Queen Amina of Zaria

Amina (also Aminatu; d. 1610) was a Hausa warrior queen of the city-state Zazzau (present-day city of Zaria in Kaduna State), in what is now in the north-west region of Nigeria. She is the subject of many legends but is believed by historians to have been a real ruler. There are controversies among scholars as to the era of her reign; one school placing her in the mid-15th century, and a second placing her reign in the mid to late 16th century.

Achievements: Amina conquered as far as Nupe and Kwarafa, collected tribute from far and wide and ruled for 34 years whose reign is dated by the chronicle from 1492–1522. However, a map called the Planisphere of Domingos Teixeira made in 1573 names a place in Africa as “Castelo Damina”, the Castle of Amina.

Amina has been credited with ordering the construction of a distinctive series of ancient Hausa fortifications, known as ‘Amina’s walls’. She refused to marry for the fear of losing power. She helped Zazzau (Zaria) become the center of trade and to gain more land. Her mother, Bakwa, died when Amina was 36 years old, leaving her to rule over Zaria.

Legacy: The introduction of kola nuts into cultivation in the area is attributed to Amina. The Queen Amina Statue at the National Arts Theatre in Lagos State honors her, and multiple educational institutions bear her name. The warrior princess Amina Zarinde character who appears in Elf Saga: Doomsday (2014) by Joseph Robert Lewis is partly inspired by the Hausa queen. Amina is the protagonist of the historical fantasy novel Queen of Zazzau (2018) by J.S. Emuakpor, based on her life beginning in 1557 CE.

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