Shanakdakheto (ca. 170–160 BCE) or (ca. 170–150 BCE) Queen regnant of the Kingdom of Kush



Shanakdakheto or Shanakdakhete (sha-nak-da-KHE-te) was a queen regnant of the Kingdom of Kush, when the polity was centered at Meroë. She is the earliest known ruling African queen of ancient Nubia,[1][2] and reigned from about 170 to 150 BC,[3] although the period 170–160 BC is also mentioned.[1] She is said to have ruled with full power in the Meroë Empire.[4] She is also said to have ruled without a king.[3] It is also stated that as queen she played a significant role in the Meroitic religion.[5] In the 2nd century BC Shanakdakheto built the Temple F at Naqa, which has an unusual feature in the first half of the temple with the interior partitions where the gods face the back wall.[6]

Shanakdakheto's name is inscribed as a royal queen in the Egyptian Meroitic hieroglyphs. This inscription is the one seen on the doorjambs of the altar niche of Temple F in Naqa.[1] Shanakdakheto styled herself as: Son of Re, Lord of the Two Lands, Shanakdakheto (Sa Re nebtawy, Shanakdakheto).[7] The inscription reads:[1] "The royal-waab-priest of the Son of Re: Shanakdakheto given life every day 'beloved of Ma'at' like... , The son of Re, ..the Lord of the Two Lands (Egypt): Shanakdakhete”.

Meroites scripted their own language in the early part of the second century BC (alphabetical script during the reign of Ergamenes[8]), the language is still not fully deciphered[2]) and its first epigraphhic inscription is said to be of Queen Shannakdahane in the Temple F at Naqa.[9]

Even though her family antecedents remain obscure, in one of her carvings on a dorsal pillar she is shown adorned with an insignia of rank on the forehead and a crown, similar to the one worn by the reigning kings with decoration of a sun-disk and tall feathers. The garment decorating her, similar to that seen in Pharaonic art, like Uraeus, is drawn as a three-part royal costume. The necklace and her earrings have decoration of a goat head, a sacred animal of the god Amun used in Kushite decorative tradition which was popular in Nubia. The prince standing next to her, wearing a tunic draped around the left shoulder in Greek style, is shown with an ordinary band as a crown. The two figures are shown with their left foot forward. As an African beauty, the queen is shown with a strong build, and bejeweled, a trait indicating wealth, power and prosperity, and child bearing capacity.[4][1]

In the decorations of her mortuary chapel, the architectural features are highly artistic.[1] In one sunken relief the queen is depicted wearing an embellished garment and bejeweled, sitting on a royal seat shaped as lion, carrying a spear and palm branch in her right, with her left hand raised.[10]
A double cartouche found in Naqa is dated to a later part of the second century BC which is said to be the earliest epigraph in meroitic hieroglyphic.[11] However, the hieroglyphic cursive on the Queen's cartouche is called "classical" in style, not seen on the Jebel Barkal slab of Tanyidamani's cartouche who was considered Shanakdakhete's successor. Her pyramid was identified at Meroë, next to Tanyidamani's but not established as her name is not preserved.[12] In the tomb chapel reliefs of Queen Shanakdakhete the carvings show men holding arrows as a Meoritic burial custom.[13]

Sandstone relief stele, a part of decoration of the wall in a pyramid chapel of Meroe, now in the British Museum, perhaps belonging to Queen Shanakdakheto In the sandstone relief stele (pictured) displayed at the British Museum which is the part of the wall of the steep-sided pyramids of the cemetery at Meroe, it is believed that Queen Shanakdakhete is shown enthroned with a prince standing next to her under the protection of Isis with wings. Scenes of religious offerings, the queen's evaluation in front of Osiris, and a number of bearers lined in the front carrying gifts are depicted in the reliefs.

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanakdakhete

The History Behind The Emotan Statue (by Uwagboe Ogieva)




"EDO - AFRICAN WOMEN HAVE BEEN HELD HIGH, RECOGNIZE AND IN SOME CASES DEIFIED. THERE WERE TWO WOMEN RULER IN EDO KINGDOM, NAMELY OGISO EMOSE AND OGISO ORRORRO. EDO WOMEN PLAYED A VERY SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN THE BUILDING AND SUCCESSFUL ADMINISTRATION OF THE GREAT BENIN KINGDOM. THE POPULAR FESTAC, AND MASTER SYMBOL OF THE EDOID NATION WAS THE HEAD OF THE "IDIA NE IYE ESIGIE", WHO WAS DEIFIED AND HONOURED BY OBA ESIGIE WITH THE TITLE OF "IYOBA", BASE ON HER GREAT CONTRIBUTION TO THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE BENIN EMPIRE. TALKING ABOUT GREAT AFRICAN WOMEN IN HISTORY BESIDE OGISO EMOSE, OGISO ORRORRO, IDIA NIYESIGIE WAS PRINCESS EMOTAN."

In the last couple of years, black people all over the world have found and continue to take pride in what colonialist used to describe as primitiveness. They have come to realize that while these Europeans in one hand were condemning African culture and works of art made and adorn by Africans, they were carefully stealing and smuggling the great works of arts with the other hand. The interesting thing about African art in general is that they are closely tied to African history, spirituality and social life. Despite the lack of much consideration given to women in the Edo society today, Edo women of yesterday years were not only very recognise and respected, but the role they played in societies were greatly appreciated and rewarded respectivelly.

Emotan was an ordinary petty trader who used to sell foodstuffs in the Oba market during the reign of Oba Ewuare the Great which historians have placed at about 1440. She have been actually trading since the reign of Oba Uwaifiokun, who reign before Ewuare. Both these men were brothers.


Ewuare was one of those legends whose history will sound to modern days youngsters like fables rather than realities. Ewuare was a great king, a magician, reputable leader and warrior. He made many enemies and one of those was his brother Uwaifiokun. It was agaisnt this Emotan was helpful. Ewuare's brother, Uwaifiokun who was still reigning, had conspired with his cheifs to have Ewuare murdered. Emotan got the wind of the conspiracy, took the risk to unveiled it to Ewuare. She not only told Ewuare the plan to murdered him but joined to protect and hide him from being killed. Ewuare was saved thanks to her. When Ewuare became the Oba of the Benin Kingdom, Emotan became a favoured citizen. When she died Ewuare ordered that her body be buried at the Oba market in the n the same spot where she use to trade. A tree was ordered by the Oba to be planted on the gravesite. Not only that, Ewuare also deified Emotan who was worshipped as the mother of love and kindness. In the past every man attended all funeral procession, invested, celebrated, visited the tree and gravesite at the City Center.


Oba Ewuare Nogidigan also recognised one of his servant who saved him too from a terrible illness. He changed the name of Igodomigodo (The Edo Coutry) to "Edo" after his deified (servant) friend, who was able to save him from a sudden death in about same time with Emotan deitification. Before this time, the Edoland and country had been called the land of Igodomigodo. Oba Ewuare Ne ogidigan (The great), reign in Benin Kingdom about 1440 to 1473 in the second milenium. From Ewuare, Edo became the name of the Ancient Benin Kingdom, their language and territory.

Today in Benin City, Emotan's beautiful statue conspiciously stands where she was first Buried during the reign of Oba Ewaure Nogidigan. It is in this regard that one sees the permanent statue unveiled and lunched by Oba Akenzua II on march 20, 1954 in honor of Emotan in the heart of Benin City as a great gesture

Source:
http://ihuanedo.ning.com/group/healtheducation/forum/topics/the-history-behind-the-emotan-statue

Princess Olu Pupupu (1530-1560)



The Osemawe title of Ondo Kingdom was instituted in 1510, when Princess Pupupu, a powerful daughter of the late Alaafin of Oyo, King Oluaso left the palace with the Royal entourage in a bid to settle far from her father's palace.

She settled on a hill called Oke Agunla in Ondo town On arrival of this Princess at Oke Ogunla a smoke rising from far below was spotted by a man called Esiri who traced the smoke to know its source. On getting to the hill where the smoke was spotted, he met Princess Pupupu and her royal entourage. He took them to a village in Ondo Kingdom called Oriden. The villagers were very happy to meet the powerful princess and exclaimed Edo du do, edo do, idi edo!!! Where the name of the Kingdom Ondo Kingdom was formed.
Rulers

Princess Olu Pupupu ascend the Throne as the first Osemawe of the Ekimogun people of Ondo Kingdom and reign from 1516 to 1530. Before her death, she gave birth to two sons, the eldest was named Airo Pupupu and the younger one was named Luju Pupupu. Airo Pupupu later ascends the Throne after the demise of his mother in 1530. 

Source: 

Nana Afia Dokuaa 1817-1835 Ghana



Nana Dokuaa (1855) was the great grand niece of Ofori Panin. Her mother, Akotowaa, was the daughter of Korama born of a union between Adu Daako Asamankesehene (and nephew of Akwamuhene Ansa Sasraku), and Oforiwa, niece of Ofori Panin. Dokuaa ascended the Ofori stool in 1817 in lieu of a male heir to her uncle, Kofi Asante (1811-1816).

She maintained the tradition of resistance to Asante overlordship and took Akyem Abuakwa into an anti-Asante alliance of coastal chiefs and the British Administration on the coast. She personally fought at the head of the Akyem Abuakwa contingent at the battle of Katamanso (August 1826) in which rockets were used for the first time.

The royal horns at Kyebi palace commemorate her rare valour in a terse statement: Dokuaa obaabasia a oko oprem ano (Dokuaa, the valiant woman who fights amidst rockets).It was the allied victory at Datamanso and the ensuing Treaty of 1831 that liberated Akyem Abuakwa and the Southern states from Asante claims to suzerainty over them.

She was a woman who occupied the Paramount stool as Okyenhene, as well as the Queen Mother. She was a woman like her counterpart, Nana Yaa Asantewaa of the same Asona clan of Ejisu, Ashanti. Both were warlike and heroines. Nana Dokua fought the Ashantis 99 times, warding them off anytime they attacked the Akyems. Her outstanding and renowned feats are still remembered in songs in her praise.

Nana Dokua was not only a warrior, but also a first class administrator. She set up Akyem Abuakwa towns and villages into the present divisions for the purposes of war and administration, as well as preventing break-ups or revolts in her kingdom. She married Barima Twum Ampofo of the Oyoko clan of Barekeseso in Ashanti, whom she made the Asiakwahene and the Nifahene of Akyem Abuakwa; the only "foreigner" holding the title of a Divisional Wing Chief in Akyem Abuakwa. The rest of the five Divisional Wing Chiefs are:Kukurantumihene (Adonten), Begorohene (Benkum), Wankyihene (Oseawuo), and Kwabehene, (Gyase), who are all Asonas.

There are also the Akyeasehene (Tarkwa) of the Oyoko clan; and Otwereasehene (Odau) of the Aduana clan; both of whom rank as equals to the five Divisional Wing Chiefs. She also organized the surrounding villages of Apapam, Apedwa, Tetteh (Asikam), Adadientam, Ahwenease, Affiasa, Pano, and Wirenkyiren-Amanfrom into "Amantomiensa" (soldiers and guardians of the Paramount Stool). This group became members of the Kyebi Executive Council, including Ankobea, Pesemaka and Kyidom, with the Okyenhene as the head. This body always acted in the place or in the absence of the Okyeman Council in all matters affecting Akyem Abuakwa.

Nana Dokua had two male twins, who successively became kings of Akyem Abuakwa after her death. The birth of the royal male twins by Nana Dokua and Barima Twum Ampofo led to the institution and the recognition by the Akyem Abuakwa State of what is termed "ABAM" (The Twins Day), which is celebrated each year on the first Friday after the celebration of the "Odwira" festival by the Paramount stool at Kyebi. The "Abam" festival is performed at all times by the Nifahene of Akyem Abuakwa, at the Okyeman Queenmother's residence at Kyebi, as the "father" who brought forth the royal twins. This festival is always attended by all the twins in Akyem Abuakwa and by the occupant of the Paramount stool, the Okyenhene.

Dokuaa's record of unflinching defiance of Asante power turned Abuakwa into a haven for political dissidents escaping the fury of Asante retribution. In 1818 and in 1824 the Bosome and Kotoku, respectively, sought refuge in Akyem territory.

Source:

http://www.abibitumikasa.com/forums/showthread.php/34377-Afia-Dokuaa-A-Woman-of-The-Times

Maria (? - 1716) Curacaoan slave and leader of slave rebellion Curaçao



Maria (died 9 November 1716) was a Curaçaoan slave and leader of a slave rebellion on Curaçao in the Dutch West Indies in 1716.



Maria was a cook at the plantation St. Maria, owned by the Dutch West India Company, where she prepared the newly captured Africans to be sold into slavery. On 15 September 1716, the slaves of the plantation rebelled and killed some of the white staff, including women and children. The rebellion was soon subdued by the military from Willemstad. Her lover, the slave Tromp, stated under torture that Maria had planned the rebellion as she wanted revenge on the overseer Muller, who was responsible for the death of her spouse.

Maria was sentenced to death and executed by burning on 9 November 1716.

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_(rebel_leader)

More information (in Dutch):
http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/vrouwenlexicon/lemmata/data/Maria 

Picture: is not Maria, but from Tula slave Monument (by Nel Simon)

Queen of Pemba (East Africa ?-1679)


Ruler of Pemba (?-1679)

Pemba is an island off the coast of East Africa near the part of Tanga, Tanzania. Durin the 17th century queens ruled on several of the islands in the area. In c. 1679 a queen was ruling, but antagonistic faction from a distant branch drove her into exile. In 1687 she went tot he Portoguese colony of Goa, seeking refuge. There she ended all chance of regaining her throne by becoming Christian. Nevertheless, the queen continued to speak fort he people on Pemba.


In an act of gratitude fort he refuge she received, she willed her kingdom tot he Portuguese upon her death, but they were never able to claim this inheritance. In 1694, with conditions on Pemba still in a state of upheaval, the Portuguese discontinued its attempts to subject its populace. The queen died about 1694.

Source:
Women Rulers Throughout the Ages: An Illustrated Guide (by Guida Myrl Jackson-Laufer)

Yaya Vita Kimpa of Kongo (1684–1706)



Yaya Vita Kimpa of Kongo dia Ntotela

Vita kimpa was born in 1687 in the village called songololo, in the town of Bakongo at the time when the country was the Kingdom of Kongo Dia Ntotela.

During this period the Kingdom was occupied by the Portuguese, there was war between the kingdom and the Portuguese. There was a King by the name of Vita Kanga, after Vita Kanga was killed; the Kingdom was split up in two kingdoms. The kingdom of Ndompetelo and the Kingdom of Ndozuao.

At this time Ancestral religion worship was banned and the occupiers imposed their religion which was Christianity.

In 1702 there was a woman call Mama Mafuta, she possessed the Holy spirit of Tata Nzambia Mpungu and was given the mission to begin to preach in the name of Tata Nzambia Mpungu. She was to wake up the people of Kongo Dia Ntotela, to stop the war between themselves and return to their God Tata Nzambia Mpungu. Mama Mafuta at this time was about 65 years old when she began to preach.

Vita Kimpa was one of the people who used to attend the teachings. At this time she was 17 years old, her parents were Christians. When ever they came to hear the teachings of Mama Mafuta, Vita Kimpa used to possess the spirit.

The news soon reached the white Christian priests, who were against them. They ordered a total ban of the meetings, but the people continued to worship in their Ancestral way.



One day Vita Kimpa became sick and died. In the traditional way, the elders came together for her burial, but because her father was away, they decided to wait until her father could be found. Three days later, he still had not returned and the villages decided to continue with the burial.

On the way to the burial site Mama Vita Kimpa rose up and asked them what they were doing! the elders replied that they thought she was dead. Mama Vita Kimpa told them that she felt a lot of pain, so her spirit came out on top of her head and an Ancestor came and took her to a very beautiful city in the sky. She receive teachings here and was then sent back.

The mission the Ancestors gave to Mama Vita Kimpa was to wake up the people and unite the two Kingdom,s and rebuild the city of Mbanza Kongo (the City of God) which had been destroyed by the Portugueses. Mama Vita Kimpa went on to say that they should choose a King, who she would ‘bless’, then her mission would be completed.

The people were astonished to hear what the young girl had recounted subsequently from that day Vita Kimpa grew in force and continued to preach about spirituality and manifested many miracles, raising the dead and healing the sick. When fasting for long durations of time, 14-40 days, her body would begin to decompose until her spirit returned and her body would be restored.



Mama Vita Kimpa became very popular, and people followed her everywhere she went.

After spiritually waking up the people she instigated the return of the Ancestral religion. There followed a decline in Christianity, and the people returned to the ways of their ancestors. The invading Christian Clergy heard of this, and made plans to kill Mama Vita Kimpa.

The unification of Mama Mafuta`s group and that of Mama Vita Kimpa’s, gave birth to one group practicing in their ancestral ways. By this time Mama Mafuta was to old to travel, so Mama Vita Kimpa continued the work of preaching and teaching. Many people were convinced by Mama Vita Kimpa`s works, the symbols of power were regained, and feuding parties ceased to fight amongst themselves.

Mama Vita Kimpa eased the tensions and was a guide to both Kings. She rebuilt the city of Mbanza Kongo, which defied the ban imposed by the Portuguese. No black man was allowed to enter the ruined City of Mbanza Kongo, since it had been burned to the ground.

The time finally came to choose the King. She asked all the chiefs of the clans to cast their nominations on who would become King and for the choice to be fair. The candidates then had to fast for 40 days.

The groups split up, and the group of Vita Kimpa went far into the bush to fast. When the news reached the colonialists that Vita Kimpa had gone into the forest with the intention of choosing a King, they decided it was time to kill her. The location of Mama Vita Kimpa was submitted by an informant to the Portuguese. When located,they arrested her , killing all present with her. she was taken alone to a place called Divululu, a mountain where she was tortured and beaten continuously to renounce and reject her Ancestral teachings. As a means of recapturing the minds of the people, her captives demonised her stating that she was commiting evil works . But vita kimpa refused to denounce the work she was given by the ancestors. Because of that she was burned alive by the Portuguese, Vita kimpa was only 17 years old when she died.

Vita Kimpa refused to dismiss the word of God,
She was burned alive on the 2nd July 1706.

Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana, Zimbabwe (c. 1840–1898)





Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana (c. 1840–1898) was a svikiro, or spirit medium of the Zezuru Shona people. As one of the spiritual leaders of the Shona, she provided inspiration the revolt against the British South Africa Company's colonisation of Mashonaland and Matebeleland. She was a Hera of the Hwata Mufakose Dynasty. She and her ally Kaguvi were eventually captured and executed by the British.[1]

History
The spirit Nehanda is said to be the mhondoro, a royal mudzimu (ancestral spirit) or "lion spirit". At one time this spirit resided in Nyamhika, one of the daughters of Nyatsimba Mutota,who was given the name Nehanda at birth. Nyatsimba Mutota was the first leader of the Munhumutapa state.[2]

As medium of the spirit Nehanda, Nyakasikana made oracular pronouncements and performed traditional ceremonies that were thought to ensure rain and good crops. As the spirit medium of Nehanda at the time, Charwe Nyakasikana at first promoted good relations between the Zezuru people and early European settlers pioneers. However, following the imposition of a "hut tax" and other tax assessments in 1894, both the Ndebele and Shona people revolted in June 1896, in what became known as the First Chimurenga or Second Matabele War. The rebellion, in Mashonaland at least, was encouraged by traditional religious leaders including Nyakasikana. After the end of the rebellion in 1897, she was captured. Nyakasikana was charged with the murder of Native Commissioner Pollard. She was found guilty after eyewitnesses claimed that she had ordered an associate to chop Pollard's head off. Consequently, she was hanged.[3][4] Much mythology grew up around the difficulty in killing her.[5]

Living in the hills around Mazoe, Zimbabwe, were various sub-chiefs including Wata and Chidamba. In the Chidamba Village lived the famous Shona spirit medium Mbuya Nehanda. She must have had great authority even before the 1896-7 Rebellion and it is interesting that no greater authority than the Anglican Church. In a map drawn up showing missionary work by the Church after 1888, there is a village called Nehandas. She was a powerful woman spirit medium that was committed to upholding traditional Shona culture, she was instrumental in organising the nationwide resistance to colonial rule during the First Chimurenga of 1896–7. 

Even Lobengula recognised her as a powerful spiritual medium in the land. Mbuya Nehanda According to historical sources the original Nehanda was daughter of Mutota the first Monomatapa who was living in the escarpment North of Sipolilo in about 1430. This is some 70 odd years before Christopher Columbus discovered America and Bartholemew Dias reached the Cape. Mutota was the founder of the Mutapa state, Mutota also had a son who later became the second Monomatapa, and the son was called Matope. Matope was Nehanda’s half brother, and to increase the power of Matope, Mutota ordered his son to commit incest with his half sister, Nyamhika, who became widely known as Nehanda. This incest ritual is believed to have increased Matope’s rule and empire, due to this Matope handed over a portion of his empire to Nehanda who became so powerful and well known that her spirit lived on in the human bodies of various spirit mediums over the years until almost 500 years later when we find it occupying the body of the Mazoe Nehanda. Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana was considered to be the female incarnation of the oracle spirit Nyamhika Nehanda.



As white settlement increased in the land, according to sources Nehanda initially welcomed the occupation by the Pioneers and counselled her followers to be friendly towards them "Don't be afraid of them" she said "as they are only traders, but take a black cow to them and say this is the meat with which we greet you." Unfortunately relationships became strained when the settlers started imposing taxes, forced relocations, forced labour, etc. As colonialism began to get its grip on the natives of Zimbabwe, there was military drive to rid of the British settlers. The collective efforts of the locals to get rid of the British colonialist in the period of 1896–7 have become known as the First Chimurenga a.k.a. the Rebellion. Due to the cultural beliefs of the locals, the leading roles behind the rebellion were by three spirit mediums. The rebellion was initiated in Matebeland in May 1896, the leading role there being Mukwati, in October 1896 Kaguvi and Nehanda from Mashonaland joined in; these were the three critical people behind the rebellion.

Kaguvi (a.k.a. Kagubi) was believed to be the spirit husband of the other great Shona spirit, Nehanda, and it may have been this connection which enabled him in due course to persuade Mbuya Nehanda to preach the gospel of war resistance in Mashonaland, which led to the first Chimurenga. The role as well as the influence of the spirit mediums in form of Kaguvi and Nehanda, can not be understated. As far as the people were concerned Nehanda and Kaguvi were the voices of God a.k.a. Mwari. Kaguvi and later Nehanda (after convincing by Kaguvi) preached that according to Mwari the cause of all the trouble that had come upon the land was the white man. They had brought the locusts and the rinderpest, and to crown it all, they, the owners of the cattle which had died, were not allowed to eat the meat of the carcasses, which had to be burned or buried. Mwari decreed that the white men were to be driven from the country. They, the natives, had nothing to fear, Mwari would turn the bullets of the white man into water. A public press photograph was taken of Nehanda and Kaguvi in 1897 to display their success.[6]

Legacy
Nehanda’s heroism became a significant source of inspiration in the nationalist struggle for liberation in the 1960s and 1970s. Her name is now usually prefixed by the respectful title of Mbuya, or grandmother. The maternity section of Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare is named after her. The College of Health Sciences of the University of Zimbabwe is located there as well.

Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nehanda_Nyakasikana

Queen Sarraounia Mangou of the Azna (1899)



Sarraounia Mangou was a Queen of the Azna, a subgroup of the Hausa, who ruled in a region of Western Africa during the late 19th century.

Biography

She was ruler of an animist group of Eastern Hausa. Sarraounia of the Aznas fought the French colonial troops at the Battle of Lougou in 1899. While some kingdoms readily collaborated with the French in the hope of finally subduing her and her kingdom, and others capitulated without a fight, she mobilized her people and resources to confront the French forces of the Voulet–Chanoine Mission, which launched a fierce attack on her fortress capital of Lougou.

Overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the French, she and her fighters retreated tactically from the fortress, and engaged the attackers in a protracted guerrilla battle which eventually forced the French to abandon their project of subduing her.


Sarraounia means Queen or chiefess, and among the Azna people of Lougou and surrounding Hausa towns and villages, the term refers to a lineage of female rulers who exercised both political and religious power. The 1986 film Sarraounia is a retelling of her struggle against Voulet and Chanoine's troops.

More information: http://africa.ufl.edu/files/CASRR2011.Alou_.pdf
Pictures: Movie Sarraounia 1986 


Regent of Dahomey Queen Regent Hangbe (also known as Ahangbe or Na Hangbe)



Queen Regent Hangbe Dahomey (c. 1718)

Hangbe (also Ahangbe or Na Hangbe) was the Ruler of the Kingdom of Dahomey, in present-day Benin, for a brief period before Agaja came to power in 1718. Little is known about her because her rule was largely erased from the official Dahomey history and much that is known is brought together by various different oral histories.[1] However, it is often considered that she became the ruler of Dahomey upon the sudden death of King Akaba because his oldest son, Agbo Sassa, was not yet of age.[2] The duration and extent of this rule is not generally agreed upon. She supported Agbo Sassa in a succession struggle between him and Agaja in 1718. Agaja became King of Dahomey and, because of her support for his opponent, her legacy was largely erased from official history.


Regent of Dahomey

Hangbe was born to Houegbadja as the twin sister of Akaba. The twins had a younger brother named Dosu, who later took the name Agaja, which is the traditional name given to the first son born after twins.[1] Akaba became the King of Dahomey around 1685 and Hangbe became an important part of the royal family as the oldest sister of Akaba.

Oral histories agree generally that Akaba died while engaged in military combat in the Ouémé River valley in 1716, but the histories disagree about the cause of death whether in battle, poisoned, or smallpox. Regardless, between his death and the appointment of Agaja in 1718, oral traditions say that Hangbe was the ruler of Dahomey, as regent.[2] In one version, after Akaba's death, Hangbe put on his armor and continued leading the forces in the Ouémé River valley.[1] Between 1716 and 1718, Hangbe continued the warfare started by Akaba in the Ouémé River valley and may have led additional military expeditions.[2] Her rule is generally considered to have lasted either three months or three years.
Succession struggle

In 1718, Hangbe supported the rule of Agbo Sassa, the oldest son of Akaba, to the throne of Dahomey. Her younger brother Dosu (later Agaja) contested this rule and this caused a significant succession struggle between Agbo Sassa and Dosu. Some versions claim that the royal court was displeased with the perceived bacchanalian and decadent lifestyle of Hangbe and so instead choose Agaja.[1] Others contend that the court was afraid of creating a split dynasty, with the children of Hangbe and the children of Akaba having equal right to claim the throne, and so preferred Agaja to clarify dynastic line of succession.[3] Regardless, the struggle did not last long and Agaja became the King of Dahomey. Oral traditions disagree on what happened afterwards. One version recounts that her only son was put to death to prevent any claims to the throne, while Hangbe, disgusted with the choice of Agaja and the execution of her son, stripped naked in front of the council and washed her genitals in a show of contempt for their decision.[1] Other versions have her son remaining alive but an angry speech by Hangbe directed at the councils included a prediction that this would lead to the conquest of Dahomey by Europeans.[2] Other oral traditions connected with her surviving lineage suggests that, while Agbo Sassa fled north to live with the Mahi people, she and her family remained in Abomey and, under King Ghezo in the early 1800s, the house and lineage was provided significant funds to maintain its presence.[2]

Legacy

Hangbe's descendents live to the current day in a compound next to the Royal Palaces of Abomey and recount seven descendents acting as head of the Hangbe lineage.[2] In some versions, it is considered that Hangbe was he main person responsible for the creation of the Dahomey Amazons, a military unit composed entirely of women. Most scholars do not consider this likely.[1] She is not included in any kings lists for the Kingdom of Dahomey.[2]

Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hangbe