THE FON OF BENIN
86-88% Traditional Religion
2.5% African Indigenous Churches
2.6% Other Protestants
Increasing. According to Larry Vanderaa, in his report for Christian and Reformed World Mission, "the Fon were (in 1983) considered a closed, resistent ethnic group but are now beginning to respond to the gospel. . . . African Indigenous Churches are experiencing astonishing growth among the Fon."
Indicators Favoring Receptivity
Homogeneity, Cultural Change, Recent Church Growth, Low Technological Innovation.
Indicators Restricting Receptivity
Strength of Traditional Religion, Lack of Extreme Cultural Dissonance
For the country of Benin, 108.9 persons/sq. mile. Two-thirds of the population of Benin live south of Abomey, the traditional Fon capital
1.3-1.6 million; possibly as many as 2.0-2.5 million Fon speakers. National population growth rate--3.6%.
The Fon are the most influential people in the south of Benin. Historically the Fon have resisted bothy Islam and Christianity, in favor of their own strong traditional religion. According to our sources, there are few linguistic differences among the Fon, and Fon is intelligible to members of related groups.
Both nationals and missionaries reported generally harmonious relations between all evangelical churches and missions and an openness toward other groups who may wish to begin works in Benin. All of the missionaries questioned were hospitable and helpful. The Southern Baptists wre particularly cooperative and encouraging, even to the point of suggesting areas of great need.
Islam has found few inroads into Fon. There are some signs of Islam in Cotonou. Mumar Kudafi has built an elaborate mosque near the Grand Marché.
There do not appear to be any significant shifts in the Fon population, except for a continual shift toward cities and towns. In some villages as many as 20%-40% of the villagers have spent at least 2 of the previous 12 months working away from the home village.
Availability of Scriptures
S.I.L. translators have completed the Fon New Testament which is awaiting publication.
Expectations of Government
The government of Benin is accepting new mission organizations. Temporary visas must be obtained for missionaries before entering the country. Application for church registration until congregations are established.