Benin Kingdom Leadership Regalia

by Kathy Curnow
Cleveland State University

Chief Ima at Ugie Erhoba, Benin KingdomNigeria, 1994. Photo by Kathy Curnow.

The titleholder shown here, Chief Ima, is one of only about five current chiefs who have completed a final chieftaincy investiture, known as iyanehien.  This fourteen-day ceremony requires even more lavish expenditure and entertainment, and puts those chiefs who go through it into a highly-admired and enviable category.  An abbreviated version of the rituals involved will be conducted at all loyal chiefs' deaths, enabling them to enjoy full honors in the afterlife.