Madam Danoyossi

On the veranda of Madam Danoyossi’s home, work is taking place. In the far corner, a young man is perched on the end of a wooden stool making a fishing net to be used by the men of Avlo, a community that sits on a peninsula between the Mono river and the Atlantic ocean. Opposite, Madam Danoyossi is sitting on the floor, legs outstretched, weaving a mat made out of straw harvested from the River Mono. This is what she does to pass the time now, to contribute to the family coffers. Though no longer the main breadwinner, at 80, she remains the head of the household. Surrounded by adult children, teenage grandchildren, and men of various familial connection, it was clear from the moment we met her a week ago that she is in charge and what she says goes.

“Madam Danoyossi is sharp,” says Seth. “Very charismatic, extremely opinionated, and she commands a lot of respect from all around her. She’s lived a full and varied life as a trader of smoked fish, which has taken her from Benin to Cote D’Ivoire and back again, and has helped her to take care of her family.” 

Image: Seth Avusuglo laughs with Madam Danoyossi on the veranda of her home in Avlo, Benin.

Image: Ernest Ankomah

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