as a "remarkable piece of political theater", full of cultural symbolism and significance. Such a gesture, so unusual for the African autocrats of the time, could have fatally weakened Kérékou's political standing, but he performed the gesture in such a way that, far from ending his political career, it instead served to symbolically redeem him and facilitate his political rehabilitation, while "securing him i
Thomas Boni Yayi
Thomas Boni Yayi is a Beninese banker and politician, President of Benin from 2006 to 2016. He took office after winning the March 2006 presidential election and was re-elected to a second term in March 2011, he served as the Chairperson of the African Union from 29 January 2012 to 27 January 2013. Boni was born in Tchaourou, in the Borgou Department in northern Benin the French colony of Dahomey, he received his education first in the regional capital of Parakou before moving on to earn a master's degree in economics at the National University of Benin. He pursued an additional master's degree in economics at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and earned a doctorate in economics and politics at the University of Orléans in France and at Paris Dauphine University, where he completed a doctorate in economics in 1976. At the end of his education, Boni began a long career in banking. From 1975 until 1979 he worked at the Benin Commercial Bank before moving to work at the Central Bank of West African States from 1977 until 1989.
From 1992 until 1994, he served as an economic adviser to the President of Benin Nicéphore Soglo. In 1994 he left this position to become the President of the West African Development Bank. Boni stood as one of 26 candidates in the March 2006 presidential election; the sitting president, Mathieu Kérékou, had been a dominant force in the politics of the country since the early 1970s and there were serious doubts about him agreeing to allow a transition of power. Boni surprised many by earning 35.8% of the vote in the first round as an independent candidate. The main parts of his campaign were to improve governance, stimulate the private sector, improve educational opportunities for women, modernize the agricultural sector, his closest competitor was Adrien Houngbédji of Soglo's Party for Democratic Renewal who received 25 percent. In the runoff between Boni and Houngbédji on 19 March 2006, Boni won with 75% of the vote, he took office on 6 April 2006. The 2006 election saw high voter turnout and was considered free and fair by independent election observers.
In the 2007 parliamentary elections, a coalition, led by the Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin and supported Boni earned the largest share of seats. This coalition prevented the passage of many parts of Boni's agenda. By August 2010, an unified coalition was able to get a majority of the parliament to vote to impeach Boni for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme that took the savings of 100,000 people in Benin. While they did not get the required two-thirds majority to remove Boni from power, the opposition agreed to organize around Houngbédji in the 2011 presidential election. A new voter system in the country was criticized by the opposition, with the assistance of international organizations, Boni agreed to a two-week delay in the 2011 presidential election; the result of the election, deemed free and fair by international election monitors, was a victory for Boni on the first round with 53.8% of the vote. Houngbédji, who received 36 %, took the case to the Constitutional Court; the court named Boni as the winner on 21 March 2011, resulting in large-scale protests and police repression of those demonstrations.
Although protests continued, the opposition had fractured and Boni's coalition earned 49 of the 83 seats in the parliamentary elections that followed. Boni was the first president since the restoration of democracy to win the presidency in a single round. Having served two terms in office, Yayi Boni was constitutionally required to step down in 2016, his preferred successor, Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, was defeated in the March 2016 presidential election by Patrice Talon, Yayi Boni was succeeded by Talon on 6 April 2016. Soon after leaving office, he headed the African Union's observer mission for the April 2016 presidential election in Equatorial Guinea. On 15 March 2007, Yayi Boni survived an ambush on his convoy near the village of Ikemon while returning from an election campaign rally in the town Ouesse for the upcoming parliamentary elections; the attackers blocked the road with downed trees, fired upon the vehicle that carries the President. Several of his entourage were wounded in the ensuing crossfire between the presidential guard and the would-be assassins.
However this information remains unproven since all sources claiming the assassination attempt come from the president's camp. The verification of such information remains impossible to date. On 23 October 2012, the BBC reported that the president's doctor and former commerce minister had been arrested in a plot to poison the president. Patrice Talon, a former ally of the president and businessman, had paid the niece to substitute the President's medicine with a "toxic substance" while he was on a state visit to Brussels. From a Muslim family, Boni Yayi is now an Evangelical Protestant, he has five children, his wife Chantal, a native of the coastal city of Ouidah, is the niece of the former President Paul-Émile de Souza and Archbishop Isidore de Souza and the great granddaughter of Francisco Félix de Sousa known as Chacha de Souza, a Brazilian slave trader and the Viceroy of Ouidah. A descendant of the Yoruba princes of Sabe in his own right, both Boni Yayi and his wife were awarded chieftaincy titles by the Nigerian king of Ile-Ife in 2008.
Official site BBC News: Benin's new president announced President Bush Meets with President Yayi of Benin
Politics of Benin
The Politics of Benin take place in the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, wherein the President of Benin is both head of state and head of government, of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the legislature; the Judiciary is independent of the legislature. The current political system is derived from the 1990 Constitution of Benin and the subsequent transition to democracy in 1991; the Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Benin as "hybrid regime" in 2016. From the 17th century until the colonial period, the Kingdom of Dahomey was ruled by an "Oba"; the French were the colonial power from 1892 to 1960, when independence was achieved. Between 1960 and 1972, a series of military coups in Benin brought about many changes of government; the last of these brought Major Mathieu Kérékou to power as the head of a regime professing strict Marxist-Leninist principles. The Revolutionary Party of the People of Benin remained in complete power until the beginning of the 1990s.
Kérékou, encouraged by France and other democratic powers, convened a National Conference that introduced a new democratic constitution and held presidential and legislative elections. Kérékou's principal opponent at the presidential poll, the ultimate victor, was Prime Minister Nicéphore Soglo. Supporters of Soglo secured a majority in the National Assembly. Thus, Benin was the first African country to complete the transition from dictatorship to a pluralistic political system. In the second round of National Assembly elections held in March 1995, Soglo's political vehicle, the Parti de la Renaissance du Benin, was the largest single party, but it lacked an overall majority; the success of a party formed by supporters of ex-president Kérékou, who had retired from active politics, encouraged him to stand at both the 1996 and 2001 presidential elections. Spurred in part by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resultant lack of donor support from the superpower, as well as an economic crisis within the country, Benin adopted a new constitution in 1990 in order to open up and liberalise the political system and economy.
Its chief aims are to enshrine in law accountability, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, separation of governmental powers, the right to strike, universal suffrage and independence of the judiciary. These developments have created economic growth in Benin, but some of the bold ideals of the constitution have yet to be realised. Lack of accountability and transparency, failure to separate the judiciary from the political system, high levels of illiteracy are the main stumbling blocks. Additionally, state employees are poorly paid, which makes them susceptible to bribery and corruption. There are unresolved issues with many pre-constitution laws. Many of the older laws derive from French legal norms. Critics have complained that the constitution makes no mention of the right to an adequate standard of living. Since being written, the constitution has been translated into eight of the national languages of Benin. Broadcasts on local radio stations, in both in urban and rural areas, have publicised the constitution across the country.
The President of Benin is elected for a five-year term. An individual can serve only two terms, whether separated. Election is after a second round if necessary. Candidates must be: Beninese by birth, or have had Beninese nationality for 10 years Between the ages of 40 and 70 on the date of his or her candidacy Resident in Benin during elections Declared mentally and physically fit by three doctorsIn 2006, Mathieu Kérékou was not constitutionally permitted to run for re-election since he had served two terms and was over 70 years old. Despite speculation, this was not changed and he stood down after the election of his successor, Yayi Boni; the Cabinet is under the authority of the President, serves to advise and help formulate strategies. It liaises with ministries and other government institutions; the Beninese government's website has a selection of photos of senior ministers. The National Assembly is the Parliament of Benin - the primary legislative body. Deputies are elected every four years, in contrast to the five-year term of the president.
There are 83 available seats. It exercises the legislative oversight authority over Government action. Members of the army are not allowed to stand. During the 2001 presidential elections, alleged irregularities led to a boycott of the run-off poll by the main opposition candidates; the four top-ranking contenders following the first round of presidential elections were Mathieu Kérékou 45.4%, Nicephore Soglo 27.1%, Adrien Houngbédji 12.6%, Bruno Amoussou 8.6%. The second round balloting scheduled for March 18, 2001, was postponed for days because both Soglo and Houngbédji withdrew, alleging electoral fraud; this left Kérékou to run against his own Minister of State, Amoussou, in what was termed a "friendly match". The next presidential elections were held in March 2006. Yayi Boni and his parliamentary allies won the elections of 2011. Talon ran as an independent candidate in the March 2016 presidential election. Although he finished second to Prime
An ideology is a collection of normative beliefs and values that an individual or group holds for other than purely epistemic reasons. The term is used to describe a system of ideas and ideals which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy. In political science it is used in a descriptive sense to refer to political belief systems. In social science there are many political ideologies; the term was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy, a French Enlightenment aristocrat and philosopher, who conceived it in 1796 as the "science of ideas" during the French Reign of Terror by trying to develop a rational system of ideas to oppose the irrational impulses of the mob. However, in contemporary philosophy it is narrower in scope than that original concept, or the ideas expressed in broad concepts such as worldview, The Imaginary and in ontology. In the sense defined by French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, ideology is "the imagined existence of things as it relates to the real conditions of existence".
The term "ideology" was born during the Reign of Terror of French Revolution, acquired several other meanings thereafter. The word, the system of ideas associated with it, was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1796, while he was in prison pending trial during the Terror; the word was created by assembling the words idea, from Greek ἰδέα and -logy, from -λογία. He devised the term for a "science of ideas" he hoped would form a secure foundation for the moral and political sciences, he based the word on two things: 1) sensations people experience as they interact with the material world. He conceived "Ideology" as a liberal philosophy that would defend individual liberty, free markets, constitutional limits on state power, he argues that among these aspects ideology is the most generic term, because the science of ideas contains the study of their expression and deduction. The coup that overthrew Maximilien Robespierre allowed Tracy to pursue his work. Tracy reacted to the terroristic phase of the revolution by trying to work out a rational system of ideas to oppose the irrational mob impulses that had nearly destroyed him.
Napoleon Bonaparte came to view'Ideology' a term of abuse, which he hurled against his liberal foes in Tracy's Institut National. According to Karl Mannheim's historical reconstruction of the shifts in the meaning of ideology, the modern meaning of the word was born when Napoleon used it to describe his opponents as "the ideologues". Karl Marx used it in his writings. Tracy's major book, The Elements of Ideology, was soon translated into the major languages of Europe, in the next generation, when post-Napoleonic governments adopted a reactionary stance, influenced the Italian and Russian thinkers who had begun to describe themselves as "liberals" and who attempted to reignite revolutionary activity in the early 1820s. In the century after Tracy, the term ideology moved back and forth between positive and negative connotations; the term "ideology" has dropped some of its pejorative sting, has become a neutral term in the analysis of differing political opinions and views of social groups. While Karl Marx situated the term within class struggle and domination, others believed it was a necessary part of institutional functioning and social integration.
During considerable analysis of different ideological patterns, some have described the analysis as meta-ideology. Recent analysis tends to posit that ideology is a coherent system of ideas that rely on a few basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis. Through this system, ideas become coherent repeated patterns through the subjective ongoing choices that people make; these ideas serve as the seed. Believers in ideology range from passive acceptance through fervent advocacy to true belief. According to most recent analysis, ideologies are neither right nor wrong. Definitions, such as by Manfred Steger and Paul James emphasize both the issue of patterning and contingent claims to truth: Ideologies are patterned clusters of normatively imbued ideas and concepts, including particular representations of power relations; these conceptual maps help people navigate the complexity of their political universe and carry claims to social truth. The works of George Walford and Harold Walsby, done under the heading of systematic ideology, are attempts to explore the relationships between ideology and social systems.
Charles Blattberg offers an account that distinguishes political ideologies from political philosophies. David W. Minar describes six different ways the word "ideology" has been used: As a collection of certain ideas with certain kinds of content norma
Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms. Socialist systems are divided into market forms. Non-market socialism involves the substitution of factor markets and money with engineering and technical criteria based on calculation performed in-kind, thereby producing an economic mechanism that functions according to different economic laws from those of capitalism. Non-market socialism aims to circumvent the inefficiencies and crises traditionally associated with capital accumulation and the profit system. By contrast, market socialism retains the use of monetary prices, factor markets and in some cases the profit motive, with respect to the operation of owned enterprises and the allocation of capital goods between them.
Profits generated by these firms would be controlled directly by the workforce of each firm, or accrue to society at large in the form of a social dividend. The socialist calculation debate concerns the feasibility and methods of resource allocation for a socialist system. Socialist politics has been both nationalist in orientation. Originating within the socialist movement, social democracy has embraced a mixed economy with a market that includes substantial state intervention in the form of income redistribution, a welfare state. Economic democracy proposes a sort of market socialism where there is more decentralized control of companies, currencies and natural resources; the socialist political movement includes a set of political philosophies that originated in the revolutionary movements of the mid-to-late 18th century and out of concern for the social problems that were associated with capitalism. By the late 19th century, after the work of Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels, socialism had come to signify opposition to capitalism and advocacy for a post-capitalist system based on some form of social ownership of the means of production.
By the 1920s, social democracy and communism had become the two dominant political tendencies within the international socialist movement. By this time, socialism emerged as "the most influential secular movement of the twentieth century, worldwide, it is a political ideology, a wide and divided political movement" and while the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world's first nominally socialist state led to socialism's widespread association with the Soviet economic model, some economists and intellectuals argued that in practice the model functioned as a form of state capitalism or a non-planned administrative or command economy. Socialist parties and ideas remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence on all continents, heading national governments in many countries around the world. Today, some socialists have adopted the causes of other social movements, such as environmentalism and progressivism. In 21st century America, the term socialism, without clear definition, has become a pejorative used by conservatives to taint liberal and progressive policies and public figures.
For Andrew Vincent, "he word ‘socialism’ finds its root in the Latin sociare, which means to combine or to share. The related, more technical term in Roman and medieval law was societas; this latter word could mean companionship and fellowship as well as the more legalistic idea of a consensual contract between freemen". The term "socialism" was created by Henri de Saint-Simon, one of the founders of what would be labelled "utopian socialism". Simon coined the term as a contrast to the liberal doctrine of "individualism", which stressed that people act or should act as if they are in isolation from one another; the original "utopian" socialists condemned liberal individualism for failing to address social concerns during the industrial revolution, including poverty, social oppression and gross inequalities in wealth, thus viewing liberal individualism as degenerating society into supporting selfish egoism that harmed community life through promoting a society based on competition. They presented socialism as an alternative to liberal individualism based on the shared ownership of resources, although their proposals for socialism differed significantly.
Saint-Simon proposed economic planning, scientific administration and the application of modern scientific advancements to the organisation of society. By contrast, Robert Owen proposed the organisation of ownership in cooperatives; the term "socialism" is attributed to Pierre Leroux and to Marie Roch Louis Reybaud in France. The modern definition and usage of "socialism" settled by the 1860s, becoming the predominant term among the group of words "co-operative", "mutualist" and "associationist", used as synonyms; the term "communism" fell out of use during this period, despite earlier distinctions between socialism and communism from the 1840s. An early distinction between socialism and communism was that the former aimed to only socialise production while the latter aimed to socialise both production and consumption. However, M
A political spectrum is a system of classifying different political positions upon one or more geometric axes that represent independent political dimensions. Most long-standing spectra include a left wing, which referred to seating arrangements in the French parliament after the Revolution. On a left–right spectrum and socialism are regarded internationally as being on the left, Liberalism can mean different things in different contexts: sometimes on the left; those with an intermediate outlook are sometimes classified as centrists. That said and neoliberals are called centrists too. Politics that rejects the conventional left–right spectrum is known as syncretic politics, though the label tends to mischaracterize positions that have a logical location on a two-axis spectrum because they seem randomly brought together on a one-axis left-right spectrum. Political scientists have noted that a single left–right axis is insufficient for describing the existing variation in political beliefs and include other axes.
Though the descriptive words at polar opposites may vary in popular biaxial spectra the axes are split between socio-cultural issues and economic issues, each scaling from some form of individualism to some form of communitarianism. The terms right and left refer to political affiliations originating early in the French Revolutionary era of 1789–1799 and referred to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France; as seen from the Speaker's seat at the front of the Assembly, the aristocracy sat on the right and the commoners sat on the left, hence the terms right-wing politics and left-wing politics. The defining point on the ideological spectrum was the Ancien Régime. "The Right" thus implied support for aristocratic or royal interests and the church, while "The Left" implied support for republicanism and civil liberties. Because the political franchise at the start of the revolution was narrow, the original "Left" represented the interests of the bourgeoisie, the rising capitalist class.
Support for laissez-faire commerce and free markets were expressed by politicians sitting on the left because these represented policies favorable to capitalists rather than to the aristocracy, but outside parliamentary politics these views are characterized as being on the Right. The reason for this apparent contradiction lies in the fact that those "to the left" of the parliamentary left, outside official parliamentary structures represent much of the working class, poor peasantry and the unemployed, their political interests in the French Revolution lay with opposition to the aristocracy and so they found themselves allied with the early capitalists. However, this did not mean that their economic interests lay with the laissez-faire policies of those representing them politically; as capitalist economies developed, the aristocracy became less relevant and were replaced by capitalist representatives. The size of the working class increased as capitalism expanded and began to find expression through trade unionist, socialist and communist politics rather than being confined to the capitalist policies expressed by the original "left".
This evolution has pulled parliamentary politicians away from laissez-faire economic policies, although this has happened to different degrees in different countries those with a history of issues with more authoritarian-left countries, such as the Soviet Union or China under Mao Zedong. Thus the word "Left" in American political parlance may refer to "liberalism" and be identified with the Democratic Party, whereas in a country such as France these positions would be regarded as more right-wing, or centrist overall, "left" is more to refer to "socialist" or "social-democratic" positions rather than "liberal" ones. For a century, social scientists have considered the problem of how best to describe political variation. In 1950, Leonard W. Ferguson analyzed political values using ten scales measuring attitudes toward: birth control, capital punishment, communism, law, theism, treatment of criminals and war. Submitting the results to factor analysis, he was able to identify three factors, which he named religionism and nationalism.
He defined religionism as belief in God and negative attitudes toward birth control. This system was derived empirically, as rather than devising a political model on purely theoretical grounds and testing it, Ferguson's research was exploratory; as a result of this method, care must be taken in the interpretation of Ferguson's three factors, as factor analysis will output an abstract factor whether an objectively real factor exists or not. Although replication of the nationalism factor was inconsistent, the finding of religionism and humanitarianism had a number of replications by Ferguson and others. Shortly afterward, Hans Eysenck began researching political attitudes in Great Britain, he believed that there was something similar about the National Socialists on the one hand and the communists on the other, despite their opposite positions on the left–right axis. As Hans Eysenck described in his 1956 book Sense and
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