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    Mariama Buba

      There have been hundreds of African kings throughout history which are unknown to us. However, there are so many great stories to learn about them.

      Below are ten great African kings in history.






      He was the ruler of Axum and also the first king to embrace Christianity. He however established the Etopic church, converting his whole kingdom into Christians. He was notable for bringing Moreo a kingdom that was his kingdom’s rival to an end. The kingdom of Axumite flourishes greatly under his administration and beautiful structures were also erected. Trade increased in this kingdom. A remarkable thing that happened during his reign was coins minted bearing his names. However, a number of these coins were found in an archaeological site in India. This indicates that these countries were in trade contacts.





      Sunni Ali was the first king of Songhai Empire reigned from 1462 to 1492. The fifteen ruler of Sunni’s dynasty, Sunni Ali Ber, captured a lot of cities like Timbuktu in 1468. He was against the scholars in Timbuktu. So, he expelled them and gains a total control of the city. The kingdom of Songhai surpassed Mali Empire.  His death was described in two ways. Ali getting drowned in River Niger while crossing in 1492 was gotten the source Tarikh al-Sudan. His sister’s son Askia Muhammad killed him was gotten from oral sources.







      Askia Muhammad was a prominent general under Sunni Ali rule. He was also the first monarch of the Askia dynasty which was under the Songhai Empire. Askia the great which was also his name made his empire the largest in the West Africa. When Sunni Ali’s son, Sunni Baru succeeded his father in 1492, Askia accused him of not being a faithful Muslim and defeated him. He ascended the throne 1493. He made the Songhai empire encompassed the Hausa states. He expanded trade with Europe and Asia. He also created schools and establish Islam as an integral part of the Empire. His son, Askia Musa overthrew him in 1528. Ten years later, he died and was buried in the modern day Mali. His tomb is still standing and happens to be one of the respected mosques.






      Mansa Musa pilgrimage to Mecca made the world realize how wealthy he was. He travelled from Niani which was his capital on the upper Niger River to Walata which is the present-day Mauritania and to Tuat the present-day Algeria. He stopped at Cairo. The Inhabitants of Cario were awestruck by the number of people that accompanied him. 60,000 men in conjunction with 12,000 slaves who wore brocade and Persian silk, slaves bearing with them golden staffs, 80 camels carrying 300 pounds of gold each. The lavish emperor flooded Cairo market with his gold thereby causing gold to lose its value in the market and it however took 12 years for gold to regain its value in Cairo. Timbuktu, his kingdom became a centre for commercial. It expanded its borders to every African state.







      Idris Alooma, the king of Kanem-Bornu which was situated in the present day Chad and Nigeria, is undoubtedly the greatest king of the Kanem-Bornu Dynasty. Under his rule, Kanem-Bornu was powerful and wealthy. Idris Alooma is known for his military skill and he was the muslim champion of his city after the fall of Songhai in 1591. The Kanem-Bornu Empire became Bornu Caliphate which was the leading Islamic powerful state in Africa.  Alooma however ruled from 1564 to 1596. According to Diwan, Alooma met his waterloo at Baguirmi campaign where he was brutally wounded and later he was buried at Lake Alo which is Maduiguri, the present-day Northern Nigeria.






      Born in a small town in South Africa in 1787, his father was the chief of Zulus while his mother was the daughter of a nearby clan chief. At a tender age, Shaka’s father drove Shaka and his mother out of the village. They got to another village which was headed by a powerful chief called Dingiswayo. At that village, he trained as a warrior. When Dingiswayo died, he took over the village. He took over chiefdoms that surrounded his village. He however was a strong and brute leader. He murdered anyone that disobeyed him and also massacred a whole village when passing a message to him. His village witnessed a terrible incident when he lost his mother. The whole community was thrown in a forced mourning. He ordered that no tree and crop was planted. Pregnant women were also murdered in this period. The whole people got fed up of his rule.





      An emperor of Ethiopia from 1889, he is remembered for leading a troop against Italy. He became victorious at the war of Adwa. Under his rule, Ethiopia transformed and the appointment of ministerial advisors brought about modernization. Later, he established cabinet ministers to help in the administrations of Ethiopia. He appointed respected nobles to the ministries. He died in 1913.




      The 11th king of  Dahomey, one of the most powerful kingdom in west Africa was Behanzin Bowelle. Dahomey derived its power from its powerful trade and armies which Behanzin led, 15,000 men and 5,000 amazon women. Behanzin prepared for war when the French occupied Cotonou. They attacked the French at Cotonou and Port Novo. The French however was determined to place Dahomey into annex before German and Britain got hold of it. So, Colonel Alfred-Amedee Dodds was sent to fight with him. Behanzin surrendered not wanting his people to be massacred. Dahomey became a French protectorate while Behanzin died in an exile in 1906.





      The Yoruba land progenitor, folk hero and an ancestor, there is however debates on where Oduduwa came from and when he founded the Yoruba. He and his clan defeated settled in the lower part of Nigeria. According to legend, he had 16 sons and daughters. He sent each of his sons to rule in every territory he defeated and this brought about the establishment of Yoruba dynasty. Oduduwa was assassinated in 1828 and buried in an unmarked grave.




      The chief of Akan, a small city of Kumasi, Osei Kofi Tutu helped in the formation of the Ashanti Empire under the Golden Stool which is the Ashanti seat of power. The unified group expanded Ashanti power and wealth. This kingdom generated its wealth from Large salt and gold mined in their region. Osei conquered many neighbouring communities. The Ashanti kingdom was the first in west Africa to adopt firearms. The Golden stool which remained Ashanti seat of power was overthrown when the Britain turned Ashanti into it protectorate. This led into war.

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