History is replete with stories of warriors, legends, and people of valour who were able to keep their name emboldened in the sands of time. They were the fighters, the saviours, those who led wars that changed the course of history and the world as we know it, men and women with double doses of courage and might; these were true heroes and the world has made it a point never to forget them. Inasmuch as both men and women have shown their fearlessness in time past, as a result of the limitations that came with being a woman in certain fields, there’s always a bigger deal when it is a woman in question. Even bigger when it is an African woman.

Queen Amina of Zazzau is a legend as true as life itself. She was a warrior and her legend still lurks through statues and monuments mounted in her memory within the shores of Nigeria. She is remembered as the queen who went into battle as a man. She was known to be fearless, dangerous, and still caring to her people. While various parts of her story are unsure, certain truths remain. Amina was the warrior queen of Zazzau now known as Zaria. Amina was born around 1533 in Zaria, in Nigeria. Zazzau was one of the seven Hausa city-states which was in charge of trade in sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, it was an affluent kingdom.

Daughter of Bakwa of Turunku, Amina was born princess of a kingdom that successfully leather, textile, horses, salt, kola, cloth, and metals imported from the East. When her mother died, the crown went to Amina’s younger brother. Even though the kingdom was largely known for peace, Amina still felt the need to gather military skills of her own by learning from the military of Zazzu. Her brother ruled for 10 years and died, then she took over power. At this point, it was easy for her to ascend to power since she already had the respect of the military. She ruled for 34 years before dying during a military campaign at Atagara near Bida in Nigeria.

Queen Amina’s legend precedes her as the very things that made her legendary were some of the daring moves she made while in power. In all these things, certain features of the queen are responsible for what her legend stands for.

  • The Warrior
    During her reign, Amina did not only see great victories, she led the battles herself. The Queen led her first military charge a few months after assuming power. She dominated the entire area and even initiated some battles so as to gain the respect of the area and to ensure that her traders moved freely. Asides the battles she fought, she introduced metal armour, like iron helmets and chain mail to the army.
  • The Architect
    Queen Amina was also an active architect. Many historians have given her credit for building the huge walls of her kingdom and the many fortifications that kept military encampments safe; some of them still exist till today. She was the architect who created the strong walls which was later the rationale for the creation of other walls in the Hausa kingdom generally. Since she built many of these fortifications, the prominent walls were entitled ganuwar Amina meaning Amina’s wall. One of the greatest was a 15-kilometer wall surrounding Zaria today.
  • The Leader
    One reason Queen Amina is regarded as the ideal heroine, was in her ability to rule Zazzau better than any man has been able to. Under her reign, she amassed great wealth for the kingdom, and got powerful by the day in relation to other rulers of her time. Through her, Zazzau become the centre of trade of the Hausa land and increased her kingdom’s wealth and power with gold, slaves, and more. She refused to get married so as not to lose power, but she was still a great ruler.
  • The Dominatrix
    Finally, and probably one of the most exciting things about her was the way she handled relationships with men. She refused to get married and never actually had kids. Rather, she took men from her enemies’ camp after every battle and spent the night with them. Legend has it that in order to prevent him from ever speaking about the sexual encounter with her, they were killed by the morning.

While, as any other legend or myth, certain parts of the story are inconsistent, her determination, strength, and power is one that has not be questioned in any part of history.

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Ejiro Lawretta Egba is a young chartered accountant and writer from Nigeria. She holds a degree in Accounting and is a qualified member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. She is currently a Financial Analyst for a private equity firm in Nigeria, a ghost writer, and a writer/contributor for a number of websites and platforms, both home and abroad. With an immense passion for knowledge acquisition, she seeks to contribute her own quota to the African community and beyond. For info and inquiries, contact via: lawrettawritesbookreviews@yahoo.com

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