With their brightly coloured robes, ornate thrones and legions of flunkeys attending every whim, they seem every bit the archetypal African kings. Nigeria’s traditional Monarchs may have been stripped of their powers half a century ago, but they appear to have lost little of their regal pomp and splendour as this fascinating series of portraits shows.
The photographs are provided by popular photographer George Osodi who toured Nigeria for a series of photographs entitled ‘Kings of Nigeria’.
1. Alhaji Dr Ado Abdullahi Bayero:
Posing on his ornate throne, Alhaji Dr Ado Abdullahi Bayero was the ‘Emir of Kano’, a position he held since 1963. A former ambassador to Senegal he was renowned for his abundant wealth, which has been amassed by investing in the stock market and agriculture.In one of the photos above,he was pictured out for a ride,being attended by aides as he sits on the back of his vintage Rolls Royce on his way to the Central Mosque in Kano. As a well-known and celebrated Nigerian photographer, Mr Osodi was granted rare access to the palaces and throne rooms of these hereditary rulers who now serve as living repositories of Nigeria’s enormous cultural heritage. He told Al-Jazeera: ‘There are frequent clashes among different ethnic groups… Lots of people have lost trust in their identity. I felt it was important that we see this diverse culture as a point of unity instead of seeing it as something that should divide us as a nation
2 HRM Agbogidi Obi James Ikechukwu Anyasi II,’The Obi of the Idumuje Unor kingdom’
HRM Agbogidi Obi James Ikechukwu Anyasi II, ‘The Obi of the Idumuje Unor kingdom’, was until his death, the longest reigning African Monarch. He was crowned king on October 9, 1946 at the age of 22. His robe, depicting a young Queen Elizabeth, gives a clear nod to the period of British colonial rule.
3. His Majesty, Wilson Ojakovo Oghoghovwe Oharisi III:
He was made the ‘Ovie of Ughelli’ in 1980 and ruled over the great kingdoms of Ughelli and Urhoboland for more than 33 years.
4. Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the late ‘Ooni of Ife’:
Born in 1930, he has enjoyed a colourful life first working for his father’s business, then with the Nigerian Tribune newspaper, before attending Northampton College in the United Kingdom where he studied business management. In 1963 he became Sales Director of the state-owned National Motor company in the Nigerian capital Lagos. He later formed a company to distribute Soviet-built vehicles and equipment in Nigeria.He died this year.
5.His Royal Majesty Oba Oyetunji Jimoh Olanipekun Larooyell, the ‘Ataoja of Osogbo’ in southwest Nigeria:
He worked as a teacher for many years, firstly at a baptist day school. He rules over 300,000 subjects. He has studied management in London and is a qualified chartered accountant.
6.Benjamin Ikenchuku Keagborekuzi I the ‘Dein of Agbor’:
Just two years and four months after his birth in July 1977 he was crowned king following the unexpected death of his father. It meant he was the youngest king anywhere in the world. He once served as the Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, one of Nigeria’s most prestigious universities.
7. Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I:
He was crowned ‘Oba of Benin Kingdom’ in the Edo state of Nigeria in 1979. Before that he studied at Cambridge university before being appointed to many top government posts.
8. Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabir Usman:
He is the 50th ‘Emir of Kasina’. He was coronated in 2008 five days after the death of his father, Emir Muhammad Kabir Usman. He is remembered as a peacemaker during the Nigerian civil war and has a passion for Polo.
9. His Majesty, Deinmowuru Donokoromo III, The ‘Pere of Isaba’:
He was pictured posing with his royal sceptre outside his palace. He ruled over the Kingdom of Isaba in the oil rich South-West area of Delta state since 1983.