The Dahomey Amazons (17th Century-19th Century): One of History’s Fearless Black Women Warriors

The Dahomey Amazons
                                                                              The Dahomey Amazons

The pictures you see are the Dahomey Amazon Warriors (also known as the Ahosi or Mino). They were a group of fierce, ass-kicking all-women regiment warriors of the Fon People of the Dahomey Kingdom in the present-day Republic of Benin. They ass-kicked from the 17th century up until the 19th century. They were called Amazons in the European Language because of their similarities  with the semi-mythical Amazons of ancient Anatolia and the Black Sea, but referred to themselves as the Ahosi (king’s wives) and the Mino (our mothers) in their native language.

The Dahomey Amazon Warriors are said to have originated under the leadership of King Houegbadja (rulership years: 1645-1685) as a group of elephant hunters called the gbeto. King Houegbadja’s son Agaja (rulership years 1708-1732), established a group of women bodyguards armed with muskets, then turned them into a militia to defeat the neighboring Kingdom of Savi in 1727. The recruitment of Dahomey Amazons were either voluntary or involuntary. Some signed up as young as eight years old, while others were drafted by their husbands or fathers if they did not like their behavior. They were not allowed to have children or marry although some were married to the king and many were virgins. They were trained with intense exercise and much emphasis was placed on discipline. The regiment was of semi-sacred status rooted in the Fon Peoples’ belief in Vodun. The goal of the regiment was to “offer women the opportunity to rise to positions of command and influence in an environment structured for individual empowerment.”

Dahomey-amazonerThe Dahomey Amazons were very well trained fierce fighters with fierce attitudes. They were known to decapitate soldiers in battle and those who were unfortunate to become their captives. Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh was on of the greatest leaders who led the Dahomey Amazons. In 1851, Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh led a army of 6,000 Dahomey Amazons in battle against the Egba fortress of Abeokuta. The Dahomey were only armed with spears, bows, and swords while the Egba were armed with European cannons, causing the Dahomey Amazons to be defeated, with about  1.200 surviving the entire battle.

The European invasion of West Africa picked up in the last part of the 19th century. In 1890, King Benhazin enlisted the Dahomey Amazons to fight alongside his male warriors in the first battle of the French-Dahomean War. The French army was defeated several times because of the Dahomey Amazons’ fierce military skills.

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Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh, a leader of the Amazons
Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh, a leader of the Amazons

I salute these AMAZING HER-story making sistas!

Source

“Dahomey Amazons.” Wikipedia.org. Web. 29. 2015. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahomey_Amazons

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