6/1/00 Vol. 4

The official Friends of Benin Newsletter


News and Updates from the Executive Committee:



Pres. Peter de Groot-
VP- Jessica Duke -
Secretary- Lori Killpatrick-
Deadbeat Editor- Chris Starace-
Grapic Designer- Chris Robbins-


Committee Chair people:

Web Master- John Boe -

Social Committee- open

Membership Committee- open

Current Volunteer Support- open


Join Friends of Benin Group!


                Friends of Benin is a group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have served in Benin as well as anyone who has an interest in Benin.  Some of our goals are to help members keep in touch with each other, keep up with what’s going on in Benin, continue supporting Benin PCV’s, and to help members keep their Peace Corps experience alive.  We are a new group and need your participation.  We requested a mailing list from National Peace Corps Association and are mailing ONE complementary copy of our newsletter to over 400 Benin RPCV’s in hopes of soliciting great enthusiasm and increased membership for Friends of Benin.  Please join now to insure you are on our mailing list for the next issue.  Get involved! 


We will be sending several free copies to PC Cotonou for every edition and we encourage current volunteers to send contributions to our “Deadbeat.”  Let us know what you are doing, give updates on what’s going on in Benin, PC Benin (most of us are quite out of touch), and how we can support you.  Send us copies of your “Deadbeat” so we can include portions of it in ours.  Feel free to include articles from the FOB “Deadbeat” in the PCV Deadbeat. 


Registration Form:

Friends of Benin                   National Peace Corps Association (NPCA)
___New                                 ___New
___Renewal                          ___Renewal
Street Address:_____________________________
City, State, Zip:____________________________
Telephone: Home_________________Work____________________
Current Employer:__________________________
Current Occupation:________________________
Peace Corps Job:___________________________
PC Country:________________Years of service:__________


___Associate members - I am not an RPCV nor RPCS
I am interested in: ____________________


Select one membership category:
___Newly returned RPCV - 6 months free
___$40 NPCA/FOB dues (this is fixed by NPCA and can't be changed!)
___$55 Family NPCA & FOB
___$15 FOB
___$22.50 Family FOB
Additional contributions for NPCA:
___$1000 Director's Circle
___$500 Patron
___$250 Leadership Club
___$100 Sustaining
___$10 Overseas Mail
Hotline Subscription:
___$20 (member of NPCA)
___$30 (other RPCV)

Make check payable to Friends of Benin and send to: Lori Killpatrick, 3119 Clairemont Drive #2, San Diego, CA 92117 so you can get on the mailing list for the next Deadbeat issue (published quarterly more or less).   Please encourage your fellow non-member Benin RPCV’s to join.


Send or E-mail articles, ideas, comments, photos, etc. for the next FOB Deadbeat to


 Letter from the OVAL OFFICE
(well, more like a cubicle…)


Greetings from the Office of the President!  A few things…


Based on our membership survey via the internet listserve, we have established a top priority for the Friends of Benin organization to “Improve/maintain communications between Benin RPCV's, PCV's.” FOB will therefore continue to place an emphasis on keeping the lines of communication open, including most importantly the web site and the Deadbeat newsletter.  As the organization matures and the cash supply increases, we may wish to support a specific project in Benin.


Here is some internet/web site news.  FOB now has an OFFICIAL, REGISTERED web site domain at . Point your browser to this location and you will automatically be redirected to the current FOB site.  You can also go to the current site directly, but we expect the server for the site will be changing soon.  The link will allow you to follow the FOB page wherever it goes.


John Boe ( will be redesigning and updating the web page this summer.  There is talk of simultaneous paper and electronic publishing of the Deadbeat, which would be fantastic.  Please post any other suggestions, or connect directly to John, to help out with this important effort.


If you have not already done so and if you have Internet access, please join the FOB listserve at!  It is a great way to maintain contact with the group.  If you do not have Internet access, don’t be shy!  Send letters, make phone calls, let yourself be heard.  We are trying to leverage the Net to maintain contact, but this is not an “Internet only” organization.


We also have plans to distribute the Deadbeat to all Benin RPCV’s that we can locate, to assist in recruitment of new members.  Paying your annual $15 FOB membership dues will greatly assist in this effort.


Note that Lori Killpatrick still has some stock of FOB tee shirts.  Get yours today, look cool and support your organization at the same time!  I have two, they are terrific.


On the administrative side of things, I am presently drafting the bylaws and mission statement for FOB, as is required for our affiliation with the NPCA.  When this is ready, we will have a general membership vote to approve the statements.  In the meantime, your FOB board is using consensus voting (100% agreement for all 5 board members) to make decisions.


All for now… Ehuzu!  - Peter


Fob Upcoming Activities and Events:

                Holly Drier would like to send out a feeler to see who would be interested in coming to San Francisco around Labor Day for a rockin’ Benin RPCV Reunion / fete.   Please contact her at if you’re interested.



Send your overheards for the next Deadbeat.  Keep your ears opened at the next RPCV fete or dig through your PCV journal for any unpublished ones.


This may be a repeat for some but I love it so much I still tell my non PCV friends because it is so funny:

“Sphincter don’t fail me now!” -- Stacia Bippus- as she was lifting her leg to get on a Zemijan while fighting a nasty bout of diarrhea.


Updates on Members/ Message Board-

Marriages, moves, engagements, new addresses, new children, etc., new jobs, say hi to old friends, locate a long lost postmate ...


Linda Baker (93-95, Science Teacher) will marry David Witze on June 10, 2000 in Reno, Nevada.

Tyson Roberts (Benin 95-97) became engaged to Naomi Cohen on March 23 in  Mexico. She is a lawyer at a Children's Court in Los Angeles and has  traveled extensively. Tyson is a graduate student in business at Cornell University. A June 2001 wedding is planned.



News From Benin:

          Transmit news from your in-country contacts and post messages from current Benin PCV’s:  Current PCV’s:   Send us letters and articles from your Deadbeat! 


Reflections on Being a PCV and the Life Long Task of  Readjustment:


How  Benin Changed Me

by Chris Starace


Less materialistic.

More social.

More against waste and more likely to recycle.

More thrifty.

I value human relationships and human interaction more.

I place a higher value on the simple pleasures of life.

Less superficial and more down to earth.

More in tune with the rhythms of nature.

More confident.

More likely to speak to people who are different than me.

More sensitive to the feelings of a person in a minority situation knowing very well what it’s like to be a minority myself.

More open minded.

More likely to try to see a situation from the other person’s point of view.

Much more flexible and patient- go with the flow attitude when nothing can be done to change the situation at hand.

More resourceful and creative.

Stronger and more resilient in the face of adversity.

More worldly outlook and perspective- broader horizons quoi.

More appreciative of the efficiency, luxuries, opportunity, technology and wealth we have.

More aware of the faults of the American culture.

More aware of racial tension in the U.S.

More dynamic and spontaneous.  


Unfortunately I’m feeling these traits are fading as time goes by and as I become more mainstream American again.  I think it’s time to go back to Benin for a visit already!


Benin Bibliography:

                A good Benin kids book -

IT TAKES A VILLAGE by Jane Cowen-Fletcher

The author was a volunteer in Se, Mono from 1981 - 1983.  This  book chronicles a child's adventures in the marché.  The drawings are amazing - little boites à tomate, push-up lizards, OMO, La Beninoise.  It's a perfect book for Benin RPCV's who are now parents.  (Submitted by Jessica Duke, 1989 - 1991)


French Lessons in Africa, by Peter Biddlecombe, published 1995. The first chapter is on his experiences in Benin. Very interesting, especially the story on the Catholic church being across the street from the snake temple. It covers quite a bit of territory.


Benin Related Web Site Reviews:

Send your favorite Benin related website and a short review: This is an interesting website about an RPCV and his African wife who returned to Africa to visit Togo and Benin. -from Pete, Gogounou, RPCV, SBD, 97-99 – The FOB list server.  See letter from the oval office for a description


 www.friends-of-benin.orgthe official Friends of Benin Web page.  It is under construction.  If you have web master skills and would like to help let us know! This is a very active list server comprised of about 250 people.   Most are Beninese expats living in Africa, Europe, US, and, Canada.  Most messages are in French and topics are frequently about current events in and issues relating to Benin expats.  I find it quite interesting.  I subscribe to the digest which sends me all the messages posted for the day as attachments in one message.  - This is Le Matinal ( the Beninese Newspaper)’s web site.  They update it daily.  I have to say Beninese journalism is under-developed as is Benin but it is interesting none the less and a good way to practice your French. - The Musee d’Abomey ‘s Website.- In English and French.  Pictures of the museum’s exhibits, history of the Danhome Kings, and other info about Benin.  Brush up on your Beninese history here. – This is an exhaustive list of all the languages spoken in Benin.  All 51 are listed with linguistic roots, and brief info. on the population that speaks each language. - Links to other African news sources as well as some of their own news. - Radio France International.  Remember?…  the only other station on the dial in Benin besides the National Radio Station.   If sure brings back memories for me hearing it.   You can choose to listen to broadcasts by category such as Afrique Matin, Afrique Sorir, Magazine Afrique, etc. in French, English or several other languages.  You need Real Player and can download it for free (they provide a link to it). Once you have Realplayer you can either listen through streaming audio or you can download the whole audio file and save it to your hard drive.


Angelique Kidjo Concert:

by Chris Starace


This is dated information because there has never been enough space in the Deadbeat but better late than never!  


Anjelique and her new Oremi album Rock!!  I saw her in concert in October (1998) at Tramps, NY city which was a very small venue.  Maybe 300-400 people (standing room only) so naturally I wormed my way to the front row.  Had I extended my arm I could have touched her and several times she was practically singing in my face.  She was as fantastic as I remember from the concert she gave in Cotonou in ‘97.  Great singing, very energetic and fabulous dancing including her back up singers.  The place was packed and the crowd was really into her music.  It was nice to see so many Americans rocking to Fon tunes. 

    I was screaming things to her in Fon the whole time, but it wasn't until the end when she finally heard me.  I yelled a simple "Kudazo" and she said (interrupting what she was saying to the audience but still speaking to everyone)  "AHHH, You speak my language!"  (she speaks English well) I said, "Enn, un se fongbe bi" (yea, I speak Fon “correctement”).  She said, "how long were you there?," and I said, "Un ko blo xwe we do Benin" (I was just there for two years).  She said, "Wow, a White American guy who can speak my language!  If he can do it, any one can," and the whole crowd roared because it coincided with her messages of racial integration.  After when she was singing I was waving the Beninese flag and she took it and danced with it.  She invited a bunch of people up on stage to dance, and I got up twice which was a blast.  She did 2 encores and after the show my friends and I got to meet her back stage.  I Fongbe'd with her a little, she gave me hug and we hung out for a few minutes.  I didn't realize how petite she is until I stood next to her.  She's really a trip- very funny and out going.   She was quite surprised that I could speak Fon and I got the regular "Ehh, Mawu, e se fongbe bi" routine (God, he speaks Fon!- For you northerners).  I also spoke with her manager who is from Abomey, and I think he is the only other Beninois in her band.  It's kind of a shame if you ask me.   Actually her musicians are from all over the world and they really know how to put on a good show.  Be sure not to miss her when she’s touring again.  She puts on a great show and you can’t help but have flashbacks from Benin throughout the show.