Paramount chief

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A paramount chief is the highest-level traditional (usually tribal) chief or political leader in a regional or local polity or country typically administered politically with a chief-based system.

The word was introduced by westerners, often in colonial times, as a generic term rendering various autochthonous institutions, which may vary considerably according to each community's culture and history - follow the links in the (probably incomplete) lists below.

However the term has also often been given legal sanction in order to use tribal institutions for indirect rule, sometimes even in post-independence republics - rather like the British, Dutch and other colonizing powers did, often successfully, with princely states, mainly in the East Indies.


[edit] In Africa

[edit] Eastern African paramount chieftainships and titles

  • title since 1904 of the former laibon of all the Maasai in Kenya (not in Tanzania)

[edit] Western African paramount chieftainships and titles

[edit] Southern African paramount chieftainships and titles

  • Kgôsikgolo
  • in present Lesotho since it emerges as a polity in 1822, a British Protectorate as Basutoland since 12 March 1868 (11 August 1871 - 18 March 1884 Annexed to Cape Colony as Basutoland territory, 18 March 1884 a separate colony, as one of the High Commission Territories; title changed to king at the 4 October 1966 independence from Britain.
  • in Malawi Inkosi ya makosi was the title of two Ngosi dynasties : the Jere or Qeko dynasty (since 1840) and the Maseko or Gomani dynasty (since before 1832), both still existing
  • in Namibia
    • over the Awa-Khoi or "Red Nation" (more prominent then six other 'nations') of the Nama (Khoi) people, a Chiefdom established before 1700.
    • title Okahandja Herero among that people, also Chief Ministers of Hereoroland (two incumbents 20 July 1970 - 5 December 1980), the 'homeland' of the Ovaherero
  • In Swaziland the term paramount chief was imposed by the British over Swazi royal objections in 1903, was never recognized by the Swazi royalty, and was changed to "king" in English upon independence in 1968. The SiSwati name for the office is Ngwenyama, a ceremonial term for "lion".
  • in South Africa
    • Khosikulu of the vhaVenda; after the people's split, (only?) of the haMphaphuli
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the Xhosa people's following polities: amaGcaleka, amaMbalu, amaRharhabe, amaNdlambe, imiDushane kaNdlambe, imiQhayi, amaGasela, amaGwali, amaHleke, imiNdange, amaNtinde, amaGqunukhwebe
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the amaBhaca (until 1830 called abakwaZelemu)
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the amaPondo
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the amaPondomise
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the amaThembu

[edit] In Asia

[edit] Arabian paramount chieftainships and titles

[edit] In Oceania

[edit] Polynesian paramount chieftainships and titles

  • on New Zealand: Ariki Nui of Ngati Tuwharetoa, the major Māori polity there since circa 1750, until the 2 May 1859 established Kingship movement
  • on American Samoa * (on Samoa, there is a paramount king *)
  • on Fiji:
    • during the October - December 1987 secession agitation on one island, known as the Republic of Rotuma, lead by Henry Gibson (remained in New Zealand), his style was gagaj sau lagfatmaro, rendered as Paramount chief.
    • the British Sovereign remains recognized as 'Great Chief', even since the country became a republic on 7 October 1987; however, this is not an office of state
  • in French Polynesia: ari`i *
  • on Easter Island * (presently in Chile) paramount chief or king, the 'ariki henua *

[edit] See also

[edit] Sources and references

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Paramount chief

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