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.
Following our first part of the series, discover our part 2 of 5 queens, from ancient Ethiopia to the Zulu Kingdom, that you should know:
1. Amina, Queen of Zazzau
Residing in Zazzau, which is the present day North Western region of Nigeria, was none other than Amina, the Queen of Zaria, ruling from the 16th and 17th Century, who was a valiant and fierce Hausa queen who’s leadership skills was one force to be reckoned with, first to be discovered by the likes of her grandfather. History records that she lived 200 years prior to when the Sokoto-Caliphate federation that ruled Nigeria during the period of the colonial rule by the British following the Islamic ‘Holy war’ in the 19th Century. It is said that she expanded the borders of the Hausa people.
2. Makeda, The Queen of Sheba (Ethiopia)
The Africa story of Makeda, also known as ‘Bilqis’, is the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba and is one of the first figures to be mentioned in the ancient Christian, Jewish and Islamic texts and traditions, known to have had a love affair with King Solomon, the King of Israel, right around the 10th Century BCE. Not much is known of her life, although the ancient Christian texts (1 Kings 10:1-14, 2 Chronicles 9:1-12) have record of her interactions with the ancient King Solomon of Isreal.
3. Cleopatra of Egypt
Cleopatra VII Philopator, who lived around 69 BC, was an Egyptian queen who also happened to be the last pharoah to rule ancient Egypt and also was the successor to the throne after her father, King Ptolemy XII Auletes died in 51 BC. The dismal end of Cleopatra’s reign over Egypt occurred when the Roman armies of Octavian surrounded Egypt’s combined forces. This then drove Cleopatra to committing suicide, thus beginning the reign of the Roman Empire in Egypt.
4. Nefertiti of Egyptian
Another Egyptian queen who ruled before the historical Cleopatra is Queen Nefertiti, also known as ‘Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti’, wife of the ancient Amenhotep IV was the queen of Egypt around the time of the 14th Century BCE. She married Amenhotep IV at fifteen years of age as he was a year older and became king when his father passed away. Later on their marriage, Amenhotep IV changed his name and changed the traditions of Egypt. Scholars say that she had been the vehicle Amenhotep IV used to accomplish his goal to changing the worship of the sun god Ra to Aton. After this change, Nefertiti vanished, without a trace of her left behind. However, some scholars suspect that she was exiled out of Egypt by her husband as she was no longer needed.
5. Anna Nzinga of Ndongo & Matamba
Ancient African queen of the kingdoms of Ndongo & Matamba, is Queen Anna Nzinga Mbande who ruled from 1583 – 1663. These kingdoms cover what is presently known Northern Angola. Her resilience and fierceness led her to forge a resistance against the Portuguese colonials as well as heavily disrupting their slave trade in Central Africa. Being a strategically skilled negotiator, she aligned herself with the Dutch against the Portuguese in hopes to be free of Portuguese domination. Despite the efforts of the Portuguese to get rid of her, all attempts failed. She died peacefully at age 82, leaving the Portuguese the power to regain control over the region.
It is interesting to see the history of the african queens and their reign across various parts of Africa and taking a brief journey to exploring the accomplishments of ancient queens that once ruled. The history of the ancient african empires and the leaders that lead in those times has been heavily contaminated, thus allowing for people of this day where information is at the disposal of the masses to be totally ignorant of the once most revered Africa.
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