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Gbêhanzin's farewell speech

"Companions in distress, last faithful friends, you know in what circumstances we decided to fight when the French wanted to capture the land of our fathers.

We were then sure of leading our army to victory. When my warriors rose up in thousands to defend Danhomè and their king, I recognised with pride the same bravery as that shown by the armies of Agadja, Tégbessou, Ghézo and Glèlè. I was by their side in all the battles.

In spite of the justice of our cause and our valour, our compact troops were decimated in a second. They could not overcome the white enemies whose courage and discipline we also praise. And already my tearful voice no longer raises an echo.

Where are the passionate Amazons fired by holy anger now?
Where are their unconquerable leaders - Goudémè, Yéwé and Kégungan?
Where are their vigorous captains - Godogbé, Chachabloukoa and Godjila?
Who will sing of their splendid sacrifices? Who will speak of their generosity?
Since they have sealed the pact of supreme fidelity with their blood, how should I accept such an abdication without them?
How, courageous warriors, should I dare to stand before you if I signed the General's paper?

No! I will no longer turn my back on my fate. I will face up to it and go forward. For the most glorious victory is not over an enemy army or opponents reduced to the silence of prison. The truly victorious man is he who stands alone and who continues to fight in his heart. At the doors of death I do not wish the keeper to find my steps dirty. When I see you again I want my heart to be filled with joy. Whatever happens to me is the will of God. Who am I that my disappearance should represent a blank on earth?

Last living companions, go your ways also. Return to Abomey where the new masters promise an easy alliance, your lives spared and, it seems, freedom. It is said that joy has already returned there. There the whites will be as favourable as the rain which clothes the flamboyants in red velvet or the sun which sheds gold on the silken beards of corn.

Fallen companions, unknown heroes of a tragic epic, here is the memorial offering: a little oil, some flour and bull's blood. In this way the pact is renewed before the final departure.

Farewell, soldiers, farewell!"

in Jean Pliya, Kondo le requin, Ed. du Bénin

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