The Bight of Benin
is a bight
(a type of bay) on the western African coast that extends eastward for about 400 miles (640 km) from Cape St. Paul to the Nun outlet of the Niger River
. To the east it is continued by the Bight of Bonny
(formerly Bight of Biafra). The bight is part of the Gulf of Guinea
On December 25, 2003, UTA Flight 141 crashed in the Bight.
The Bight of Benin is known for its fearsome tides
and has a long association with slavery
, its shore being known as the Slave coast
An old rhyme says:
- Beware, beware the Bight of the Benin, for few come out though many go in.
A variation goes:
- Beware beware, the Bight of Benin: one comes out, where fifty went in!
This is said to be a slavery jingle or sea shanty about the risk of malaria in the Bight. A third version of the couplet is
- Beware and take care of the Bight of Benin. There's one comes out for forty goes in.
The author Philip McCutchan has written a book titled "Beware, beware the Bight of Benin."
A short story by Elizabeth Coatsworth, "The Forgotten Island" (1942), deals with a treasure from Benin. A variation of the rhyme is also mentioned.
In Patrick O'Brian's novel The Commodore (1996), Dr. Maturin recites the rhyme when he learned of his ship's destination. Commodore Aubrey checks him, telling him it is bad luck to say that out loud on the way in.
In 2007, a collection of short stories entitled The Bight of Benin: Short Fiction by Kelly J. Morris was published by AtacoraPress.com. The stories are set in Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
On 1 February 1852
the British established the Bight of Benin British protectorate
, under the authority of Consuls
of the Bight of Benin:
|May 1852 – 1853
|| Louis Fraser |
|1853 – April 1859
|| Benjamin Campbell |
|April 1859 – 1860
|| George Brand |
|1860 – January 1861
|| Henry Hand |
|January 1861 – May 1861
|| Henry Grant Foote |
|May 1861 – 6 August 1861
|| William McCoskry (acting) |
On 6 August 1861 the Bight of Biafra protectorate (see there for their common further history) and Bight of Benin protectorate were joined as a united British protectorate, ultimately to be merged into Nigeria