Hausa’s 16th century warrior Queen: Queen Amina


List of extraordinary African women can’t make rounds without mentioning Queen Amina of Zazzau who performed many exploits which can’t be thought as achievable even in recent times. The existence of her ruling power and its extent was so great that her story is said to be possible in myths and folks only.

An artist’s impression of the famous Hausa warrior-queen Amina.

Birthed circa 1533 in Zazzau, the modern day Zaria (a territory named after Amina’s sister) in the northern part of Nigeria. Queen Amina was into an affluent and aristocratic family that made their riches from leather materials, kola, salt, horses and imported metals. She gained battle prowess by learning from Zazzau soldiers.

Rulership did not just fall on Queen Amina, she was a descent of Queen Bakwa of Turungu; her mother. Queen Bakwa’s death paved way for the future queen, but the rulership went through Karama. Karama was her younger brother, but it was custom that he becomes king. He died at about ten years of ruling. This confers the Queen title on her by default in 1576, though her unique leadership and the fact she was an undefeatable female warrior had already planted her in the hearts of the people.

Amongst her fleets of exploits was extending Zazzau’s border up to the Nupe and Kwarafa areas while maintaining the border with the Atlantic Ocean for business. It gets more spicy to hear that she led 20,000 soldiers on all these many exploits by herself, this is intense to think of for a woman.

According to Sidney Hogben’s book Emirates of Northern Nigeria, she never married but took lovers from places she conquered, this can be considered as something done to accord herself some satisfaction as it was obviously not for “peace to reign” or “protect her territory through romantic relationships”.

In Sidney’s account, she was once briefly married, but she beheaded her husband “for none to tell the tale”. To expatiate her death vividly, a particular man she slept with escaped one night. The man was a captive during her expeditions at Dekina in the present-day Kogi State of Nigeria. Amina became so worried that she took her own life.

Noteworthy, there is uncertainty on the account of Queen Amina’s birth and her death remains amongst scholars and historians. What stands and hallmarked is her legendaire wasn’t a fiction. With regard to her bravery and achievements, she’s been named after monuments and a statue was rooted in the National Arts Theatre, Lagos, Nigeria.


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