Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa (c. 1840–October 17, 1921)
Yaa Asantewaa was the queen mother of the Edweso tribe of the Asante (Ashanti) in what is modern Ghana. She was an exceptionally brave fighter who, in March 1900, raised and led an army of thousands against the British colonial forces in Ghana and their efforts to subjugate the Asante and seize the Golden Stool, the Asante nation’s spiritual symbol of unity and sovereignty.
Yaa Asantewaa mobilized the Asante troops and for three months laid siege to the British fort of Kumasi. The British colonizers had to bring in several thousand troops and artillery to break the siege, exiling Queen Yaa Asantewaa and 15 of her closest advisers to the Seychelles. She lived in exile until her death in October 1921. Yaa Asantewaa’s War, as it is presently known in Ghana, was one of the last major wars on the continent of Africa to be led by a woman.
Ahosi or Mino (Dahomey Amazons)
The Dahomey Amazons or Mino was an all-female military regiment of the Fon people of the Kingdom of Dahomey in the present-day Republic of Benin. They existed from the 17th century to the end of the 19th century. While European narratives refer to the women soldiers as “Amazons,” because of their similarity to the semi-mythical Amazons of ancient Anatolia, they called themselves Ahosi (king’s wives) or Mino (our mothers) in the Fon language.
The Ahosi were extremely well trained, and inculcated with a very aggressive attitude. They were ferocious fighters with a reputation for decapitating soldiers in the middle of battle, as well as those who were unfortunate to become their captives.
Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh was one of the great leaders of the Mino. In 1851 she led an army of 6,000 women against the Egba fortress of Abeokuta. Because the Mino were armed with spears, bows and swords while the Egba had European cannons, only about 1,200 survived the extended battle.
European encroachment into West Africa gained pace during the latter half of the 19th century. In 1890, King Behanzin used his Mino fighters alongside the male soldiers to battle the French forces during the First Franco-Dahomean War. The French army lost several battles to them because of the female warriors’ skill in battle.
Queen Nanny or Nanny (c. 1685 – c. 1755)
Queen Nanny, a Jamaican national hero, was a well-known leader of the Jamaican Maroons in the 18th century. Nanny was kidnapped from Ghana, West Africa, as a child, and was forced into slavery in Jamaica. Growing up, she was influenced by the Maroons and other leaders of the enslaved Africans. The Maroon people were enslaved Blacks who fled the oppressive plantations and formed their own communities in Jamaica’s interior.
Nanny and her brothers ran away from the plantation and hid in the Blue Mountains area. From there, they led several revolts across Jamaica. Queen Nanny was a well-respected, intelligent spiritual leader who was instrumental in organizing the plans to free enslaved Africans.
For over 30 years she freed more than 800 slaves and helped them settle into Maroon communities. She defeated the British in many battles and despite repeated attacks from the British soldiers, Grandy Nanny’s settlement, called Nanny Town, remained under Maroon control for several years.
Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Harriet Ross; 1820 – March 10, 1913)
Harriet Tubman was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia in 1849, then immediately returned to Maryland to rescue her family.
She subsequently made more than 19 missions to rescue more than 300 slaves with the help of the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped recruit men for John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry October 16-18, 1859, to free enslaved Blacks.
In June 1863, Tubman became the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the Civil War. She guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 enslaved Blacks in South Carolina: the largest liberation of enslaved Black people in American history.
Assata Olugbala Shakur (born July 16, 1947)
Assata Shakur is an African-American activist who was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army between 1971 and 1973. Assata worked through the BPP and the BLA to fight racial, social, and economic oppression, but became the target of U.S. government’s counter-revolutionary COINTELPRO program. This program used a wide range of tactics, including framing, false imprisonments and assassinations of leaders, to disrupt the radical movement.
Between 1973 and 1977 in New York and New Jersey, Shakur was indicted ten times, resulting in seven separate criminal trials. Shakur’s charges ranged from bank robberies; attempted murder of two police officers; and eight other felonies related to the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike. Of these trials, three resulted in acquittals; one in a hung jury; one in a change of venue; one resulted in a mistrial due to her pregnancy; and one in a conviction. Three indictments were dismissed without trial. Shakur escaped prison and fled to Cuba after her conviction for the death of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster.
On May 2, 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that they had raised the bounty on Shakur’s head to $2 million and placed her on its “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, making her the first woman to be so designated and effectively criminalizing the Black freedom struggle of that era.
For people wondering if Shakur was guilty, the Huffington Post reported that at the trial, three neurologists would testify that the first gunshot shattered her clavicle and the second shattered the median nerve in her right hand. That testimony proved that she was sitting with her hands raised when she was fired on by police.
According to Wikipedia, further testimony proved that no gun residue was found on either of her hands, nor were her fingerprints found on any of the weapons located at the scene. Nevertheless, Shakur was convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to life in prison.
Amanirenas (died c. 10 B.C.)
Amanirenas (also spelled Amanirena) was one of the greatest kandakes, or queen mothers, who ruled over the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush in northeast Africa. She reigned over the kingdom between c. 40 B.C.-10 B.C. When Roman emperor Augustus levied a tax on the Kushites in 24 B.C., Amanirenas and her son, Akinidad, led an army of 30,000 men to sack the Roman fort in the Egyptian city of Aswan.They also destroyed the statues of Caesar in Elephantine.
Under orders from Augustus, the Roman general Petronius retaliated, but met strong resistance from Amanirenas and her troops. After over three years of harsh fighting, the two parties agreed to negotiate a peace treaty. The Romans agreed to return their army to Egypt, withdraw their fort, give the land back to the Kushites and rescind the tax.
The brave warrior queen, Amanirenas is remembered for her loyal combat, side-by-side, with her own soldiers. She was blinded in one eye after she was wounded by a Roman. However, the full extent of the Roman humiliation has yet to be disclosed since the Kushite account of the war, written in the Meroïtic script, has not been fully decoded.