3 Women Who Led Powerful African Empires

(ORDO NEWS) — Long before the European colonization of Africa, powerful kingdoms and empires flourished on the continent. Some were led by women who led armies against European invaders to protect their people from conquest and enslavement.

Queen Amanirenas, circa 40 BC e.

Queen Amanirenas ruled the kingdom of Kush from 40 to 10 BC in the Nubian region, where Sudan is today. When the Roman emperor Augustus conquered neighboring Egypt in 30 BC and was planning an invasion of Kush, Amanirenas decided to launch a surprise attack on the Romans.

At the head of an army of 30,000, Amanirenas successfully captured three cities that were under Roman rule. But Rome soon struck back by invading Kush, destroying the kingdom’s capital and selling thousands of people into slavery.

After many years of bitter fighting and significant losses on both sides, negotiations began in 24 BC to end the war, culminating in a peace treaty five years after hostilities began.

Although the hostilities ended in a stalemate, Queen Amanirenas—unlike many of her neighbors—victoriously resisted the conquests of Rome, never ceding large territories or paying taxes to the empire. Amanirenas is remembered throughout the Nile Valley and beyond as the Nubian queen who conquered the Romans.

Queen Nanny (c. 1685-c. 1750)

Queen Nanny was the leader of the Jamaican Maroons, a community of former enslaved Africans who fought the British for their freedom. As a child, Nannie was kidnapped from Ghana and enslaved in Jamaica.

She escaped by joining other formerly enslaved people who sought refuge in the island’s Blue Mountains region. By 1720, thanks to her talent for leadership and military skills, she became the head of the Maroon settlement. That same year, she began training her men in guerrilla warfare.

3 Women Who Led Powerful African Empires 2Queen Nanny was one of the great African rulers

Queen Nanny led the Maroons in dozens of successful battles, freeing over 800 enslaved people. Her cunning strategy allowed the Maroons to catch the heavily armed British by surprise and significantly reduce their numbers. By 1740, the British were forced to sign a peace treaty with the Maroons, guaranteeing their freedom.

Yaa Asantewaa (c. 1840-1921)

Yaa Asantewaa was the queen of the prosperous Ashanti Empire, also called Asante, in present-day Ghana. As queen, she was the official protector of the empire’s most sacred thing, the Golden Throne.

Made of pure gold and considered the seat of the soul of the nation, this chair represented the royal and divine throne of the empire. When British troops invaded in 1886 and demanded possession of the sacred object, Asantewaa refused to comply. Instead, she raised an army and marched against the invaders.

3 Women Who Led Powerful African Empires 3Yaa Asantewaa was able to resist the British invaders who attacked her country

For months beginning in 1900, Asantewaa’s troops besieged the British occupation forces, which nearly fell. Only after the British brought into battle several thousand additional soldiers and artillery, they were able to defeat the army of the African warrior.

Asantewaa, who fought side by side with her people to the very end, was captured and exiled to the Seychelles, where she died in 1921.


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