The story of Cleopatra VII of Egypt is a fascinating one. One which has left many artists, writers and novelists spellbound for years.
The world's greatest playwright, William Shakespeare wrote about her. Hollywood produced one of its most elaborate films about her life, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
She has well over 4,000 documentaries dedicated to her life story - a pointer to an impact which transcends generations.
"Her story is one that has been retold in so many ways throughout history, but beneath this glamour lies a woman who has inspired many young women to take charge of their lives and destiny".
Who exactly is Cleopatra? She was the last Pharaoh of Egypt, from the line of the Ptolemies, of Greek-Macedonian origin, who ruled as Queen after the death of Alexander the Great.
Born around 69BC, her rule began when at the age of 14, she joined the regent which was led by her father and following his death, she became co-ruler of Egypt at the age of 18 with her 10-year-old brother, Ptolemy.
Three years later, she was exiled after a power struggle with Ptolemy, but with her natural charisma and intelligence, Cleopatra made an ally of Julius Caesar, who helped to re-establish her on the throne.
Beyond being a rare beauty, Cleopatra was intelligent, educated and a woman of great influence with a lot to teach modern day women in politics, leadership, business and on the home front.
Plutarch, the Greek biographer of Mark Antony, claimed it wasn't so much her looks that were so compelling, but her conversation and her intelligence.
In her book, When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt, Kara Cooney points out that, of the women in this book, Cleopatra alone "combined brilliant leadership with a productive womb".
Another biographer describes Cleopatra as "a formidable expert in governance, economics, politics, and warfare".
"For today's African woman, Cleopatra represents the phenomenal woman who stood out and wrote her name in the golden sands of time, at a time when women like her had no voice; a much needed example to challenge today's African women to take their place in society".
Cleopatra never had it easy. She fought battles and had to take courageous decisions to save her people and her heritage. She was the first woman in history to sit on horseback and lead an army to defend her land from invasion.
Unlike most of her Ptolemaic predecessors, Cleopatra learned to speak the Egyptian language and many other languages. This gave her a special place in the heart of her people.
By trading with Eastern nations, she built up the economy of Egypt, raising it up to the level of a world power at the time and promoting peace in a country that had been torn apart by wars.
Cleopatra is a solid example for today's woman. She had great inner strength, despite the circumstances that threatened her excellence. She always found a solution, a way out.
The Cleopatra "spirit" is alive today in many African women. Women in Africa stand out for their strength, resilience and courage in the face of the greatest obstacles - negative societal trends and practices, family challenges, poverty, inequality, unemployment, violence and many other challenges which continue to bedevil their very existence.
It is not uncommon today to see many strong, assertive and influential African women who have defied gender dynamics and are standing up to make their voices count in a chauvinistic society that tries to relegate them to the background.
At some point in secondary schools across Africa, a very common debate topic used to be: "A woman's education ends in the kitchen", and to counter this, a new topic sprang, "When you educate a woman, you educate a nation".
Gladly, the narrative is changing. Young women and girls on the continent are continually inspired by the heroism of great female leaders like Cleopatra who have braved the odds to create a trans-generational impact.
Cleopatra is only one among a long list of great women leaders in Africa. Some of Africa's influential women whose name ring a bell of inspiration are; Yaa Asentwa of Ghana, the Queen of the Ashanti people of Ghana, who fought and defeated the British in the war of the Golden Stool; Nigeria's Warrior Queen, Amina of Zaria, who had great leadership skills and conquered much of North Africa during her reign of 34 years, and the Dahomey Warriors, who were also called the Amazon Warriors, an all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey in present day Benin.
There are also the equally great women who stood behind the founding fathers of Africa. Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela, who held the fort for over 27 years while Nelson Mandela was in prison; Taytu Betul, Empress of Ethiopia who was a military strategist, and together with her Emperor husband stood up for the independence of Ethiopia; Mama Ngina, widow of Jomo Kenyatta, founding father of Kenya, who supported her husband throughout Kenya's struggle for Independence as did Mama Maria Nyerere, widow of Julius Nyerere, founding father of Tanzania; and Mrs. Helena Ritz Fathia Nkrumah, wife of Ghana's founding father, Kwame Nkrumah.