Queen Khalifa (aka Califia/Calafia) the Black Empress of California – By Jide Uwechia

Khalifia (- Queen Califia painting by James Gayle)

California, the land of the ever-living Muurish Empress Calafia/Califia. Calafia was the title of each empress. California was her land. She was known to be black of skin, of the muurish nationality, and ruled over Islands and Islands of black people, from California, Baja, to Hawaii.

A muurish Island, ruled by women. It was first mentioned in the records of the western European christians in the seventh century, and retold “The Song of Roland” where a passing mention of a place called Califerne, was made perhaps because it was the caliph’s domain. See (Putnam, Ruth (1917). Herbert Ingram Priestley. ed. California: the name. Berkeley: University of California)

Spanish conquistadors told stories about a mystical black muurish queen that ruled a State of California, situated in the same location as the present day California. The modern state of State California continues the legacy and the memory of this great black Queendom and its Queens.

Califia (Califia, Queen of California painting by Arthur Wright)

The Muurs and Calafia

Khalifa means God’s ruler (in Muurish Arabic).

The story of Calafia was later re-narrated in the book The Adventures of Esplandián, a book written in 1500, probably based on stories gleaned from the old Muurish seamen of Spain, Portugal, Holland, Belgium and England.

Calafia is introduced as “… a regal Muurish black woman, courageous, strong of limb and large in person, full in the bloom of womanhood, the most beautiful of a long line of queens who ruled over the mythical realm of California.”

She supposedly commanded a fleet of ships with which she ruled and maintained peace in the surrounding lands, and islands including Baja and Hawaii. She reportedly kept an aerial defense force of “griffins”, and other fabulous animals which were native to California, trained to defend the land against invanders.

She was so powerful she could project her imperial power over the seas of the mediteranean at will. The Esplandian narrates that Calafia maintained cultural and trading contacts with the Muurs of Africa. It told of her wars in the mediterranean seas,in Anatolia, the Byzantine empire and in southern Europe. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calafia#cite_ref-Sabir2004_23-1

According to the author of The Adventures of Esplandián:

“Know ye that at the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California, very close to that part of the Terrestrial Paradise, which was inhabited by black women without a single man among them, and they lived in the manner of Amazons. They were robust of body with strong passionate hearts and great virtue. The island itself is one of the wildest in the world on account of the bold and craggy rocks.”(Putnam, Ruth (1917). Herbert Ingram Priestley. ed. California: the name. Berkeley: University of California)

The crusader and conqueror of the territory of California Hernán Cortés and his men were familiar with the book. Cortés quoted liberally from the book and it did have an influence on his decision to look for the Island of California. As governor of Mexico he sent out an ill-fated expedition of two ships, one guided by the famous pilot Fortún Ximénez. That expedition did not fare well at all and most of the ships and the men were lost.

In 1535, Cortés led an expedition back to the land of Calafia or California, and decided to re-named it Santa Cruz. However, that name did not stick, as the natives, and the Muurs and the black Indians and red Indians and so-called whites continued to use the ancient and old name of the land “California”.

Cortes himself and his contemporaries appeared to have used the name too. In 1550 and 1556, the name appears three times in reports about Cortés written by Giovanni Battista Ramusio.

Thus over the years of increasing conquest, colonization and rape of the land of California, the ancient land of the muurs has held onto its name and identity, in the knowledge that one day, it will be as it was in the beginning.


African-Americans and Queen Califia

In 2004, the African American Historical and Cultural Society Museum in San Francisco assembled a Queen Califia exhibit, curated by John William Templeton, featuring works by artists such as TheArthur Wright and James Gayles; artistic interpretations of Calafia.

The show displayed a 1936 treatment of Lucille Lloyd’s “California Allegory” triptych, with Queen Califia as the central figure. Templeton said that “Califia is a part of California history, and she also reinforces the fact that African Americans had always been in California. See, Sabir, Wanda. “Wanda’s Picks”. San Francisco Bayview. Retrieved January 2, 2011. http://sigidiart.com/Docs/WandasPicksCalifia.htm

“Califia is a part of California history, and she also reinforces the fact that when Cortes named this place California, he had 300 black people with him. And throughout the whole Spanish-Mexican war, 40 percent of the population was black.” .

Templeton pointed out that most of the navigators on the explorations to the New World were African, because Africans knew how to get the New World.

For instance, Columbus had a black navigator. Muurish (black) folks had been going back and forth between Africa and America from the dawn of time. All they had to do was get in the wind right off the West Coast of Africa.

A Muurish (African) Emperor Abu Bukari took 1,000 ships to the New World in the 1300s. So Muurish navigators and sea men were highly sought in those days that the previously land-bounded Europeans were in their infancy in navigational and maritime sciences.

A black man used to own the San Fernando Valley. That was Pio de Jesus Pico (1801-1894). He was also the last Mexican governor of California. In total, in the 1800s, there were atleast four black governors of the state of California. See Sabir, Wanda. “Wanda’s Picks”. San Francisco Bayview. Retrieved January 2, 2011 http://sigidiart.com/Docs/WandasPicksCalifia.htm

Dr. William E. Hoskins, director of the museum, said that very few people know the story of Queen Califia. He said, “One of the things we’re trying to do is let people have the additional insight and appreciation for the contributions of African Americans to this wonderful country and more specifically to the state of California”. See Sabir, Wanda. “Wanda’s Picks”. San Francisco Bayview. Retrieved January 2, 2011 http://sigidiart.com/Docs/WandasPicksCalifia.htm

Jide Uwechia

15 thoughts on “Queen Khalifa (aka Califia/Calafia) the Black Empress of California – By Jide Uwechia”

  1. It really saddens me that mexican people do not know their black history nor would they accept it. I have always believe that pacific islanders were of black stock. We are every where. Its only sad the last four hundreds years are so has totally limited our beginningtoslavery days….and yet we are so much greater. Sometimes I read things myself and I want to be yeah right they didnt teach this in school..but school teaching is watered down n full of lies.

  2. For example the name Garin Baura means town of Baura(priest) in Hausa language. “Marina” means the place where leather is colored in ancient time.

  3. I am native american of Chumash/Apache and Zacateco descent, My name is Cuetlachtcuicatl. There are no legends of a great black ruler in our sacred lands, we had and still have our names for the land and our origin stories, This is an agenda that will be stomped out by any Native person. Creator guided us all to our sacred land and we never believed in the idea of ownership, leadership, property, worship or government. No way my people would bow before any man nor women. Just because your people have found certain truths that exist showing the link in our paths from a time forgotten, does not mean they have the entirety of the story, and much like the white men this assumes we are not capable of maintaining our own history. And is insulting. Do not forget, even the slaves from across the sea had there own ways of finding there own identity’s here in our beloved Zemanahuak!

    “Wolfsong” Cuetlachtcuicatl.

    1. What is the oldest native tribe….better yet, how where native americans given their land back??? Also, if you look at paintings in pyramid walls or inside mounds you will find art of black Americans and if you research olmec people you may find a stone head with an afro….plus, my family are of native decent and the first people in the americas were afro and Asiatic people…..the pictures of black incas and Moorish people is strong evidence. Plus, tell me that native americans look like they did 200 years ago….truthfully we are all mostly native american but terminology has been used to set the agenda of separating people ethnically. Read the willie lynch letter and find articles written in the early 1800’s about what American Indians looked like….just sayin do the research. Truthfully black Americans dont look like Africans but more like blacks from the pacific islands

    2. Cuetlachtcuicatl, you left out real natives are humble truth seekers who are honest in their quest for knowledge and is willing to listen to both sides of an argument. Since black people are found in the oral histories of many native tribes, a real native would not have a problem with the information presented here. Thus, my conclusion is you are just another Albino who has stolen the identity of a real Native because of some one drop Native blood or your ancestors were part of the 5$ system that saw to it that Albinos were names as Natives. I bet I could not tell the difference between you and any old Albino squatter who claim to be European. Cuetlachtcuicatl, you are just another pink skin 5$ native who want the world to believe that Natives 200 years ago had pink, Central Asian skin. Prior to interbreeding with you pale apes from Central Asia, Natives had brown and black skin colours. Now that you pale apes have stolen the identities of Natives, you are claiming that Native from 200 years ago had pink, Albino skin colour.

      I think identity theft is natural to you Central Asian Albinos. After you the Central Asian Albinos and their Turkish Albino counterpart masquerading as Arabs, complete their genocide on Africa, much like what they did to the brown/black skin people of the Americas, they will assume their identity. Why not? The Albinos have assumed the identity of the original Europeans, middle easterners and North Africans including Egypt.

      There are many stories of Native tribes interacting with black people. I know a Native woman who is married to an African and though they do not speak the same language, they understand each others’ tongue. How can that be if there were no black people running around in the Americas with Natives? The woman told her husband that in their oral history, they are told of interacting with black tribes in the Americas before Columbus.

      I find it interesting that you pale, wanna be natives will fight with a black person who traces black people to the Americas prior to Columbus, with evidence, but you are take no issues with your Albino brethren who have stolen the lands, identities and have left them prisoners (reserves) in your own land.

      1. Very refreshing my brother. You all of the words right out of my mouth. That guy is an imposter. You said it my native brother.

    3. Oh wow! I’m about to name my unborn daughter calafia! Thought it was awesome!!! But!!! I’m too! Chumash! Indian!!! Can you Please response to this!! Lizzalott @gmail. Com

  4. actually its known that columbus used a very ancient map.

    A map which was stolen from egypt/ethiopia by some thug called alexander.

    A map stone from an Afrikan library.

  5. Its a shame stop lieing. Iam african american and my great grandmother is native american of the blackfoot tribe down south. Black foot, that says it all. We arent going to rub it in your face it just brings us all more info.

  6. Thank you Jide Uwechia for your wonderful article!!! I am an African American male and my first name is “Khalifa”! I was absolutely surprised to learn the role my name has played in African American history and the shaping of the state of California! I salute you sir! Thank you for your very informative article!!!!! You have created in me a thirst to know more about our past. YOUR TORCH HAS LIT THE MIND OF THIS CANDLE!!!

  7. People, the story is based on a 17th century novel by a Spanish guy, I forgot his name. There was no black queen of California.

    1. Derek there is documentation from the 1500’s from shipmen whom have described this tribe… Do research before you hate smh

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