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Amina, African Warrior Queen of Zazzau

Known for: warrior queen, extending territory of her people. While stories about her could be legends, scholars believe she was an actual person who ruled in what is now the Zaria province of Nigeria.

Dates: about 1533 - about 1600

Occupation: Queen of Zazzau

Also Known as: Amina Zazzau, princess of Zazzau

Religion: Muslim

Oral tradition includes many stories about Amina of Zazzau, but scholars generally accept that the stories are based on a real person who ruled Zazzau, a Hausa city-state which is now Zaria province in Nigeria.

The dates of Amina"s life and rule are in dispute among scholars.  Some place her in the 15th century and some in the 16th.  Her story does not appear in writing until Muhammed Bello wrote of her accomplishments in the Ifaq al-Maysur  which dates to 1836. The Kano Chronicle, a history written in the 19th century from earlier sources, mentions her as well, putting her rule in the 1400s. She is not mentioned in the list of rulers written from oral history in the 19th century and published in the early 20th, though the ruler Bakwa Turunka appears there, Amina"s mother.

The name Amina means truthful or honest.

Amina"s mother, Bakwa of Turunka, was the founding ruler of Zazzauas a kingdom, one of many Hausa city-kingdoms involved in trade.

 The collapse of the Songhai empire left a gap in power that these city-states filled.

Amina, born in the city of Zazzau, was trained in skills of government and military warfare, and fought in battles with her brother, Karama.

In 1566, when Bakwa died, Amina"s younger brother Karama became king. In 1576 when Karama died, Amina, now about 43, became Queen of Zazzau.

She used her military prowess to expand the territory of Zazzau to the mouth of the Niger in the south and including Kano and Katsina in the north. These military conquests led to great wealth, both because they opened more trading routes, and because conquered territories had to pay tribute.

She is credited with building walls around her camps during her military ventures, and with building

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