The Bijagós Islands is an archipelago in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa.
The Bijagó political system is composed of the following organs: Uam-Moto (owner of the land), Oronho (the King), Okinka (the Queen or priestess), Iakonton (elders), Ogonne (enquiring of death) and Oum (”Bombulom” drum player).
Being a name of weight in Guinea-Bissau and even recognized worldwide, Okinka represents the strength of women on a continent dominated mainly by men, where the woman ends up having a minor role. Okinka’s were responsible for woman’s ceremonies in the Bijagós Islands.
Bijagós people, have an animistic religion, instilling their rituals and ceremonies with great mysticism, with their traditional masks and dances. In this matriarchal society, in which women play the most important role within family economies, lived the last Queen of Guinea-Bissau, Queen Okinka Pampa Kanyimpa.
The Queen Okinka Pampa Kanyimpa is the most famous sovereign of the Bijagós Islands, she ruled until 1923, year where she was buried on the island of “Orango Grande”. During her reign, she concluded a peace agreement with the Portuguese colonizers. While her supporters called her to militarily resist the colonizers, she very quickly became aware of the force balance report. She thus preferred to be pragmatic, the Portuguese were allowed to disembark on the sides, they received the goods they needed, but they did not fit in the land and in the life of the Bijagós people.
Even today, Queen Okinka Pampa Kanyimpa is the subject of a cult, the Bijagós venerate her legendary wisdom.
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