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From the 17th century until the end of the 19th century, there was an incredible army of women warriors named the Amazons. The Amazons, also known as the Mino or Gbêto, were a fully trained fearless female fighters. They were part of the largest ethnic group, the Fon.
They were not allowed to be married or have children and most of them were virgins. The women were also the King’s wife as well. They were married to the King voluntary or involuntary. For example, an involuntary case would be if a husband had a wife who refused to follow his rules, he would give that wife away to the King so she can be forced to join the Amazons military. The amazons having the status of being the King’s wife is more of a way of saying that King owned them; they are not expected nor obligated to fulfill any marital duties. Their main role was to be diligent and protect the kingdom to the best of their ability.
They were known to be a fierce military and protected not only the King but also the royal palace of the Kingdom of Dahomey. They sharpened their teeth, some cut their left breast to better seat their guns on their chest and were notorious for decapitating the head of their enemies. They took pride in their title and showed it by training extremely hard. They’ve won most wars including beating the French colonizers several times.
Today, the descendants of these fearless warriors are keeping their legacy alive through different folkloric events that happens yearly in Benin. The warriors are viewed as semi-goddesses and their names are called upon during incantations rituals taking place especially during the Vodoun festivals. During these rites, the female dancers will be carrying a machete while making intricate dance moves. It is always amazing to see their choreography; Usually, women will stand in a circle barefoot and move together in a rhythmic, well-coordinated and rehearsed manner while swinging the machetes as though they are cutting branches off a tree.
To resume, Beninese are really proud of the Amazons. Women in particularly never shy away when one has to judge or compare their resilient character to those of the Amazons. In addition, I strongly believe that the Amazons have contributed to these specific women attributes: strong, independent and unafraid women who aren’t afraid of taking risks in order to make things happen. Beninese women go for what they want and are unstoppable. Their drive and determination is visible on many levels that will be further discussed whiten the next few blogs. For now, these untamed and admirable woman are what I would call being fierce!