“The Woman King”: Traditional Africa and the Atlantic Slave Trade

By Abayomi Azikiwe – September 24, 2022

Film: The Woman King
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Writers: Dana Stevens and Maria Bello
Musical Score: Terrance Blanchard
Edited By: Terilyn A. Shropshire
Starring: Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim and John Boyega

This blockbusting film has prompted tremendous interests and discussion on the history of European colonialism and the Atlantic Slave Trade.

After the first weekend of its commercial premiere in the United States from September 16-18, it was the highest revenue generating movie nationally.

An historical fictionalized account centered around the Agojie, the woman warriors of the Dahomey civilization in West Africa encompassing what is modern day Republic of Benin, comes at a time when Africa is continuing to exert its personality and viewpoints on continental and global issues. At the same time debates and political struggles are raging in the U.S. over whether or not the actual history of African enslavement and its role in the ascendancy of western imperialism should be taught in the public schools.

These disputes over the teaching of African and African American history along with their social affairs have been instigated by those seeking to maintain institutional racism by denying the realities of the past and the contemporary period. Racial tensions are escalating in the U.S. as the demographic shifts in the ethnic composition of the country continue making inevitable its transitions to a majority people of color state.

Although this film is not a documentary in the sense that it refrains from referencing and replicating the actual historical occurrences of the early 19th century when the European trade in African people continued despite efforts by the British to outlaw the practice after 1806. The British prohibition of the slave trade was only a mechanism to usher in a more efficient form of national oppression and economic exploitation under colonialism ….

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