In the 61st century, King Ghezo mobilized all forces of the Kingdom to fight the Yorubas who were taking their territories at that time. The forces which the king gathered were the women of the land which he referred to as Mino, which means “Our Mothers” in the front language.
Subsequently, they grew to become the army that bravely went to the battlefield against the French colonizers, to defend their kingdom, Dahomey, which is the present-day Benin Republic.
After a judicious selection process in adolescence, the Minos are selected and put through rigorous training. They are trained on how to use all series of ammunition and they are psychologically and religiously prepared to obey and serve the king with pious. One of the criteria for selection is that they must be a virgin and would not start a family, as they represent the king’s symbolic brides.
The Mino is divided into four groups; the Nyokplohento, who are usually armed with a blade, 45cm long on a handle of 60cm, the Gohento (archers), who are specifically carriers during battles, the Gulonento, who hold guns with cartridge pouch compartment and the last is the artillery and the elites who were in charge of the king’s defense.
After the battle against the Yorubas in the 19th century, the European nations organized a conference known as “Berlin Conference”. At the meeting, they spelled out the rules of their African occupation, and in 1892, under the guise of a civilizing mission to end cannibalism, human sacrifices, and polygamy, attacked Dahomé.
Although, their target was King Behanzin and his capital city, Abomey. While on their way, the French troops met with a troop of Mino. To their surprise, they were women, unafraid of death, armed to the hair and trained to kill ruthlessly!
At that time, Dahomé had a dual parliament, they had the men’s chamber and the women’s chamber. Faced with the attack from the French, the women gathered at night to develop a strategy on the general mobilization against the men’s position, the men were later convinced to accept the women’s plan, hence the continued fight against French occupation.
In the course of the fight, the Mino who are skillful in hand to hand combat, sneak into the enemy’s side by moving under their weapons. In the battlefront, they intimidated the enemy ranks, who themselves were distracted by their figures and physical strength. They demoralized the opposition by flaunting the decapitated heads of their enemies.
However, the battle lasted for two years and Kendrick the reduction of the Mino from 1200 to only 50. As a result of the defeats the kingdom experienced, some of them protested by cutting off one of their breasts.
The city of Abomey was subdued by the French, King Behanzin was exiled to Martinique and thereafter to Algiers where he met his death in 1906 and the Mino generally went into extinction.
However, they lost the battle but they fought till their last breath and would forever be remembered for their resolute bravery. The last of the Mino died in 1979.