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Putting My Country on The Map: The story of Ola, a proud Beninese

Dernière mise à jour : 5 juin

Discovering Himself in Travel

While abroad for his master’s degree in Water engineering, Ola Abdel, also known as "Ola Angel, discovered how much he loves to travel. Often, as his colleagues would criticize: “Ola is never around. Always on the move.” It is either he is in the next city catching cruise; in the nearby suburb checking out a new location or in a secret tourist destination while his colleagues went partying during the weekend. It got extreme that he was touring an entire week and had his classmates believe he was in his room the entire time.

Charity Begins At Home

“While in Algeria, my classmates would often flex about their countries. So, then I realized that when it comes to Benin I couldn’t say anything. Yet, people have that bad perception about Benin especially about voodoo.”

So this gave Ola a paradigm shift towards knowing more about his home country. From that point, every vacation was an opportunity to answer a question or two about Benin that the proud Beninese couldn’t answer in all those conversations. With time “those who were following me on Instagram begun coming to understand and appreciate that Benin is not the village and barbaric place they perceived it to be. They started seeing the beauty of Benin.”

In no time, he became the library of the coolest locations to check out; the historian for the interesting sights to see and the planner for a fulfilling treat when ever his friends needed to plan an event, to tour, travel the city or a nearby country.

Since then, he has gained enormous experience and knowledge about Benin. He is the right man to ask: “What are the coolest things to do in Benin?”

Why You Should Visit Benin

1. Benin has the largest lake village in Africa.

In the waters of Ganvie

How about breakfast in a pirogue, on a living lake that ripples the history of survival?

Ganvie is believed to be the largest lake village in the whole of Africa on Lake Nokoue. The ‘watermen’ live mainly by fishing. This floating village of the Tofinu tribe was built in the early years of the 18th century in an attempt to escape the Fon tribe who traded slaves with the Portuguese.

I bet you would love to see a vibrant market sitting on water. Close to Cotonou city, Ganvie is home to about 30,000 Beninese.

2. Port Novo

Ola Angel standing by the gate of Grand Mosque of Port Novo
Grand Mosque of Porto-Novo, formerly a Cathedral

Port Novo is the capital of Benin. It is home to some of the undaunting colonial and indigenous African history. Port Novo was one of the major ports for slave trade when the Portuguese set foot in Port Novo (then Ajase town.)

3. La Rivière Noire

Ola and his friend controlling drone while sitting in a boat on the Black River
A ride in La Rivière Noire (Black River)

About twenty-minutes to the east of Port Novo, towards the Nigerian border, Benin has one of the most peaceful locations in west Africa, La Rivière Noire (Black River). The river is situated in the middle of a dense forest of mainly, Raffia Palm trees and has a very calm demeanor that promises serenity and nature.

4. Boat Rides

Photo Credit: Ola Angel

It is as though almost all the fascinating sites of southern Benin involve a boat ride or two. How about some calm landscape and Beninese cozy hospitality in Grand Popo; blessed with a boat ride through the long wooden bridge constructed by the locals of Mono to the ‘Door-of-no-return’ in Ouidah. The ride comes with intriguing Islands to visit.

Voodoo Is A Religion

Like any other systems of belief, the religion which is popularly misconstrued and misrepresented originated from Benin. “Even among your friends, when you happen to go bad once, it spoils all the thousand times you were good. I think that’s the fate the Voodoo is suffering.”

A lot of the time voodoo is used for very positive things too: “For instance we have voodoo for barren women, for business growth, for arms and protection, for good health and so on.” However, the dark side is also sought, just as any other Abrahamic religions you know has its positive and negative uses.

Start Your Travel Journey Today

Like Jooryn Nina of Cameroon admonished, the journey to traveling begins with a thirty minutes’ drive to the next village or city of interest from your home town or home village. With time, thirty minutes translate into an hour or two’s drive from home and slowly you are traveling internationally to see the ever-elating divine work of art the earth is.

About Mr. Ola Angel

Ola Angel, CEO of travelwithOla

Abdel Ola GADO is a travel blogger - content creator and Travel Planner. He is dedicated to sharing his travel experiences across Africa with strong focus on his home, Benin in hope to help change the narrative on African tourism. His main goal is to inspire and encourage people to travel to Africa and feel how amazing the continent is. Being an engineer and a worker himself, he is determined to motivate workers to travel more.

Ola has been to eleven countries since 2017, Angel joins together culture, passion, adventure, and food anytime he is exploring a new destination. Ola enjoys discovering hidden gems and highlighting the beauty of Benin and its neighboring countries, Togo and Ghana, in order to motivate travelers to think of these destinations when traveling to west Africa.

He loves documenting his travel experiences via his social media handles and YouTube vlogs. To ensure that every traveler enjoys Benin as he does, Ola uses his expertise to curate, plan and help tourists discover and stay in Benin, Togo, Ghana and somethings Egypt. Ola has served clients from both far and near including those from the US, Europe and other parts of the world.


Intstagram: @ola.angel

Twitter: @TravelwithOla

Youtube: TravelwithOla

Tiktok: @travelwithola

Facebook: @TravelwithOla

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