The Watch

Akaba Idéna

Kétou, Plateau Department, Benin
Did You Know?
Akaba Idéna is the monumental gateway to the Yoruba city of Kétou, founded in the fourteenth century.
A Closer Look

Akaba Idéna

Akaba Idéna is the monumental gateway to the Yoruba city of Kétou, founded in the fourteenth century. The city was fortified in the eighteenth century with a trench and earthen rampart several kilometers long. It remained a stronghold until it was conquered and destroyed by the kingdom of Abomey in 1886. The arrival of the French weakened the kingdom’s power, so in 1894, as a measure of protection, the gate and city walls, the remains of which stand today, were rebuilt under the orders of King Oyingin. The earthen architecture and carved wooden elements of Akaba Idéna are important vestiges of the Yoruba culture in Benin. The gateway complex houses shrines for Yoruba deities, providing both physical and spiritual protection of the city, and remains an important part of the modern city of Kétou. The structure is situated near the royal palace and a neighborhood that has maintained its traditional look. Although it is revered by the community, the site is not protected by local designation and is threatened by both deterioration and urban encroachment. There is strong interest on the part of the royal family, as well as municipal and national government, to preserve Akaba Idéna and raise awareness of it significance. The opportunity is at hand to protect and conserve Akaba Idéna, and also integrate its presentation within the historic landscape of the city.

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