|[Adapted from a
traveler's note on Biffeche]
The Kingdom of Biffeche is a tiny West African
Kingdom that is unusual in that it has had non African born Kings
for the last four decades.
Biffeche is on the north border of Sénégal,
West Africa, and it includes a small part of Mauritanie. In antique maps dating back at
least to 1726, it appears in the Sénégal River delta, between the
Sénégal River and the Marigot de Lampsar (a "marigot" is
an arm of the river) about 25 kilometers northeast of the coastal
city of Saint-Louis, Sénégal. The origins of the Kingdom are
obscure but very ancient; it is mentioned in XVIII-Century French
documents along with the ancient Kingdom of Waalo. In about 1960, a
group of Roman Catholic people of the Sérér-Mont-Roland tribe were
transported to the semi-desert of Biffeche from Mont-Roland in
central Sénégal. They come from the oldest
ethnic group in Sénégal, the Sérér, one with a vivid history of
Kingdoms and Empires. They speak the Ndut variant of the Sérér
Click on Map to view enlargement
Having been "resettled", they were in
desperate straits at first, and nearly starved. They were promised
various kinds of support that they didn't get. Their new fields were
arid and became salty and barren. The story is that in 1963 they
could not settle upon a new King at the time; instead of choosing
one of their own people they asked their priest, Father VAST, for
guidance. He advised them to choose the person who had helped them
the most during their plight.
That person was one Edward Charles Schafer.
Although born in the United States, Edward Schafer was a cousin to
both of the Hohenzollern ruling family of Germany and the Hapsburg
ruling family of the Austro-Hungarian empire. An active
business man who owned various radio and television stations in
America, he was asked by the Roman Catholic Cardinal of St. Louis to
form a committee to aid the needy people of Biffeche. Assisted
by Henrietta Bulus, a Senegalese-Lebanese woman, who had immigrated
to St. Louis, Missouri, Edward Schafer put together a group that
raised money and sent aid to the people of Biffeche.
The newly settled population in Biffeche,
petitioned Guné Ko Ka Weex Tené, the 99th King of Biffeche, to
grant the boon of requesting that Edward Schafer be made King of
Biffeche. Guné Ko Ka Weex Tené was childless and as always
wishing to help his beloved peoples agreed to their request.
The Biffeche elders mailed him some symbolic skins, a packet of holy
grains, sacred seeds and a notification in French that he was the
Pop Up Picture
La Folie De
Baron Roger where
King Guné Ko Ka Weex Tené
after his abdication in 1963
Edward Schafer journeyed to Washington DC for a
meeting with G. Mennen Williams under secretary of State for African
Affairs. Through G. Mennen Williams, the United States State
Department presented no objections to the new arrangement. The
100th King of Biffeche was enthroned as Edward I by the Grace of
God, by the Will of Allah, Protected by the Great White Leopard.
The year was 1963 ce, 1393 ah in the Islamic calendar.
After humbly accepting what he felt to be the
Will of God, the Will of Allah and the Will of the Great White Leopard,
Edward I found that he enjoyed being King. For more than 30
years, he diligently helped the people in various ways, and issued
Royal directives by mail, he never visited his Kingdom. He sent them
money and other aid, got agricultural experts to advise on their
crops, and did various other things for them. He ruled (very rarely)
simply by making his wishes known through correspondence with Pierre
Claver Faye, the local native Chef de Village (and later Baron Savoigne) of Biffeche. Edward was completely accepted as King by all
the Biffeche people. They were very poor, even by West African
standards, and they were proud of having a King"so important
that he lives in America."
Pop Up Picture
H.M. Edward I
King of Biffeche
1963 - 1997
"We know that he prays for us."
The late Empress Zita of
Austria-Hungary addressed him royally as "Cousin," and Prince
Charles (of the U.K.) once told him he was envious because it was so
much simpler to become King of Biffeche than to wait decades for the
throne as Prince of Wales. The Pope gave his Apostolic Blessing to
"H. M., Edward I."
Once a year Edward
would have a house party, dress regally, and receive his court. He
was known to the press in the United States of America, as the King
of Biffeche, and Esquire magazine had an article on his
Kingdom. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Saint Louis, H. E.,
Cardinal Ritter, would always, during his regular Sunday procession
to the altar of the Cathedral, pause and acknowledge the King. For
Edward was "by the Grace of God, King of Biffeche."
continued on Page 2.