“Taharqa's 26 year reign stands out from any other in the Third Intermediate Period by the extent of the building program he implemented in the first sixteen years of his reign, and the extent of the fighting against the Assyrians in the later years. Taharqa invested considerable resources into celebrating the glory of Amon, first in his native Kingdom of Napata, later in his Egyptian territories as well. Respectful of Egypt's cultural heritage, Taharqa set out to draw on the traditions of the Old and Middle Kingdoms, using new materials (previous Intermediate Period cash-strapped kings had taken to pilfering stone from older buildings) to restore and build anew. In the kingdom of Napata, he built in every important site: Sanam, Napata, Abu Dom, and Kawa. In Kawa particularly, he rebuilt and expanded a temple complex that became the second most important in Kush. In Egypt, it’s at Karnak that he made the greatest impact...”
“Taharqa (Egypt & Nubia) 25th Dynasty Reign 690 – 664 BCE. Taharqa was the one of the Great Napatan Nubian kings/Pharoahs. After his father, Piye, successfully conquered Egypt in battle, Taharqa united the two kingdoms to form the largest African empire at the time. His empire spanned from the 5th Nile Cataract in Nubia, throughout all of Egypt, up into the Middle East in Palestine. Taharqa is credited with bringing new peace and stability to Egypt, resuming building projects and arts in Egypt and Nubia, which were lost for centuries, at the time. Biblical scholars believe he is referenced in the Bible book of Kings 19:9 and Isaiah 37:9 as the great King of Kush who waged war against Sennacherib, King of Assyria. There are several monuments to Taharqa, and recently, in January of 2015, a great tomb sanctuary to the Egyptian God Osiris was unearthed in Upper Egypt. Its construction was traced back to the 25th Dynasty, possibly during Taharqa’s reign…”
King Ezana 333 – c. 356
Ezana Axum (Ethiopia) Ezana is celebrated as the First Ethiopian King to embrace Christianity and convert his entire kingdom. He helped establish the Ethiopic Church. He is also credited with bringing the powerful rival kingdom of Meroe (Nubia) to an end. Under his rule, the Axumite kingdom flourished. Under his reign, several unique structures and obelisks were erected. International trade was also increased. His coinage has been unearthed in locations like India and Greece.
Queen Gudit - Ethiopia (940-?)
“Gudit (Ge'ez: ጉዲት, Judith) was a non-Christian queen (flourished ca. 960) who laid waste to Axum and its countryside, destroyed churches and monuments, and attempted to exterminate the members of the ruling dynasty of the Kingdom of Aksum. Her deeds are recorded in the oral tradition and mentioned incidentally in various historical accounts.
Abreha and Atsbeha Church
“Information about Gudit is contradictory and incomplete. Paul B. Henze wrote, "She is said to have killed the emperor, ascended the throne herself, and reigned for 40 years. Accounts of her violent misdeeds are still related among peasants in the north Ethiopian countryside." Henze continues in a footnote:
“On my first visit to the rock church of Abreha and Atsbeha in eastern Tigray in 1970, I noticed that its intricately carved ceiling was blackened by soot. The priest explained it as the work of Gudit, who had piled the church full of hay and set it ablaze nine centuries before.
“There is a tradition that Gudit sacked and burned Debre Damo, an amba which at the time was a treasury and a prison for the male relatives of the king; this may be an echo of the later capture and sack of Amba Geshen by Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi. Gudit is known as ʿEsato in Amharic, which means "fire". Gudit is so related to the destruction of the Axumite Empire, that the name ጉዲት in Amharic is commonly translated as "destruction"…
“Carlo Conti Rossini first proposed that the account of this warrior queen in the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, where she was described as Bani al-Hamwiyah, ought to be read as Bani al-Damutah, and argued that she was ruler of the once-powerful kingdom of Damot, and that she was related to one of the indigenous Sidama people of southern Ethiopia. This would agree with the numerous references to matriarchs ruling the Sidamo polities. According to the Sidama, Gudit who they refer to as Furra, belonged to the Havilah Gadire tribe. Benjamin of Tudela, the twelfth century Jewish traveler, claims the land of Havillah is confined by al-Habash on the west.
“Other scholars, based on the traditions that Gudit was Jewish, propose that she was of the Agaw people, who historically have been numerous in Lasta, and a number of whom (known as the Beta Israel), have professed an Israelite pre-Ezra Judaism since ancient times. If she was not of Jewish origin, she might have been a convert to Judaism by her husband, known as Zenobis, son of the King of Šam – one of the names of Syria – or pagan. Local traditions around Adi Kaweh where she allegedly died and was buried indicate her faith was pagan-Hebraic, rather than Israelite or Jewish [Leeman 2009].”
Askia Mohammed I (Askia the Great) of Timbuktu (Mali - West Africa)
Mohammed Ben Abu Bekr "Askia the Great" (1442-1538)
“Mohammed Ben Abu Bekr, the favored general of Sunni Ali, believed that he was entitled to the throne after Sunni Ali's death, rather than Ali's son, Abu Kebr.
“Claiming that the power was his by right of achievement, Mohammed attacked the new ruler a year after his acsession and defeated him in one of the bloodiest battles in history. When one of Sunni Ali's daughters heard the news, she cried out "Askia", which means "forceful one." This title was taken by Mohammed as his regnal name.
“Askia began by consolidating his vast empire and establishing harmony among the conflicting religions and political elements. Under the leadership of Askia, the Songhay Empire flourished until it became one of the richest empires of that period, from any region. Timbuctoo became known as "The Center of Learning", "The Mecca of the Sudan", and "The Queen of the Sudan".
“Tomb of Askia - With his empire firmly established, Askia resumed his attack on the unbelievers, carrying the rule of Islam into new lands. Askia the Great made Timbuktu (Archaic English: Timbuctoo; Koyra Chiini: Tumbutu; French: Tombouctou) one of the most famous centers of commerce and learning on Earth. The brilliance of the city was such that it still shines in the imagination after three centuries like a star which, though dead, continues to send its light toward us.
“Such was its splendor that in spite of its many vicissitudes after the death of Askia, the vitality of Timbuktu is not extinguished.”
Shaka Zulu (1787 – 1828)
“Sigidi kaSenzangakhona commonly known as Shaka Zulu was a great Zulu (tribe) king and conqueror. He lived in an area of south-east Africa between the Drakensberg and the Indian Ocean, a region populated by many independent Nguni chiefdoms. During his brief reign more than a hundred chiefdoms were brought together in a Zulu kingdom which survived not only the death of its founder but later military defeat and calculated attempts to break it up.”
For a more complete story read: https://www.sahistory.org.za/people/shaka-zulu
“At the same time that Napoleon Bonaparte was conquering much of Europe, there arose in the eastern provinces of South Africa a black warrior and empire builder who, in his own world, was to become even more famous than the French emperor. By sheer strength of character and visionary ideas, Shaka molded a tiny band of loyal fighters into a conquering army that built the first Zulu nation. Not only did he introduce new tactics that proved devastating on the battlefield, but he also pursued total warfare on a scale just short of genocide, depopulating vast regions in the process…”
King Jaja of Opobo
Early life, Jubo Jubogha (1821–1891)
“Born in Igboland and sold as a slave to a Bonny trader at the age of twelve, he was named Jubo Jubogha by his first master. He was later sold to Chief Alali, the powerful head of the Opobu Manila Group of Houses. Called Jaja by the British, this gifted and enterprising individual eventually became one of the most powerful men in the eastern Niger Delta.
The rise of King Jaja
“Astute in business and politics, Jaja became the head of the Anna Pepple House, extending its activities and influence by absorbing other houses, increasing operations in the hinterland and augmenting the number of European contacts. A power struggle ensued among rival factions in the houses at Bonny, leading to the breakaway of the faction led by Jaja. He established a new settlement, which he named Opobo. He became King Jaja of Opobo and declared himself independent of Bonny.
“Strategically located between Bonny and the production areas of the hinterland, King Jaja controlled trade and politics in the delta. In so doing he curtailed trade at Bonny, and at the end of his ascendancy, fourteen of the eighteen Bonny houses had moved to Opobo.
“In a few years, he had become so wealthy that he was shipping palm oil directly to Liverpool himself. The British consul could not tolerate this situation. Jaja was offered a treaty of "protection", in return for which the chiefs usually surrendered their sovereignty. After Jaja's initial opposition, he was reassured, in rather vague terms, that neither his authority nor the sovereignty of Opobo would be threatened.
The fall of Jaja and scramble for Africa
“Jaja continued to regulate trade and levy duties on British traders, to the point where he ordered a cessation of trade on the river until one British firm agreed to pay duties. Jaja refused to comply with the consul's order to terminate these activities, despite British threats to bombard Opobo. Unknown to Jaja, the Scramble for Africa had taken place and Opobo was part of the territories allocated to Great Britain. This was the era of gunboat diplomacy, where Great Britain used her naval power to negotiate conditions favorable to her people.
“Lured into a meeting with the British consul aboard a warship, Jaja was arrested and sent to Accra, where he was summarily tried and found guilty of "treaty breaking" and "blocking the highways of trade".
“He was deported to St. Vincent (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), West Indies, and four years later, he died en route to Nigeria after he was permitted to return.
“Ironically, Jaja's dogged insistence on African independence and effective resistance exposed British imperialism and made him the first victim of foreign territorial intrusion in West Africa. The fate of Jaja reverberated through the entire Niger delta. Amazed at this turn of events, the other delta chiefs quickly capitulated...”
Shanakdathete (170 BC–150 BC): Shanakdathete
She was the earliest known ruling African queen of ancient Nubia, She was a queen regnant of the Kingdom of Kush, when the polity was centered at Meroe. She reigned from about 170 to 150 BC, it is also stated that as queen she played a significant role in the Meroitic religion.
Even though her family antecedents remain obscure, in one of her carvings on a dorsal pillar she is shown adorned with an insignia of rank on the forehead and a crown, similar to the one worn by the reigning kings with decoration of a sun-disk and tall feathers. She appears in the works of art in some cases, along with a smaller man. This man raises his arm from behind her to touch her crown...
African Warrior Queens
“Most scholars would dismiss the accounts of Herodotus, Strabo, and Diodorous as compelling evidence to support the existence of women warriors in Africa, although all three ancient writers have proved accurate in the great majority of their testable observations about life in the centuries before Christ. As time progresses, the evidence supporting the presence of a tradition of African women warriors grows in its persuasiveness.
“An impressive series of Nubian warrior queens, queen regents, and queen mothers, known as kentakes are only appearing to the light of history through the ongoing deciphering of the Merotic script. They controlled what is now Ethiopia, Sudan, and parts of Egypt. One of the earliest references to the kentakes comes from 332 B.C. when Alexander the Great set his sights on the rich kingdom of Nubia.
“The presiding kentakes, known in history as "Black Queen Candace of Nubia," designed a battle plan to counter Alexander's advance. She placed her armies and waited on a war elephant for the Macedonian conqueror to appear for battle. Alexander approached the field from a low ridge, but when he saw the Black Queen's army displayed in a brilliant military formation before him, he stopped. After studying the array of warriors waiting with such deadly precision and realizing that to challenge the kentakes could quite possibly be fatal, he turned his armies away from Nubia toward a successful campaign in Egypt.
“Bas-reliefs dated to about 170 B.C. reveal kentakes Shanakdakheto, dressed in armor and wielding a spear in battle. She did not rule as queen regent or queen mother but as a fully independent ruler. Her husband was her consort. In bas-reliefs found in the ruines of building projects she commissioned, Shanakdakheto is portrayed both alone as well as with her husband and son, who would inherit the throne by her passing. The following African queens were known to the “Greco-Roman world as the "Candaces": Amanishakhete, Amanitore, Amanirenas, Nawidemak, and Malegereabar.”
Source: Jones, David E., Women Warriors: A History, Brasseys, Inc.; (March 1, 2000)
Amnirense qore li kdwe li (“Ameniras, Qore and Kandake”)
She reigned from about 40 BCE to 10 BCE. She is one of the most famous kandakes, because of her role leading Kushite armies against the Romans from in a war that lasted five years, from 27 BCE to 22 BCE. After an initial victory when the Kushites attacked Roman Egypt, they were driven out of Egypt by Gaius Petronius and the Romans established a new frontier at Hiere Sycaminos (Maharraqa). Amanirenas was described as brave, and blind in one eye.
Meroitic inscriptions give Amanirenas the title of qore as well as kandake suggesting that she was a ruling queen. She is usually considered to be the queen referred to as “Candace” in Strabo’s account of the Meroitic war against the Roman Empire. Her name is associated with those of Teriteqas and Akinidad. The scheme first proposed by Hintze suggests that King Teriteqas died shortly after the beginning of the war. She was succeeded by Akinidad (possibly the son of Teriteqas) who continued the campaign with his mother Amanirenas. Akinidad died at Dakka c.24BC.