GREAT AFRICAN QUEENS
QUEEN Of ZARIA
This queen of Zazzua, a province of Nigeria now known as Zaria, was born around 1533 during the reign of Sarkin (king) Zazzau Nohir. She was probably his granddaughter. Zazzua was one of a number of Hausa city-states which dominated the trans-Saharan trade after the collapse of the Songhai empire to the west. Its wealth was due to trade of mainly leather goods, cloth, kola, salt, horses and imported metals. At the age of sixteen, Amina became the heir apparent (Magajiya) to her mother, Bakwa of Turunku, the ruling queen of Zazzua. With the title came the responsibility for a ward in the city and daily councils with other officials. Although her mother’s reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina also chose to learn military skills from the warriors. Queen Bakwa died around 1566 and the reign of Zazzua passed to her younger brother Karama. At this time Amina emerged as the leading warrior of Zazzua cavalry. Her military achievements brought her great wealth and power. When Karama died after a ten-year rule, Amina became queen of Zazzua. She set off on her first military expedition three months after coming to power and continued fighting until her death. In her thirty-four year reign, she expanded the domain of Zazzua to its largest size ever. Her main focus, however, was not on annexation of neighboring lands, but on forcing local rulers to accept vassal status and permit Hausa traders safe passage. She is credited with popularizing the earthen city wall fortifications, which became characteristic of Hausa city-states since then. She ordered building of a defensive wall around each military camp that she established. Later, towns grew within these protective walls, many of which are still in existence. They’re known as “ganuwar Amina”, or Amina’s walls. She is mostly remembered as “Amina, Yar Bakwa ta san rana,” meaning “Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.
Contributed by Danuta Bois
EMPRESS OF ETHIOPIA
Alexander reached Kemet (Ancient Egypt) in 332 B.C., on his world conquering rampage. But one of the greatest generals of the ancient world was also the Empress of Ethiopia. This formidable black Queen Candace, was world famous as a military tactician and field commander. Legend has it that Alexander could not entertain even the possibilty of having his world fame and unbroken chain of victories marred by risking a defeat, at last, by a woman. He halted his armies at the borders of Ethiopia and did not invade to meet the waiting black armies with their Queen in personal command.
QUEEN OF KEMET
(Ancient Egypt the land of the blacks)
Although known to be of African descent she is still deliberately portrayed as being white. She came to power at the tender age of seventeen and the most popular of seven queens to have had this name. She was also known to be a great linguist and was instumental in making Kemet(Egypt) into the world number one super power at that time.
She fought against the Arab incursion in North Africa where under her leadership Africans fought back fiercely and drove the Arab army northward into Tripolitania. Queen Kahina was of the Hebrew faith and she never abandoned her religion. Her opposition to the Arab incursion was purely nationalistic, since she favored neither Christians nor Moslems. Her death in 705 A.D by Hassen-ben-Numam ended one of the most violet attempts to save Africa for the Africans. She prevented Islam’s southward spread into the Western Sudan. After her death the Arabs began to change their strategy in advancing their faith and their power in Africa. The resistance to the southward spread of Islam was so great in some areas that some of the wives of African kings committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the Berbers and Arabs who showed no mercy to the people who would not be converted to Islam
QUEEN OF KEMET
(Ancient Egypt the land of the blacks)
One of the greatest queens of ancient Kemet was Queen Hatshepsut. While she was known as a “warrior” queen, her battles were engaged with her own rivals for the position of power in Kemetic hierarchy. A born dynast in her own right, Hatshepsut proved to be an aggressive and overpowering force. However, it was not in war, but in her aspiration to ascend to the “Heru (Horus) consciousness,” she displayed the strength that has given her a place in history. She adopted the Truth of Maat and became involved in the elimination of undesirable people and elements from Kemet. Determined to be revered in times yet to come, Hatshepsut depicted herself in as many masculine attributes as possible, i.e. male attire, king’s beard, etc. Although she ascended to the throne upon the death of her king-brother Thutmose II, she exerted her rightful claim to the throne. In exercising her power, she involved herself in foreign campaigns, a concentration on domestic affairs, extensive building and commercial ventures. The most famous of her commercial ventures was the Punt expedition in which goods and produce were acquired from the rich market there to be brought back to Kemet. While it would appear that her opponents were not antagonistic regarding her sex, they were so regarding her non-aggressive philosophy.
Even before becoming legal ruler, Hatshepsut, was actively pushing things dearest to the hearts of all Africans leaders: the expansion of foreign trade, international diplomatic relations, perfection of national defense, vast public building programs, securing the South and the North through either peace or war and, one of her “pet projects”, building a great navy for both commerce and war. Her success on most of these fronts made her one of the giants of the race.
QUEEN OF SHEBA
(The symbol of Beauty)
“I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, As the tents of Kedar, As the curtains of Solomon, Look not upon me because I am black Because the sun hath scorched me.” (Song of Solomon)
Although most of Black history is suppressed, distorted or ignored by an ungrateful modern world, some African traditions are so persistent that all of the power and deception of the Western academic establishment have failed to stamp them out. One such story is that of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and King Solomon of Israel. Black women of antiquity were legendary for their beauty and power. Especially great were the Queens of Ethiopia. This nation was also known as Nubia, Kush, Axum and Sheba. One thousand years before Christ, Ethiopia was ruled by a line of virgin queens. The one whose story has survived into our time was known as Makeda, “the Queen of Sheba.” Her remarkable tradition was recorded in the Kebar Nagast, or the Glory of Kings, and the Bible. The Bible tells us that, during his reign, King Solomon of Israel decided to build a magnificent temple. To announce this endeavor, the king sent forth messengers to various foreign countries to invite merchants from abroad to come to Jerusalem with their caravans so that they might engage in trade there. At this time, Ethiopia was second only to Egypt in power and fame. Hence, King Solomon was enthralled by Ethiopia’s beautiful people, rich history, deep spiritual tradition and wealth. He was especially interested in engaging in commerce with one of Queen Makeda’s subjects, an important merchant by the name of Tamrin.1 Solomon sent for Tamrin who “packed up stores of valuables including ebony, sapphires and red gold, which he took to Jerusalem to sell to the king.”2 It turns out that Tamrin’s visit was momentous. Although accustomed to the grandeur and luxury of Egypt and Ethiopia, Tamrin was still impressed by King Solomon and his young nation. During a prolonged stay in Israel, Tamrin observed the magnificent buildings and was intrigued by the Jewish people and their culture. But above all else, he was deeply moved by Solomon’s wisdom and compassion for his subjects. Upon returning to his country, Tamrin poured forth elaborate details about his trip to Queen Makeda. She was so impressed by the exciting story that the great queen decided to visit King Solomon herself.3 To understand the significance of state visits in antiquity in contrast to those of today, we must completely remove ourselves from the present place and time. In ancient times, royal visits were very significant ceremonial affairs. The visiting regent was expected to favor the host with elaborate gifts and the state visit might well last for weeks or even months. Even by ancient standards, however, Queen Makeda’s visit to King Solomon was extraordinary. In I Kings 10:1-2, the Bible tells us: “1. And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions. “2. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bear spices and very much gold, and precious stones. And when she was come to Solomon she communed with him of all that was in her heart.” I Kings 10:10 adds: “She gave the king 120 talents of gold, and of spices very great store and precious stones; there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.” We should pause to consider the staggering sight of this beautiful Black woman and her vast array of resplendent attendants travelling over the Sahara desert into Israel with more than 797 camels plus donkeys and mules too numerous to count. The value of the gold alone, which she gave to King Solomon, would be $3,690,000 today and was of much greater worth in antiquity. King Solomon, and undoubtedly the Jewish people, were flabbergasted by this great woman and her people. He took great pains to accommodate her every need. A special apartment was built for her lodging while she remained in his country. She was also provided with the best of food and eleven changes of garments daily. As so many African leaders before her, this young maiden, though impressed with the beauty of Solomon’s temple and his thriving domain, had come to Israel seeking wisdom and the truth about the God of the Jewish people. Responding to her quest for knowledge, Solomon had a throne set up for the queen beside his. “It was covered with silken carpets, adorned with fringes of gold and silver, and studded with diamonds and pearls. From this she listened while he delivered judgments.”4 Queen Makeda also accompanied Solomon throughout his kingdom. She observed the wise, compassionate and spiritual ruler as he interacted with his subjects in everyday affairs. Speaking of the value of her visit with the King and her administration for him, Queen Makeda stated: “My Lord, how happy I am. Would that I could remain here always, if but as the humblest of your workers, so that I could always hear your words and obey you.
“How happy I am when I interrogate you! How happy when you answer me. My whole being is moved with pleasure; my soul is filled; my feet no longer stumble; I thrill with delight.
“Your wisdom and goodness,” she continued, “are beyond all measure. They are excellence itself. Under your influence I am placing new values on life. I see light in the darkness; the firefly in the garden reveals itself in newer beauty. I discover added lustre in the pearl; a greater radiance in the morning star, and a softer harmony in the moonlight. Blessed be the God that brought me here; blessed be He who permitted your majestic mind to be revealed to me; blessed be the One who brought me into your house to hear your voice.
Solomon had a harem of over 700 wives and concubines, yet, he was enamored by the young Black virgin from Ethiopia. Although he held elaborate banquets in her honor and wined, dined and otherwise entertained her during the length of her visit, they both knew that, according to Ethiopian tradition, the Queen must remain chaste. Nevertheless, the Jewish monarch wished to plant his seed in Makeda, so that he might have a son from her regal African lineage. To this end the shrewd king conspired to conquer the affection of this young queen with whom he had fallen in love. When, after six months in Israel, Queen Makeda announced to King Solomon that she was ready to return to Ethiopia, he invited her to a magnificent farewell dinner at his palace. The meal lasted for several hours and featured hot, spicy foods that were certain to make all who ate thirsty and sleepy (as King Solomon had planned.) Since the meal ended very late, the king invited Queen Makeda to stay overnight in the palace in his quarters. She agreed as long as they would sleep in separate beds and the king would not seek to take advantage of her. He vowed to honor her chastity, but also requested that she not take anything in the palace. Outraged by such a suggestion, the Queen protested that she was not a thief and then promised as requested. Not long after the encounter, the Queen, dying of thirst, searched the palace for water. Once she found a large water jar and proceeded to drink, the King startled her by stating: “You have broken your oath that you would not take anything by force that is in my palace. The Queen protested, of course, that surely the promise did not cover something so insignificant and plentiful as water, but Solomon argued that there was nothing in the world more valuable than water, for without it nothing could live. Makeda reluctantly admitted the truth of this and apologized for her mistake, begging for water for her parched throat. Solomon, now released from his promise, assuaged her thirst and his own, immediately taking the Queen as his lover.”6 The following day as the Queen and her entourage prepared to leave Israel, the King placed a ring on her hand and stated, “If you have a son, give this to him and send him to me.” After returning to the land of Sheba, Queen Makeda did indeed have a son, whom she named Son-of-the-wise-man, and reared as a prince and her heir apparent to the throne. Upon reaching adulthood, the young man wished to visit his father, so the Queen prepared another entourage, this time headed by Tamrin. She sent a message to Solomon to anoint their son as king of Ethiopia and to mandate that thenceforth only the males descended from their son should rule Sheba. Solomon and the Jewish people rejoiced when his son arrived in Israel. The king anointed him as the Queen had requested and renamed him Menelik, meaning “how handsome he is.” Though Solomon had many wives, only one had produced a son, Rehoboam, a boy of seven. So the king begged Menelik to remain, but the young prince would not. Solomon therefore called his leaders and nobles and announced that, since he was sending his first born son back to Ethiopia, he wanted all of them to send their firstborn sons “to be his counselors and officers.” And they agreed to do so. Menelik asked his father for a relic of the Ark of the Covenant to take back with him to the land of Sheba. It is said that while Solomon intended to provide his son with a relic, the sons of the counselors, angry at having to leave their homes and go to Sheba with Menelik, actually stole the real Ark and took it to Ethiopia. Menelik returned to Sheba and, according to tradition, ruled wisely and well. And his famous line has continued down to the 20th century when, even now, the ruler of Ethiopia is the “conquering lion of Judah” descended directly from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Written by Legrand H. Clegg II
QUEEN OF ZULULAND
(Symbol of a woman of high esteem)
Mother of the great leader Shaka Zulu. Nandi is the evalasting symbol of hard work patience and determination. She withstood and overcame many obsticles to raise to a position of power in all Zululand.
QUEEN OF KEMET
(the land of the blacks)
Her marriage to the great Rameses II of lower Ancient Egypt is known as one of the greatest royal love affair ever. This marriage also brought an end to the hundred year war between upper and lower ancient Kemet (Egypt), which in essence unified both sections into one great Kemet which was the world leading country. Monuments of this love affair still remains today in the temples that Rameses built for his wife at Abu Simbel.
The immense structures known as the two temples of Abu Simbel are among the most magnificent monuments in the world. Built during the New Kingdom nearly 3,000 years ago, it was hewn from the mountain which contains it as an everlasting dedication to King Ramses and his wife Nefertari. Superb reliefs on the temple detail the Battle of Kadesh, and Ramses and Nefertari consorting with the deities and performing religous rituals. The rays of the sun still penetrate to the Holy of Holies in the rock of the main temple on the same two days of the year: the 20th of October and the 20th of Febuary. This timing is probably connected to the symbolic unification, via the rays of the sun, of the statue of Ra-Herakhty and the statue of Ramses II. Up to today these structures remains as the largest, most majestic structures ever built to honor a wife.
QUEEN OF KEMET
(Ancient Egypt the land of the blacks)
It is believe by some historians that Nefertiti was the daughter of Aye and Tiy, while other claims her as the oldest daughter of Amenhotep III. Nefertiti was married to Akhenaten the originated of the one god concept(monotheism) as it became known today. During the early life of Nefertiti she lived in a Kemet where a new model of human nature in relation to god was emerging. This belief considered man primarily has a material entity, whose happiness was measured by his ability to acquire and maintain a material heaven(wealth and pleasure). In this material heaven women were not principals that predicted or participated in social policy, but were objects of sensuality or objects to be used by men. As weaker members of this paradise women could not be participants in its building. This belief was completely contrary to the beliefs of the ancients and the principles of Ma’at. Akhenaten developed another model. The nature of his new religion was that Aton represented by the Sun was the sole god and creator of all life.
Nefertiti could not relegate herself to the traditional role of subservient-queen. She envisioned an active role for herself in reshaping civilization. This was later manifested as she is shown participating in all the religious ceremonies with Akhenaten. It was only through the combined royal pair that the god Aton’s full blessing could be bestowed. Nefertiti is displayed with a prominence that other Egyptian queens were not. Her name is enclosed in a royal cartouche, and there are in fact more statues and drawings of her than of Akhenaten. Yet the priest with their materialist model were powerful and they dominated the higher government offices. In this arena women were incapable of divinity. Akhenaten and Nefertiti countered a revolt by the priest and emerged victorious and created a new capital for Kemet called Akhetaten a city that could give birth to their scared mission, a mission in pursuit of Divine life. She insisted on being portrayed has a equal divine partner to Akhenaten and their exist many illustrations of her riding a chariot with Akhenaten during major rituals. While Akhenaten’s ideas wanned without him their to defend them. The priest still considered Nefertiti’s heresy a greater threat. The concept of a woman bypassing the male priest hood via a mother-goddess to worship the divine was totally unacceptable. And sadly enough continues to be unacceptable in the major religions that dominate the world today. Nefertiti though her devotion and her demand for respect proved she deserved a special place in the history of women.
MBUYA(Grandmother) OF ZIMBABWE
When the English invaded Zimbabwe in 1896 and began confiscating land and cattle, Nehanda and other leaders declared war. Nehanda also displayed remarkable leadership and organizational skills at a young age. Though dead for nearly a hundred years, Nehanda remains what she was when alive, the single most important person in the modern history of Zimbabwe. She is still referred to as Mbuya (Grandmother) Nehanda by Zimbabwean patriots.
AMAZON QUEEN OF MATAMBA WEST AFRICA (1582-1663)
A very good military leader who waged war against the savage slave-hunting Europeans. This war lasted for more than thirty years. Nzingha was of Angoloan descent and is known as a symbol of inspiration for people everywhere. Queen Nzingha is also known by some as Jinga by others as Ginga. She was a member of the ethnic Jagas a militant group that formed a human shield against the Portuguese slave traders. As a visionary political leader, competent, and self sacrificing she was completely devoted to the resistance movement. She formed alliances with other foreign powers pitting them against one another to free Angola of European influence. She possessed both masculine hardness and feminine charm and used them both depending on the situation. She even used religion as a political tool when it suited her. Her death on December 17, 1663 helped open the door for the massive Portuguese slave trade. Yet her struggle helped awaken others that followed her and forced them to mount offensives against the invaders. These include Madame Tinubu of Nigeria; Nandi, the mother of the great Zulu warrior Chaka; Kaipkire of the Herero people of South West Africa; and the female army that followed the Dahomian King, Behanzin Bowelle.
THE NUBIAN QUEEN OF KEMET
Black, beautiful and georgous, Queen Tiye is regarded as one of the most influential Queens ever to rule Kemet. A princess of Nubian birth, she married the Kemetan King Amenhotep III who ruled during the New Kingdom Dynasties around 1391BC. Queen Tiye held the title of “Great Royal Wife” and acted upon it following the end of her husband’s reign. It was Tiye who held sway over Kemet during the reign of her three sons Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton), Smenkhare, and the famous child king Tut-ankh-amen. For nearly half of a century, Tiye governed Kemet, regulated her trade, and protected her borders. During this time, she was believed to be the standard of beauty in the ancient world.
Yaa Asantewa of the Ashanti Empire
Her fight against British colonialists is a story that is woven throughout the history of Ghana.
One evening the chiefs held a secret meeting at Kumasi. Yaa Asantewa, the Queen Mother of Ejisu, was at the meeting. The chiefs were discussing how they should make war on the white men and force them to bring back the Asantehene. Yaa Asantewa noticed that some of the chiefs were afraid. Some said that there should be no war. They should rather go to beg the Governor to bring back the Asantehene King Prempeh. Then suddenly Yaa Asantewa stood up and spoke. This was what she said: “Now I have seen that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it were in the brave days of, the days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opolu Ware, chiefs would not sit down to see thief king taken away without firing a shot. No white man could have dared to speak to chief of the Ashanti in the way the Governor spoke to you chiefs this morning. Is it true that the bravery of the Ashanti is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this, if you the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. We the women will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.” This speech stirred up the men who took an oath to fight the white men until they released the Asantehene. For months the Ashantis led by Yaa Asantewa fought very bravely and kept the white men in the fort. Yet British reinforcements totaling 1,400 soldiers arrived at Kumasi. Yaa Asantewa and other leaders were captured and sent into exile. Yaa Asantewa’s war was the last of the major war in Africa led by a women.
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