Madam Yoko (Mammy Yoko) Woman of Culture and Ambition
Madam Yoko (Mammy Yoko) was a brilliant and ambitious woman who used her friendship with the British to gain control of Kpeomende. However, in the end that very friendship may have destroyed her.
As a child, she was called Somo, but acquired the name Yoko at her Sande initiation where she attracted admiration for her beauty and graceful dancing. After an unsuccessful first marriage, Yoko became the wife of Gbenjei, Chief of Taima and although she couldn’t have any children, Gbenjei made Yoko his head wife. Eventually Gbenji died.
Then Yoko married Gbanyo Lango, a powerful war– chief at Senehun. In 1875, she saved her husband from a long imprisonment by the British because she made a personal plea to the Governor who was charmed by her beauty and feminine graces. Therefore, he agreed to release her husband from prison. Gbanyo found Yoko was very good at diplomatic missions to the British and to other Chiefs so this became her job. In 1884, after the death of her husband—Gbanyo and his successor,Yoko became the “Queen of Senehun”.
Within a few years she became ruler of all of the Kpaamende region(now 14 chiefdoms!) She did this through alliances (making friends with the different chiefs) using warfare and her ability to call on support of the friendly British troops, she could get them to help her fight to win the other chiefdoms.She established a famous Sandebush in Senehun where she trained girls from the area of Kpaamende. She sometimes gave the most beautiful girls in marriage to the sergeants of the frontier police or important chiefs.
When the British declared their protectorate in 1898, Madam Yoko Commanded her people to pay the new tax—but her sub–chiefs rebelled They held a secret meeting, blaming Yoko for “spoiling the country by supporting the British police, paying taxes and forced labour.” Yoko hid in the police barracks which withstood several attacks by her own subjects. She was later awarded a silver medal for her loyalty by Queen Victoria.
Madam Yoko ruled as the paramount chief in the new British Protectorate until 1906, when it appears that she committed suicide at the age of 55. If this is true, her reasons have never been altogether clear. A British official wrote that she had obtained all there was to be had in life—love, fame, wealth and power and felt there was nothing more to look forward to. However, her attempts to manipulate the support of her people, and perhaps she was bored and saw nothing challenging in Britain’s new and tightly controlled protectorate. #wikipedia