Imagine Black Panther without the Dora Milaje, the all-female army heavily inspired by the Dahomey warriors of present-day Republic of Benin. Historically influential enough that they seized the zeitgeist, their story is the latest instalment in the BBC Africa’s Women Who Changed the World docu-series which premiered last month.
Titled Dahomey Mothers , the episode is a succinct tribute to the powerful, fearless women warriors of 19th-century Dahomey Kingdom, trained as girls and installed to protect the reigning king. Using animation storytelling and laced with rousing, folk singing as soundtrack, the episode acquaints us these women, their strides and achievements, fighting at the height of French colonisation until they surrendered in 1894. The BBC has really come into its own this year with its attempts to not only diversify its storytelling but also who gets to tell the stories and how. It is especially important for the countries the British colonised to see themselves represented in contemporary media, especially the exploits and achievements of its ancestors. The Dahomey Mothers were as fierce and influential to black culture as the Amazons are to contemporary mythology and for far too long this hasn’t happened. It is time for a change of guard.
Now in a post- Black Panther world, their story will further fuel the pop culture content mill. Back in March, Variety reported that Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o have signed up to star in The Woman King , a movie we didn’t realise we need and helmed by TriStar Pictures. And there’s the three-series deal that EbonyLife signed with Sony to bring the story of the Dahomey warriors to television.
I like that the Dahomey women are finally getting the cultural recognition they deserve and, pardon my bias, Davis and Nyong’o will totally kill it in The Woman King. Check out Dahomey Mothers below.
Read » Sorry, Black Panther! We are loving this BBC Africa docu-series episode on the Dahomey Warriors on YNaija
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