Empowering Narratives: The Resilient Kandakas (Queens) of Kush Kingdom

Tai Salih (she/her)
ZORA
Published in
16 min readFeb 5, 2024

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Aegis of Isis, Kushite, late 3rd century B.C.E., from Kawa, Sudan (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

Within the historical tapestry of these Kandakas (queens), we find a journey that transcends time, shedding light on the multifaceted dimensions of their existence. This narrative excavation not only magnifies the remarkable aspects of their lives but also accentuates the subtle nuances that often escape casual observation. By meticulously examining the challenges faced by women in our present-day context through the prism of our ancestors’ stories, we aspire to cultivate a profound insight into the shared struggles and triumphs. Being a Sudaniya and a womanist has profoundly intertwined my identity with the rich narratives of African warrior queens, particularly the Kushite Kandakas (queens) of my homeland. Unveiling their stories, leveraging a nuanced perspective has allowed for a comprehensive understanding that I aim to embody.

Serving as a bridge between the past and the present, fostering a dialogue that transcends generations the interplay between historical narratives and contemporary challenges becomes a lens through which we can reimagine activism, womanhood, and the radical legacies that have laid the foundation for our collective journey. This dynamic intersection invites us to reflect on how the indomitable spirit of these queens resonates in the ongoing narratives of empowerment and resilience, shaping the trajectory of our path forward.

The Kingdom of Kush: A Matrilineal Powerhouse

Nestled in the heart of ancient Nubia, encompassing the present-day regions of Sudan and southern Egypt, the Kingdom of Kush stands as a testament to a historical legacy that spans millennia. With its roots tracing back to the remarkable year of 2500 BCE, Kush has weathered the sands of time, witnessing the ebb and flow of civilizations, and emerging as a flourishing hub of cultural and political significance.

Delving into the period between 40 BCE and 50 CE unveils a captivating chapter in Kushite history. It was during this era that powerful queens rose to prominence, commanding not just reverence but wielding full autonomy over their realms and armies. These remarkable women, rightfully hailed as “Kushite Kandakas/Queens,” became the trailblazers of a society that recognized and celebrated female…

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Tai Salih (she/her)
ZORA
Writer for

Yogi E-RYT® 500, YACEP® | Founder @ Red Ma'at Collective | Integrative Counsellor www.redmaathealing.com