There is this proverb which goes like this; ‘Until the day the lion learns to write, every story between the lion and the hunter will always glorify the hunter’. In as much as the lion is one big and fiercesome animal, the hunter is always glorified in all its tales.
Africa is one big continent with lots of diverse cultures. A culture rich in history but interestingly have a little impact on the world as perceived. But is that really the case? Some even see Africa as one country languishing in poverty with many people suffering from hunger. At least that’s what is being portrayed for the world to see.
Again, is that really the case? We as Africans are almost a billion in population and the second largest continent on earth. Please, the word there is continent and not a country. Hahaha!
Today marks a day of a new era has the ‘lion’ itself wants to write his own story before the ‘hunter’ does. A look at some of the greatest kings and queens from Africa to ever grace the world is what’s on the radar:
The first king who readily comes to mind is Mansa Musa. Mansa Musa is believed to be the richest person ever to live on Earth. His estimated worth is believed to be more than $400 billion in current inflation adjustment. He was the King of the Mali Empire which expanded to present-day Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Mauritania. His reign is believed to have begun from early 1300 to 1337. His more than two decades of rule saw the expansion his empire and the building of the world’s first university; the University of Timbuktu which is located in present-day Mali.
In 1324, he did the unthinkable. As a devoted Muslim, his pilgrimage to Mecca caught the eye of the world. He didn’t do it on the low. The rest of the world caught wind of his massive wealth.
His 4,000-mile journey wasn’t complete without tens of thousands of soldiers, civilians and slaves. More than 500 slaves dressed in fine silk carrying gold which he freely gave to the poor on his way to his pilgrimage. There were also camels and horses carrying gold bars.
It is believed that on his stop in Cairo(Egypt), he spent so much gold and donated so much money to the poor that he caused mass inflation. It took years for the city to fully recover from the currency crisis.
Musa Keita after his death is still been remembered as one of the greatest kings Africa has ever had. Mansa means King hence the name Mansa Musa wouldn’t be forgotten easily in the history books of the world.
2. Shaka Zulu
Another great king the world must know is the man Shaka Zulu. A man believed to have killed his own mother and wife including his unborn child just for power will make you wonder why the world still hails him till date. Shaka, king of the Zulus was one king very well known for his military exploits in the battlefield. His formation of battling during wars was made him unique. A great warrior and a conqueror who made sure he expanded the Zulu empire.
Once in power, Shaka began reorganising the forces of his people in accordance with ideas he had developed as a warrior in Dingiswayo’s army.
He expanded the Zulu tribe from a mere number of 1500 to more than 200,000 during his reign. He developed a special traditional spear which was later known as assegai. It was short in nature compared to the longer ones which were being used. That made the Zulu warriors unique and very hard to defeat.
Having proved the advantages of the new tactics, Shaka armed his warriors with short-handled stabbing spears and trained them to move up to their opponents in close formation with their body-length cowhide shields forming an almost impenetrable barrier to anything thrown at them.
Shaka, king of the Zulus was later assassinated by his half brothers but his legacy continues to live on till date. The name Shaka is one of the greatest kings of all time.
3. Kaku Ackah
Kaku Ackah the Great as he was affectionately called was a Nzema King who hailed from the Nzema tribe based in the then Gold Coast now Ghana. He protected his people from colonial rule during the British invasion and was noted for expanding his territory even to far away Ivory Coast. His refusal to sign the Bond of 1844 between the British and the other chiefs mounted pressure on him as he deemed as a way of selling his people into slavery.
King Kaku Ackah never bowed to colonialism and fought to the last day of his life. His sought of strength was believed to be found in his hat. Therefore when he was been pursued by the British, his hat fell and of course that was his demise. He preferred death than giving away his power where his people could be sold to slavery.
4. Asebu Amenfi
Asebu Amenfi was one King the Fantes( a tribe in Ghana). He is believed to come from Egypt. He is also believed to be the commander in Chief who was sent by pharaoh to pursue Moses before he crossed the red sea. After failure to defeat the Israelites, he deemed it as a disgrace to go back hence found his way down south where settled at present-day Abura-Ghana. His height and stature placed fear in many as he was well built and many were dwarfed in his presence.
He is noted to be the first King to have had a treaty with the Dutch in 1612 which allowed the Dutch to establish a fort on his soil. He expanded the Fante Kingdom as he believed in co-operation and harmony. The people of Abura have no King till date as they believe he is likely to return one day. His mortal remains have not been seen to date as it’s believed he sat on a small earthen well bowl and ascended into the sky.
5.Tohazie- The Red Hunter
Tohazie was the leader of the Dagombas. He led his people from Chad when famine struck and they had very little to eat. With superior tactics in warfare, he was able to defeat the Pusigans and expanded his territory to the whole of current Northern Ghana. His control of the salt industry in Daboya made him one of the most powerful kings in Africa.
After his death, his son Naa Gbewaa took over the mantle and continued from where his father left. The Dagombas are one powerful tribe found in Ghana and have the largest land area in Ghana.
6. Samori Toure
The name Samori Toure rose to prominence when his home town Bissadugu in present-day Guinea-Bissau was raided and several members of his family were taken as slaves including his mum. History has it that, he was able to convince the leader of the slave raiders, King Bitke to switch places with his mum. He served in King Bitike’s army and quickly rose through the ranks.
His loyalty to King Bitike made him a free man and he returned to his homeland and was instantly made a king. His major strife was to unite the whole of Africa and form a formidable state against colonialism. His three decades of rule saw him opposing the exploitation of Africans by the Europeans and that, of course, earned the respect as one of the greatest kings Africa has ever had.
Tenkamenin was seen as one of the generous kings Ghana and Africa, in general, have ever had. He was very well noted for riding on his horse and going around listening to the plight of his people. His concern for his people made him stood out among all kings.He made the then Ghana empire a trading hub where all kings went there to trade.
He expanded his empire and made sure to became one of the greatest at that time. Equal right and justice were his hallmark and so made sure his people concern and grievances were always addressed. That was Tenkamenin!
8. King Hannibal
King Hannibal is believed to been born in 247 BC and is said to be the greatest military leader Africa has ever had.He is believed to be the leader of the Carthage. The Carthage were made up Africans and the Phoenicians who according to history were great merchants, trading with the Indians and the Scilly Isles.
According to history, King Hannibal was on the battlefield when he was aged 8. He accompanied his father Hamilclar in a battle against the Romans. After the demise of his dead, his brother-in-law took over but succeeded him seven years later in 221 B.C to become the commander-in-chief of the Peninsula.
King Hannibal is believed to have had an infantry numbering up to more 90,000 and conquered major part of Spain and Italy except for Rome. He is believed to have taken his own life after been defeated in a battle against the Romans. But his legacy as one of the greatest African Kings still lives on.
9. Yaa Asantewaa
She was the queen mother of Ejisu. Ejisu is one small town still being found in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Yaa Asantewaa led his people to war as queen mother when the British demanded the for the Golden Stool. The Golden is a symbol of convent between the Asantes and the Nzemas.
Near the end of the 19th century, the British had exiled King Prempeh from the hinterlands of the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), in an attempt to take over to Seychelles.
It is believed Nana Yaa Asantewa was present at the meeting with the governor and chiefs. When the meeting ended, and she was alone with the Ashanti chiefs, she said: “Now I have seen that some of you fear to fight for our king. If it were in the brave days of old, the days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anoyke and Opoku Ware, Ashanti chiefs would not sit down to see their king taken away without firing a shot. No governor could have dared speak to Ashanti chiefs in the way the governor spoke to you chiefs this morning.”
With fear gripping the other chiefs, Yaa Asantewaa gathered the few warriors and led them to fight. They lost the battle though but with a woman who had no fear to defend her people made her one of the greatest in Africa.
10. Queen Makeda
Makeda and King Solomon were equally impressed with each other. Out of their relationship was born a son, Menelik I. This queen is said to have reigned over Sheba and Arabia as well as Ethiopia. The queen of Sheba’s capital was Debra Makeda, which she built for herself. She was so powerful and filled with beauty to the extent that many kings sought her.