Tegbessou

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Tegbessou was the sixth King of Dahomey. He succeeded Agadja, and ruled from 1740 to 1774.

Tegbessou's reign was characterized by internal intrigues and a failed foreign policy; he killed many coup-plotters and political enemies, refused to pay tribute to the Yorubas, and lost many battles in the punitive raids that followed. His main symbol is a buffalo wearing a tunic. His other symbols are the blunderbuss, a weapon he gave his warriors—the first time in Dahomey that the royal army had ready access to firearms—and a door decorated with three noseless heads, a reference to his victory over a rebellious tributary people, the Zou, whose corpses he mutilated.

"Proverb - 'Once a buffalo is dressed it is very difficult to undress him.' The buffalo is symbolic of the strength of the king. During the enthroning ceremony, Tegbessou's enemies put an herbal potion that would cause severe itching on the royal costume, so when he put it on he would have to remove it immediately. This would have led to an on-the-spot selection of a new king. Warned in time, Tegbessou took the necessary precautions and put the costume on, hence the dressed buffalo (buffalo wearing a tunic)." [1]

"In the early 18th century, Kings of Dahomey (known today as Benin) became big players in the slave trade, waging a bitter war on their neighbours, resulting in the capture of 10,000, including another important slave trader, the King of Whydah. King Tegbessou made £250,000 a year selling people into slavery in 1750." [2]

Tegbessou was succeeded by Kpengla.

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