Cotonou, Republic of Benin

After spending a couple of days in Porto Novo, we moved on to Cotonou. Cotonou, although not the capital of Republic of Benin, is the financial, government and economic center of the country. All the major ports (both national and international), government houses, embassies, airport and central religious houses (i.e. the national mosque) are in Cotonou.

To get into Cotonou, we crossed a bridge and overlooking the bridge into the far distance is the Oueme River. The river flows into the Atlantic Ocean. There are small fishery and local merchants trading around the river. There are stories of erosion of nearby lands into the Oueme River and off into the Atlantic (don't know how true that is). While crossing the bridge, our driver said if we look closely, real closely, we can see Badagry, a small town between Lagos and Republic of Benin, in the distance (don't know how true this is either).

Entering Cotonou

Upon entering into Cotonou, we had lunch with friends (I tried ordering in French and failed miserably). I was so hungry I cleared my plates before taking in the lovely and cool ambience of the restaurant. Once our bodies were sated and reenergized, we explored the city some more.

The buildings in Cotonou are very modern, contemporary and artistic. Quite different from Porto Novo, which has a more conserved, historical and cultural vibe. Not only that, Cotonou is also undergoing major construction at the moment. While driving around the city, we noticed that there were many building constructions well under way. Needless to say, in the next few years, Cotonou will look even more grand and appealing than it does now.

The Parliament Building

And then there are sculptures! There's something about sculptures that defines a city artistically. Three-dimensional visual art is something almost everyone appreciates even when you are not thinking about it. Cotonou is bursting with sculptures, I could barely take pictures of all of them. In the heart of Cotonou, there is the centre de promotion de l'artisanat. A center filled with everything art, from drawings, to wood-carving, to painting and sculpting. The art of Cotonou is not old, like gothic art or traditional romantic art, it is modern, new with an african vibe. It is fascinating!

Peace Statue

Place de l'Etoile Rouge

A quick thinker will obviously notice the divergence between the cities of Porto Novo (see this post) and Cotonou. I cannot tell if these differences stem from political conflicts, cultural differences or something else. What is apparent is that there is a disparity in economic and financial status. Been so close together geographically only makes it even more glaring. And although I wanted to think about this a bit more, I resigned myself to simply making my observations without providing myself substantial evidences. Something simple I can draw from comparing both cities are: Porto Novo is rich in culture, is more conserved and traditional while Cotonou has a city vibe, with more hustling and bustling, and is the commercial and governmental center of the country.

Regardless of my theories, I took so many pictures in both cities that my camera battery went dead. (>..<)!

I enjoyed the time I spent both in Porto Novo and in Cotonou.


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