Thursday, February 16, 2017

What "Nubian Queen" And "Nubian Princess" Mean In The USA & In Parts Of Africa

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a pancocojams series on the terms "Nubian queen" & "Nubian princess", and "African queen".

This post provides information about the historical/geographical meanings of the terms "Nubian" and "Nubian queen" and the contemporary cultural meanings of the terms "Nubian queen" and "Nubian princess".

Click for Part II of this series. Part II showcases three contemporary African songs with the title "African Queen" or "Nubian queen".

The content of this post is presented for etymological, historical, and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
Update: April 12, 2019: Click for a 2018 pancocojams post entitled "Why The Young Woman In The Now Iconic April 2019 Sudanese Protest Photo Is Being Called A "Nubian Queen".
That post presents information about the meaning of the referent "Nubian queen" as it pertains to women from historical Nubia (Kush) and includes information about the use of that term as a referent for Sudanese women protesting the presidency of Omar Al-Bashir. Al-Bashir was eventually ousted on April 11, 2019 after a thirty year long presidency.

In its historical/geographical context, "Nubian queen" means a queen of a Nubian kingdom. Here are two article excerpts about the historical/geographical meaning of this term:

Article Excerpt #1:
"Nubia is a region along the Nile river located in what is today northern Sudan and southern Egypt. It was one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa, with a history that can be traced from at least 2000 B.C. onward (through Nubian monuments and artifacts, as well as written records from Egypt and Rome), and was home to one of the African empires. There were a number of large Nubian kingdoms throughout the Postclassical Era, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate, resulting in the Arabization of much of the Nubian population. Nubia was again united within Ottoman Egypt in the 19th century, and within the Kingdom of Egypt from 1899 to 1956.

The name Nubia is derived from that of the Noba people, nomads who settled the area in the 4th century following the collapse of the kingdom of Meroë. The Noba spoke a Nilo-Saharan language, ancestral to Old Nubian. Old Nubian was mostly used in religious texts dating from the 8th and 15th centuries AD. Before the 4th century, and throughout classical antiquity, Nubia was known as Kush, or, in Classical Greek usage, included under the name Ethiopia (Aithiopia)....

The influx of Arabs and Nubians to Egypt and Sudan had contributed to the suppression of the Nubian identity following the collapse of the last Nubian kingdom around 1504. A major part of the modern Nubian population became totally Arabized and some claimed to be Arabs (Jaa'leen – the majority of Northern Sudanese – and some Donglawes in Sudan).[40] A vast majority of the Nubian population is currently Muslim, and the Arabic language is their main medium of communication in addition to their indigenous old Nubian language. The unique characteristic of Nubian is shown in their culture (dress, dances, traditions, and music)."

Article Excerpt #2
"The Kingdom of Kush or Kush (/kʊʃ, kʌʃ/) was an ancient Nubian kingdom situated on the confluences of the Blue Nile, White Nile and River Atbara in what is now the Republic of Sudan.

The Kushite era of rule in Nubia was established after the Bronze Age collapse and the disintegration of the New Kingdom of Egypt, and it was centered at Napata in its early phase. After King Kashta ("the Kushite") invaded Egypt in the 8th century BC, the Kushite emperors ruled as pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt for a century, until they were expelled by the Assyrians under the rule of Esarhaddon.

During Classical antiquity, the Kushite imperial capital was at Meroe. In early Greek geography, the Meroitic kingdom was known as Aethiopia. By the 1st century AD, the Kushite capital had been captured by the Beja Dynasty, who tried to revive the empire. The Kushite kingdom with its capital at Meroe persisted until the 4th century AD, when it weakened and disintegrated due to internal rebellion. The Kushite capital was eventually captured and burnt to the ground by the Kingdom of Axum.

The native name of the Kingdom was recorded in Egyptian as k3š, likely pronounced /kuɫuʃ/ or /kuʔuʃ/ in Middle Egyptian when the term is first used for Nubia, based on the New Kingdom-era Akkadian transliteration as the genitive kūsi.[2][3][4]

It is also an ethnic term for the native population who initiated the kingdom of Kush. The term is also displayed in the names of Kushite persons,[5] such as King Kashta (a transcription of k3š-t3 "(one from) the land of Kush"). Geographically, Kush referred to the region south of the first cataract in general. Kush also was the home of the rulers of the 25th dynasty.[6]

The name Kush, since at least the time of Josephus, has been connected with the biblical character Cush, in the Hebrew Bible (Hebrew: כוש), son of Ham (Genesis 10:6). Ham had four sons named: Cush, Put, Canaan and Mizraim (Hebrew name for Egypt). The Bible specifically refers to Cush as a Benjamite (Psalms 7:1, KJV).[7] According to The Bible, Nimrod, a son of Cush, was the founder and king of Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar (Gen 10:10).[8]...

Nubia was divided into two major regions: Upper and Lower Nubia, so called because of their location in the Nile river valley, the 'lower' being further downstream than the 'upper'. Lower Nubia lay between the First and Second Cataracts of the Nile river, spreading into modern southern Egypt and northern Sudan, while Upper Nubia extended between the Second and Sixth Cataracts, in modern central Sudan."...
Note that "Kush" is just one historical example of a Nubian empire. Another Nubian empire (among others referenced in the source given as Article Excerpt #1) is Meroe.

Article #3:
"What is a Nubian queen?

...A Nubian queen is a female ruler of the kingdom of Nubia, located along the Nile in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. In modern times, it is also used to describe a woman with African heritage.

Although Nubia is located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan, it was once a part of northeastern Africa. Its history and culture dates back to around 3800 B.C. at which time the region was referred to as the Kush kingdom.

Around 1100 B.C., Egypt invaded and ruled the Nubian region. When the Nubian people regained control of their kingdom, they were ruled by Nubian royalty. Nubian queens include Queen Abar and Queen Qalhata, the wife and daughter, respectively, of King Piye. Candace of Meroe is one of the most notable queens of Nubia."...

From [retrieved 2/14/2017]
"There are Nuba and there are Nubians and this is cause for great confusion. The Nuba are the different peoples living in the Nuba Mountains in Southern Kordofan [Sudan].

The Nubians today are a people who live along the Nile at the border between Egypt and Sudan. Many of them were relocated when the Nasser Dam was built. The Nubians are considered to be descendants of the great Nubian Kingdoms of Kush; Meroe; Nobatia; Makuria (Dongola) or Alodia (Alwa)."
This excerpt is reformatted for this post.
Click for more excerpts from that article and for additional information about and videos of the Nuba people of Sudan.

The cultural meanings of "Nubian queen" and "Nubian princess" among African Americans are derived from the homage that afrocentric African Americans in the late 1960s and 1970s gave to historical Egypt and historical Ethiopia in general and to the ancient Nubian kingdoms of Kush and Meroe in particular.

During the late 1960s if not earlier, afrocentric African American began using "Nubian queen" and "African queen" as referents for (usually physically attractive) Black women who were dark skinned. Eventually, the term "Nubian Princess" was also used to refer to the same population, or to refer to young, attractive Black dark skinned women.

However, by at least 2013 (as several of the comments below document), light skinned women with some black African ancestry as well as women from certain other populations of color could also be referred to "Nubian queens" and "Nubian princesses".

Here are some definitions for and comments about the African American usage of the term "Nubian queen":
Comment #1
"What is a Nubian queen?
A Nubian queen is a female ruler of the kingdom of Nubia, located along the Nile in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. In modern times, it is also used to describe a woman with African heritage...

Some African-American women are referred to as Nubian queens with the intention of showing pride in their African heritage."...

Comment #2
TOP DEFINITION [retrieved Feb 13, 2017]
"Nubian Queen
A woman with African heritage. A Nubian Queen (A Black Woman) is a woman who usually has a dark skin complexion and thick kinky or coily hair. A Nubian Queen is a woman that comes in a variety of shapes and sizes which can range from slim/slender to thick/curvy.

Nubian Queens are also very intelligent and don't all shake their butts to rap music. Most want an education and a good well paying job.

Also, it should be noted that Nubian Queens do not like to be praised because of their figure i.e. full hips or buttocks, but because of their willingness to survive despite the great obstacles that might be in their way.

Nubian Queens are also very creative and wear their hair in a variety of beautiful and exotic hair styles. Nubian Queens are also talented and make great spouses. Nubian Queens also make good mothers and have been known to hold a household together with or without a man.

Overall, Nubian Queens are beautiful. The media has reduce them to nothing but booty walking around, but Nubian Queens are more than that. Nubian Queens are friends, lovers, and the mothers of civilization.
An Incredibly, Beautiful and Abundantly Melanined Black Woman that seems to be the envy of lots of women of color.

1. Damn!: "Philomena Kwao", "Leila Lopes", "Aeriél Miranda", "Genevieve Nnaji", "Nadia Buari", "Fatima Siad", "Pearl Thusi", "Yvonne Nelson", "Lupita Nyong'o", "Liya Kebede", "Gugu Mbatha-Raw", "Deepika Padukone", "Jessica Sula", "Isha Sesay", "Nathalie Emmanuel", "Jourdan Dunn", "Lenora Crichlow", "Alexandra Burke", "Thandie Newton", "Jessica Lucas", "Gabrielle Union", "Elle Varner", "Angela Highsmith", "Meagan Good", "Zendaya Coleman", "Kerry Washington", "Beyonce Knowles", "Janelle Monae", "Lauren London", "Denise Vasi", "Halle Berry", "Kelly Rowland", "Alexis Jordan", "Yaya DaCosta", "Rihanna Fenty", "Kat Graham", "Toccara Jones", "Tomiko Fraser", "Jocelyn Dumas", "Arlenis Sosa", "Goapele", "Chavoy Gordon", and "Damaris Lewi" are all Nubian Queens; and all the other women of color want to replicate those Nubian Queens.
#nubian princess #black woman #black women #sista #congoid #black"
by Nubian Queen/Black Women Lover June 10, 2014
Note that although the respondent writes that "A Nubian Queen (A Black Woman) is a woman who usually has a dark skin complexion and thick kinky or coily hair", some of the celebrities who he or she named as "Nubian queens" are light skinned Black women who are racially mixed. Among those women are "Thandie Newton", "Zendaya Coleman", Beyonce Knowles, "Halle Berry", and "Alicia Keys".

Referring to light skinned Black women as "Nubian queens" is a significant expansion of the earlier African American definition of "Nubian queen" which exclusively or usually restricted that referent to an attractive Black women with dark skin color.

Comment #3
In African American culture "Nubian princess" is a somewhat later extension of "Nubian queen".

The 1999 American comedy/crime movie Go includes this exchange between a man who looks White but called himself "the n word" and was challenged about that by another character. Note that the character describes his "Nubian princess" ancestor as being very dark skinned.

[Warning: This excerpt includes what is commonly known as "the n word" and certain "curse" words. In keeping with this blog's policy, I don't use the fully spellings for those terms.]

"Go! tells the story of the events after a drug deal, told from three different points of view. Comedy, Crime | 9 April 1999 (USA)

...Tiny: ... I'm just trying to make conversation. Fu&k! Come on, why don't you give a ni&&er a break?

Marcus: [Marcus turns around in the car seat again] "Ni&&er"? What n&&&er?

[touches his own chest]
Marcus: THIS nI&&&&r?

Tiny: Yo, I told you, my mother's mother's mother were black!

Marcus: Your mother's mother's mother, fu&k - this ain't "Roots", mutha... Man, I wanna see a picture of this Nubian princess.

[angry cross-talk]

Marcus: If you were any less black, you would be clear.

Tiny: That bi&ch was black as night!

Singh: Okay! Stop! Truce!

Tiny: But I see black. Because I know I am. Color's a state of mind, Marcus!

Marcus: You know what, you right. Thank you, Rhythm Nation.
[And the laughter and insults continue...]
"This ain't "Roots" refers to the Alex Haley book and movie.

"Rhythm Nation" is used here as a derisive nickname for a person of a Black person. That "nickname" almost certainly is derived from the 1989 album and song "Rhythm Nation" by R&B singer Janet Jackson.

Comment #4
Lyric excerpt to Nuba X song "Nubian Queen"..from, Nuba TV Uploaded on Aug 24, 2007
...You my Nubian queen
The most beautiful thang
The whole wide world
has ever seen

Chocolate texture
Skin silky smooth
A feast for the eyes
that awake Nuba’s groove

The way you walk
As though you gliding through tha air
The way you talk to me
with tender lovin’ care

And your smile…
Ooh those luscious lips
The sexy way you sway ya hips…

Oh my Nubian queen
My Nubian queen
My Nubian queen”...
Nuba X is African American from Chicago, Illinois.

This is my partial transcription of this Hip Hop song. Additions & corrections are welcome.

Comment #5
"Nubian Princess
A gorgeous, sexy, black woman with an utterly perfect figure.
Nubian Princess Halle Berry
#nubian #princess #black #sexy #awesome
by dude1970 February 25, 2013"

Comment #6
Nubian Princess
A gorgeous, sexy, light-skinned black and filipino woman with a perfect face and body.
Damn Jamaica Munoz is the definition of Nubian Princess.
#nubian. princess #jamaica. jamaica munoz #light skinned #black and filipino #filanegro #blackapino #sexy #hi glen
by Jamakes October 20, 2014"
"Nubian princess" may also refer to a female with some Black African descent or from certain other populations of color who are younger than Nubian queens.

Some contemporary (1960s to date) Black Americans also use the referent "African queen" as a synonym for "Nubian queen". As is the case with the later usage of "Nubian queen", "African queen" has also been used by Black Americans (including African Americans)to mean any female with some black African descent, regardless of her skin color.

The terms "Nubian queen" and "Nubian princess" appear to be used by some contemporary (2000 to date) Africans as a general referents for Black women, and particularly young, attractive Black women.

It's my position that the contemporary African use of "Nubian queen" and "Nubian princess" was lifted from African Americans' use of these terms.

Example #1
"Nubian Queen/snippet by Naija Rockkstar Omo Akin, Dec 7, 2009 [Nigeria]
Nubian Queen download link:
bebhigero, 2010
"i am a nubian blowing my whistle.... love it love perfect summer jam"

majah tunder Shango, 2012
"big up all my african ladies and big up the artist on this track naija rockstar big omo akin one love i sent a vid response to ur vid wid same name nubian queen wud b good to do the 2 tracks as one listen and get back to me"
This video is featured in Part II of this pancocojams post.

Example #2:
video title: "Nubian Queen", Uploaded on Dec 19, 2006 [Ugandan song]
brownsugar202, 2008
"oh nubian and diffenatley nubian gurlz dunt look like dat at alllllllll..."
This video is featured in Part II of this pancocojams post.

Example #3
From Koffi Olomide – Effrakata [from the Democratic Republic of the Congo]
comment: Gospicnic, 2013
"Gosh, Patience Ibe used to be the hottest Nubian Queen under the African sun"

Example #4
From Nubian Queens of Africa
MrChatbout FiveEyes.TV Uploaded on Jun 3, 2011
Nubian Queens - photographic art taken in various African countries.
Anna bella, 2013
"These are not actual Nubians from Egypt or Sudan."

Example #5
From Mbilia Bel - Boyayé
comment from Africanmusictv [ AMTV ], 2015
"Mbilia Bel, the Queen of African Soul. Nubian Beauty from Congo. I will NEVER get tired of your sweet voice. I miss my African Queen. One Love Congo!!!"

This concludes Part I of this series.

Visit Part II of this pancocojams series for more comments and examples of the contemporary African uses of the terms "African queen" and "Nubian queen".

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Jamaican Reggae singer Luciano also has a song entitled "Nubian Queen": (published on YouTube in 2011)