September 24, 2014

Pictures Of African Kings Taken Decades Ago

Daniel Laine was a French photographer who travelled across the whole of Africa between 1988 to 1991 taking photographs of powerful African Kings "whose dynasties marked the history of Africa until the middle Twentieth Century".

And he focussed on African monarchs who continued to "retain a traditional and spiritual authourity that is difficult for the Western mind to comprehend".

Laine encountered some difficulties in the process: A war in Sudan prevented him from taking the photograph of the King of Shiluk who is a descendant of black dynasties that ruled Egypt. The King of Swaziland refused to be photographed.

He eventually succeeded in taking the pictures of 70 Kings and the photographs and details are contained in a book he wrote.

Below are pictures of some of these monarchs, all the words and descriptions are those of Daniel Laine.

 Keep in mind also that these pictures were taken decades ago and some monarchs portrayed may have passed to the Great Beyond and new persons may currently be occupying these positions.

But these pictures are important for historical purposes.
Joseph Langanfin (Benin):Representing the Abomey dynasty, Joseph Langanfin is the president of CAFRA, the council of Abomey’s royal families. With this title, he is considered as the official representative of the kings of Abomey. He presided at the centenary ceremonies for the death of King Glele, who was his great grandfather.

The Ooni of Ife (Nigeria):In 1980, Sijuwade became the fiftieth Oni (King) of Ife, one of the most ancient African Dynasties. Formerly, during his coronation, an Oni had to embrace the sword of justice, and enter into his palace on a cloth stiffened by the dry blood of sacrificed men and women. Today the Oni is a rich businessman, with several vaste properties in Nigeria and England.

Ngie Kamga Joseph-Fon of Bandjun (Cameroun):
The Fon (King) is the brother of courageous and powerful animals. At night, he has the power to transform himself into a panther, where he haunts the forest, runs through the savana and drinks from torrents. When a panther is killed by a hunter, the Fon from Bamileke region are afraid. Will one of them not perish from the death of his double. Formerly a chief administator and cabinet chief for the finance Minister of Cameroun in 1964, Kamga Joseph is the thirteenth Fon of Bandjun. On the day of his predecessor’s funeral, he was stopped in the Bandjun market by two Bamileke chiefs, “the hangmen”, in the middle of the nobles and princes who wept the deceased King. Wearing a head dress made of sisal as a sign of humility, he was taken to the noblemen, the “tafo meru”, where he learned during nine weeks how to be a King.
Halidou Sali - Lamido of Bibemi (Cameroun):
Halidou Sali, the twelfth Lamido (king) of Bibemi, received his kingdom in 1958. He is a descendant of Aido Samba, one of the 42 Kings of Adamawa, who during the eighteenth century carried the flag for the Jihad (holy war) of Ousman Dan Fodio. 
Oseadeeyo Addo Dankwa III - King of Akropong -Akuapem (Ghana): A graduate from the University of London and an economic advisor for the Ghanaian administration, The King of Akropong holds for the last sixteen years the “sacred seat” of the Akuapem-Asona, one of the seven major Akan clans. To his right, his “spokesman” carries the royal emblem, the elephant, a remembrance that his kingdom was founded by force.

Abubakar Sidiq -Sultan of Sokoto (Nigeria):
 This photo was taken fifteen days before the death of the Sultan of Sokoto. He had reigned for more than fifty years. At the time of his successor’s coronation, who was chosen by a council of “king makers”, a conflict erupted. Two royal families disputed the choice; the consequence: one hundred deaths.

According to “news watch”, a large daily Nigerian newspaper, the power of the Sultan of Sokoto is such, that most of the Nigerians questioned would rather be Sultan than President of Nigeria. Abubakar Sidiq was not as rich as other sovereigns of this country. He earned annually about 1 million naira ($200 000). But with this income, the Sultan had to support his suite of eighty-six people, and feed one hundred and fifty grand children.

Igwe Kenneth Nnaji Onyemaeke Orizu
 III - Obi of Nnewi (Nigeria):When Kenneth Nnaji became King of Nnewi in 1963, he was a farmer, and his ten wives had already blessed him with thirty children. Located to the east of the Niger river, in Ibo country, Nnewi is a rich town with several millionaires. This kingdom, founded in the fourteenth century, is composed of four large villages. When the Portugueses arrived in the region in the fifteenth century, a multitude of city-states appeared. As with Nnewi, these cities were built on the basis of a thriving slave trade. Born with the trade, they lived only for trade, and did not look favorably upon the creation of a state uniting under the same Nigerian flag, the Ibo, the Yoruba and the Hausa. Ethnic and religious clashs erupted, starting the Biafra War.
Isienwenro James Iyoha Inneh - Ekegbian of Benin (Nigeria): James Inneh, seventy nine years old, was formerly a business man. In 1962, he was named commander of the royal guards, “isienwenro”, by the king Akenzua. “Asako no s’oghionba” (ants sting the King’s enemies), was how the royal guards responsible for the King’s security, were called. During some rituals, they glide around the soverain, completely envelopping him like an army of ants.

El Hadj Seidou Njimoluh Njoya - Sultan of  Fumban and Mfon of the Bamun(Cameroun): 
Eighty years old, the sultan Njoya has been on the throne for more than fifty years. At the age of twenty nine, he inherited the famous Bamun throne, founded in the sixteenth century. He was chosen, by the kingdom’s council of wisemen, among one hundred and seventy seven of his father’s children, the famous Sultan Njoya. His father, an enlightened sovereign, spent twelve years to invent his own alphabet, made of eighty symbols. He wanted to be able to write in the Bamun language the kingdom’s history. At this time, the oral tradition dominated. In 1913, while Cameroon was still a German colony, Sultan Njoya equiped himself with his own printing house.
Agboli-Agbo Dedjlani - King of Abomey (Benin):
Dedjlani, a former policeman, waited six years to retire, and then proceeded with his secret coronation ceremonies. “Officially”, there is no longer a king in Benin. But on september 30, 1989, Dedjlani put on his royal shoes, and at the age of fifty four became King of Abomey. Being monogamous, he was obliged to marry two more wives to take care of his royal household. When he goes out, tradition requires that he be sheltered under an umbrella with his emblem. One of wives must always be next to him, carrying the royal spitting bowl. The King also has to wear his scepter in permanence. Holding it in his hand or hanging on his shoulder, more than a symbol, the scepter is the King. The silver dust protector worn on the nose, dates from the nineteenth century, and was inherited from the King Gbehanzin. It protected the King’s nose from the dust, during the royal processions in Abomey.
Goodwill Zwelethini - King of Zulu (South Africa):
King Goodwill Zwelethini is a descendant of the famous Shaka, founder of the Zulu kingdom. At the beginning of the ninetheenth century, Shaka was the chief of a small insignificant clan among the Bantu people. Thinking that the survival of the Zulus depended inevitably on the subservience of the other clans, Shaka submitted the natal region to blood and fire. Between 1815 and 1828, he annihilated all tribes that were opposed to him. This troubled period referred to as Mfecan (terror), was accompanied by famine and exodus of a large part of the Bantu population. Shaka’s cruelty became legendary. 
El Hadj Mamadou Kabir Usman -Emir of Katsina (Nigeria): The Emir of Katsina is a passionate follower of polo, and his family has contributed many champions to Nigeria. In the twelfth century, Katsina was a Hausa village, governed by the Durbawa, which was a royal dynasty that had emigrated from a region whose name tradition has lost. One of the Durbawa kings, Janzawa, married a Daura princess from another Hausa state. The Queen Katsina, gave her name to the village which became the terminal of the commercial transsaharien route from Tripoli (Lybia).

Salomon Igbinogbodua - Oba Erediauwa of Benin (Nigeria):On March 23, 1979, prince Salomon, a graduate of Cambridge University, was crowned Oba (king) of Benin. He suceeded his father Akenzua II, and became the thirty-eigth king of a dynasty dating back to the thirteenth century. “The large chalk stick is broken”, was the metaphor used to officially announce the death of Akenzua. Immediately afterwards, the Edo of Nigeria, England and America, shaved their heads. The new growth of the hair signified the rebirth of the kingdom, and the re-establishment of the harmony between man and the elements, that had been broken for an instant by the death.

Aliyu Mustapha - Lamido of Adamawa (Nigeria):
One day, Adama who was also called Modibo, heard that a great Marabout (moslem leader) by the name of Ousman Dan Fodio, had proclaimed the Jihad (holy war) in Gobir and the Hausa country. At Adama’s death, his immense territory became Adamawa, which actually covers a part of south-west Nigeria and all of northern Cameroun. Today the Lamido has sixty children, and is the chancellor of Amadou Bello University at Zaria, one of the most prestigious universities in Africa.