“Black and Bold Queens”: A Celebration of Ghana’s Women History Shapers

by Joseph Omoniyi
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The stories of Ghana’s historically remarkable women have often been overlooked, relegated to the sidelines of male-dominated narratives. However, a groundbreaking children’s book is seeking to change that narrative. “Black and Bold Queens”: Women in Ghana’s History, authored by Dr. Nikitta Dede Adjirakor, shines a spotlight on 16 extraordinary female pioneers and leaders who have shaped the nation’s history, particularly during the pivotal independence period of the 1950s and 1960s.

Dr. Adjirakor’s inspiration for the book struck during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Reflecting on the history being documented and the glaring absence of women’s stories, especially in Ghana, she embarked on a mission to compile a list of notable Ghanaian women from memory. The arduous task highlighted the urgent need for a reference book that would make Ghana’s female pioneers accessible and engaging for children.

The selection process for the women featured in the book was meticulous, aiming for a diverse representation across geography, occupation, and educational background. The book features women from various walks of life, including pilots, doctors, queens, market women, and photographers. Despite their diverse careers and levels of education, all these women played pivotal roles during Ghana’s independence movement and beyond, shaping the country’s legacy in unique ways.

One of the standout stories in the book is that of the Krobo Queens, queen mothers from the Krobo ethnic group. In the face of the AIDS epidemic in the 2000s, these formidable women banded together to raise awareness and provide support to their communities, showcasing the power of collective action and resilience.

Another remarkable figure is Esther Afua Ocloo, a pioneer in economic empowerment. Ocloo’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to start her own business, making and selling marmalade. Her story underscores the importance of economic freedom and the relationship between money and power, especially for women living in impoverished conditions.

The book also pays tribute to Felicia Abban, one of Ghana’s first professional photographers. At a time when creative careers were undervalued, Abban defied societal norms and established herself as a renowned photographer, capturing the essence of Ghana’s early independence period through her lens.

Each story in “Black and Bold Queens” is brought to life through vibrant illustrations that capture the essence of these remarkable women. The illustrations, created by Denyse Gawu-Mensah, are not just visual representations but also symbolic, incorporating Adinkra symbols that convey profound messages and concepts.

Through “Black and Bold Queens,” Dr. Nikitta Dede Adjirakor hopes to fill a crucial gap in Ghana’s historical narrative, ensuring that the stories of these extraordinary women are not lost to future generations. The book serves as a reminder that women’s stories matter, providing a foundation for young people to learn, develop, and draw inspiration from the rich legacy of Ghana’s female trailblazers.

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