Guest Author - Dawn Denton
His Royal Majesty Benjamin Ikenchuku Keagborekuzi the First (Keagborekuzi I) is the traditional ruler of Agbor. The town is in the oil-rich Delta State in southern Nigeria and has a population of about 67,000. His Royal Majesty goes by the name of The Dein of Agbor Kingdom (Dein is the name of his ruling family) but he has another unique title. Benjamin was crowned king after the sudden death of this father in 1979. He was only 28 months old and so became the youngest monarch in the world. The Guinness Book of World Records of 1980 featured him with this special title.
Soon after his coronation, the young king was taken to England and a regent was installed to look after the traditions and culture of the people of Agbor. As a baptized Catholic, Benjamin went to a Catholic school in Kent, a college in Surrey and enroled to study at Birbeck College in London. On graduation in 2000 he returned to Nigeria to take up his duty as a traditional leader.
Since then his busy schedule has not allowed time for any romance, which means the Agbor Kingdom has no Queen. The kingdom does have a Queen Mother in Queen Victoria Nkem Egun Ikenchuku, who is also referred to as the Ojeba of Agbor. She is the Honourable Commissioner for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Delta State. These Eight MDG have been agreed by all the member states of the United Nations organization and focus on eradicating poverty, reducing disease and improving the lives of the poor. Queen Victoria is loved and respected for her continued commitment to her people on the international stage.
The Dein values education and has been appointed Chancellor to universities and sits on a range of councils and committees in his community. He is outspoken about the problem of violent youth in Nigeria and believes education needs to be used more effectively to tackle this growing issue. He has said, "There is no child that does not want to learn. But let’s also have teachers that are interested in their jobs. I am an apostle of discipline and education."
The king has also condemned kidnappings and hostage takings in the area, voicing his concerns about the impact these incidents have on investment and job creation in the region. He places huge emphasis on the development of infrastructure, agriculture and technology. As Grand Master Protector of the Order he can acknowledge and award individuals who have made significant contributions to the Agbor Kingdom.
But his personal passion is horses. No matter what his diary says, he always makes time to ride and spend time at the stables.
Benjamin is a charming man, who is respected and valued by his people. His Catholic values have formed the foundations of his reign:
“I truly love my people from the depth of my heart. But I do not like lies. I do not like it when people say bad things about their own brothers and sisters. If you see your brother or sister doing something wrong stop him or her. If you see your brother or sister in trouble, do something to help him or her. As long as all these are done, Agbor will continue to grow from strength to strength. There is no need for the people to work against each other.”
As a traditional ruler, with no constitutional powers, Benjamin Ikenchuku Keagborekuzi takes his role of custodians of culture very seriously and the people of Agbor admire his commitment, passion and his desire to have a positive influence on his kingdom.