Benin, West Africa
Political Leader: President Yayi Boni
Religions: Traditional 47.7%, Christianity 31.8%, Islam 20%, Other 0.5%
Persecution Ranking: Not Ranked
Number of Terrorist Groups: None Listed
Acts of Terrorism: 1; Casualties: 0
Percent of Corruption: 75%
% of People in Poverty: 37.4%
Benin, officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in Western Africa, formerly known as Dahomey (until 1975). Stretched between the Niger River in the northeast and the Bight of Benin in the south, Benin's elevation is about the same for the entire country. Most of the population lives in the southern coastal plains, where Benin's largest cities are also located, including Porto Novo and Cotonou. The north of the country consists mostly of savanna and semi-arid highlands. Running southernly, down the middle of the country is the Oueme River. The climate in Benin is hot and humid with relatively little rain compared to other West African countries, although there are two rainy seasons (April-July and September-November). In the winter the dust winds of the harmattan can make the nights rather cold.
There is a low threat from terrorism in Benin, according to England’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. But there has been an increase in reported incidents of mugging, personal assault and car jacking in Cotonou and armed robberies have been reported in other areas, notably the border area with Nigeria. Highway bandits are known to operate in Benin. The high level of banditry has resulted in the vehicle-jackings in the capital resulting in two deaths and some injuries.
Benin has Africa's highest percentage of followers of traditional religions and is the least evangelized non-Muslim country in Africa south of the Sahara. Only a handful of peoples have a Christian majority, and just five are more than 5% Evangelical. Islam was introduced by the Songhai Empire and Hausa merchants. Indigenous religions are followed by a majority of the people. They include local animistic religions in the Atakora (Atakora and Donga provinces) and Vodun among the Yoruba and Tado peoples in the center and south of the country. The town of Ouidah on the central coast is the spiritual center of Beninese vodun.
Challenges for Christians:
More people follow traditional ethnic religions in Benin than in any other African nation. Voodoo has its origins in the ethnic religion of the Fon peoples and many are tied up in fear and superstition. Most Christians continue to hold Vodun beliefs and have incorporated into Christianity the pantheon of Vodun. A million people live in Benin’s cities and Christians have grown from a few hundred to over 30% of the population. There is still a need for Christians to reach out to the Muslim urban population (20%)
- Pray for Benin to have the resources, manpower and wisdom to stop incidents of muggings, personal assaults and car jackings.
- Give God praise for His favor in the country’s spring 2006 election where there was election of another evangelical Christian leader, Yayi Boni. Boni intends to further “clean up” any remaining corruption and target the economy in an attempt to reduce poverty. Pray for this leader’s heart, that it would be a true follower of Christ and that he will lead this country in the way of the Lord.
- Pray for favor for Benin’s economy, which remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Pray that the Lord guide the steps of economic leaders who are making efforts to try to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology.
- Loads of young people have become Christians and there are student groups meeting around the country. Pray that these young people would continue to grow in their passion for God.
- Pray that the freedom of knowing Jesus would break into people’s lives.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, CIA Factbook, Wikipedia, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, AllAfrica.com, Global 12 Project, England’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office