Kitano Takeshi’s Elementary Schools and Japanese Schools in Benin

About three months ago, I wrote a blog article on the children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Malawi and the importance of education as a critical instrument for social and economic development (or human development).  Admittedly, what I wrote may be too crazy or too utopian to be realized.

But, we humans sometimes think alike.  By chance, I learned about a Japanese guy who has already put the similar ideas into practice.  That is Mr. Takeshi Kitano (Beat Takeshi)!  What?! Is he an activist beside being a filmmaker and a comedian?

According to these Youtube, Takeshi Kitano used to have a TV show called “This is what is strange about the Japanese people.”  A hundred foreigners living in Japan were invited to voice their observations about weird and negative aspects of Nihon.  One of the guests was Mr. Zomahoun Idossou Rufin (known as Zomahon), from the Republic of Benin in West Africa.

That was how Zomahon met Takeshi twelve years ago or so.  With the help of Takeshi, Zomahon built four schools in his country including Takeshi’s Elementary School and Takeshi Japanese School.

In the school lunch program in Benin, according to Takeshi, it costs 25 yens (about 25 cents in the USA) and there are kids who can afford it and those who cannot afford it.  “It is cruel that those kids have to watch the others eating.” So, they have established a sort of child sponsorship.  Becoming a sponsor, a supporter in Japan receives a photograph of the child and vice versa, and that’s how they make a bond of friendship.

In their elementary schools, they provide free education and free lunch for kids.  They also help the local people to grow agricultural products.  Among the graduates from these schools, those who have mastered the language are sent to Japan, trained to be medical doctors and other professionals, and they work in Japan for certain years.  They eventually return to Benin and work for their country.

"Suppose, some kids succeed in graduating from universities and become important one day.  It is cool if s/he visits Japan to meet a person who has treated to lunches, isn't it?,” Beat Takeshi remarks.

In Youtube, you will see that some Beninese graduates prostrate themselves on the ground to show their gratitude.  Humble Takeshi seems to get self-conscious and in order to hide that, he makes a joke, “Zomahon sometimes does the same thing when we meet.  And, it makes me look bad like a bully!”


This is a great idea, that

This is a great idea, that uses globalism positively. I wish the YouTube video had English subtitles, but I think your blog gives a good enough summary of what is going on in it. Now, if we can expand this idea further the world might be a better place. Orlando DUI Lawyer

a bridge between our countries


I just watched the video which Takeshi Kitano in a Japanese TV program in YouTube. I'm really happy to know that Benin has a Japanese language school which has the longest history in Africa and the grads there keep on studying in Japan in some fields. Thanks for taking an interest in Japanese language and cultures. I hope many of the students can come Japan and will be a bridge between our countries.

Yukiko Morita

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