Kingdom of Koya

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Bai Bureh, leader of the Temne people during the Temne-Mande-War 1898, after his capture
The only known photo of Bai Bureh, the last ruler, taken in 1898.

The Kingdom of Kquoja or Koya or Koya Temne, or the Temne Kingdom (1505–1896), was a pre-colonial African state. It was located in the north of Sierra Leone. Its capital was at Cape Mount in what is now Liberia.

The kingdom was founded by the Temne ethnic group in or around 1505. Migrants from the north who wanted to trade with the Portuguese in the south founded the kingom.

It was ruled by a king called a Bai or Obai. The sub-kingdoms within the state were ruled by nobles titled "Gbana". The Koya Kingdom kept and maintained diplomatic relations with the British and French in the 18th century. Children of Temne nobles were allowed to get western educations abroad. Koya also traded with Islamic states to its north and had Muslims within its borders.

Under Nembanga's reign (1775–1793), the Koya kingdom signed a treaty which made it possible for the establishment of a British colony on the peninsula of Sierra Leone in 1788.

Koya participated in the trans-atlantic slave trade, though sources state that such commerce was much more privatized than in other kingdoms. Subjects of Koya traded in slaves on the coast even against the wishes of the state at times.

From 1801 to 1807, Koya fought a war with British colonists and the Susu. Koya lost the northern shoreline of Sierra Leone to the British and Port Loko to the Susu. However, they remained a power in the region. In 1815, the Temne fought another war with the Susu and regained the port. In 1841, the Temne defeated the Loko tribe of Kasona on the Mabaole River dispersing many of the people. In response to a British bombardment, the kingdom expelled the Church Missionary Society missionaries operating at Magbela in 1860.

The kingdom became a British protectorate August 31, 1896. At that point the Koya kings lost almost all power. Revolts of the Temne and Mende in 1898 were fierce but futile. The British would govern the area of the former kingdom until 1961.

References[change | change source]

  • J. D. Fage, John E. Flint, John Desmond Clark et al.: The Cambridge History of Africa. Cambridge University Press, 1976, ISBN 0-521-20701-0, S. 174ff.
  • Adam Jones: The Kquoja Kingdom: A Forest State in Seventeenth Century West Africa. In: Paideuma. 29, 1983, S. 23–43.
  • Kenneth C. Wylie: The political kingdoms of the Temne. Africana Pub, 1977, ISBN 0-8419-0149-X.