The Woman King: Movie Highlighting The Role of African Women in Resisting Slavery

The Woman King: Agojie

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The Woman King movie, released in 2022, has been a master piece. It is another movie, beyond Coming To America and Black Pather, to show Black people as independent people, with structured societies, not slaves, savages or just happy to sell their people. The Woman King has built on the previous movies to  solidify the foundation on Black society and culture.  It has continued the movement, this time going further on highlighting the role played by Women in protecting Africa. The performances of the women in the movie led by Viola Davis, Thuso Mbendu, Lashana Lynch, and Sheil Atim are outstanding. It is a movie to watch by almost every one (except children). 

The Woman Kingexpanded the narrative in previously known movies, especially Coming To America,  Coming 2 America, and Black Panther.   Coming To America set a precedent and solidified the foundation on Black society and culture.  It started a movementThe movie set a standard that was to be followed by others, especially Black Panther and Coming 2 America (see here: Black Panther Movie Highlights Challenges Faced by Resources Rich Africa and Blacks in the World  and here Coming 2 America Movie: Highlights of Rising Achievements and Importance of Women, Especially Black Women, in the World). 

Coming To America, Coming 2 America,  and Black Panther  established  the strength, intelligence, influence, and independence of Blacks and  showed that  strong intelligent Women deserve their place in the society, including as rulers of powerful nations.

Now, The Woman King, based on a true story, continues the chronicle about strong Women characters, who overcame their challenges and  went beyond their assigned responsibilities to deserve their place in the society,  defending their African nation of Dahomey against evil conquerors, traiters,  and slave traders. 

The Woman King showed that famous Black women, like any human, may face personal  challenges. However, with purpose and determination they are able to assume their roles in building  strong Black societies, nations, and families. With a predominantly Black cast and strong women characters,  The Woman King is another strong inspirational story for Blacks: girls, young boys,  and adults.


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A Narrative Built on the Story of the Famous Kingdom of Dahomey.

The Kingdom of Dahomey was a West African kingdom located within present-day Benin that  was founded around the early 16th century.

The Kingdom of Dahomey, building  its domestic economy on conquest,  slave labor, international trade, including slave trade,  flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries.  

According to tradition, at the beginning of the 17th century, three brothers  fought for the throne to  the kingdom. When one brother took over, he solidified the kingdom. In early 18th century,  King Ghezo ascended to the throne and  reigned from 1818 to 1858.  His son Glele succeeded him and reigned  from 1858 to 1889. It was the time of prosperity and the golden age of the Kingdom of  Dahomey.

During that time, the Kingom of Dahomey had a fierce and powerful army,  known as the Agojie.   The Agojie was an elite, all-woman army. They  were ruthless and attacked solidified camps of ennemies and  raided villages under  the cover of darkness. In their effective attacks they  took captives and slashed off resisters’ heads to return to their king as trophies of war.  The women soldiers in the Agojie were considered ahosi, or wives of the king.

Slave traders and  foreign visitors were terrified by the Agojie and compared them to  the Amazons,  referring to the warrior women in the Greek mythology. 



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A Good Story About Strong Women, in a Dramatized Narrative

Although the story in the movie shows that the kingdom of Dahomey was not involved in the slave trade, the reality is different.  In fact, Dahomey played  a major  role in slave trafficking between the 1680s and early 1700s, as a major supplier of its captives to European slave  traders.   It is only in 1852 that King Ghezo was forced by the British government to end Dahomey’s participation in the slave trade, following the act to end slavery in British colonies in 1833

But the key story is about the  women in Agojie, the  true elite, all-woman army, whose precendence and achievements were historic.  

Though the majority of individuals taken prisoners by Dahomey were enslaved abroad, many remained in the kingdom, serving on royal farms, in the army, or at the palace under the guard of Agojie. At some time, King Ghezo unsuccessfully explored the production and commerce of  palm oil  as an alternative source of revenue,  before resuming the slave trade.

In the end, the lesson from The Woman King movie  is clear: Determined women have the power, the capacities, the intelligence  and the wisdom to change the situation and to make their societies and nations better.  Black Women have played and continue to play a major role in changing the World and their societies

Viola Davis  plays the role of a fictionalized leader of the Agojie, Nanisca,  and the movie was directed by  Gina Prince-Bythewood. Viola Davis is an American actress and producer,  the only Black woman to have been awarded an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony (EGOT)  and one of the few performers to have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting (Academy, Emmy, and Tony).

The Woman King, like  Coming 2 America, Coming to America,  Black Panther, Hidden Figures (see Hidden Figures: A Movie About the Genius, Resilience, and Humanity of Black Women is an inspirational movie to watch.  The movie is available on NetFlix.


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