If you can’t recall a single African warrior you learned about in school, it doesn’t mean you were a terrible student of history. It means your school, like most schools in the U.S., probably failed to teach you about any African warriors.
We are here to introduce you to 5 African warriors you’ve probably never heard of.
- Yaa Asantewaa
Yaa Asantewaa was a Ghanaian brave warrior queen born circa 1840 into the Ashanti Kingdom. She managed to form and lead an army that fought against the British invasion. The area where she ruled was under attack from the British and Kind Prempeh was exiled to Seychelles.
For the Ashanti people, the Golden Stool is at the very heart of their existence. However, not knowing this fact, British Governor Frederick Hodgson made a huge mistake: he demanded to sit on the Golden Stool as well as to own it.
This really enraged the Ashanti people. Under the control of Yaa Asantewaa, they took on the British. She was also exiled in Seychelles, where she lived until her death.
- Almamy Suluku
Born in 1820, Almamy Suluku was a smart, powerful Limba ruler who managed to maintain his independence for a long, long time. When he became war captain, he made his Kingdom, Biriwa, one of Sierra Leone’s largest. The kingdom became prosperous and rich, as Almamy Suluku fostered trade in gold, foodstuffs, ivory, and hides. He is still renowned as one of Africa’s most powerful warriors.
- The Dahomey Amazons
This was a Fon women-only military regiment in the Kingdom of Dahomey, which is nowadays’ Republic of Benin.
The Dahomey Amazons, also known as Mino, translates as ‘our mothers’. These women were very well trained to become ferocious fighters and they had the reputation of decapitating soldiers right in the middle of battles. Moreover, they were serving as torturers to those who didn’t become their captives.
In 1851, Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh, one of this regiment’s most famous leaders, led an army of approximately 6,000 women against the Abeokuta’s Egba fortress. Despite the fact that the Dahomey Amazons fought with swords, spears, and bows, only about 1,200 of them survived this battle, because of Egba’s deadly European cannons.
In 1890, they battled the French forces along with the King’s male soldiers in the First Franco-Dahomean War. During this war, the French army lost multiple battles to these skilled women warriors, as they weren’t prepared for the females’ agility and ruthlessness.
- Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah was Ghana’s very first Prime Minister and later became the country’s president. He was a revolutionary that led Ghana to independence from Britain in 1957.
Nkrumah was a Pan-Africanist and anti-colonialist who trained and prepared to be a teacher. He also founded the Convention People’s Party (CPP). He was sentenced and jailed but freed when his party (CPP) won the elections in 1951. Kwame was a firm believer in the Africans’ liberation.
In 1964, he formed a one-party state and became Ghana’s president.
Amanirenas was one of the most courageous Kingdom of Kush’s Queen-Mothers. Between 40 BC and 10 BC, Amanirenas ruled over the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush.
During her reign, more specifically in 24 BC, Augustus, the renowned Roman Emperor, attached Amanirena’s people. Along with her son, Akinidad, she conducted an army of approximately 30,000 soldiers and defeated the Romans in Aswan, Egypt. Additionally, they knocked down Caesar’s statues in Elephantine.
Although the Romans tried to fight back, they were held back by Amanirenas’s and her troops’ powerful resistance. After about 3 years of violent fights, the parties decided to negotiate a peace treaty. Besides other agreements, the Romans finally agreed to return their soldiers and give back the land that they’ve taken. Amanirenas remains famous for her devoted combat and for fighting together with her soldiers.
These are just few of the most influential African warriors in the history of Afria. Let us know your personal favorites below!