Archive for June, 2008

Filed Under (Trivia Question of the Week) by Rob on 30-06-2008

Q: On which Island would you find the volcano “Le Piton de la Fournaise”?

Answer to last week’s question: The word cookie comes from the Dutch word koekje, meaning little cake.

And the winner was Eddie Arthur. Well done sir – anyone would think you were a linguist or something!

Filed Under (Beninese culture) by Rob on 28-06-2008

…looks like this:

(only 3mb – won’t take long, honest!)

Not all of the city is this bad, but this particular section – next to marshland near Fidjrossè – is frequently bad at this time of the year. As you’ll realize from the video, I was on the back of a zemidjan when I filmed it, and I certainly got my feet wet! Ideally, either concrete barriers need building at either side of the road (where the marsh is) or even better, the whole section of the road needs raising by a couple of feet.

Yours a tad drenched!


Filed Under (Beninese culture) by Rob on 25-06-2008

The other day, I caught a lift with this zem driver:


Interesting headgear, don’t you think? As it’s rainy season, the weather is a tad cooler than normal (down to the plummeting depths of 25 Celcius!) so he’s probably wearing this to keep his head warm (rather than a fashion statement!) Fashion really does not exist here in the same way as it does back home; you can wear almost any colour or style of clothing and nobody will comment on how ‘uncool’ or ‘too loud’ it is. This is particularly consoling for an individual such as myself, who tends to gravitate towards the lurid and psychedelic when it comes to shirts!

That’s all for now…

Filed Under (Trivia Question of the Week) by Rob on 23-06-2008

Q: The word biscuit comes from the French bis cuit meaning ‘cooked twice’.
From which language does the word cookie come from and what did it originally mean?

Answer to last week’s question: Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski share the same birthday, Rusedski being exactly one year older than Henman.

Filed Under (Beninese culture) by Rob on 22-06-2008

The unusual thing about this man is that he’s SMILING for the photo.


It’s usual for West Africans to smile for photos; even at a wedding, it would be quite rare to see the bride and groom smiling for the camera. This is not because they are unhappy, it’s just not part of the culture to smile in photos. Here are a few examples of people I have photographed ‘not smiling’:


Anyone know why this is the case? I tried googling the question ‘Why don’t Africans smile in photos’ and nothing concrete came up! Of course, there are cases of Africans smiling in photos (like the guy at the start), but this is more the exception than the rule. Having a yovo point a camera at you and enthusiastically say ‘smile!’ sometimes works, I’ve found!

Finally, the reason blokey at the top there is smiling is because – for the first time ever – he’s holding a copy of the Bible in his own language (Lokpa) and was unable to contain his joy at this. The dedication of the Lokpa Bible took place a couple of months ago (blog post on this to follow shortly).

Thanks for reading!

Filed Under (Beninese culture) by Rob on 18-06-2008


Filed Under (Trivia Question of the Week) by Rob on 16-06-2008

Q: Which two world famous tennis players share the same birthday (but one year apart)?

(Bonus points for saying which is the older – and no cheating on Google or Wiki!!!)

Answer to last week’s question: the most common bird in the world is THE CHICKEN, which also happens to be one of my favourite jazz tunes (click here to watch & hear it).

The winner was Beth Friesen. Well done – your our first Canadian winner, I think!

Filed Under (Beninese culture, Ethnomusicology, General) by Rob on 12-06-2008

but maybe not quite like this one:


This is Le Marché DantÉ”kpa, which means beside the water … and it is!
It is purportedly the largest covered market in the whole of West Africa. I can vouch for that; every time I go I take a similar route around the market but never quite see the same stalls!

It can be a tad dangerous at Dantɔkpa (remember this post), so take as few valuables as possible and be aware of people around you. Even taking photos can be risky, and sometimes annoys folk. That said, I managed to sneak some with a small camera recently, so here are a few of them:

(Thanks to Joanna McNeil for the loan of said camera.)

Oh, and the mystery meat I recently posted (here) was, in fact RAT! Yes, it’s quite a delicacy here, thought I’ve never tried it! So, that’s DantÉ”kpa – not quite the same as a market back home, but nonetheless a very rich and vibrant place to visit.

Now onto the world market thing…I was transcribing the words of a FÉ”n song used in a local church the other day, and it began like this:

Gleta we gbe fi nyi loooo
Axi jije we ayihon eee le nyi
O mi die ma ka le tuwun
O hwenu e we ga naxo do

Have a listen and follow along:

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.

Nice, eh? I love all her inflections and folky rubato. Here’s what it means: Life down here is like a field (looooo), the world is like a market which comes to life too. And so, we do not know at what moment the hour will chime.

It’s basically a statement on human mortality and that, as life begins, so it ends and we must be ready for when we meet our maker.
Bit different from Kendrick, don’t you think?!?

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 09-06-2008

Q: What is the most common bird in the world (there are around 50 billion of them on the planet)?

Answer to last week’s question: The second longest river in Britain is the Thames (pronounced tems), which is 215 miles long. Interestingly, the Thames is called the River Isis in Oxford when it passes through Oxford.

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 07-06-2008

…Land Rover!


Oops! Thankfully, the mechanic spotted in it in time – before we were obliged to travel ‘Fred Flintstone’ style! However, he did say he merely tugged on the passenger seat and it came out, floor and all!!! Here it is from the another angle (you can even see one of the tyres through the hole) :


The old Disco has had a good innings, being 18 years old already, so I suppose it’s not done too badly, given the amount of dirt and grime it has to drive through here. Mind you, the floor problem can’t have been helped by shenanigans such as this, but it was great fun:


The mechanic’s doing a good job and has already completely replaced the driver’s side floor and it starting on the passenger side on Monday.


Once that’s done, there’s only one thing left…TO SELL IT!!!
(any offers?!? It’s a good car really, honest).