Who were the Dahomey Amazons of West Africa?

Dahomey Amazons of West Africa

Who were the Dahomey Amazons of West Africa?

The Dahomey Amazons were an all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey, which existed from the 17th to the late 19th century in what is now modern-day Benin. The Amazons were initially formed as a palace guard, but they soon became an important part of Dahomey’s military and political power.

The women who served in the Amazon army were recruited from among the king’s wives and daughters, as well as from the general population of Dahomey. They were trained in combat and martial skills, and were equipped with weapons such as swords, spears, and guns. The Amazons were known for their bravery, discipline, and loyalty, and they played a key role in Dahomey’s military campaigns.

The Amazons were organized into units known as the Ahosi, which means “king’s wives” in the Fon language of Dahomey. Each Ahosi was led by a commander, and they were responsible for defending the kingdom and carrying out military operations. The Amazons were also involved in other aspects of Dahomey’s society, including trade, agriculture, and religious ceremonies.

Speaking of trade, the Dahomey Amazons (aka Agojie) were known for their extensive participation in the barbaric slave trade (i.e. the Transatlantic Slave trade). It’s been noted that the Agojie gained much wealth for the kingdom through the slave trade and raids, making Dahomey one of the most ruthless slave-raiding kingdoms in all of Africa.

The Dahomey Amazons were feared and respected by their enemies, and their reputation for bravery and skill in battle spread throughout West Africa.

However, with the colonization of Africa by European powers in the late 19th century, the Dahomey Kingdom was weakened and ultimately conquered. This all-female fighting force were disbanded by the French in the early 1900s, and their legacy has been the subject of much study and debate.

The Agojie and the slave trade in West Africa