The Dahomey Amazons (17th Century – 19th Century)
- The Dahomey Amazons, or Mino, were an all-female regime of the Fon people of the Kingdom of Dahomey in what is the present-day Republic of Benin.
- The expertly trained female fighters were notorious for decapitating their opponents in battle. Those unfortunate enough to have been taken captive often suffered the same fate.
- The women fought side-by-side with male soldiers to defeat the French in 1890 during the First Franco-Dahomean War.
- The French army lost several battles against the Fon, thanks to the strength and skill of the female warriors.
- They referred to themselves as Ahosi, meaning “king’s wives,” or Mino, meaning “our mothers” in the Fon language, but were dubbed “Dohomey Amazons” for their similarity to the semi-mythical Amazons of the Anatolia.
- Once becoming Amazon warriors, the women weren’t allowed to marry or have children.
- The Fon’s female army was comprised of several subgroups, including the artillery women, the elephant huntresses, the musket-bearing frontline group, the razor women and the archers.
- The women had extensive training and carried muskets, cannon and even modern artillery in their later days.
- In addition to serving in the military, the female warriors had daily chores in the royal household, such as indigo dyeing, weaving and embroidering.
- The Dahomey Kingdom was ultimately conquered by the French 1892, leading to the disbanding of the Dahomey Amazon army.
Additional historical data of African warrior class can be accessed at: Atlanta Black Star