because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Amina Sarauniya Zazzua

That Amina Sarauniya Zazzua was a Muslim warrior queen in Hausaland for at least several decades is accepted. When she lived is a matter of some conjecture. It may have been in the 1400's. It may have been in the 1500's. But what's a hundred years one way or the other more or less when you've been talked about for five hundred years?

As a young child, Amina was caught playing with a dagger, holding it like a soldier would, which should have told somebody something. Then, when she grew up, she trained with the military so that after she became Queen of Zazzua (now the province of Zaria in northern Nigeria), she led her own forces to spread her empire and influence throughout the region.

Since the Zazzuans were adept at tanning leather, weaving, and metalworking, it's likely that Amina's troops wore armor, including metal helmets. Additionally, she was responsible for having walls built around the cities and military camps in her kingdom -- still standing in some places and still called "Amina's walls."

Convinced that to take a husband would weaken her power, Amina chose, instead, to pick out a lover from among her vanquished foes every time her troops won a battle. Then, the following morning, she would have the lover killed. She died, not surprisingly, in battle, said to be "a woman as capable as a man." As if that's difficult.


  1. Great post. I'm Nigerian, and she has always been one of my heroes.
    If I might add something, she is said to have been seduced by a wealthy and cunning Merchant who was determined to outwit her. After they had made love and she was fast asleep, he managed to escape with the aid of some palace insiders. She drowned while trying to cross a river in pursuit of him.
    Naturally, with the chauvinistic attitude in Northern Nigeria, many men are reluctant to admit that the greatest ruler they ever had was a she!

  2. Great stories! Thanks for sharing them. :^)