Once upon a time Sarraounia… African Queen

Mis à jour : 26 mars 2020

Discover the surprising story of Sarraounia Mangou, queen from Africa!

Sarraounia by Karl Bang

How did I know her story? It all started with a story of jewelry :-)

Last December I had a crush for Adinkra jewels, a brand I had such a crush for that I wrote an article about it.

The designer at the origin of these magnificent jewels is called Sarraounia, a name I found very beautiful. And, of course, I wanted to know more about the meaning of this special name...

Extract from the movie "Sarraounia, An African queen" by Med Hondo

Once upon a time Sarraounia…

An extremely famous figure in Niger, Queen Sarraounia embodies the resistance of Nigerians against the French colonization at the end of the 19th century. Forgotten by historians, she has been popularized by fiction and cinema which have relied on oral tradition to make this character of a warrior queen engaged in the defense of her land a major element of the Nigerian national narrative. A legendary queen of West Africa, Sarraounia Mangou reigned in the 19th century in southwestern Niger. She presided over the destiny of the animist population (the Aznas).

The Nigerian sovereign entered the legend for having opposed in the years 1898-1899 a tenacious resistance to the passage of a French colonial troop.

For Nigerians, she symbolizes their fight against imperialism.

The warrior queen did not succeed in stopping the French expansion but she had the merit of having slowed it down. In order to defend her state which she ended up making oppressors abandon despite their heavy artillery, Sarraounia Mangou showed bravery and courage by organizing resistance and by protecting the refugees in a forest known as impenetrable by the enemy.

Also, she continued to fight the  French troops long after the confrontation to the point of making them abandon her village which she recovered a week after the great battle.

She is still a source of inspiration for modern artists and her story has been adapted in a movie and a book.

Sarraounia: Le drame de la reine magicienne

By Abdoulaye Mamani

Editions l'Harmattan, 2000

(In French)

Sarraounia, an African Queen

Film by Med Hondo

Burkina Faso/France, 1986

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