2. Cleopatra VII ( C. 69-30 B.C.)
She was apart of the Ptolemy family established by one of Alexander the Great’s generals after he conquered Egypt in 332 B.C.. That being said she was of Greek decent, and rumored might have some Persian in there somewhere but she was only African in the sense that she was born there. At the age of eighteen her father died leaving a kingdom to rule and siblings to squabble and fight over. Her sister Arsinoe and one of her brothers took the throne in a time where there was complete chaos due to border wars and famine within the country. Her sister drived her off her throne, off what I feel was her birthright but she decided to get it back with whatever it took.
She grabbed Gaius Julius Caesar attention when he came to inspect the reason why Egypt was not paying it’s debt to Rome in the form of grain. With the power of the Roman legions fighting in her cause her brothers were killed or accidentally died. The only sibling she had left was Arsinoe who if kept alive would come back and try to usurp her from the throne. Cleopatra went behind Caesar’s back and had her sister killed knowing it was the only wise decision to do.
Why she is on this list of powerful women is because of her intense strength of character. The Egyptians and Roman’s alike didn’t describe her as the most beautiful woman but she was extremely cultured, knowing nearly seven languages, maths, war strategy, and trade. She protected and improved the infamous library in Alexandria as well as improve the most important trading ports along the Alexandrian coast. She defied the Romans after Caesar had fallen and Anthony took refuge in Egypt. She fought for her children knowing and hoping that they were the future of Egypt. What is truly admirable is that she knew when the end was near but that didn’t stop her in the least. She built a huge navy and fought the Roman’s off to the best of her abilities till she was closed off in a tomb to the rest of the world. Though her death is shrouded in mystery there is no denying how much of a inspiration this woman is.