Scholarship holders Marjo, Rea-Liina, musician Susanna Hietala and I visited the royal palaces of Abomey. This place is of great historical importance, since it was once the capital of the great Dahomey kingdom famous for its wealth and army of Amazons, but also for slavery. Today it’s a UNESCO world heritage site.
The palace carries a sombre history. Some of the Abomey kings were effective slave traders, who, after a long period of internal slave trade, found new customers among the colonisers of the New Continent. Along with their white faces and guns, the Europeans had brought their diseases to the Americas and so indirectly killed the local exploitable workforce. The natives (Colon so misleadingly had named Indians) were reduced significantly and the Europeans had to bring in Africans to replace them. So, basically this is what led to a shift in focus from internal towards foreign slave exchange among the Dahomey kings and as a consequence sowed the seeds of the whole African diaspora.
Even if the kings did do business with the Europeans, they were unwilling to be colonized by them. And Abomey was the last bastion of resistance in the region against the colonial hegemony until the end of the 19th century. Abomey kings fought the foreign intruders whereas the kings of Porto Novo collaborated with the new patrons who eventually in addition to Dahomey conquered the northern kingdoms of Nikki , Djougou and Parakou . In 1894, the French colony of Dahomey was established between the German and English colonies. The borders of what currently makes up the republic of Benin were found by this high-handed decision. The French colony of Dahomey got independent in 1960.