1533 – 1610
Amina was a Hausa princess born around 1533 to Queen Bakwa Turunku in the city-state of Zazzau (the Kaduna state of modern Nigeria). Beginning at an early age Amina was immersed in politics and warfare by her mother and grandfather. At the age of 16, Amina began training with the Zazzau military and was named heir apparent by her mother joining the queen’s cabinet.
Despite being named heir, Amina’s older brother ascended the throne and began launching military campaigns to expand the empire. Amina fought with the cavalry in all of her brother’s major battles. As a result of gaining the respect of the Zazzau soldiers and kingmakers, Amina was selected to ascend the throne when her brother died in 1576.
With 20,000 soldiers and 1,000 cavalry under her command, Amina continuously waged war during her reign to expand the boundaries of Zazzau. Continuing to grow the kingdom allowed traders to travel more extensively while remaining unmolested which allowed Amina and her subjects to gain greater wealth. Zazzau traded and received tributes in the form of gold, kola nuts, and eunuchs with some areas also participating in the Arab slave trade.
Given her wealth, Amina was courted by many suitors but never married or had children. During her 34-year reign, she substantially grew Zazzau’s size and wealth and erected fortified walls around its cities and military camps. These walls continued to be erected and remained in use until the British began campaigns in 1904 though some of them still exist. The exact details of Queen Amina’s death have been lost to history but it’s believed that she died in battle at Attaagar (near present-day Bida, Nigeria).
- “Amina.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, September 11, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amina.
- Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Amina, Queen of Zazzau.” ThoughtCo.com. Dotdash, June 3, 2019. https://www.thoughtco.com/amina-queen-of-zazzua-3529742.
- “Queen Amina.” Encyclopedia.com, September 30, 2019. https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/queen-amina.
- Y, Dr. “Queen Amina of Zazzau: the Great Hausa Warrior Born to Rule.” African Heritage. AfroLegends.com, January 18, 2014. https://afrolegends.com/2014/01/17/queen-amina-of-zazzau-the-great-hausa-warrior-ruler-born-to-rule.
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