Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Queens & Women Warriors of Africa

« Back to Projects Dashboard

view all

Profiles

Queens of Ethiopia

African women of antiquity were legendary for their beauty and power. Especially great were the Queens of Ethiopia; Queen of Sheba (960 B.C.), Candace of Meroe and her defeat of Alexander the Great (332 B.C.), Amanirenas, Amanishakhete, Nawidemak, Amanitore (Acts 8:26-40), Shanakdakh, and Malegereabar.

Queen of Sheba

Makeda, Queen of Sheba (960 B.C.) (also known as Makeda, Makebah-Tamar, Malikat Saba; Ge’ez: Nigist Saba; Hebrew: מלכת שבא‎; Malkat Shva; Arabic: ملكة سبأ‎)

Makeda is best known as the beautiful, wealthy, and intellectual queen who tested Solomon with riddles, is a somewhat mysterious figure in ancient texts, and little has been verified about her life. Even basic details such as her given name and the exact location of her kingdom remain uncertain. Nevertheless, she has fascinated and inspired African American, Ethiopian, Islamic, and Jewish cultures for nearly three thousand years.

She was a monarch of the ancient kingdom of Sheba and is referred to in Habeshan history, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur’an. Sheba was an ancient name for Abyssinia, a kingdom on the Red Sea in the vicinity of modern Ethiopia and Yemen.

In Ancient times Ethiopia was also known as Nubia, Kush, Aksum, Abyssinia 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 Kebra Nagast, or the Book of the Glory of the Kings [of Ethiopia], has been held in the highest esteem and honour throughout the length and breadth of Abyssinia for a thousand years at least, and even to-day it is believed by every educated man in that country to contain the true history of the origin of the Solomonic line of kings in Ethiopia.

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.

She gave the king 120 talents of gold, and of spices very great store and precious stones; there came no more abundance of spices as these which the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.” (Kings 10:10)

The Biblical passage refers to the gifts Makeda presented King Solomon of Israel on her famed journey to visit the Judean monarch. But Makeda’s gifts to Solomon extended beyond material objects; she also gave him a son, Menelik. The boy’s remarkable resemblance to his grandfather prompted Solomon to re-christen Menelik. Solomon later re-named his son after his own father, the legendary King David.

Menelik’s line continued down to the 20th century with the last ruler of Ethiopia the “conquering lion of Judah” & his descendants who have all descended directly from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

New DNA evidence reveals close links between Ethiopia and groups outside of Africa. Some Ethiopians have 40-50 percent of their genomes that match more closely with populations outside of Africa than those within.

Clearly, centuries after her death, the Queen of Sheba still holds sway over the imaginations of people far beyond her time period and her geographical location. Source

"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)

---------------------------------------

al-Kāhina bint D̲j̲arāwa al-Zanāt

Berber Queen, al-Kāhina bint D̲j̲arāwa al-Zanāt: There is no agreement even on her real name, for al-Kāhina is only a nickname given to her by the Arabs. It is said that she was named Dihya—Ibn K̲h̲aldūn.

Dihya (Algerian Arabic: ديهيا, Berber: Daya Ult Yenfaq Tajrawt, Dihya, or Damya), was a Berber queen, religious and military leader who led indigenous resistance to Arab expansion in Northwest Africa, the region then known as Numidia, known as eastern Algeria today. She was born in the early 7th century and died around the end of the 7th century in modern day Algeria.

Accounts from the 19th century on, claim she was of Jewish religion or that her tribe were Judaized Berbers, though scholars dispute this. According to al-Mālikī she was said to have been accompanied in her travels by what the Arabs called an "idol", possibly an icon of the Virgin or one of the Christian saints.

The idea that the Jrāwa were Judaized comes from the medieval historian Ibn Khaldun, who named them among a number of such tribes. Hirschberg and Talbi note that Ibn Khaldun seems to have been referring to a time before the advent of the late Roman and Byzantine empires, and a little later in the same paragraph seems to say that by Roman times "the tribes" (presumably those he had listed before) had become Christianized.

Ibn Khaldun records many legends about Dihyā. A number of them refer to her long hair or great size, both legendary characteristics of sorcerers. She is also supposed to have had the gift of prophecy and she had three sons, which is characteristic of witches in legends. Even the fact that two were her own and one was adopted (an Arab officer she had captured), was an alleged trait of sorcerers in tales.

Another legend claims that in her youth, she had supposedly freed her people from a tyrant by agreeing to marry him and then murdering him on their wedding night. Virtually nothing else of her personal life is known.

Dihyā succeeded Kusaila as the war leader of the Berber tribes in the 680s and opposed the encroaching Arab armies of the Umayyad Dynasty. Hasan ibn al-Nu'man marched from Egypt and captured the major Byzantine city of Carthage and other cities (see Umayyad conquest of North Africa ). Searching for another enemy to defeat, he was told that the most powerful monarch in North Africa was "the queen of the Berbers" (Arabic: malikat al-barbar) Dihyā, and accordingly marched into Numidia.

The armies met near Meskiana in the present-day province of Oum el-Bouaghi, Algeria. She defeated Hasan so soundly that he fled Ifriqiya and holed up in Cyrenaica (Libya) for four or five years. Realizing that the enemy was too powerful and bound to return, she was said to have embarked on a scorched earth campaign, which had little impact on the mountain and desert tribes, but lost her the crucial support of the sedentary oasis-dwellers.

Supposedly, she had a passion for ornithology that shaped science and learning in the early Middle East. Today, many look up to her for her great findings and independence.

---------------------------------------

African Queens Project

(Please click link above for Geni profiles and detailed biographies)

  • Amina QUEEN Of ZARIA (1588-1589)
  • Candace EMPRESS OF ETHIOPIA (332 B.C.)
  • Hatshepsut QUEEN OF KEMET (Ancient Egypt the land of the blacks) (1503-1482 B.C.)
  • Nefertari - QUEEN OF KEMET (the land of the blacks) (1292-1225 B.C)
  • Nehanda Mbuya Nehanda a.k.a Charwe Nyakasikana (c. 1862-1898)
  • Nzingha - AMAZON QUEEN OF MATAMBA WEST AFRICA (1582-1663)
  • Tiye -THE NUBIAN QUEEN OF KEMET (Ancient Egypt) (1415-1340 B.C.)
  • YAA Asantewa Yaa Asantewa of the Ashanti Empire

The Rain Queens of South Africa

  • ▪ Dzunginidini, Mother of the First Rain Queen
  • ▪ Maselewane Modjaji, Rain Queen I
  • ▪ Masalandbo Modjaji, Rain Queen II
  • ▪ Khetoane Modjadji, Rain Queen III
  • ▪ Makoma Modjadji, Rain Queen IV
  • ▪ Mokope Modjadji, Rain Queen V
  • ▪ Makobo Modjadji, Rain Queen VI

---------------------------------------

African Warrior Women & Queens

Matriarchal warrior tribes and matrilineal tribal descent are a continuing theme in African history and in some cases survived into modern times. One of the great African warrior queens of the ancient world was Majaji, who led the Lovedu tribe which was part of the Kushite Empire during the Kushite's centuries long war with Rome. The empire ended in 350 AD when the Kushite stronghold of Meroe fell to repeated Roman assaults. Majaji led her warriors in battle armed with a shield and spear and is believed to have died on the walls of Meroe.

The Egyptian warrior queens, descended from the royal house of Kush, included Ahotep, the 7 Cleopatras and Arsinoe II & III. They ruled Egypt and led her army and navy through Roman times.

A succession of Ethiopian Queens and military leaders known as Candace were also descended from the Kush. The first Candace, leading an army mounted on war elephants, turned back Alexander's invasion of Ethiopia in 332 BC. In 30 BC Candace Amanirenas defeated an invasion by Patronius, the Roman governor of Egypt and sacked the city of Cyrene.

In 937 AD Judith, Queen of the Falash, attacked Axum, sacred capital of Ethiopia killing all the inhabitants including the descendants of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

Through the 10th and 11th centuries the Hausa states (modern day Nigeria) were ruled by the Habe warrior queens: Kufuru, Gino, Yakumo, Yakunya, Walzana, Daura, Gamata, Shata, Batatume, Sandamata, Yanbamu, Gizirgizir, Innagari, Jamata, Hamata, Zama and Shawata.

Centuries later Amina, daughter of Queen Turunku of the Songhai in mid-Niger ruled the Hausa empire from 1536 to 1573. She extended her nation's boundaries to the Atlantic coast, founded cities and personally led her army of 20,000 soldiers into battle.

Mbande Zinga was the sister and advisor of the king of Ngola (today Angola) and served a his representative in negotiating treaties with the Portuguese. She became queen when her brother died in 1624 and appointed women, including her two sisters Kifunji and Mukumbu, to all government offices.

When the Portuguese broke the peace treaty she led her largely female army against them inflicting terrible casualties while also conquering nearby kingdoms in an attempt to build a strong enough confederation to drive the Portuguese out of Africa. She accepted a truce and then agreed to a peace treaty in 1635. She continued to rule her people and lived to be 81. When Angola became an independent nation in 1975 a street in Luanda was named in her honor.

Llinga, a warrior queen of the Congo armed with ax, bow and sword fought the Portuguese in 1640. Women warriors were common in the Congo where the Monomotapa confederacy had standing armies of women.

Kaipkire, warrior leader of the Herero tribe of southwest Africa in the 18th century led her people in battles against British slave traders. There are records of Herero women fighting German soldiers as late as 1919.

Nandi was the warrior mother of Shaka Zulu. She battled slave traders and trained her son to be a warrior. When he became King he established an all-female regiment which often fought in the front lines of his army.

Mantatisi, warrior queen of the baTlokwas in the early 1800s fought to preserve her tribal lands during the wars between Shaka Zulu and Matiwane. She succeeded in protecting the baTlokwas heritage although her son, who became King when she died, was eventually defeated by Mahweshwe.

Madame Yoko ruled and led the army of the fourteen tribes of the Kpa Mende Confederacy, the largest tribal group in 19th century Sierra Leone. At that time at least 15% of all the tribes in Sierra Leone were led by women, today approximately 9% have women rulers.

Menen Leben Amede was Empress of Ethopia. She commanded her own army and acted as regent for her son Ali Alulus. She was wounded and captured in a battle in 1847 but was ransomed by her son and continued to rule until 1853.

Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh, was a leader of the Dahomey Amazons under King Gezo. In 1851 she led an army of 6,000 women against the Egba fortress of Abeokuta. Because the Amazons were armed with spears, bows and swords while the Egba had European cannons only about 1,200 survived the extended battle. In 1892 King Behanzin of Dahomey (now Benin) was at war with the French colonists over trading rights. He led his army of 12,000 troops, including 2,000 Amazons into battle.

Despite the fact that the Dahomey army was armed only with rifles while the French had machine guns and cannons, the Amazons attacked when the French troops attempted a river crossing, inflicting heavy casualties. They engaged in hand to hand combat with the survivors eventually forcing the French army to retreat. Days later the French found a bridge, crossed the river and defeated the Dahomey army after fierce fighting. The Amazons burned fields, villages and cities rather than let them fall to the French but merely delayed Dahomey being absorbed as a French colony.

In the late 19th century Mukaya, the leader of the Luba people of central Africa whose nation stretched along the rain forest from Zaire to northern Zambia, led her warriors in battle against enemy tribes and rival factions. Initially she fought alongside her brother Kasongo Kalambo, after he was killed in battle she assumed sole control of the empire and the army.

Nehanda (1862-1898) was a priestess of the MaShona nation of Zimbabwe. She became a military leader of her people when the British invaded her country. She led a number of successful attacks on the English but was eventually captured and executed.

Taytu Betul (1850-1918) was Empress of Ethopia. During her 14 year reign she established and named the modern capital of Addis Ababa, she led troops in battle and negotiated peace treaties. She retired from public life after the death of her husband.

Yaa Asantewaa (1850-1921) the Queen Mother of one of the Asante states of Ghana led her army in continuous battles against the British until her capture.