When a group of Prince Hall Masons from North Carolina arrived in Cotonou, Benin last month for the inauguration of a new grand lodge in Cotonou, the cultural significance wasn’t lost on the masons from Benin. After The American Revolutionary War (1775-83), a formerly enslaved man from Massachusetts who had fought in the war for independence, was attracted to Freemason ideals like brotherly love, justice, and liberty, but the exclusively white group wouldn’t allow a black man in its ranks. The man, Prince Hall, wasn’t one to take no for an answer, though. With all the traditional tenets of masonry, he decided to start his own group of masons. The group was granted a full charter in 1784 by the Grand Lodge of England and now has chapters all over the world, including in West African nations besides Benin, like Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Liberia. Prince Hall Masons in West Africa number into the hundreds, though the organization would not provide an exact number of members. The inauguration of a Prince Hall lodge in Benin, where more than a million Africans, sold into slavery, departed the African coast, made the Masons from Benin emotional at the mention of it. But it wasn’t just the building. It was the fact that a delegation of African Americans had made the trip for the event. A sect of Freemasons born out of the type of discrimination that had never been seen in Benin, yet which the Kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin) had indirectly sanctioned by way of its participation in the slave trade was now welcoming black Americans to Benin. To the Beninese masons, it was like a rare moment to right the wrongs of history. “We have to welcome our brothers back. We want to say that we’re sorry for what happened all those years ago,” said Ismael Ogon, a French-speaking Prince Hall Mason from Cotonou. At the inauguration, sentiments like these were echoed over and over by the Beninese Prince Hall Masons. Why an African American Freemasons group “returned” to one of slave trade’s darkest places That's interesting.