You’ve heard the question before.
“If you could choose three people, dead or alive, to invite to dinner, who would they be?”
According to AnswerBag.com, the ten most commonly named people are Jesus, Nelson Mandela, George Washington, Nostradamus, Jon Bon Jovi, Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Che Guevara and Tiger Woods.
I know you are dying to dine with me, but sorry Mr. Mandela you’ll have to wait in line because topping my list of invitees are –
This much sinned against Khoisan woman would have amazing, heart rending stories to tell. Stories of how at 20 she was captured as a slave in Cape Town and for the rest of her short life was displayed naked on the streets of London and Paris. Of how she was treated worse than an animal and had her genitals poked and probed by ignorant scientists who likened them to “the skin that hangs from a turkey’s throat.” Her only sin was having a large posterior.
Baartman died five years after her enslavement. Instead of being granted a dignified burial, her skeleton, preserved genitals and brain were on public display at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris until 1974.
I wonder what Saartjie Baartman would say about how times have changed (or not) since her death in 1815. Would she look kindly on the so-called Video Vixens whose only claim to fame is shaking their booty in hip-hop music videos? How would she react to news of modern day slavery and human trafficking? Would she feel vindicated by a center established in her name that is dedicated for the care of victims of rape and domestic abuse?
Remember her? She is the girl who would be queen. In 1999 before Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi of Buganda got married to Sylvia Nagginda, we were introduced to Sarah Nsobya, a 13-year-old Primary Four student who was to become the virgin queen of the Kabaka. Nsobya is the reigning “Nakku” and is the ‘first wife’ of the Kabaka.
Nakku is a ceremonial position from the Kiganda Ffumbe clan dating back to the reign of Kabaka Chwa I. The Nakku traditionally remains a virgin for life. Her marriage to the Kabaka is ceremonial and she has limited, but important duties such as announcing the king’s death and calling an end to the communal mourning period.
Nine years ago, there was much furor over the marriage between Kabaka Mutebi and Sarah Nsobya. She was moved out of her parent’s home into her own palace where she received royal treatment. Human rights organizations called the tradition outdated and primitive and the kingdom responded by promising that the Kabaka would not touch her and would pay for the rest of her education.
Nakku is now 22-years-old. What does she look like? Where is she? What does she do? Did the kingdom live up to its promises? Does she ever long for a ‘normal’ life with the opportunity to get a job, get married and have children? Does she meet the Kabaka and his family? Will she remain forgotten until the Kabaka dies?
I’ll have dinner with her just to hear her say her name.
Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh has gone down in the annals of history as one of the most revered military leaders in Africa. Under the reign of King Gezo of Dahomey she achieved more feats than her male counterparts in West Africa. She once led an army of 6,000 women warriors (the Dahomey Amazons) against colonial-protected Egba fortress in Abeokuta. Armed with only spears, bows and words, Beh and her army took on the French colonialists in Egba and inflicted such heavy casualties that the French were forced to retreat.
There are reports that the chief gunner in the French army was killed and decapitated by a 15-year-old Dahomey Amazon under Beh’s command. Another soldier was disarmed by an Amazon, who tore his throat open with her teeth.
I am a brazen, shameless feminist. How could Seh-Dong-Hong Beh not appeal to me?
** Who will you be dinning with today?