Archive for July, 2008

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 30-07-2008

No not me, silly. My Dad!


We made it back to England just in time to celebrate his 70th birthday. Incredible – where have the years gone? Although he’s technically retired after around 40 years as a Baptist Minister, Dad still preaches once or twice a month and enjoys walking, sudokus and extra strong mints!

We had a lovely tea there and it was good to see my ‘almost brother’ Clive Rahn, to whom we bequeathed a Beninese zem shirt, which he liked very much:


As a special treat, we took Dad to this prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall last Monday evening, which he enjoyed. Beethoven’s 5th was monumental, but Elliott Carter‘s oboe concerto was a tad modern for his liking.

Finally, to help Dad celebrate his big day, we gave him this apt badge to cheer him up:


That’s all for now. The blog is officially ‘on holiday’ for the whole of August, so there will be no new posts until September. However, there are plenty of archives you can browse through…

Other News…

* We just got back from the Keswick Convention, which was an excellent time of physical and spiritual refreshment.
* The kids are at ‘Fusion’ this week, which is our church’s holiday club. Lots of fun (including a TARDIS in the shape of a garden shed!!)
* SUMMER PARTY this Saturday. Drop me a line if you’d like to come and haven’t told us yet.
* Off to Derbyshire next week.

That’s about it for now. Thanks for reading.

Filed Under (Trivia Question of the Week) by Rob on 28-07-2008

Q: What is the only flag of the world which is one colour only?

Answer to last week’s question: the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust is aluminium (NB pronounced AL-YOO-MIN-EE-UM where I come from!)

Filed Under (Trivia Question of the Week) by Rob on 21-07-2008

Q: What is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust?

Answer to last week’s question: Junko Tabei climbed Mount Everest in 1975, being the first woman ever to do so.

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 17-07-2008

Yes, the Bakers are back in England and COLD!!!

Here we are arriving at Heathrow Airport a week ago:


Although we are home, it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. We do feel like strangers in this country, even though it’s our own. The biggest shock has been the temperature -around 15 degrees Celcius lower than what we have been used to. In fact, on the first night, Ruth came into our bedroom wearing gloves and a woolly hat and has had a hot water bottle most nights since!!!

The journey home went very smoothly, although at pre check-in the morning of our departure we found our cases were all a couple of kilos overweight so we had to take stuff out or face hefty fines! Thankfully, we’re shipping some stuff back, so what we removed was simply added to the shipping consignment.

On the way out of the airport, we got to wait in the salle d’honneur, the president’s lounge for dignitaries! (top left picture below). This was due to our friend Mathieu Assogba, whose pop video Rob appeared in (see it here). (NB we didn’t ask for this privilege but didn’t feel like turning it down either!) Very nice, though, and air-conditioned. However, once we’d left there, we had to join the queue with everyone else!


The other pictures on this collage are (TR) our plane (well, a similar one anyway – to take a photo of ours we’d have had to miss it!!) Then (BL) Ruth on the plane with her cousin Rachel, who came to visit for our last 2 weeks and was a tremendous help with packing and keeping the kids entertained. Finally (BR) Lois, Mads and Micah on the plane. All three kids had their hair plaited African style before we left, but have taken it out now. Here they are back in our new home in Bedfordshire:


Thanks for reading! Summer party 2nd August if you’re around…

Filed Under (Trivia Question of the Week) by Rob on 14-07-2008

The first woman to climb Mount Everest was Junko Tabei. In what year did she do so?

Answer to last week’s question: The king of hearts is the only king in a pack of cards without a moustache. And the winner was Reggie Thompson.

Filed Under (Beninese culture) by Rob on 09-07-2008

Rob, Lois and family leave Benin this week after four years working there…

Yes, it’s hard to believe that much time has passed so quickly, or that we’re already leaving this country which we’ve come to know and love. We return to the UK for a few months then back to West Africa, but not to Benin. Guess we’ll have to change the name of the blog now (any suggestions?)

We face going back to the UK with trepidation; having spent so long here, Britain feels like a foreign culture to us now. Furthermore, Britain has moved on and changed in the past 4 years like we have, so re-adapting will be an ‘interesting’ process. Furthermore, we are very sad to leave behind all the adventures and fun of Africa, not to mention the many friends we have made here.


This is a collage of just some (but by no means all) of the amazing, talented, interesting and just plain nice people we have got to know whilst living in Benin. We have worked with them, prayed with them, laughed with them, eaten with them, jammed with them, travelled with them, partied with them and become attached to them. Some left months ago, others very recently. Still others we leave behind in Benin. But we thank God for all of them and hope to stay in touch and meet again some day.

Goodbye Benin friends

Goodbye zemidjans

Goodbye Fon speaking

Goodbye home of amazing polyrhythms

Goodbye Land Rover driving on dirt roads

Goodbye dramatic thunderstorms

Goodbye Fulani cheese and lush, juicy mangos

Goodbye bustling, colourful markets

Goodbye sunshine

Goodbye Cotonou

Goodbye Benin

Filed Under (Trivia Question of the Week) by Rob on 07-07-2008

Q: In a standard pack of cards, which is the only king not to have a moustache?

Answer to last week’s question: The ‘Piton de la Fournaise’ is on the island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean (one of Rob’s favourite places in the world!)

Filed Under (Beninese culture) by Rob on 05-07-2008

When the comedienne Victoria Wood visited Ghana a while back she commented that “God seems to be everywhere in Ghana.” The same could be said of Togo and Benin…

Below are a few examples we’ve encountered here. TL: The “Christ Bar Café” in Ganhi, Cotonou TR: The “God’s Gift Phone Center” in Fidjrosse, Cotonou, BL: The “Good God Barberings Saloon” (and phone box?!) in Lomé, Togo and finally, BR: A Ghanaian lorry passing through reminding us to “Give thanks to God”.


One thing I love about being here is that people are open to talking about God and about spiritual matters in general. In fact, most Beninese believe in a creator God of some kind, be it a Muslim one (Allah), a voodoo one (Mawu-Lissa) or the Jewish/Christian one (God!) So you can say you’re a Christian (or any other religion) without anyone looking at you like you have two heads or are some kind of freak. That’s nice and is sadly not always the case any more in the West. When I met the King of Allada a while back (see post here) he talked of a cohabitation pacifique between the religions of Benin and that is generally the case here.

I was, however, quite surprised to find that God is even involved in the manufacture of petrol pumps these days:


Nice one! Let’s hope it’s unleaded, eh? Recently, someone has been sticking Bible verses to all the traffic light posts in town. (Interesting to read while you’re stopped there trying to ward off all those salesmen and beggars!!) Again, due to the tolerance between religions here, nobody has defaced of ripped any of them down. Maybe we could learn a lesson from the Beninese in this domain…

…because they now have the whole Bible in their own language for the first time ever. Remember this bloke I recently posted.


This is what the t-shirts looked like at the Dedication Ceremony of the Lokpa Bible, on 17th May 2008 in Gahounga, central Benin. The words are taken from Joshua 1:8, the whole of which says:

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

I couldn’t be there for the ceremony, but my colleague, Marianne, was there and took plenty of great photos and also this video of the ladies singing:

Great music for the occasion, which is almost bound to be the case in this part of the world. Here are some more musical photos. TL: some traditional floor-standing drums, TR: a lady playing metal castanets, BL: a gourd shaker (with shells, buttons or beads on a net around the outside) and BR:the pressure drum – ubiquitous in northern Benin and Togo – (also known as the talking drum or armpit drum), which changes pitch as you squeeze it:


I got hold of a copy of the Lokpa Bible the other day and had a look through.


Nice! Want to see what it looks like inside. Here you go, have a butchers:

(Extract from John 9 & 10. The picture refers to the Good Shepherd)

Thanks for reading!