Strong heroic leaders come in all colors, shapes, statures, and less commonly told, all genders as well.Never quite getting the reverence they deserve, these unsung heroines destroyed categories and toppled expectations.
Queen Nzinga of Ndongo, Angola was a woman who personally led troops in battle well into her 60s, outwitted slave-catchers, and held back Portuguese forces from entering her country for more than 30 years.
Born around 1581, Nzinga was quickly introduced to the lucrative and bloody business of the African slave-trade. Chancellor Williams, author of “The Destruction of Black Civilization”, underlines that in the early 1600s, the Portuguese implemented a new policy on Angola; that all leaders were responsible to meet a certain quota of slaves, and rulers who did not gather the required number of slaves, were enslaved themselves.
In 1623 she became the Queen of Ndongo.
Perhaps in an attempt to counteract the invasions and slave raids, in 1624, Queen Nzinga made all territory that she had control over in Angola free.
She went even further and began gathering her soldiers to penetrate the Portuguese Black armies (it was common for Europeans to use African slaves against their own people.). Williams mentions that whole fleets rebelled against the Portuguese.
Nzinga was forced to leave her country to escape capture and once again to escape death. Blackpast.org asserts that while out of her country, Nzinga became Queen of Matamba.
Williams also reveals that in 1629, the Queen came back into Ndongo and defeated the Portuguese. With her victory she made both Ndongo and Matamba safe havens for escaped slaves.
Bessie Coleman, also known as “Queen Bess” and “Brave Bessie”, is the first Black woman in the world to receive an aviator’s license. She was born in 1892, in Atlanta, Texas.
According to Pbs.com, Bessie would walk four miles to her school, a one-room shack, every day.
In 1920, she travelled to France. According to Lynne Spivey, writer for Bessiecoleman.com, Bessie completed a ten month course in seven months.
On June 15, 1921, she received her license and in 1922, she debuted her flying skills for the first time in New York. Spivey declares that first show “billed Bessie as ‘the world’s greatest woman flyers'”.
She began touring around the country giving flight lessons and lectures. Over the next few years Bessie would perform in countless airshows and although segregation was prevalent she refused to perform unless the audiences were desegregated.
Bessie died in a plane crash in 1926, but is remembered by the buildings and streets named in her honor.
Pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut was one of the greatest rulers in the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty.
Rit Nosotro, a writer for hyperhistory.net, claims “some historians believe that she was the Pharaoh’s daughter than drew [baby] Moses out of the Nile.”
Hatshepsut ruled as co-regent with her nephew, but once he got older she locked him in the palace.
Soon after that she crowned herself King and Pharaoh over Upper and Lower Egypt.
According to Whenweruled.com, Hatshepsut was very religious and pushed to counteract the idolization of Set, identified as the god Ba’al (the primary pagan idol of the Old Testament).
Instead of focusing on conquering new lands, Hatshepsut’s central focus was to open up Egypt’s trade routes. Richeast.org explains how she sent countless ships on voyages and increased and expanded the country’s trade.
Whenweruled.com also points out “great lyric poetry was composed during her period”.
Nosotro states that when she died her nephew was extremely angry; so angry that he destroyed and erased her name from all of her many monuments and accomplishments.
But her name is still celebrated and revered as one of the most powerful women in history.