Black History: Special Delivery!!
The Dahomeyan and Ashanti women were fearless soldiers; trained to fight with muskets, machetes and their bare teeth. As early as 1729, European traders chronicled the fighting-women of the Fon (Dahomey people) and their neighbors the Ashanti. Originally set aside as a royal guard, Dahomey amazons held a revered status as celibate warrior “wives” of the King. Known for their impeccable physiques and fighting skills, they were in constant competition to out do their male counterparts. During two centuries of raids and wars against nearby kingdoms, the Dahomeyan excelled in their prowess as tenacious warriors. By 1890 they made up over 30% of the Dahomey fighting army. The Dahomeyan women warriors always protected their king in public and private life. At the close of the 19th century, it was estimated that 4,000 women, served in the Dahomeyan military ranks. Many of these women began serving as teenagers. These fierce warriors were the last line of defense in the fight against the transatlantic slave trade in their area as well as the fight against French colonialism. They were trained to sacrifice their lives if necessary in the service of the king. By the end of the 19th century an estimated 4,000 women, many of whom began their training as teens, were among the Dahomey military ranks.
The movie, Black Panther as well as the comic series, pays homage to these women. In the Black Panther movie the “Dora Milaje” are the female soldiers who protect the King of Wankanda. Check out the videos below to learn more about the Dora Milaje and the Dahomey women warriors.