Queen Amina of Zaria

“Amina, Yar Bakwa ta san rana”
(Amina, Daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man)

amina

Queen Amina was a fierce warrior queen from the 16th century, a brilliant military strategist and the daughter of King Nikatau, and Queen Bakwa Turunku, who founded the kingdom of Zaria. Queen Amina was also the model for the TV series, Xena: Warrior Princess.

She honed her military skills at just 16 years old, when her mother, Bakwa Turunku, became queen, and made her the “Magajiwa” (advisor to the throne). She ruled Zaria, after the death of her mother, and her brother, for 34 years.

She fought many battles, and led over 20 000 soldiers to war. This resulted in the expansion of her kingdom. She boosted her kingdom’s wealth and power with gold, slaves and new crops. She fortified each of her military camps with earthen walls, known as Amina’s Walls. Towns later grew within the protective walls. She introduced metal armour to her army. She is also responsible for the cultivation of the kola nut in her kingdom, which is used in beverages such as Cola soda drinks. Queen Amina died during a miltary campaign at Atagara, near Bida in Nigeria.

Queen Amina is revered in Nigeria, for her fierceness, courage and brilliance. A statue at the National Arts Theatre in Lagos honors her, and multiple educational institutions bear her name.

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