There are still several hundred monarchs on this continent. While some amongst them have been relegated to the level of touristic curiousities, others still maintain significant traditional and spiritual power. Born of dynasties which marked the history of Africa until the twentieth century, these kings are the source of underground power with which "modern governments" have to exist.
Contrary to the Indian Maharajas, they have survived the upheavals of history, and evolve in a parallel world but which is very real.
In order to photograph them I had to submit almost always to complex protocols. I put in a lot of time, obstination and sometimes money. I was helped many times by intermediaries who were well known in the court. Without them, negitiations would have been impossible.
In three years, between 1988 and 1991, I undertook a dozen voyages which enabled me to spend almost twelve months in Africa. And yet I still didn't have time to go see the king of the Shiluks, a descendant of the black dynasties who reigned over Egypt, civil war in Sudan made the trip too complicated. During the same period, I went five times to Oyo( Nigeria ), without meeting the Alafin, whose Yoruba Kingdom dominated the south of Nigeria during several centuries." Photographs by Daniel LAINÉ