Black Panther is more than a successful entry into the comic book movie canon; it is a global phenomenon. One of the most intriguing elements from the film is the female fighting force that guards the royal family and protects the film's protagonist, King T'Challa aka the Black Panther. While most comic book films focus on male characters, Black Panther gives women much shine.
Viewers compared the film's Dora Milaje army to the Dahomey Amazons, four thousand warriors who comprised the female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey, now the Republic of Benin. But they're not the only badass African women warriors. Here are five examples of other historic female fighting forces:
Amanirenas was a queen of the Kingdom of Kush, now Sudan, from 40 B.C. to 10 B.C. and is one of the most famous for leading the Kushite army against the Romans in a five-year war from 27 B.C. to 22 B.C. Reported to have lost an eye in battle, Queen Amanirenas and her forces attacked Roman Egypt gaining control of Syene (present-day Aswan) and Philae. When the Romans struck back, Amanirenas negotiated a peace deal that endured until the third century A.D.
2. Nzinga Mbandi
After her brother, King Ngola Mbandi, committed suicide following many failed attempts to repel the Portuguese, Nzinga Mbandi became queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Mbundu people in Angola in 1624. She had previously negotiated a peace treaty which Portugal never honored in its quest to obtain slaves to supply labor for its colony of Brazil. The Portuguese refused to recognize Nzinga as ruler, opting instead for Ngola's son. Imbangala warriors who inhabited the borders of the Mbundu kingdom and recognized women under the title of tembanza, a leader in both war and politics, supported Nzinga. The Imbangala helped her kill her brother's son and secure her reign after which Queen Nzinga appointed other women to positions of power.
Queen Amina ruled the Zazzau Kingdom, Zaria in present-day Nigeria, at the end of the sixteenth century. She expanded the Zazzau territory during her 34-year reign to ensure safe passage for traders throughout the Saharan region. The Zazzau people were skilled metalworkers, and Amina is credited with introducing metal battle armor. She also originated building military encampments behind fortress walls, many of which remain in existence.
4. Sarraounia Mangou
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Foreign Queen's On The Screen Friday! Sarraounia played by Aï Keïta in Sarraounia (1986). Sarraounia Mangou was a chief/priestess of the animist Azna subgroup of the Hausa, who fought French colonial troops of the Voulet–Chanoine Mission at the Battle of Lougou (in present-day Nigeria) in 1899. #queensonthescreen #foreignqueensonthescreen #sarraounia #AïKeïta #sarraouniamangou
In the Hausa language of Africa, Sarraounia means queen or female chief. Sarraounia Mangou is most famous. While most chiefs submitted to French power as the country colonized Africa, Sarraounia Mangou led her troops to French forces during the Battle of Lougou (present-day Niger) in 1899. When the colonizers overwhelmed her regiments and forced them to retreat, Sarraounia and her troops then engaged in guerrilla tactics that prohibited the French from capturing her.
5. Yaa Asantewaa
Yaa Asantewaa was queen mother of Ejisu in the Ashanti Empire, now part of modern-day Ghana. She became the only woman to be appointed leader of the Asante fighting forces. In 1900, she led troops into British strongholds during the War of the Golden Stool. Queen Yaa Asantewaa was captured along with fifteen close advisers and exiled to the Seychelles.