Wealhtheow's Reviews > Women Leaders in African History

Women Leaders in African History by David Sweetman
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's review
Jul 08, 2011

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bookshelves: historical, pocmaincharacters, non-fiction
Read from July 08 to August 09, 2011

A brief collection of the histories of a dozen female rulers in Africa, ranging from 15th century BC to 19th century AD. I wish I could assign this book to history classes, because I found it really helpful to beating back the pernicious trope of the African continent as just a bunch of roving tribes with little in the way of courts or dynasties. Intellectually I knew there was more to African history than mud huts and disease, but now that I've read this book, I believe it too.

My favorite of the rulers contained herein is Queen Nzinga of Angola. Nzinga was the kind of ruler who, when the Portuguese did not give her a chair during negotiations, sat on one of her subjects so as not to appear at a disadvantage. She led a fierce guerrilla resistance against the Portuguese for decades. She kept a harem of young men dressed as women who were referred to as her 'wives.' When she finally died, she demanded that her successor be a woman. Badass!
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