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How 9 Powerful Queens of Ancient Africa Influenced History
Much of Africa’s history has been focused on great male warriors and rulers and their kingdoms. But Africa is also influenced by warrior-queens who built and defended their empires as well as—or even better than—their male counterparts.
In honor of Black History Month, DIBA remembers the nine less-talked-about but equally important queens of Ancient Africa and their achievements:
Egyptian Queen. Cleopatra VII Philopator was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, nominally survived as pharaoh by her son Caesarion. She was also a diplomat, naval commander, linguist, and medical author.
Algerian Queen. Queen Kahina was a Berber warrior queen and a religious and military leader who led indigenous resistance to the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb, the region then known as Numidia.
Sudanese Queen. Amanirenas was a queen of the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush. She is one of the most famous kandakes, because of her role leading Kushite armies against the Romans in a war that lasted five years, from 27 BCE to 22 BCE.
Ethiopian Queen. The Queen of Sheba, according to the biblical narrative, was a woman of great wealth, beauty, and power. Makeda was a brave young maiden who survived being sacrificed to the monstrous serpent king Awre who was troubling the northern Ethiopian kingdom of Axum. It is believed that Makeda killed the serpent and was then proclaimed as the Queen of Axum.
Nigerian Queen. Queen Aminatu, daughter of Bakwa Turunku, was a great Hausa warrior who inherited her mother’s strong warlike nature. She is credited as the architect of fortified walls in Hausaland, and as a warrior, she is known for her smart tactic as she increased the borders of Zazzau, ensuring that the kingdom became the centre of the North-South Saharan trade and East-West Sudan trade.
Ghanaian Queen. Yaa Asantewa was the queen mother of Ejisu in the Ashanti Empire – now part of modern-day Ghana, appointed by her brother Nana Akwasi Afrane Opese, the Edwesuhene, or ruler, of Edwesu. In 1900 she led the Ashanti war known as the War of the Golden Stool, also known as the Yaa Asantewaa war, against British colonialism.
Congolese Queen. Upon the death of her father, Queen Llinga of the Congo empire located in Central Africa) and her legions of female warriors, lead a revolt in 1640, to end the Portuguese domination of their kingdom. These warrior queens were trained in the use of weaponry (i.e., axes, swords, bows) as well as military strategy as young girls.
Ivorian Queen. Queen Poku, or Awura, Aura, or Abla Pokou was Queen and founder of the Baoule tribe in West Africa, in what is today the Ivory Coast. She ruled over a branch of the powerful Ashanti Empire as it expanded westward.
Senegalese Queen. Queen Ndaté Yalla Mbodj was the last great lingeer, or queen, of the Waalo, a kingdom located in what is now North-West Senegal. She was a great Queen at the head of an immense army that fought against French colonization and the invasion of the Moors.