Daughter of Bakwa Turunku—great queen and founder of Zazzau kingdom—15th-16th century Zaria in Kaduna state; Northern Nigeria
Long ago in a distant land (In the voice of Aku—villain Samurai Jack) a young princess caught Marka’s eye.
“She wields that dagger better than any man.”
Marka proclaimed as she watched her granddaughter born of Bakwa Turunku play with her “toy”. Long before the idea of Xena the warrior princess was conceived, Princess Amina defied her age and gender to mature into one of the fiercest warriors in mankind’s history. She didn’t stop at catching her grandma’s eye with her abilities; she grew to become a great cavalry-trained military strategist (In Old Northern Nigeria, women were allowed to spread their legs, ride a horse, and lead men into battle. The presumed marginalization of women must have been introduced in the latter centuries by some “evil” minds, maybe men just grew over protective or women got overtly lazy).
Princess Amina watched her younger brother Karama ascend the throne after the passing of their Queen Mother Bakwa and gave him much needed military advice through his 10 year reign. Amid the crisis of Karama’s death, her sister Zariya fled the region and brave Amina took control of the reins to protect her family’s legacy and her kingdom. Queen Amina was bent on building her own empire much like the Roman and she led various conquests for it is written:
“She made military assaults upon these lands until she proclaimed herself over them by force. The lands of Katsina and Kano were forced to hand over levy to her. She also made incursions into the lands of Bauchi until she reached the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west.” Bauchi to the Atlantic, that’s a lot of land mass—check thy map.
She is also credited with building the earthen walls that surround Hausa cities (walls made to fortify her military camps which later provided protective barriers for towns that sprung within them). The introduction of kola nuts into cultivation in the area is attributed to Amina.
Legend has it that Queen Amina refused blatantly to marry for fear of losing her power (Bull-headed feminism in the 16th century). It is said she took lovers from the conquered, killing/castrating them after the night. Sounds Amazony right? No man sees the naked body of the queen and lives to tell the tale.
Amina is mentioned in Muhammed Bello’s history Ifaq al-Maysur and the Kano Chronicle however there is no record of her in the local chronicle of Zaria (conspiracy by some misogynist to erase this great woman’s exploits?)
So I am off to Atagara (Attaagar) to search for the tomb of our great Queen (It is believed she died during a military campaign at Atagara near Bida). Are you coming with me? Let’s go find Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man
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The palace of the Emir of Zazzau