Being my first trip to Benin (and to West Africa in general), my first impression of Cotonou - a city of about one million inhabitants - was that of chaos.
I was quick to see, however, that Cotonou was a particular type of chaos... it was a chaos that WORKED!
It worked in a way that was difficult for my Canadian mind to understand. Even so, it was quite clear to me that it worked well all the same.
I drew much inspiration from this newfound world of mine: seeing that it was so different from anything I had previously known, I became convinced that Cotonou has a lot of important lessons that the 'west' (or at least Canada) can learn from. After all, differences help us to better ourselves and our societies.
A couple of notes on the photo itself:
1) The drivers with yellow shirts are kekenos (bike-man). Kenenos and their zemidjans (motorcycle-taxis) are uniquely Beninese and very common in the country's urban areas. Notice the Kekeno on the far right, he is supporting an intitive to put all girls in school.
2) Also on the right, you can see a black canister with 450 marked on it. This is a gas station (notice the brown bottles on the stools). The price of gas is 450FCFA, which is very similar to the price way pay here in Canada (a dollar a litre). It is procured in a slightly different way though (Nigeria is very close).
PS: After three months in Benin, I don't think Cotonou is so chaotic any more.
Critiques | Translate
Manamo (3654) 2007-11-02 8:34
you brought back very nice shots from that place. Let me start with that one.
I like the chaos going on. Many details to discover. The more I look at it, the more details I find...
I also like very much the 2 details you pointed out (the taxi and the gas station).
I like the dust that seems to be flying in the air. I guess the taxi drivers don't take credit card?
Have a nice day,
paprika-jancsi (2349) 2007-11-27 17:46
extremely well done with emphasis on the people and the faded background makes this picture alive. What was Benin called previously? Jancsi (Janos)
worldcitizen (6633) 2007-12-08 16:57
This is a very informative photo. It is interesting to see the entire street lined with motor bikes, and people even balancing or holding goods while they are driving. The dust in the air creates a unique atmosphere. Thanks for showing some daily life in a place that we don't see very often.
BennyV (13548) 2008-02-05 9:56
I arrived here from your latest Benin upload, always interested in images from countries I don't know much about. Still, this image is instantly recognizable, the first impression after landing somewhere new.
Love your note here and the Benin travelogue in general. Great work!
Juzo (4335) 2009-12-09 7:01
This image looks chaotic and i can really feel the atmosphere of the place. Great image.
siudzi (32809) 2014-05-17 5:06
What an interesting daily life scene here! It is really hard to believe how it works for this community. Impressive and original view of me. Well done.
Have a nice weekend!
- Copyright: Caleb Ficner (kwekwekan) (1022)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2007-02-02
- Categories: Transportation
- Camera: Panasonic Lumix FX-01
- Exposure: f/5.6, 1/320 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Travelogue: Benin, Un-forgotten
- Theme(s): My Photography [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2007-03-22 14:12