Oba Akenzua II Greeting Queen Elizabeth II

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Philip Omodamwen (active late 20th century)
Benin City, Nigeria

Oba Akenzua II Greeting Queen Elizabeth II, Late 20th century

Brass and wood
30 x 45 x 53 cm (11 13/16 x 17 3/4 x 20 7/8 in.)
Collection of High Priest Osemwegie Ebohon, Benin City, cn282

In 1958 Britain’s newly enthroned Queen Elizabeth II toured the British colonies with her husband, Prince Philip. Upon her visit to Benin City, Oba Akenzua II greeted her at the airport fully dressed in elaborate coral regalia. A journalist’s photograph of the event emphasizes Akenzua’s towering physical presence as he stands next to the diminutive queen. The artist Philip Omodamwen chose to eternalize the two monarchs shaking hands. In Benin this was a particularly jolting moment, as the oba traditionally does not touch women who are unrelated to him.