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5 minutes reading time (948 words)

A Short List of Some African Women to Know About

Hatshepsut was the greatest woman ruler in Egypt and one of Egypt’s greatest rulers in general. Egyptologist James Henry Breasted said of her, “The first great woman in history of whom we are informed.” During her reign Hatshepsut established new trade networks, which including sending a delegation to Punt. Hatshepsut was also remembered as one of the most prolific builders in Egypt’s history. She had a number of constructions built, but the most famous of these constructions was the Mortuary Temple.
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
Amanishakheto was a queen in Kush. She is remembered for the jewelry that was found in her pyramid.
Nzinga was the Queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms. Nzinga spent decades fighting to repel the Portuguese slave traders. One Portuguese wrote of Nzinga: “The truth is that she is the greatest military strategist that ever confronted the armed forces of Portugal. Her tactics keep our commanders sweating in confusion and dismay. Her aim is nothing less than the total destruction of the slave trade.”
Lisabi was a Ega leader and warrior who defended her people from an invasion from the Oyo Empire.


Dandara was the wife of Zumbi, who was the leader of Palmares. Palmares was a society of runaway slaves. Dandara was a warrior who fought alongside her husband to liberate slaves in Brazil. She also nursed sick children and elders in Palmares. When she was captured in battle, she committed suicide rather than allowing herself to be taken into slavery.
Nanny was a famed maroon leader in Jamaica. The maroons were escaped Africans that formed their own societies. Nanny is remembered as a brave and courageous warrior, who not only fought the British slave masters but actively worked to free other slaves from the plantation.
Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist in the United States. Although she was born into slavery, she managed to escape and then made multiple trips onto slave plantations to lead others to freedom. She was known as the “Moses of Her People.” Aside from leading people to freedom, Tubman also helped John Brown to organize his raid on Harpers Ferry and she served as a spy for the Union Army during the civil war.
Yaa Asantewaa was a Queen Mother of the Asante people, who led her people in their final battle against the British Empire.  
Taitu was the wife of Ethiopian Emperor Menelik. She is remembered for playing a very significant role during his reign. Menelik would seek her consul before making important decisions. It was also Taitu who managed government affairs when Menelik was away and it was she that selected the location for present day capital city of Addis Ababa. Taitu is perhaps best known for commanding troops on the battlefield during the Battle of Adwa, in which Ethiopia defeated the Italians.
Funmilayo Kuti 

Funmilayo Kuti was a Nigerian born political organizer and anti-colonial leader. Funmilayo was one of the founding members of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), and the West African Students Union (WASU). Funmilayo was also known for the fearless manner in which she would confront British colonial officers and their African puppets. Funmilayo also rejected many aspects of European culture. She refused to use her European name (Frances Abigail) and wore only traditional African clothing. Funmilayo was the mother of famous Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, as well as two doctors Beko Ransome-Kuti and Olikoye Ransome-Kuti. All three of her children became outspoken political activists in their own right.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a journalist who wrote a number of pamphlets to expose lynchings throughout America. Her works include “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases,” “The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States,” and “Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics.”
Queen Mother Moore was a Pan-African activist. She first became involved in the African struggle during the 1920s as a member of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and worked the Republic of New Afrika in the 1960s. She spent over 70 years fighting for the rights of African people throughout the world. She was involved in community activities well into her 90s, including appearing for a speech at the Million Man March in 1995. At the age of 97, she once declared, “I feel good. I feel young. My work isn’t complete.” Moore was given the name Queen Mother by African students that respected her and she was officially given the honorary title of Queen Mother by the Asante king in 1972 during a trip she made to Ghana.

Edna Roland

Edna Roland is a black rights activist in Brazil. She has severed as the president of an organization named Black Voice and the co-coordinator of the Geledes Institute of Black Woman. Throughout her public career she has fought for a number of causes including the restoration of democracy during the years of military dictatorship in Brazil, improved healthcare for Africans in Brazil, and for reparations. Perhaps the most notable moment of her political career was a conference on racism that she attended in South Africa in 2001. During this conference she exposed the rampant racism in Brazil, which forced the Brazilian government to, for the first time, acknowledge the existence of racism in Brazil.
Original author: D Omowale
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