Very little is said about my queen, Makeda, whom I served faithfully throughout her reign.
The world seems offended by a woman in power, and will do anything to subjugate knowledge of such.
Women in Sheba were only as good as the identity and significance bestowed upon them by their fathers, brothers and the patriarchal society. They were to serve and not be heard, to offer up their bodies as a sacrifice to men’s necessities and desires and to offer their minds for such a purpose.
My queen was her mother’s only daughter, much to her detriment as her father wished to be blessed with a hundred sons. He was close to his wish as his wife bore 3 sons before Makeda. He cursed the day she was conceived for she was a girl.
Life was unkind and unloving for her. Her father barely paid any attention to her, forcing her to work the family’s land with the other servants under the relentless African sun.
Ugly is what her father called her because of her dark brown eyes, soft curly hair, dark brown skin and her lean yet curvy feminine form. But that didn’t stop him from negotiating a bride price for her when the royal family sent out a call to all families in the kingdom for a bride. He considered himself as lucky when he won the bid with the king, who took a young Makeda into the palace for the prince at a price that made her father’s life comfortable.
A crown did not easily convert a slave to royalty as Makeda still continued to think of herself in a lowly manner. It was one maid servant, the one we thought of as our mother, who chose to love her, instilling in her a dignity she never knew before.
Under the maid servant’s care, we watched Makeda bloom like a flower during spring time. The fragrance of her humility and grace captured our hearts, and her tenacity inspired all of us. A scribe of the court, who chose to acknowledge her as royalty despite being a woman, taught her how to read and write in secret. She had a great understanding of the world, and being educated by the scribe only sharpened her mind further.
She finally ascended to the throne as queen when the prince was anointed as king after his father’s death. Her husband ruled for only a short while as his life was taken suddenly while he was playing with his pet tiger. She claimed sole legitimacy to the throne, absorbing both roles of king and queen for her husband was the former king’s only surviving son and rightful heir to the throne.
Among all her great political and economic exploits that made Sheba a wealthy kingdom, she made womanhood human, good and acceptable. She made women proud, giving us a dignity that we were not born with. Against opposition from judges and nobles, she made the law recognize us as human beings to be treated with dignity and respect.
We became free to read and to receive a decent wage for our work. We could have custody of our children and husbands were no longer our sole destinies. Our bodies were not only beautiful, but they were ours, no longer up for taking at the will of any man.
I could celebrate my dark skin and big bosom for she made it acceptable, and my light skinned, slender-figured sister no longer had to hide out of fear as her beauty was no longer a curse that attracted unwanted attention. I could rest assured knowing that my baby girl won’t be killed at birth for she was not born a boy. I could teach, paint and write journals that contributed to knowledge. I could talk to kings about matters of politics for she taught us how to lead.
It angered men so greatly because for far too long, they defined what was worthy and beautiful. They felt disempowered because their masculinity was no longer defined by the inferiority they bestowed on us. They found it vile for us to control our lives and for them to lose society to us.
Queen Makeda gave us permission to be smart, to be free, to determine our own destinies and embrace our sexuality. To that I say, oh hail the Queen! May she be blessed by the Lord Almighty as much as she has blessed us!
I wonder what lies ahead for the girl child now that Makeda is gone.
Will she continue to experience love and freedom?
Will the earth continue to prosper because of her liberation?
Only time will tell.
*image from ThaFCC.