Amazzoni d’Africa/ Benin delle Donne:
Amazon of Africa:
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the rulers of the ancient kingdom of Dahomey, now known as Benin, resorted to a skillful army of women warriors, the Amazons, to strike terror into the whole population and assert their hegemony. e Amazons were trained in the art of war and were very well known for their courage in battle and absolute obedience to their sovereign. e warriors, in fact, were o en sold as “bargaining chips” by their families or husbands, who forced them to enrol in the army.
Today, Beninese women show a similar strength and ability to express their courage and sense of leadership and, at the same time, deal with the very condition of their gender oppression. While, the stories of women warriors had to do with slavery and the male power of Dahomey Kingdom, Beninese women nowadays deal with the contradictions that exist between an enduring polygamy and the current transformations of Beninese society. Poligamy is still common, especially in the rural areas. Traditions and the will of families still a ect marriage arrangements. Poligamy is hardly questioned by women themselves who might risk the hostility of their hu- sbands’ families and the disapproval of the entire community. e Constitution has stated the equality of men and women and the Civil Code envisages divorce, but they are far from a ecting practices in the everyday life of Beninese women.