As more educators add the stories of Black women to their social studies curriculum, I noticed a complete lack of historical women. There is absolutely nothing wrong with learning about modern Black women but I wanted to create resources that highlighted the stories of historical women that helped shaped the history of Africa.
I think it is important to celebrate women throughout history and acknowledge that they not only existed but that they played major roles. I also wanted to highlight Black women who ruled.
Each of these resources was created for high school world history classes and are a collection of short reads. They won’t take too much time away from your pacing and will be easy to incorporate into your curriculum. Plus, without being able to read sources in the original languages, there is little information translated into English.
Kandakes of Kush
Kush was an ancient kingdom south of Egypt. It was a major trading civilization that connected Egypt to the heart of Africa. Kush had a series of queens that reigned on their own and although we don’t know a lot about them (at least in English) students will have plenty of reading about extinct languages, the exclusion of women in historical accounts, and the history of the region.
Queens of Ethiopia
Ethiopia was a highly influential kingdom throughout the middle of Africa. It influenced trading, languages, and was a major military force. Ethiopia also was a religious epicenter and was dedicated to early Christianity. The dedication to Christianity changed how women influenced the country but a few still managed to stand out.
The women included in this resource were subjected to sexual abuse, had to endure family members with possible mental illness, and they still surpassed expectations and helped steer Ethiopia towards success.
Queens of Madagascar
The Queens of Madagascar had to deal with European expansion and colonization. What we know about the women is mixed with the European narrative which never portrayed African leaders as competent or morally good but the African narrative was also changing from matrilineal to patrilineal and they were beginning to demonize female rulers. We may never know the full, real story of at least Ranavalona I. Was she really as cruel as she is portrayed? We will never really know.
Warrior and Rain Queens
The last resource celebrates a variety of queens around Africa. Two warrior queens, Amina and Nzinga challenged the changing gender norms. Amina is said to be a man-eater (not true but that is her narrative) and Nzinga ruthlessly fought European expansion.
Rain Queens live on reserve land in South Africa and are said to have magical powers to bring the rains. I wanted to share their story and highlight some of the sexism that exists for these women.
Cleopatra is the most well known Egyptian ruler but there were others who controlled the fate of the kingdom. The earliest female ruler was a regent for her son but she is arguably one of the reasons why Egypt was so dedicated to patrilineal rule. Egyptian women suffered under some strict gender norms but some exceptional women pushed back and even managed to take control for themselves.
Each of these resources is available individually in my TpT store. Click on the image for each image to see it in my store. To get the bundle, click the image below.
Want to sample the short reads? Click here to download the free sample.
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