A month in “Western Sudan”

Did you know that “Sudan” was the term used by Arabs historically to refer to lands south of the Sahara? Ah, it seems this north/south divide is older than I thought. “Western Sudan” refers to north of the river Niger. In this context “Western Sudan” will be the area in what is now Northern Nigeria….

Who was Qasa?

‘Who was…?’ a new series that explores the African women who pop up in history yet remain mysterious. After Mansa Musa, the most famed Malian king, came Mansa Maghan I and after him, Mansa Suleiman. Suleiman assumed the throne in 1341, he was described as miserly, forgetful or a liar by ibn Battuta the medieval…

Crossroads

In this cosmic space, there is no denying that we love history. Yet history is not just about what has happened in the past, it is also what is being created now. Life stories to me are like time capsules. They are important tools through which women can record their stories in their own words,…

On Alaba Ida

If you thought Ahebi Ugbabe was the only woman to befriend colonial agents and possibly help expand their hold on her community, think again. I present Alaba Ida, a royal wife of Ketu (a Yoruba kingdom in present day Benin Republic) who later in her life became a “queen” to the French. Born around 1854,…

Privileged Africans in the colonial era

Another fascinating aspect of Fatima Massaquoi’s autobiography is that it gives a glimpse at the lives of West African royalty during that era. I say privileged Africans, I mean people who were wealthy, who maintained relationships with (colonial) Europeans living in their territories at the time. Even if they had the best interest for their…