Black Panther's Dora Milaje Are Based On These Real African Warrior Women


Black Panther is a phenomenon. Whether you have the soundtrack on repeat, or showed up to see it rocking Grass-fields, the movie really spoke to a cultural moment. Black Panther worked to empower black creatives and actors - and spoke to millions of people, reminding them it was okay to be proud of their culture.

While Wakanda is a fictional country - whose location tends to vary from just north of Tanzania, to bordering a slew of other countries, both real and imaginary - some elements of the blockbuster smash 'Black Panther' are based in reality.

When characters were not speaking English, the real language Xhosa was used for the Wakandan mother tongue. It's an official language of South Africa - one of 11 - and was spoken by Nelson Mandela, who hailed from the Xhosa ethnic group.

The language isn't the only real-life feature in the Marvel masterpiece. It's thought that the Dora Milaje, the badass women warriors that feature as T'Challa's royal guard, were inspired by a real life legion of fearless females.

The Mino, dubbed 'Dahomey Amazons' after the fictional female warriors of Greek mythology, were an all-female legion in the army of the Kingdom of Dahomey in modern day Benin, West Africa.

The legion, whose name means 'our mothers' in the Fon language, was started by the third king of Dahomey, King Houegbadja, and developed from elephant hunters to an armed unit bearing muskets.

The Mino were rigorously trained, held important positions within policymaking in the kingdom, and even went toe-to-toe with the French when invaded in 1890, becoming disbanded once colonised. A woman who claimed to be the last survivor of the Mino, Nawi, died in 1979, aged over 100.

The Mino may be gone, but at least their legacy lives on, inspiring the Dora Milaje of the Marvel universe.

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