Konstnär: Ann-Marie Bäckström

The Story of the Princess Yennenga

The name of an organization should communicate what the organization is, or perhaps that which it strives to be.

Role models are important. "Trial and error” can be a good method in many contexts, but it is also important learn from experience and knowledge of others.

The organization Yennenga Progress wants to build upon its role models, making use of people's life experience, work-skills and wisdom.

Princess Yennenga is the basic role model that we build our vision around.

Yennenga was diligent, loved and had plenty of will power. She did not blindly accept rules and authorities, but chose to go her own way. She had the courage to engage others in order to succeed. She had the courage to love, and she knew that she was good at what she did.

Princess Yennenga is seen as the mother of the Mossi culture, and many statues and memorial marks of her can be seen in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Parallels can be drawn between Princess Yennenga and heroines in various other cultures, for example Jean D'Arc and Athena.

Many versions exist of the 14th century legend of Yennenga. This is one of them.

The story

The West African King Nedegea ruled over a prosperous kingdom. He also had a young and beautiful daughter. She was a beloved princess. Since she was brave and remarkably skilful with spear and bow, as well as a better rider than both her brothers and many of the king’s warriors, she was allowed to lead her own troops. At the age of 14 she was already helping her father fight the enemy that was trying to steal the king’s wealth.

Since Yennenga's skills were so great and thus of utmost importance to the kingdom, her father would no let her marry.

In order to make it clear to her father that she was not willing to abstain from family life she planted a field, although she did not harvest it, but instead let it go to waste. She explained that this was how she felt.

Instead of softening from Yennenga's effort to explain her feelings, her father became angry and decided to lock her up.

Since she was a beloved princess, Yennenga had many friends among her father's guards. One of her father’s horsemen helped her escape on horseback, dressed up as a man. They rode together through the night, but were attacked by the enemy. Her helper had to pay with his life.

Yennenga rode on northwards alone.

One night when she and the horse were exhausted after having crossed a turbulent river they saw a house. In that house lived Riale, the elephant hunter. He immediately saw through Yennenga's disguise and fell in love.

The couple had a son who was given the name Ouedrago, which means stallion, since it was Yennenga's horse that had taken her to Riale and to love. To this day Ouedraogo is a common surname in Burkina Faso, which is situated where the Mossi kingdom is still strong in West Africa.

Yennenga symbolizes much that is of great importance even today, in West Africa as well as in the rest of the world. Yennenga was young, beautiful and loved by her people and her father. She had both beauty and skill. Yennenga transcended the gender roles and she was given permission to develop her talents. She was of great significance to her country's security and development. Yennenga was courageous and had strong will power. She sought dialogue,acted decisively and was driven in her life choices.

And as in all fairy tales, Yennenga managed to make her dream come true. She became the primordial mother and lived happily ever after as a role model for us all.