Ivorian king, citing 17th-century ties, joins Notre-Dame campaign

Krindjabo King Amon N'Douffou V.
Krindjabo King Amon N'Douffou V.
Image: AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO

A traditional monarch in Ivory Coast vowed on Tuesday to help rebuild Paris's Notre-Dame Cathedral, which in the 17th century played an extraordinary part in his kingdom's history.

Amon N'Douffou V, king of Sanwi in southeastern Ivory Coast, told AFP, "I am in full consultation with my elders - we are going to make a donation for the rebuilding of this monument."

"I couldn't get to sleep because I was so disturbed by the pictures" of the fire, he said. "This cathedral represents a strong bond between my kingdom and France."

In 1687, after French traders had established a foothold in the kingdom, the king sent a son named Aniaba, aged about 15, to Paris as a token of his bona fides.

The boy was taken to Notre-Dame where the sight of the cathedral is said to have driven him to religious ecstasy.

His tale reached the ears of the Sun King, Louis XIV, who became his godfather and protector.

The prince was baptised, adding the name of Louis to his own, and joined the king's cavalry regiment, reputedly becoming the first black officer in the French army, and was given a handsome pension from the royal purse.

Sanwi became a French protectorate in 1843, and merged into Ivory Coast in 1959, a year before independence.

The prince returned to Ivory Coast in 1701 after the death of his father, but what happened to him next is unclear.

Some accounts say that he was sidelined by the new king and went to live in modern-day Togo, acting as advisor to the local monarch. Others say he went blind, or returned to France.

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