Around 1729, Dahomey was widely known for its recruitment of Fon female soldiers (Amazons)who were judged to be superior to their male counterparts when it came to efficiency and bravery. They defeated the French Foreign Legion in the First Franco-Dahomean War in 1890.
British explorer Francise Burton commented on the ‘masculine physique of the women, enabling them to compete with men in enduring toil, hardship and privations’. Several thousands of women died during their fight to expand the borders of Dahomey.
Dahomey retained its name until 1975 when the country’s name was changed to Benin.
French street artist YZ Yseult pays homage to the Fon women with her detailed monochromatic portraits of the native female warriors women in an ongoing series she calls Amazone).
She explains, “Many women have fought for their rights and the rights of their people, yet few of them have been recognized for their achievements and many stayed unknown,” she says. “To know where we are going we need to know where we have been, and these stories are important to educate the next generation, especially women.”