Black Kingdoms of the Nile



Gate's Diary

Culture Close-up

Retelling the Story

What is Africa to Me

The Africa Shop

Wonders: Dahomey Kingdom


Photo: Dahomaian king Dahomey, a precolonial West African kingdom, is located in what is now southern Benin. Dahomey reached the height of its power and prestige during the heyday of the Atlantic slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Abomey, Dahomey's capital, was founded around 1620 by Dogbari, who fled Allada after a power struggle amongst his brothers for the control of that kingdom. Under the rule of Dogbari and his descendants, Abomey was expanded through military conquest and consolidated into a powerful state, and Dahomey became heavily involved in the European slave trade, which had begun in earnest a century previous with the arrival of the Dutch.

The rule of Gezu (1818-1858), who overthrew King Adandozan, marked the pinnacle of Dahomey's power and influence. However, the end of the slave trade in the mid-nineteenth century greatly affected the economic fortunes of Dahomey, forcing it to provide primary products for newly important colonial markets. Palm oil, its main export, was never able to generate the same kind of revenues the slave trade had yielded. After the French gained control of Porto-Novo, commerce declined. In 1892 the French launched a full-scale offensive against Dahomey. Dahomey leaders surrendered in 1894, and the kingdom became a French colony.

Source: Microsoft Encarta Africana. ©1999 Microsoft Corporation. Used with permission.


Regional Map


Ashanti Kingdom
Dahomey Kingdom
Vodou Religion