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Mohammed Hassen Ali

Oromo king of the Gibe region, in southwestern Ethiopia, was crowned in 1878. A year after his accession to power, Abba Jifar invaded the neighboring Oromo state of Gera with around twenty thousand men. This attack on a flimsy pretext was a show of force for the neighboring Oromo leaders, demonstrating his determination to dominate the political landscape of the Gibe region through threat or use of military power, diplomacy, and marriage alliances. He was not destined to dominate the Gibe region as the king of Shewa soon occupied it. Though Abba Jifar could mobilize tens of thousands of men for war, his army suffered from major weaknesses and lack of modern firearms and training.

In fact Abba Jifar came to power at a time of dramatic change in modern Ethiopian history when the clouds of conquest and destruction were hanging thick and low over the future of all ...

Article

Mohammed Hassen Ali

last king of the kingdom of Jimma in Ethiopia, scholar, was born in Jiren, the political capital and commercial center of southwestern Ethiopia. As a young man Abba Jobir received the best Muslim education under several prominent Muslim scholars who settled in Jimma during the reign of his famous grandfather Abba Jifar II (r. 1878–1932).

His grandfather was the most famous, wealthiest, and most popular Oromo king throughout Ethiopia during the second half of the nineteenth century. He was a very foresighted politician who had an excellent grasp of the importance of firearms in warfare. He sent agents to the expanding kingdom of Shewa and realized that King Menilek had superiority in weapons; therefore, he peacefully submitted to Menilek. Although four other Oromo kings who resisted Menilek were destroyed, Abba Jifar II signed a peace treaty with the Christian king of Shewa in 1882 In exchange for local ...

Article

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

Jeremy Rich

king of the West African monarchy of Dahomey (now the Republic of Benin), was born around 1844, one of the many sons of Glele, king of Dahomey. There is great debate in oral traditions collected in the twentieth century regarding his early life. Some claimed that Behanzin, known as Kondo before he ascended to the throne, lived with Hehegunon, a powerful member of the royal family. Others contended Behanzin was raised by the deposed Dahomean ruler Adandozan, perhaps to discredit him. It is generally believed that Behanzin did not have a close relationship with his father. European travel accounts before the 1870s do not mention Behanzin and instead suggest that Glele s son Ahanhanzo was the undisputed heir However Ahanhanzo died under mysterious circumstances during the mid 1870s Some of Ahanhanzo s descendents blamed Behanzin for Ahanhanzo s death while other accounts contend that smallpox took his life ...

Article

Bhunu  

Betty Sibongile Dlamini

king of Swaziland also known as Mahlokohla, who took the royal name Ngwane V, was born around 1876 to King Mbandzeni and Queen Labotsibeni Mdluli of Swaziland. Born at a time when British- and Dutch-descended Boer invaders were seeking to occupy the Swazi people’s land, he was given the name Bhunu (Boer) because of his temper, which the Swazi people associate with Boers. In 1881, his father, Mbandzeni, invited Reverend Joel Jackson to start a mission school at Luyengo (uSuthu Mission) for Bhunu, but the young heir did not go to school. When his father died in 1889 Bhunu was fourteen years old and chosen to be his father s successor He was not chosen because of his own credentials but because of the character and credentials of his mother Labotsibeni To avoid bloodshed over the throne the British and Transvaal governors showed the Swazi people their new ...

Article

Cetshwayo was the son of Mpande, who was king of the Zulu from 1840to1842 , and the nephew of Shaka, who ruled from 1816 until 1828 and greatly expanded the Zulu kingdom. Cetshwayo was raised in the northern part of the Zulu kingdom near present-day Nongoma, South Africa. In 1856 he defeated and killed his half-brother Mbuyazi, whom Mpande had favored as the successor to the throne. After the British colonial forces in the nearby colony of Natal mediated between father and son, Cetshwayo publicly declared his loyalty to Mpande and was ceremonially proclaimed king in 1873.

For a time the British backed Cetshwayo in a land dispute between the Zulu and neighboring Afrikaners, white settlers of Dutch origin. The British began to withdraw their support, however, after annexing the Afrikaner territory of the Transvaal in 1877 since they no longer had a need for ...

Article

Walima T. Kalusa

king of the Bemba people (in present-day Zambia), was born perhaps around the 1810s. As a youth, Chitapankwa (“raider”) was reportedly as rebellious as he was ambitious. He married Kafula, a daughter of his uncle Chitimukulu Chileshe Chepela, against whom Chitapankwa had once fought but made peace with when Chief Tafuna of the Lungu apparently refused to help the ambitious young man remove his uncle from office.

Chileshe was succeeded around 1860 by his infirm and weak-minded brother, Bwembya. As the Bemba now faced mounting military threats posed by Zwangendaba’s Ngoni from South Africa, Chitapankwa easily persuaded the bakabilo (councillors) to depose Bwembya. He then usurped the chitimukuluship kingship But Chitapankwa too faced stiff opposition from other Bemba royals of the crocodile clan Abena Ng andu especially his own brother Sampa Bemba oral tradition memorializes Chitapankwa as having fought and defeated his brother but as having placated him ...

Article

Holly Hanson

king of Buganda, an ancient polity that maintained a high degree of autonomy under British overrule in Uganda, was born on 8 August 1896 to Kabaka (king) Mwanga and Evelyn Kulabako. Daudi Chwa was placed on the throne of Buganda on 14 August 1897 when he was barely one year old after Mwanga fled the capital and began a rebellion that his leading chiefs refused to support Buganda had no tradition of regency but the only available adult prince Mbogo was Muslim and therefore unacceptable to the most powerful chiefs whose factions in the Ganda civil war had been aligned with Protestant and Catholic Christianity This civil war a result of the destabilizing effects of the slave trade had divided the kingdom during the reigns of Chwa s predecessors Mutesa and Mwanga The polity divided into factions made powerful through the exchange of people for new commodities and guns ...

Article

Michael R. Mahoney

Zulu king from 1884 until his death, was born to the future king Cetshwayo and his second wife, Novimbi Msweli Mzimela. His name has two spellings, Dinuzulu and Dinizulu, both of which are correct. The Anglo-Zulu War broke out when Dinuzulu was only eleven years old, and the British sent his father into exile later that year, only allowing him to return to Zululand in 1883, where he died in 1884. The war and the postwar settlement imposed by the British created enormous instability in what had been until 1879 the independent Zulu kingdom The British at first divided the kingdom into eleven chiefdoms some of them headed by chiefs who had defected to the British side before and during the war The British press and the missionary lobby led by the Anglican bishop of Natal colony John Colenso had managed to persuade the imperial government to ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the Senegalese Wolof-speaking kingdom of Cayor, was born in the village of Keur Amadou in 1842. He was the son of Sakhéwère Sokhna Mbaye and Ngoné Latyr Fall. Fall was a female member of the royal family.

When his older brother, King Birma Ngone Latyr, died in 1859, the French colonial government, under the leadership of Louis Faidherbe, decided to place Madiodio Fall as the damel (king) of Cayor. Macodou Koumba Yandé Mbarrou, the choice of most nobles in the kingdom and Diop himself, led a civil war against Fall. The French government then sent a military expedition to intervene on behalf of Fall. Diop and his military commander, Demba War Sall, defeated Fall and his partisans in a bloody battle at Koki in 1861, and again at Ngol Ngol in 1863 Diop could not compete with heavy artillery and machine guns and so ...

Article

monarch was born in the town of Tshipunda located in the southern province of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo then the Belgian Congo His father Tshipunda was a member of the Cokwe ethnic community Natshika his mother belonged to the Lunda aristocracy but had been enslaved by Cokwe traders who were bitter rivals of their Lunda neighbors He belonged to the royal family that had governed the Lunda or Ruund kingdom that had once controlled much of the southern Democratic Republic of Congo northeastern Angola and northern regions in Zambia In the early twentieth century colonial officers of the Independent State of the Congo drove out Cokwe leaders from the Lunda state Ditende was then sent to the court of of King Muteba who had been placed in power by colonial officials His parents sent Ditende to primary school at the Methodist Protestant mission of Musumba There ...

Article

Shane Doyle

king of Bunyoro (in present-day Uganda) between 1902 and 1924 was the son of Kabarega Duhaga succeeded his younger brother Yosiya Kitehimbwa who was deposed by the British colonial government on the grounds of incompetence and drunkenness though local tradition attributes Kitehimbwa s removal from power to his antipathy toward the Ganda chiefs who had been drafted from Buganda into Bunyoro to reorganize Bunyoro s administrative structure Duhaga was nominated as a suitable candidate for the kingship by the Anglican missionary Albert Lloyd reflecting the remarkable influence the Church Missionary Society CMS exercised over political appointments during the early years of colonial rule in Uganda Duhaga s qualifications for office were his loyalty to the colonial administration his level of education and his deeply held religious beliefs His succession was largely unopposed as traditionalists were reluctant to take the throne so long as Duhaga s father Kabarega remained alive ...

Article

Orisha (Shango) king of Trinidad and Tobago, was born on 12 December 1901 in Third Company Village in southern Trinidad, but he lived most of his life in Fifth Company Village. The “Company Villages,” as they are known, were founded after the British-American War of 1812, when many enslaved African Americans who had fought on the British side were offered their freedom and resettlement in other parts of the British Empire. Several hundred arrived in the southeastern area of Trinidad, where they became small farmers. They and their descendants were known as “Merikans.” Ebenezer Elliott was descended from two of these early settlers. He fathered four children and married later in life. Elliott made his living as a small-time farmer, but his real claim to fame lay in his religious life as the undisputed head of the Orisha religion in Trinidad.

Elliott was born into the Baptist faith which ...

Article

Faruq  

Matthew H. Ellis

king of Egypt and the Sudan (r. April 1936–July 1952), was born in Cairo on 11 February 1920, the only son of King Fuʾad I and his second wife, Nazli Sabri, notably an Egyptian commoner. After a reputedly solitary and unhappy childhood inside the palace, Faruq briefly attended the Woolwich Royal Military Academy in England, at his father’s insistence. His education there was cut short when Fuʾad died abruptly in 1936 and Faruq rushed back to Egypt to accede to the throne (though he would rule for more than a year under the stewardship of a regency council). Faruq was the tenth and final member of the Ottoman-Albanian Mehmed Ali dynasty to rule in Egypt.

For the first several years of his reign Faruq a charismatic and good looking young king who unlike his father could address his subjects directly in Arabic garnered widespread support and affection among Egyptians ...

Article

James Jankowski

king of Egypt, was born on 26 March 1868. He was the youngest son of Khedive Ismaʿil; his mother was of Circassian descent. Upon his father’s abdication in 1879, the family moved to Italy. Fuʾad received most of his formal education in Europe, first at the Tudicum Institute in Geneva and later at the Italian Military Academy in Turin. He subsequently joined the artillery corps of the Italian army. An Ottoman citizen, he spent two years as military attaché to the Ottoman Embassy in Vienna before returning to Egypt in 1892. Raised in an Ottoman family and having spent much of his youth in Italy, Fuʾad’s preferred languages were Turkish and Italian; throughout his life his competency in Arabic remained limited.

In Egypt, he served as aide-de-camp to Khedive ʿAbbas Hilmi II from 1892 to 1895 His first marriage to Princess Chivékiar produced two children but ...

Article

Jon Abbink

last king of the Kafa kingdom, in what is now southern Ethiopia, was born into the Bushasho elite of the Mingo clan, which had ruled Kafa since the seventeenth century, and he grew up in the Kafa town of Bonga. His father and predecessor as king was Galli Sherocho, who ruled from 1868 until his death in 1890, and his mother probably was Abette Yirge, who might have been a princess of the neighboring Gera kingdom. In 1890 he was installed as king (tato) in a special ritual in the capital Andaracha, led by Kafa nobles and royal advisers (mikirecho). He had been preferred above the oldest son of his father and the senior wife.

The Kafa kingdom over which Gaki Sherocho ruled was an original African state formation with a strong centralizing tradition and a pivotal role in the wider mercantile economy of southern ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

mbang (king) of the Chadian Baguirmi kingdom, was born in the middle of the nineteenth century. In his youth, his predecessor Ab Sakin battled numerous internal and external foes to retain his title as mbang. Bagurimi had long been dragged into disputes between its neighbors: the kingdom of Bornu to the west and the kingdom of Wadai to the east. Since the successes of Wadai’s dynamic ruler Sabun in the early nineteenth century, Wadai had treated Bagurimi as a vassal state. Ab Sakin tried to break free from Wadai, and a Wadaian army destroyed the Bagurimian capital of Massenya in 1871 in retaliation. Ab Sakin continued to fight against the Wadai and other claimants to the throne of Baguirmi. Yusuf, Sultan of Wadai, decided to impose a new king on Baguirmi more favorable to Wadai’s influence. At Ab Sakin’s death in 1884 Yusuf ensured the victory of Abdul ...

Article

Idris  

Ronald Bruce St John

king of Libya, Libyan religious and political leader, descendant of a distinguished North African family that traced its ancestry to the Prophet Muhammad, was the first head of state after Libya won independence in 1951. Born at Jaghbub in eastern Libya, Sayyid Muhammad Idris al-Mahdi al-Sanusi was the eldest son of Sayyid Muhammad al-Mahdi al-Sanusi, in turn the eldest son and successor to Sayyid Muhammad bin ʿAli al-Sanusi, the founder of the Sanusi Order, a strictly orthodox order of Sufis established in Libya in 1842. Idris was schooled in traditional Islamic studies at the Kufrah Oasis, a Sanusi center in southeastern Libya, where he earned a reputation for piety and scholarship. After Italy invaded Libya in 1911, an occupation the Sanusi Order resisted with force, Idris assumed leadership of the order in 1916 Idris tried to reach a peaceful accommodation with the Italians but when his ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the Tio kingdom of the Téké people, was born at the village of Ngon, near the Gamboma River in modern Republic of the Congo. He belonged to a royal lineage since his probable grandfather, Opontaba, had been king. His kingdom engaged in several wars against Bobangui slave traders who lived north of the Malebo Pool on the Congo River in the mid-nineteenth century. The pool served as a vital meeting place for slave and ivory trading and had been controlled by Téké leaders for several centuries. Bobangui forces ultimately forced Iloo to make some concessions toward their demand for trading rights on the pool in the 1850s or 1860s. Between 1865 and 1870 Iloo was elected king by a group of powerful noble leaders The monarchy did not pass down directly from father to son among the Téké Kings were chosen by negotiations between a council of ...

Article

Eloi Ficquet

uncrowned ruler of the kingdom of Ethiopia, from 1911 (de facto) or 1913 (de jure) to his deposition in 1916, was born in 1898, in the northern region of Wello that was ruled by his father, Ras Mikael. The latter descended from a dynasty of Muslim rulers and had been a Muslim, under the name of Muhammad Ali, before his conversion to Christianity, when Wello was integrated into the Christian kingdom. His mother was Shawaragga, the daughter of Emperor Menilek. Lij (infant) or Abeto (prince) Iyasu, the only male descendent of Menilek II, was educated as a royal prince, in isolation from his family.

In 1909 Menilek who was severely weakened after a series of strokes prepared his succession and proclaimed Iyasu as the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Ethiopia Despite the official legitimacy that was conferred to him Iyasu s ability to reign ...