Like King David in the Bible who fought wars for forty years and never lost once, Queen Amina did the same as one of the best military strategist of her time – she never lost one battle in her 34-year reign.
Her towering greatness was so intimidating that some thought she never existed. Historians argue over her incredible exploits – some even said perhaps they were fables.
Her name, Amina means truthful or honest. She was born the eldest daughter of Queen Bakwa Turunku, who founded the Zazzau Kingdom in 1536.
This fierce and wise warrior rose to power between 1588 and 1589 A.D. She is more often celebrated for her numero uno military craftsmanship and brilliance that humbled the greatest of men in her time.
Her victories furthered her area of influence to the southward to the great River Niger — including Idah and Nupe Land — and up to Kano in the north.
She is credited for the erection of the great walled camps which help during her various military campaigns.
The wall is famously dubbed Zaria wall. She is today remembered —by some fondly, by others less so — as Amina, Tar Bakwa ta san rana, meaning Amina, daughter of Bakwa, a woman as capable as a man.
Amina led her first military charge a few months after assuming power. For the rest of her 34-year reign,
One of the earliest sources that referenced her is Muhammed Bello’s history Ifaq al-Maysur, composed around 1836.
Bello claims she’s “the first to establish government among them,” and she forced Katsina, Kano and other regions to pay tribute to her.
She was too strong to submit to any man. Some said she was lesbian or bisexual. Other sources claimed she had lovers in conquered territories who she often killed when she’s done with them.
Her global economic sense informed some of her battles. She fought and expanded her kingdom to make neighbouring rulers her vassal and permit her traders’ safe passage. This gave her great wealth and power. Like Solomon in the Bible, she had gold, slaves, and new crops. She leveraged on her people’s metalwork skills and introduced to her army – metal armour, including iron helmets and chain mail.
An account claimed she died during a military campaign at ‘Atagara’ near Bida around 1633. Another one said she committed suicide because an Arabian man saw her nakedness and escaped in the morning, as some claimed she killed men after sleeping with them.
The exploits of Queen Amina gave a more vigorous definition to the definition of ‘Feminism’ of what stands for today.
She has inspired women to believe in themselves and break the ceilings of greatness.
The task of piecing together women’s history has been difficult. So acute is the dearth of information, particularly documentary evidence, that some of the outstanding women in history have been mistaken for men and their achievements, attributed to male rulers! — Prof. Bolanle Awe. Circa: 1992.
However, one may ask: “Why do we have fewer women historians? With plenty of them, there may be more stories about women as some writers write from a ‘biased’ perspective that favour their beliefs.
If men won’t write women’s stories. They must write it by themselves.