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.

CalifiabyTheArthurWright (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

39 thoughts on “Queen Khalifa (aka Califia/Calafia) the Black Empress of California”

  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.

    1. I just posted that same expression on fb after sharing this article. How can we teach our children if we were never taught. I’m tired of being the lost race.

  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.

        1. Seek! And you WILL FIND!
          The oldest known human remains were found on the continent known as Africa!
          Why then is it sooooooo difficult to accept the fact that we are ALL CONNECTED- —— we are Onekind!
          If aliens from some other world came here to conquer- —— I can assure you that they would not bother to differentiate the human species!

    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.

    1. the murs were navigators in that time they made first maps in europe they are well appreciated in the museum

  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

  8. OMG seriously. Califia was a fictional story written by a Spaniard. The book was pretty popular. Thats why they named California after it. The olmecs we’re dark indigenous Indians or possible south Pacific islanders. Stop twisting fake stories to your liking.

  9. what they say copper tone natives right theres a old panting by some euro homo painted showing you mary with here big long cape see said the ones who stay under my cape will be safe and we all have eyes right so take a look at the natvies in the back praying on there knees with black copper tone skine omg nergo women with long nappy hair and men with short curly nappy hair if nappy hair and copper tone are not black i dont know what is black and im fucking black so we are everywhere deal with it my pale little brother ????

    1. My pale little brother? First of all I’m not even white. Second of all, im a woman. Afro centrists are a joke….along with the euro centrists. I almost feel sorry for them. They are delusional. The people in the picture don’t even look black wtf? Do you only see what you want to see?

      1. Afrocentrism is there to balance off the European notions that has become popular opinion. The history that extremist blacks believe is more accurate than the tales Europeans like to write as his story. We actually need more of a balance btwn the two. But it only begins with those who are Afrocentric, speaking on the tales that his story has tried to mask.

        1. There is no such thing as Afrocentrism, there is only truth. So called Afrocentrists use information by whites to verify the truth. When whites call people like myself Afrocentrists, it means that they don’t read or research and are not worthy of speaking to. Besides, since when does a cat let a dog speak on its history. Its high time that we tell them to mind their damn business and stop even letting them into the conversations to begin with.

          They just show their ignorance usually and will never have anything to say against verified truth that THEIR historians wrote. Its akin to having a conversation with kindergartners about Tesla and all they are doing is reguritating E=MC squared. Besides most whites are too afraid to even acknowledge the possibility of us being right using the information we point them to.

          I didn’t say that blacks were the first in Europe, David MacRitchie a white man said it.
          I didn’t say that blacks where in the Americas first. Christopher Columbus did.

          But will they acknowledge their own people saying these things? No, they completely skip over them and act like they don’t exist. You cannot teach these people, they have been lied to by their own so much that they are afraid and when you give them information, books, resources, etc by THEIR OWN PEOPLE that counters this you are called an Afrocentrist – its a simple way to deflect from a conversation no different from a child putting their hands into their ears and singing Lalala to its highest pitch. “We have inherited the lies of our fathers” – The Bible.

          That is exactly who they are.

  10. Fiction is closer to the truth than the lies around us… I love this article!… I’m happy that there’s history available to us to read and intercept… To not be in the dark… History can explain the simplest thing…. Even why we speak different languages… I’m of African (maroon) and German decent…. I was brought up in a country that’s really lacking in original roots because it has no native persons left but we’ve all mixed or different cultures and found our own identity…. I’m a appreciative of its motto #OutOfManyOnePeople #Blessing #Selah Jah Rastafar I lives!

  11. Thank you for this article & the link that was posted. There’s so much history, but all that’s taught is that blacks began with slavery in this country! It’s refreshing to learn of these things, as I always thought there has got to be more to the story. Many think of African ancestors as only slaves, but barely any light is shed on what they were before being rounded up & all their dreams taken away. Our earlier ancestors left the continent of Africa to populate the world, which is why the more folks dig looking for origins, they find us! Those in power have done a fine job for the past 400+ years convincing us that our ancestors were nothing more than savages. As surely as day emerges from night, the TRUTH shall always come to light!

    1. @Wes J

      Unfortunately so called African Americans are mixtures of three different black groups primarily.

      1. Afro Indians of the Americas
      2. Afro Europeans thrown into slavery at the end of the Jacobite wars in Europe
      3. Actual africans and most “Africans” were taken to the south to Brazil. We as unlearned fools unfortunately buy into the bullshit myth that Brazil had more freedoms than us so that’s why they have a better connection to the “motherland” with their cultures. That’s nonsense. 1. Brazil was the last place to stop importing Africans through slavery and 2. We don’t have that connection because we were never -directly- from Africa in the first place. If we knew what -really- happened to us who knows what would happen. Black Brazilians while our cousins are NOT part of our direct family tree. Sorry African Americans. Even our Carribbean kin were partially brought there from Europe. Worse yet it isn’t whites that are fooling us nowadays, its our own – Please watch the video below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3akC9P_rYQ

      Jahdey you fellas need to seriously do a page about the Boule. Our people need to know who our worst enemy is – and how they look just like us!

  12. Naw so called mexicans never forgot i must say did anybody ever think of looking stuff up Fact is they are in a binding maybe i been busy painting inside my paintings with my ancestors one family no seperators or barriers they forgot who our mother/father was sun pages dont lie slay the ego reborn again we been here forever

    1. The oldest human skeleton ever found in the Americas was of an African woman. They named her ‘Lucy.’ Her remains were found in Brazil.

      Obviously, today, there are STARK differences between a Navajo or a Kiowa person from the Americas, and a Haratin Moor or a Fante person from Africa.

      But, this fact still and will always remain: Africans were the first (and at the time really the only people who covered the face of the entire earth) people to inhabit not only the Americas, but also Asia, Australia, the entire Pacific Islands (Tasmania, Samoa, Christmas Islands, Tahiti, Solomon Islands…you name it) as well as the peninsula of Eurasia some arrogant folks call the European ‘continent,’ along with Africa itself.

      Native Americans originally, were African. Then, as other folks came along, other admixtures appear. Plain and SIMPLE. Right now, in Canada, there are very many dark Native Americans, just as there are dark Native Americans in Mexico.

      Many actually say that they CAME from Africa. Along the way, Europeans would make babies with them. In 1600, there wwre 90 MILLION NATIVE AMERICANS in North and Soith America.

      By 1900, only TWO MILLION were left in the entire region! So today, there are just as many ‘pale’ Natives, as there are (or even more than) dark ones.

      But let’s not get hung up on complexion. The evidence speaks for itself: The Olmec Civilization was African. Not only with the way they depicted themselves, but also the foods they ate, their architecture is a MIRROR-COPY of African architecture.

      The plants they bred too.

      The Maya depict themselves as dark people. Their hairstyles are also what Africans wore. As well as their jewellery, and how they wore it. Their religion(s) are identical to Old African ones too!

      The Ohlone people of California. ..clearly, the painter was not stupid.

      The Calafia story is based on ACTUAL people ruled by Queens. Again, Africans were the only people on earth who CONSISTENTLY had no QUALMS about having female, as well as male rulers.

      Right from the beginning, in Kush (in what is now Sudan and Egypt), Misri (in what is now Egypt, Sudan, Libya.

      Misri, Miziri or Maziri is how Eastern, Central and Southern African descendants of Ancient Egypt called that kingdom – mazi/mai/maji being the various variants of the word for water. I just gave you the renderings for ‘water’ in Luhya (a Kenyan nation/Kikuyu, also a Kenyan nation (the Tigrinya of Eritrea use that same word ‘mai’ for ‘water’ and Swahili for water – maji).

      Moving down through the days of Axum (Sudan/Ethiopia/ Eritrea) the quens of the Kongo Empire (Congo/Angola), the Iyoba (queens) of Benin Empire (Nigeria), the days of the Buganda Empire of Uganda…none ever had QUEASINESS regarding rule by women.

      Even today, some African countries either have Female heads of state, or female vice presidents. Like, Liberia.

      Dahomey Kingdom (in today’s Togo) had an army wing composed of women.

      Khalafia was a real person – perhaps with a different name though. Remember, the Moors (actually, the MAURI people) after whom the West African country of MAURITANIA is named, subjugated and occupied Iberia (Spain and Portugal) with the help of Afro-Arabs and white Arabs. They had one thing in common; Islam.

      So Spaniard stories depicting ‘black’ people like the one about Khalafia are not fantasy. Spain still has mosques today, built between 700 AD and the Inquisition.

      Also, people had been faring between Africa and the Americas for centuries. Later on, after they resettle a ‘newly-white’ Europe – Africans begin travelling from Europe to the Americas again.

      The Europeans at that time had a belief that sailing across the Atlantic would make one FALL OF THE EDGE OF THE EARTH.

      One wonders how stupid they must have been; wouldn’t the oceanic water have cascaded off the edge too? Anyway. They also believed that the SKY WOULD FALL ON THEM.

      Primitive stuff. Whatever.

      Meanwhile, Africans knew of GOLD in the Valifornias. Later on, you see Europeans heading off to South America looking for EL DORADO. They knew about what Africans had been talking about. But were combining different stories from different sources.

      Today, it’s said the Muisca people of South America had a gold-powder ceremony for the king. He’d bathe in it. But the Spaniards had heard of El Dorado long before they ever heard of the Muisca. See?

      Funny enough, someone strikes gold in California, and leads to the GOLD RUSH of 1849-1855.

      Queen Khalafia had gold in abundance. She lived in California, and she existed long before 1849.

      Mexico’s first (or is it second nowadays) president, Vicente Guerrero was partially African. Clearly, not a descendant of ‘slaves.’

      The Miskito people of Nicaragua and Honduras…the list is endless. The evidence even more so.

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