Tuesday, May 26, 2015

No "Queens" In Afrika: Steamfunk Writer Gives You A History Lesson

Photo courtesy of ProfessorOfTruth
Balogun, an important name in the category of steamfunk (a mix of African-American culture and steampunk), also penned an interesting and insightful essay about the role African women rules played in actual history and how that impacts African-inspired world building in general and also Charles Saunders' Soul and Sword series in particular.

The biggest assertation? That even when it's done with the best of intentions, when you look at women rules in African history-- from Hatshepsut to Nzinga of Ndongo (pictured at left), if you call them "queens", you're doing it wrong! Why? Well, for one thing, African power stuctures don't always map neatly, one to one, over European based power structures:
Traditional rulers throughout Africa were not always given the title and responsibilities of rule by birth or by blood. More often than not, the people chose their ruler and if the ruler did not serve and / or represent the people well, the ruler could be removed from his or her throne. It was the people who governed and, to the people, gender was rarely a factor in who they chose to lead them. Among the Yoruba, anyone born under the Odu – the 256 patterns of life / containers of destiny in which all creation exists – Irete Ogbe (aka Irentegbe, or Ategbe) is destined to be an «™ba, or “king”; gender be damned. The term “queen” is a product of recent history and the English language. In Ancient African, Asian and Pacific cultures, and even some European countries, women rulers were given the title king or its equivalent, such as pharaoh.

The essay then gives a quick overview on a number of rulers, where they fit in African history, how they ruled and where they fit in society, from Hatshepsut to the modern era. Whether you're  looking for a good starting point for world-building of your own, or are just interested in history, the entire article is a great read.

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