A new documentary with Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o takes us on a fascinating journey as it charts the history of a fierce – but seldom heard of – all female African army. In the 17th and 19th centuries in the Kingdom of Dahomey (modern-day Benin) there was a tribe of warrior women known as the “Agoji”– or as Europeans called them, the “Amazons”. The Agoji fought in armies of up to 4000 women and confronted threats from both Africa and Europe. The documentary reveals the true story of the warrior women of Africa is more intriguing and complicated than Marvel’s warriors of Wakanda.
“Lupita Nyong’o’s investigation into the real story of the all-female army is thrilling, haunting and emotional. It’s amazing the true story of these kick-ass female fighters isn’t more widely known – and in telling it, the film challenges dominant narratives about race, women and power. With some surprises along the way.” Shaminder Nahal , Commissioning Editor of Warrior Women with Lupita Nyong’o
The Agoji are not by no means the only warrior women in African history. Closer to home in 1583 in present-day Angola, a baby called Nzinga Mbande was born. By 1624 Ms Mbande had fought her way to becoming Queen Nzinga of Ndongo. Hers is also a story of passion, violence and plot twists. Towards the end of her life she ensured her people avoided European colonialism and she remains honoured as a warrior woman of note throughout Africa.
In South Africa, in more recent history, the legendary Princess Magogo was born in 1900. She was the daughter of the Zulu King, Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (1868 – 1913) and Queen Silomo. From an early age Princess Magogo was a gifted musician and learned how to play the ugubhu, (a stringed bow and a calabash) and the isithontolo (similar to a bow with a string down the middle). Although she married in 1926, she broke with Zulu tradition and continued composing classical music, singing and writing poetry as a married woman.
Princess Magogo died in 1984 and was posthumously awarded the South African National Order of Ikhamanga in Gold for a life of “prolific musical composition, and an outstanding contribution to the preservation and development of traditional music in South Africa.” Her warrior woman spirit lives on through her music and through the people she taught, passing on her knowledge of the intricacies of Zulu music, tradition and history.
Tapping into Your Inner Warrior
These warrior women of African history have inspired us at Matoyana Media to celebrate our own modern day warrior women. This year has been pivotal for so many of us – the not-always-easy times showing the need for more warrior women to step up and take command of their circumstances. The rise of the divine feminine energy is also palpable as we become aware of the many things which are broken within our society.
With this in mind Matoyana Media is excited to reveal we have a new interview series, following up from our 2018 season of Fearless Women features. Our modern-day warrior women interviews share the voices of diverse African women who are fearless and are who are warriors in how they choose to live their lives, grow in their careers and businesses.
The content will be hosted online – on YouTube and on our Podcast and please keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages. We are featuring activists, professionals, businesswomen and entrepreneurs from across the African content.
Our Warrior Women project aims to:
- Empower women by sharing other female stories of how they have overcome barriers and battles in their lives.
- Show how the theme “warrior” is more relevant today than ever, as women face multiple challenges in their personal lives and careers.
- Increase the voices of African females on the internet (apart from in the entertainment world – the representation of African women’s voices and perspectives are low).
- Improve the representation of African / black women on online platforms. We aim to show the diversity of professional women on the African Continent.
We can’t wait to share our months of hard work with you. We’re also asking our readers, viewers and listeners to nominate someone who is a warrior woman in their lives so we can celebrate them too.