Queen Amina of Zaria ruled Hausaland from 1576 to 1610 expanding its territory including the overtaking of Kano and Katsina states controlling important trade routes. Queen Amina was a Hausa Muslim warrior with much of her 34-year reign consisting of war. She led an army of 20,000 men and introduced metal armor to her army since the Hausa people had talented metalworkers. Her story was the basis of the television series, Xena: Warrior Princess.
Queen Bakwa Turuku, Amina’s mother ruled the city-state of Zazzau (Zaria) located at the intersection of three major trade centers of Northern Africa, Western Sudan and the southern forestlands from 1536-1566. Princess Amina became the heir of her mother in 1549 at the age of 16 with Amina’s younger brother Karama, taking power in 1566 until his death 10 years later. During this period, Amina was training with the Zazzau cavalry and emerged as a distinguished soldier. Queen Amina’s reign would result in amassing the largest territory under one rule in the region that is now known as Nigeria.
Another one of Amina’s direct contributions were the fortified walls she architected around conquered cities which later became known as ganuwar Amina or Amina’s walls, many of which are still standing today. It is said that Amina died in a military campaign at Atagara near Bida in Nigeria. Her legendary expeditions earned her the title of ‘Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.’ The kingdom of Hausaland with its great wealth and power gained accredited to Queen Amina later became the center of the Sokoto Empire in the early 19th century, one of the largest political empires established on the African continent.
Sources include: African Feminist Forum and When We Ruled – Second Edition by Robin Walker.