A Tale of Queens

Today we are going to kick off Black History Month by honoring a few African Queens that deserve center stage when it comes to honoring the Ancestors. These Queens ruled with prestigious insight over armies, reformed their lands and left their mark in the world.

~ Queen Amanirenas: Warrior Queen ~

The first Queen we honor is a personal favorite; Queen Amanirenas, Queen Kandake of Kush. Her full name & title was Amanirenas Qore Li Kdwe Li. She was Ruling Queen Empresses of Kush (Ethiopia) and reigned in all her royal divinity from about 40BC to 10 BC. She was part of a long line of Kandakes, later translated to Candaces; meaning Queens or Queen Mother. Queen Amanirenas, was most known for her role in leading The Kushite armies, over 30,000 soldiers, against the Romans in a war of territory; an effort to keep the Romans out of Kush after they had taken over Egypt. She was described as brave, strong in stature and blind in one eye; an injury resulting from battle. Queen Amanirenas led her armies in battle against many known Romans such as Gaius Petronius. In her battles alongside her son Akindad, she took several cities and established strong holds during the war and oversaw peace treaties with the Roman Emperor Augustus. When she conquered, she feed slaves and claimed goods for her kingdom.

The battle between the kingdom of Kush and evading Rome lasted 3 years. Under the rule of Queen Amanirenas, not only did she keep them out of Kush but for a time she took territory for the Romans. She defeated 3 cohorts of the Roman Empire and even cut off the statue head of Emperor Augustus; a head she buried at the opening of her temple so she and her people could walk all over it.

She was a powerful warrior queen, military practitioner, and lead commander. Her army comprised of some of the most skilled archers, horses and elephants. Queen Amanirenas gave them so much hell; they had no choice but to negotiate a peace treaty; a treaty that was in high favor of the Kushiet’s terms and demands.

The land of Kush was nerve conquered under the rule of the Kandakes, the Queens who defended their lands under a matrilineal society structure. Next time some tells you a woman cannot rule; just tell them to look up Queen Amanirenas; the woman that took on Rome and won!

~ Queen Nzinga: The Strategic Diplomat ~

Next, We Honor Queen Nzinga Mbande, ruling queen of Angola and the Mbundu people. Born a daughter of the royal King in 1853, Queen Nzinga was a trusted and informed Queen who knew two very important things; when to negotiate and when to fight. When the Portuguese made a move on her territory, it was Queen Nzinga that entered into negotiations of peace with him on behalf of her brother, Ngola, who was currently King at that time. This would be the first of many peace talks and changes for the kingdom. One of the major changes would be the indoctrination of Christianity in the Angola kingdom.

Although Queen Nzinga first approached the matter of peace and negotiation, in the end she would see the greed of the guest in her land and set her armies to go to war. The actions that make this Call To War unique was the strategic plan behind the scenes orchestrated by Queen Nzinga. In 1627, after forming alliances with former rival states, she led her army against the Portuguese, initiating a thirty-year war against them.  She would also exploit European rivalry by forging an alliance with the Dutch and getting them to fighting for her. She took her enemy’s enemy and made them serve her purpose.

Queen Nzinga kept the Angola land and the Mbundu people safe for being under the control of the Portuguese and the growing slave trade they had emerging into south west Africa. Queen Nzinga is remembered for her political and diplomatic acumen, great wit and intelligence, as well as her brilliant military tactics. Contrary to what many want you to think, there was must resistance to the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Queen Nzinga is a prime example of that.

~ Queen Amanitore: The Visionary ~

Lastly We Honor, another Kandake Queen. Her name was Queen Amanitore and she was ruler over Kush (modern day Ethiopia) from 1AD to 20 AD. This makes her Queen at the time of Christ and she was also referred to in the Christian bible. (Acts 8:27) Queen Amanitore ruled as coregent alongside her husband, Pharaoh Natakamani. It is important to note that although she ruled with Natakamani, she was a true ruling partner with equal influence and rule over Kush if not more….a ancient power couple in many aspects.

Queen Amanitore was a full figured woman, a sign of wealth and prosperity in ancient Kush. Amanitore and Natakamani were the last great builders of Kush and their great temples and structures stand today. Amanitore’s royal palace was at Gebel Barkal which now is a UNESCO heritage site.  Their reign was one of the most successful eras for the Kushite Kingdom. During her reign, temples were rebuilt/restored; one being the Temple of Napata previously destroyed by Rome. Reservoirs for the retention of water were also constructed during her rule. One of the greatest things that stand out about this Queen was that she was open to many world views and practiced religious tolerance; meaning subjects of her kingdom were welcome to worship as they chose. This was not a very widely practice during this time but Queen Amanitore understood the importance of freedom for her people to conduct their own beliefs.

Queen Amanitore was a visionary, a restorer, and a progressively conscious leader. She loved her people and her land; showing it with her actions and practices. Her reign over Kush alongside Pharaoh Natakamani shows the powerful impact that unity between the black woman and her man can be when they move in harmony.

Salute to these three Queens. While we only choose three, there are a number of Great Queens that ruled in Africa and everyone is encouraged to research them for your own knowledge. History is there for us to be guided and inspired by. #KnowThySelf Happy Black History Month!!!

-Lauren Antoinette

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