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The Woman King

 Queen Nzinga Mbande, the central figure of 'The Woman King', depicted in an epic struggle against colonial powers in 17th century Africa. This image encapsulates her unwavering leadership, resilience, and defiance against oppression. Explore the captivating story of 'The Woman King', a tale of empowerment and inspiration. #WomanKing #QueenNzinga #AfricanHistory

The Untold Legend: Exploring "The Woman King"

Some stories are narratives that haven’t yet happened, meaning that the world hasn’t yet unfolded in such a way that these stories areopoetic space for all the creatures in this world that must make sense of their lives and histories. Perhaps some narratives are not yet needed; perhaps they are not yet necessary. Or perhaps, like ‘The Woman King’, they are veiled, and they must simply wait for their existential bell to toll, ringing them onto the global stage to teach and to inspire. Perhaps ‘The Woman King’ could wait, but not for long. This essay will explore why. In other words, it will lay out what it means that ‘The Woman King’ is a story of experience and knowing, of authority and trustworthiness and credibility.

Inspired by real-life events from the history of Africa, ‘The Woman King’ is a story of myth and fact, unravelling the complexities of time, space and culture to reveal a true tale of epic proportions. From the 17th century comes the story of Queen Nzinga Mbande, ruler of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms in what is now Angola. A capable tactician, an undaunted warrior and a fearless leader of her people, Queen Nzinga represents a beacon of resilience, challenge and triumph.

It was against the backdrop of colonial expansion and the growth of the transatlantic slave trade – with European powers engaging in intense struggles to gain dominance on the African continent – that ‘The Woman King’ is set. The queen who bears this title, Nzinga, works to rescue her kingdom from Portuguese encroachment, and also defends it from overwhelming aggression by military forces in Europe and other parts of Africa who have been emboldened to challenge the power of Ndongo. Savvy and determined, she defies all odds to be called the Woman King – by her enemies and admirers alike.

At the heart of The Woman King’s enduring appeal is its depiction of female authority over a male-dominated world. With the queen’s advancement and rule, we are shown what can happen to society when women are given the chance to exercise more power. Through her story, Nzinga is a source of inspiration to other women who will pick up where she left off.

The generational impact of The Woman King lies in its transcendence of time and space. It calls to mind Nzinga’s story, and taps into the human heart in important ways. ‘The story of Nzinga is a story of resilience, and it’s relevant to so many aspects of the human experience,’ Nzinga expert Ndwandwe told The Daily Beast. ‘It doesn’t matter what your background is or from where you’re coming from.’ This is an article from 10 Magazine.

‘The Woman King’ is also a subject for serious academic research and study. Specialists who have studied Africa in the early modern period are taking ‘The Woman King’ seriously. They focus on the creator, the context, the particular story as it is told, while also bringing to bear their own comparative and contextual knowledge of the time period and the intersections of slavery and colonialism in Africa and the Americas. Whether the specialists take special interest in the history of African women, Black people, or trans-Atlantic slavery, they employ the ethnographic method, reading ‘The Woman King’ alongside primary documents like Spanish chronicles and Portuguese correspondence to trace myth from the story back into the archives, and reality from the archives into the legend. Do scholars get it wrong? Of course sometimes. But they’re also part of the important endeavour of piecing together African history in the early modern period, a time when so much of the evidence has been destroyed. Colonial encounters continue to shed new light on lost stories.

Further, regrettably, The Woman King is also ripe for discussion in the broader conversations around representation and diversity in media and popular culture. At a moment when Hollywood is attempting to diversify its stable of heroes and heroines to include characters from all cultures, there is plenty of space for more stories that celebrate filmic experiences that engage and share aspects of the wealth and diversity of global heritage. If the story of Nzinga were to be adapted for the movie or television screen, she would certainly be heard by many more people than she has been in the past, and her legacy would find its way towards the mainstream through which diverse stories and voices can enter the cultural conversation.

The Woman King is testament to the ability of film to breach individual limitations and speak for a widening notion of the human condition. Long after the credits of The Woman King snapped off, its exposure of history, identity and survival continues as an act of imagination and courage. What value does this have for this Ndako Ndakinna scholar, the last descendant of the Mbundu monarchy? It honours Queen Nzinga’s legacy and that of other women leaders ‘whose necks had no rings’ in Africa’s forgotten past. She becomes a source of pride, empowerment and enlightenment. As we continue to fill the historical void, and find creative ways to enter the ‘frontier of the forgotten’ through entertainment and research and move forward to a pluralistic future, storytelling will remain central to building knowledge, experience, authority, trustworthiness, credibility and the power required to advance our knowledge of the human condition.

‘The Woman King’ matters, not only at the movies, but at other moments in our quests for information and understanding online, during times when truths and untruths can be equally hidden, hard to find and hard to distinguish. ‘The Woman King’, perhaps the best film ever made on this subject, emerges as a veritable necklace of authenticity, the digital word passed down to us from a world in which their women made timeless sense.