Two minutes in Benin captured during photographer Angus MacKinnon’s six month road trip through Africa:
The story begins at the Seme border post, crossing from Nigeria to Benin. The border had officially been closed for 18 months and after spending 7 hours haggling with Kalashnikov-clad civilians who claimed to be officials we finally made our way through lawless no man‚Äôs land and set foot in the tiny West-African country of Benin. The traditional movement of people through this space has been going on for as long as humans have been settled here; the Yoruba people have famously occupied the frontier territory despite the introduction of colonial and independent state boundaries.
On the other side we were presented with a newly tarred road that meandered along the¬†growling coastline, and motorbikes, lots and lots of motorbikes. There was a constant buzz of Chinese built, 100cc Sanyas, which darted around like mosquitoes. I was having a¬†tough time making photographs of the bikes from my seat in the back of the van but nature very soon solved my problem as we stopped for a road side pee-break. I stayed where I was and found myself presented with bike after bike flying past me on the other side of the window. Taking my chance, I made all of the photographs in the two or so minutes that it took for the bladders to drain and we were soon on our way again.
These images highlight the adaptability, street style and swagger of people in the Cotonou¬†area, but they also bring to light a more pertinent issue ‚Äì that of the ever growing presence of China in Africa. As you can see they are literally the driving force in this part of the continent.