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December 30, 2013
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Fon by Ikechi1 Fon by Ikechi1
Collaboration with HopelessPandora…

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Blood of the Kingdoms story featuring all the characters>…

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Name: Isdine

Disclaimer: This character is not a Nigerian character, rather a character from the south of the Modern Nation of Benin, not to be confused with the Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria, that was just a coincidence of naming. This character is here because of her importance to the history of the Nigerian tribes, especially Oyo-Yoruba. As with previous historical depictions this is done in the format of Hetalia as I find it helps to serve as a good introduction to history of West Africa for those with no knowledge of it.

Additional bit: The four different drawings are to show the different attires that managed to get documented for different time periods for the Fon women. They go in order of 1600s (foundation era) 1700s (Yoruba rule era), 1800s (colonial era) and 1900s-present (post-colonial and modern).

In order to properly know the history of Fon, her ancestor Aja/Adja must be taken into account (not to be confused with Aja of Sudan). Aja hailed from a small village named Ezame (now named Tado) in future southeast Togo. He would move during the 12th century into the southern region of the area known as Benin. Once Adja settled down he began to form a relationship with Gedevi and rule the land, having two daughters, Fon and Hogbonou. Fon was the headstrong militaristic of the two whilst Hogbonou was the more trade oriented of the two, preferring to spend her life fishing. In the early 1600s an argument broke out between them and Aja. Aja believing that Fon and Hogbonou should continue to be under his rule and his daughters saying otherwise. The three would split up and select plots of land that Aja had set up for themselves. Hogbonou would found that port of Adjace/Porto-Novo, Aja would name his territory Ajaland, taking his former capital of Great Ardra. Fon would found a little city called Abomey.

Shortly afterwards in the early 1600s Fon and her newly appointed King Dakodonou (r.1620-1645) built a place in Abomey and renamed the Kingdom to Dahomey. It was Dakodonou's descendant Houegbadja (r.1645-1685) that Fon would recognize as he helped her establish trade with Oyo-Yoruba, rekindle relations with Aja in his territory of Allada and trade with the neighbouring Kingdom of Whydah ruled by Savi. During the middle of the 1600s Fon developed a rivalry with sister Hogbonou with the two often clashing. Economically Fon new that she did not have as many resources to offer and larger kingdoms like Oyo-Yoruba were using slaves as a form of income. Fon decided she would capitalize on this and capture slaves to sell to the British and the Portuguese.

Fon would really come into her own with her third King, Akaba (r.1685-1716) and began official military campaigns to expand her rule. Fon would take her first campaign against her own sister, defeating her at every turn and developing more sophisticated form of warfare using a mix of large guns and short swords. Her most notable actions began when Akaba died after a the Battle of Oueme River with her own father Aja. King Agaja (r. 1717-1740) gave Fon an order which she gladly accepted, conquer the Kingdom of Whydah and defeat her father Aja.

Fon had no issue defeating her own father in battle as she was using a tactic that was not normally seen in West Africa, whole contingents of female soldiers. These were named by the British as the Dahomey Amazons, as they were seen to be as strong, if not stronger, than their male counterparts and could change the face of a battle whenever they entered the field. Whydah on the other hand would not be so easy. Their fight began in 1724 as Whydah was a much larger Kingdom and could field massive numbers of troops readily. Whydah's initial strategy was to overwhelm Fon using large numbers of troops and for the first two years it worked but then Fon learned some strategic information from the British, the line formation. Mixing their spears with their large guns Fon would decimate the Calvary of the Whydah and then finish the incoming, less trained foot-soldiers. By 1727 Fon would destroy Whydah and take the territory for her own, massively expanding her reach and power to the point that the European powers began to take note of her.

The major issue with this however, was that she was now bordering, along with Hogbonou, the very large and powerful Oyo Kingdom led by Oyo-Yoruba. The two would often compete with trade. Oyo-Yoruba thought that Fon was getting ahead of herself. In the past, starting in the 1680s, Oyo-Yoruba was such a large and feared power that many of the kingdoms and tribes in the Benin area were to pay tribute to him in order for him not to attack them. Fon however believed that she was strong enough to challenge Oyo-Yoruba. While she was fighting Whydah, Oyo-Yoruba attacked her in 1726 to deter her from such an action. Fon retreated and hid and once Oyo-Yoruba left in early 1727 she struck. Oyo-Yoruba was angered by this action and marched against her in 1728. Initially Fon believed that since Oyo-Yoruba refused to fight using gunpowder she could defeat his Cavalry specialization tactics like she had with Whydah. It failed as the shear numbers were able to overwhelm her and she then adopted a scorched earth policy similar to Russia during the Napoleonic era and World War II. She would repeat this in 1729 and 1730 during her battles with Oyo until she had to move the location of her capital. The final straw would be when Mahi who resided in the North joined forces with Oyo-Yoruba and Savi (who wished to restart the Kingdom of Whydah along with British support). The Battles raged fiercely with thousands of casualties until the Portuguese were forced to intervene and settle the matter as it disrupted trade. Both Hogbonou and Fon were made as tributaries to Oyo but Fon never considered herself properly conquered, just forced to pay money to him.

Using the respite caused by the agreements that Portugal forced, she turned her attention to Mahi who she disliked for supporting Oyo against her and took his territory in 1731, stating to Oyo-Yoruba that it gave her more money to pay for reparations. Godomey, a vassal of hers, sided with the Dutch, as Fon had made clear her severe dislike of Netherlands. In 1732 Godomey allowed Portugal and Netherlands to open ports in his city, Fon showed up at his capital and burned it to the ground, seizing the ports and expelling the Dutch presence. In 1733 Fon had to turn her attention to the center of her Kingdom as Savi wanted to restore the Whydah kingdom and made attacks and raids on her. Fon was weakened after the previous two conflicts and requested the aid of France. Together Fon and France crushed Savi and offered that he retain his status and privileges but as her vassal.

Fon would have to deal with multiple rebellions as she established a massive slave trade, sending many slaves to Brazil and the Caribbean whilst those in Nigeria would sell their slaves to the colonies in America. She would crush each rebellion and sell the defeated as slaves, in order to reduce the ability of future rebellions. This gave her a monopoly on the slave trade which Netherlands was not too pleased with. Netherlands marshaled the smaller tribes and attacked Fon, defeating her in 1737 and forcing her to end her monopoly. In retaliation Fon decided to attack Bagadry, a territory belonging to Oyo-Yoruba in late 1737. Oyo declared this a breach in their terms of agreement and went to war again with Fon in 1739. The war ended in 1740 with Fon holding a stalemate, having learned to fight his Cavalry effectively after multiple skirmishes. In 1740 King Agaja passed away due to European borne disease and was succeeded by Tegbessou (r.1740-1774). It was at this time that Fon adopted the religion of Vodun, a worship of both Gods and ancestors.
Tensions arose between Oyo and Fon but not into full conflict for a few years, Fon had no major army yet and so paid tribute to Oyo. Fon would even help Oyo defeat Asante in 1764. With the interactive time spent with Oyo, Fon began to adopt some of his ideas and building styles. Fon would again try to expand her economic status, accounting for 20% of the slave trade. Fon made the fully rebuilt Abomey the capital of her Dahomey kingdom once again. After the death of Tegbessou, Fon had to deal with his successor Kpengla (r.1774-1789). Kpengla notified her that Oyo was applying pressure on her markets, forcing Fon to go slave raiding on her sister and lowering prices as well as burning ports until she controlled all the Portuguese and French trade of slaves and raw materials. Fon then built a massive road in the style of the Roman Republic that led to all corners of her Kingdom, impressing the Europeans. Kpengla would die from smallpox and be replaced by Agonglo (r.1789-1797).

During Agonglo's reign Fon suffered from a bad economy, brought about by the now weakening Oyo Kingdom. Fon intended to attack Oyo but Agonglo advised against it as the time was not yet right to do so. She would instead turn her attention to the fight that was occurring between the Popo brothers, Grand-Popo and Little-Popo. Fon allied with Grand-Popo to defeat Little-Popo to share the profits from this in 1795. Fon would later fight Mahi once again and encourage trade of goods and food to France after hearing of the food shortages France was having. Things took a hit in the 1797 for Fon when the French revolution truly struck France's ability to trade. This made King Agonglo desperate for trade and begged Maria I of Portugal to give Fon access. Maria agreed, only if Agonglo could convince Fon to convert to Catholicism. Agonglo agreed to this decision and for his attempt Fon walked into the palace and killed her King on May 1st 1797, placing his second son Adandozan (r.1797-1818) on the throne.

With Adandozan in power Fon continued her military campaigns, pushing the Yoruba influence away from her borders. Adandozan saw that the slave trade would eventually end and convinced Fon to focus on agriculture instead, whilst focusing on gun manufacturing and mining. Adandozan turned out to be right as the British Empire abolished its slave trade in 1807 and began to put pressure on other European nations to do the same. Things were not helped as in 1805 Oyo was able to regain his strength and put an end to whatever plans Fon would have. Things were made worse when Adandozan humiliated a Brazilian slave trader named Francisco Felix de Sousa (noted as history's single biggest slave trader by one individual). Felix would ally with the sibling of Adandozan, Ghezo and plot a coup. In 1818 Felix and Ghezo killed Adandozan and Ghezo would take the throne and give Fon orders from 1818-1858.

With Ghezo in charge, Fon could finally take the Oyo-Yoruba head on. Oyo had been weakened from decades of conflict with Fulani-Fula and Fulani-Ilorin and the Hausa-Fulani/Sokoto Caliphate and was in no position to concentrate his hold on Fon. Their war lasted from 1820-1823 and it ended at the Battle of Pauingnan in 1823 where Fon killed the current King of the Oyo, forcing Oyo-Yoruba to retreat and forever end his hold on Fon. By this time the role of female soldiers in the army had greatly expanded with women being prefered to men for the Royal guard. After her victory against her long standing enemy Fon expanded her power base by conquering Mahi and Gbe.

Though Fon had defeated Oyo-Yoruba she had no counted on his sibling, Egba-Yoruba to rise to power. Egba-Yoruba would make his stands in Abeokuta during the mid 1800s. Fon and Egba would engage in wars from 1840-1851 and the tension would dissipate the moment Ghezo died. By his death Fon was finally pressured to end the slave trade in the late 1850s and focus on industry. This was due to England warring with Fon by sending its navy to blockade her ports. The tenth King that Fon would have, King Glele (r.1858-1889) began to sign treaties with the new French government hoping to renew relations with an ally that had helped them in the past. Fon disliked the idea as her sister Hogbonou had just been made a colony of France and noted the advances that the British Empire was making in what would become Nigeria. In 1883 Fon fought her sister, though Hogbonou said that she agreed to it for protection from the British Empire who had been bombarding her cities.

Fon's relations with France began to deteriorate rapidly, especially after her King died and was replaced by the last King of Dahomey, Behanzin (r. 1889-1906). France was slowly absorbing her territories and Fon declared war.

The first Franco-Dahomean war took place in 1890 with the first battle taking place in the morning at Cotonou. Fon startled France and after fierce fighting Fon had to retreat due to French gunboats shelling her despite beating France in hand to hand combat. France's victory was also aided by the fact that he had help from his colonies of Senegal and Gabon. The second battle pitted Fon against both France and Hogbonou at Atchoupa. Fon was able to easily defeat her sister but combined might of Senegal, Gabon and France proved a difficult challenge. Fon was able to push the three of them back into Porto-Nova but had lost too many soldiers before she could secure a victory. On October 3 Fon had to concede defeat to France, learning the power of the Europeans and fully understanding the scramble for Africa. She convinced France to pay her tribute yearly but both sides knew that peace could not last between them and both sides made ready for war.

In 1892 the Second Franco-Dahomean war broke out during the height of the scramble for Africa. This time both sides were better armed. Fon had stockpiled Winchester rifles and German munitions, even cannons and Gatling guns, but the French had developed new more accurate Lebel rifles. The first battle was at Dogba, with French gunboats shall at the borders of the capital. Fon retaliated but retreated due to her penchant for hand to hand combat. The second battle took place a few days later at Poguessa. Fon had France pinned down with her cannon fire but then her penchant for hand to hand took over and she could not get past the bayonet lines. Realizing that open battles were not viable Fon took to guerrilla warfare, digging foxholes and trenches along the way to slow down France. Fon knew that most of France's victories could be attributed to the support that he got from his colonies in Senegal and Gabon. The most decisive battle took place at Adegon, were Fon lost most of her Amazons and realized that her tactics would not allow her to win a war with France. The siege of Akpa (not to be confused with Akpa-Ibom Isi) saw France suffering heavy casualties as their bayonet charge failed though it hit Fon hard. The Battle of Cana (Nov.2-Nov.4) saw a more successful bayonet charge against Fon. The final battle was at Abomey where Fon fought for a full day, utilizing every resource. The battle resulted in the destruction of the surrounding area on both sides. Fon lost her Amazonian corps and her heavy weapon equipment and surrendered on Jan.15 1894. 

Fon was allowed her regional power as she aided France in gaining more territories but then in 1900 Fon disagreed with France over taxation attempts and France dissolved the Kingdom of Dahomey, renaming the whole territory to just Dahomey in 1904, ending the 300 year rule she had. Living in French Dahomey Fon found herself embroiled in the West African campaign of both World Wars. Fon earned the respect of France and was given a lot of administrative control over the other tribes. After the Fourth French Republic was established in 1947 Fon and the rest of Dahomey was allowed to join the French Union. Fon would continue her administrative position until she and the rest of the tribes vied for independence and got it in 1960. At Fon's insistence the name of the country upon its independence was changed to the Republic of Dahomey, upsetting the other tribes but as she was still the strongest one in the former colony they could not disagree.

Fon along with the other tribes organized a film locale industry, making it appealing for British and American film companies to film in the Republic of Dahomey. During the late 1960s she refused to offer support to Oyo-Yoruba during the Biafran war that was taking place in Nigeria when Biafran forces managed to bomb the city of Lagos, stating that it was a war brought on by themselves. In 1972, Kourfa, formally a small tribal power seized power from Fon appointing army commander Mathieu Kerekou in charge of the nation. Two years later Kourfa announced that the country would ally with the Soviet Union and adopt Marxism-Leninism. This restricted Fon's ability to practice her traditional religion and attempted to overthrow Kourfa and Kerekou (she was supported by France in this attempt) but failed, strengthening his position. Kourfa kept her and the other tribes under watch as he entertained North Korea, China, the Soviet Union and other Communist Nations despite them saying that Kourfa was going about things the wrong way.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 90s Kourfa abdicated his power and democratic elections took place in the newly named Republic of Benin (name in 1974 actually). The name was kept due to respect for Edo-Benin and the name kept tribal neutrality though Fon wanted the old name back. Fon made sure that Kourfa could not get Kerekou elected and from the 90s onward along with the other tribes would keep a firm hand on its new democracy.
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dinosaurusgede Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love how you do your research extensiveky on your characters ;w;
Fon looks amazing, love her traditional dresses
Ikechi1 Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
yup, and they go in order of period. Wanted to show a culture that was known for having female soldiers.
Raax-theIceWarrior Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014
I love these character designs. They're great and you can see how much work's been put into them. Definitely intend to check up the stories about when I get the time.
Ikechi1 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
made a new character in the meantime
Lichtherz Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, this is really good.
I have to admit that I could have never done it this accurate and detailed. Also that you took all of the individual tribes. It is possibly hard to put those tribes into the 'countries' that they are today.
Ikechi1 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I have no issue putting them into the countries that they are today. The countries were formed by the Europeans so one can view the tribes living together in the same nation, which historically has caused a lot of conflict. Glad you like all the tribes, I plan to do more soon.
Lichtherz Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
When I uploaded something related to Africa, people complained how I would do this and that or leave out things. But for me it's rather difficult to get an overview on those things. I have to say honestly that I can't do something like African oc's
Ikechi1 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, yea I guess, their history does tend to be very complicated and you can't do an African country without covering almost every single tribe in that country :P. I thought showing you Fon would catch your eye because of her history with France. Well if people find it hard then I'll gladly take charge of doing the West Africa OCs.
Lichtherz Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Pff, you could very well take all Africa. P:

To be honest as a European I am not too proud of the colonial history. We practically came and ripped out culture and everything and now I get the picture that Africans can not take care of themselves and they depend on European (At least German) Medicine, funds, food, etc... help of development because we caused so much damage .___. It's terrible when a nation cannot help themselves.
Ikechi1 Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
new tribe up
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