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The real story of slave trade in Dahomey vs The Woman King Version

On the poster of The Woman King, it said 'inspired by true events,' but how true is this?

Fiction sometimes is too good to be true [BBC/Smithsonian]

The Woman King was certainly an interesting watch, seeing beautiful African women cut off evil men's heads was quite exhilarating, but we soon found that the events weren't all facts.

The lead characters were General Nanisca, played by Viola Davis, John Gboyega played by King Ghezo, Izogie played by Lashana Lynch and Mawi played by Thuso Mbedu.

Delving into the historical background of everything can be quite tedious, but way before colonialism, white people didn’t want to live in Africa or govern African because of the infamous TseTse fly and mosquitoes, they preferred to carry out their trade and go away and they had been doing that for centuries. It was not until 1870 and 1914 that the scramble for Africans by Europeans began.

The Woman King is about a group of women called the Agojie struggling to free themselves and their ports from white slave traders and Oyo warriors. This particular scenario never happened because the ancient city of Dahomey, now Benin was well entrenched in the slave trade.

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Although it is true that these women were fierce and ruthless warriors even more than the male warriors and that they lived in the palace and couldn’t marry and that ordinary people could not look at their faces, some part of the tale is merely fiction.

King Ghezo in the movie was given the self-righteous role of exchanging his people for other Africans who captured his people. In the movie, the Ajojie hated the slave trade and worked to free them. In truth, King Ghezo captured people from neighbouring towns and sold them to the whites. The Ajojie worked for the then King of Dahomey to help make that possible. Dahomey was the centre of the slave trade in the 19th century and King Ghezo raged war on all and sundry to make this possible.

Reports estimated that King Ghezo made about $300,000 every year from slave trade royalties. Even when the slave trade was abolished, the King was less than enthusiastic to stop it. At the end of the Woman King, King Ghezo stopped the slave trade and instead sold palm kernel oil...how we wished that was the case!

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