Tuesday, May 13, 2014

April 19 - The King of Nikki's Funeral!

I live in a very special post, and I've gotten to see many really remarkable cultural events.  Most were small-scale, local events, like the fetiche intitiations that happen regularly in Peonga.  Recently, however, the king of Nikki died and I got to attend his funeral.  (Nikki is a town about an hour and a half from my village by motorcycle). 

This was a huge deal.  The king of Nikki is the most important king of the Bariba people, a group that spreads throughout northern Benin and Nigeria.  Every year, all the lesser Bariba kings visit Nikki to pay tribute to the king and ride their richly-decorated horses in a festival known as Gaani.  This funeral was similarly large, with kings and their entourages coming from as far as Nigeria and Ghana.  Not all who came were Bariba; there were also kings from other ethnic groups in the south of Benin.  Benin's president, Boni Yayi, even flew in by helicopter to make a speech!  About five of us volunteers attended the event.  It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

One of the kings from Nigeria (in the blue robe).  His body guards are in the blue and red outfits.  You can see the couch that will be set up for him to sit on in the left of the photo.  Also notice all the trumpeters announcing his presence behind him.
President Boni Yayi (in the black suit with his hand raised).  He passed right in front of where we were sitting.

Lots of opulent robes and outfits

The local bariba princes and kings performed examples of their horsemanship.  The bariba are renowned horsemen. 

A group of bariba horsemen

It wouldn't be a Beninese funeral without t-shirts and other favors!  I got one of those t-shirts.

One of the horsemen waiting on his horse


  1. Thanks for sharing this event. Great photos!

  2. Really interesting post Bethany!! Love the photos and the amazingly beautiful horses and horsemen in their garb. What an amazing experience.