Ills of colonialism/ Discover the female warriors of Dahomey( Amazons)
ILLS OF COLONIALISM TO AFRICA, THE AMAZONS OF DAHOMEY
Africa had her own light before the coming of civilization and colonialism. Their beliefs and cultures worked for them and their lives were quite comfortable. Colonial rule meant giving up these cultural values and trusting a stranger with the richness of Africa. As humans, there's a tendency of fighting to protect what is yours, this applied to Africans who could not give up their territories to European rule. Yes colonialism affected a great part of Africa, but this colonization didn't without a fight.
The Amazons of Dahomey are one of those who resisted colonial masters and fought to preserve their heritage. They were the world’s only all-female army. Researchers have spent decades combing through European and West African archives to craft a portrait from the jottings of French officers, British traders and Italian missionaries.
Yet a crucial piece of the Amazon legacy has been lost to the eraser of time and colonial rule: Their humanity. History is often told through the lens of conquerors. Generations of American schoolchildren learned more about the 15th century “discoveries” of Christopher Columbus than his record of enslaving Indigenous people. Britain framed its 1897 takeover of a storied West African kingdom as a “punitive mission,” glossing over the mass theft of priceless bronzes.
It hid the truth of how much destruction and chaos their "mission" was in the land of Dahomey. And of how much manslaughter they carried out in their quest of colonization and one of the victims of this were the Amazons of Dahomey.
During this period of colonialism, a land which was once referred to as "home" for thousands became a memorial ground where tears were shed and flowers left to die. There were many things which the Europeans, led by Christopher Columbus, destroyed in the land of Dahomey. And they started with the Amazons of Dahomey. The all female army who stood to fight against the colonizers as it resulted to an all out brawl which led to the following disruptions…,
- “The French made sure this history wasn’t known,” said the Beninese economist Leonard Wantchekon, a professor of international affairs at Princeton University. “They said they were backward, that they needed to ‘civilize us,’ but they destroyed opportunities for women that existed nowhere else in the world.”
“The Amazons were powerful. They had influence. But everyone stopped talking about them after the colonial conquest.” For at least three centuries, the Kingdom of Dahomey was a West African power that drew comparisons to Sparta. European visitors gushed about its women fighters: She-soldiers. Medusas. Spinster warriors.
A French official later called Dahomey “assuredly the only country in the world that offers the singular spectacle of an organization of women as soldiers,” according to the American journalist Stanley Alpern. The French publishing house Larousse declared the women “the only historical Amazons known.”
By the mid-1800s, Dahomey boasted thousands of female troops as it sought to outmuscle rival kingdoms. When clashes erupted, victors were known to force their enemies into labor or sell them in the slave trade.
- Amazons began training in girlhood: swinging blades, loading Flintlock muskets, climbing thorny barricades. They drank imported brandy and belted out war songs.
- The tradition ended when France invaded. In the face of defeat, a French general wrote, the women “gave proof of very great bravery,” Alpern found.
- Nearly 2,000 Amazons died in the slaughter, historians estimate, and the 50 survivors faded into a nation transformed. Little trace of them is left in Abomey, the kingdom’s former capital.
- The French looted all the priceless artifacts that existed in the land of Dahomey during the period of them colonizing the land.
- They( French) also made away with the young girls of Dahomey and turned them into either sex objects or slaves as there was no one left to defend(as they had just brutally wiped out the entire Amazon warriors).
- Destroying houses, shrines and sacred places that stood in Dahomey and which symbolized great things in the land. As all these were in their quest to "civilize" Dahomey.
After witnessing this great massacre, the rest of the Amazon soldiers that were left fled into neighboring villages to seek shelter and to settle there as it greatly painted them that one of the greatest women army that once stood strong has now fallen.
Some of their warriors have been captured and will be turned into slaves.
Also, after the war, many warriors fled and left behind families who also fled. Mothers and grandmothers finding their grandchildren has proved increasingly difficult as time slips away. Not much has been documented about the Amazons after the war as the French made sure to erase any form of historical references that may be used in the future.
But today, stories can be heard spiraling all around from those who fled during the war. They spoke of how without question or reason, the French came in to completely wipe out the land, which they did.
Also, paint is chipping off the stone statue of an Amazon in a village near Abomey, Benin. Visitors must wade through chest-high brush to reach her proving that indeed, the Amazons of Dahomey, were the greatest!.