First Lady of Benin
Flag of Benin.svg
Claudine Gbènagnon Talon.jpg
Claudine Talon

since April 6, 2016
ResidencePalais de la Marina, Cotonou
Inaugural holderMarie do Régo
FormationAugust 1, 1960

First Lady of Benin (French: Première Dame de la République de Bénin) is the title attributed to the wife of the President of Benin.[1] Claudine Talon, wife of Patrice Talon, became first lady on her husband's election as president on April 6, 2016.[1] There had been no "first gentleman", or its equivalent, as of 2021.

History and role

Prior to 1975, when the country's name was changed from the Republic of Dahomey to Benin, the holder of the position was known as the First Lady of Dahomey or wife of the president of Dahomey.

Under the Constitution of Benin, adopted at the National Conference in Cotonou in February 1990, the first lady has no set, official role in government.[1] According to Dodji Amouzouvi, a sociologist and political scientist, "Benin has not yet constitutionalized the role of First Lady. No text yet clearly defines the powers they must have."[1] Instead, a set of customs, protocols, and norms govern the roles and responsibilities of Benin's first ladies.[1] Though the role is not recognized in Beninese law, the first lady has diplomatic, social and political obligations within Beninese politics and society.[1] The first lady often focuses on issues related to socio-economic, education, and healthcare.[1] She will accompany the president on domestic and international trips.[1]

First ladies since Benin's transition from dictatorship to a multi-party system are: Rosine Vieyra Soglo (1991–1996), Marguerite Kérékou (1996–2006), Chantal Yayi (2006–2016), and Claudine Talon (since 2016).[1]

The modern Beninese first ladies have entered politics and other arenas. For example, in 1992 then-First Lady Rosine Vieyra Soglo founded the Benin Rebirth Party (RB) to help garner political support for her husband and his political goals, becoming the first Beninese woman to establish a political party.[1][2] Vieyra Soglo's successor [1](and predecessor), Marguerite Kérékou, had a lower profile, but remained a confidante and advisor to her husband, President Mathieu Kérékou.[1] Chantal Yayi, first lady from 2006 to 2016, assisted her older brother, Marcel de Souza, with the creation of a new party.[1]

First Ladies of Benin

Names Portrait Term Began Term Ended President of Benin Notes
Marie do Régo
Maga 1961.png
August 1, 1960 October 22, 1963 Hubert Maga Inaugural First Lady of the Republic of Dahomey. Maga married Marie do Régo, a Catholic nurse from Ouidah, in 1939.[3] The couple had three daughters and two sons.[3] During her tenure as first lady, do Régo headed a women's organization called le Groupement des Femmes Dahoméennes (GFD), which was created in 1961.[4] She died in 2007.
Paule Soglo October 28, 1963 January 25, 1964 Christophe Soglo Colonel Christophe Soglo came to power in the 1963 Dahomeyan coup d'état. His wife, Paule Soglo, died in 2003.[5]
? January 25, 1964 November 27, 1965 Sourou-Migan Apithy Apithy was married.
? January 25, 1964 November 29, 1965 Justin Ahomadégbé-Tomêtin Ahomadégbé was married.
? November 29, 1965 December 22, 1965 Tahirou Congacou
Paule Soglo December 22, 1965 December 19, 1967 Christophe Soglo Former First Lady Paule Soglo died in 2003.[5] Christophe Soglo removed President Congacou in the 1967 Dahomeyan coup d'état and was later deposed on December 19, 1967.
? December 18, 1967 December 19, 1967 Jean-Baptiste Hachème Brief military ruler of Benin. Wife unknown.
? December 20, 1967 December 21, 1967 Maurice Kouandété Military ruler
? December 21, 1967 July 17, 1968 Alphonse Alley Military ruler
Florence Atayi Guy Gaspard July 17, 1968 December 10, 1969 Émile Derlin Zinsou President Derlin Zinsou was married to the late Florence Atayi Guy Gaspard.[6] He was deposed in the 1969 Dahomeyan coup d'état.
? December 10, 1969 December 13, 1969 Maurice Kouandété Military ruler
Françoise De Souza December 13, 1969 May 7, 1970 Paul-Émile de Souza Former Dahomey first lady Françoise De Souza died on July 30, 2015.[7]
Marie do Régo
Maga 1961.png
May 7, 1970 May 7, 1972 Hubert Maga Second tenure as first lady during the Presidential Council.
? May 7, 1972 October 26, 1972 Justin Ahomadégbé-Tomêtin Wife became first lady during the Presidential Council. Husband overthrown in a military coup on October 26, 1972, ending the council.[8]
Symphorose Béatrice Lakoussan (divorced)
Marguerite Kérékou[9](later)
October 26, 1972 April 4, 1991 Mathieu Kérékou Kérékou seized power in the 1972 Dahomeyan coup d'état. In 1975, he changed the name of the country from Dahomey to the People's Republic of Benin. It became the Republic of Benin in 1990.
Kérékou had several polygamous wives and relationships, which produced at least ten children.[9] He rarely appeared in public with any wife during his first tenure in office (1972–1991).[9] Kérékou divorced his wife, Symphorose Béatrice Lakoussan, who later became a national deputy, at some point during his first tenure.[4] Lakoussan stated she disapproved of Kérékou's 1972 coup and his anti-democratic policies, stating "His accession to power was a surprise for me."[4] Kérékou later designated his wife, Marguerite (née Midjo) Kérékou, as First Lady of Benin, especially during his second tenure as president (1996–2006).[9]
Rosine Vieyra Soglo
Rosine Vieyra Soglo.jpg
April 4, 1991 April 4, 1996 Nicéphore Soglo Rosine Vieyra Soglo was Benin's first First Lady of the country's democratic era. In 1992, First Lady Vieyra Soglo created the Benin Rebirth Party (RB), becoming the first Beninese woman to found a political party.[2] She later served in the National Assembly of Benin from 1999 to 2019 and the Pan-African Parliament from 2004 to 2009.[2]
Marguerite Kérékou April 4, 1996 April 6, 2006 Mathieu Kérékou Mathieu Kérékou rarely appeared in public with any wife during his first tenure in office (1972–1991).[9] However, he designated his wife, Marguerite (née Midjo) Kérékou, as First Lady of Benin, from 1996 to 2006 during his second tenure in a more public role.[9] Marguerite Kérékou is originally from Ouidah.[10]
Chantal de Souza Yayi
Chantal Yayi.jpg
April 6, 2006 April 6, 2016 Thomas Boni Yayi Yayi is a native of Ouidah.[10]
Claudine Talon
Claudine Gbènagnon Talon.jpg
April 6, 2016 Present Patrice Talon Born Claudine Gbènagnon. Incumbent First Lady of Benin since 2016.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Da Silva, Christopher (2016-04-28). "Rôle et place des Premières dames au Bénin: Quelle sera la marque de Claudine Talon?". La vraie info. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  2. ^ a b c Vidjingninou, Fiacre (2021-07-26). "Bénin – Décès de Rosine Soglo : hommages unanimes de la classe politique". Jeune Afrique. Archived from the original on 2021-07-27. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  3. ^ a b "Un champion de l'unité dahoméenne: Hubert Maga". Le Monde. 1961-10-26. Archived from the original on 2021-07-24. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  4. ^ a b c Attanasso, Marie-Odile (December 2012). "Femmes et pouvoir politique au Benin des Origines Dahommeenes a Nos Jour (page 62)" (PDF). Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-07-20. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  5. ^ a b Hessoun, Charly (2013-10-13). "Anniversaire de décès : prière en mémoire du Général Christophe Soglo et de son épouse". La Nouvelle Tribune. Archived from the original on 2021-01-27. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  6. ^ "Deuil national / Le Bénin vient de perdre l'un de ses dignes fils: l'Ancien président de la République du Dahomey, Emile Derlin Zinsou. (L'intégralité d'un Entretien)". 2016-08-01. Archived from the original on 2021-05-20. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  7. ^ "Bénin: L'ex Première Dame Françoise De Souza s'en est allé". 2015-07-31. Archived from the original on 2021-07-28. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  8. ^ "Army Takes Power in Dahomey Coup", The Washington Post, p. A22, 27 October 1972, retrieved 2008-12-24.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Akyeampong, Emmanuel Kwaku (2012). "Dictionary of African Biography:Chaad Mathieu Kérékou (Page 340)". Dictionary of African Biography. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-538207-5. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  10. ^ a b Hessoun, Charly (2011-01-01). "La première dame Chantal Yayi dans le viseur des Ouidaniens". La Nouvelle Tribune. Archived from the original on 2021-01-26. Retrieved 2021-07-27.