African kings - photographs of a vanishing era

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era

Categories: Africa

From 1988 to 1991, French photographer Daniel Lane photographed 70 African monarchs, "whose dynasties shaped the history of Africa until the mid-20th century." Of hundreds of monarchs, Lane focused on those who continued to "preserve a tradition and a spiritual power which is difficult for the Western mind to comprehend." Lane recalls the difficulty of obtaining permission to take photographs, and sensitive diplomatic negotiations on many occasions. The war in Sudan prevented Lane from photographing King Shiluq, a descendant of the black dynasties that ruled Egypt. Some, including the King of Swaziland, refused to be photographed. With each striking photograph, Lane provides a brief biography and historical notes about the tribe and its traditions. A book with his photographs was published in 2000, and many of the captions were made more than 20 years ago. So, most likely, the situation in the country has changed, and perhaps some of the rulers are no longer alive.

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Joseph Langanfin (Benin) Representing the Abomi dynasty, Joseph Langanfin is the President of the Council of Abomi Royal Families. With this title, he is considered the official representative of the Abomi kings. He presided over the funeral of King Glele, who was his great-grandfather. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Oni of Ife (Nigeria) In 1980, Siyuwade became the 15th Oni (King) of Ife, one of the oldest African dynasties. Previously, during the coronation, Oni had to take the sword of justice and enter their palace on a carpet soaked in the dry blood of sacrificed men and women. Today Oni is a wealthy businessman with several private properties in Nigeria and England. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Ngee Kamga Joseph - Fon Banjuna (Cameroon) Fon (King) is the brother of the brave and powerful animals. At night, he can turn into a panther and hunt in the forest, run across the savannah and drink from streams. If a panther is killed by a hunter, the Fons from the Bamileke region become afraid. Formerly the Chief Administrator and Head of the Cabinet of the Minister of Finance of Cameroon in 1964, Kamga Joseph is the 13th Fon of Banjun. On the day of his predecessor's funeral, he was stopped at the Banjun market by two Bamileke heads - the "gallows". Wearing a sisal headdress as a sign of humiliation, he was taken to the nobility - “tafo meru”, from whom he learned to be a king for 9 weeks. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Khalidou Sali - Lamido Bibemi (Cameroon) Khalidou Sali, the 12th Lamido (king) of Bibemi, received his throne in 1958. He is a descendant of Aido Samba, one of the 42 kings of Adamawa, who carried the flag of Jihal (holy war) of Osman dan Fodio in the 18th century. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Oseadeyo Addo Dankwa III - King of Akropong-Akuapem (Ghana) A graduate of the University of London and economic adviser to the Ghanaian administration, King Akropong has occupied the “sacred place” of Akuapem-Asona, one of the seven major Akan clans, for the past 16 years. To his right stands his "representative" with the royal emblem of an elephant, a reminder that his kingdom was founded by force. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Abubakar Sidik - Sultan of Sokoto (Nigeria) This photo was taken 15 days before the death of the Sultan of Sokoto. He reigned for more than 50 years. During the coronation of his follower, who was chosen by a special council, a conflict began. The choice of successor was disputed by two royal families; result: one hundred dead. According to a Nigerian newspaper, the Sultan's power is so strong that most Nigerians would rather be the Sultan than the President of Nigeria. Abubakar Sidiq was not as rich as other rulers of the country. He earned about a million naira ($200,000) annually. But with his salary, the Sultan had to support his retinue of 86 people and feed about 150 grandchildren. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Hapi IV - King of Bana (Cameroon) The Kingdom of Bana was born out of tragedy. In the mid-12th century, several Bamileke groups established settlements in small villages around what is now Bana. According to legend, one of the village leaders, Mfenge, was accused of witchcraft. To justify himself, he cut off his own mother's head and presented her corpse to specialists for examination. The fact is that they believe that witchcraft is transmitted through the womb, but this has not been proven in his case. Then Mfenge demanded that the heads of the mothers of his compatriots who accused him be cut off. His four sons went from house to house, sending their wives and mothers to the palace. Those who resisted were killed on the spot. His rivals panicked and fled, and Mfenge became king of Bana. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Naimi Kok Mabiintshu III - King of Cuba (Democratic Republic of the Congo) Naimi Kok Mabiintshu III is 50 years old. He ascended the throne at age 20. As a descendant of the creator god, the king is credited with supernatural powers. Due to his supreme position, he is limited by several rules: he is not allowed to sit on the ground and cannot walk through agricultural fields. No one has the right to see him eat except his cook. Moreover, he never goes without his cook and his personal kitchen utensils. Lane took three weeks to photograph the king in his royal attire ("bwantshi"). This outfit, made of fabric stitched with beads and “kauris” (small shells that I use as money), weighs 72 kg. Dressing a king requires more than two hours and two days of spiritual preparation to properly purify oneself to wear the attire. The weight of the outfit is so heavy and it is so hot that wearing it for more than an hour is simply impossible. The previous king only wore it three times in his entire life. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era 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 10 wives had already given him 30 children. East of the Niger River in Ibo country is Nnewi, a wealthy town with several millionaires. This kingdom, founded in the 14th century, consists of four large villages. When the Portuguese arrived in the region in the 15th century, many city-states emerged. As with Nnewi, these cities arose from a thriving slave trade. Born from trade, they lived only by trade and did not care about creating a state united by the same Nigerian flag. Ethnic and religious wars arose, marking the beginning of the Biafra War. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Isienwenro James Yoha Inneh - Ekegbian Benina (Nigeria) James Inneh, 79, used to be a businessman. In 1962, King Akenzua named him the commander of the royal guard "isienwenro". “Asako no s'oghionba” (ants bite the king's enemies) was the name given to the royal guard responsible for the king's safety. During some rituals they surround the ruler like ants. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era El Hadj Seidou Njimoluh Njoya - Sultan of Foumban and Mfon Bamouna (Cameroon) 80 years ago, Sultan Njoya was on the throne for more than 50 years. At the age of 29, he inherited the famous throne of Bamun, founded in the 16th century. He was elected by a council of the wisest of the country from the 177 children of his father, the famous Sultan Njoi. His father, the reverend ruler, spent 12 years inventing his own alphabet, consisting of 80 characters. He wanted to learn to write in the Bamun language so he could write the history of the kingdom. And at that time, the oral tradition of expressing thoughts dominated. In 1913, when Cameroon was still a German colony, Sultan Njoya bought his own printing plant. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Agboli-Agbo Dejlani - King of Abomi (Benin) Dejlani, a former policeman, waited six years to retire and then continued his secret coronation ceremonies. “Officially” there is no longer a king in Benin. But on September 30, 1989, Dejlani put on his royal shoes and, at the age of 54, became King Abomi. Being monogamous, he had to take two more wives to take care of the household. According to tradition, when going outside, he must be under an umbrella with his emblem. One of the wives should always be next to him - she carried a spitting bowl. The king also had to carry a scepter with him at all times. He carried it in his hand or hung it on his shoulder - the scepter was considered very important. The silver dust guard worn by the king on his nose originated in the 19th century and was inherited from King Gbehanzina. It protected the king's nose from dust during royal processions in Abomi. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Goodwill Zwelethini - King of the Zulu (South Africa) King Goodwill Zwelethini is a descendant of the famous Shaka, the founder of the Zulu kingdom. At the beginning of the 19th century, Shaka was the head of a small and insignificant clan of Bantu people. Believing that the Zulu's survival depended only on their subjugation of other clans, Shaka led the entire region into blood and fire. In the period from 1815 to 1828. he destroyed all the tribes that opposed him. This turbulent period is called Mfekan (terror) and was accompanied by famine and exodus of the majority of the Bantu population. Shaka's cruelty became legendary. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era El Hadj Mamadou Kabir Usman - Emir of Katsina (Nigeria) The Emir of Katsina is an ardent polo lover and his family has contributed greatly to many championships in Nigeria. In the 12th century, Katsina was a Hausa village ruled by the Durbawa, a royal dynasty that emigrated from a region whose name had already been lost to the annals of history. One of the kings of Darbawa, Janzawa, married Princess Daura from another Hausa state. The Queen of Katsina gave her name to the village, which became a stop on the commercial trans-Saharan route from Tripoli (Libya). (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Salomon Iguinoghuda - Oba Erediauwa of Benin (Nigeria) On 23 March 1979, Prince Salomon, a graduate of Cambridge University, was crowned Oba (King) of Benin. He succeeded his father Akenzua II and became the 38th king of the 13th century dynasty. "The big chalk stick is broken" was the metaphor used to officially announce Akenzua's death. Immediately after this, the Edo of Nigeria, England and America shaved their heads bald. The new growth of their hair symbolized the rebirth of the kingdom and the restoration of harmony between people and nature, which was disrupted by death. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Aliyu Mustapha - Lamido Adamawa (Nigeria) One day Adama, who was also called Modibo, heard that a great Marabout (leader of Muslims) named Osman dan Fodio had declared Jihad (holy war) in Gobir and the Hausa country. After Adama's death, his vast territory became Adamawa, which occupies part of southwestern Nigeria and all of northern Cameroon. Today Lamido has 60 children and is an adviser to Amadou Bello University in Zari, one of Africa's most prestigious universities. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Oba Joseph Adekola Obunoye - Olowo Owo (Nigeria) 600 years ago, Olowo (king) fell in love with Orensen, a very beautiful girl. Unfortunately for the king, she was a goddess who could not live with humans. She was forbidden to see women crushing spices, carrying water, or throwing an armful of brushwood on the ground. Because of his love for the goddess and in order to marry her, the king promised her that his other wives would not do any of the above in front of her. A few years later, the king's wives became jealous of him. They did everything they were forbidden to do in front of the goddess, and the goddess cast a spell over the entire kingdom. The goddess promised that the people of Owo would die of hunger or disease unless the king and his advisors held a festive ceremony in her honor every year. The drums should ask her forgiveness and praise her. A man and a woman must also be sacrificed to her. This ceremony, called Igogo, still exists today, but human sacrifices have been replaced by sheep and goats. (Daniel Laine)

African kings - photographs of a vanishing era Bouba Abdoulaye - Sultan of Rey-Bouba (Cameroon) Baba (Sultan) Rey-Bouba rules over more than 55,000 objects, and his territory is as large as Belgium and Luxembourg combined (35,000 km²). He cannot be called Lamido because he was never a vassal of Sokoto. Bouba Abdoulaye was a member of parliament in the Cameroon Assembly, but he had to give up everything and modern life to succeed his father. His great-grandfather Bouba Njidda arrived from Mali in 1799 with his Fulani warriors and decided to organize the Adamawa borders on the edge of the Mayo Rey River. He placed a white flag, a silver drum, a sword and a basket with royal secrets and built a palace with a surrounding wall 800 meters long and several meters high. Today these walls enclose one of Africa's most traditional sovereignties. He represents an invisible and permanent power. He is allowed to leave the palace only three times a year. Baba is the center of the world and the kingdom. He knows everything and must know everything. Hundreds of agents inform him of everything that happens in his kingdom. (Daniel Laine)

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