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The Life of the Legendary Queen Amina

There are many tales of Queen Amina in Nigeria. From fighting heroic battles to her tragic love life, she was truly a remarkable woman and queen who played by her own rules. In this blog post, we take a closer look at the life and reign of legendary Queen Amina.

 

Who Was Queen Amina?

Amina was born 16th century to King Nikatau and Queen Bakwa Turunku. Her father was the ruler of Zazzau, which today is the city of Zaria in Nigeria. As a young girl, Amina lived with her grandfather, who taught her about political and military matters. At the age of sixteen, Amina’s life would change forever when she became the heir to her father’s throne. With this announcement, she got 40 slaves and suddenly had many men wanting to marry her. In attempts to win her hand in marriage, she got gifts that included hundreds of slaves and exotic fabrics.

 

Becoming A Warrior Queen

After the death of both her parents in 1566, Amina did not immediately become queen. Instead, her brother became King of Zazzau and Amina became a warrior in his army. During this time, she had amazing military skills which were as good as any man. Her brother reigned for 10 years before dying, and Amina finally became queen. At the time of Amina becoming queen, Zazzau was the largest state in the Hausa Kingdom. In her announcement to her people, she called on them to “resharpen their weapons.” — and that’s precisely what they did. Three months into her reign, Amina began a 34-year battle against Zazzau’s neighbouring state to expand its territory.

By going to battle so early in her reign, Amina solidified her status as a warrior queen. Taking all the teaching from her grandfather and her experience from in her brother’s army, Queen Amina was ready to fight any battle. Her army consisted of 20 000 soldiers and 1000 soldiers on horseback which all well trained for battle. Within the first few years of her battle, Amina conquered plenty of lands as far as Kwararafa and Nupe. Under the ruling of Amina, Zazzau became more powerful than ever before and controlled more land. To protect her conquered territory, Amina she walled in her cities. These walls became very common across Nigeria until 1904 when the British colonised the nation. Today, you can still see these walls across the country and referred to as ganuwar Amina, which means Amina’s walls. In addition to expanding Zazzau territory, Amina is also credited with creating trade routes and introducing kola nut cultivation in the area.

 

The Death Of Queen Amina

The circumstances of Amina’s death is unknown. Many believe that she was expanding her territory south and therefore was in Idah when she died.

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