Agasu, the Divine Leopard King of Dahome
Many variations to Dahomey’s origin myth and the establishment of their dynasty of rulers recount that a Tado princess, Aligbonu, mated with a leopard spirit and subsequently gave birth to a son, Agasu. Agasu became the tohwiyo (mythical founder) of the Agasu lineage and priesthood. According to tradition, Aligbonu’s father, is believed to have migrated to Tado from Ife, thus providing an early legendary link with Ife and descent from Oduduwa.
Thusly, Alladahonu kings claim descent directly from Agasu on one hand, and Oduduwa on the other. As royal princes take the throne therefore, each embodies the strengths of the leopard. At the same time that Agasu is the tohwiyo, his mother Aligbonu, is the founding mother of the dynasty. Her title, Kpojito, underscores the symbolism of her office. Kpojito means literally the person who whelped the leopard. Ji, the verb, means to engender or create.1
Bay, Edna G. Belief, Legitimacy and the Kpojito: An Institutional History of the 'Queen Mother' in Precolonial Dahomey.
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Obafemi Origunwa, MA
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