Fierce and fearless: ‘The Woman King’


In the 1800s, amidst a period of colonization and violence, there was a powerful group of female warriors in West Africa who possessed skills and fierceness unlike any other. This is the story of “Woman King,” one of Sony Pictures’ newest films released in Sept. 2022.  

“Woman King” depicts the Agojie, an all-female warrior unit that guarded the Dahomey kingdom in West Africa and protected the colony against their enemies. Set in the 1820s, the film follows General Nanisca (portrayed by Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of female fighters.  

“I loved ‘The Woman King’ because it showcased strong, independent, and confident African women, which are not seen in many movies today,” Lydia Aklilu, senior, said. 

The film is rooted in both historical accuracy and fiction. The basic framework of the film is based on events that occurred during the 17th and 19th centuries when Europeans expanded colonization efforts and the slave trade to West Africa. In the Dahomey Kingdom, King Ghezo employed this all-female soldier unit and was forced to pay tribute to a neighboring empire, which is based on fact. However, the film is heavily fictionalized for dramatic effect. 

“We are going to tell the truth. We are not going to shy away from anything. But also, we are telling a part of the story which is about overcoming and fighting for what is right,” Director Prince-Bythewood said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. 

The film follows Portuguese explorers engaging in the slave trade, the kingdom’s shift in production to palm oil, and Europeans imprisoning many warriors and forcing them to partake in the ongoing slave trade. The real-life King Ghezo successfully freed the Dahomey kingdom of its tributary status in 1823. 

“It is the gladiator of our time,” Clayton Davis, writer at Variety Magazine, said. 

Although the film was not entirely historically accurate, the real-life Agojie warriors were courageous fighters who fought many battles to preserve their kingdom.