Celebrating Women’s month in August, The Melrose Gallery would like to invite female
performance artists to present works that take inspiration from an artwork by Sfiso Ka-
Mkame titled “In Remembrance of the Dahomey Amazons – N’Nonmiton – Our Mothers”.
The word ‘Amazons’ refers to a group of powerful female warriors who fought
vociferously for the rights of their families and people and comes from the Greek meaning
‘without a breast’. This work by Ka-Mkame presents a powerful empowering symbol of
women who were not afraid of presenting the ownership of the agency, and the
cultivation of their power. They seek no desire to beg for respect or ask for protection.
They took it. Thus, this work is of particular significance as it presents a significant period
in African History that is not spoken about or praised.
Ka-Mkame acknowledges the following Africa heroines in the work:
Yaa Asantewaa the queen mother of Edweso (Ejisu) in the Ashanti Empire known as
modern day Ghana. Asantewaa is internationally celebrated as an epitome of African
womanhood and resistance to European colonialism within Ghana for protecting them
and one of their most precious possessions being the Golden Stool, which was the heart
of their existence.
Queen Ana Nzinga, also known as Njinga Mbande or Ana de Sousa Nzinga Mbande,
was a 17th-century queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Mbundu people
in Angola. Nzinga is best remembered for her resistance against the Portuguese, and
setting her people free from slavery.
Yennenga was a legendary princess, considered the mother of the Mossi people of
Burkina Faso. She became known for her skills in battle, becoming a feared
warrior. Today many statues of her can be found in the capital city of Burkina Faso about
The Warrior Queen Gudit- Conqueror of Ethiopia Gudit exists as a controversial figure in
the history of Ethiopia. She is however remembered as a warrior, military strategist and
powerful ruler. In Amharic she is remembered only as "Isat" which
fittingly translates as "fire".
Amanirenas was a courageous one-eyed queen of Kush who ruled from approximately
40 BC to 10 BC. She is one of the most famous Kandakes, because of her leading role
taking the army of Kushite to fight against the Romans in a war that lasted five years, from
27 BCE to 22 BCE.
By introducing the program as The Warmth of Other Suns, taken from the 2010 book by
Isabel Wilkerson that speaks to the Migrations of African American from 1960 – 1970.
We open this call to look at other forms of representations of woman whom under the
poetic expression of being under The Warmth Of Another Sun, are able to share with us
their journey, history and power. As we remember a particular point where the Dahomey
women who were well known for singing songs just before they went into battle, sang on
several topics that evoked the essence of whom and what they were. Thus we invite you
to reinterpret this work on women, African history and power within and more and how
today we may envision or pay homage to women who not only protected a kingdom but
saw themselves through the lens of their own power and inspired communities.