Africa was always a continent of Kingdoms and great empires ruled by powerful Kings before the Europeans carved her up and divided her into jumbled up states. We had legendary monarchs like
Shaka Zulu of South Africa(1787-1828)
Queen Amina of Zaria(1533-1610?)
King Jaja of Opobo(1821-1891)
Haille Selassie, the last Emperor of Ethiopia(1892-1975)
and so many other great monarchies.
Africa still has influential monarchs of varying degrees, but here are the most influential in modern day Africa -
King Mswati III of Swaziland
King Mswati III is considered to be Africa's only remaining absolute monarch. Crowned on April 25, 1986, aged 18 years and 6 days, he became the youngest head of state until Joseph Kabila took office on January 26, 2001, as president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Known for his taste in luxury he is regarded as one of the wealthiest heads of government and has reigned for 26 years. He currently has 13 wives and several children.
Almost as powerful is King Mohammed VI of Morocco
King Mohammed was born on 21 August 1963 and ascended to the throne in July 1999. Though a constitutional monarchy the king has a monopoly on the countries natural resources making him one of the richest heads of government worth an estimated $2.5billion as at 2009. He has brought economic growth and some social liberalization but maintains sweeping powers. Human rights have also being regarded as not being top of his list, another complaint is that he takes too many vacations.
Another powerful constitutional monarch is King Letsie III of Lesotho
Letsie III born 17 July, 1963, is the King of Lesotho. He succeeded his father, Moshoeshoe II, when the latter was forced into exile in 1990. With his assistance and that of Nelson Mandela of South Africa, his father was reinstated as king of Lesotho on January 25, 1995, but soon died in a car crash in early 1996, and Letsie III became king again. Most of his duties are ceremonial but his influence is national.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'adu Abubakar III
The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'adu Abubakar III has been rated as the fourth most powerful and influential monarch on the African continent. Born August 24, 1956, he is the 20th Sultan of Sokoto in northern Nigeria and is considered the spiritual leader of Nigeria's 70 million muslims.
He retired from the Nigerian Army with the rank of Brigadier General in 2006. His last appointment was as the Defence Attaché to Pakistan (concurrently accredited to Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan)2003-2006. He also served as Commanding Officer, 231 Tank Battalion with West Africa's peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone. He succeeded his brother as the 20th Sultan on November 2, 2006, after his death in a plane crash.
He is followed closely by Africa's longest reigning monarch Dr Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano
In October 1963, he was summoned to Nigeria to become the 13th Emir of Kano while studying French in Switzerland. Both at the National and International arena he is regarded as a wise counselor because of his experience and diverse cultural linkages that make him a bridge and an asset in promoting mutual understanding and resolving conflicts. The 13th Emir of Kano, northern Nigeria, was born July 25, 1930 and is renowned for his abundant wealth.
King Goodwill KaBhekuzulu of the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal
Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu is the reigning king of the Zulu nation. Born July 14, 1948 at Nongoma, he became King in 1968, making him one of the worlds longest reigning monarchs. Though a largely ceremonial monarch he still wields a lot of influence and has repeatedly made calls for the South African government to consult traditional chiefs on policy making.
He has been criticized recently in some quarters for his condemnation of same sex relations, but also for his penchant for luxury cars. He has seven or eight palaces.
King Osei Tutu II, king of the Asanti in Ghana
King Otumfuo Osei Tutu, is the 16th Asantehene, King of the Ashanti. He ascended the Golden Stool on 26 April 1999. By name, he is in direct succession to the founder of the Empire of Ashanti, Otumfuo Osei Tutu I. Born on 6 May 1950, he was educated at Polytechnic of North London, now London Metropolitan University, from where he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy, conferred at a ceremony at The Barbican Centre, London on 11 January 2006.
His royal clothing is always heavily adorned with gold; from a velvet crown accented with gold-leaf-over-wood motifs; intricately woven and patterned kente cloth; and huge gold bracelets.
Oba(King) Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos
Oba Rilwan Akiolu was born October 29, 1943 and was installed as Oba of Lagos in May 2003.
He studied at University of Lagos where he read Law. He joined the Nigeria Police Force where he rose to the position of Assistant Inspector General of Police before his retirement in 2002.
He is the traditional sovereign of Lagos, Lagos state, Nigeria, the acknowledged financial heart of contemporary Nigeria and is sought by Politicians and corporations alike for his counsel and support.
The official residence of the Oba, since 1630, is Iga Idungaran, a castle constructed by the Portuguese (finished in 1705). Today Oba's palace is a very popular tourist sight in Lagos, Nigeria.
Kabaka Mutebi II of Buganda
Kabaka Mutebi II is the 36th Kabaka of Buganda, a kingdom in modern day Uganda. He was born at the royal palace on April 13, 1955. He spent a large part of his life in exile in the UK following the desecration of Buganda between 1966 - 1986. He returned to Uganda in 1988 after the Ugandan government restored the Ugandan Kingdoms in the constitution and was crowned his royal highness on July 31, 1993. He has played a very important role in inspiring confidence in the Baganda not to abandon practices that have made the kingdom endure over the last 800 years.
Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade I, the Olubadan of Ibadan
The Olubadan is the royal title of the King of Ibadanland in Nigeria. Oba Samuel Odugade I is the 40th Olubadan and was crowned in August 2007 at the age of 93 covered live by international media including CNN. Though his role is largely ceremonial he is still highly influential.