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Mural for peace and religious tolerance

The principles of tolerance and religious coexistence are inscribed on Cotonou’s walls as part of what is set to become one of the biggest murals in the world. Thecolourful street art is a graphic manifestation of President Patrice Talon’s messages of peace and national unity.

© Eduardo Kobra’s work is part of a project that aims to cover almost four kilometers of walls with graffiti.

Twelvemen and women seen from behind, standing with their arms around each other, peacefully gazing at the sky – or perhaps it’s the future they see before them. Twelve people, as in the twelve counties of Benin. This is
famous Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra’s mural, unveiled on 3 May in Cotonou.Covering 525 square metres on the wall of what used to be the Hotel du Port, it extends an invitation to passers by to ‘walk together’. Graffiti artist Kobra explains that it symbolises “respect for diverse beliefs and the need for peaceful coexistence”. The work features elements of Kobra’s signature patch work style.


It was the first lady of Benin, Claudine Talon, who invited Eduardo Kobrato Cotonou to paint this mural and is one of the ways for this patron of the arts to express her commitment to peace and religious tolerance. This is an artistic show of support for Pillar 1 of the government’s Action Programme (2021-2026), which emphasises the fostering of a new state of mind among the people of Benin and the strengthening of national unity.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Babalola Jean-Michel Hervé Abimbola describes it as “producing a narrative that is in keeping with our identity, our history and our culture of peaceful cohabitation. Here, in the land of the Amazons, Bio Guera, Behanzin and Kaba, all religions are respectful of each other”.He went on to confirm that “The State, guarantor of secularism, provides or will provide its support for religious events, whether it’s the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, the celestial Christian pilgrimage to Sèmè, the pilgrimage to the Marian Grotto in Dassa or the festival of endogenous religions.”

© The First Lady of Benin, Claudine Talon and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Arts, Jean-Michel Abimbola


Eduardo Kobra himself initiated a project called ‘Coexistence’. He began working on it during the Covid 19 lock down, when he was unable to practice his art, and the works he created bring messages of tolerance and love to people around the world. The first of the pieces that makeup this project depicts five children, from five continents and five religions, praying. It was painted in his monumental studio in Itu, 100 kilometres from Sao Paulo, until it could be reproduced on a wall.

The famous street artist is convinced that art can be an instrument for saving humanity, and is an excellent way of raising awareness and educating children and teenagers. Among the over 500 paintings he has produced on the streets of Brazil and 17 other countries, the mural artist created a record-breaking sized mural for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Titled ‘Ethnicities’, showing that even then he was interested in depicting diversity and unity, it is 15 metres high and 170 metres long, and features five female and male faces from five different continents.


However, it is now Cotonou’s turn to break all the records. Eduardo Kobra’s work is part of a project that will eventually cover nearly four kilometres of the walls surrounding the autonomous port of Cotonou with graffiti, making it the largest mural in the world. His work is an extension of the mural started by other great names in African and international mural art on the eastern side of Cotonou beach, as part of the ‘Effet Graff’ festival. Amongst the other artists who contributed to this beautiful mural are another Brazilian, Edgar Bernardo Dos Santos, aka Ed-Mun, Cyril Sitou from France and Baker from Germany, as well as Benin’s own Julien Sinzogan, Dominique Zinkpe and Laurenson Djihouessi, aka Stone, who is also the festival promoter.

Throught his work,“Benin is pursuing its objective of establishing the country as a place of cultural vibrancy where artistic creativity is ongoing,” says the Minister of Culture.“We are gradually building the ecosystem that will enable us to achieve this, in particular through the Cotonou Museum of Contemporary Art, the Agency for the Development of Arts and Culture and the Cotonou Cultural and Creative Quarter, all with the aim of making this sector a source of wealth and employment.”


In 2021, 26 graffiti artists, including 15 from abroad, were inspired by the return, after more than two years of negotiations between Paris and Cotonou, of 26 treasures plundered by French colonial troops in the late 19th  century. For the first time, these works were displayed in Benin in a 3-month historical exhibition at the Presidential Palace, just a few hundred metres from the wall. Not only can passersby and visitors admire the representations of Bio Guéra and the Amazons, but recent achievements as well.

In reference to these recent achievements, the mural depicts the renovation of the Port of Cotonou, agricultural modernisation and mechanisation, road infrastructure development and the construction of the Economic Crimes and Terrorism Repression Court. Once again, President Patrice Talon’s vision is to reveal Benin to the nation and the world.

The first time Eduardo Kobra brought his art to Africa was when superstar Madonna invited him to paint two murals at the Mercy James Centre for Paediatric Surgery in Malawi in 2017. Six years earlier, he’d painted a mural on the subject of memory and heritage, in Lyon, France, his first mural outside of his home country. Since then, he has travelled all over the world, from Spain and Norway to India, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands, where in 2018 he painted a magnificent portrait of Anne Frank on the wall of Amsterdam’s Straat Museum.