Though the coronation of the Oba of Benin, former Prince Eheneden Erediauwa is come and gone, internationally renowned photographer Akintunde Akinyele gives his fresh perspective.

Crowned with coral beads, flanked by high traditional chiefs in bright white and colourful robes adorned with shining metal plaques, the new Oba of the historic kingdom of Benin greeted his people in a very 21st century corner of southern Nigeria.


Crowds packed Benin City to celebrate the coronation of Oba Ewuare II – carrying on a royal tradition that has endured through a punishing raid by imperial Britain in 1897 and the kingdom’s subsequent incorporation into the West African state.

Britain infamously carried away piles of plunder, including hundreds of metal panels – now widely known as the “Benin bronzes” and hanging in museums as far afield as London, New York, Berlin and Christchurch, and New Zealand.


Similar regalia were in active use on Thursday October 20, 2016 in Benin City, the modern day capital of Nigeria’s Edo state where a fierce state election took place a few weeks earlier.

Traditional rulers such as Oba Ewuare II—once a Nigerian ambassador to Sweden, wield significant influence in Nigeria, a patchwork state of 250 ethnic groups where Christianity, Islam and traditional beliefs all have followers.


Akintunde Akinleye is an award winning photojournalist whose images focus on editorial activism and experimental documentary topics. He received the World Press Photo prize in 2007 and the National Geographic all roads award in 2008. He is a recipient of residency fellowships at the University of Texas in Dallas and at the Thami Mnyele foundation in Amsterdam. His works have been published in TIME magazine, Vogue and the New York Times and exhibited in Lagos, Madrid, Brussels, California, Bamako, Munich, and the U.K. A consummate academic, Akintunde will be pursuing a research work in Film studies for a PhD after obtaining degrees in Education, journalism and Mass Communication. He once served as a jury-member for Friends of the Earth photo completion and a guest speaker at TEDx Ikoyi event. He lives in Lagos and has, for over a decade, worked for Reuters from Nigeria, covering human interest and spot news stories in West Africa sub-region.

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