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Outstanding legacy of the Black women



EDITOR: From as far back as in ancient African history, Black women have played significant roles in Society. These Black women were highly competent in culture, diplomacy, politics, religion, spiritual affairs, business, construction, arts, and military matters. They were so great that even the Greeks paid honour to them. The patterns of the great roles played by Black women in their Societies could be seen throughout Africa.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade did much to undermine and suppress Black women’s history. Due to this suppression of Black women’s heritage and contributions, it is easier for the society to remain indifferent to the situation of Black women.{{more}}

For now, let us take a quick glimpse across the soil of history and identify a few of the many footprints marking the trail of greatness left by Black women.

In early African civilization, we see evidences of the remarkable contributions of Black women. Queen Makeda of Sheba was an Ethiopian, whose name is well known. She gave birth to a son named Menelik whose father was the great King Solomon. She was an outstanding political and business leader who governed over a huge network of trading interests.

There was also Egyptian Queen, Hatshepsut who was a great warrior and she also excelled in developing the strength of her society.

In addition, there were powerful Goddesses such as Neith, Hathor, and Isis. With reference to the Goddess Isis, Historian Ivan Van Sertima said “Egypt, Greece, and Rome bowed down to this African goddess”.

Also, Queen Nitocris left us a hint of her greatness in the Sixth dynasty of Egypt by constructing the third pyramid at Giza. It took tremendous skill to construct such buildings. And we know that humankind still marvel at these pyramids.

Queen Tiye was another powerful Black woman who was the mother-in-law of Queen Nefertiti who was another outstanding Black woman. Queen Tiye was very influential in several periods of the 18th dynasty in Egypt. Also, she left her mark on the aesthetics and fashions of those times. Other queens such as Queen Tetisheri and Queen Ahmse-Nefertere of Egypt played major roles in their societies.

In pre-colonial Africa, there were also distinguished Cushite (Ethiopian) women such as Kenensat, Armenirdas I, Shepenoupet, Queen Abar, Queen Shenakdakhete, Amanirenas, Amanishakhete, Nawadimak, and Malequreabar.

During the trans-Atlantic slave trade and during colonialism, Black women continued to play leading and crucial roles in developing and defending their societies. Just to name two: Queen Nzinga of Ndongo now known as Angola was a leader who fought bravely against the European slave traders and colonizers. She was in constant battle with especially the Portuguese. And Queen Yaa Asantewa of the Ashanti now known as Ghana was another very courageous woman who led her people to fight against the British invaders in the 19th century.

The legacy of Black women demonstrates the fact that African societies had for a very long time shown great respect for women. Today, in our society, Black women are confronted with major issues. For example, violence against women is a major public health issue. Furthermore, we hear cultural artists and others who continue to undermine the value of Black women calling them whores, bitches, sluts, and other names not fit to print for public consumption. Moreover, many Black women have to “sell” their bodies to “high men” in society in order to acquire and retain a job. How did it get to this point is an issue worth reflecting on by everyone. Could someone tell me just what has become of this great legacy of Black women?

Some of the information in this article was taken from the books – The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Matriarchy and of Patriarchy in Classical Antiquity written by Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop; and Black Women in Antiquity, edited by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima.

Maxwell Haywood