You want to talk feminism, its foundation lies in the horn of Africa, spearheaded by a ruthless, and Strong matriarch by the name Arawelo. Arawelo did live and rule most, if not all of the Somali territories. Semi-biographical tales which give many personal details of this queen are among the well-known Arawelo stories. For instance, Arawelo’s mother was said to have been called Haramaanyo;. but no mention is made in the tales about who her father was. However, old documents found by Enrico Cerulli describe one female ruler of Hararghe (Ogaden) in the Makhzumi era, whose father was Amir Maya.

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Courtesy of Webstagram

She was the first born of three daughters and natural heir to the dynasty. Like many female rulers, Arawelo fought for female empowerment; she believed society should be based on a matriarchy. She is one of the earliest female rulers in the world who was also a figure of female empowerment and was known to castrate male prisoners. Arawelo was well-known throughout Africa, and the Queen of Sheba was said to send gifts to her in the form of gold coins as a congratulatory gesture (although the Queen of Sheba is usually placed in the 10th century BC).

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Courtesy of Moon Kabalabi

The exact location of her Kingdom is uncertain because any architecture left behind by her kingdom would have almost disappeared considering the great timescale but she was most likely buried somewhere in Northern Somalia, specifically in the Sanaag region of Somalia, since there are many stories of men from that region throwing rocks at her supposed grave and women laying flowers on her grave. Her throne was passed down to an unknown next of kin, though many versions suggest it was her niece, Araxsan.

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Courtesy of Barbie Montsho

The queen was well known for defying gender roles. Before she was queen, during the Buraan droughts, she and a team of women fetched water and hunted to prevent her town from migrating and to relieve starvation. During her reign, Arawelo’s husband objected to her self-ascribed role as the breadwinner to all of society, as he thought women should be restrict themselves to merely domestic duties about the house and leave everything else to men. In response, Arawelo demanded that all women across the land abandon their womanly role in society, and started hanging men by their testicles. The strike was successful, forcing men to assume more child-rearing and creating a role reversal in society.

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Courtesy of Sola Rey

Arawelo thought this role reversal was necessary since she saw women as natural peacekeepers. Growing up she noticed that women were not treated well and the men were more often instigators, participants and conductors of war and politics. She not only fought for the liberation of women in feudal society but for the dominance of women as she saw them as better, more efficient leaders.

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Written by James Gathitu

I am a writer, performer, creative entrepreneur, and adventurer! My journey has been crazy and has led me at this very moment to you.

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