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Queen Amina of Zazzau (1533 - 1610)

Updated: Jan 17

Reign: 1576–1610

Queen Amina reigned over the ancient Hausa province of Zazzau, located in what is now known as the Kaduna State in northern Nigeria. The Hausa city-state of Zazzau was known for it's wealth from the commerce of many goods including kola, horses, salt and leather. The Hausa dominated the subsaharan trade at the end of the 16th century. The Hausa are the largest ethnic group in sub-Saharan Africa.

Amina was born to King Nikatau and Queen Bakwa Turunku around 1533.

Amina's brother Karama, became king of Zazzau following the death of their parents in 1566. Under her brother's rule Amina trained in the calvary and she soon stood out as the leading warrrior in the kingdom's army. Amina's military prowess became legendary amonst the Hausa people.

In 1576 Amina became queen of Zazzau following the death of her brother.

At this time Zazzau was one of the largest of the seven Hausa States. During her 34 year reign Queen Amina waged a campaign against her neighboring states in an effort to further expand her kingdom. She personally lead a fearsome army of 20,000 into battle as she conquered lands down to the Atlantic coast.

Queen Amina marked her new territories by surrounding them behind earthen walls called Ganuwar of Amina or Amina's walls, some of which still stand today in Nigeria.

Amina is not just credited with expanding the Zazzau Kingdom, she also created a network of trade routes throughout Northern Africa. Additionally, Amina introduced the cultivation of the kola nut in the region. Queen Amina is still celebrated today in traditional Hausa praise songs as ‘Amina, rana de Yar Bakwa ta San’ (Amina, daughter of Nikatau, woman as capable as a man to lead men to war.")

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