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Kahina  

Allen J. Fromherz

semi legendary queen of the Aures Mountain Berbers who resisted the Arab Muslim conquest of North Africa Her name the Kahina meaning the sorceress in Arabic was ascribed to her by Arab chronicles Indeed the main sources describing the Arab conquest of the Berbers are all in Arabic and are written from the perspective of the conqueror Legends ascribed to Kahina therefore must be seen as part of a conquest narrative even as they often portray her as a noble adversary of the spread of Islam Nevertheless it is almost certain that Kahina represented a historic person a woman or perhaps even a group of different queens or chieftesses who resisted the Arab conquest in the late seventh century Her memory is preserved and celebrated even by the most strident Berber converts to Islam In recent years she has become a powerful symbol of Berber nationalism both within and beyond ...

Article

Tin Hinan  

Allen J. Fromherz

Saharan Berber ruler. Radiocarbon dated to the second half of the fifth century, the bones of a Saharan woman, Tin Hinan, continue to spark the intense interest of archaeologists and historians. The tomb and remains of the pre-Islamic desert queen have confirmed Saharan oral-historical accounts, as well as the written accounts of Roman and Arab scholars and travelers, about the practices and legends of Tamachek-speaking Saharan Berbers. Her skeleton and bone structure were remarkably similar to that of the living Tuareg (the veiled Berber nomads of the Sahara).

Little can be confidently said about events in the life of this remarkable woman. Her grave, much more elaborate than others from this period, suggests that she was a queen or a respected chieftess. Although her existence was probably well known to the inhabitants of the area, her tomb was first seen by modern Europeans only in 1927 when Byron Khun ...

Article

Yennenga  

Jean Ouédraogo

princess, ruler, and military leader, was born in Gambaga of the Dagomba country of northern Ghana. Her father was Naba Nedga and her grandfather Naba Gbewa of Pousga. An intrepid warrior, she married a hunter named Rialle late in life after fleeing the Dagomba. From their union was born a son named Ouedraogo, who is credited by historians with founding the sprawling medieval empire of the Mossi. Grief-stricken upon learning of the news of Ouedraogo’s death on the battlefield near Ouagadougou, Yennenga and Rialle both died within weeks and were buried in Zambanlga, Rialle’s native village.

It may never be possible to definitively elicit the facts dates and events surrounding the life of Yennenga Nonetheless the relevance and continued importance of their matriarch to the Mossi and to West Africa more generally cannot be overstated Despite the variations in the main narrative whose twists and turns remain rooted in the ...