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Benin: a book fair offers another look at African history

The imposing statue of the Amazon is the pride of the Beninese people.   -  
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Mohammed Dahman/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


In Cotonou, the Obelisk aux dévoués stands in the Mathieu Gardens to salute the memory of Benin's dead. In the past, successive presidents of Benin would lay a wreath on the graves of French soldiers who died in the name of colonization.

For Beninese writer Florent Couao-Zotti, it was time for this to change: "You can't go there to venerate foreign soldiers who died for the conquest of Dahomey."

Like this obelisk, the imposing statue of the Amazon is the pride of the Beninese people. The Amazons inspire courage, bravery and patriotism in the history of Dahomey.

A not-to-be-missed event, the African Heritage History Book Fair introduces the public to the different aspects of history to which these monuments refer.

Eskil Agbo, Director of Bénin livres, is always delighted to be able to share this knowledge with the public: "We ourselves in Africa, in our African countries, don't really know our own histories, even though we have great African authors who have written works on African cultural heritage, who have written works on history. But these works remain in their offices.

This 3rd edition of the Ouidah book fair, which is part of the Vodun festival, features conferences, debates, film screenings, an exhibition and books for discussion and reflection on African history, heritage and ancestral values.

Through these works and objets d'art, the public gets a different view of Africa, far removed from the clichés and narratives left by foreign writers. Here, African researchers and historians specializing in heritage issues place facts in their true context.

"History today is at the heart of all the issues linked to our culture, linked to our past, linked to our memory. It's important that the narrative we provide is in tune and in harmony with our realities," explains Florent Couao-Zotti.

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