By:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Taharqa was a Pharaoh of the 25th Dynasty of Egypt and a Qore (King) of the Nile Kingdom to the south, Kush (Nubia). He was the son of Pharaoh Piye, the ancient Nubian king who conquered Egypt and created the 25th Dynasty of Egypt. Taharqa was also the cousin of Pharaoh Shebitku, whom he succeeded as Pharaoh.
Pharaoh Taharqa’s time on the throne is estimated to be between the time period of 690 BC to 664 BC. Although Taharqa’s united Kushite/Egyptian empire was in constant bloody conflict with Assyrians (early on in his reign, Pharaoh Taharqa supported Palestine ’s resistance against King Sennacherib of Assyria), the time of his reign also saw a flourishing renaissance in Kushite/Egyptian civilization. Pharaoh Taharqa and the other Pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty resuscitated Nile Valley culture, religion, architecture and arts. It is believed that Pharaoh Taharqa and the 25th Dynasty helped restore the Egyptian society, culture and architecture to that of its glory days of the Old, Middle and New Kingdom levels. Pharaoh Taharqa would build new temples and restored old Temples to their previous glory. The 25th Dynasty also saw massive construction of new pyramids, especially in the Kush/Nubia region (modern-day Sudan).
TAHARQA IN THE BIBLE
Many scholars believe that Pharaoh that Pharaoh Taharqa is the Ethiopian (Kush/Nubian) known in the bible as “Tirhakah”. The King who waged war against Sennacherib, who was king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Kings 19:9; Isaiah 37:9).
ANCIENT ARTIFACTS OF PHARAOH TAHARQA
Britannica article on Taharqa
Wikipedia article on Taharqa
By:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Shaka KaSenzangakhona, (better-known-as Shaka Zulu), was born in July of 1787 in Mthethwa Paramountcy (sometimes called the Mthethwa Empire). He was the son of Senzangakhona Kajama (who was a chief of the Zulu clan). Because he was viewed by some as an illegitimate son to Sebzangakhona Kajama (because his parents were of the same clan), Shaka spent much of his adolescents in the community of his mother. There he joined an Ibutho Iempi, which was a militia unit, where he would be under the command of Dingiswayo, (king of the Kingdom of Mthethwa).
As Shaka gained experience in warfare and his knowledge in military strategy grew, Shaka used his new found skills to improve the military system of the Ibutho. Knowing that warfare is also about building alliances, Shaka used the support and influence of the empire of Mthethwa to form necessary alliances with neighboring kingdoms and tribes to combat the powerful Ndwandwe nation (which consisted of a people who spoke the Bantu Nguni language). When possible Shaka preferred to use diplomacy rather than combat to the death, but he wasn’t opposed to ordering political assassinations when required.
THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
When Shaka’s father,Senzanakhona died in 1816, Shaka’s younger half-brother Sigujana (who was seen by some people as a more legitimate heir),became the new chieftain of the Zulu clan. Dingiswayo, Shaka’s mentor would use this time of slight succession uncertainty to put his prized pupil on the throne. Dingiswayo, would give Shaka a military brigade, which he would use to perform a fairly peaceful and relatively bloodless coup d’etat on the Zulu chiefdom. However, in the military takeover of Zululand, Shaka would have his younger half-brother, Sigujana put to death. As chief of the Zulu clan, Shaka would still remain an important leader in the imperial army of Mthethwa. Shaka’s mentor and emperor of the Mthethwa empire, Dingiswayo would die in battle in 1817, at the hands of Zwide Kalnaga, who was the King of the Ndwandwe (Nxumalo) Kingdom. When the empire of Mthethwa was defeated, it would collapse, Shaka would seize the opportunity to fill the power vacuum, by reuniting and unifying the scattered people of Mthethwa and other regional chiefdoms. In the Zulu-Ndwandwe war (1817-19), Zwide and his army would be defeated. However, Zwide and most of his army would live to fight another battle and it wouldn’t be until 1825 that Shaka and Zwide would meet again on the battlefield, near the village of Pongola. Shaka would be the victor on that day. As Shaka’s reputation and respect in his Zulu tribe grew, he was able to encourage his people (who he transformed to be a Spartan-like people), to conquer rival surrounding tribes, that along with uniting with friendly tribes, he was able to transform the Zulu clan, into the Zulu Kingdom, which was rapidly becoming the Zulu empire
DEATH AND LEGACY
In 1828, sadly Shaka’s ultimate demise would not come at the hands of a rival African king like his mentor Dingiswayo, a soldier or European imperialist, rather he would be assassinated by his family. It is believed that his half-brothers, Dingane and Mhlangana and a third co-conspirator. Most likely it was because Shaka began to be seen by some as a tyrant-like leader with erratic behavior, it also could of been simple jealousy or sibling rivalry (seeing as Shaka also gained the throne by having a sibling killed). His half-brother, Dingane would assume leadership of the Zulu nation, and he would have Shaka loyalist purged from the government of the Zulu empire. Shaka is still seen by many as a legendary African leader within South Africa and in the African diaspora. There have been movies, books and articles made about his life, and there is even an aquatic theme park on Durban Beach named Ushaka Marine World and King Shaka International Airport at La Mercy.
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Cathay Williams was ironically born in Independence, Missouri, sometime around September 1844. She was the daughter of a Black freedman and an enslaved Black woman, therefore making her a slave. Williams worked as a house slave on the Johnson plantation, which was located on the edges of Jefferson City, Missouri, until the early phases of the civil war, when Union troops occupied Jefferson City in 1861 and captured enslaved Black people, who were then labeled as “contraband” and forced to serve as soldiers or military support staff.
Some people claim that Cathay Willaims may have served in the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Red River campaign. Women weren’t allowed to participate in combat service, so historians believe she may have enlisted as a man under the name of Finis Cathay. As Finis Cathay she would of enlisted in the 32nd Missouri infantry in 1862 and would have particpated in many vital campaigns, including: The Siege of Vicksburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea, before fighting to force Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army surrender in North Carolina. On November 15, 1866 Williams would again sign-up for military service. This time under the name of William Cathay (since women were still prohibited from combat military service). Williams would be assigned to the 38th United States Infantry regiment (Buffalo Soldiers). Unfortunately, soon after her enlistment (or better yet re-enlistment), Williams would contract smallpox. After she recovered, she rejoined her unit, but would have to be repeatedly hospitalized, possibly due to the effects caused by small pox, combined with the extreme heat of the New Mexico desert, where her team was posted. Eventually, the post surgeon would discover her “feminine secret”, and informed her post commander. This led to her being discharged by the United States Army, by her commanding officer, Captain Charles E. Clarke, on October 14, 1868.
Post Military Life
In Fort Union, New Mexico, Williams would be employed as a cook. Williams would eventually move to Pueblo, Colorado and would get married. The marriage wouldn’t last long, her untrustworthy husband would steal her money and several of her horses. She would have him arrested and then moved to Trinidad, Colorado, where she worked as seamstress, and may have even owned a boarding house. Sometime around late 1889 or early 1890, Williams would enter a hospital, there she would attempt to physically recover from her bad heath issues she was suffering from at the time (her exact illness is unknown). In June of 1891, Williams would apply for disability pension because of her past military service. At the time there was a precedent for granting a military pension to a woman soldier. By 1816 Anna Maria Lane, Mary Hayes McCauley (better-known-As Molly Pitcher) and Deborah Sampson all received pensions for their service in the American Revolutionary War of Independence. Despite her military service, and the fact that she suffered from neuralgia,diabetes and had toes amputated and had to walk with a crutch; despite her injuries and health issues, Williams would be denied disability payments. It is believed that Williams died sometime around 1893 (shortly after being denied a military pension for her service). Her exact resting place is unknown.
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