Kêfa Sagbadjou Glèlè: Monarch of once-powerful West African kingdom dies

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A palace official in Benin has announced the death of the King of Abomey, Kêfa Sagbadjou Glèlè.

His predecessors ruled Dahomey, which was one of the most powerful kingdoms in West Africa before the colonial era.

The king was reported to have been in his nineties, though his exact age has not been confirmed.

He was last seen in public in November at a ceremony to mark the return by France of 26 royal treasures stolen by French troops in the 19th Century.

They included statues, decorative palace doors and two royal thrones.

Reports of the royal’s death began circulating last Saturday but the news was confirmed on Thursday, AFP news agency says. 

“The monarchy is in mourning. The king… returned to his ancestors on Friday, 17 December,” Dako Kpogbemambou Vovoweyenonsin, a dignitary from the kingdom, is quoted by AFP as saying.

“This morning, we went to the palace, where the bad news was announced. I am completely devastated.”

Sagbadjou Glèlè ascended to the throne in January 2019, six months after the death of his predecessor Dadah Dedjalagni Agoli-Agbo, who had reigned for 30 years.

Dahomey, of which Abomey was a key part, was founded in the 1600s. Its territory was incorporated into a French colony in 1904 and is now included in modern-day Benin. 

It conquered key cities on the Atlantic coast and sold slaves to European traders in exchange for guns, gunpowder and alcohol. 

Women occupied powerful positions in the kingdom and there was an all-female military regiment named by Westerners as the Dahomey Amazons. Source: BBC