Paramount chief

Paramount chief

A paramount chief is the highest-level traditional (usually tribal) chief or political leader in a regional or local polity or country typically administered politically with a chief-based system. This definition is used occasionally in anthropological and archaeological theory to refer to the rulers of multiple chiefdoms or the rulers of exceptionally powerful chiefdoms.

Historically, Paramount Chief is also more specifically a title created during the Colonial era by British administrators as a substitute for the word "king" in order to maintain that only the British monarch held that title.

Since the title "chief" was already used in terms of district and town administrators, the addition of "paramount" was made so as to distinguish between the ruling monarch and the local aristocracy.

In Africa

Eastern African paramount chieftainships and titles

  • title since 1904 of the former laibon of all the Maasai in Kenya (not in Tanzania)

Western African paramount chieftainships and titles

Southern African paramount chieftainships and titles

  • Kgôsikgolo
  • In present Lesotho since it emerges as a polity in 1822, a British Protectorate as Basutoland since 12 March 1868 (11 August 1871 - 18 March 1884 Annexed to Cape Colony as Basutoland territory, then as a separate colony, as one of the High Commission Territories). The title changed to king at the 4 October 1966 independence date from Britain.
  • In Namibia
    • over the Awa-Khoi or "Red Nation" (more prominent then six other 'nations') of the Nama (Khoi) people, a Chiefdom established before 1700.
    • title Okahandja Herero among that people, also Chief Ministers of Hereoroland (two incumbents 20 July 1970 - 5 December 1980), the 'homeland' of the Ovaherero
  • In Swaziland the term paramount chief was imposed by the British over Swazi royal objections in 1903, was never recognized by the Swazi royalty, and was changed to "king" in English upon independence in 1968. The SiSwati name for the office is Ngwenyama, a ceremonial term for "lion".
  • In South Africa
    • Khosikulu of the vhaVenda; after the people's split, (only?) of the haMphaphuli
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the Xhosa people's following polities: amaGcaleka, amaMbalu, amaRharhabe, amaNdlambe, imiDushane kaNdlambe, imiQhayi, amaGasela, amaGwali, amaHleke, imiNdange, amaNtinde, amaGqunukhwebe
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the amaBhaca (until 1830 called abakwaZelemu)
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the amaPondo, currently ruled by Ndamase NDAMASE.
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the amaPondomise
    • title Inkosi Enkhulu of the amaThembu, currently ruled by BUYELEKHAYA Buyelekhaya Zwelinbanzi Dalindyebo.

In Asia

Arabian paramount chieftainships and titles

In Oceania

Polynesian paramount chieftainships and titles

  • on New Zealand: Ariki Nui of Ngati Tuwharetoa, the major Māori polity there since circa 1750, until the 2 May 1859 established Kingship movement
  • on American Samoa * (on Samoa, there was a paramount king *)
  • on Fiji:
    • during the October - December 1987 secession agitation on one island, known as the Republic of Rotuma, lead by Henry Gibson (remained in New Zealand), his style was Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro, rendered as Paramount chief or King of the Molmahao Clan. NB: This title was not recognised by the Rotuma Island Council as the titles Gagaja and Sau have never been used together. The closest thing to a paramount chief is the position of Fakpure, currently belonging to the district chief (gagaj 'es itu'u) of Noa'tau.
    • the British Sovereign remains recognized as 'Great Chief', even since the country became a republic on 7 October 1987; however, this is not an office of state
  • on French Polynesia: ari`i *
  • on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) * (presently in Chile) paramount chief or king, the ariki henua or ariki mau*

See also

Sources and references


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