When Africa was a Matriarchy ruled by African Queens it flourished; When it became a patriarchy it was destroyed.

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Zenobia Queen of Palmyra


Born c240AD, she was named Septemia Zenobia in Latin, or Bat Zabbai in her native Aramaic. Zenobia of Palmyra was a woman of distinctive appearance: it was said that she was of dark and swarthy complexion, with black eyes and teeth that resembled white pearls. Her strong and forceful personality led her to be alternatively called a tyrant and good emperor. She was an incredible beauty, and this may have been brought her to the attention of Odaenathus, ruler of Palmyra; but it was her character and intelligence (she spoke several languages - Egyptian, Greek and her native Aramaic) that kept her by his side throughout his reign. Zenobia was extremely knowledgable on the history of Alexandria, and was said to have written an account of the city. Zenobia claimed to be directly descended from Cleopatra, and made her her role model. This identification with this great Egyptian Queen may have also fuelled her own ambitions.

In 260AD when the Persians captured the Emperor Valerian and threatened the Empire itself, Odaenathus, son of a ruling Palmyrene family (Julii Aurelii Septimii) and Imperial Consul, assumed the defence of the Asian provinces, and backed by his family, recruited his own troops. Accompanied by Zenobia, he set out against the Persian King, and ultimately defeated the persian army, securing Mesopotamia for Rome. After crushing a rebellion against the Emperor, Odaenathus was made Governor of all the Roman provinces in the East; he then proclaimed himself King of Palmyra.

Odaenathus reigned for seven years. Zenobia endured the same rigors as her husband, and supported and embellished his court with artists and writers. Despite this seeming closeness of relationship, Zenobia conspired to have her husband assassinated (2767AD). It was said that she feared that Herodes, Odaenathus' eldest son by a previous marriage, would succeed. Zenobia viewed Heodes as a worthless, spoilt boy for whom she had not time. Odaenathus was duly murdered by his cousin Maeonius, who was then killed by Zenobia's own soldiers. Conveniently soon after the death of his father, Herodes disappeared. Zenobia's young son, Vaballathus was proclaimed, but as he was not old enough to rule in his won right, Zenobia was entrusted with the regency, aided by her late husband's friends. There was never any direct reference to Zenobia being involved in either of these two actions, though she did indeed reap the rewards.

Soon after taking control of Palmyrene affairs, Zenobia received an invitation to take direct control of Egyptian affairs by Timagenes, a dissatisfied military and political commander, originally appointed by Rome. Zenobia accepted this opportunity and though she was concerned about an open confrontation with Rome, she was advised that the risks and the prize (being the Nile) were well worth it. At this time the Romans were distracted by the Gothic invasion of Greece and Asia Minor. Zenobia's army numbered 70,000 and was under the command of her general Zabdas; he joined the Egyptian army and together they defeated a much smaller Roman-Egyptian army. Zabdas re-established Timagenes and left a garrison behind. The outraged Emperor sent his vetran admiral Probus to Alexandria - the Palmyrenes were ousted but Timagenes rallied, and in a surprise attack defeated Probus. Egypt was now loyal to Palmyra. It was at this stage that Zenobia began entertaining thoughts of establishing her own empire rivalling Rome.

Hot on the heels of her success in Egypt, Zenobia sent an army into Asia Minor, establishing herlf in Ankar and Chalcedon (opposite Constantinople on the Bosphorus). But her rule was short-lived. A new Emperor had come to power (270AD) and not just any Emperor; this was Aurelian, a ferocious conqueror who, on coming to power, ruthlessly crushed all rebellions and incursions - rebels fled, cities capitulated before him. But he was also human and often acted with greaat clemency, which made Zenobia's resistance to him very difficult. By the time of Aurelian's accession to power, Zenobia's fame was widespread, and it would not be long before a confrontation between the "Iron Lady" and the Emperor would be forthcoming.

Aurelian advanced to Antioch (272AD) but the Palmyrene army blocked his way - nevertheless, Aurelian shrewdly noted that Zenobia's army consisted mainly of heavily armoured cavalry - both horse and rider encased in mail and plate armour. Standing aside his infantry, Aurelian ordered his cavalry to make an ordered retreat sufficiently long enough to tire the palmyrene cavalry, whereupon they were attacked by the Romans. The Palmyrenes retreated within the walls of Antioch but the people wanted to turn them over to the Romans. Under cover of night, the remnants of the Palmyrene army fled to Emesa where Zenobia was awaiting news.

Upon receiving news of the defeat, Zenobia decided to lead the bulk of her army personally. Zenobia donned her mail tunic which was then draped with purple cloth, secured by a large brooch; on her head was a Persian style helmet. She decided to face Aurelian at Emses (modern Homs). Her army of 70,000 warriors consisted chiefly of her elite "clibanarii" (noblemen), Arab mounted archers and Lebanese-Syrian footsoldiers. Aurelian was quite content to let the heavily armoured horsemen subject themsleves to the steadily increasing heat. Again Aurelian ordered retreat but it was not so orderly this time. The Roman cavalry was easily defeated by the palmyrene cavalry but they in turn was easily overcome by the awaiting disciplined Roman footsoldiers. Zenobia fled back to Palmyra, pursued by Aurelian who besieged the fortified city. Aurelian demanded Zenobia surrender, she in turn defied him. Though well equiped for a long siege, Zenobia's advisors urged her to flee to the Persian Empire, and so under cover of night she left, on camel and accompanied by only a few faithful bodybguards.

Furous at her flight, Aurelian sent Arab horsemen after Zenobia. She was captured just as she was about to set foot in Persia - Palmyra surrendered on receiving the news of her capture. Zenobia was taken to Emesa and tried for crimes against the Empire. Zenobia blamed her actions on bad counsellors, chiefly the Greek philosopher Longinus - they were duly executed. Zenobia's own life was spared only because Aurelian wished to have her lead his triumphant parade through Rome. Thus, laden with many jewels and bound with gold chains, Zenobia was paraded through Rome before a hysterical crowd, the symbol of Aurelian's supremacy over the East (274AD). It was claimed that Zenobia, faithful to the her role model Cleopatra, took her own life. It was also said that, although she considered suicide, she in fact married a Roman nobleman and spent the remainder of her life in Tivoli, her notoriety ensuring her celebrity status among the Roman aristocracy.
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NEHANDA
MBUYA(Grandmother) OF ZIMBABWE Smile


When the English invaded Zimbabwe in 1896 and began confiscating land and cattle, Nehanda and other leaders declared war. Nehanda also displayed remarkable leadership and organizational skills at a young age. Though dead for nearly a hundred years, Nehanda remains what she was when alive, the single most important person in the modern history of Zimbabwe. She is still referred to as Mbuya (Grandmother) Nehanda by Zimbabwean patriots
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:@>: QUEEN NZINGHA :@>:

Born in 1592 in the Ndongo area (what is now known as Angola, Africa), Nzigha proved to be a valuable asset to her people in keeping them free from the shackles of slavery by the Portuguese. Nzingha's brother, king Ngola, fought the Portuguese many years to keep his people free, and after his death, Nzingha became ruler in his stead. She proved to be a cunning rival to the Portuguese and became known for her intelligence, bravery, and determination to keep her people free. One Portuguese commanding officer described her as being "A cunning and prudent virgo ... so generously valient that she never hurt a Portuguese after quarter was given and commanded all her servants and soldiers alike."
During her brother's reign, Nzingha was sent to represent him in a peace conference with the Portuguese. When the governor refused to give her a seat, she defied him by sitting on the back of one of her attendants. Nzingha was a very ambitious woman and some historians claim that she poisoned her brother in order to take his throne, while others say that the story was made up to discredit her. Whether or not the story is valid, Nzingha still proved to be a very capable leader. Her first act as queen was to demand that the Portuguese put a new peace treaty into effect or she would declare war. When the governor tried to drive Nzingha out of her land, the result was war.
Using her knowledge of European customs and religion, Nzingha was able to form valuable alliances with some of the neighboring Europeans, namely the Dutch who wanted to end the slave trade of Africans by the Portuguese. Not only was Nzingha able to keep her people free from slavery by the Portuguese, but she also tried to expand her kingdom by declaring that every slave who escaped to Ndongo would be free. After Nzingha's death at age 81, the Jaga people finally fell into the hands of the Portuguese, and although she is no longer with us in body, she will always be with us in spirit, for Nzingha was one of the many prime examples of the true wit and ability of WOMAN that lies in each of us.
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DOHEMIAN FEMALE ARMY (1841)

Dohomey was a wealthy West African empire. The elements of Dohomey's success were its trade and its powerful army, whose soldiers were considered invincible.
The fierce and mighty Behanzin Bowelle was the king of this great empire. His army contained 25.000 warriors, 5.000 of which were women. The women were the most respected and feared part of Behanzin's army. They ranked above the men.

These women were thoroughly trained and kept trim by a system of gymnastics developed by the Dohomians themselves. Recruited from among the healthiest and strongest virgins in Dohomey, these females were sworn to chastity.

The king sometimes picked his wives from among them or gave them to his bravest warriors.

The training of these women was very rigorous. One of their drils was charging three times barefoot into a construction of thorns, nude to their waist. Another excercise was to kill a maddened bull with their bare hands.

Perfect was the discipline of these female warriors. They fought with extreme bravery. Excited by their own courage and undying energy, the women, like the men were thought to be invincible."

HISTORICAL PERSONALITIES & ISSUES by John Henrik Clark and Phillip True, Jr.
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:@>: CANDACE
EMPRESS OF ETHIOPIA (332 B.C.)

Alexander reached Kemet (Ancient Egypt) in 332 B.C., on his world conquering rampage. But one of the greatest generals of the ancient world was also the Empress of Ethiopia. This formidable black Queen Candace, was world famous as a military tactician and field commander. Legend has it that Alexander could not entertain even the possibilty of having his world fame and unbroken chain of victories marred by risking a defeat, at last, by a woman. He halted his armies at the borders of Ethiopia and did not invade to meet the waiting black armies with their Queen in personal command.
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NEFERTARI
QUEEN OF KEMET (the land of the blacks) (1292-1225 B.C)

Her marriage to the great Rameses II of lower Ancient Egypt is known as one of the greatest royal love affair ever. This marriage also brought an end to the hundred year war between upper and lower ancient Kemet (Egypt), which in essence unified both sections into one great Kemet which was the world leading country. Monuments of this love affair still remains today in the temples that Rameses built for his wife at Abu Simbel.
The immense structures known as the two temples of Abu Simbel are among the most magnificent monuments in the world. Built during the New Kingdom nearly 3,000 years ago, it was hewn from the mountain which contains it as an everlasting dedication to King Ramses and his wife Nefertari. Superb reliefs on the temple detail the Battle of Kadesh, and Ramses and Nefertari consorting with the deities and performing religous rituals. The rays of the sun still penetrate to the Holy of Holies in the rock of the main temple on the same two days of the year: the 20th of October and the 20th of Febuary. This timing is probably connected to the symbolic unification, via the rays of the sun, of the statue of Ra-Herakhty and the statue of Ramses II. Up to today these structures remains as the largest, most majestic structures ever built to honor a wife.

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AMINA
QUEEN Of ZARIA (1588-1589)

This queen of Zazzua, a province of Nigeria now known as Zaria, was born around 1533 during the reign of Sarkin (king) Zazzau Nohir. She was probably his granddaughter. Zazzua was one of a number of Hausa city-states which dominated the trans-Saharan trade after the collapse of the Songhai empire to the west. Its wealth was due to trade of mainly leather goods, cloth, kola, salt, horses and imported metals. At the age of sixteen, Amina became the heir apparent (Magajiya) to her mother, Bakwa of Turunku, the ruling queen of Zazzua. With the title came the responsibility for a ward in the city and daily councils with other officials. Although her mother's reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina also chose to learn military skills from the warriors. Queen Bakwa died around 1566 and the reign of Zazzua passed to her younger brother Karama. At this time Amina emerged as the leading warrior of Zazzua cavalry. Her military achievements brought her great wealth and power. When Karama died after a ten-year rule, Amina became queen of Zazzua. She set off on her first military expedition three months after coming to power and continued fighting until her death. In her thirty-four year reign, she expanded the domain of Zazzua to its largest size ever. Her main focus, however, was not on annexation of neighboring lands, but on forcing local rulers to accept vassal status and permit Hausa traders safe passage. She is credited with popularizing the earthen city wall fortifications, which became characteristic of Hausa city-states since then. She ordered building of a defensive wall around each military camp that she established. Later, towns grew within these protective walls, many of which are still in existence. They're known as "ganuwar Amina", or Amina's walls. She is mostly remembered as "Amina, Yar Bakwa ta san rana," meaning "Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.

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:@>: NANNY OF THE MAROONS

Nanny of the Maroons stands out in history as the only female among Jamaica's national heroes. She possessed that fierce fighting spirit generally associated with the courage of men.
In fact, Nanny is described as a fearless Asante warrior who used militarist techniques to fool and beguile the English.
Nanny was a leader of the Maroons at the beginning of the 18th. Century. She was known by both the Maroons and the British settlers as an outstanding military leader who became, in her lifetime and after, a symbol of unity and strength for her people during times of crisis.
She was particularly important to them in the fierce fight with the British during the First Maroon War from 1720 to 1739. Although she has been immortalized in songs and legends, certain facts about Nanny (or "Granny Nanny", as she was affectionately known) have also been documented.
Both legends and documents refer to her as having exceptional leadership qualities.

She was a small wiry woman with piercing eyes. Her influence over the Maroons was so strong that it seemed to be supernatural and was said to be connected to her powers of obeah. She was particularly skilled in organising the guerrilla warfare carried out by the Eastern Maroons to keep away the British troops who attempted to penetrate the mountains to overpower them.

Her cleverness in planning guerrilla warfare confused the British and their accounts of the fights reflect the surprise and fears which the Maroon traps caused among them. Beside inspiring her people to ward off troops, Nanny was also a type of chieftainess or wise woman of the village, who passed down legends and encouraged the continuation of customs, music and songs that had come with the people from Africa, and that instilled in them confidence and pride.

Her spirit of freedom was so great that in 1739, when Quao signed the second Treaty (The first was signed by Cudjoe for the Leeward Maroons a few months earlier) with the British, it is reported that Nanny was very angry and in disagreement with the principle of peace with the British which she knew meant another form of subjugation.

There are many legends about Nanny among the Maroons. Some even claim that
there were several women who were leaders of the Maroons during this period of history. But all the legends and documents refer to Nanny of the First Maroon War as the most outstanding of them all, leading her people with courage and inspiring them to struggle to maintain that spirit of freedom, that life of independence, which was their rightful inheritance.
Like the heroes of the pre Independence era, Nanny too met her untimely death at the instigation of the English sometime around 1734.
Yet, the spirit of Nanny of the Maroons remains today as a symbol of that indomitable desire that will never yield to captivity.

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TIYE
THE NUBIAN QUEEN OF KEMET (Ancient Egypt) (1415-1340 B.C.)

Black, beautiful and georgous, Queen Tiye is regarded as one of the most influential Queens ever to rule Kemet. A princess of Nubian birth, she married the Kemetan King Amenhotep III who ruled during the New Kingdom Dynasties around 1391BC. Queen Tiye held the title of "Great Royal Wife" and acted upon it following the end of her husband's reign. It was Tiye who held sway over Kemet during the reign of her three sons Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton), Smenkhare, and the famous child king Tut-ankh-amen. For nearly half of a century, Tiye governed Kemet, regulated her trade, and protected her borders. During this time, she was believed to be the standard of beauty in the ancient world.
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YAA ASANTEWA

Yaa Asantewa of the Ashanti Empire
Her fight against British colonialists is a story that is woven throughout the history of Ghana.
One evening the chiefs held a secret meeting at Kumasi. Yaa Asantewa, the Queen Mother of Ejisu, was at the meeting. The chiefs were discussing how they should make war on the white men and force them to bring back the Asantehene. Yaa Asantewa noticed that some of the chiefs were afraid. Some said that there should be no war. They should rather go to beg the Governor to bring back the Asantehene King Prempeh. Then suddenly Yaa Asantewa stood up and spoke. This was what she said: "Now I have seen that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it were in the brave days of, the days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opolu Ware, chiefs would not sit down to see thief king taken away without firing a shot. No white man could have dared to speak to chief of the Ashanti in the way the Governor spoke to you chiefs this morning. Is it true that the bravery of the Ashanti is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this, if you the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. We the women will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields." This speech stirred up the men who took an oath to fight the white men until they released the Asantehene. For months the Ashantis led by Yaa Asantewa fought very bravely and kept the white men in the fort. Yet British reinforcements totaling 1,400 soldiers arrived at Kumasi. Yaa Asantewa and other leaders were captured and sent into exile. Yaa Asantewa's war was the last of the major war in Africa led by a women.
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VAROIOUS AFRICAN QUEENS


Matriarchal warrior tribes and matrilineal tribal descent are a continuing theme in African history and in some cases survived into modern times. One of the great African warrior queens of the ancient world was Majaji, who led the Lovedu tribe which was part of the Kushite Empire during the Kushite's centuries long war with Rome. The empire ended in 350 AD when the Kushite stronghold of Meroe fell to repeated Roman assaults. Majaji led her warriors in battle armed with a shield and spear and is believed to have died on the walls of Meroe.

The Egyptian warrior queens included Ahotep, the 7 Cleopatras and Arsinoe II & III, all of who descended from the royal house of Kush. They ruled Egypt and led her army and navy through Roman times. A succession of Ethiopian Queens and military leaders known as Candace were also descended from the Kush. The first Candace, leading an army mounted on war elephants, turned back Alexander's invasion of Ethiopia in 332 BC. In 30 BC Candace Amanirenas defeated an invasion by Patronius, the Roman governor of Egypt and sacked the city of Cyrene.

In 937 AD Judith, Queen of the Falash, attacked Axum, sacred capital of Ethiopia killing all the inhabitants including the descendants of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

Through the 10th and 11th centuries the Hausa states (modern day Nigeria) were ruled by the Habe warrior queens: Kufuru, Gino, Yakumo, Yakunya, Walzana, Daura, Gamata, Shata, Batatume, Sandamata, Yanbamu, Gizirgizir, Innagari, Jamata, Hamata, Zama and Shawata. Centuries later Amina, daughter of Queen Turunku of the Songhai in mid-Niger ruled the Hausa empire from 1536 to 1573. She extended her nation's boundaries to the Atlantic coast, founded cities and personally led her army of 20,000 soldiers into battle.

Mbande Zinga was the sister and advisor of the king of Ngola (today Angola) and served a his representative in negotiating treaties with the Portuguese. She became queen when her brother died in 1624 and appointed women, including her two sisters Kifunji and Mukumbu, to all government offices. When the Portuguese broke the peace treaty she led her largely female army against them inflicting terrible casualties while also conquering nearby kingdoms in an attempt to build a strong enough confederation to drive the Portuguese out of Africa. She accepted a truce and then agreed to a peace treaty in 1635. She continued to rule her people and lived to be 81. When Angola became an independent nation in 1975 a street in Luanda was named in her honor.

Llinga, a warrior queen of the Congo armed with ax, bow and sword fought the Portuguese in 1640. Women warriors were common in the Congo where the Monomotapa confederacy had standing armies of women.

Kaipkire, warrior leader of the Herero tribe of southwest Africa in the 18th century led her people in battles against British slave traders. There are records of Herero women fighting German soldiers as late as 1919.

Nandi was the warrior mother of Shaka Zulu. She battled slave traders and trained her son to be a warrior. When he became King he established an all-female regiment which often fought in the front lines of his army.

Mantatisi, warrior queen of the baTlokwas in the early 1800s fought to preserve her tribal lands during the wars between Shaka Zulu and Matiwane. She succeeded in protecting the baTlokwas heritage although her son, who became King when she died, was eventually defeated by Mahweshwe.

Madame Yoko ruled and led the army of the fourteen tribes of the Kpa Mende Confederacy, the largest tribal group in 19th century Sierra Leone. At that time at least 15% of all the tribes in Sierra Leone were led by women, today approximately 9% have women rulers.

Menen Leben Amede was Empress of Ethopia. She commanded her own army and acted as regent for her son Ali Alulus. She was wounded and captured in a battle in 1847 but was ransomed by her son and continued to rule until 1853.

Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh, was a leader of the Dahomey Amazons under King Gezo. In 1851 she led an army of 6,000 women against the Egba fortress of Abeokuta. Because the Amazons were armed with spears, bows and swords while the Egba had European cannons only about 1,200 survived the extended battle. In 1892 King Behanzin of Dahomey (now Benin) was at war with the French colonists over trading rights. He led his army of 12,000 troops, including 2,000 Amazons into battle. Despite the fact that the Dahomey army was armed only with rifles while the French had machine guns and cannons, the Amazons attacked when the French troops attempted a river crossing, inflicting heavy casualties. They engaged in hand to hand combat with the survivors eventually forcing the French army to retreat. Days later the French found a bridge, crossed the river and defeated the Dahomey army after fierce fighting. The Amazons burned fields, villages and cities rather than let them fall to the French but merely delayed Dahomey being absorbed as a French colony.

In the late 19th century Mukaya, the leader of the Luba people of central Africa who's nation stretched along the rain forest from Zaire to northern Zambia, led her warriors in battle against enemy tribes and rival factions. Initially she fought alongside her brother Kasongo Kalambo, after he was killed in battle she assumed sole control of the empire and the army.

Nehanda (1862-1898) was a priestess of the MaShona nation of Zimbabwe. She became a military leader of her people when the British invaded her country. She led a number of successful attacks on the English but was eventually captured and executed.

Taytu Betul (1850-1918) was Empress of Ethopia. During her 14 year reign she established and named the modern capital of Addis Ababa, she led troops in battle and negotiated peace treaties. She retired from public life after the death of her husband.

Yaa Asantewaa (1850-1921) the Queen Mother of one of the Asante states of Ghana led her army in continuous battles against the British until her capture.
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NEFERTITI
QUEEN OF KEMET (Ancient Egypt the land of the blacks)

It is believe by some historians that Nefertiti was the daughter of Aye and Tiy, while other claims her as the oldest daughter of Amenhotep III. Nefertiti was married to Akhenaten the originated of the one god concept(monotheism) as it became known today. During the early life of Nefertiti she lived in a Kemet where a new model of human nature in relation to god was emerging. This belief considered man primarily has a material entity, whose happiness was measured by his ability to acquire and maintain a material heaven(wealth and pleasure). In this material heaven women were not principals that predicted or participated in social policy, but were objects of sensuality or objects to be used by men. As weaker members of this paradise women could not be participants in its building. This belief was completely contrary to the beliefs of the ancients and the principles of Ma'at. Akhenaten developed another model. The nature of his new religion was that Aton represented by the Sun was the sole god and creator of all life.

Nefertiti could not relegate herself to the traditional role of subservient-queen. She envisioned an active role for herself in reshaping civilization. This was later manifested as she is shown participating in all the religious ceremonies with Akhenaten. It was only through the combined royal pair that the god Aton's full blessing could be bestowed. Nefertiti is displayed with a prominence that other Egyptian queens were not. Her name is enclosed in a royal cartouche, and there are in fact more statues and drawings of her than of Akhenaten. Yet the priest with their materialist model were powerful and they dominated the higher government offices. In this arena women were incapable of divinity. Akhenaten and Nefertiti countered a revolt by the priest and emerged victorious and created a new capital for Kemet called Akhetaten a city that could give birth to their scared mission, a mission in pursuit of Divine life. She insisted on being portrayed has a equal divine partner to Akhenaten and their exist many illustrations of her riding a chariot with Akhenaten during major rituals. While Akhenaten's ideas wanned without him their to defend them. The priest still considered Nefertiti's heresy a greater threat. The concept of a woman bypassing the male priest hood via a mother-goddess to worship the divine was totally unacceptable. And sadly enough continues to be unacceptable in the major religions that dominate the world today. Nefertiti though her devotion and her demand for respect proved she deserved a special place in the history of women.
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MAKEDA
QUEEN OF SHEBA (The symbol of Beauty) (960 B.C.)

"I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, As the tents of Kedar, As the curtains of Solomon, Look not upon me because I am black Because the sun hath scorched me." (Song of Solomon)
Although most of Black history is suppressed, distorted or ignored by an ungrateful modern world, some African traditions are so persistent that all of the power and deception of the Western academic establishment have failed to stamp them out. One such story is that of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and King Solomon of Israel. Black women of antiquity were legendary for their beauty and power. Especially great were the Queens of Ethiopia. This nation was also known as Nubia, Kush, Axum and Sheba. One thousand years before Christ, Ethiopia was ruled by a line of virgin queens. The one whose story has survived into our time was known as Makeda, "the Queen of Sheba." Her remarkable tradition was recorded in the Kebar Nagast, or the Glory of Kings, and the Bible. The Bible tells us that, during his reign, King Solomon of Israel decided to build a magnificent temple. To announce this endeavor, the king sent forth messengers to various foreign countries to invite merchants from abroad to come to Jerusalem with their caravans so that they might engage in trade there. At this time, Ethiopia was second only to Egypt in power and fame. Hence, King Solomon was enthralled by Ethiopia's beautiful people, rich history, deep spiritual tradition and wealth. He was especially interested in engaging in commerce with one of Queen Makeda's subjects, an important merchant by the name of Tamrin.1 Solomon sent for Tamrin who "packed up stores of valuables including ebony, sapphires and red gold, which he took to Jerusalem to sell to the king."2 It turns out that Tamrin's visit was momentous. Although accustomed to the grandeur and luxury of Egypt and Ethiopia, Tamrin was still impressed by King Solomon and his young nation. During a prolonged stay in Israel, Tamrin observed the magnificent buildings and was intrigued by the Jewish people and their culture. But above all else, he was deeply moved by Solomon's wisdom and compassion for his subjects. Upon returning to his country, Tamrin poured forth elaborate details about his trip to Queen Makeda. She was so impressed by the exciting story that the great queen decided to visit King Solomon herself.3 To understand the significance of state visits in antiquity in contrast to those of today, we must completely remove ourselves from the present place and time. In ancient times, royal visits were very significant ceremonial affairs. The visiting regent was expected to favor the host with elaborate gifts and the state visit might well last for weeks or even months. Even by ancient standards, however, Queen Makeda's visit to King Solomon was extraordinary. In I Kings 10:1-2, the Bible tells us: "1. And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions. "2. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bear spices and very much gold, and precious stones. And when she was come to Solomon she communed with him of all that was in her heart." I Kings 10:10 adds: "She gave the king 120 talents of gold, and of spices very great store and precious stones; there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon." We should pause to consider the staggering sight of this beautiful Black woman and her vast array of resplendent attendants travelling over the Sahara desert into Israel with more than 797 camels plus donkeys and mules too numerous to count. The value of the gold alone, which she gave to King Solomon, would be $3,690,000 today and was of much greater worth in antiquity. King Solomon, and undoubtedly the Jewish people, were flabbergasted by this great woman and her people. He took great pains to accommodate her every need. A special apartment was built for her lodging while she remained in his country. She was also provided with the best of food and eleven changes of garments daily. As so many African leaders before her, this young maiden, though impressed with the beauty of Solomon's temple and his thriving domain, had come to Israel seeking wisdom and the truth about the God of the Jewish people. Responding to her quest for knowledge, Solomon had a throne set up for the queen beside his. "It was covered with silken carpets, adorned with fringes of gold and silver, and studded with diamonds and pearls. From this she listened while he delivered judgments."4 Queen Makeda also accompanied Solomon throughout his kingdom. She observed the wise, compassionate and spiritual ruler as he interacted with his subjects in everyday affairs. Speaking of the value of her visit with the King and her administration for him, Queen Makeda stated: "My Lord, how happy I am. Would that I could remain here always, if but as the humblest of your workers, so that I could always hear your words and obey you.

"How happy I am when I interrogate you! How happy when you answer me. My whole being is moved with pleasure; my soul is filled; my feet no longer stumble; I thrill with delight.

"Your wisdom and goodness," she continued, "are beyond all measure. They are excellence itself. Under your influence I am placing new values on life. I see light in the darkness; the firefly in the garden reveals itself in newer beauty. I discover added lustre in the pearl; a greater radiance in the morning star, and a softer harmony in the moonlight. Blessed be the God that brought me here; blessed be He who permitted your majestic mind to be revealed to me; blessed be the One who brought me into your house to hear your voice.

Solomon had a harem of over 700 wives and concubines, yet, he was enamored by the young Black virgin from Ethiopia. Although he held elaborate banquets in her honor and wined, dined and otherwise entertained her during the length of her visit, they both knew that, according to Ethiopian tradition, the Queen must remain chaste. Nevertheless, the Jewish monarch wished to plant his seed in Makeda, so that he might have a son from her regal African lineage. To this end the shrewd king conspired to conquer the affection of this young queen with whom he had fallen in love. When, after six months in Israel, Queen Makeda announced to King Solomon that she was ready to return to Ethiopia, he invited her to a magnificent farewell dinner at his palace. The meal lasted for several hours and featured hot, spicy foods that were certain to make all who ate thirsty and sleepy (as King Solomon had planned.) Since the meal ended very late, the king invited Queen Makeda to stay overnight in the palace in his quarters. She agreed as long as they would sleep in separate beds and the king would not seek to take advantage of her. He vowed to honor her chastity, but also requested that she not take anything in the palace. Outraged by such a suggestion, the Queen protested that she was not a thief and then promised as requested. Not long after the encounter, the Queen, dying of thirst, searched the palace for water. Once she found a large water jar and proceeded to drink, the King startled her by stating: "You have broken your oath that you would not take anything by force that is in my palace. The Queen protested, of course, that surely the promise did not cover something so insignificant and plentiful as water, but Solomon argued that there was nothing in the world more valuable than water, for without it nothing could live. Makeda reluctantly admitted the truth of this and apologized for her mistake, begging for water for her parched throat. Solomon, now released from his promise, assuaged her thirst and his own, immediately taking the Queen as his lover."6 The following day as the Queen and her entourage prepared to leave Israel, the King placed a ring on her hand and stated, "If you have a son, give this to him and send him to me." After returning to the land of Sheba, Queen Makeda did indeed have a son, whom she named Son-of-the-wise-man, and reared as a prince and her heir apparent to the throne. Upon reaching adulthood, the young man wished to visit his father, so the Queen prepared another entourage, this time headed by Tamrin. She sent a message to Solomon to anoint their son as king of Ethiopia and to mandate that thenceforth only the males descended from their son should rule Sheba. Solomon and the Jewish people rejoiced when his son arrived in Israel. The king anointed him as the Queen had requested and renamed him Menelik, meaning "how handsome he is." Though Solomon had many wives, only one had produced a son, Rehoboam, a boy of seven. So the king begged Menelik to remain, but the young prince would not. Solomon therefore called his leaders and nobles and announced that, since he was sending his first born son back to Ethiopia, he wanted all of them to send their firstborn sons "to be his counselors and officers." And they agreed to do so. Menelik asked his father for a relic of the Ark of the Covenant to take back with him to the land of Sheba. It is said that while Solomon intended to provide his son with a relic, the sons of the counselors, angry at having to leave their homes and go to Sheba with Menelik, actually stole the real Ark and took it to Ethiopia. Menelik returned to Sheba and, according to tradition, ruled wisely and well. And his famous line has continued down to the 20th century when, even now, the ruler of Ethiopia is the "conquering lion of Judah" descended directly from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
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