Strong women don’t play the victim, they don’t make themselves look painful and don’t point fingers, they stand and they deal.

The world’s second largest and most populous continent, a place surrounded by seas, islands and is rich in flora and fauna. We are talking about the most mesmerizing place called Africa! Every continent is associated with different aspects and history and it’s obvious that history most of the times is associated with war. We have seen how wars can completely destroy human civilization we have seen how it can break apart a family and shatter their peace for the rest of their life and how women were suppressed by the male dominance. But here’s a twist! Can any kingdom have a female troop of the army, in the 17th century when women were seen as mere objects and servants?? Maybe, but deep down the answer is no. Facing all the odds, there were revolutionary women back then in African kingdom, Dahomey. Female warriors and these strong women guarded the king as well as their kingdom.

Since time immemorial it has always been the men in war who were feared the most but these tough, intense women warriors were feared the most in western Africa for over 250 years! These mighty warriors remain the only documented frontline troops in modern warfare history. They were named as Dahomey Amazons but they preferred to call themselves as N’Nonmiton which means “Our Mothers”.

How did it all begin?

It’s a rare sight to see women being treated equally in the olden times, then how did this African kingdom build such strong walls with the help of fearless and bold female troops?

Historians and other scholars have come up with many theories. The most accepted are the ones which suggest that male warriors were busy fighting with other tribes and wanted to impress the king in many ways and when the kingdom lacked warriors they considered women as their replacements.
But there’s also a different theory which suggests women were the only people permitted in the King’s palace with him after dark, they naturally became his bodyguards. But what mattered most was, strong and fearless women were accepted as warriors and were given equal opportunity as any male warrior had received and that’s what made Dahomey the most feared kingdom in western Africa.

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Black Sparta

So who actually gave this name to these female warriors?? Burton gave the army the nickname of “Black Sparta.” There’s no doubt or shame to call these brave females as a phenomenal troop of women, they were so brave and strong from the men of the kingdom. Even in the field of martial art sports let it be archery or wrestling, they kept proving themselves and as the years passed and it reached to that level where everyone feared their presence.
Slavery and forced labor existed in many kingdoms and societies of Africa for thousands of years just like most of the other regions of the world. Women in the 17th century were not exposed to professions like lawyer or doctor, however, some women had jobs, some of them even worked in the fields and even at home as servants, they knew how to. There were also washerwomen. Women were also seen working in food preparations like brewers, bakers or confectioners. Nevertheless, they also sold foodstuffs in the street, a common job was a domestic servant and other women were midwives.

In the times where women were kept far from the war business, there were few who took risks and fought and broke this taboo. They considered themselves to be stronger than men, they even said it out loud that they are not women and they would protect their kingdom just like any strong man in the army would do, this thinking and determination brought a lot of glory to the African kingdom and it shows why other kingdom feared and respected them.

 

History a good teacher?

If we look at our history, women never or rarely had an opportunity to raise their opinion. In some matters let it be political or social, their thoughts and voice were never considered important. But, history is so vast that we force our minds to look at only those issues where women were beaten up or were tortured to their core. What about those issues where women stood up high and made a difference in the society? And that too in such an era where they didn’t have a proper code of conduct or proper source of education?

The African kingdom, Dahomey, gives out a strong an important message to all the generations and eras that have passed and even to those which are yet to arrive. If women could handle a kingdom without any help in the olden days then why have they been considered week since time immemorial? Why is it always said “women can’t be equal to men “when in reality women are much more capable in each and every field just like any other men in street or kingdom!

The question arises and it should in every time and in everyone’s mind that why do we even have to compare two sexes when they are different and strong in their own ways? Time to bring a change in our mentality, it’s time to start digging up some reality!

 

Warriors are not born and they are not made,
Warriors create themselves through trial and error, pain and sufferings.

 

Author: Anjali Pujari

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