Is The Girl King a True Story?

THE WOMAN KING, Viola Davis, 2022.  ph: Ilze Kitshoff / TriStar Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

Think about us signed up for any epic historic movie championed by the endlessly gifted Viola Davis. Helmed by “The Previous Guard” director Gina Prince-Bythewood, “The Girl King” transports us to the African kingdom of Dahomey within the nineteenth century because the Agojie, an all-women warrior unit, tackle their enemies. Main the all-mighty Agojie is Davis within the position of Common Nanisca. Whereas there’s undoubtedly Hollywood gusto concerned on this undertaking (in addition to an intense exercise routine), “The Girl King” is definitely primarily based on true occasions — this is every little thing you want to know concerning the historical past that impressed it.

What Was the Kingdom of Dahomey?

Per Self-importance Honest, the West African kingdom of Dahomey is what we all know right now as Benin. It wielded affect for a whole lot of years, holding onto its energy from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Here is how the story’s been historically instructed: Within the early seventeenth century, three brothers fought over the dominion of Allada, which had grown rich from the slave commerce. In accordance with Britannica, one brother seized Allada, and the opposite two based kingdoms elsewhere.

Dahomey’s capital, Abomey, was based round 1620 by the brother Dogbari, who expanded the dominion by army conquest. Dahomey was at its strongest from 1818 to 1858 however later declined as its revenues dropped with the tip of the slave commerce. In accordance with PBS, the French launched an offensive in opposition to the dominion in 1892, and Dahomey finally surrendered in 1894 and have become a French colony.

Who Have been the Agojie?

We do not know a lot concerning the Agojie, and there are literally only a few pictures of Agojie warriors, aka the “Dahomey Amazons.” Information of the Agojie are far and few, and the one full-length English textual content about them, Stanley Alpern’s “Amazons of Black Sparta,” has been criticized for highlighting problematic colonial views. The Agojie’s affect, nonetheless, lives on — in actual fact, they impressed the creation of fearless girls warriors like Dora Milaje in Marvel’s “Black Panther.”

All through Dahomey’s historical past, the Agojie served as frontline troopers in opposition to neighboring tribes and European forces, per the BBC. They’re mentioned to have been based by Queen Hangbe. Whereas we do not know if Hangbe was an actual individual, legend has it she briefly dominated Dahomey within the early 18th century after her twin brother, Akaba, died; nonetheless, her youthful brother Agaja apparently overthrew her rule.

Most historic consultants imagine the Agojie primarily served as bodyguards to Dahomey’s kings. And the Agojie fought valiantly each time they had been wanted. When the Amazons went up in opposition to the French in 1892, it is estimated solely 17 out of 434 Agojie warriors got here again alive.

Was Nanisca a Actual Particular person?

Portrayed by John Boyega in “The Girl King,” King Ghezo was an actual Dahomey king. However was Viola Davis’s Nanisca an precise individual? Per Smithsonian journal, there was an account of a French naval officer who got here to Abomey in 1889 and witnessed a teen named Nanisca “who had not but killed anybody” kill a younger prisoner. Nevertheless, it ought to be famous that Davis’s character is a seasoned warrior answerable for coaching fledgling troopers and that Ghezo’s rule was from 1818 to 1858 earlier than he died in 1859.

To see how the variation accounts for what we do know concerning the Agojie, see the story unfold for your self on the large display screen when “The Girl King” hits theaters on Sept. 16.

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