Photographer, James C. Lewis takes us on a trip down memory lane, as he captures the majesty of ancient African Kings, in this “African Kings” series.
Mansa Abu Bakr II (also known as Mansa Abu Bakari II circa 14th century) was the ninth Mansa (Title of Ruler in Mali) of the Mali Empire, the richest and largest empire on earth at that time, covering nearly all of West Africa. He succeeded his nephew Mansa Mohammed ibn Gao and preceded Mansa Musa. Abu Bakr II appears to have abdicated his throne (1311) in order to explore “the limits of the ocean” and was said to have set out on this feat 181 years prior to Christopher Columbus however, his expedition never returned. He is now referred to as “The Voyager King”
Pharaoh Akhenaten meaning “Effective for Aten” known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV, was a pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten. Husband of Nefertiti and father of King “Tut” Tutankhamun.
King Askia Muhammad I (1443 – 1538), born Muhammad Ture ou Mohamed Toure in Futa Tooro, later called Askia, also known as Askia the Great, was an emperor, military commander, and political reformer of the Songhai Empire in the late 15th century, the successor of Sunni Ali Beer. Askia Muhammad strengthened his country and made it the largest country in West Africa’s history. At its peak under his reign, the Songhai Empire encompassed the Hausa states as far as Kano (in present-day Nigeria) and much of the territory that had belonged to the Songhai empire in the west. His policies resulted in a rapid expansion of trade with Europe and Asia, the creation of many schools, and the establishment of Islam as an integral part of the empire.
Cetshwayo kaMpande (1826 – 1884) was the King of the Zulu Nation from 1872 to 1879 and its leader during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. He famously led the Zulu nation to victory against the British in the Battle of Isandlwana.
Ghezo or Gezo was an Ahosu (King) of the Kingdom of Dahomey, in present-day Benin, from 1818 until 1858. Ghezo replaced his brother Adandozan (ruled 1797 to 1818) as king through a coup with the assistance of the Afro-Brazilian slave trader Francisco Félix de Sousa. He ruled over the kingdom during a tumultuous period, punctuated by the British blockade of the ports of Dahomey in order to stop the Atlantic slave trade.
Hannibal Barca (247 BC – 183 BC) was an African Carthaginian military commander, generally considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. Also credited for having major victories against the Roman Empire with his mighty warriors that marched into battle on the backs of great elephants! He was later defeated by the Roman Empire and returned to Carthage, North Africa where he was elected to the “Office of Suffete” which was the Highest Appointed Official in Carthage at that time.
Idris Alooma (1580–1617) was Mai (king) of the Kanem-Bornu Empire, located mainly in Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria. His name is more properly written Idris Alawma or Idris Alauma. An outstanding statesman, under his rule (1564– 1596) Kanem-Bornu touched the zenith of its power. Idris is remembered for his military skills, administrative reforms and Islamic piety. His feats are mainly known through his chronicler Ahmad bin Fartuwa.
Zulu kaMalandela (1627-1709), son of Malandela, was the founder and Chief (King) of the Zulu clan which came from the Nguni people. In the Zulu language, Zulu means heaven.
Mansa Kankan Musa (1280 – 1337) more commonly known as Mansa Musa was the tenth Mansa, which translates as “King of Kings” or “Emperor”, of the wealthy West African Mali Empire. He is documented to have traveled to Mecca and Egypt with vast caravans of gold and an entourage of thousands from his empire in 1324. His reign lasted 25 years from 1312 – 1337. He is also documented as the RICHEST PERSON TO HAVE EVER LIVED…specula ted to have been worth $400 Billion dollars in today’s times.
Kwaku Dua I (1797 – 1867), was the eighth Asantehene of the Kingdom of Ashanti (King of the Asante. In 1834, King or Asantehene Kwaku Dua I of the Kingdom of Asante succeeded Osei Yaw Akoto to throne as the King of Asante. On 18 March 1837, Asantehene Kwaku Dua I of the Kingdom of Asante signed a contract between him and King William I of the Netherlands. These recruits would become known as Belanda Hitam. As part of the deal, two Asante Royal Princes, Kwasi Boakye and Kwame Poku accompanied the Dutch back to The Netherlands, where they were to receive a Dutch education.
King or Oba (as it is known in West Africa) Sunni Ali Beer (circa 1442-1492) built the largest most powerful empire in West Africa during his 28-year reign. With a remarkable army,he won many battles, conquered many lands, seized trade routes and took villages to build the Songhay empire into a major center of commerce, culture and Moslem scholarship.
Opoku Ware I (1700–1750) was an Oyoko (King) Asantehene – the ruler of the Asante – in the now- disbanded Asante Confederacy which occupied parts of what is now Ghana. He is credited with being the “empire builder” of the Asante Confederacy.
King or Asantehene (King of all Asante) Osei Tutu (circa 1650-1717) Osei Tutu was the founder and first ruler of the Asante nation, a great West African kingdom now known as Ghana. He tripled the geographic size of Asante and the kingdom was a significant power that endured for two centuries.
Taharqa (710-664 BC) was a Pharaoh of the Ancient Egyptian 25th dynasty and Ruler of the Kingdom of Kush, which was located in Northern Sudan & Ethiopia. He is also mentioned in Biblical references – Scholars have identified him with Tirhakah, King of Ethiopia, who waged war against Sennacherib during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Kings 19:9; Isaiah 37:9).
King Tenkamenin of Ghana (1037-1075 AD) Through careful management of gold trade across the Sahara, Tenkamenin’s empire flourished economically yet his greatest strength was in government. He listened to his people and provided justice for all of them. His principles of democratic monarchy and religious tolerance make him one of the great models of African rule.
Thutmose III (1481 BC – 1425 BC) was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost fifty-four years, and his reign is usually dated from April 24, 1479 BC to March 11, 1425 BC; however, this includes the twenty-two years he was co-regent to Hatshepsut. During the final two years of his reign, he appointed his son and successor, Amenhotep II, as his junior co-regent.
Tutankhamun (1336 BC – 1327 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. He is often referred to as “KING TUT”. This boy king was short lived following the controversial rule of his father, Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Nzinga Mbemba (c. 1456–1542 or 1543), also known as King Affonso I, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo in the first half of the 16th century. He reigned over the Kongo Empire from 1509 to late 1542 or 1543. King Affonso I was a visionary who saw his country as a unified Christian nation equipped with advanced knowledge and technology. He encouraged Christianity, made it possible to practice new skills in masonry, carpentry and agriculture. He established a modern school system and was the first ruler to resist slave trade.
Moulay Hassan I (1836 – 1894): Moulay Hassan I, was Sultan of Morocco, North Africa from 1873 to 1894. He was the son of prince Abbas and succeeded to his uncle Mohammed IV. He was a member of the Alaouite dynasty. Moulay Hassan was among the most successful sultans. He increased the power of the makhzen in Morocco and at a time when so much of the rest of Africa was falling under foreign control, he brought in military and administrative reforms to strengthen the regime within its own territory, and he carried out an active military and diplomatic program on the periphery.
King Endubis (c. 270 – c.330): King Endubis, was one of the first rulers of Axum or Askum which was a powerful North East African Empire which rose to power after the decline of Ancient Egypt and Nubia. Axum is credited with conquering and bringing the ultimate end of the Kingdom of ancient Meroe (Nubia). Axum controlled the horn of Africa to across the Red Sea into the Arabian plateau. Endubis was the first king of Ancient Africa to mint coinage, and following Endubis, all Axumite (Ethiopian) Emperors minted their own coinage: gold, silver and bronze pieces with their faces and motto.