People We Should Know: The Agoji Warriors
There are lots of people we should know about but don’t. Some are outstanding individuals and some are extraordinary groups of people buried in the midst of time, forgotten or deliberately ignored by the history books.
I recently heard about a group of women called the Agoji Warriors, commonly referred to as Dahomey Amazons – their story deserves to be heard.
The Dahomey Amazons were frontline soldiers in the army of the Kingdom of Dahomey, a West African empire that existed from 1625 to 1894. Look at a map of modern-day Benin and a sliver of coast between Nigeria and Togo and here you would have found these fearless soldiers.
This all-female fighting regiment under female command trained with intense physical exercise to be strong, fast, ruthless and able to withstand great pain. They are said to have been the most feared women to walk the earth.
The French army lost several battles to the Dahomey Amazons and their skill in battle was more than a match of any elite male unit.
As part of their training they were sent on 10-day “Hunger Games” style expeditions in the jungle without supplies, only their machete.
To prove themselves, they had to be twice as tough as the men.
Credit: Chris Hellier/Getty Images
Dahomey’s female fighters Amazons were named after the ruthless warriors of Greek mythology by Europeans who visited the kingdom in the 19th Century.
Today, they are referred to as mino, or ‘our mothers’ in the local Fon language.
French Street Artist YZ Yseult began a campaign to pay tribute to these fierce female warriors by pasting large-format photograph prints on buildings in Senegal to act as inspiration and a source of strength.