Warrior Queens

By Tiara Brownie

 “We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight! We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.”

– Queen Yaa Asantewaa

Melaneyes Media is an independent film production company dedicated to depicting the African Diaspora in films, programs, and projects informed by Black cultural traditions. The founders of Melaneyes Media, Aundar Ma’at and Born Logic Allah, held a virtual presentation “African Warrior Queens,” to share the history of African female leaders and warriors.

In light of the recent success of “The Woman King,” a film starring Viola Davis that focuses on the Agojie, an all-female warrior unit that served to defend the African kingdom of Dahomey during the 19th century, the discussion focused on the history of this group of warriors as well as other aspects of African culture.

In the 1840s, when the West African kingdom of Dahomey was at the height of its power, it had an army that was so ferocious that its adversaries spoke of its “prodigious bravery.” This 6,000-strong army, known as the Agojie, carried out nighttime raids on neighboring villages, during which they captured prisoners and severed the heads of those who resisted in order to bring war trophies back to their monarch. As a result of these deeds, the Agoije were given the nickname “Amazons” by European travelers because of Dahomey’s rise to preeminence over the kingdoms that were located in its vicinity.

Many of the most influential women in history have come from Africa, says Aundar Ma’at. Some of these historical figures held positions of authority within ancient African kingdoms and empires that flourished for hundreds of years on the African continent. These women were able to reign with strength, bravery, and intelligence, says Ma’at. During times of strife, these ladies guided their warriors into battle and fought for the defense of their nations. Most of these powerful women were African queens who left remarkable and enduring imprints on the annals of history, says Born Logic Allah.

Throughout history Black women have been at the forefront of impressive combat exploits, yet their stories are frequently ignored, says Allah. Yaa Asantewaa of the Ashanti Empire rose to prominence as the leader of the Ashanti Kings during the War of the Golden Stool, in which they fought British colonial control in order to preserve the Golden Stool’s status as a symbol of Ghana’s independence. Queen Kandake Amanirenas of the ancient African kingdom of Kush is remembered for leading a successful resistance movement against Roman invaders, known as Caesar’s army. Queen Nzinga was the ruler of the Mbundu people. She was a strong leader who fought against the Portuguese and their growing slave trade in Central Africa.



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