Africa is always described as a place where women live under the plight of patriarchy-based traditions and customs. But once you start reading about ancient history and traditions, you’ll find out that women have always occupied important roles in most of our societies.

They are many women in African History who have contributed to creation of, ruled kingdoms and empires; furthermore they led armies and fought wars against invaders and colonizers.  

I strongly believe that, we as modern African women, we can take inspiration from these queens.

Below are 5 queens, from ancient Ethiopia to the Zulu Kingdom, that you should know:

1. Candace, Empress of Ethiopia (332 BC)

Candace or Kandake is the title given to women rulers in ancient Ethiopia. There is a one specific empress, whose real name was Amanineras, who have reigned around 332 BC more famous than the others. She is at the heart of many legends because she is said to have defeated King Alexander. She was a fierce and tactical leader. She was blind in one eye, lost in a battle with Romans. Legend says that upon hearing that Alexander The Great was planning to invade her empire, she gathered and lined up all her army and waited for him, standing on 2 elephants.

Another legend says that, she met with him privately and advised him not to invade her empire, because after defeating his army, she will decapitate him and roll his head down a hill!

2. Ranavalona, The First Of Madagascar

Being of Merina descent, which is the island of Madagascar’s biggest ethnic group, is none other than Queen Ranavalona I, who is recorded to have ruled Madagascar from 1788-1861. She reigned for 33 years and during her time in power, she strived and succeeded in making Madagascar an independant state as she remained defiant to the European Colonial Power that ravished and colonized Africa during that time. The Colonials failed in their attempt to colonize Madagascar and as a result, the colonials viewed her as a tyrant while the people of Madagascar viewed her as a hero

3. Yaa Asantewaa (Ghana)

Born around 1840 into the Ashanti Kingdom in Ghana, Yaa Asantewaa was another African leader known as brave and fierce.  Yaa Asantewaa fought the British invaders in the famously Golden stool fight” (1900). After British governor Sir Frederick Hodgson demanded that he owns and seat on the Golden stool, a sacred symbol of the Ashanti empire, Yaa Asantewaa called her people to resist in these words: “If you, the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. I call upon my fellow women. We will fight till the last of us died in those battlefields”.  The Ashanti culture is a matrilineal society and women occupy prominent roles in the Government affairs including deciding when to launch or to stop a war.

The Ashanti people fought a long and fierce battle, since the beginning of British led invasions, but unfortunately were defeated in 1902. Yaa Asantewaa and other prominent figures of the empire were deported to the Seychelles where she died.

4. Queen Moremi Ajasoro Of Ife Ife (Nigeria)

The Legendary ancient queen of the Yoruba Kingdom is Queen Moremi, who ruled with valor and power during her reign in the 12th century. Married to the first king of the Ife kingdom, Oranmiyan, son of Oduduwa, she had done many great works as history records that she had been taken as a slave by the Ugbo kingdom, which at the time had been going through a time of war with the Yoruba kingdom. Due to her beauty and prowess, she gained favour of the Ugbo king and eventually became the queen of the Ugbo kingdom. Her loyalty, however, remained with the Yoruba Kingdom, where she is originally from. Queen Moremi plotted her way of escape from the Ugbo kingdom back to the Yoruba kingdom after she had learned the secrets of the Ugbo kingdom. She returned to the Yoruba Kingdom and utilized this information which aided in her victory against the Ugbo Kingdom

5. Queen Nandi of The Zulu Kingdom

The mother of the supreme King Shaka of the Zulu Kingdom, is Queen Nandi. During that time, the Zulu Kingdom became highly influential in the Southern African region and Queen Nandi herself was always assertive and serious when it came to matters of the kingdom.

In a future post, I would really like to introduce more of these African queens because it’s absolutely interesting to see and find out about the great things these queens. Which queen do you like and resonate with? Let me know!

Discover the part 2 of the series here.

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