Yennenga

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Yennenga was a legendary princess, considered the mother of the Mossi people of Burkina Faso.[1] She was a famous warrior whose son Ouedraogo founded the Mossi Kingdoms.

Biography[edit]

Yennenga was the daughter of Nedega, an early 12th-century king of the Dagomba Kingdom in what is now northern Ghana.[2] She was a beautiful and beloved princess who from the age of 14, fought in battle for her father against the neighbouring Malinkés.[1][2] Skilled with javelins, spears and bows, she was an excellent horsewoman and commanded her own battalion.[1][2] Yennenga was such an important fighter that when she reached a marriageable age, her father refused to choose a husband for her or allow her to marry.[2][3] To express her unhappiness to her father, Yennenga planted a field of wheat. When the crop grew, she let it rot. She explained to her father that that was how she felt, being unable to marry.[2] Nedega failed to be moved by this gesture and locked his daughter up.[4]

One of the king's horsemen helped Yennenga, dressed as a man, escape on her stallion.[1][2] Attacked by Malinkés, her companion was killed, and Yennenga was left alone.[2] She continued to ride north. One night, when she was exhausted from crossing a river, Yennenga's stallion took her into a forest.[2][3] She met a solitary elephant hunter called Riale.[4] When he saw through Yennenga's disguise, they fell in love.[1] Yennenga and Riale had a son they named Ouedraogo, which means "stallion" and is now a common name in Burkina Faso.[2][4] Ouedraogo founded the Mossi Kingdom.[1]

Legacy[edit]

Yennenga is considered by the Mossi to be the mother of their empire and many statues of her can be found in the capital city of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou.[2] A statue of a golden stallion, called the Étalon de Yennenga, is awarded as the first prize in the biennial Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO).[4] The national football team is nicknamed "Les Étalons" ("the Stallions") in reference to Yennenga's stallion.[5]

Literature and film[edit]

  • La fille de la Volta[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Cheryl A. (2005). Market Women: Black Women Entrepreneurs--past, Present, and Future. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 17. ISBN 0-275-98379-X. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The Legend of Yennenga Stallion". What is Fespaco?. BBC World Service. 2001. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  3. ^ a b Allan, Tuzyline Jita (1997). Women's Studies Quarterly: Teaching African Literatures in a Global Literary. Feminist Press. p. 86. ISBN 1-55861-169-X. 
  4. ^ a b c d Sheldon, Kathleen E. (2005). Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Scarecrow Press. p. 272. ISBN 0-8108-5331-0. 
  5. ^ Marchais, Julien. Burkina Faso (in French). Petit Futé. p. 102. ISBN 2-7469-1601-0. 
  6. ^ Journal of the Association of Francophone Studies: JOFRAS. - Volume 1 - Page 87 Association of Francophone Studies - 1990 "The two plays deal with the history and the legendes of the majority Mossi of the Burkina Fasso. La fille de la Volta, is a dramatisation of the love affair between the Mossi amazon princess Yenenga and the elephant hunter Riale, a non-Mossi .."