Women may be considered as the weaker gender in Africa, but our wealthy history records strong women who rose to power and greater heights than most male leaders who could only dream of it. In fact, according to Greek records, the first amazons were from Libya–a name that, anciently, was used to refer to the whole of North Africa. Some of these amazons, like the Amazon of Dahomey, had troops that solely had female fighters. And if women could fight and defeat male warriors, then there’s nothing that could stop them from earning the same respect as men as far as leadership is concerned. To take you through what the African history holds on women, we have compiled a list of 5 Most Powerful African Queens From History.
1. Amina– The Queen of Zaria, Nigeria, in the 15th century
Aminatu, commonly known as Amina, was a great Hausa warrior who later became the queen of Zazzau; apparently known as Zaria. As a grand-daughter to king Sarkin, Amina was the apparent heir of the throne after Bakwa of Turunku (the king’s wife and the mother to Amina). Contrary to how her mother used to rule the Zazzau kingdom, Amina chose to be a warrior and eventually became one of the greatest warriors of the Zazzau kingdom. And when her mother died, the kingdom was passed to Karama–the queen’s younger brother–who ruled for 10 years. That’s how Amina, after Karama’s death, then became the queen of Zazzau.
She ruled for 34 years and continued to be an active warrior until her death. History has is that she conducted her first military-expedition 3 months after she stepped into power. This, in turn, helped her to hold her power into place for another 34 years, which again saw to it that she had expanded the Zazzau kingdom into one of the greatest domains of that time. But her main focus was not entirely based on annexing lands from her neighboring communities; instead, she fought hard to grant the Hausa traders of that time a safe passage through the Kingdoms. She is also acclaimed for being the ruler behind the fortified city walls–a common characteristic of Hausa states.
2. Candace– The empress of Ethiopia, 332 BC
In a bid to conquer the formidable Ancient Egyptian kingdom, Alexander had to first invade Ethiopia in 332 BC. But his army could not go past Ethiopia since it was being commanded by one of the most dreaded generals of that time, Empress Candace. King Alexander, on seeing this, decided to pull back his army as he could not risk being defeated by this great African Empress. And up to date, historically, Candace is credited as one of the strongest-female military tactician who also had great military commanding skills.
3. Makeda — The Queen of Sheba, 960 BC
Apart of being the subject of one of the most recited bible verses or an inevitable subject of the present time history, Makeda’s achievements and her great kingdom will forever be hailed by several generations yet to come. The most interesting story of this great African leader is when she met with the biblical King Solomon. In fact, she’s biblically described as the epitome of beauty and power, and has a series of other remarkable achievements recorded in the Glory-of-Kings and the Kebar Nagast.
During the reign of Makeda, Ethiopia was considered to be second after Egypt as far as power and fame was concerned. This made several kingdoms to be fascinated by how this female ruler could make such a small kingdom to be one of the most revered kingdoms in the world. This is what made king Solomon to be interested in having a commercial relationship with Sheba. As a result, he decided to invite Queen Makeda to Israel, and the rest is history.
4. Nefertiti — Queen of Ancient Kemet from 1292 BC to 1225 BC
Queen Nefertiti is well acknowledged as the queen who brought the war between the lower Kemet and the upper Kemet to an end when she decided to defy their indifferences by marring Ramses II–the Pharaoh of the lower Egypt as per the time. And up to date, there are several monuments of their epic love affair in Abu Simbel. Historians also believe that she was the eldest daughter to Amenhotep III, and that she played an active role in reshaping ancient Egyptian civilization.
Queen Nefertiti has been placed above all the other Egyptian queens. As a result, her name is enclosed in the Egyptian royal Cartouche. In addition, there are several statues and drawings that honor her in Egypt. There are also several folk songs and tales that talk about her and King Akhenaten, or Ramses II, and how they faced a tough resistance from the priests of that time, but eventually won.
5. Yaa Asantewa — Ashanti kingdom, Ghana
The last but not the list in our list of the 5 most powerful African queens from history is the Ghanaians Yaa Asantewa, known as the woman who fearlessly fought against British colonialists to her exile. The speech she last gave to the chiefs who were about to chicken out from the war against colonists is what inspired several men to go ahead and fight against the British for the release of their king: King Prempeh who had been captured by the British. Queen Asantewa, together with other warriors, managed to keep the British army at fort but were eventually captured and exiled. Historically, Yaa Asantewa is credited as the last woman to ever lead a major war against the colonists;thus, her name will forever be remembered throughout the African history.