Queen Amina of Zaria never existed

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  • The Zaria historians, responsible for chronicling the local history, did not incorporate Queen Amina into their earliest records, leading to a critical reassessment of her historical veracity.

By Ndagi Abdullahi Amana Nupe

The credibility of Queen Amina of Zaria’s legend faces a significant challenge when examining the earliest indigenous histories of Zaria. The Zaria Chronicle translated as the Hausa Chronicle by E.J. Arnett¹ and the Abuja Chronicle written by Mallam Hassan and Shu’aibu Na’ibi,² both primary sources provided by Zaria historians, surprisingly omit Queen Amina from the Zaria King-list. The absence of her name in these foundational local accounts raises doubts about the authenticity of her historical existence. Notably, the narratives of Queen Amina’s exploits are found in external documents, specifically the Kano Chronicle from Kano³ and the Infakul Maisuri by Sultan Bello from Sokoto.⁴

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Intriguingly, if Queen Amina were a genuine historical figure, one would expect her to be included in the earliest indigenous Zaria historical documents. However, the absence of her name from these foundational records implies that her story may have been introduced from external sources rather than originating within the local historical context. This discrepancy has prompted skepticism among scholars regarding the existence of Queen Amina.

The Zaria historians, responsible for chronicling the local history, did not incorporate Queen Amina into their earliest records, leading to a critical reassessment of her historical veracity. The reliance on external sources, such as the Kano Chronicle and the Infakul Maisuri, to recount Queen Amina’s story introduces a layer of uncertainty, questioning the reliability of the accounts that contribute to her legendary status.

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Two distinguished scholars, Professors Abdullahi Smith⁵ and Murray Last, ⁶ have taken a firm stance on this matter, declaring that Queen Amina of Zaria is likely a historical fabrication. Their assertion is grounded in the understanding that if Queen Amina were a genuine historical figure, she would have been documented in the earliest indigenous Zaria historical documents. The fact that her narrative emerges from external sources raises suspicions about the authenticity of her existence.

References

1 –  Arnett, E.J. (1910). A Hausa Chronicle, African Affairs, Volume IX, Issue XXXIV, 1 January 1910, pp. 161-167.

2 –  Hassan, A. and Na’ibi, M.S. (1962). A Chronicle of Abuja. African Universities Press.

3 –  Palmer, H. R. “The Kano Chronicle.” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 38 (1908): 58-98.

4 –  Bello, M. (1951). Infaq al-Maysur fi Ta’rikh Bilad al-Tukrur. Whitting, C.E.J. (ed.). London: Luzac and Co. Ltd.

5 –  Smith, A. “Some Notes on the History of Zazzau under the Hausa Kings” in Mortimo, M.J. (ed.) Zaria and its Regions: A Nigerian Savanna City and its Environs, A.B.U. Press, Zaria, 1970, p. 83. Occasional Paper No. 4, Department of Geography, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Published for the 14th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Geographical Association, Zaria, January 1970.

6 –  Last, M. “Before Zaria: Evidence for Kankuma (Kangoma) and its Successor State”, Seminar presented at SOAS, University of London, Wednesday, 28th January, 1981, p. 7.

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