Viola Davis’ highly effective new movie The Woman King is off to a robust begin on the field workplace. Nevertheless, some potential movie-goers might not know that the movie was impressed by true occasions. Right here’s what historical past is aware of of the actual all-female military that protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey for many years.
‘The Woman King’ Tells The Story Of The Agojie Warriors
In the 1840s, the West African kingdom of Dahomey struck worry into the hearts of its enemies because of its Agojie military. The drive was comprised of 6,000 feminine warriors on the peak of Dahomey’s energy. They had been known as “Amazons” in Europe, referring to the all-female military in Greek fantasy. The ladies’s ferocity left historians awe-struck, and their unimaginable story is lastly being dramatized by Hollywood.
As with virtually each movie impressed by true occasions, The Woman King picks by means of the story of the Agojie military, taking solely what serves probably the most compelling narrative. The characters, for instance, are largely fictionalized. Viola Davis’ Nanisca and Thuso Mbedu’s Nawi weren’t actual folks, though warriors by these names served at totally different factors within the kingdom’s historical past. John Boyega’s King Ghezo is probably the most traditionally correct character.
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The Woman King‘s conflict lies in the kingdom’s reliance on the slave commerce. Davis’ character, Nanisca, repeatedly urges King Ghezo to stop promoting to slavers, even defying him to free slaves with assistance from the Agojie.
That is the place the waters of historic accuracy get uneven. The Agojie, opposite to the movie’s story, participated willingly in the slave trade. Whereas there was as soon as an effort to shift the dominion’s major export to palm oil, it couldn’t evaluate to the financial prosperity that the slave commerce ensured. Even the Agojie warriors had slaves of their very own—as many as 50 slaves to a single warrior, some sources say.
The Agojie Have been Handled As Royalty
It’s unknown what led Dahomey to conscript such a big feminine military. Among the Agojie had been volunteers whereas many others had been plucked from slavery. They served because the king’s third-class wives—that means they had been wed to him however didn’t share his mattress. This meant that by custom, the Agojie had been celibate. When not at battle, they served because the king’s guard and elephant hunters.
In Dahomey, males weren’t permitted to enter the king’s palace after dusk. The Agojie ensured that the king would stay protected all through the evening with out breaking this protocol. Historians famous that when the Agojie left the palace, they had been adopted by a slave woman who would ring a bell, warning males to get out of their path and to keep away from eye contact. Touching an Agojie warrior was punishable by loss of life.
The coaching that the Agojie warriors endured shocked European guests. To extend ache endurance, new recruits had been pressured to scale thorn hedges. They had been taught survival abilities by being deserted within the forest for days on finish. Nevertheless, most grotesque of all, the Agojie needed to be taught to kill with out discrimination. They had been the dominion’s executioners, pressured to behead and maim prisoners in order that they might lose all sensitivity to the act of killing.
The fundamental trait attributed to the Agojie throughout historic texts is bravery. Nearly each historian got here to the identical conclusion: The Agojie’s ferocity was on a degree that Europeans had by no means witnessed earlier than. They defended the small kingdom of Dahomey for many years longer than different kingdoms of its measurement would have survived, and their story turned legend.