Patrice Talon, president of Benin has unveiled three monuments including 30 meters Amazon statute to celebrate his country’s historical heroes in the capital Cotonou.
President Talon said “We don’t celebrate enough of what is gratifying in us, and in others, enough to instill pride in ourselves and in our community. What we sing daily to the point of sometimes baptizing them “Beninoiseries”.
“It is time to be aware and proud of what we are Benin: the successful fusion of these ancient great kingdoms and peoples that are the baatonou, berba, wassangari, yoruba, adja, fon, goun, waama, batammariba, yom , peulh, and many others; each as deserving as the other,” added President Patrice Talon.
“The Amazons of Dahomey are the only documented female army in modern history and one of the world’s unresolved curiosities. As the West turns their story into fetishised cinema, their nation of origin has immortalised them in bronze. The ‘Esplanade des Amazones’ is a public square located in Cotonou, Benin. It is home to the ‘Amazon’, a 30metre high statue built in homage to the world’s only all-female army. These Amazons belonged to the Kingdom of Dahomey, a West African empire that existed from 1625 to 1894. How they came to be or what their original purpose was, is an unresolved quandary. Some sources claim that they were elephant hunters whose might was redirected to fighting neighbouring tribes and eventually the French. Other sources state that they served as royal guards to the almost erased Queen Tassi Hangbe.”
“According to historian Bienvenu Akoha, who ascribes to the latter version of events, she was the first Amazon. After being “silently installed” as the head of the military following the death of her twin brother King Akaba, she was publicly proclaimed Queen of Dahomey once she returned from her military campaigns. In her short reign (before she was ousted by her brother), Queen Hangbe empowered women to participate in activities they were traditionally barred from, including hunting. Over time she built an all-women battalion. The Dahomey Amazons were recruited and trained from a young age making them ruthless and “more efficient warriors” than men.”