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Yennenga: Wikis


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Yennenga, also known as Yennenga the Svelte, was a legendary African princess, considered the mother of the Mossi people of Burkina Faso.[1] She was a famous warrior whose son Ouedraogo founded the Mossi Empire.


Yennenga was the daughter of Nedega, an early 12th century king of the Dagomba Kingdom in what is now Northern Ghana.[2] She was a beautiful and beloved princess who from the age of 14, fought in battle for her father against the neighbouring Malinkés.[1][2] Skilled with javelins, spears and bows, she was an excellent horsewoman and commanded her own battalion.[1][2] Yennenga was such an important fighter that when she reached a marriageable age, her father refused to choose a husband for her or allow her to marry.[2][3] To express her unhappiness to her father, Yennenga planted a field of wheat. When the crop grew, she let it rot. She explained to her father that that was how she felt, being unable to marry.[2] Nedega failed to be moved by this gesture and locked his daughter up.[4]

One of the king's horsemen helped Yennenga, dressed as a man, escape on her stallion.[1][2] Attacked by Malinkés, her companion was killed, and Yennenga was left alone.[2] She continued to ride north. One night, when she was exhausted from crossing a river, Yennenga's stallion took her into a forest.[2][3] She met a solitary elephant hunter called Riale.[4] When he saw through Yennenga's disguise, they fell in love.[1] Yennenga and Riale had a son they named Ouedraogo, which means "stallion" and is now a common name in Burkina Faso.[2][4] Ouedraogo founded the Mossi Kingdom.[1]


Yennenga is considered by the Mossi to be the mother of their empire and many statues of her can be found in the capital city of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou.[2] A statue of a golden stallion, called the Étalon de Yennenga, is awarded as the first prize in the biennial Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO).[4] The national football team is nicknamed "Les Étalons" ("the Stallions") in reference to Yennenga's stallion.[5]




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