Tormented by the world’s shame on my skin color,
I embarked on a quest for truth
Only to stumble on tales of victors,
Of martyrs who paved way for my truth
Of ancestors with mighty valor
And as more details came to light,
I made an oath to right the wrongs
To rectify the omissions, redirect the plight
Of my beloved people
This is another tale of the Mino warriors of the Dahomey Kingdom. It has been a while since I came back with another piece from “What I wish I would have learned in school”, a series intended to shed light on the understated-rich African heritage. Oftentimes, Africa is depicted as a poor-destitute landmass when in reality it is an abundant-resourceful continent.
I believe that this predominantly stems from long periods of systemic oppression that degrades a healthy self-image.
The origin of the Mino Warriors
The Mino Warriors, which translates to “our mothers”, are presumed to have been established around 1625 by Dako, a leader of the Fon tribe; the infamous kingdom originated in present-day Benin. This warrior clan largely comprised of fierce female hunters alleged to emanate from the gbeto tribe, whose way of living corresponded to that of a hunter and gatherer.
Life as a Dahomey Amazonian
This military corps of female warriors was appointed by the ruler to serve in combat for the preservation and prosperity of the kingdom. They comprised of slave prisoners of wars from other ethnic tribes, unruly wives, and volunteer soldiers. To become a valued member, they had to swear an oath of celibacy and denounce their child-bearing responsibilities. They would also have to undergo rigorous training for martial purposes and survival tactics.
Despite their responsibility as a warrior, a Mino warrior held a prominent role within the social confines of the kingdom. For this reason, the majority of them were married to the King to deter them from other people’s activities of the culture. They were well provided for with resources, land, and servants to cater to their needs.
Among the many accolades of the Mino warriors, they are remembered for withstanding the colonizing efforts of the French army during the Franco-Dahomean wars, and enforcing order among the West Coast of Africa for more than two centuries.
Legacy of Dahomean Warriors
This is an inspiring tale of valiant-audacious women. Numerous comparisons of “Black Sparta” by historical experts have been made, in the respect that it was a kingdom that empowered women to uphold positions of authority and prominence.
To anyone reading this, my sincere hope is for you to dig deep within and find your worth, whether it be by stumbling upon my research or the work of many prominent black historians. I just want you to know that your life matters and that you have within you all that you need to sustain your path here on earth.
What to Consider Moving Forward
One may ask, why is it that it is the same message of poverty promoted? Why is it that no one is doing something about it? why is it that we are not brainstorming on solutions that could be implemented?
Like the great poet Sampa eloquently puts it:
The level of the brain that you’re told you can’t go
The level of insane that you’re told you can’t show
The level of insane that they’re sure that I know
Now more than ever, melaninated people must embrace self-love and self-acceptance. It is time to start bridging gaps among the diaspora communities scattered all over the globe.
It is time to link a painter or cartoonist with a writer and produce a fictional series depicting our history the proper way.
It is time to start supporting one another, invest in each other, and partner up for an equally vested vision for the empowerment of our peoples.
It is time to start unleashing the potential dormant within us.
Feel free to post any thoughts, comments, or concerns. Hope you enjoyed the read