His Excellency Cyrille Oguin, the Ambassador to Benin, will visit West Virginia University on Tuesday (April 17) to talk about the politics and particulars of life in his West African country.

The ambassador will discussThe Republic of Benin: Democracy and Governance in Africaat 7:30 p.m. in G-21 White Hall on the Downtown Campus.

Hell be accompanied by Benins acting cultural attaché Emmanuel Ohin for the appearance thats part of WVU sCultural Attachesglobal outreach program.

While here, hell meet a fellow countryman, graduate student Kouaro Yves Chabi, who called the Benin Embassy in Washington to arrange the visit. In doing so, Chabi said he found himself on the phone with the ambassador.

We talked about the weather and the scenery here,said Chabi, 33, a graduate student in the Leadership Education program.Hes very familiar with West Virginia and West Virginias colleges and universities.

Making foreign locales familiar is the goal of the Cultural Attaches program, which aims to increase intercultural awareness and understanding of other peoples and cultures in the worldthrough events like Tuesdays talk.

I am very excited about the visit,said Chabi, who also earned a masters degree in Canada before enrolling at WVU last year. After he graduates next May, the human resources professional will return to Benin and his job in the Department of Education, where he helps train teachers and school administrators in the capital city of Porto-Novo.

An ambassador is directly linked to the culture of his country,Chabi said.I want to ask Ambassador Oguin about his experiences here, and what Benin can bring to the United States.

Oguin became Benins ambassador to the U.S. on March 13, 2001. Before that, he was director of human rights at the Ministry of Justice, Legislation and Human Rights in Benin. He also held key posts in Benins ministries of foreign affairs and external affairs and spent five years at the Benin Embassy in Ghana.

Benin , at-a-glance

  • While Benin is one of the more politically stable nations in Africa, it still ranks among the poorest countries in world, despite being a top producer of cotton.
  • The country was colonized by France in the late 1800s. Benin declared its independence in 1960, but French remains the official language. After episodes of political unrest through the 1970s, political newcomer Yayi Boni was elected president in March 2006.
  • The population is 7.1 million and the country covers 43,484 square miles.
  • Along with indigenous beliefs, Christianity and Islam are major religions in Benin.
  • The country boasts more than 50 newspapers and periodicals, one state TV channel, a handful of commercial channels and more than 30 state, commercial and local radio stations. Benins constitution guarantees freedom of the press, despite harsh libel laws that have been used against journalists in years past.
  • The shore of Benin includes what used to be known as theSlave Coastwhere captives where shipped into slavery across the Atlantic.

Tuesdays visit is co-sponsored by the WVU Center for Black CultureMulticultural Programs; the Department of History; the WVU Office of International Programs; the WVU Office of International Students and Scholars; the WVU Intensive English Program; WVU Multidisciplinary Studies; the WVU Office of Student Life; and the WVU Extension Service.

For more information, contact Cecilia Rollins at cecilia.rollins@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-7029, ext. 133. Rollins is a counselor at the Center for Black CultureMulticultural Programs who is coordinating the WVU Cultural Attaches Program.