A metal statue covered in bronze with an overall height of 30m now perpetuates the warrior women of the ancient Kingdom of Danxomè, in Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin. This is the Amazon statue.
In Cotonou, the Amazon monument is gradually becoming part of the city’s tourist landscape. Indeed, behind the Marina Palace, a short distance from the Congress Palace and the Port of Cotonou, an imposing representation can be seen in the sky. It is the Amazon statue. Erected on the “Esplanade des Amazones”, the monument entitled “Amazone” aims to establish a strong symbol honouring the women warriors of Danxomè, the first purely female army created by Queen Tassi Hangbé, the only woman to rule the kingdom from 1708 to 1711. The work is part of the overall urban and landscape development programme along the Marina Boulevard.
The Amazons and Danxome
Today, one cannot tell the story of the kingdom of Danxomè, now Benin, without mentioning the Amazons. These courageous women, who at the cost of their lives had defended their native land, remain engraved in the memory of the Beninese. Warriors in every respect, the Amazons of Danxomè are revered for their valour in the face of opposing soldiers in pre-colonial times. Created by her royal highness Tassi Hangbé, this female military elite was then rehabilitated, improved and established by his majesty King Guézo, in 1820, to become a special elite corps, responsible for defending the sovereign and his kingdom.
Their motto was: “Win or die”. Through this monument, Benin pays a deserved tribute to them and immortalises an important part of the country’s history.
Why an Amazon statue?
The global tourism sector has undergone changes in recent years and it is urgent that Benin keeps pace with the various reforms underway in the sector. Following the example of the Eiffel Tower in France or the Renaissance monument in Senegal, not forgetting the Great Wall in China or the Statue of Liberty in the United States, Benin has decided to equip itself with a remarkable monument for its tourist development. It was then that an Amazon was chosen as Benin’s visual identity. Thus, the government of President Patrice Talon, through this monument, not only pays tribute to female bravery, but places women at the heart of development.
In addition, since the council of ministers of 17 July 2019, the government had announced the contract with the Chinese artist Li Xiangqun for the realization of the statue of the Amazon. According to the minutes of the Council of Ministers, “the Amazon monument aims to establish a strong symbol of our country’s identity and consists of erecting an emblematic work honouring the Amazons of Dahomey. It is a metal statue with a bronze envelope and an overall height of 30m”.
Benin is gradually making giant progress in the valorisation of its history and cultural heritage. Last year, the largest mural in Africa was painted on the wall of the OCBN. This year, the world’s largest mural against the harbour wall is being won. Not to mention the restitution of the royal treasures and their exhibition at the Presidency of the Republic for several months now.