The Ahosi of Dahomey, or the ‘Dahomey Amazons’, are said to have inspired Black Panther writers
The all-female military regiment, created by King Houegbadja in the 19th century, were chosen for their incredible ability to fight men.
Often recruited as virgin teenagers, the fierce women would live in the royal palace in what was then the kingdom of Dahomey – now known as the modern day Republic of Benin.
They called themselves N’Nonmiton, which means “our mothers” and dedicated their efforts to weapons training, protecting the king on the bloodiest battlefields.
The women made up different units, each with its own battle songs, and were allegedly equipped with Danish guns and their own uniform. In later years, they were apparently armed with Winchester rifles, clubs and knives and swift decapitation became their trademark.
The all-female military regiment, created by King Houegbadja in the 19th century, were chosen for their incredible ability to fight men
Dahomey women were trained to be strong, fast, ruthless and fought to the death, according to reports.
Training exercises resembled a form of gymnastics, including jumping over walls covered with thorny acacia branches and being sent on 10-day “Hunger Games-style” expeditions in the jungle with only a machete.
They also learnt survival skills and insensitivity training, with one initiation test involving seeing whether the women were merciless enough to throw bound human prisoners of war to their deaths from a fatal height.
The women weren’t allowed to marry or have children, as by joining the regiment they were legally married to the king. Some of the women had became soldiers by their own volition, while others were enrolled by husbands who complained they couldn’t control their “unruly” wives.
The women made up different units, each with its own battle songs, and were allegedly equipped with Danish guns and their own uniform
Reports suggest there were between 1,000 and 6,000 members before the regiment was disbanded in the 20th century as part of French colonial expansion.
The fictional Dora Milaje made their first appearance in 1998’s Black Panther No. 1 – the first issue of Christopher Priest’s beloved run.
But after three decades Black Panther had his own bodyguards while the army remained in the background for the most part of the comic book series.
In the 2016 relaunch of Black Panther, a much-needed focus was put back on the group, which consisted of the finest women from each of the 18 tribes that made up Wakanda – the fictional East African nation.
And the regiment makes a firm prominence in the movie spin-off of the Marvel classic.