The Kingdom of Dahomey
The Kingdom of Dahomey was created around 1600 by the Fon people. It came about following marriages between the Aja people and the local Gedevi people. Aho Houegbadja (circa 1645-1685), third king of Abomey, is considered by some to have been the founding King of Dahomey.
Dahomey is an old African kingdom whose territorial boundaries comprise the present borders of Benin, Togo, and part of Nigeria. Dahomey (capital city Abomey) grew on the Abomey plateau in the early 17th century and became a regional power at that time, conquering certain key cities on the Atlantic coast, in particular the commercial port of Ouidah. Initially a vassal state of the Oyo Empire, the Kingdom of Dahomey became in the 18th and 19th centuries one of the vital centres of economic activity in West Africa and a major trading hub, especially for the slave trade operating out of Ouidah. In 1894, the kingdom was incorporated into French West Africa as the colony of Dahomey. The country gained its independence in 1960 as the Republic of Dahomey, before changing its name to the People’s Republic of Benin in 1975, then Republic of Benin in 1990.
Don Francisco Félix de Souza, ChaCha I
Don Francisco Félix de Souza, a native of Brazil, was a successful merchant who traded in slaves, gold, and palm oil, and is a leading figure in the political history of West Africa. He continued to manage the Portuguese outpost that his elder brother managed in West Africa, and helped it to prosper through a series of strategic alliances with the monarchs of Dahomey. He became the first Chacha of Ouidah and Viceroy of Dahomey under King Guézo’s reign. Don Francisco Félix de Souza was a great dignitary of Ouidah and confidant to the king and local rulers, subsequently becoming Lord of the Chiefdom of Ouidah and the House of de Souza.
According to the annals of the House of de Souza, Francisco Félix de Souza was the eighth-generation descendant of Tomé de Sousa (1503-1579), a Portuguese nobleman who had been the first Governor-General of the Portuguese colony of Brazil from 1549 to 1553. This being the case, it would mean modern-day members of the de Souza family belong to the Portuguese nobility, in addition to being a family of African chiefs.
The capital of Ouidah
His Majesty Dada Daagbo Hounon Houna II is one of the voodoo spiritual leaders and is president of the association providing education in traditional voodoo. He is also a member of the Inter Faith Action for Peace in Africa, as well as international committees of indigenous peoples based in Chicago, USA.