AS LEONARD WANTCHEKON was having breakfast with his wife, Catherine Kossou, in 2007, she recalled how one friend could not trust anyone. Even as a child her friend would say: “That person is going to sell you,” or “He will make you disappear.”
The words struck a chord with Mr Wantchekon. Now a professor at Princeton University, he was born in Zagnanado in central Benin. Some of the music he listened to in his youth—such as that of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou—had songs that warned against trusting those close to you.
He wondered: “Does this have something to do with slavery?” Benin was a hub of the slave trade. More than 1m people were trafficked from the interior to the port of Ouidah, and