These African Queens’ legacies of strength and wisdom continue to live on African soil.
Ndaté Yalla Mbodj
Ndaté Yalla Mbodj (Senegal-French, or Ndateh Yalla Mbooj, Gambia-English, (c. 1810 — 1860 or 1814—1856) was the last great Lingeer (Queen) of Waalo, one of the four Wolof kingdoms of Senegambia located in what is now North-West Senegal. Ndaté Yalla was the youngest daughter of King Amar Fatim Borso Mbodj to his first wife Fatim Yamar Khuri Yaye.
The Wolof Kingdom of Waalo was ruled by the Wolof Mbodj (or Mbooj) paternal dynasty — direct paternal descendants of Barka Bo, the first Brak of Waalo and maternal half-brother of Ndiadiane Ndiaye – founder of the Jolof Empire.
When Ndaté Yalla was just over 16 years of age, she married her cousin and King of Waalo – Brak Yerim Mbanyik Tigereleh Mbodj (or Yerim Mbagnik Tegg Rell). That marriage was however a political marriage in order to advance Tedyek power.
Ndaté Yalla would go on to remarry to Sakoura Barka Diop better known as Marosso Tassé Diop, the Prince of Cayor and Lord of Koki, who was a relative of Lat Dior Diop (future King of Cayor and Baol) and Sayerr Jobe – founder of Sere Kunda in the Gambia.
On October 1, 1846, Princess Ndaté Yalla Mbodj became Queen of the Waalo (Wolof) Kingdom after the death of her older sister Queen Ndjeumbeut Mbod.
During her reign, she fought against French colonization and Moorish invasion of her kingdom. In the 19th century, the Wolof queens Ndaté Yalla and her sister Ndjeumbeut Mbodj stood out as two of the most powerful women of 19th century Senegambian dynastic history.
In early 1847, she opposed the French authorities over free passage for the Sarakoles (Soninkes) who supplied the Island of Saint-Louis (a French colony) with cattle.
During her reign as Lingeer, she and her husband Maaroso Tassé (commander of her army) fought against the Moors of Trazar who were encroaching on her territory and against the French colonialist army led by General Louis Faidherbe. Their years of resistance against colonization resulted in attacks from 1854 and finally the Battle of Dioubouldy (or Diouboulou or Dyubuldu) in 1855. Maaroso Tassé, the Prince of Cayor and Lord of Koki, and commander of the Waalo army, put up a strong resistance against the French. The battle went on for several months. This battle was the first real attempt by France to conquer the Senegambia and bring to an end the six main Senegambian Kingdoms (Waalo, Sine, Saloum, Baol, Cayor and Jolof) and their respective royal dynasties that have reigned for centuries. At the time, Waalo was the only kingdom truly led by a woman (a Queen). The others were led by Kings.
Born roughly between 1750-1800, Nyabinghi or Nyabingi was a queen in the history of Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. Her original name was Muhumuza which means the one who brings peace. Later, she was named after the Spirit which she performed under, called Nyabingi, meaning abundance in the Runyankole language of Ankole kingdom which is today western Uganda. She used the elements fire, water, earth and air to wage war against the colonialist.
Queen Muhumuza of the Mwami Kingdom became known as the first queen to be in contact with the Europeans and fight against colonisation until she was forced into exile.
She also led and then inspired further anti-colonial movements in East Africa, rebelling against European colonial authorities. Although she was captured in 1913, alleged possessions by Nyabinghi continued afterwards across East Africa (mostly afflicting women). The bloodline of the true Nyabinghi warriors supposedly settled in the heart of Dzimba dze Mabwe, now known as Zimbabwe. Her life and beliefs also impacted rastafarians and anti-apartheid groups in South Africa.
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If you found this article interesting, you might also want to read African Queens and female freedom fighters part 1 , 2 , 3 , or 4