Tag Archives: African Diaspora

Before we were slaves: Great Kings and Queens of Africa

Delight yourself by learning your royal lineage:)

Affonso I 
King of the Kongo 1506 to 1540
Affonso I was a visionary, a man who saw his country not as a group of separate cultures, but as a united  nation fully equipped with advanced knowledge and technology.
Affonso I was the first ruler to modernize Africa on a grand scale. Because he saw progress as a healthy mix of physical and spiritual development, Affonso made it possible for his people to practice new skills in masonry, carpentry, and agriculture. He also streamlined Kongo politics, established one of the most modern school systems in Africa, and later became the first ruler to resist the slave trade.
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Sunni Ali Ber 
King of Songhay 1464 to 1492
When Sunni Ali Ber came to power, Songhay was a small kingdom in the western Sudan. But during his twenty-eight-year reign, it grew into the largest, most powerful empire in West Africa.
Sunni Ali Ber built a remarkable army and with this ferocious force, the warrior king won battle after battle. He routed marauding nomads, seized trade routes, took villages, and expanded his domain. He captured Timbuktu, bringing into the Songhay empire a major center of commerce, culture, and Moslem scholarship.
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Idris Alooma 
Sultan of Bornu 1580 to 1617
For two centuries before Idris Alooma became Mai (Sultan) of Bornu, Kanem was a separate land whose people had been driven out by their nomadic cousins, the Bulala. It took one of Africa’s most extraordinary rulers to reunite the two kingdoms.
Idris Alooma was a devout Moslem. He replaced tribal law with Moslem law, and early in his reign, he made a pilgrimage to Mecca. But the trip had as much military as religious significance, for he returned with Turkish firearms and later commanded an incredibly strong army. They marched swiftly and attacked suddenly, crushing hostile tribes in annual campaigns. Finally Idris conquered the Bulala, establishing dominion over the Kanem-Bornu empire and a peace lasting half a century.
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Behanzin Hossu Bowelle- 
The King Shark 1841 to 1906
Behanzin was the most powerful ruler in West Africa during the end of the nineteenth century. He was determined to prevent European intervention into his country, but readily welcomed European visitors, taking precautionary measures to prevent their spread of influence. To defend his nation’s sovereignty, he maintained a physically fit army, which included a division of five thousand female warriors.
The people of Dahomey often referred to their monarch, Behanzin, as the “King Shark,” a Dahomeyan surname which symbolized strength and wisdom. He was a fond lover of the humanities, and is credited with the creation of some of the finest song and poetry ever produced in Dahomey.
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Cleopatra VII 
Queen of Egypt 69 to 30 BC
The most famous of seven matriarchs to bear this name, Cleopatra rose to the throne at seventeen. The young queen is often erroneously portrayed as Caucasian, however, she was of both Greek and African descent. By mastering many different languages and several African dialects, she became instrumental in reaching beyond the borders of Egypt.
Striving to elevate Egypt to world supremacy, Cleopatra enlisted the military services of two great Roman leaders. She persuaded Julius Caesar and , later, Mark Anthony to renounce their Roman allegiances to fight on behalf of Egypt. each, however, met his death before Cleopatra’ s dreams of conquest were realized. Disheartened, Cleopatra pressed as asp to her breast, ending the life of the world’s most celebrated African queen.
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Hannibal 
Ruler of Carthage 247 to 183 BC
Regarded as one of the greatest generals of all time, Hannibal and his overpowering African armies conquered major portions of Spain and Italy and came close to defeating the mighty Roman Empire.
Born in the North African country of Carthage, Hannibal became general of the army at age twenty-five. His audacious moves-such as marching his army with African war elephants through the treacherous Alps to surprise and conquer Northern Italy-and his tactical genius, as illustrated by the Battle of Cannae where his seemingly trapped army cleverly surrounded and destroyed a much larger Roman force, won him recognition which has spanned more than 2004 years.
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Hatshepsut 
The Ablest Queen of Far Antiquity 1503 to 1482 BC
Hatshepsut rose to power after her father Thothmes I was stricken with paralysis. He appointed Hatshepsut as his chief aide and heiress to the throne. While several male rivals sought to oust her from power, Hatshepsut withstood their challenges to remain leader of what was then the world’s leading nation.
To help enhance her popularity with the peoples of Egypt, Hatshepsut had a number of spectacular temples and pyramids erected. Some of the towering structures still stand today as a reminder of the first true female ruler of a civilized nation. She was indeed the “Ablest Queen of Far Antiquity” and remained so for thirty-three years.
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Ja Ja 
King of the Opobo 1821 to 1891
Jubo Jubogha, the son of an unknown member of the Igbo people, was forced into slavery at age 12, but gained his freedom while still young and prospered as an independent trader (known as Ja Ja by the Europeans). He became chief of his people and the head of his Eastern Nigerian City State of Bonny. He later established and became king of his own territory, Opobo, an area near the Eastern Nigeria River more favorable for trading.
As years passed, European governments, mainly British, attempted to gain control of Nigerian trade. Ja Ja’s fierce resistance to any outside influence led to his exile at age 70 to the West Indies by the British. The greatest Igbo chief of the nineteenth century never saw his kingdom again.
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Khama 
The Good King of Bechuanaland 1819 to 1923
Khama distinguished his reign by being highly regarded as a peace-loving ruler with the desire and ability to extract technological innovations from Europeans while resisting their attempts to colonize his country. Such advancements included the building of schools, scientific cattle feeding, and the introduction of a mounted police corps which practically eliminated all forms of crime.
Respect for Khama was exemplified during a visit with Queen Victoria of England to protest English settlement in Bechuanaland in 1875. The English honored Khama and confirmed his appeal for continued freedom for Bechuanaland.
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Makeda 
Queen of Sheba 960 BC
She gave the king 120 talents of gold, and of spices very great store and precious stones; there came no more abundance of spices as these which the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.” (Kings 10:10)
The Biblical passage refers to the gifts Makeda presented King Solomon of Israel on her famed journey to visit the Judean monarch. But Makeda’s gifts to Solomon extended beyond material objects; she also gave him a son, Menelek. The boy’s remarkable resemblance to his grandfather prompted Solomon to re-christen Menelek. Solomon later re-named his son after his own father, the legendary King David.
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Menelek II
King of Kings of Abyssinia 1844 to 1913
Proclaimed to be a descendant of the legendary 
Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, Menelek was the overshadowing figure of his time in Africa. He converted a group of independent kingdoms into the strong, stable empire known as the United States of Abyssinia (Ethiopia).His feat of pulling together several kingdoms which often fiercely opposed each other earned him a place as one of the great statesmen of African history, His further accomplishments in dealing on the international scene with the world powers, coupled with his stunning victory over Italy in the 1896 Battle of Adwa, an attempt to invade his country, placed him among the great leaders of world history and maintained his country’s independence until 1935.
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Moshoeshoe
King of Basutoland 1815 to 1868
 

For half a century, the Basotho people were ruled by the founder of their nation. Moshoeshoe was a wise and just king who was as brilliant in diplomacy as he was in battle. He united many diverse groups, uprooted by war, into a stable society where law and order prevailed and the people could raise their crops and cattle in peace. He knew that peace made prosperity possible, and he often avoided conflict through skillful negotiations.
Moshoeshoe solidified Basotho defenses at Thaba Bosiu, their impregnable mountain capital. From this stronghold he engineered a number of major victories over superior forces.
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Mansa Kankan Mussa 
King of Mali 1306 to 1332
A flamboyant leader and world figure, Mansa Mussa distinguished himself as a man who did everything on a grand scale. An accomplished businessman, he managed vast resources to benefit his entire kingdom. He was also a scholar, and imported noteworthy artists to heighten the cultural awareness of his people.
In 1324 he led his people on the Hadj, a holy pilgrimage from Timbuktu to Mecca. His caravan consisted of 72,000 people whom he led safely across the Sahara Desert and back, a total distance of 6,496 miles. So spectacular was this event, that Mansa Mussa gained the respect of scholars and traders throughout Europe, and won international prestige for Mali as one of the world’s largest and wealthiest empires.
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Nandi
Queen of Zululand 1778 to 1826 AD
The year was 1786. The King of Zululand was overjoyed. His wife, Nandi, had given birth to a son, his first son, whom they named 
Shaka. But the King’s other wives, jealous and bitter, pressured him to banish Nandi and the young boy into exile. steadfast and proud, she raised her son with the kind of training and guidance a royal heir should have. For her many sacrifices, Nandi was finally rewarded when her son, Shaka, later returned to become the greatest of all Zulu Kings.To this day, the Zulu people use her name, “Nandi,” to refer to a woman of high esteem.
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Nefertari 
Nubian Queen of Egypt 1292 to 1225 BC
One of many great Nubian queens, Nefertari is heralded as the queen who wed for peace. Her marriage to King Rameses II of Egypt, one of the last great Egyptian Pharaohs, began strictly as a political move, a sharing of power between two leaders. Not only did it grow into one of the greatest royal love affairs in history, but bought the hundred year war between Nubia and Egypt to an end. It was an armistice which lasted over a hundred years
Even today, a monument stands in Queen Nefertari’s honor. In fact, the temple which Rameses built for her at Abu Simbel is one of the largest and most beautiful structures ever built to honor a wife. And to celebrate peace.
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Nehanda of Zimbabwe 
Born into a religious family, Nehanda displayed remarkable leadership and organizational skills, and at a young age became one of Zimbabwe’s two most influential religious leaders
When English settlers invaded Zimbabwe in 1896 and began confiscating land and cattle, Nehanda and other leaders declared war. At first they achieved great success, but as supplies ran short, so did battlefield victories. Nehanda was eventually captured, found guilty, and executed for ordering the killing of a notoriously cruel Native Commander. Though dead for nearly a hundred years, Nehanda remains what she was when alive – the single most important person in the modern history of Zimbabwe, and is still referred to as Mbuya (Grandmother) Nehanda by Zimbabwean patriots.
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Nzingha 
Amazon Queen of Matamba, West Africa 1582 to 1663 
Many women ranked among the great rulers of Africa including this Angolan queen who was an astute diplomat and excelled as a military leader. When the slave-hunting Portuguese attacked the army of her brother’s kingdom, Nzingha was sent to negotiate the peace. She did so with astonishing skill and political tact, despite the fact that her brother had her only child killed. She later formed her own army against the Portuguese, and waged war for nearly thirty years. These battles saw a unique moment in colonial history as Nzingha allied her nation with the Dutch, marking the first African-European alliance against a European oppressor.
Nzingha continued to wield considerable influence among her subjects despite being forced into exile. Because of her quest for freedom and relentless drive to bring peace to her people, Nzingha remains a glimmering symbol of inspiration.
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Osei Tutu 
King of Asante 1680 to 1717
Osei Tutu was the founder and first king of the Asante nation, a great West African forest kingdom in what is now Ghana. he was able to convince a half dozen suspicious chiefs to join their states under his leadership when according to legend, the Golden Stool descended from heaven and came to rest on Osei Tutu’s knees, signifying his choice by the gods. The Golden Stool became a sacred symbol of the nation’s soul, which was especially appropriate since gold was the prime source of Asante wealth.
During Osei Tutu’s reign, the geographic area of Asante tripled in size. The kingdom became a significant power that, with his military and political prowess as an example, would endure for two centuries.
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Samory Toure 
The Black Napoleon of the Sudan 1830 to 1900
The ascendence of Samory Toure began when his native Bissandugu was attacked and his mother taken captive. After a persuasive appeal, Samory was allowed to take her place, but later escaped and joined the army of King Bitike Souane of Torona. Following a quick rise through the ranks of Bitike’s army, Samory returned to Bissandugu where he was soon installed as king and defied French expansionism in Africa by launching a conquest to unify West Africa into a single state.
During the eighteen year conflict with France, Samory continually frustrated the Europeans with his military strategy and tactics. This astute military prowess prompted some of France’s greatest commanders to entitle the African monarch, “the Black Napoleon of the Sudan.”
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Shaka 
King of the Zulus 1818 to 1828
A strong leader and military innovator, Shaka is noted for revolutionizing 19th century Bantu warfare by first grouping regiments by age, and training his men to use standardized weapons and special tactics. He developed the “assegai,” a short stabbing spear, and marched his regiments in tight formation, using large shields to fend off the enemies throwing spears. Over the years, Shaka’s troops earned such a reputation that many enemies would flee at the sight of them.
With cunning and confidence as his tools, Shaka built a small Zulu tribe into a powerful nation of more than one million people and united all tribes in South Africa against Colonial rule.
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Taharqa/Taharka 
King of Nubia 710 to 664 BC
At the age of sixteen, this great Nubian king led his armies against the invading Assyrians in defense of his ally, Israel. This action earned him a place in the Bible (Isaiah 37:9, 2 Kings 19:9).
During his 25-year reign, Taharqa controlled the largest empire in ancient Africa. His power was equaled only by the Assyrians. These two forces were in constant conflict, but despite the continuous warfare, Taharqa was able to initiate a building program throughout his empire which was overwhelming in scope. The numbers and majesty of his building projects were legendary, with the greatest being the temple at Gebel Barkal in the Sudan. The temple was carved from the living rock and decorated with images of Taharqa over 100 feet high.
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Tenkamenin 
King of Ghana 1037 to 1075 AD
The country of Ghana reached the height of its greatness during the reign of Tenkamenin. Through his careful management of the gold trade across the Sahara desert into West Africa, Tenkamenin’s empire flourished economically. But his greatest strength was in government. Each day he would ride out on horseback and listen to the problems and concerns of his people. He insisted that no one be denied an audience and that they be allowed to remain in his presence until satisfied that justice had been done.
His principles of democratic monarchy and religious tolerance make Tenkamenin’s reign one of the great models of African rule.
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Thutmose III
Pharaoh of Egypt 1504 to 1450 BC

Thutmose III was a member of one of the greatest families in the history of African royalty. A family which laid the basis for the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt. But it was his family which also was the source of his greatest frustration, as he always believed he should have come to power before his sister,
Hatshepsut, and was angry over this for most of his life. Ironically, though, it was the assignments she gave him which not only helped in his rise to power, but also helped him learn and understand the responsibilities of his royal position.Thutmose III eventually overcame his anger to become one of the most important Pharaohs in Egyptian history. A man who will be remembered as a great warrior who strengthened the sovereignty of Egypt and extended its influence into Western Asia.
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Tiye
The Nubian Queen of Egypt ca. 1415 to 1340 BC
 

Now it came to pass that, in the 14th century BC, a wise and beautiful woman from Nubia so captured the heart of the pharaoh, she changed the course of history.
Amenhotep III, the young Egyptian ruler, was so taken by Tiye’s beauty, intellect, and will, he defied his nation’s priests and custom by proclaiming this Nubian commoner his Great Royal spouse. He publicly expressed his love for his beautiful black queen in many ways, making her a celebrated and wealthy person in her own right. He took her counsel in matters political and military much to heart and later declared that, as he had treated her in life, so should she be depicted in death…as his equal.
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Askia Muhammed Toure 
King of Sonhay 1493 to 1529
A devout Muslim, Askia “The Great” ruled and administered Songhay strictly according to Islamic Law. He divided his country into provinces, each with a professional administrator as governor, and ruled each fairly and uniformly through a staff of distinguished legal experts and judges. At times he fought established tradition to rule in the best interests of his people by adjusting the taxes to reduce the burden on the commoners.
Askia Muhammed Toure united the entire central region of the Western Sudan, and established a governmental machine that is still revered today for its detail and efficiency.
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Queen Amina 

Queen of Zaria 1588-1589 
The elder daughter of Bakwa Turunku, who founded the Zazzau Kingdom in 1536, Queen Amina came to power between 1588 and 1589 A. D. Unlike her younger sister, Zariya (from whom the city of Zaria derives its name), Amina is generally remembered for her fierce military exploits.

A brilliant military strategist, many wars she fought, and all she won. And, through her conquest, she expanded the area under her reign by erecting great walled camps during her various campaigns, and Amina is generally credited with the building of the famous Zaria wall. She is today remembered – by some fondly, by others less so -as “Amina, Yar Bakwa ta san rana,” meaning “Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.”

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Emperor Haile Selassie I (1892-1975),  “King of Kings. In 1935 there was just one man who rose out of murky obscurity and carried his country with him up & up into brilliant focus before a pop-eyed world. But for the hidden astuteness of this man, there would not now be the possibility of another world war arising out of idealism generated around the League of Nations in behalf of Ethiopia. But for His Majesty Haile Selassie, the year 1935 would have been a distinctly different year. If by some unhappy chance the Italo-Ethiopian war should now spread into a world conflagration, Power of Trinity I, the King of Kings, the Conquering Lion of Judah, will have a place in history as secure as Woodrow Wilson’s. If it ends in the fall of Mussolini and the collapse of Fascism, his Majesty can plume himself on one of the greatest feats ever credited to blackamoors. – January 6, 1936, Time Magazine Man Of The Year

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IMHOTEPThe world’s first known genius

Imhotep was the royal advisor to King Zoser during the Third Dynasty of Kemet. Regarded as the world’s first recorded multi-genius, Imhotep was an architect, astronomer, philosopher, poet and physician. As an architect he was responsible for designing the Step Pyramid and the Saqqara Complex. During his lifetime he was given a host of titles, among them:Chancellor of the King of Lower Kemet, the First after the King of Upper Kemet, High Priest of Heliopolis and Administrator of the Great Palace. As a physcian, 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. This is well over 2,200 years before the Western Father of Medicine Hippocrates is born. Some 2,000 years after his death, Imhotep was deified by the inhabitants of Kemet and was known later as Asclepius, God of Medicine, to the Greeks. His very name, Im-Hotep, translates as the Prince of Peace. His tomb near Memphis became a sacred place and the site of pilgrimages for those seeking a cure. As a philosopher and poet, Imhotep’s most remembered phrase is: “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we shall die.” There still remain many bronze statuettes, temples and sanatoria bearing his name, as is depicted in the picture of the statue at the left.

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  SENWORSERT I (PHARAOH OF THE 12TH DYNASTY) 
Senwosert I was a Twelfth Dynasty King of Kemet (1897 BC). Also known as Kepre Kare Senwosert I, he was known to the Greeks as Kekrops and Sesostris. Interestingly enough Herodotus, Greece’s Father of History, reported that Greece had once been conquered by a king named Sesostris. Greek mythology also indicated that the legendary founder of Athens was an Egyptian named Kekrops.
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  THE GREAT MUTOTA (1440)
The year was 1440. The King was Mutota. In any other European country he would have been known as Mutota the Great. He and his council was quick to see that even the most advance states each standing independently and alone, were doomed to European criminal exploits unless unified into a single nation with a strong central government. This also should be achieve through voluntary association if possible. Mutota and the new leaders understood this very well. Therefore, Mutota, in 1440, began the campaign to carry out his grand design. This was a great plan aimed at nothing less than uniting Africans into a vast empire that cut across South Africa below the Limpopo river, and covered Zimbabwe with an indefinite boundary beyond the Zambezi River in Zambia, and on over Mozambique to the Indian Ocean, sweeping southward again to re-posses the entire coastline fronting the New Empire. This area contained the majority of the world precious metals such as gold, copper, tin and iron held in over 4000 mines. After 30 years of struggle, unity was finally achieve in 1480 into the Empire of Monomotapa.
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  NARMER (THE FOUNDER OF DYNASTIC KEMET-3200 B.C.)
Narmer or Aha was called Menes by the Greeks. Regarded as the founder of Dynastic Kemet, he led an army from Upper Kemet in the south to conquer Lower Kemet in the north around 3200BC. Upon victory Narmer united Upper and Lower Kemet into one nation. One of Narmer’s first tasks was to build a city on his newly conquered lands. Here he was met with a difficult task as the Delta region was covered by an immense swamp. To remedy this situation, Narmer drained the swamp by actually diverting the course of the Nile River. Upon this new land he built a city which he named Men-Nefer:The Good Place. This city served as the capital of Kemet for several centuries. An Arab traveler writing as late as the Middle Ages reported the city “stretching a day’s journey in every direction.” The Greeks would rename Men-Nefer “Memphis,” a name that even today honors an African king who lived nearly 5,000 years ago.
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  CANDACE (EMPRESS OF ETHIOPIA 332 B.C.)
Alexander reached Kemet (Ancient Egypt) in 332 B.C., on his world conquering rampage. But one of the greatest generals of the ancient world was also the Empress of Ethiopia. This formidable black Queen Candace, was world famous as a military tactician and field commander. Legend has it that Alexander could not entertain even the possibilty of having his world fame and unbroken chain of victories marred by risking a defeat, at last, by a woman. He halted his armies at the borders of Ethiopia and did not invade to meet the waiting black armies with their Queen in personal command.
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