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Ahhotep  

Hannington Ochwada

queen of Egypt, is one of the most prominent women leaders in ancient Egyptian history. She possessed numerous titles that provide us with invaluable insights into her role and stature in the New Kingdom. She was referred to as “Peace of the Moon.” Her father was King Tao I and her mother Queen Tetisheri. She was the sister and wife of her brother, Seqenenre Tao II, one of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt who died on the battlefield in a campaign that was aimed at expelling the Hyksos from Egypt. Ahhotep was the mother of Kamose and Ahmose, the subsequent kings of Egypt after the death of Tao II, and also the mother of Ahmose-Nefertari, wife of king Ahmose.

Some historians and Egyptologists considered Ahhotep the first of several of the most notable powerful and remarkable women of influence in the New Kingdom While some consider her to be the ...

Article

Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

pioneer Sudanese woman singer and activist during the struggle for Sudanese independence and the first woman to perform on the radio in Sudan. Born in 1905 in Kassala City in the eastern region of Sudan, Ahmad was the eldest among her seven siblings, including three brothers and four sisters. Among them was a sister Jidawiyya who played a crucial role with Ahmad in their journey as female musicians. Ahmad’s family was originally from Nigeria and migrated to Sudan in the late nineteenth century as pilgrims on their way to the holy places in Saudi Arabia. Her father, Musa Ahmad Yahiyya, was from the Fulani-Sokoto ethnic group, while her mother, Hujra, was from Hausa. Ahmad’s nickname is Aisha al-Falatiyyia, a reference to her father’s ethnic group, the Fulani, or Fallata, as they are known in Sudan.

The documented history indicates that Sudan served as a crossroads to the holy places in ...

Article

Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

Sudanese educator and human rights activist for women’s rights and an advocate for freedom and democracy, was born on 30 May 1935 in Omdurman one of three cities that constitute the capital of Sudan Khartoum Khartoum North and Omdurman Her parents were originally from the Nubian region in northern Sudan Ahmed was the only female among her three siblings She grew up in an environment that helped shape her future life as a liberal and progressive individual Her father Ibrahim Ahmed was an engineer who worked as a teacher in Gordon Memorial College Sudan He played an active role in Sudan s independence movement and served as the first Sudanese Deputy to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Khartoum the first chairman of the University of Khartoum Senate a member of the Executive Council the first Sudanese Parliament and founder and president of Mutamar a l Khiregeen Graduates ...

Article

pioneering Nigerian feminist, civil servant, and democratic activist, was born on 17 December 1923 in Okeigbo, a small town in present-day Ondo State, Nigeria. Her full name was Felicia Folayegbe Mosunmola Idowu Akintunde-Ighodalo. Her parents were Benjamin Olojomo Akintunde, a farmer, and Sarah (Ogunkemi) Akintunde, a direct descendant of the war leader and uncrowned Ooni-elect Derin Ologbenla of the Giesi Ruling House of Ile-Ife. Fola, as she was known, was their fourth, but first surviving, child. Although her parents were early converts to the Christian Missionary Society (CMS) mission in Ondo, she grew up in a family compound whose members also included followers of traditional Yoruba religious practices and Islam. Her father encouraged her to be self-reliant and assertive even if her actions sometimes disregarded gender expectations.

Young Fola Akintunde attended the local mission school whose headmaster recognized her potential and persuaded her father to allow her to complete primary ...

Article

Kathleen Sheldon

queen mother in Ghana, where she served as asantehemaa from around 1809 until about 1819, when she was removed from office after being involved in a failed rebellion against Osei Tutu Kwame. Her father was Apa Owusi, who held the position of mampon apahene, or chief of the locality of Mampon; her mother, Sewaa Awukuwa, was a member of the Asante royal family. It appears from some sources that Adoma Akosua was married to a son of Asantehene Osei Kwadwo.

When the ruling queen mother, Asantehemaa Konadu Yaadom, died in 1809, there were two women with a strong genealogical claim to succeed her. One was Konadu Yaadom’s own daughter, Yaa Dufi, and the other was Adoma Akosua. Adoma Akosua was a matrilateral cousin of Asantehene Osei Tutu Kwame (their mothers were sisters); as such she was eligible to be named asantehemaa and she was selected for ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Nigerian educator, civil servant, and women’s rights activist, was born in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, on 17 May 1925. Her family was extremely affluent, as she was the daughter of Sir Adesiji Aderemi (1889–1890), the traditional king of the city of Ile-Ife, one of the most important sacred sites in the spiritual traditions of the Yoruba people. One of her sisters, Awujoola Adesomi Olagbaju, went on to become a schoolteacher and headmaster in her own right.

Alakija received her early education in Nigeria. She attended the Aiyetoro Primary and the Aiyetoro Central Schools in Ile-Ife from 1933 to 1937. She also studied at the Kudeti Primary boarding school in Ibadan for a time. Eventually Alakija moved to England in 1946, where she enrolled in Westfield College at the University of London. She acquired her undergraduate degree in 1950 in history and then proceeded to continue her ...

Article

Robert Baum

Senegalese prophetess was born in the southwestern Senegalese township of Kabrousse a member of the Diola ethnic group Today the Diola number approximately six hundred thousand people primarily in Senegal but there are significant communities in Gambia and Guinea Bissau Generally the Diola are considered the best wet rice farmers in West Africa though they have been increasingly troubled by droughts since the 1930s Although many Diola are Muslim or Catholic in their primary religious affiliation they include the largest number of adherents of an indigenous African religion in the Senegambia region Before the colonial occupation by the French British and Portuguese the Diola had a tradition of direct revelation from the supreme being but it was limited to male prophetic leaders Shortly after colonization in the last years of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth women prophets began to gain influence especially among the southern ...

Article

Eugenio Fantusati

queen of Meroe, reigned during the second half of the first century BCE. She is shown dressed in ceremonial clothes on the pylon of her pyramid, Beg. n. 6, spearing bound prisoners: this action illustrates clearly the queen’s status as fully equal to the king in Meroitic ideology. Another form of her name is Amanishakheto.

In a second portrait found on the same monument (the original block is actually kept in Berlin) it is possible to observe the presence of three scars under her left eye. Considering that the practice of scarring was also employed for medical purposes, it has been hypothesized that Amanishaketo could have been the one-eyed kandake who fought the Romans during the 20s bce, especially since Amanishaketo’s presence inside the Dodekascoenus in that period is confirmed by a long inscription left by the same Kushite queen in Qasr Ibrim.

As the successor of Amanirenas and the ...

Article

Eugenio Fantusati

queen of Meroe, was crowned under the name of Merkare and reigned over the Meroitic empire in coregency with her husband, Natakamani, between the end of the first century BCE and the first decade of the first century CE.

As with the other Kushite queens, her title was kdke (kandake, or candace, probably translating as “regal sister”), an attribution common in Egypt among the royal brides during the Eighteenth dynasty and adopted later in Nubia by the brides of the Twenty-Fifth dynasty’s black pharaohs and subsequently by the wives of the Napatan and Meroitic sovereigns.

The complete lack of written sources relating to her kingdom forces us to make exclusive reference to the archaeological remains and above all to the reliefs in which Amanitore was represented The images at our disposal first of all show her in the prominent role of invincible warrior On the northern pylon of temple N ...

Article

Amina  

LaRay Denzer

sarauniya (queen) of Zazzau (present-day Zaria, Nigeria), was the legendary warrior and state builder who established the kingdom of Zazzau as a major Hausa state in the sixteenth century. Also known as Aminatu, she may have been born about 1533, but this is uncertain. She was the eldest daughter of Bakwa Turunku, the twenty-second sarki (ruler) of Zazzau (now Zaria). There are conflicting accounts about the gender of this ruler. Historian Abubakr Saʾad believes that she was a woman and argues that she very likely was the sarauniya of Kufena, the predecessor kingdom to Zazzau. Among the estates under her authority was Turunku. When an interregnum occurred, she was either appointed ruler or seized control of Kufena and in 1537 moved her capital to Zazzau which she named after her second daughter to secure land for expansion and better water supplies Her reign was mostly peaceful except for ...

Article

Moroccan female scribe, jurisprudent, and scholar, was a well-known inhabitant of nineteenth-century Tetouan. Her full name was Amina bint al-Hajj ʿAbd al-Latif ibn Ahmad al-Hajjaj.

Morocco had a long tradition of manuscript production, rivaled only by Egypt. Manuscripts in Arabic were created and copied there from the eighth down to the nineteenth centuries, when the arrival of lithography and machine printing virtually put an end to the professional scribe. Although the profession of scribe was normally the province of men in most parts of the Islamic world, in the western parts—Spain and North Africa—women played an important role. In the tenth century there were said to be a thousand women scribes in Cordova who were engaged in copying out Qurʾans. The names of some of these scribes are known, but little other information about them is available.

However in a few cases we do have more information about women scribes ...

Article

Stephanie Beswick

was born into the Pagok Pathiong Gok Dinka community in South Sudan during the 1860s. This was the turbulent height of the nineteenth-century Turco-Egyptian slaving era. She was taken as a slave from her village and brought to Tonj, a prominent regional slaving post. She was later taken north to the Mahdist capital of Omdurman and spent three years as a slave at nearby Buri. Like most female slaves, Anek underwent the brutal circumcision operation and was married informally to a man in Northern Sudan. She learned to speak Arabic.

With the arrival of the Anglo Egyptian colonial era Anek escaped slavery and returned to her homeland There she married a man named Dahl Marol and resumed a normal Dinka life As time passed she convinced her people of the value of the skills she had learned in the north particularly aggressiveness and fluency in Arabic she gradually gained a ...

Article

Beverly Mack

the most prominent female Muslim scholar of the Sokoto caliphate in West Africa was born a twin to a learned Fulani family in what is now northern Nigeria Her full name was Nana Asma u bint Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio At the time of her birth her father a Qadiriyya Sufi scholar and preacher was undergoing deep spiritual experiences It is said that these conditions led him to give his twin infants names other than the traditional gender appropriate versions of Hassan and Hussein after the twin grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad Instead Asma u s name harkens back to Asma the daughter of the first caliph the Prophet s close friend Abubakar To many in the nineteenth century Asma u s name was a clear indication that the Shehu anticipated his daughter s adult role to be as important in promoting the cause of a just Islam in the ...

Article

Iris Berger

South African labor organizer and women’s movement leader, was born in the diamond-mining town of Kimberley, the fourth of six children. Her father Herman Maswabi had come from Bechuanaland (now Botswana) to work on the mines and was a steward in the local Methodist church; her mother, Sara Voss, also Tswana, came from Kimberley. When her father’s brother and sister-in-law died, Baard’s family took in their children, and her parents sent her to stay with her father’s sister in Ramotswa, a village not far from Gaborone, where she was confirmed in the local Lutheran church. After Baard, then around eight years old, suffered serious burns in a cooking fire, her mother brought her back to the family home in Beaconsfield, just outside of Kimberley. She attended a Methodist school, learning in both English and Tswana. Shortly after she returned, her mother passed away during the 1918 flu epidemic.

When Baard ...

Article

Jodie N. Mader

an enslaved woman from South Africa, placed on public display in nineteenth-century Britain and France, where she became known as the “Hottentot Venus.” “Hottentot” was a derogatory word used to describe groups now called “Khoisan” and likely derived from European disparagement of so-called click languages. She was born to a Khoisan family in an area north of the Gamtoos River valley in the eastern Cape Colony. Her name is written sometimes as “Saartjie” (Afrikaans); however, the Anglophone “Sara” is most commonly used. Her mother died when she was an infant, and her father was a cattle driver. A commando raid in 1810 by the Dutch Boers decimated her village, and Baartman, now orphaned, was sent to the Cape to be sold into slavery.

Pieter Cesars a freed black purchased her She became a nursemaid for his brother Hendrik Cesars and his wife Anna Catharina The British physician Alexander Dunlop saw ...

Article

Gloria Chuku

an intelligent Hausa woman of Karo village in the then Zaria Province of northern Nigeria, was born to a polygynous Hausa father of Kanuri descent, Tosho, who was a farmer and a qurʾanic teacher. As a successful farmer, Tosho owned many slaves, who did most of the cultivation and marketing of his farm products. Paradoxically, his family prosperity depended on slavery and also evaporated because of slave raids and the final emancipation of slaves. Her mother, Fatsuma, was a secluded Muslim woman who prepared food and spun cotton for sale. Baba of Karo is also known as Baba Hasetu Dantsoho.

All that is known about Baba is based on interviews she granted to Mary Smith, the wife of Michael Smith, a Jamaican social anthropologist who did field research in northern Nigeria in the 1940s and 1950s. The interviews were carried out between November 1949 and January 1950 at ...

Article

Meghan Elisabeth Healy

liberal historian and politician active in South Africa, was born Violet Margaret Livingstone Hodgson on 11 January 1894 in Glasgow, Scotland. Her father, John Hodgson, emigrated to the Orange Free State, South Africa, shortly after Margaret’s birth, working as a merchant while Margaret’s mother, Lillias, raised their three young children in Scotland. After fighting against the British with the Irish Brigade in the Anglo-Boer War, John Hodgson went to the Atlantic island of Saint Helena as a prisoner of war. When war ended in 1902, officials repatriated him, but he was ostracized in his community. Six months after his return, he illegally boarded a ship bound for Port Elizabeth, where he worked as a bookkeeper. In 1904, John Hodgson’s family joined him in the Cape. He harbored liberal political beliefs, supporting legal equality and the extension of a nonracial franchise in southern Africa.

After attending the Holy Rosary ...

Article

Owen J. M. Kalinga

Malawi's first female president, and the second female head of state in postcolonial Africa, was born Joyce Mtila on 12 April 1950 in Ntogolo Village Traditional Authority Malemia Zomba District Ntogolo the site of the Domasi Church of Scotland Mission and from the early 1930s the home of the Jeanes Training College was one of the centers of education in colonial Malawi Her father Gray Mtila was in the colonial police service serving for a long time in Zomba town and her mother Edith was a homemaker and later a retail assistant in one of the Peoples Trading Center establishments Joyce Mtila attended primary schools in Zomba district and after completing high school at Providence Secondary School she trained in office management and worked for some years during which time she married Roy Kachale The union produced three children For part of the 1970s the Kachales lived in Nairobi ...

Article

Gerhard Seibert

politician and foreign minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, was born Alda Bandeira Tavares Vaz da Conceição on 22 September 1949. She was the daughter of a male nurse and his wife on the Àgua-Izé estate, Santana District, São Tomé Island. She married Noberto Costa Alegre, with whom she has two daughters. Bandeira attended primary school and secondary school in São Tomé and Luanda, Angola, respectively. From 1972 to 1974 she studied German philology at Lisbon University.

During her country’s decolonization process, following the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974 in Portugal, Bandeira became one of the prominent student members of the radical Associação Cívica pró-MLSTP, which struggled for her country’s total independence from Portugal under the leadership of the Liberation Movement of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP, founded in 1972), whose leaders were exiled at that time in Libreville, Gabon. However, in March 1975 owing to a ...

Article

Kathleen Sheldon

leading activist in the anticolonial movement in Guinea, was born in Bramaya-Ouassou. She went to Conakry in 1936, where she eventually joined the Foyer de la Basse Guinée, a mutual aid association for people from Lower Guinea. She worked as a tailor in Conakry before she was involved in a group that supported Sekou Touré during the nationalist struggles of the 1950s. She is remembered as the woman who approached Touré during the general strike of 1953 which was a key event in the Guinean nationalist struggle He asked her to help mobilize women to support the strike At a meeting of the strike committee where the women s wing was present for the first time Bangoura spoke for the women saying they would defend the men s activities and if the men were afraid the women were prepared to take their places at the front of the ...