From daughters to soldiers, from wives to weaponized, they remain the only documented frontline female troops in modern warfare history. A sub-saharan band of female terminators who left their European colonisers shaking in their boots, foreign observers named them the Dahomey Amazons while they called themselves N’Nonmiton, which means “our mothers”. Protecting their king on the bloodiest of battlefields, they emerged as an elite fighting force in the Kingdom of Dahomey in, the present-day Republic of Benin. Described as untouchable, sworn in as virgins, swift decapitation was their trademark.
These are not mythical characters. The last surviving Amazon of Dahomey died at the age of 100 in 1979, a woman named Nawi who was discovered living in a remote village. At their height, they made up around a third of the entire Dahomey army; 6,000 strong, but according to European records, they were consistently judged to be superior to the male soldiers in effectiveness and bravery.
Their history traces as far back as the 17th century, and theories suggest they started as a corps of elephant hunters who impressed the Dahomey King with their skills while their husbands were away fighting other tribes. A different theory suggests that because women were the only people permitted in the King’s palace with him after dark, they naturally became his bodyguards. Whichever is true, only the strongest, healthiest and most courageous women were recruited for the meticulous training that would turn them into battle-hungry killing machines, feared throughout African for more than two centuries.[…]
Continue reading: Meet the Most Feared Women in History