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Amanitore  

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

‘Brown babies’  

David Killingray

Children born out of wedlock to white mothers and black fathers, mostly American GIs during and immediately after the Second World War. From 1942 onwards a total of 130,000 black GIs, part of a racially segregated US Army, were stationed in various parts of Britain, the largest presence of black men in the country's history. The US forces introduced their ‘Jim Crow’ policies into Britain, and for diplomatic reasons the British government permitted this. The British authorities also often ignored these practices when the Americans extended them off their military bases. Black GIs socializing with white women resulted in increased racial tension. Between 1943 and 1947 some 700 1 000 brown babies were born to white British women most of whom were unmarried although some had husbands serving in the forces Marriage to a black man and settlement in the United States was not an option Many mothers ...

Primary Source

Cathay Williams Story (1876)  

In this account printed in the St. Louis Daily Times in January 1876 African American Cathay Williams recounts her time as a soldier during the Civil War Officially women could not enlist as soldiers in the war but the army did not require identification and often did not have a physical examination Although uncommon there are numerous accounts of females who served in the war in masculine attire and identity and it is estimated that over one hundred women served passing as men For some women disguising their sex afforded an opportunity to fight for their country For others dressing as men was not confined to wartime and was simply a way of life While Cathay Williams was not the only woman who served in the Civil War she is the only known female Buffalo Soldier the first black army regiments that served in the West during the late ...

Article

Cleopatra VII  

Prudence Jones

queen of Egypt, was the last ruler in the Ptolemaic dynasty, which held power in Egypt from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE until the death of Cleopatra in 30 BCE. The Egyptian ruler referred to as Cleopatra was Cleopatra VII, daughter of Ptolemy XII, one of Alexander the Great’s Macedonian generals.

The identity of Cleopatra s mother is not known for certain She may have been the daughter of Ptolemy XII and his first wife Cleopatra V Cleopatra V disappears from the historical record sometime before 68 BCE however and it is unclear whether this disappearance occurred before or after Cleopatra s birth in 69 BCE It is possible that Cleopatra s mother may have been a concubine of Ptolemy XII who himself was the son of Ptolemy IX and a concubine The third option is that Cleopatra was the daughter of Ptolemy XII s second ...

Article

Fannu  

Osire Glacier

a princess of the Almoravid dynasty who dressed as a man and fought the Almohads during the conquest of Marrakech in 1147, was the daughter of Umar Ben Yintan. Very little is known about the life of Princess Fannu. What little information there is deals primarily with the nature of her death. An examination of the culture and politics of the region during this time provides further information and clarification on the nature of her life and death.

Fannu lived in the Almoravid palace during the first half of the twelfth century a period when the Almoravid Empire was in decline Considering that women played an important role in Almoravid society in general and within the royal palace in particular it is entirely possible that Fannu was visible and influential in the royal court The Almoravid dynasty s founder Yusuf ibn Tashfin and his wife Zaynab Nafzawiyya governed alongside ...

Article

Gudit  

Zuzanna Augustyniak

also known as Yodit or Judith, or under her Ethiopian nickname “Esato” (“Fire”), was a legendary Ethiopian queen, who in the tenth century is claimed to have invaded Aksum with her army, burned and plundered the city, and overthrown the Aksumite king, thus causing the downfall of the Aksumite Empire. She is also said to be the founder of the Zagwe dynasty.

Much of the legend of Gudit is derived from the Chronicle of Ethiopia, Tekle Haymanot’s thirteenth-century compilation of various chronicles from different churches and monasteries. Portions of these manuscripts are cited in the scholar Sergew Hable Selassie’s 1972 study Gudit was in this account a princess from a royal house Her grandfather was the emperor Wedem Asfere and her mother was from the Hahayle district in Tigray The chronicle suggests that due to an intrigue Gudit was banished from the court and became a prostitute in ...

Article

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

Lokko, Mary  

LaRay Denzer

Ghanaian political organizer, was a young dressmaker from the Osu (Christianborg) section of Accra. Little is known about her early life. The Italo-Abyssinian conflict galvanized her interest in politics. Like many black people in the colonies, Europe, and the United States, she was outraged by Italy’s brutal attack on Ethiopia, one of Africa’s two remaining independent countries. In October 1935 she was appointed a member of the Ethiopian Defence committee, a body jointly established by the West African Youth League (WAYL) and the Ex-Servicemen’s Association to raise funds to support the Ethiopian resistance. Impressed by her fervor, the editor of the Vox Populi, a Gold Coast (now Ghana) newspaper, described her as a “noble example of sincere racial sympathy.” The editor called on male leaders to pay more attention to women’s issues, especially education and participation in public affairs.

Lokko became involved in the WAYL, established in 1934 ...

Article

Mboj, Ndate Yala  

Dior Konaté

queen of the Senegalese kingdom of Walo, reigned from 1846 to 1855 during a period of unprecedented political change in western Africa. The last of thirteen ruling queens of Walo, a kingdom in northern Senegal, Mboj is remembered for her resistance to the French. The daughter of linger Fatim Yamar Khouryaye Mboj and brak Amar Fatim Borso Yala Mboj, Ndate Yala belonged to the Tédiek, one of the three royal families who had the right of succession to the throne of Walo.

In Walo, queens and kings were expected to be descendents of the Dyoos, Tédiek, or Loggar families on the maternal side or from the Mboj paternal line. Powerful political positions were also filled by both men and women from these noble families. Two important political positions were specifically for women. The linger usually translated as queen mother was typically the mother or maternal sister of the brak ...

Article

Mboj, Njembot  

Dior Konaté

queen mother and ruler of the Senegalese kingdom of Walo, was born at Nder, the capital of Walo. She was the daughter of linger (queen mother) Fatim Yamar Khouryaye Mboj and brak (king) Amar Fatim Borso, and the sister of Ndate Yala Mboj, who succeeded her on the throne. The two sisters were ten and twelve years old when the famous tragedy occurred that is still remembered and celebrated in Senegal as the Talaatay Nder (the Tuesday of Nder): on 7 March 1820 Njembot and Ndate’s mother, along with several other royal women, chose to end their lives rather than surrender to the slave raiders whom they had defeated earlier that day. Raised by their paternal aunt, Ndickou Fatim Borso, the two sisters maintained Tiédek rule over Walo until it became in 1855 the first territory to be subdued by French rule in sub Saharan Africa Despite the circumstances ...

Article

Minah V, Matilda Lansana  

Florence M. Margai

one of the few female traditional rulers in the predominantly patriarchal society of Sierra Leone, was born on 25 March 1935 in Boma Sakrim, a small seaside village in Pujehun District. Her mother was Keturah Kullah Massallay, a descendant from the village of Basale, also within this district. Her father, once a catechist of the Anglican faith and a schoolteacher, believed strongly in educating children beyond the elementary school level. At an early age, Matilda was sent to Freetown, the nation’s capital city, which was known for having the best educational institutions in West Africa. In Freetown, she resided with a friend of the family, Alice Campbell, while she completed her primary and secondary education. She later enrolled in the Union College for Teachers and graduated with a teacher’s certificate in 1961.

Following her graduation she married Albert T Lansana a registered nursing practitioner and the couple had eight ...

Article

Nefertiti  

Joyce Tyldesley

consort of Akhenaten (formerly known as Amenhotep IV; r. c. 1352–1336 BCE), the tenth pharaoh of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty. She lived with her husband and six daughters at Amarna, where she played an important role in the worship of the solar deity known as the Aten.

Nefertiti s origins are obscure We know that she had a younger sister Mutnodjmet who appears in contemporary scenes depicting the Amarna court but she had no other known relatives Her name which translates as the Beautiful Woman Has Come hints that she may have been a foreigner maybe a foreign princess who literally arrived in Egypt to marry the king But Nefertiti s name was not extraordinary and as the lady Tiy wife of the courtier Ay claims to have been Nefertiti s nurse it is now generally accepted that Nefertiti was born a member of Egypt s wealthy elite Circumstantial evidence suggests ...

Article

The New York City Anti‐Draft Riots  

Hans L. Trefousse

Caused by a newly enacted draft law, which fell heavily upon the poor because of the clause offering an exemption to anyone furnishing a substitute or paying a $300 fee, the riot started on 13 July 1863, and lasted until 17 July, when newly arrived troops brought it under control.

New York City had long been seething with discontent. A Democratic community in an often Republican state, it contained many immigrants, especially Irish Catholics, who feared black competition and were enraged by the Emancipation Proclamation. Fueled by the exasperation of the badly exploited poor and the increasingly difficult situation of many workingmen, on Monday, 13 July, a large group of disaffected volunteer firemen and laborers converged upon the district office of the Provost Marshal responsible for implementing conscription, stormed and wrecked the building, and stopped the draft process. Superintendent of Police John A. Kennedy was ...

Article

Pheretime  

Duane W. Roller

queen of the Greek city of Cyrene (Kyrene) in North Africa and an important political leader of the era, is known through Herodotus’s detailed account of the early history of the city (4.162-7, pp. 200–205). Her origin and background are unknown, and she appears in the historical record for only a few years in the 520s BCE, when she was already of mature age. Yet her prominence suggests that she was a blood member of the Battiad dynasty that had ruled Cyrene for generations, and into which she married, as Herodotos described her both as the daughter and the wife of Battos. Her father may have been Battos II (d. c. 570 BCE)—marriages within the family were practiced at Cyrene—and her husband without doubt was Battos III.

Battos III came to the throne around the middle of the sixth century BCE Two of his children are known Arkesilaos III who ...

Article

Putney, Martha  

Kelli Cardenas Walsh

military officer and historian, was born Martha Settle, the fifth of eight children born to Ida Baily, a homemaker and Oliver Settle, a laborer, in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Martha Settle attended Norristown public school in an integrated school system, where she excelled in Latin. Graduating from high school in 1935, she attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., on a scholarship. There she majored in history and education earning a bachelors degree in 1939 and a masters degree in history the following year.

After graduation Putney went to work for the U.S. Civil Service Commission and then the War Manpower Commission, before joining the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on 1 February 1943 Her decision to join the WAAC was met with family approval Like many of the early African American WAAC recruits she took her basic training at Fort Des Moines in Iowa While at basic training ...

Article

Revolutionary War  

Betty Wood

Apart from their common physiology black women on the eve of the American Revolution were no more alike than were their white counterparts They were differentiated and differentiated themselves in various ways by their legal status place of birth age place of residence and occupation as well as by religious and sexual preferences Regardless of these differences and their precise circumstances by the mid 1760s all black women from Massachusetts in the North to Georgia in the South were beginning to wonder what the implications of the escalating political crisis between Britain and its mainland American colonies meant for themselves and their loved ones During the next quarter of a century they would find themselves presented with an array of challenges and opportunities that both promised and threatened to change their lives forever Black women would respond in different ways to the situations in which they found themselves Not for ...

Article

Ririkumutima  

Jeremy Rich

Burundian queen mother and political leader, was born sometime in the mid-nineteenth century in the kingdom of Burundi. Her full name was Nidi Ririkumutima Bizama Hitanzimiza Mwezi. She was married to Mwezi Gisabo, the king of Burundi, just as German forces finally reached the kingdom in the mid-1890s. Mwezi Gisabo held off the limited efforts by German officers to defeat his kingdom through military force, but he finally accepted German authority on 6 June 1903 in the Treaty of Kiganda. Ririkumutima was Mwezi Gisabo’s favorite wife. She bore him four sons: Karabona, Bishinga, Nduwumwe, and Bangura. She held a great deal of power in her own right. According to oral accounts, she intervened on behalf of a man falsely accused by members of the royal court. Ririkumutime demanded that the case be judged by the Bashingantahe royal council, who acquitted the man of the charges.

After Mwezi Gisabo s death ...

Article

Shajarat al-Durr  

Shauna Huffaker

ruler and sultana of medieval Egypt, was a Turkoman slave imported to Egypt at an unknown date and age. Shajarat al-Durr would briefly succeed her husband as ruler of Egypt because of her own political agility combined with the disarray of the fading Ayyubid dynasty and fortuitous deaths and assassinations of other key competitors for power. She came to be part of the household of the Ayyubid sultan al-Salih Ayyub, who reigned from 1238 to 1249 and rose to become his favorite concubine and the mother of his son al Khalil Medieval Egyptian historians record that during the sultan s life Sharajat al Durr s influence was not restricted to family concerns and that the sultan consulted her on affairs of state She bore the sultan a son after which he married her significantly elevating her status and power Al Salih was away in Syria and already in ill ...

Article

Sitt al-Mulk  

Christine D. Baker

Fatimid princess in Egypt, was born in September or October of 970 in North Africa in al-Mansuriyya to the Fatimid prince Nizar Abu Mansur (who became al-ʿAziz) and an anonymous Christian mother. Half-sister to the sixth Fatimid caliph al-Hakim, she was the last known child of a Fatimid caliph born in the Maghrib. She moved with the Fatimid court to Cairo in 971.

Sitt al-Mulk was raised in the Fatimid court in Cairo, and her father al-ʿAziz showered her with gifts and afforded her lavish living quarters. According to the fourteenth-century Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi, she had 4,000 slave-girls working for her, the most famous of whom was Taqarrub (d. 1024), who had been Sitt al-Mulk’s mother’s slave, and is known as her chief confidant and informant.

Sitt al Mulk s role in the Fatimid court is contentiously debated though her power is not questioned Being a member of the Fatimid ...