Yes, today we are one nation and we are governed by democratic rule. This is a good thing and long may it remain if it is done correctly. But there was a time when our nation Nigeria was divided into awe-inspiring kingdoms. And these kingdoms ruled by brave and valiant men: our Nigerian kings.
While kings are now more ambassadors as opposed to rulers of their lands, it is always worthy of note that we too, are from a royal priesthood and are a people of royalty. It is important to remember that we have legends that predate time. That we have stories that we should tell our children.
It is with mixed feelings that I have The Guardian and George Osodi/George Osodi c/o Z Photographic Ltd to thank for this excellent compilation of Nigerian kings.
1. HRM Agbogidi Obi James Ikechukwu Anyasi II, Obi of Idumuje Unor.
Before his death in 2013. He was Africa’s longest reigning monarch, having ruled for 66 years.
2. HRM Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, the Emir of Katsina.
A devout Muslim and a huge fan of polo, a sport that the North is particularly known for. You have not lived until you have experienced a Durbar in the Northern states. Colourful, regal and powerful stuff! Sarkin Katsina! Sarkin Yaki!
3. HRM Benjamin Ikenchuku Keagborekuzi I, Dein of Agbor Kingdom in Delta state.
This monarch became the youngest king in the world when he was crowned at the age of two. Which is interesting – but peep the purple loafers though! Fabulous!
4. HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe – Agbogidi Obi of Onitsha.
This picture was taken when the king celebrated ten years on the throne of Onitsha. White and red are common throughout the the South of Nigeria as the colour of royalty and it is clear to see that they chose right: two colours that signify purity, blood, strength and royalty!
5. HRM Oba Alayeluwa Saheed Ademola Elegushi (Kusenla III) – Ikateland.
University educated in Manchester, but a true son of the soil, Oba Elegushi is the youngest Oba in Lagos. In one powerful picture, I see iru kere – the horse tail used by royalty, the royal walking stick or staff, the king’s name embroidered atop a lion, and a colourful display of Yoruba art on the cushion.
6. HRM Orhue I, the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom.
We are in Delta State and this is one of the most powerful kings in that region – third,quite possibly to the Edo king and the Olu of Warri. Okpe kingdom dates back to the 17th century but Orhue is the first university graduate to have graced the throne, extensively trained as a lawyer. Perhaps this is obvious in the crucifix visible underneath his impressive coral beads. Red and white play huge roles in South-South royalty, as is visible on the king’s guards as well as his high chief. Opulence is evident in the abundant display of coral beads. They can be seen on the necks, crowns and bracelets of the king and his wife. And do have a look at the high chief’s hat!
The reason for the difference in height is that nobody is allowed to see the sovereign head. I know this to be true for the Ogiame, the Olu of Warri and other Delta rulers. Is this true around Nigeria as well? Can anyone help with this information?
7. HRM Deinmowuru Donokoromo II, the Pere of Isaba Kingdom.
Enthroned in 25th April 1983, this is the current king of ISABA, an oil rich Ijaw community situated currently in the riverine Warri South-West area of Delta state Nigeria. The foundation of Isaba which is believed to have been in existence pre 14th century AD is part of the IJAW with the Ijaws as the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria. Ijaw (also known by the subgroups”Ijo”or”Izon”) are a collection of peoples indigenous mostly to the forest regions of the Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers States within the Niger Delta in Nigeria.
8. HRM Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun Larooye II, Ataoja of Osogboland.
I love that his name is Jimoh, a rather simple Arabic name meaning Friday (?), Oyetunji (Title is reincarnated into our household), Olanipekun (Wealth without end). What is royalty without faith, title, wealth and honour? And what is a Yoruba man without the tribal marks that tell us of his kin and clan? His crown, iru kere and staff complete the markings of a noble ruler.
9. HRH Queen Hajiya Hadizatu Ahmedu, Magajiya of Kubwada.
Now, this one feels me with great pride and pleasure! A Queen! In Northern Nigeria! We have all heard tales of Queen Amina riding and vanquishing foes in the north of the land, and here we have a queen, a leader too! There is a legend that an ancient curse keeps men off the throne in the land of Kubwada, and only a woman may rule. The embroidery is done to perfection, even though it is clear that her highness is not posing for an official photograph.
10. Ooni Alayeluwa Adeyeye Enitan Babatunde Ogunwusi – Ojaja II – The Ooni of Ife.
When talking about monarchs in Nigeria, is any list complete without mentioning the gatekeeper of the ways of the Yoruba people? Looking as though he were cast out of the rich soil of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye is every inch a king and a leader. Once again, the stainless white of royalty in the southern states of Nigeria is evident in the Ooni’s attire.
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