African Kings and Queens You Should Know

By, Celli Arenas

After reading a fascinating blog on ancient Egyptian and African Civilizations I was amazed at how much of this information is excluded from the curriculum of ALL of the schools I ever attended. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who goes on self-directed-study missions.  Obviously, African civilization predates the birth of Christ, they had to tell us that part. I am also aware that we can not depend on school to teach us ALL that we need to know about life and generations of people who have come before us. But the question persists, how do we learn?  As an author/publisher it saddens me when I hear people say that they “don’t like to read”: how sad.  Many people do like to read, and do so voraciously. I am one who does.  As an educator, I realize that the new millennium guy and gal likes to watch a movie about a topic first, then if the interest persists, they will read more about the topic; maybe.   While earning our compulsory “educations,” we learn from “snapshots” of information that have been reduced to a few paragraphs in a textbook.  As a member of the literary collective, I must delve into historical texts and learn more, share more.  I crave the knowledge.  So, I teach myself.

At any rate, I found a great article at the “Atlanta Black Star” blog.  It is comprehensive enough  to whet the appetite of the novice and support the work of a brave soul who may attempt to write about our royals.  The blog entry was created in response to a comment Nick Cannon made in 2012, in reference to Quentin Tarantino’sDjango Unchained.”  Cannon believes that Hollywood should be making movies about African Leadership, worldwide, and that we should start with the ancients.  Nick Cannon has this to say about African Leaders and Royals in film:  “Why don’t they make movies about our African kings & queens? Our History? I would love to see a film about Akhenaton and his beautiful wife Queen Nefertiti! Or Cetewayo, a king who was a war hero. I’m about to drive to my office right now and start the development! New Hollywood Trend, Black king and queen films! Starring Black people!!”

Come on film makers, screen writers, we have some work to do…

Here is a list of Kings and Queens that were considered relevant enough to have Hollywood support a major motion picture about their lives and leadership.  You can read more about each here:  10 African Kings and Queens Whose Stories Must be Told on Film


“King Hannibal is said to be the greatest military leader and strategist of all time. Hannibal was born in 247 B.C., during the beginning of the decline of Carthage, then a maritime power near present-day Tunis in North Africa.” 


“King Mansa Musa I (Emperor Moses) was an important Malian king, ruling from 1312 to 1337 and expanding the Mali influence over the Niger city-states of Timbuktu, Gao, and Djenne.

Musa ruled the Mali Empire and was estimated to have been worth the equivalent of $400 billion in today’s currency, which makes him the richest man to ever walk this earth.”


“Shaka, king of the Zulus, was born in 1787, the son of Zulu Chief Senzangakhona and his wife Nandi.  When Shaka was 26, his father died and left the throne to a son, Sijuana. Shaka ambushed and killed Sijuana, taking leadership of the Zulus. He came to power around 1818.

A strong leader and military innovator, Shaka is noted for revolutionizing 19th century Bantu warfare by first grouping regiments by age, and training his men to use standardized weapons and special tactics.”


“The Ashantis, led by Nana Yaa Asantewa, fought very bravely. Nana Yaa Asantewa’s speech stirred the men. She said, “If you men will not go forward, then we the women will. I will call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men until the last of us falls in the battlefields.”


“King Ramesses II, also referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the 19th dynasty.  He reigned from 1279 B.C. to 1213 B.C. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire. His successors and later Egyptians called him the “Great Ancestor.” Ramesses II led several military expeditions into the Levant, reasserting Egyptian control over Canaan. He also led expeditions south into Nubia, commemorated in inscriptions at the temples at  Beit el-Wali and Gerf Hussein.

At age 14, Ramesses was appointed prince regent by his father Seti I. He is believed to have taken the throne in his late teens and is known to have ruled Egypt for 66 years and 2 months, according to Egypt’s contemporary historical records. He was once reported to have lived to 99 years old.”

imgres“Queen Nefertari was the Nubian queen from 1292 to 1225 B.C.  One of a many great Nubian queens, Nefertari is heralded as the queen who wed for peace. Her marriage to Ramesses II  began strictly as a political move, a sharing of power between two leaders.  But not only did it grow into one of the greatest royal love affairs in history, but brought the hundred year war between Nubia and Egypt to an end.”


“Amenhotep IV, better known as “Akhenaton” is in some respects the most remarkable of the pharaohs. Akhenaton is considered the founder of the first monotheistic religion. He ruled from approximately 1352 – 1336 B.C., coming into power after his father, Amenhotep III, died.  Akhenaton’s reign left a profound effect on Egypt and the entire world of his day. Thirteen hundred years before Christ, he preached and lived the gospel of perfect love, brotherhood, and truth. Two thousand years before Muhammed, he taught the doctrine of the “one God.” Three thousand years before Darwin, he sensed the unity that runs through all living things.”


“Taharqa is probably one of the most famous rulers of Napatan Kush, reigning from 690 to 664 B.C..  At 16, this great Nubian king led his armies against the invading Assyrians in defense of his ally, Israel. This action earned him a place in the Bible (Isaiah 37:9, 2 Kings 19:9).”


“Queen Nzingha or “Amazon Queen of Matamba” was born in West Africa in 1583 and died 1663.  Many women ranked among the great rulers of Africa, including this Angolan queen who was an astute diplomat and excelled as a military leader. When the slave-hunting Portuguese attacked the army of her brother’s kingdom, Nzingha was sent to negotiate the peace. She did so with astonishing skill and political tact, despite the fact that her brother had her only child killed.”


“In 960 B.C., the nation that is now called Ethiopia came back upon the center of the stage of history. Ethiopia was then represented by a queen, who in some books is referred to as “Makeda” or “Belkis.” She is better known to the world as the queen of Sheba.

In his book, “World’s Great Men of Color,” J.A. Rogers , gives this description: “Out of the mists of 3,000 years, emerges this beautiful story of an African queen who, attracted by the fame of a Judean monarch, made a long journey to see him.”

The queen of Sheba is said to have undertaken a long and difficult journey to Jerusalem to learn from the wisdom of the great King Solomon. They had a son together, Menelik I.”

Each royal has a life so rich with legend:  they owned the land, gold, bronze, and diamonds. They had command over the animals, and the earth.  They led legions of warriors and educated the world in areas of science, astronomy, and mathematics.  These stories deserve some screen time.  I hope that Cannon has indeed begun the development on at least one of these many glorious stories of African Royalty.  Learn more about ancient civilizations and culture here at during Black History Month. 

Additional Resources:

Celli Arenas
Celli Arenas
Celli Arenas, published author, has been featured in several magazines, such as: MIA Magazine, Success Magazine, Legacy Magazine. She is the host blogger at, and hosts for BlogTalk Radio. Her books, “30 Days of Dynamic Pursuit” a self-help journal, and “Sidetracked: He Used To Love Me”, a coming of age novel,  are both available at

Follow@sidetrackedbook on Instagram & Twitter

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