Djoumbe Fatima was the Queen of Mohéli in Comoros from the age of five until her death. Her reign started after the death of her father, King Ramanateka, also known as Sultan Abderahmane. Djoumbe Fatima, like the majority of people on the Comoros Island was Muslim and did not convert to Christianity. Other than her resistance to colonialism and her rise to power at such a young age, she was also famously known for her nobility and elegant choice of clothing, as witnessed by the French in their visit to the Comoros and on her visit to Marseilles.
In 1863, the French government sent a delegation to meet with Djoumbe Fatima, this was to lure her into being a colony for the French, where she rightfully rejected. The visiting photographer at that time Désiré Charnay, recorded the french visit and described her to have “extremely finely in a robe of rich Turkish tissue of silk and gold”.
In 1867, with the aim of canceling a treaty signed with Joseph Lambert in 1865, Djoumbe Fatima boarded for Zanzibar. From Zanzibar, Djoumbe Fatima made a trip to Paris to complain about Lambert’s behavior and demand the cancellation of the treaty. She made a stopover in Egypt before arriving in Marseille in July 1868 (photo). Here’s what the French magazine Le Monde illustré reports in July 1868:
“We know that Queen Fatouma came to France to fix her dispute, and she’s been in Paris for a few days. We owe to Mr.’s Camille Brion, photographer in Marseille, communicating a portrait he did in this city, then of the arrival of the queen, and it is according to this portrait that we executed our engraving. Queen Djoumbe Fatima is graceful, she has read well split eyes, opulent black hair and a type of figure that does not lack nobility. Her royal costume consists of a golden sheet tunic of a peplumde even with diaments and valuable jewelry. She is currently thirty-one year old; she has been married twice; the first time at fourteen with an old Arab relative of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Of these weddings she had three children whose eldest took on the government’s renes while her mother was away.”
Written by Said Bakar Mougné M’kou
Image: Djoumbe Fatima, queen of Moheli in Marseille 1868.
Photo credit: Magazine Le Monde illustrated from July 18 to December 1868, recommend 588.
Jean Martin, Le Monde illustrated magazine from July 18 to December 1868, nict 588.
“Five African queens you did not know existed – Page 3 of 6”. Face2Face Africa. 2018-09-01. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
CHARNAY, DÉSIRÉ (1862). MADAGASCAR VOL D’OISEAU. p. 67.
Sheldon, Kathleen (2005). “Djoumbe Fatima (1837–1878)”. Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Lanham (Maryland): Scarecrow Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-8108-5331-7.
Campbell, Gwyn (2012-04-03). David Griffiths and the Missionary “History of Madagascar”. BRILL. p. 112. ISBN 978-90-04-19518-9.