The mythical story of an all female warrior clan known as the Amazons; was borrowed from the real life story of the Dahomey female warriors of modern day Benin republic. They are the real life warrior Amazons who fought the colonizers. Even the Dora Milaje warrior characters from the movie Black Panther; are an inspiration from this Dahomey Female Warriors.
If you happen to time travel to the years 1625-1894, in the West African country of Benin, you will find in existence; in the Kingdom Dahomey; a kingdom with an all-female army that fought for their land and king. These women, known as the Dahomey Amazons and referred to as Mino by historians, began as royal guards for Queen Hangbe.
However, Queen Hangbe was overthrown by her younger brother and her reign as head of the kingdom wiped out; causing her to become a myth for some. Anyways, the Queen’s legacy continues with her descendants in Abomey, the former capital of the kingdom.
Dahomey Female Warriors
Despite the overthrowing of Queen Hangbe, The Dahomey female Warriors who were tough to say the least; and would continue to be royal guards for the subsequent kings and eventually would become an integral part of the army. These warriors fought hard and fought with their male counterparts against the French; who looked to colonize the area as they had done with other parts of Africa.
The female warriors were often observed by visiting European officials at various ceremonies and staged “mock” battles; and by most accounts the visitors reported the Amazons’ fighting skills to be equal; and sometimes superior – to those of the male Dahomian army.
The fierceness of these women would be seen by Europeans, with written and oral accounts of their prowess shared. Some estimate that the army reached 8,000 by the 19th century, and researchers stating a number of them would live on to the 1940s and even the 1960s.
Consequently, The last survivor of the Dahomey Amazons is thought to have been a woman named Nawi; who also claimed to have fought the French in 1892 in a 1978 interview with a Beninese historian. She purportedly died in November 1979, aged well over 100, as mentioned in; “The ‘Amazons’ of Dahomey” (1993) by Robin Law.
The Dahomey Amazons displayed to the world a version of women and their roles in society that we do not consistently see; one where their role is equal to that of their male counterparts and they are sought after for their fighting talents. Their independence and strength empowers us all, from women in local communities in Benin; standing up for themselves to being the inspirations of the Dora Milaje of Black Panther.