Archive for June, 2006

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 27-06-2006

Hi folks!

This is going to be a quick post as we’re snowed under (snow in Benin?!?) with getting packed up and ready for our flight back. We arrive in the UK Thursday morning. If we haven’t arranged to meet up with you yet (and you’d like to see us!) then drop us a line. Also, anyone out there who plays tennis (but not toooo well!!)? I’d like a game or two over the summer if you’re up for it!

Last week we were all a bit ill in at least one way. Madelaine had malaria, Micah had fungus growing inside his lips, Lois had an ear infection and we all had a stomach bug which entailed throwing up and ‘unrest at the other end’!! Still, we’re all better now, but shattered and ready for a nice break! Thanks to Sally & Andy for the loan of their house for the first two weeks (if you know where that is, come and see us there!!)

Concert time
On Sunday, our church group had a concert where children (and some adults) played pieces for everyone else to enjoy. This was mostly Rob’s piano pupils, but also Mads on her violin and some other items. Here’s Ruth playing a piano tune:

Ruth piano.jpg

And here’s Mads playing ‘Jenny Jones’ on the violin – nice tune!

Mads violin.jpg

No more mozzies for two months!!!
Yes, one of the best bits of coming back to visit England is the absence of mosquitos, which are particularly numerous at the moment due to the rainy season (as they tend to breed in puddles etc.) The other day, I managed to kill one but leave it intact (which is pretty rare – they more often than not leave your hand splattered with the blood – probably your blood!) So, here’s a picture of the wee beastie:

Mozzie close up 1.jpg

Bye for now,

Next post will be done in England!



Filed Under (General) by Rob on 17-06-2006

Don’t panic…it’s quite low grade and we’ve caught it early, so today she’s doing fine.

Mads had had inflamed tonsils for a few days and a mild fever, so we put her on antibiotics. However, last night her temperature was up to 39 degrees, so we took her for a blood test. There’s a great clinic just down the road, which does the malaria test 24/7, and it only takes a few minutes, then you ‘phone up a couple of hours later for the result. It’s only £3- for the test. We’ve been there quite often as it’s always better to know sooner rather than later if you’ve got malaria. So now, Mads is on Artesunate and some other drug and seems fine today.

How much to you know about malaria. Try this cool quiz I found:

(Malaria Quiz)

The site only tells you how much you got, not which one’s were right or what the solution is. I got 70% first time, but have now worked out all the answers (by trial and error!). So, here are the answers: 1c 2a 3c 4d 5a 6c 7b 8c 9c 10d. How did you do? Good website, that one. And here’s a map of malaria hotspots (you’ll notice Benin is amongst the ‘red’ countries):

(Mararia Hotspots)

There you go. I must say, we’re looking forward to our 2 months back in Britain, with no mosquito bites!

Filed Under (Ethnomusicology, General, Sound Clips) by Rob on 17-06-2006

On Thursday evening, Rob recorded nine new Fon songs performed by one of the ADC churches in Cotonou. Here are some of the choir.

Rob recording choir ADC.jpg(click to enlarge)

…and here’s what they sound like:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Being an urban setting, the challenges were different from the previous recording; firstly, the church was very echo-ey, which was difficult to overcome. Then there was the big lorry next door, which the guys were trying to start. Thankfully, they agreed to wait a couple of hours before recommencing the whirring! Finally, the church is almost directly under the flight-path for planes landing, so we have a loud roar in the middle of one song, which will need to be edited out! Fun and games!

One interesting instrument this group uses is a series of about 6 cow bells mounted on a frame – listen carefully and you can hear the repeated sequence played through the piece. Sorry, no photo of that yet, but will try and get one another time.

Other News…

The whole of Cotonou seems to have gone WORLD CUP CRAZY!!! Almost every restaurant has a TV with matches on and groups of people gathered round cheering. The recent Ghana-Czech Republic match was very popular – we even heard cheers from our house!

Remember the After Eight Challenge…

The other day, our friends Gaby and Honore came for dinner. After the meal (and watching the Germany-Poland match) we opened the AFTER EIGHTS. Yes, you can get them in Cotonou, but these were special Lemon Sorbet ones, which were a bit wierd, but nice (and they were reduced in the shop!) Well, those who know Rob will know what’s coming next. I couldn’t let the oportunity pass without teaching our Beninese friend the After Eight Challenge!!! Here’s how it works:

1. Take an After Eight (any type, but not too melted)
2. Remove it from its wrapper
3. Place it on your forehead, with the bottom edge parallel to your eyes
4. Now all you have to do is get it into your mouth without touching it!
5. If the After Eight falls off your face, go back to step 3.

Sounds easy??? Have a go! If you lean too far forwards (or nod too vigorously) it will fall off. If you don’t move enough, it’s going nowhere! If you have a long tongue it helps!

Here I am showing him how it’s done:

Rob after 8 challenge.jpg(click to enlarge)

…and here’s Honore having a go (he gave his permission to put this on the site, by the way):

Honore after 8 challenge.jpg(click to enlarge)

He said we should get white chocolate ones for him next time, to improve visibility!

Finally, do you like the shirt above? Well, here’s the full outfit:

Robs new outfit.jpg

I got the ‘musical’ material from ‘Dantokpa’ Market (largest market in West Africa) and had it made into an outfit. I’m tempted to wear it when I arrive at Heathrow, but – then again – I might get locked up if I do!

What d’you think? Should I wear it or not? Let us know – if I get more than 80% affirmative responses, I’ll do it!!!

Bye for now,

Thanks for visiting – do leave us a comment!


Filed Under (General) by Rob on 11-06-2006

On Friday, 9th June we had the annual ‘International Day’ at school. The day begins with songs, dances and other presentations from different countries of the world. Rob’s classes sung songs from Senegal, Italy, South Africa, Peru and the national anthems of Lebanon, Nigeria and India. Lois’ class sang four songs, one of which included greetings in 11 different languages.

Here’s Micah singing with his reception class:

Micah Int Day.jpg

Following the presentations, there are displays from the various countries, which the parents go round and visit. These usually include food, drink, music, photos, posters and other artefacts from the country. Here’s Ruth with our British display:

British display.jpg

And here are Mads and Ruth singing with their class:

Mads & Ruth singing.jpg

Finally, Ruth has learned to ride a bike unaided. Here are our three riding their bikes down our street. It was good weather for riding a bike, as we had rain during the night. That meant, firstly, that the road was harder and not too sandy and slippy and, secondly, that the temparature outside was a bit cooler!

Kids on bikes.jpg

More recording this Thursday and Rob’s had an order for 60 more copies of the Kojaxwe tape!

See you in a few days’ time!

Rob et al

Filed Under (Ethnomusicology, General, Sound Clips) by Rob on 04-06-2006

Yes, it looks like I’ve finally figured out how to add audio files to the blog. Here’s the Kodjaxwe choir singing a song based on Acts 9:32-35 (sorry it’s a bit short – now I know the ropes, I may be more daring next time and put on a longer extract!):

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Keep visiting, and I’ll add some more exciting sounds in due course!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 04-06-2006

I know Paul Theroulx’s novel of the same name was set in central America, but this weekend we very definitely felt we were on it!!!

For half term, we had Friday off and Monday (ie tomorrow), so on Thursday evening, we headed off to Awale Plage, a seaside place just over an hour’s drive west of Cotonou. Lovely place, great food and a nice pool (it’s a hard life, eh?!) And we were just about the only people there, appart from a young Swiss couple. The room was nice but had no mosquito nets. We should have known to ask for them at once, but we naively thought that, with screening on the windows and a powerful fan, we wouldn’t get bitten. This could not have been further from the truth!! Rob was up frequently, trying to locate and squash the wee beasties – killing at least ten in the course of the night. We reckon that, by the morning, we had about 100 bites between us as a whole family (and not enough sleep!) So the next day, we asked for nets, and our second night was consequently much more relaxed and bite-less!

Other News…

Rob and Lois both took the Myers-Briggs personality test for the first time in about 12 years (for Rob) and about 7 years (for Lois). Not time to explain it all now, but, in a nutshell, you get 4 letters which describe your type:

Firstly, you’re either an ‘E’ (extroverting) or an ‘I’ (introverting)

Secondly, you’re either an ‘N’ (intuiting) or an ‘S’ (sensing)

Then you’re either an ‘F’ (feeling) or a ‘T’ (thinking)

and finally, you’re either a ‘J’ (judging) or a ‘P’ (perceiving)

That doesn’t explain it too well, except to give you the letters. For mor info, have a look at:

Know your

also, here’s a great site where, if you’ve got 10 minutes, you can work out your personality:

Myers Briggs type test

So, Lois came out as:


..and Rob as:


The ‘X’ means Rob is mid way between thinking and feeling (does that equal ‘confused’???) but on the online test mentioned above, he came out as 25% F. Interestingly, the first time Lois did the test 12 years ago, she was I..S..T..J, the second time (7 years ago) she came out as I..S..F..J, so one letter has changed each time!

And finally…

Rob preached at Kpakpakanmey, this morning, over the lagoon then left after a couple of miles. After all the rains, the road was very muddy – almost impassable, but the good ol’ Landrover did it. Great service with some of the most amazing cross rhythms I’ve heard to date (wish I’d had the recording equipment handy!) The pastor there has recently produced an album, which is very good, and he gave me a copy. I’ll try and get a few to bring back to the UK, in case you’re interested!

That’s all for now. Still trying to get sound extracts to work – watch (or listen out for) this space!

Filed Under (Beninese culture, General) by Rob on 04-06-2006

A few days ago, Rob gave a Fon lesson to a dozen Americans! These are student from the Church of the Nazarene, who are over in Benin for a couple of weeks to experience African life and culture as well as world mission. So, he taught them the basics, such as:

A fon gangi a?……………………………..Are you well this morning?
(literally are you well awake?)

Asi towe lo?……………………………………….And your wife?


Asu towe lo?………………………………………And your husband?

Vi le lo? ……………………………………………And the kids?

This is the common way to begin greetings in the morning. There are also greetings for almost every occasion, such as:

Kudo ji ………………………………Greetings in the rain
(literally: good rain

Kud’azo!……………………………………….Greetings in your work
(Good work/Bon travail!)

Kud’ali……………………………………………Good journey/have a nice trip
(or thanks for the lift!)

Kud’ayi djinjon………………………………….Greeings for sitting down
(Good sitting)

There you go! That’s enough for now. I hope to put some Fon lessons on this site in the future. Meanwhile, I recommend:

Fon is fun

which has some good Fon phrases and audio extracts too!