The Watch

Akaba Idéna

Kétou, Plateau Department, Benin
A Closer Look

Akaba Idéna

2012 World Monuments Watch

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 were rebuilt under the orders of King Oyingin. Their remains still stand today. 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 for the city, and remains an important part of the modern city of Kétou.

Today 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 the municipal and national government, to preserve Akaba Idéna and raise awareness of its significance. The complex was included on the 2012 World Monuments Watch in order to encourage its protection and conservation and to integrate its presentation within the historic landscape of the city.

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