They were the world’s only all-female army. Their descendants are fighting to recapture their humanity.
Nanlèhoundé Houédanou wants people to know more about the Amazons of Dahomey, the only documented female army in modern history. 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.
After France seized what is now southern Benin in 1894, colonial officers disbanded the territory’s unique force of women warriors, opened new classrooms and made no mention in the curriculum of the Amazons. Even today, many in the country of 12 million know little about their foremother.