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Jeremy Rich

king of Dahomey, was born sometime in the middle of the eighteenth century. His father was Agonglo, king of Dahomey from 1789 to 1797. Adandozan was the eldest son of Agonglo. Oral narratives collected later in the nineteenth century presented him as incompetent and mentally deranged, but it should be kept in mind that rival royal family members eventually ousted Adandozan from power and would have had a vested interest in deriding his achievements. Adandozan ascended to the throne of Dahomey in 1797, in a time marked by difficulties for the kingdom. The royal slave-trading monopoly ran aground on international difficulties, particularly the decision of the French government to abandon the slave trade from 1794 to 1802 and the British and US governments’ decision to abandon the slave trade in 1807 and 1808 respectively The British government began to send warships to stop other countries from purchasing ...

Article

Glele  

Joseph C. E. Adande

king of Dahomey (r. 1858–1888), was born Badohou, the son of Gezo, the ninth king of Dahomey, and Zognindi, a free-born woman from Adakplamè. Some sources give the date of his death as 1888. Among the thirteen kings who ruled the kingdom of Danxome (Dahomey; present-day Benin) from 1625 to 1899, those of the nineteenth century, and Glele in particular, were the most famous.

The history of the kingdom of Dahomey is recorded in and by the Kpanlingan, which is both the official recorded poetic text and the person reciting it. Each king has his own kpanlingan Glele s is the longest In this text written down by Claude Savary for the first time only in the twentieth century we find numerous images emphasizing how powerful Glele was He is said to be Axosu kololo We dede kololo ma no mia the great king you cannot ...

Article

Kapuufi  

Kathleen Smythe

was king of Nkansi (mwene in Kifipa) in the late nineteenth century (c. 1860 to c.1890), one of two Fipa kingdoms between Lakes Rukwa and Tanganyika ruled by the Twa dynasty. There are conflicting accounts of the Twa genealogy, but Kapuufi was probably the son of a previous Nkansi king. He had two children, Ndalu, a daughter, and Kilatu, a son, who eventually became mwene himself. Very little is known about Kapuufi’s personal life. Much of what we know is about his kingdom and comes from travelers like Edward Hore, Paul Reichard, and Joseph Thomson, all of whom noted that Nkansi was well governed, peaceful, and prosperous and that the people respected Kapuufi.

Nkansi was a centralized kingdom that was connected to villages under its jurisdiction by politico-religious ceremonies and exchanges of labor and goods. Below the king and queen mother were the leaders of districts or provinces, mwenekandawa ...

Article

Msiri  

Nathaniel Mathews

political leader in eastern and central Africa, was born Mwenda Msiri Ngelengwa Shitambi in Tabora (in present-day Tanzania) to an ambitious Sumbwa Nyamwezi trader. Msiri rose to become one of the most powerful of a new class of nineteenth-century African rulers who used firearms and long-distance trade to build up spheres of influence independent of clan linkages or hereditary inheritance. Msiri’s father Kalasa held a chieftainship under the great Nyamwezi ruler Mirambo and was also a very successful copper merchant. Known as the Yeke, Msiri and other Nyamwezi brought the peoples of the Katanga plateau coastal trade goods while providing a market for the heavy copper crosses molded in Katanga refineries.

Msiri s first political strategy was to ally himself with the Wasanga in their war against a Lunda regent Msiri was able to defeat the Lunda king earning the gratitude and subordination of the Wasanga He followed this victory ...

Article

Holly Hanson

king of Buganda (r. 1856–1884), was the son of Kabaka (King) Ssuna by his tenth wife Muganzirwazza of the Njovu clan, who as nnamasole (queen mother) exercised formidable political power herself. Muteesa ruled from October 1856 until his death in 1884. In order to solidify his somewhat precarious hold on the kabakaship, Muteesa killed many people in the early years of his rule, receiving the name Mutebya, “bringer of tears.” Over time, however, he became known instead as Muteesa, “the benefactor,” as a result of the intelligence and innovation he used to meet the internal threat of enslavement and the external threat of encroachment from the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, and the European scramble for spheres of influence in East Africa.

Ganda the people of Buganda traditions associate Kabaka Muteesa with the arrival of large amounts of foreign cloth and with the decision to sell slaves to obtain it That people ...

Article

Holly Hanson

king of Buganda as Mwanga II, was born to Kabaka Muteesa I and Abisagi Bagalayaze of the Ngonge clan. Mwanga was raised, following Ganda tradition, far from the palace. He had been his father’s choice as successor, and was installed as kabaka (king) on 24 October 1884. Powerful royal women, the traditional king-makers in Uganda, preferred one of his brothers, and only four months after he took office, older chiefs tried to kill him and place a rival on the throne. Mwanga had a reputation for favoritism even as a prince, and he failed to learn the skill of balancing competing interests, which was the heart of a kabaka’s power. Mwanga had his first child when he was 29, but he eventually fathered seven sons and four daughters by sixteen wives. His fourth wife, Evalyn Kulabako, gave birth to his successor, Daudi Chwa, in 1896.

Mwanga came to ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Gabonese monarch, was the powerful ruler of most Nkomi people living along the Rembo Nkomi River and the Fernan Vaz lagoon in what is present-day Gabon. Much of his early life and reign is largely obscure, save for oral traditions that often contradict one another. It may be that these stories refer to several rengondo (king in the Nkomi dialect of the Omyènè language, widely spoken today in coastal Gabon) rather than Onanga Oyembo. Some oral accounts claim that Onanga Oyembo had slave ancestry. Such a background would not have necessarily prevented his rise to power, as many free Nkomi had slave wives. Others report that he had a miraculous beginning: his mother was said to have suddenly become pregnant and to have given birth in a very short time. His command over supernatural forces, particularly ombwiri water spirits who lived in the lagoon remains legendary among many residents ...