Queens of Africa


Queen Amina the Warrior Queen-Nigeria

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Zaria, formerly Zazzau, or Zegzeg, historic kingdom, traditional emirate, and local government council in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria, with its headquarters at Zaria city. The kingdom is traditionally said to date from the 11th century, when King Gunguma founded it as one of the original Hausa Bakwai (Seven True Hausa States). As the southernmost state of the seven, it had the function of capturing slaves for all Hausa Bakwai, especially for the northern markets of Kano and Katsina. Camel caravans from the Sahara travelled south to Zazzau to exchange salt for slaves, cloth, leather, and grain. Islām was introduced about 1456, and there were Muslim Hausa rulers in the early 16th century. Image result for Zaria, formerly Zazzau,

Palace of emir of zazzau.

The reign of Amina occurred at a time when the city-state of Zazzau was situated at the crossroad of three major trade corridors of northern Africa, connecting the region of the Sahara with the remote markets of the southern forest lands and the western Sudan. It was the rise and fall of the powerful and more dominant Songhai (var. Songhay) people and the resulting competition for control of trade routes that incited continual warring among the Hausa people and the neighboring settlements during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It was not until later that a ruling arrangement between the Hausa and the Fulani people ultimately brought a lasting peace to the region and survived into the colonial era of the nineteenth century. Related image

Amina was a Hausa warrior queen of Zazzau, in what is now in the north-west region of Nigeria.

Queen Amina was a great military strategist; the Calvary-trained queen Amina led her first military charge a few months after assuming power. For the rest of her 34 year reign, she continued to fight and expand her kingdom to the greatest in history. The objective for initiating so many battles was to make neighbouring rulers her vassal and permit her traders safe passage. In this way, she boosted her kingdom’s wealth and power with gold, slaves, and new crops. Because her people were talented metal workers, Amina introduced metal armor, including iron helmets and chain mail, to her army. She built walled forts as area garrisons to consolidate the territory conquered after each campaign. Later, towns and villages sprung up within these protective barriers.  Some of these forts still stand today and also she is credited with popularizing the earthen city wall fortifications, which became characteristic of all Hausa city-states. The walls became known as “ganuwar Amina” or Amina’s Walls and many of them remain in existence to this day.

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Towns grew within these protective walls, many of which are still in existence called “Ganuwar Amina”, or Amina’s Walls

Queen Amina subdued the whole area between Zazzau and the Niger and Benue rivers, absorbing the Nupe and Kwararafa states. According to all indications, she came to dominate much of the region known as Hausaland and beyond, throughout an area called Kasashen Bauchi, prior to the settlement of the so-called Gwandarawa Hausas of Kano in the mid 1600s. Kasashen Bauchi in modern terms comprises the middle belt of Nigeria. In addition to Zazzau, the city-states of central Hausaland included Rano, Kano, Daura, Gobir, and Katsina. The Kano Chronicle, an important Hausa history, says: “Every town paid her tribute. The Sarkin Nupe [i.e. king of Nupe] sent her forty eunuchs and ten thousand kolas … In her time all the products of the west came to Hausaland”.Related image

Map of Zaria

Queen Makeda of Sheba-Ethiopia

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Queen Makeda of Sheba.

The Queen of Sheba is a figure first mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. In the original story, she brings a caravan of valuable gifts for King Solomon. This tale has undergone extensive Jewish, Islamic, and Ethiopian elaborations, and has become the subject of one of the most widespread and fertile cycles of legends in the Orient. Modern historians identify Sheba with the South Arabian kingdom of Saba in present-day Yemen. The queen’s existence is disputed and can’t be confirmed by historians.Image result for makeda and solomon

                        King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

According to Ethiopia’s 14th century royal epic, the Kebra Nagast or “Glory of Kings”, Makeda was a brave young maiden who survived being sacrificed to the monstrous serpent king Awre who was troubling the northern Ethiopian kingdom of Axum. It is believed that Makeda killed the serpent and was then proclaimed as the Queen of Axum. Makeda is popularly known for her interesting story with biblical figure King Solomon of Jerusalem, who taught her about leadership and monotheism. They had a son named Menelik I (or Ebna la-Hakim), meaning ‘son of the wise’, who became the first Imperial ruler of Ethiopia and the first of a line of Aksûmite Kings.

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King Menelik I, The Solomonic Dynasty.

According to historians, Makeda and her son brought back the biblical Ark of the Covenant to Axum. Through them, the lineage of great East African and Nubian kings was born. The legacy she left to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity is the strong emphasis on the Old Testament, as well as a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, which serves as a symbol of the connection between Makeda, Queen of Sheba, and Solomon the Wise.Image result for queen makeda and the ark of the covenant

The Ark of the Covenant.

The Yoruba Ijebu clan of Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria, claim that she was a noblewoman of theirs known as Oloye Bilikisu Sungbo, which is similar to the queen’s name mentioned in the Quran. They also assert that a medieval system of walls and ditches, built sometime around the 10th century, was dedicated to her. After excavations in 1999 the archaeologist Patrick Darling was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to overplay the Sheba theory, but it cannot be discounted… The local people believe it and that’s what is important… The most cogent argument against it at the moment is the dating.”Related image

The Queen of Sheba, The Kingdom of D’mt and Sabean Kingdom : Agamé

 

Queen Nefertiti-Egypt.Image result for Nefertiti painting

Queen Nefertiti.

Queen Nefertiti, whose name means ‘a beautiful woman has come’, is one of Egypt’s most prominent queens whose painted sandstone bust has become a global icon of feminine beauty and power. On the walls of tombs and temples built during her husband Pharaoh Akhenaten’s reign from 1353 to 1336 B.C, when she was queen, Nefertiti is portrayed as a woman of power and authority, often driving a chariot or smiting an enemy. She and Akhenaten were responsible for Egypt’s major cultural and religious upheaval, establishing the cult of Aten – which saw the sun god Aten as the most important figure in Egypt’s polytheistic canon – and vigorously promoting Egyptian artwork.Image result for nefertiti on a chariot

Queen Nefertiti in her royal chariot.

It is believed that she was either born in the town of Akhmim or in a foreign country, which is now modern say Syria. It is believed that she was 15-years-old when she married Akhenaten, and together they had six children, including King Tutankhamun, who is described as a powerful pharaoh who, among other exploits, restored the traditional Egyptian religion. Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti often went on exploits together and were said to be genuinely in love, often kissing in public, which is a depiction that is not often seeing in ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshiped one god only, Aten, or the sun disc.Related image

Limestone relief found in the Royal Tomb at Amarna depicts Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and two of their daughters making an offering to the sun-disk Aten.

With her husband, she reigned at what was arguably the wealthiest period of Ancient Egyptian history. Image result for Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti

Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti’s busts.

Many scholars believe Nefertiti had a role elevated from that of Great Royal Wife, and was promoted to co-regent by her husband Pharaoh Akhenaten before his death. She is depicted in many archaeological sites as equal in stature to a King, smiting Egypt’s enemies, riding a chariot, and worshipping the Aten in the manner of a Pharaoh. When Nefertiti’s name disappears from historical records, it is replaced by that of a co-regent named Neferneferuaten, who became a female Pharaoh. It seems likely that Nefertiti, in a similar fashion to the previous female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, assumed the kingship under the name Pharaoh Neferneferuaten after her husband’s death. It is also possible that, in a similar fashion to Hatshepsut, Nefertiti disguised herself as a male and assumed the male alter-ego of Smenkhkare; in this instance she could have elevated her daughter Meritaten to the role of Great Royal Wife.Image result for Smenkhkare

The head of Smenkhkare, sometimes thought to be Nefertiti.

If Nefertiti did rule Egypt as Pharaoh, it has been theorized that she would have attempted damage control and may have re-instated the Ancient Egyptian religion and the Amun priests, and had Tutankhamun raised in with the traditional gods. Archaeologist and Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass theorized that Nefertiti returned to Thebes from Amarna to rule as Pharaoh, based on ushabti and other feminine evidence of a female Pharaoh found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, as well as evidence of Nefertiti smiting Egypt’s enemies which was a duty reserved to kings.Image result for map of 14th century egypt

Map of Ancient Egypt.

Queen Ranavalona the First, Mad Queen of Madagascar

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Ranavalona I (born Rabodoandrianampoinimerina; 1778 – August 16, 1861), also known as Ramavo and Ranavalo-Manjaka I, was sovereign of the Kingdom of Madagascar from 1828 to 1861. After positioning herself as queen following the death of her young husband and second cousin, Radama I, Ranavalona pursued a policy of isolationism and self-sufficiency, reducing economic and political ties with European powers, repelling a French attack on the coastal town of Foulpointe, and taking vigorous measures to eradicate the small but growing Malagasy Christian movement initiated under Radama I by members of the London Missionary Society. She made heavy use of the traditional practice of fanompoana (forced labor as tax payment) to complete public works projects and develop a standing army of between 20,000 and 30,000 Merina soldiers, whom she deployed to pacify outlying regions of the island and further expand the realm. The combination of regular warfare, disease, difficult forced labor and harsh measures of justice resulted in a high mortality rate among soldiers and civilians alike during her 33-year reign.

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                                     Radama I.

She had already befriended many people who believed in the traditional Merina (their tribe) way of life. Her husband had allowed Christian missionaries onto Madagascar, earning him many enemies, and people feared that Rakotobe would follow in his uncle’s footsteps. Many traditionalists believed in Ranavalona, and she was able to rally enough military men to hold down the palace in those first few days after Radama’s death. When people came defending Rakotobe’s right to the throne, they were met with a choice: accept Ranavalona as queen or face the consequences. As a result, this commoner’s daughter was crowned Queen on June 12, 1829.

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Queen Ranavalona I: The great traditionalist Queen who defended her country against European political and cultural domination.

Some of her first acts were to kill Rakotobe and his mother, along with many of his relatives. At her coronation, she proclaimed: Never say, ‘she is only a feeble and ignorant woman, how can she rule such a vast empire?’ I will rule here, to the good fortune of my people and the glory of my name! I will worship no gods but those of my ancestors. The ocean shall be the boundary of my realm, and I will not cede the thickness of one hair of my realm!

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Queen Ranavalona ordered the cliff hangings of Christian martyrs.

Discipline under Ranavalona was brutal. If someone was suspected of being untrustworthy, they had to eat three chicken skins followed by the nut of a plant that made them throw up. Why?  They had to throw up all three chicken skins in order to prove themselves faithful. Once, one of Ranavalona’s lovers—whom she had caught with another woman—refused to do this and was promptly speared in the neck. After a battle against the French and English, 21 European heads could be found on pikes, warning others of their countrymen’s mistakes.  That said, the battle was won mostly because the people of Madagascar were lucky—many of the foreigners fell victim to malaria.Image result for THE MAD QUEEN OF MADAGASCAR, RANAVALONA I chicken skin test

Anyone Who Crossed The “Mad” Queen faced similar or harsher fate.

As far as Ranavalona was concerned, the only good foreigner was a dead one. She broke treaties with both the English and the French and banned Christianity. With a fanaticism that would have made Mary Tudor proud, she came up with creative and inventive ways to eliminate any one caught practicing Christianity. They were tortured, flung from cliffs, boiled in water, poisoned, flung off cliffs or beheaded if they didn’t recant. She also got rid of trial by jury and brought back good old fashioned ‘Trial by Ordeal’ which was decided by forcing the accused to drink the poisonous juice of the tanguena plant. If they survived, they were innocent.

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As far as Ranavalona was concerned, the only good foreigner was a dead one.

Both the French and the British spent considerable time and effort trying to dislodge Ranavalona from the throne but to no avail. After one successful battle against an invasion, Ranavalona cut off the heads of the dead Europeans, stuck them on pikes, and lined them up on the beach, to repel any future invaders. After that little display, the French and the English decided that were better off concentrating their efforts on other third world countries not ruled by insane females.

Extent and expansion of Merina Kingdom on the island of Madagascar under Ranavalona I, 1828–1840.
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Written by James Gathitu

I am a writer, performer, creative entrepreneur, and adventurer! My journey has been crazy and has led me at this very moment to you.

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