Legends of Africa

Legends of Africa

Africa has a wealth of history which is largely unrecorded. Myths, fables and legends abound.

Imhotep of Egypt

External reference:
* http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/imhotep.shtml
* http://www.nbufront.org/html/MastersMuseums/JHClarke/HistoricalPersonalities/hp2.html
* http://touregypt.net/featurestories/imhotep.htm

The father of medicine, the first architect, the builder of first pyramid.

Of the non royal population of Egypt, probably one man is known better than all others. So successful was Imhotep (Imhetep, Greek Imouthes) that he is one of the world's most famous ancients, and his name, if not his true identity, has been made even more famous by various mummy movies. Today, the world is probably much more familiar with his name then that of his principal king, Djoser. Imhotep, whose name means "the one that comes in peace" existed as a mythological figure in the minds of most scholars until the end of the nineteenth century when he was established as a real historical person. [http://touregypt.net/featurestories/imhotep.htm]

Imhotep was the world's first named architect who built Egypt's first pyramid. He is often recognized as the world's first doctor, a priest, scribe, sage, poet, astrologer, and a vizier and chief minister, though this role is unclear, to Djoser (reigned 2630–2611 BC), the second king of Egypt's third dynasty. He may have lived under as many as four kings. An inscription on one of that king's statues gives us Imhotep's titles as the "chancellor of the king of lower Egypt", the "first one under the king", the "administrator of the great mansion", the "hereditary Noble", the "high priest of Heliopolis", the "chief sculptor", and finally the "chief carpenter".

As a builder, Imhotep is the first master architects who we know by name. He is not only credited as the first pyramid architect, who built Djoser's Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara, but he may have had a hand in the building of Sekhemkhet's unfinished pyramid, and also possibly with the establishment of the Edfu Temple, but that is not certain. The Step Pyramid remains today one of the most brilliant architecture wonders of the ancient world and is recognized as the first monumental stone structure.

Imhotep's best known writings were medical text. As a physician, Imhotep is believed to have been the author of the Edwin Smith Papyrus in which more than 90 anatomical terms and 48 injuries are described. He may have also founded a school of medicine in Memphis, a part of his cult center possibly known as "Asklepion, which remained famous for two thousand years. All of this occurred some 2,200 years before the Western Father of Medicine Hippocrates was born.

Sir William Osler tells us that Imhotep was the:

"..first figure of a physician to stand out clearly from the mists of antiquity." Imhotep diagnosed and treated over 200 diseases, 15 diseases of the abdomen, 11 of the bladder, 10 of the rectum, 29 of the eyes, and 18 of the skin, hair, nails and tongue. Imhotep treated tuberculosis, gallstones, appendicitis, gout and arthritis. He also performed surgery and practiced some dentistry. Imhotep extracted medicine from plants. He also knew the position and function of the vital organs and circulation of the blood system. The Encyclopedia Britannica says, "The evidence afforded by Egyptian and Greek texts support the view that Imhotep's reputation was very respected in early times. His prestige increased with the lapse of centuries and his temples in Greek times were the centers of medical teachings."

Along with medicine, he was also a patron of architects, knowledge and scribes. James Henry Breasted says of Imhotep:

"In priestly wisdom, in magic, in the formulation of wise proverbs; in medicine and architecture; this remarkable figure of Zoser's reign left so notable a reputation that his name was never forgotten. He was the patron spirit of the later scribes, to whom they regularly poured out a libation from the water-jug of their writing outfit before beginning their work.

He was worshiped even in Greece where he was identified with their god of medicine, Aslepius. . He was honored by the Romans and the emperors Claudius and Tiberius had inscriptions praising Imhotep placed on the walls of their Egyptian temples. He even managed to find a place in Arab traditions, especially at Saqqara where his tomb is thought to be located.

Imhotep lived to a great age, apparently dying in the reign of King Huni, the last of the dynasty. His burial place has not been found but it has been speculated that it may indeed be at Saqqara, possibly in an unattested mastaba 3518.

Of the details of his life, very little has survived though numerous statues and statuettes of him have been found. Some show him as an ordinary man who is dressed in plain attire. Others show him as a sage who is seated on a chair with a roll of papyrus on his knees or under his arm. Later, his statuettes show him with a god like beard, standing, and carrying the ankh and a scepter.

hango of Oyo Empire

External reference:
* [http://www.angelfire.com/fl3/CHANGO/index.html CHANGO - Africa's Greatest King]

The Warrior, the King, the god of Thunder.

Shango was the fourth king of Oyo in Yorubaland who brought prosperity to the Oyo Empire. Many stories have been told about him, and several myths surround him. He stands as the cornerstone of a good part of Afro-Caribbean religion and worship.

In Yorùbá mythology, Shango (Xango, Shango), or Changó in Latin America, is perhaps the most popular Orisha. He is a Sky Father, god of thunder and the ancestor of the Yoruba. In the Lukumí (O lukumi = "my friend") religion of the Caribbean, Shango is considered to be the focal point as he represents the Oyo people of West Africa. During the time of European Colonialism, the Oyo Kingdom was sacked and pillaged and its people chained and forced into slavery in the Caribbean and Brazil. Every major Orisha initiation ceremony performed in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela within the past few hundred years have been based on the traditional Shango ceremony of Ancient Oyo. Such ceremonies survived the Middle Passage and are considered to be the most complete traditional prctices to have arrived on Western shores. This variation of the Yoruba initiation ceremony became the basis of all Orisha initiations in the West.

The energy received from this Deity of Thunder is also seen as a "major symbol of African resistance against an enslaving European culture". Shango rules the colors "red and white"; his sacred number is "6"; his symbol is the "oshe" (double-headed axe), which represents swift and balanced justice. He is owner of the "Bata" (3 double-headed drums) and of music in general, as well as the Art of Dance and Entertainment.

Shango is worshipped in Haitian Vodou, as a god of thunder and weather; in Brazilian Candomblé Ketu (under the name Xangô); in Umbanda, as the powerful loa Nago Shango; in Trinidad as Shango God Of Thunder, drumming and dance ; and in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela - the Santeria equivalent of St. Barbara, [ [http://religion-cults.com/art/chango.htm Shango syncretism] - religion-cults.com] a traditional colonial disguise for the Deity known as Changó.

In art, Shango is depicted with a double-axe on his three heads. He is associated with the holy animal, the ram, and the holy colors of red and white.

Legend also states that he initiated the style of plaiting men's hair. He saw how beautiful and elegant his favourite wife, Oya, looked with her elegant hair stylings, so he ordered Oya to plait his hair in the same fashion. This caused a major uproar among the people, as no one would have ever dared to touch a King's head.

Kquanta Keller the Montara

At a young age Kquanta and his mother fled Kenya to Sudan to escape from the massacre of a war fought in Kenya. This war was led by a malicious dictator who destroyed anyone who opposed him including women and children which is how Kquanta lost his father leading his mother and himself to flee.

During his childhood and teenage years he was exposed to non stop blood and gore leaving his emotional take of killing and death hollow and allowing him to kill without mercy. Knowing the struggle back in his homeland, Kquanta trained his leadership skills and honed his fighting skills whilst building up a formidable army of followers and supporters from fellow Kenyans who had fled because of the war. When Kquanta built up a strong enough tribal army (the Montaras) to rival the Kenyan dictator, he led his tribe to do battle with the Kenyans and after five long, restless months of fighting, the Montaras were barely successful in their victory.

Kquanta Keller submerged a hero and regained control of Kenya for his people and became the self-appointed leader of the Kenyans. He did however still face oppression from smaller tribes though only one was successful. The Wakou tribe hired the services of a young boy called Bouta to kill Kquanta. The tribe used a young boy as they knew Kquanta looked after young fatherless children in hopes of giving them the father figure they needed (and the one Kquanta lacked as a child). Bouta arrived at the Montara tribe and was taken in by Kquanta just like the other children. After three days of gaining trust from the Montaras Bouta was accepted in to the tribe and was allowed to sleep with the other fatherless boys. During the night Bouta assassinated Kquanta. This led to the downfall of the Montaras allowing the Wakou tribe to gain control over Kenya.

haka the Zulu

External reference:
* http://www.blackhistorypages.net/pages/shaka.php
* http://www.nbufront.org/html/MastersMuseums/JHClarke/HistoricalPersonalities/hp18.html

Shaka (sometimes spelled Tshaka, Tchaka or Chaka; ca. 1787 – ca. 22 September 1828) was a Zulu leader.

He is widely credited with transforming the Zulu tribe from a small clan into the beginnings of a nation that held sway over the large portion of Southern Africa between the Phongolo and Mzimkhulu rivers. His military prowess and destructiveness have been widely credited. One "Encyclopædia Britannica" article (Macropaedia Article "Shaka" 1974 ed) asserts that he was something of a military genius for his reforms and innovations. Other writers take a more limited view of his achievements. Nevertheless, his statesmanship and vigour in assimilating some neighbours and ruling by proxy marks him as one of the greatest Zulu chieftains.

King Jaja of Opobo

External reference: [http://www.blackhistorypages.net/pages/jaja.php] King Jaja of Opobo(1821-1891)

Born in Igboland and sold as a slave to a Bonny trader at the age of twelve, he was named Jubo Jubogha by his first master. He was later sold to Chief Alali, the head of the Opobu Manila Group of Houses. Called Jaja by the British, this gifted and enterprising individual eventually became one of the most powerful men in the eastern Niger Delta.

The Niger Delta, where the Niger empties itself into the Gulf of Guinea in a system of intricate waterways, was the site of unique settlements called city-states.

From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, Bonny, like the other city-states, gained its wealth from the profits of the slave trade. Here, an individual could attain prestige and power through success in business and, as in the case of Jaja, a slave could work his way up to head of state. The House was a socio-political institution and was the basic unit of the city-state.

In the nineteenth century — after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807—the trade in slaves was supplanted by the trade in palm oil, which was so vibrant that the region was named the Oil Rivers area.

The Houses in Bonny and other city-states controlled both the internal and external palm oil trade because the producers in the hinterland were forbidden to trade directly with the Europeans on the coast; the Europeans never left the coast for fear of malaria.

Astute in business and politics, Jaja became the head of the Anna Pepple House, extending its activities and influence by absorbing other houses, increasing operations in the hinterland and augmenting the number of European contacts. A power struggle ensued among rival factions in the houses at Bonny leading to the breakaway of the faction led by Jaja. He established a new settlement, which he named Opobo. He became King Jaja of Opobo and declared himself independent of Bonny.

Strategically located between Bonny and the production areas of the hinterland, King Jaja controlled trade and politics in the delta. In so doing, he curtailed trade at Bonny and fourteen of the eighteen Bonny houses moved to Opobo.

In a few years, he had become so wealthy that he was shipping palm oil directly to Liverpool. The British consul could not tolerate this situation. Jaja was offered a treaty of "protection", in return for which the chiefs usually surrendered their sovereignty. After Jaja's initial opposition, he was reassured, in vague terms, that neither his authority nor the sovereignty of Opobo would be threatened.

Jaja continued to regulate trade and levy duties on British traders, to the point where he ordered a cessation of trade on the river until one British firm agreed to pay duties. Jaja refused to comply with the consul's order to terminate these activities, despite British threats to bombard Opobo. Unknown to Jaja, the Scramble for Africa had taken place and Opobo was part of the territories allocated to Great Britain. This was the era of gunboat diplomacy, where Great Britain used her naval power to negotiate conditions favorable to the British.

Lured into a meeting with the British consul aboard a warship, Jaja was arrested and sent to Accra, where he was summarily tried and found guilty of "treaty breaking" and "blocking the highways of trade".

He was deported to St. Vincent (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), West Indies and four years later, he died en route to Nigeria after he was permitted to return.

Ironically, Jaja's dogged insistence on African independence and effective resistance exposed British imperialism and made him the first victim of foreign territorial intrusion in West Africa. The fate of Jaja reverberated through the entire Niger delta. Amazed at this turn of events, the other delta chiefs quickly capitulated.

In addition, the discovery of quinine as the cure for malaria enabled the British traders to bypass the middlemen and deal directly with the palm oil producers, thus precipitating the decline of the city-states.

King Jaja's downfall ensured a victory for British supremacy, paving the way for the eventual imposition of the colonial system in this region by the end of the century

Askia Mohammed I (Askia the Great) of Timbuktu

External reference:
* http://www.blackhistorypages.net/pages/askia.php
* http://www.nbufront.org/html/MastersMuseums/JHClarke/HistoricalPersonalities/hp15.html

Mohammed Ben Abu Bekr "Askia the Great" (1538)

Mohammed Ben Abu Bekr, the favored general of Sunni Ali, believed that he was entitled to the throne after Sunni Ali's death, rather than Ali's son, Abu Kebr.

Claiming that the power was his by right of achievement, Mohammed attacked the new ruler a year later and defeated him in one of the bloodiest battles in history. When one of Sunni Ali's daughters heard the news, she cried out "Askia", which means "forceful one." This title was taken by Mohammed as his new name.

Askia began by consolidating his vast empire and establishing harmony among the conflicting religions and political elements. Under the leadership of Askia, the Songhay Empire flourished until it became one of the richest empires of that period. Timbuctoo became known as "The Center of Learning", "The Mecca of the Sudan", and "The Queen of the Sudan".

With his empire firmly established, Askia resumed his attack on the unbelievers, carrying the rule of Islam into new lands. Askia the Great, made Timbuctoo one of the world's greatest centers of commerce and learning. The brilliance of the city was such, that it still shines in the imagination after three centuries like a star, though dead, continues to send its light.

Askia the Great made Timbuktu (Archaic English: "Timbuctoo"; Koyra Chiini: "Tumbutu"; French: "Tombouctou") one of the world's great centers of learning and commerce. The brilliance of the city was such that it still shines in the imagination after three centuries like a star which, though dead, continues to send its light toward us.

Such was its splendor that in spite of its many vicissitudes after the death of Askia, the vitality of Timbuktu is not extinguished.

Ancient Egypt

Mohammed Ben Abu Bekr, the favored general of Sunni Ali, believed that he was entitled to the throne after Sunni Ali's death, rather than Ali's son, Abu Kebr.

Claiming that the power was his by right of achievement, Mohammed attacked the new ruler a year later and defeated him in one of the bloodiest battles in history. When one of Sunni Ali's daughters heard the news, she cried out "Askia", which means "forceful one." This title was taken by Mohammed as his new name.

Askia began by consolidating his vast empire and establishing harmony among the conflicting religions and political elements. Under the leadership of Askia, the Songhay Empire flourished until it became one of the richest empires of that period. Timbuctoo became known as "The Center of Learning", "The Mecca of the Sudan", and "The Queen of the Sudan".Tomb of AskiaTomb of Askia

With his empire firmly established, Askia resumed his attack on the unbelievers, carrying the rule of Islam into new lands. Askia the Great, made Timbuctoo one of the world's greatest centers of commerce and learning. The brilliance of the city was such, that it still shines in the imagination after three centuries like a star, though dead, continues to send its light towards us.

Such was its splendor that in spite of its many vicissitudes after the death of Askia, the vitality of Timbuktu is not extinguished.

Oyo Empire

Now part of Nigeria

The Oyo Empire (c. 1400 - 1835) was a West African empire of what is today western Nigeria. The empire was established by the Yoruba in the 15th century and grew to become one of the largest West African states encountered by colonial explorers. It rose to preeminence through wealth gained from trade and its possession of a powerful cavalry. The Oyo Empire was the most politically important state in the region from the mid-17th to the late 18th century, holding sway not only over other Yoruba states, but also over the Fon kingdom of Dahomey (located in the state now known as the Republic of Benin).

Ghana Empire

Ashanti Kingdom

External reference:
* http://www.blackhistorypages.net/pages/asantewa.php

Now part of Ghana

Home of the famed Ashanti Warriors.

The Ashanti, or Asante, are a major ethnic group in Ghana. The Ashanti speak Twi, an Akan language similar to Fante. For the Ashanti (Asante) Confederacy see Asanteman.

Prior to European colonization, the Ashanti people developed a large and influential empire in West Africa. The Ashanti later developed the powerful Ashanti Confederacy and became the dominant presence in the region.

The Ashanti, Adansi, Akyem, Assin, and Denkyira peoples of Ghana, like the Baule of Ivory Coast, are subgroups of the West African Akan nation said to have migrated from the vicinity of the north-western Niger River after the fall of the Ghana Empire in the 1200s. [http://acona-usacanada.org/asantehistory1.html] Evidence of this is seen in royal courts of the Akan Kings reflected by that of the Ashanti kings whose processions and ceremonies show remnants of ancient Ghana ceremonies. Ethnolinguists have substantiated the migration by tracing word usage and speech patterns along West Africa. [ [http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/history/ History of Ghana ] ]

Thus, although the Ghana Empire was geographically different from present-day Ghana, some of its people, specifically the Akan, moved to what is today Ghana, hence the namesake. In fact the North African Almoravid dynasty gold coin was renowned throughout the medieval world as being the purest gold, since West African gold was 92% pure at the time it was mined, higher than old Egyptian gold ore, which started at 85%, and later refined to 95% gold. Evidence of Ashanti connection to the Islamic world is the Ashanti word for money - "sikka" - the same as the Arabic word for minting money. [ [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Ashanti.html Ashanti - Encyclopedia.com ] ]

Bambara Empire

The Bamana Empire (also Bambara Empire or Ségou Empire) was a large pre-colonial West Africa
West African
state based at Ségou, now in Mali. It was ruled by the Kulubali or Coulibaly dynasty established circa 1640 by Fa Sine also known as Biton-si-u. The empire existed as a centralized state from 1712 to the 1861 invasion of Toucouleur conqueror El Hadj Umar Tall.

The Bambara Empire was structured around traditional Bambara institutions, including the "kòmò", a body to resolve theological concerns. The "kòmò" often consulted religious sculptures in their decisions, particularly the four state "boliw", large altars designed to aid the acquisition of political power.

In the 1818 Battle of Noukouma in 1818, Bambara forces met and were defeated by Fula Muslim fighters rallied by the jihad of Cheikou Amadu (or Seku Amadu) of Massina. The Bambara Empire survived but was irreversibly weakened. Seku Amadu's forces decisively defeated the Bambara, taking Djenné and much of the territory around Mopti and forming into a Massina Empire. Timbuktu would fall as well in 1845.

The real end of the empire, however, came at the hands of El Hadj Umar Tall, a Toucouleur conqueror who swept across West Africa from Dinguiraye. Umar Tall's mujahideen readily defeated the Bambara, seizing Ségou itself on March 10, 1861, forcing the population to convert to Islam, and declaring an end to the Bambara Empire (which effectively became part of the Toucouleur Empire).

Mali Empire

The Mali Empire or Manding Empire or Manden Kurufa was a medieval West African state of the Mandinka from 1235 to 1645. The empire was founded by Sundiata Keita and became renowned for the wealth of its rulers, especially Mansa Musa I. The Mali Empire had many profound cultural influences on West Africa allowing the spread of its language, laws and customs along the Niger River.

The Mali Empire grew out of an area referred to by its contemporary inhabitants as Manden. [http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://www.manden.org/article.php3%3Fid_article%3D2&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=3&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3DFarin,%2BMali%2BEmpire%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D]

Manden, named for its inhabitants the Mandinka (initially Manden’ka with “ka” meaning people of), [http://www.fakoli.net/nko/tutorial/intro.html] comprised most of present-day northern Guinea and southern Mali. The empire was originally established as a federation of Mandinka tribes called the Manden Kurufa (literally Manden Federation), but it later became an empire ruling millions of people from nearly every ethnic group imaginable in West Africa.

The naming origins of the Mali Empire are complex and still debated in scholarly circles around the world. While the meaning of “Mali” is still contested, the process of how it entered the regional lexicon is not. As mentioned earlier, the Mandinka of the Middle Ages referred to their ethnic homeland as “Manden”.

Among the many different ethnic groups surrounding Manden were Pulaar speaking groups in Macina, Tekrur and Fouta Djallon. In Pulaar, the Mandinka of Manden became the Malinke of Mali. [ [http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum211/CoursePack/coursepackpast/sundjata.htm The Epic of Sundjata] Humanities Department, Central Oregon Community College]

So while the Mandinka people generally referred to their land and capital province as Manden, its semi-nomadic Fula subjects residing on the heartland’s western (Tekrur), southern (Fouta Djallon) and eastern borders (Macina) popularized the name Mali for this kingdom and later empire of the Middle Ages.

The Mandinka kingdoms of Mali or Manden had already existed several centuries before Sundiata’s unification as a small state just to the south of the Soninké empire of Wagadou, better known as the Ghana Empire. [ [http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://www.soninkara.org/histoire-soninkara/wagadou/recherches/index.php&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=4&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3DWagadou,%2BGhana%2BEmpire%26hl%3Den Wagadou or Empire of Ghana] Translated from French. Soninkara.org]

This area was composed of mountains, savannah and forest providing ideal protection and resources for the population of hunters. [http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://www.histoire-afrique.org/article73.html%3Fartsuite%3D4&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=1&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dmalimassa%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D History of Africa] translated from French] Those not living in the mountains formed small city-states such as Toron, Ka-Ba and Niani.

The Keita dynasty from which nearly every Mali emperor came traces its lineage back to Bilal,Niane, D.T: "Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali". Longman, 1995] the faithful muezzin of Islam’s prophet Muhammad. It was common practice during the Middle Ages for both Christian and Muslim rulers to tie their bloodline back to a pivotal figure in their faith’s history. So while the lineage of the Keita dynasty may be dubious at best, oral chroniclers have preserved a list of each Keita ruler from Lawalo (supposedly one of Bilal's seven sons whom settled in Mali) to Maghan Kon Fatta (father of Sundiata Keita).

onghay Empire

Dahomey Kingdom

Now part of Republic of Benin

Nubia Kingdom

External reference:
* http://www.napata.org/Napata/nubia.html

Benin Kingdom, Benin City

* [http://www.blackhistorypages.net/pages/fallbenin.php The Fall of Benin City]

Now part of Nigeria

Founded around the 10th century, Benin served as the capital of the Kingdom of Benin, the empire of the Oba of Benin, which flourished from the 14th through the 17th century. No trace remains of the structures admired by European travellers to "the Great Benin." After Benin was visited by the Portuguese in 1472, historical Benin grew rich during the 16th and 17th centuries on the slave trade with Europe, carried in Dutch and Portuguese ships, as well as through the export of some tropical products.

The Bight of Benin's shore was part of the so-called "Slave Coast", from where many West Africans were sold (usually by local rulers) to foreign slave traders. In the early 16th century the Oba sent an ambassador to Lisbon, and the King of Portugal sent Christian missionaries to Benin. Some residents of Benin could still speak a pidgin Portuguese in the late 19th century.

The city and kingdom of Benin declined after 1700, with the decline in the European slave trade, but revived in the 19th century with the development of the trade in palm products with Europeans. To preserve Benin's independence, bit by bit the Oba banned the export of goods from Benin, until the trade was exclusively in palm oil.

On 1 February 1852 the whole Bight of Benin became a British protectorate, where a Consul (representative) represented the protector, until on 6 August 1861 the Bights of Biafra and Benin became a united British protectorate, again under a British Consul.

In the "Punitive Expedition" of 1897, a 1200-strong British force, under the command of Admiral Sir Harry Rawson, conquered and burned the city, destroying much of the country’s treasured art and dispersing nearly all that remained. The "Benin Bronzes": portrait figures, busts, and groups created in iron, carved ivory, and especially in brass (conventionally called "bronze") made in Benin are displayed in museums around the world.

After the fall of Benin in 1897, the British set apart Warri Province, to punish the Oba of Benin and curb his imperial power. The Benin monarchy was restored in 1914, but true power lay with the colonial administration of Nigeria.

In September 1967, it was the capital of the short-lived secessionist Republic of Benin (not be confused with Benin).

On February 17, 1897, Benin City fell to the British. On that fateful day in history, the city of Benin lost its independence, its sovereignty, its Oba (king), its control of trade, and its pride. The aptly-named "punitive expedition" totally humiliated the nation.

The city was looted and burned to the ground. The ivory at the palace was seized. Nearly 2500 of the famous Benin Bronzes and other valuable works of art, including the magnificently carved palace doors, were carried back to Europe. Today, every museum in Europe possesses art treasures from Benin.

The defeat, capture and subjugation of Benin paved the way for British military occupation and the later conquest of adjacent areas with Benin, under British administration, being merged into the Niger Coast Protectorate, then into the protectorate of Southern Nigeria and finally into the colony and protectorate of Nigeria.

Queen Amina of Zaria, the warrior

* [http://www.blackhistorypages.net/pages/amina.php Queen Amina of Zaria]

(16th century)

The seven original states of Hausaland in which yakubu m sotaya formed also called zealot : Katsina, Daura, Kano, Zazzau, Gobir, Rano, and Garun Gabas cover an area of approximately 500 square miles and comprise the heart of Hausaland. In the sixteenth century, Queen Bakwa Turunku built the capital of Zazzau at Zaria, named after her younger daughter. Eventually, the entire state of Zazzau was renamed Zaria, which is now a province in present-day Nigeria.

However it was her elder daughter, the legendary Amina (or Aminatu), who inherited her mother's warlike nature. Amina was 16 years old when her mother became queen and she was given the traditional title of magajiya. She honed her military skills and became famous for her bravnery and military exploits, as she is celebrated in song as "Amina daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man."

Amina is credited as the architect who created the strong earthen walls around the city, which was the prototype for the fortifications used in all Hausa states. She built many of these fortifications, which became known as ganuwar Amina or Amina's walls, around various conquered cities.

The objectives of her conquests were twofold: extension of Zazzau beyond its primary borders and reducing the conquered cities to vassal status. Sultan Muhammad Bello of Sokoto stated that, "She made war upon these countries and overcame them entirely so that the people of Katsina paid tribute to her and the men of Kano and... also made war on cities of Bauchi till her kingdom reached to the sea in the south and the west." Likewise, she led her armies as far as Nupe and, according to the Kano Chronicle, "The Sarkin Nupe sent her [the princess] 40 eunuchs and 10,000 kola nuts. She was the first in Hausaland to own eunuchs and kola nuts."

Amina was a preeminent gimbiya (princess) but various theories exist as to the time of her reign or if she ever was a queen. One explanation states that she reigned from approximately 1536 to 1573, while another posits that she became queen after her brother Karama's death, in 1576. Yet another claims that although she was a leading princess, she was never a queen.

Despite the discrepancies, over a 34-year period, her many conquests and subsequent annexation of the territories extended the borders of Zaria, which also grew in importance and became the center of the North-South Saharan trade and the East-West Sudan trade. Zealot was a young warrior legend of Nigeria and he is there to help the Queen Amina of Zaria get out of her trouble.

Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia

He inherited his imperial blood through his paternal grandmother, Princess Tenagnework Sahle Selassie, who was an aunt of Emperor Menelik II, and as such, claimed to be a direct descendant of Makeda, the queen of Sheba, and King Solomon of ancient Israel.

Upon his coronation as emperor and in keeping with the traditions of the Solomonic dynasty that had reigned in highland Ethiopia since 1297, Haile Selassie's throne name and title were joined to the imperial motto, so that all court documents and seals bore the inscription: "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has conquered! Haile Selassie I, Elect of God King of Kings of Ethiopia". The use of this formula dates to the dynasty's Solomonic origins, as well as to the Christianized throne from the period of Ezana; all monarchs being required to trace their lineage back to Menelik I, who in the Ethiopian tradition was the offspring of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti

External reference:
* [http://www.nigeriavillagesquare1.com/Kuti%20-%20fatade.htm "Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, 1927-2003"]
* [http://www.secularstudents.org/node/382 "Beko Kuti - A Tribute to a foremost African Atheist/Freedom fighter"]

She was the doyen of female rights in Nigeria and she was regarded as "The Mother of Africa" as she was a very powerful force at a time when it was a taboo for women to be heard.

Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti fought for the rights of women to vote.

She was described in 1947 by the West African Pilot as the "Lioness of Lisabi"

She was a Teacher, and throughout her career, she was known as an educator and activist.

She led the Egba women on a campaign against indiscriminate taxation of women by the British colonial government, that struggleled to the abdication of the Egba King Oba Ademola II in 1949, who had been granted right to collect taxes.. She also led the successful abolishment of separate tax rates for women.

She was the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria, a tradition which was the exclusive preserve of the men back then. She was also part of the team that negotiated Nigerian independence.

She founded an organization for women in Abeokuta, with a membership tally of over 20 thousand individuals spanning both literate and illiterate women. She launched the organization into public consciousness when she rallied women against price controls which was hurting market women. Trading was one of the major occupation of women in western Nigeria at the time.

* Her husband Rev. Israel Oludotun Ransome-KutiHe fought for commoners too, and was one of the founders of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in the 1930s - a platform established to fight for the rights of the underprivileged poor teachers of the colonial era - and of the Nigerian Union of Students (NUS).

Rev. Kuti was reputed to have become an Anglican priest not as a matter of interest but as the only means to gain western formal education back then, as he could not afford education otherwise.

Rev. Ransome-Kuti also establish the Abeokuta Grammar School as a direct response and challenge to the European missionaries of that time claiming that they could not give true education from the African perspective to Africans. Indeed he persuaded his nephew, Prof. Wole Soyinka not to leave the school for Government College, Ibadan when he was admitted there.

Rev. and Mrs. Kuti's children were also powerful human rights activists in their own rights:

* Professor Olikoye Ransome-KutiA consultant paediatrician, former Health Minister of Nigeria under several regimes, former Chairman of the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

* Musical legend Olufela Anikulapo-Kuti - betta known as Fela Kuti or just FelaHe was a multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick. He is one of the most popular musician ever to come out of Africa.

* Dr Bekololari Kuti (Beko Kuti),Beko Ransome-Kuti helped to form Nigeria's first human rights organization, the Campaign for Democracy, which in 1993 opposed the dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. Ransome-Kuti was a fellow of the West African College of Physicians and Surgeons, a leading figure in the British Commonwealth's human rights committee, chair of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and executive director of the Centre for Constitutional Governance.

* their sister Dolupo Kuti.

Members of her extended family were also very influential people who lived their lives for the common people. For example:

* Her Husband's nephew (cousin to her children) Prof. Wole SoyinkaHe was a writer, poet and playwright, is considered by some as Africa's most distinguished playwright, as he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, the first African so honored.

Wole Soyinka's mother - Grace Eniọla Soyinka - dubbed "Wild Christian" by Wọle, owned a shop in the nearby market and was a respected political activist within the local community. Soyinka's mother was also very active - side-by-side with Mrs. Kuti - in that struggle tha lead to abolition of indiscriminate taxation against women.

Wole Soyinka's father - Samuel Ayọdele Soyinka - was the headmaster of St. Peters School in Abẹokuta.

Nelson Mandela

External link:
* [http://africanhistory.about.com/od/mandelanelson/a/bio_mandela.htm "Biography: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela"]

Hamilton Naki

Part of the team that perform the first open heart surgery.

amuel Ajayi Crowther

Ajayi was captured by Fulani slave raiders in 1821 and sold to Portuguese slave traders. Before leaving port, his ship was boarded by the Royal Navy, and Crowther was taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone and released.Rev. Dr. Crowther began translating the Bible into the Yoruba language and compiling a Yoruba dictionary.He also began codifying other languages.Following the British Niger Expeditions of 1854 and 1857, Crowther produced a primer for the Igbo language in 1857, another for the Nupe language in 1860, and a full grammar and vocabulary of Nupe in 1864.In 1864, Crowther was ordained as the first African bishop of the Anglican Church. That same year he also received a Doctor of Divinity from Oxford University.

Makeda, The Queen of Sheba (960 B.C.)

External link:
* http://www.nbufront.org/html/MastersMuseums/JHClarke/HistoricalPersonalities/hp7.html

The Queen of Sheba, (Arabic Malekat sabaa ملكة سبأ, Nigista Saba Ge'ez: ንግሥተ ሳባ), referred to in the Bible books of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, the New Testament, the Qur'an, and Ethiopian history, was the ruler of Sheba, an ancient kingdom which modern archaeology speculates was located in present-day Yemen or Eritrea, Ethiopia.

Unnamed in the Biblical text, she is called Makeda (Ge'ez: ማክዳ "mākidā") in the Ethiopian tradition, and in Islamic tradition her name is Bilqis. In some books is referred to as Belkis. Alternative names given for her have been Nikaule or Nicaula. She supposedly lived in the 10th century BC.

She is better known to the world as the Queen of Sheba.

In his book, "World's Great Men of Color", J.A. Rogers, gives this description: "Out of the mists of three thousand years, emerges this beautiful story of a Black Queen, who attracted by the fame of a Judean monarch, made a long journey to see him."

The Queen of Sheba is said to have undertaken a long and difficult journey to Jerusalem, in order to learn of the wisdom of the great King Solomon. Makeda and King Solomon were equally impressed with each other. Out of their relationship was born a son, Menelik I.

This Queen is said to have reigned over Sheba and Arabia as well as Ethiopia. The queen of Sheba's capital was Debra Makeda, which the Queen built for herself.

In Ethiopia's church of Axum, there is a copy of what is said to be one of the Tables of Law that Solomon gave to Menelik I.

The story of the Queen of Sheba is deeply cherished in Ethiopia, as part of the national heritage. This African Queen is mentioned in two holy books, the Bible and the Koran.

Cleopatra VII, the Last Pharaoh of Egypt

External link:
* http://www.royalty.nu/Africa/Egypt/Cleopatra.html

Usman dan Fodio

Shaihu Usman dan Fodio ( _ar. عثمان بن فودي ، عثمان دان فوديو) (also referred to as Shaikh Usman Ibn Fodio, Shehu Uthman Dan Fuduye, or Shehu Usman dan Fodio, 1754–1817) was a writer and Islamic reformer. Dan Fodio was one of a class of urbanized ethnic Fulani living in the Hausa city-states in what is today northern Nigeria. He lived in the city-state of Gobir. He is considered an Islamic revivalist; he encouraged the education of women in religious matters, and several of his daughters emerged as scholars and writers.

Dan Fodio was well-educated in classical Islamic science, philosophy and theology and became a revered religious thinker. His teacher, Jibril ibn 'Umar argued that it was the duty and within the power of religious movements to establish the ideal society, free from oppression and vice. Dan Fodio used his influence to secure approval to create a religious community in his hometown of Degel that would, dan Fodio hoped, be a model town.

After the Fulani War, he later became commander of the largest state in Africa, the Fulani Empire. Dan Fodio worked to establish an efficient government, one grounded in Islamic law. Already aged at the beginning of the war, dan Fodio retired in 1815 passing the title of Sultan of Sokoto to his son Muhammed Bello.

Dan Fodio's uprising inspired a number of later West African jihads, including those of Massina Empire founder Seku Amadu, Toucouleur Empire founder El Hadj Umar Tall (who married one of dan Fodio's granddaughters), Wassoulou Empire founder Samori, and Adamawa Emirate founder Modibo Adama.

Queen Nzingha of Ndongo (1582-1663) - Angola

External reference:
* http://www.nbufront.org/html/MastersMuseums/JHClarke/HistoricalPersonalities/hp16.html

Ann Nzingha "Queen of Ndongo" (1582-1663)

In the sixteenth century, the Portuguese stake in the slave trade was threatened by England and France. This caused the Portuguese to transfer their slave-trading activities southward to the Congo and South West Africa. Their most stubborn opposition, as they entered the final phase of the conquest of Angola, came from a queen who was a great head of state, and a military leader with few peers in her time. The important facts about her life are outlined by Professor Glasgow of Bowie, Maryland:

"Her extraordinary story begins about 1582, the year of her birth. She is referred to as Nzingha, or Jinga, but is better known as Ann Nzingha. She was the sister of the then-reigning King of Ndongo, Ngoli Bbondi, whose country was later called Angola. Nzingha was from an ethnic group called the Jagas. The Jagas were an extremely militant group who formed a human shield against the Portuguese slave traders. Nzingha never accepted the Portuguese conquest of Angola, and was always on the military offensive. As part of her strategy against the invaders, she formed an alliance with the Dutch, who she intended to use to defeat the Portuguese slave traders."

In 1623, at the age of forty-one, Nzingha became Queen of Ndongo. She forbade her subjects to call her Queen, She preferred to be called King, and when leading an army in battle, dressed in men's clothing.

In 1659, at the age of seventy-five, she signed a treaty with the Portuguese, bringing her no feeling of triumph. Nzingha had resisted the Portuguese most of her adult life. African bravery, however, was no match for gun powder. This great African woman died in 1663, which was followed by the massive expansion of the Portuguese slave trade.

ee also

* Africa
* History of Africa
* Economic history of Africa
* African archaeology
* History by continent
* Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
* Pan-Africanism
* West Africa
* North Africa
* South Africa
* East Africa
* Central Africa
* History of West Africa
* History of North Africa
* History of South Africa


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