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A Look Into the World of Majestic African Kingdoms

Although many of us live in countries with democratic governments and presidents, there are still a number of nations and ethnic groups around the world that are ruled by kings and monarchs. One of places richest in kingdoms is the continent of Africa, where French photographer Daniel Laine photographed over 70 monarchs in the late 1980's. He spent months, sometimes years, within these traditional and mystical kingdoms until he was permitted to photograph the monarch.

Let these pictures transport you into the exotic and exciting world of the African monarchs!

King of Zulu, Goodwill Zwelethini

African kings
The King Goodwill Zwelethini is the descendant of the famous Shaka King of South Africa, the founder of the Zulu kingdom. Shaka was legendary for his cruelty against other tribes in a war to bring the Zulu people to dominance.

Lamido of Bibemi, Halidou Sali

African kings
Sali is the twelfth king of the Bibemi people of Cameroon, receiving his kingdom in 1958. He was chosen to be king because he is the descendant of Aido Samba, one of the 42 Kings of Adamawa who, during the 18th century, carried the flag for Jihad.

King of Bana, Hapi IV

African kings
The king of yet another people in Cameroon, the Bana people's origins are tragic. In the middle of the twelfth century, several other groups settled on Bana land. The village chief at the time was accused of sorcery by these new peoples, and in order to exonerate himself, he cut off his mother's head and had the cadaver examined. When the theory wasn't proven, the Bana chief demanded that all the mothers' heads be beheaded, and out of panic, all of the areas tribes united behind the chief, making him the King of Bana.

Obi of Nnewi, Igwe Kenneth Nnaji Onyemaeke Oriuzu III

African kings
Kenneth Nnaji has been the King of Nnwei in Nigeria since 1963, whence before he was a farmer with ten wives and thirty children. Nnewi is a rich town located to the east of the Niger River in Ibo country.

Ekegbian of Benin, Isienwenro James Iyoha Inneh

African kings
James Inneh is 79 years old and formerly worked as a businessman before he became the king of the Benin people of Nigeria. In 1962, he was named commander of the royal guards, the "Asako no s'oghionba", or the ants that sting the King's enemies. During some rituals, the guards surround the king enveloping him like an army of ants.

King of Abomey, Joseph Langanfin

African kings
Joseph Langanfin is the president of CAFRA, the council of Abomey's royal families in the president day country of Benin.

Fon of Bandjum, Ngie Kamga Joseph

African kings
The Fon (king) of the Bandjun people of Cambodia is thought to be the brother of courageous and powerful animals of the African wild. The Bandjum people believe that at night, the king can transform himself into a panther to hunt the forests. Kamga Joseph is currently the thirteenth Fon of Bandjun. During the funeral of his predecessor, he wore a head dress made of sisal as a sign of humility, and for this reason was chosen, randomly, to be the next king.

King of Kuba, Nyimi Kok Mabiintsh III

African kings
Nyimi Mabiintsh the III is currently 50 years old and has reigned over the Kingdom of Kuba for 30 years. Like in many other African kingdoms, the king is attributed with supernatural powers, and is believed to be the descendant of the creator god. As a result of his holy position, the king is forbidden from sitting on the ground, crossing cultivated fields, or from eating in the company of anyone but his cook.

Olowo of Owo, Oba Joseph Adekola Obunoye

African kings
Over 600 years ago, Olowo, the king of the Owo people of Nigeria, fell in love with a beautiful woman. However, this woman was a goddess and could not live with a human. But the king's love for this woman was very strong, so in order to marry her, he promised her that his other wives would follow the same godly restrictions as she did. A few years later, the king's wives became jealous and revolted, eventually casting a spell on the kingdom. The goddess also threatened to curse the people of Owo if they did not celebrate her every year. Today, the ceremony of Igogo still exists and is still celebrated today.

Oni of Ife, Sijuwade

African kings
Part of the ancient Yoruba people in Nigeria, Sijuwade became the fiftieth Oni, or king, of the Ife people. Although one, the Oni during his coronation, would have to embrace the sword of justice and enter into his palace on a piece of cloth stiffened by the dry blood of sacrificed men and women. Today, however, the Obi is a completely modern businessman in every sense and owns properties in England and Nigeria.

King of Akropong-Akuapem, Oseadeeyo Addo Dankwa III

African kings
This Ghanaian king began his political career as an economic advisor for the government following his studies at the University of London. He has held the throne for sixteen years, and his clan is considered one of the seven major Akan clans of the region.

Oba Erediauwas of Benin, Salomon Igbinoghodua

African kings
Yet another of the kings of Benin, Prince Salomon, a graduate of the Cambridge University, was crowned the Oba (king) of Benin. He succeeded his father Akenzua II, becoming the 38th king of the Benin dynasty dating back to the 13th century.

Sultan of Sokoto, Adubakar Sidiq

African kings
Sidiq reigned as the Sultan of the Sokoto province of Nigeria for more than fifty years before he recently passed away. Sidiq is so powerful within Nigeria that many Nigerians believed that he would be elected the president of Nigeria. He was also one of the more modest kings, earning about $200,000 year to support his entire royal suite of 86 people.

King of Abomey, Agboli-Agbo Dedjlani

African kings
Dedjlani, the King of Abomey in Benin, used to work as a political before he retired and became king. Officially, there is no longer a king in Benin, but that did not stop Dedjlani from becoming king of the Abomey in 1989. On his nose is a silver dust protector that dates back to the nineteenth century and was inherited from the King Gbehanzin and is meant to protect the king's breathing during processions.

Lamido of Adamawa, Aliyu Mustapha

African kings
The Lamido has 60 children and is the chancellor of the Amadou Bello University at Zaria in Nigeria, one of Africa's most prestigious universities.

Sultan of Rey-Bouba, Bouba Abdoulaye

African kings
The Baba, the sultan, of Rey-Bouba rules over 50,000 subjects and his territory is as large as Beligium and Luxemburg together. The king has completely renounced modern life and is one of the most traditional sovereigns in Africa. He only leaves his palace three times a year, and he has hundreds of agents that keep him informed of all the news and developments in the kingdom.

Emir of Katsina, El Hadi Mamadou Kabir Usman

African kings
Yet another of Nigeria's many kings, the Emir of Katsina is a passionate fan of polo and his family is responsible for many of the Nigerian champions of the sport. The Katsina people are also Hausa, another major clan in Nigeria, and their name was changed to honor one of their famous queens.

Sultan of Fumban and Mfon of the Bamun, El Hadj Seidou Njimoluh Njoya

African kings
The current Sultan of Njoya in Cameroon has been on the throne for over 50 years, inheriting the position at the age of 29. The current Sultan of Njoya was chosen out of the 177 of his father's children to continue the family's reign, quite a great honor.


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