Long Live the Queen

Queens of Infamy: Njinga (Anne Thériault)

Much of Njinga’s legacy in the West has been rooted in racist, sexist propaganda created by white people; it’s only recently that a more accurate depiction of her life has begun to gain traction outside of her homeland. The credit for this shift goes to scholars like Linda M. Heywood, who have meticulously stitched together academic sources, contemporary documents, and details passed down through oral traditions to create a fully fleshed-out portrait of Njinga and her accomplishments.

There are few monarchs in recorded history who are Njinga’s peers when it comes to longevity, skill, or achievement, yet she’s rarely included in Western lists of great kings and queens. While she was able to enchant — or at least grudgingly impress — many people during her life, racism and misogyny soon began to distort her legacy in Europe.

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