Some Great African kings from the Past that You Probably Did not Know

Some Great African kings from the Past that You Probably Did not Know

By: Samuel M. chinwe

Like it is said “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Africa has a lot of history needed to be known by her generations to come but it seems like this history is beginning to fade off  our memories and that’s why we have decided to share some great African monarchs from the past with you:

Béhanzin 1845-1906 (Benin)
Behanzin-1895 Some Great African kings from the Past that You Probably Did not KnowBéhanzin who claims to have started smoking from birth, is always portrayed with a smoke pipe. He succeeded his father, Glele, and ruled from 1889 to 1894. Béhanzin(who was formerly Kondo) is Abomey’s last independent monarch. He led the national resistance during the Dahomey War. While he was still a prince, he turned down his meeting with the French envoy Jean Bayol, claiming conflicts in his schedule due to ritual and ceremonial obligations and upon pronouncement as king the war to stop the Europeans started, his first attack wasn’t a success but after his own royal family betrayed him for bribe, he surrendered and completed his life in exile where he died in Algeria and was returned home.

Cetshwayo kaMpande1826-1884(South Africa)Behanzin-1895 Some Great African kings from the Past that You Probably Did not Know                           A portrait of Cetshwayo in 1878

Cetshwayo was a son of Zulu king, Mpande . In 1856 he defeated and killed in battle his younger brother Mbuyazi who was the king’s favorite son along with his army. Cetshwayo went as far as killing most of the family members who he suspected could be rivals including his father’s favorite wife. Mpande died in 1872 and his death was concealed for months and on 1 September 1873 Cetshwayo was crowned. The British wanted to confederate South Africa like Canada but had problem due to the system of government played the king to a war in 1879 where they were defeated but reinforced on 4 July and within 45 minutes the British were heading to victory where Cetshwayo was exiled to Cape Town, then to London returning to Zululand in 1883. Cetshwayo moved to Eshowe after he was injured, he died months later on 8 February 1884 in his late 50s, likely from a heart attack, though some suspected poison.


Oba Idewu Ojulari 1832 (Nigeria)Behanzin-1895 Some Great African kings from the Past that You Probably Did not Know

Oba Idewu Ojulari left for the underworld childless as he chose suicide over exile.

Oba Idewu Ojulari reigned as Oba of Lagos from 1819 to about 1832, his rulership not well recognized due to materialism and as at then answerable to the Oba of Benin. History had it that his unpopularity might have being because of  the economic downfall of the kingdom. His chiefs went to on to discuss their discomfort with him to the Oba of Benin who sent him a message of a skull, a sword and  that he won’t be regarded as king in Lagos. The skull meant he should take poison while the sword meant he should prepare for war with the Benin Kingdom should he fail to abdicate (by means of suicide). The king opted for the suicidal option and he died around 1832.

Muteesa I of Buganda 1837-1884(Uganda)

Behanzin-1895 Some Great African kings from the Past that You Probably Did not Know

Muteesa I of Buganda was born to king Kabaka Ssuuna II and Abakyala Muganzirwazza who was among the 148 wives of the king. He grew up and became the kabaka (king) of Buganda marrying an estimated  87 wives, during his reign, the Muslims and Arabs in the 1840s came into the kingdom  to sell their cloths, salts and other commodities in exchange for slaves, the Europeans made their way in, in 1862, the Catholics in 1879 also joined but the king tricked them into believing that he preferred one religion over the rest making them to write good feedbacks to their government mitigating their colonization. Muteesa I died in 1884 at 47 and in 2017 Muteesa I Royal University was opened in his honour.

Mwenda Msiri died in 1891(Tanzania)Behanzin-1895 Some Great African kings from the Past that You Probably Did not Know

Msiri  who ruled Katanga from about 1856 to 1891, born to a slave trader and became like his father, being a person that loves power began to trade ivory for gunpowder, later formed a militia and began conquering neighbors, eventually got married to a royal family, using his wife as a spy, while on the throne he went far as marrying his chiefs daughters making them believe this was to strengthen their bonds but for him to use them in keeping an eye on them over their loyalty. The dark day came when the Europeans sent Capt. G.W.Stairs with an option of taking over Katanga if possible and he sent his second-in-command, Belgian Lieutenant Omer Bodson with de Bonchamps and 100 askaris to arrest Msiri, where Bodson went into the camp shot him thrice killing him taking his body to Stairs camp where he beheaded Msiri and sent his body to be buried by the locals leaving his head on a pole as a warning.

  • Behanzin-1895 Some Great African kings from the Past that You Probably Did not Know

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