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Edna G. Bay

kpojito, the reign-mate of King Tegbesu (r. 1740–1774) of the Fon kingdom of Dahomey (located in what is now southern Benin), was a commoner and possibly a slave. She was without question the most powerful female figure in eighteenth-century Dahomean history and arguably one of the most important individuals in the history of the kingdom. A woman noted for her spiritual powers, Hwanjile ruled in tandem with King Tegbesu. Together they secured the kingdom from various internal and external threats and reordered the spiritual life of the kingdom, ushering in a period of relative peace and prosperity.

Hwanjile was from Ajahome, an area to the west-southwest of Dahomey’s capital, Abomey. She was already an adult with two children and a reputation as an effective priest of the vodun or spirits when she came to Dahomey probably as a captive of war during the reign of King Agaja ...


Karina Hestad Skeie

Christian queen in the Kingdom of Madagascar, was born Ramoma, the daughter of Prince Razakaratrimo from the Imamo province of central Madagascar, and Princess Rafarasoa, the sister of Queen Ranavalona I. As she belonged to the porous political and ethnic group called Merina, she is also called a Merina queen, and the Kingdom of Madagascar the Merina kingdom, to distinguish it from other kingdoms existing earlier and simultaneously elsewhere in Madagascar. It is known that Ramoma had three brothers, and that she learned how to read and write. Sometime in 1845 or 1846 she married her cousin Rakoto (Rakotond Radama), joining her cousin Queen Rasoherina (born Princess Rabodo) as one of his wives. Upon his mother Queen Ranavalona I’s death in 1861, Rakoto ascended the throne as King Radama II. At the time, Ramoma’s eldest brother, Ramboasalama, was Radama II’s rival to the throne.

After Radama II s assassination ...