The Queen of Zaria Nigeria, Amina
Reshaping destinies through education is a repetitive narrative promoted by communities, countries, and private circles again and again.
Scared about making new friends at university? Worried about being away far from home? Unsure about how you will cope with the workload?
To kick start the academic year and Black History Month, introducing the ‘warrior queen’ with her passionate and head-strong legacy that battled the patriarchal African societies that conquered countries within Northern Africa, has inspiring lessons that we can all learn from.
Amina was a Hausa Muslim a historical figure in the city-state Zazzau (present-day city of Zaria in Kaduna State), in what is now in the northwest region of Nigeria. Commonly known as the warrior queen, Queen Amina of Zaria was the first woman to become the Sarauniya (queen) in a male-dominated society during her reign between 1576 to 1610. She expanded the territory of the Hausa people of north Africa to its largest borders in history.
The expansion of Amina’s kingdom made it the trading centre for all southern Hausaland, spanning the traditional east-to-west trans-Saharan axis and guaranteeing Zaria’s prosperity. Amina brought unheard-of wealth to the land; She boosted her kingdom’s wealth and power with gold, slaves, and new crops. Because her people were talented metal workers, Amina introduced metal armour, including iron helmets and chain mail, to her army. The modern state of Nigeria has immortalized Amina by erecting a statue of her, spear in hand, on a horse, in the centre of Lagos.
Although systematic deprivation reigned and women’s autonomous control was insignificant, a successful ruler such as Amina created a lasting impact that many interactional feminists appreciate as momentous for history throughout Northern Africa.
Even within this technologically infused society, women, specifically black women, face inequalities within online and the virtual world, with cultural and societal expectations. However, insight on previous successful queens that conquered the lands and people they worked towards, is an allegorical and symbolic beacon of opportunities available.
Though this macro comparison may seem worlds away from the personal micro issues that the upcoming educational calendar presents – entering secondary school, college, or university with fear of the unknown but identifying that these obstacles can be overcome is vital.
When beginning a new adventure in a different city, it can be a default reaction to hide in your accommodation bedroom and keep to yourself. But the true sign of progress is coming out of your comfort zone; speaking to housemates/ flatmates, joining societies, interacting with others during Freshers week – grabbing the new experience wholeheartedly and with both hands.
Queen Amina of Zaria died 34 years later and became the first woman to rule the African Kingdom. She is still remembered as a brave, smart, and talented leader. In honour of her accomplishments, a statue of her was built and placed in the National Arts Theatre in Nigeria and many educational institutions bear her name.