Leadership

By Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Chief’s wives at Thanksgiving ceremony, Benin KingdomNigeria, 1994. Photo by Kathy Curnow.

At the chief’s thanksgiving celebration in the Kingdom of Benin, the chief’s wives come to court wearing special textiles and hairstyles they have been allowed to wear as marks of status and prestige. The “beehive” hairstyle is usually reserved for women of the royal family, but the Oba has given permission for these women to wear it during the thanksgiving celebration that follows the appointment of a chief to a title. The number of women involved, and the elaborate and costly dress they wear reflect on the wealth and status of the new chief.