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Women You Should Know: Queen Amina of Zazzau

The Zazzau emirates is one of the most powerful and most popular emirates in Nigeria, possibly West Africa. One factor that has contributed to the legendary status of the Zazzau emirates is the name, Queen Amina. Whether in reference as Queen Amina of Zaria, or the Amina Sauraniyan Zazzau, or Amina the Warrior Queen, Queen Amina is…Queen! And a Queen in a sense superlative of many other Queens. She was not the normal and everyday Queen that sits in elegance and beauty, enjoying the pomp and glamor of the kingdoms under her domain, Queen Amina was a Conquering Queen, an epitome of the attributes of a Lioness; Her roar subdued many kings and their kingdoms, resonated in echoes, her reputation preceded her; a woman as bright as a flame and still yet, as hot as a fiery furnace on the battle field.

A is for Amina

Due to poor historical documentation of some sort, Queen Amina is stated to have been born around 1533 and lived up till about 1610. Queen Amina is credited with the expansion of the territory of the Hausa People of North Africa to the Largest Borders in History.[1] She lived at about 200 years (by approximation) prior to the establishment of the Sokoto caliphate federation that governed Nigeria during the period of the British colonial rule following the Islamic Jihad that overtook the region in the Nineteenth century.

Amina was regarded as a great military strategist, who fought so many wars that expanded the southernmost Hausa Kingdom.[2] According to some sources, Amina was the first to establish government among these southernmost regions. She made military assaults upon these lands until she proclaimed herself over them by force. The land of Katsina and Kano were force to hand over levy to her. She also made incursions into the land of Bauchi until she reached the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west.

Legacy of Queen Amina

According to most accounts, Queen Amina ruled for about 34 years and her main domain was Zazzau, now renamed Zaria, in the present day city of Kaduna, Amina conquered as far as Nupe and Kwarafa.

Queen Amina is a legend amongst the Hausa people because of her military exploits. The trade routes in her region were controlled by her. This she did by erecting a network of commerce within the earthen walls that surrounded Hausa cities within her dominion.

Queen Amina has some notable facts and legacies to her name. some of these include:

  • The introduction of Kolanut cultivars in Northern Nigeria is attributed to Queen Amina. This could be as a result of the fact that she often collected kolanuts as gifts, tributes or taxes from many of her subordinates.[3]
  • The Queen Amina statue at the National Arts Theatre in Lagos state honors her.
  • Many multiple educational institutions bear her name. Infact, a hostel at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria is even named after her.
  • The warrior Princess Amina Zarinde character who appears in Elf Saga: Doomsday (2004) by Joseph Robert Lewis is partly inspired by the Hausa Queen.

[1] http://browsebiography.com/bio-amina_of_zaria.html accessed 04/01/2019

[2] http://blackhistoryheroes.com/2013/07/queen-amina-of-zaria-west-african.html?m=1 accessed 04/01/2019

[3] Jones, David E (2000). Women Warriors: A History.Brassey’s. p.84.

 

Featured image source: africanfeministforum.com

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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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