The Dahomey Amazons or “MINO” were an all-female military in the ancient kingdom of Dahomey, now in the present day Benin Republic. Not only were they fierce fighters who could take on their male counterparts, they were great mothers and home-makers. They were equally referred to as “Mino” meaning “Our Mothers” in Fon dialet or “AHOSI”- King’s wives. They were also Priestesses who wore moon crowns.
King Agadja whose dynasty was from 1708 to 1732 had the Mino for bodyguards. Their expertise in military campaigns was second to non in those days such that through the orders of King Agadja, the Minos invaded and conquered the neighboring kingdom of Savi in 1727.
King Ghezo who ruled from 1818 to 1858 placed great importance on the minos, where he increased their military budget, arming them further with muskets.
The minos went through intensive military trainings, many were recruited voluntarily or through vodoun divination and many of them were virgins and were considered legally married to the King. Later on, males were recruited into the army but the females were in command of each military unit. The female soldeirs were stronger and braver than their male counter-parts and in most cases were more ruthless, for the enemies who fell to their feet were beheaded.
During the colonial and European encroachment into the African soil, the French led invasion against the Dhomean kingdom under King Benhazin in 1890. The Minos fought bravely against the French invaders and won in the 1st campaign. After a retreat, the French forces returned with their FOREIGN LEGION which had more superior fire power, numbers alongside marine and calvary infantry, inflicted so much casualty on the ancient Kingdom and mino warriors.
The Europeans who saw these great African warriors called them “Dhomey Amazons” and wrote their incredible courage and audacity.
A woman by name Nawi was the last surviving Dahomey Amazon, who died in 1979.
Contrary to what we have today, the African woman has always been bold, brave, courageous and symbolic of the African lioness. The black spirit isn’t that of a sheep. Today, the children of the lioness has been made to eat grass, smh!
Salute to the spirits of these great African mothers and warriors.