"Iya Ni Wura" Queens and Mothers of Afre-Kh

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"Iya Ni Wura" Queens and Mothers of Afre-Kh
Queen Idia of old Benin Empire
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The legend of Moremi has been passed down from generation to generation by oral tradition. The story goes that Moremi was a maiden of great beauty who was betrothed and later married to Oranmiyan, King of Ife and later Oyo in the old Oyo Empire.

For much of her childhood, Moremi's people in Ile-Ife had been repeatedly raided and purloined by an enemy tribe. The people were in awe of these raiders who appeared to be spirits with formidable, inhuman appearances. Read more here



The Queen Mother, Iyoba Idia



Queen Mother Idia was the mother of Oba Esigie in the ancient west African kingdom of Benin. From as early as the 11th century until the late 19th century, the ancient kingdom of Benin with its capital in what is now south western Nigeria was a major power in the region. Extending from Onitsha through Idah, Owo, Akure and into present day Ghana, the Benin Empire was an economic and political power, famous at the time (and even now) for its bronze, ivory and iron artifacts. The empire was also famous for its powerful military expeditions and its slave trade with the Europeans, which were led by their king (Oba) who is deified as a god.

Prior to Oba Esigie's reign, Queen mothers were beheaded upon the ascension of their sons to the throne in order to prevent any mortal from wielding moral power over the Oba. At the time of his Father Oba Ozolua's death in the late fifteenth century, the great Benin kingdom was thrown into political confusion due to the kingship tussle between Esigie who ruled Benin City, the political and cultural center of the kingdom, and his brother Arhuaran was in charge of another city, Udo, about 20 miles away. This struggle for the throne poked holes in the kingdom's status as a regional power, a weakness which did not go unnoticed by the surrounding powers, making the kingdom vulnerable to invasion. It is said that Prince Esigie negotiated for his Mother's life to be spared so that she could help him to gain control over his brother and stabilize the the kingdom. The king-makers agreed to his proposal under the terms that the Queen Mother would never set eyes on her son as long as they both lived.

Esigie became king and defeated the threat of the neighboring Igala people who came across the Benue river to seize control of Benin's northern territories with the help of his mother, Idia. Oba Esigie's conquest of the invading Igala forces and his brother were credited to his mother's mystical powers. As a reward, he created the title of Iyoba, derived from Iye Oba, which means the King's mother. This title gave her very important political privileges, which included  a separate residence with her own staff. As Iyoba, Idia had sovereign moral authority and power, being the supreme mother of the kingdom as well as the political mother of the king. The Bini people believed that the stability of the realm depended much on his spiritual strength and power, for which a variety of rituals were performed. Lacking this knowledge of the spiritual himself, Oba Esigie relied much on Idia's knowledge for protection, spiritual and political guidance.  He trusted her to supernaturally protect him, knowing that by the bond of spiritual motherhood, she was was his main ally and would never betray him. He depended on her metaphysical powers to clear away all psychic and physical barriers, which enabled him to focus on his own strengths: politics, economic expansion and particularly the kingdom's dealings with the Portuguese.

Idia the Warrior

Idia's powers knew no bounds, with all the charms, spells and curses she had at her disposal. Royal in every way a ruling queen would be, she was a most revered and Iyoba Idia of Beninrespected warrior. Her battle regalia, as rendered by the royal poets, consisted of a war crown made of corals, peculiar to her alone. On her forehead was 'ugbe na beghe ode, eirhu’ omwan aro,' a charm with four cowries that ensured any oncoming stone or missile will not blind her. On the back of her head was 'iyeke ebe z’ukpe,' the charm known as boomerang. On her neck was 'iri okina' (a precaution rope) with four leopard teeth tied to it. The rope reminded her to be careful and to avoid danger. On her chest was 'ukugbavan' (a day belt), designed to ensure that whatever the nature of the problem dawn will always come. Hidden under it was 'uugba igheghan odin,' the belt of dumb bells used to hypnotize her enemies while her 'ukugba igheghan' (the belt of bells) jingled to frighten enemies. Because of the difficulty of finding a suitable place to set camp and cook during wars, she would have her 'ukugba ohanmwen,' a charm that prevented her from feeling hungry. Underneath her loin cloth were two very potent medicines. The first was, 'aidede okherhe vb’igban' (you don’t embrace a young oil palm tree full of thorns) that erected a psychic barrier to prevent enemies from daring her; and the second was 'atete iwi y ogho' (a traditional tray never gets lost while being used for hawking) that guaranteed her safe return. All these medicinal items were propped by 'ukugba ason' (the sacred belt of the night witches) to grant her victory over enemies. There was an emphasis on the powers of the night witches, because it was believed by those versed in esoteric arts that victory was always guaranteed to those supported by the forces of the night. The several charms were sewn, and fastened to her war dress made from the full skin of of a mature leopard with the head, fore and hind legs completely intact, supposedly to make her invincible and invulnerable to accidents and also to strike fear into the hearts of her enemies. Added to the arsenal upon her person were two 'agbada' (daggers) hung in their sheaths on the two sides of her hips. She had three 'ifenmwen obi' (amulets) and poisonous arrows on her left arm known as 'ebei k’awe y’ uhun erhan' (danger never meets the Awe bird while perching on a tree). On her right hand is the 'etebetebe' (the war sword) and a charm seized from an herbalist sent by the Attah (king) of Idah to spy, on her left hand. USA Top 10 facts

As the Queen Mother, Iyoba Idia went to great lengths to protect, guide and preserve her son's reign and the entire realm, embodying the kingdom in herself without undermining the moral and political authority of the Oba. Such fine balance of power and service could only have been achieved by a woman genuinely passionate about her son and his kingdom. Idia battled as a general not as a woman. Her sexuality was insignificant on the war front. For this, she was celebrated as the 'only woman who went to war. History has it that at by the time of her death, she had to a great extent, altered Benin's dynastic history as well as defined its course of history. She is renown as a master strategist and warlord. Her political savvy and her vast knowledge of the occult were central to the ascension of Esigie to the Benin throne. Combining her political adeptness with her knowledge of the occult, she was able to preserve the realm under her son, the Oba; earning Queen Idia the reputation of being the "Hidden Oba of Benin".

Contribution: Opeyemi Jide-Ojo




Queen Anna Nzinga Mbande (aka Anna de Sousa Nzinga Mbande) was born to King Kiluanji and his wife Kangela in 1583 and it was prophesied that she would one day become the Queen of the Ndongo and Matamba kingdoms (Modern Angola). Greatly loved by her Father, she was allowed to understudy him in State and at war from an early age.

Before the age of 40, she had become adequately versed in matters of State that she served as Envoy of her nation with the Portuguese in the Kingdom's effort to get the Colonialists to withdraw the fortress of Ambaca in 1622 and to secure the release of captives taken during the 1617-1621 Portuguese campaigns. Nzinga succeeded in her negotiations of a treaty on equal terms, famously out-witting the Portuguese Governor's attempt to intimidate her by offering her only a mat to sit on during the negotiations - which in her native custom was inappropriate for a royal. Nzinga countered by sitting on the back of a servant, asserting herself as equal in status to the Portuguese Governor.

The Portuguese however refused to honor the treaty causing the King to grow despondent and commit suicide. Barred from succeeding her brother by the Portuguese on grounds that she poisoned the King, Nzinga took custody of the regent, her young nephew and subsequently had him killed for insubordination, thus gaining control of the throne in Ndongo and taking the title "Queen of Andongo" (Rainha de Andongo).

In spite of many battles with the Portuguese, Nzinga died peacefully at the age of 80 years in 1663.

- Source: Wikipedia





Born in the 15th century BC, Hatshepsut, daughter of Tuthmose I and Aahmes, both of royal lineage, was the favorite of their three children. When her two brothers died, she was in the unique position to gain the throne upon the death of her father. To have a female pharaoh was unprecedented, and probably most definitely unheard of as well. When Tuthmose I passed away, his son by the commoner Moutnofrit, Tuthmose II, technically ascended the throne. For the few years of his reign, however, Hatshepsut seems to have held the reins. From markings on his mummy, archaeologists believe Tuthmose II had a skin disease, and he died after ruling only three or four years. Hatshepsut, his half sister and wife, had produced no offspring with him (her daughter Nefrure was most likely the daughter of her lover Senmut), although he had sired a son through the commoner Isis. This son, Tuthmose III, was in line for the throne, but due to his age Hatshepsut was allowed to reign as queen dowager.

Hatshepsut was not one to sit back and wait for her nephew to age enough to take her place. As a favorite daughter of a popular pharaoh, and as a charismatic and beautiful lady in her own right, she was able to command enough of a following to actually take control as pharaoh. She ruled for about 15 years, until her death in 1458 BC, and left behind more monuments and works of art than any Egyptian queen to come.

Hatshepsut, as a female, had many obstacles to overcome. There was always a threat of revolt, especially as her bitter nephew came of age. Using propaganda and keen political skills, she deftly jumped each hurdle she faced. To quell the fears of her people, she became a "king" in all statuary and relief during her reign. She even dressed in the traditional garb of male rulers: the shendyt kilt, the nemes headdress with its uraeus and khat headcloth, and the false beard. Although there were no wars during her reign, she proved her sovereignty by ordering expeditions to the land of Punt, in present-day Somalia, in search of the ivory, animals, spices, gold and aromatic trees that Egyptians coveted. These expeditions are well documented in the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the walls of her temple. With these inscriptions are included incised representations of the journey, including humorous images of the Puntites and their queen, at whom the Egyptians no doubt looked while restraining a giggle; the queen has folds of fat hanging over her knees and elbows, her back is crooked and she has an aquiline nose. To the short, thin Egyptian she was probably quite a sight. Hatshepsut, in a final bid to be recognized as a legitimate queen, constructed a fabulous temple in the Valley of the Kings, of all places, by a tall plateau at Deir-el-Bahri, across the Nile from Thebes.


Hatshepsut was a master politician, and an elegant stateswoman with enough charisma to keep control of an entire country for twenty years. Her charisma and experience could carry her only so far, however. She used two devices to ensure the legitimacy of her position. The first was to emphasize not only her relationship to Tuthmose I, but her favor from that popular ruler. She claimed to have been handpicked by her father, above her two brothers and her half-brother. In her temple are written the words of Khnum, the divine potter who sculpted the forms of the gods:
I will make you to be the first of all living creatures, you will rise as king of Upper and of Lower Egypt, as your father Amon, who loves you, did ordain.
This assertion has validity, as other texts indicate. Her second conceit was more doubtful, however: she claims a direct divine lineage. As in the previous passage, she claims Amon is her father. On the walls of her tomb is inscribed a story detailing the night the Theban god Amon-Re approached Aahmes in the form of Tuthmose I.
Amon took the form of the noble King Tuthmose and found the queen sleeping in her room. When the pleasant odours that proceeded from him announced his presence she woke. he gave her his heart and showed himself in his godlike splendour. When he approached the queen she wept for joy at his strength and beauty and he gave her his love...

These propaganda worked well to cement Hatshepsut's position. But as Tuthmose III grew, her sovereignty grew tenuous. He not only resented his lack of authority, but no doubt harbored only ill will towards his step-mother's consort Senmut.  Senmut originally intended to be buried in the tomb he designed for Hatshepsut, but was actually buried nearby in his own tomb. Not long after his death, however, his sarcophagus was completely destroyed. The hard stone that had been carved for his funerary coffin was found in over 1,200 pieces. His mummy was never found. Hatshepsut's mummy was likewise stolen and her tomb destroyed. Only one of the canopic jars was found, the one containing her liver. After her death, it is presumed that Tuthmose III ordered the systematic erasure of her name from any monument she had built, including her temple at Deir-el-Bahri. Since most of the images of her were actually males, it was convenient to simply change the name "Hatshepsut" to "Tuthmose" I, II or III wherever there was a caption. Senmut's name was also removed. Whether Tuthmose killed Hatshepsut, Senmut and Nofrure is questionable but likely. Since he paid little respect to her in death, it is quite possible he paid even less in life.

While this account is the most accepted of theories, the Hatshepsut Problem was a source of endless debate near the turn of the twentieth century. The archeaologists Edouard Naville and Kurt Sethe went head-to-head on the order of rule between the three Tuthmoses and Hatshepsut. Since it is generally assumed that if one ruler's name is replaced with another, the second ruler is in power at the time, a confusing problem exists. Theoretical timelines indicate that the succession followed this sequence:

This sequence seems as illogical as it is complicated, and only after the discovery of the tomb of Ineni, the architect of the tomb of Tuthmose I. His description follows a more intuitive sequence, and disproves the previously-held belief that only Tuthmose III would put his name in Hatshepsut's place.
Not only was Hatshepsut's name erased, but some of her monuments were destroyed. She built two obelisks of red granite, the largest built to that point. This was a continuation of the works of her father, who was not able to complete all his construction plans. Her name appeared on the obelisks, but instead of toppling them, Tuthmose III ordered them sheathed in masonry. Their gilded pyramidions were probably the only original elements to be exposed. Later, one of the obelisks was destroyed after all.

In all, Hatshepsut accomplished what no woman had before her. She ruled the most powerful, advanced civilization in the world, successfully, for twenty years. Even if there were some who resented her success, her success stands for all eternity.

Source: Bediz.com



The Ashanti Kingdom in Ghana West Africa, was founded in the seventeenth century by King Osei Tutu I, with the help of his feared Priest Okomfo Anokye. The myth is told that Okomfo Anokye conjured the famous Golden Stool from the sky and landed it on the lap of King Osei Tutu, the first King of the Ashantis. The Fetish Priest declared that the soul of the nation resided in the stool and the people must preserve and respect it. Ashantis believe that just as a man could not live when his soul is taken, so the Asante people would disappear from history if ever the Golden stool were taken away from them. Covered with pure gold, the Golden Stool is never allowed to touch the ground. When a new Ashanti King is installed, he is merely lowered and passed over the stools three times without touching it. Whenever the golden stool is taken out on special occasions, the Asantehene follows it.

The Ashanti Kingdom was rich in gold reserves, hence it grew in popularity and became the center of the gold trade, which was largely responsible for the development of Ghana into a powerful, centralized kingdom. The peoples of West Africa had independently developed their own gold mining techniques and began trading with people of other regions of Africa and later Europe as well. At the time of the Kingdom of Ghana, gold was traded for salt that came down from the Sahara desert. The Ghanaian kings controlled the gold that was mined in their kingdom and implemented a system of taxation for their people. Around 1054, the Almoravid rulers came south to conquer the Kingdom of Ghana and convert the people to Islam and it was another 400 years before the first Europeans arrived on the Gold Coast of Ghana.  Arriving in 1471, the Portuguese encountered the Ashanti Kingdom’s control of the gold deposits. By 1482, the Portuguese had built the Castle of Elmina and several forts along the coastline, from where they traded knives, salt, mirrors, rum and guns for gold. News of the successful trading spread quickly, and eventually English, Dutch, Danish, Prussian and Swedish traders arrived as well. Originally interested in trading in gold and spices, the Portuguese set up colonies on the uninhabited islands of São Tomé in the 16th century. There they found that these volcanic islands were ideal for growing sugar, a labor-intensive undertaking. Portuguese settlers were difficult to attract due to the heat, lack of infrastructure, and hard life. Hence, to cultivate the sugar the Portuguese began to seek the use of the more resilient African laborers. Soon, Elmina Castle on the Gold Coast, which was originally built with African labor by the Portuguese, became an important depot for slaves.

In 1821, the British government steadily began the expansion of their colonial power through the invasion of local kingdoms, particularly the Ashanti and Fante confederacies. Abolishing the African Company of Merchants, the British seized privately held lands along the coast, taking over the remaining interests of other European countries, annexing the Danish Gold Coast in 1850 and the Dutch Gold Coast, including Fort Elmina, in 1871. The Ashanti people, who had controlled much of the territory of Ghana before the Europeans arrived started to resist the British and fought three wars with the British colonial invaders. Believing the Stool to be the rallying force of the Ashanti’s and the cause of the people’s continued resistance of colonial rule, the British Governor demanded for the stool, which was also desired by the British for its legendary beauty and obvious value. Topped with a curved seat that is 46 cm high with a platform 61 cm wide and 30 cm deep, the Golden Stool’s entire surface is inlaid with gold.  In order to protect the stool, Asantehene Prempeh 1 surrendered himself and was sent into exile in 1896. Now certain of victory, the British governor, Lord Hodgson, demanded that the Asanti turn over to the British the Golden Stool. Below is a record of Hodgson’s speech to the people of the Ashanti Kingdom:

Your King Prempeh I is in exile and will not return to Ashanti. His power and authority will be taken over by the Representative of the Queen of Britain. The terms of the 1874 Peace Treaty of Formena, which required you to pay the costs of the 1874 war, have not been forgotten. You have to pay with interest the sum of £160,000 a year. Then there is the matter of the Golden Stool of Ashanti. The Queen is entitled to the stool; she must receive it. Where is the Golden Stool? I am the representative of the Paramount Power. Why have you relegated me to this ordinary chair? Why did you not take the opportunity of my coming to Kumasi to bring the Golden Stool for me to sit upon? However, you may be quite sure that though the Government has not received the Golden Stool at his hands it will rule over you with the same impartiality and fairness as if you had produced it."

Being too barbaric to understand the significance of the stool, Hodgson had no idea that the suggestion that he a foreigner should sit on the Golden Stool, which is the symbol of the soul of the Ashanti people, would enrage the people. The effrontery of the British caused the Queen mother Yaa Asantewaa to gather an army that embarked on a covert mission to attack the British and retrieve their exiled king. Hodgson sent his deputy Captain C. H. Armitage into the surrounding villages to force the people to tell him where the Golden Stool was hidden and to bring it back. As he continued his expedition, Armitage found only children in the village of Bare, whose parents had gone hunting. Armitage ordered the children to be beaten and when the parents returned to defend the children, he had them bound and beaten, too. According to an eye witness account:

"The white man asked the children where the Golden Stool was kept in Bare. The white man said he would beat the children if they did not bring their fathers from the bush. The children told the white man not to call their fathers. If he wanted to beat them, he should do it. The children knew the white men were coming for the Golden Stool. The children did not fear beating. The white soldiers began to bully and beat the children."

The antics of the invaders caused the enraged populace to volunteer en-mass for the army under the leadership of the Queen Mother. As he continued his search for the stool, Captain Armitage’s force was ambushed. A small company of survivors escaped and retreated to the British offices in Kumasi where the Ashanti laid a long siege and blockade against the British. As supplies ran low and disease took its toll on the defenders, reinforcements arrived to liberate Kumasi and evacuate Hodgson and his family under the cover of Hausa warriors from the far northern tribes. The reinforcements invaded and plundered the villages, wiping out most of the population and captured Yaa Ashantewaa and sent her into exile.  The Ashanti confederacy was made a British protectorate in 1902.  The Queen Mother remained in exile in the Seychelles Island until her death in 1923. Contrary to British historical records, the British never found nor took possession of the Golden Stool, which is hung by bells and is not allowed to touch the ground.  No king seats on the Golden Stool, which is kept in a secret location known only by the king, queen, heir apparent and a few trusted advisers. Replicas have been produced for ceremonial use.

The surviving members of the Ashanti Royal family returned to the country in the late 1920`s after their release by the British. Notable among them was Nana Sir Agyeman Prempeh II, who ruled from 1931 until his death in 1970. Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, a professional surveyor born into the royal Oyoko clan, succeeded him. He was loved by all his subjects and contributed immensely to the development of the Ashanti nation. He died in 1999 after a 29-year reign.  Being a matrilineal society, the current Asantehene or Ashanti King is the son of the Asantehemaa or Queen Mother by the name Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Known in Private life as Nana Kwaku Dua, he was trained in Britain and has a private company based in Kumasi, the Ashanti Capital. This Great Ashanti King is also referred among his people as “King Solomon” and has been awarded doctorate degrees by two universities in the United States of America.

The Golden Stool remains a mysterious symbol of power and history of the Ashanti people .



Queen Amina of Zazzau in the present day Kaduna state of northern Nigeria, was born around 1533 to Queen Bakwa Turunku. Zazzau is one of the seven original states of Hausaland. In 1536, Queen Bakwa Turunku built the capital of Zazzau at Turunku in honor of her younger daughter. However, it was Amina, her elder daughter who inherited her mother’s warrior skills.

Amina became the heir apparent (Magajiya) to her mother in 1549 at the age of 16. She received military training and honed her skills with the Calvary, becoming famous for her bravery and military exploits which were celebrated in song: "Amina daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man."

In 1576, she became ruler of Zazzau, building it into a trade centre for slaves in transit to Kano and Katsina where they were traded for salt and carried farther north of the Sahara.  In time, Zazzau controlled the trade route from Gwanja and became a formidable trade centre in the cadre of Kano and Katsina.

Amina is credited as the architect who created the strong earthen walls around the city, which was the prototype for the fortifications used in all Hausa states. She built many of these fortifications, which became known as ganuwar Amina or Amina's walls, around various conquered cities.

The objectives of her conquests were twofold: extension of Zazzau beyond its primary borders and reducing the conquered cities to vassal status. Sultan Muhammad Bello of Sokoto stated that, "She made war upon these countries and overcame them entirely so that the people of Katsina paid tribute to her and the men of Kano [and]... also made war on cities of Bauchi till her kingdom reached to the sea in the south and the west." Likewise, she led her armies as far as Nupe and, according to the Kano Chronicle, "The Sarkin Nupe sent her [the princess] 40 eunuchs and 10,000 kola nuts. She was the first in Hausaland to own eunuchs and kola nuts."

Known as the first ruler to establish a kingdom among the Hausa, Amina distinguished herself as a soldier and an empire builder, leading military campaigns and building walled cities around conquered domains. It is believed that she was the Architect of the earthen city wall, which characterised Hausa city-states in that period.

Many towns paid her tributes, having conquered beyond the Zazzau territories to Nupe and the entire region between Zazzau and the River Niger.
Over a 34-year period, her many conquests and subsequent annexation of the territories extended the borders of Zaria, which also grew in importance and became the center of the North-South Saharan trade and the East-West Sudan trade.

Source: Blackhistorypages.net; Wikipedia



Nana Asma’u (full name: Nana Asma’u bint Shehu Usman dan Fodiyo, Arabic: نانا أسماء بنت عثمان فودي‎; 1793–1864) was a princess, poet, teacher, and daughter of the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, Usman dan Fodio. She remains a revered figure in northern Nigeria. Nana Asma’u is held up by some as an example of education and independence of women possible under Islam, and by others as a precursor to modern feminism in Africa.

Nana Asma’u was born some eleven years before the Fulani War, and was named after Asma bint Abi Bakr, a companion of the Muslim Prophet. The daughter of the Sufi-inspired and Fulɓe-led Sokoto Caliphate's founder and half sister of its second leader, she outlived most of the founding generation of the Caliphate, making her an important source of guidance to its later rulers. From 1805, members of the Caliph's family came to great prominence, including the Caliph’s female relatives. While Nana Asma’u became the most prominent, her sisters Myram and Fatima, and the Caliph's wives Aisha and Hawwa played major literary and political roles in the new state. Like her father, she was educated in Qur'anic studies, and placed a high value upon universal education. As exemplars of the Qadiriyyah Sufi school, the dan Fodio and his followers stressed the sharing of knowledge, especially that of the Sunnah, the example of the prophet Muhammad. To learn without teaching, they thought, was sterile and empty. Thus Nana Asma’u was devoted, in particular, to the education of the Muslim women. Like most of the rest of her family, she became a prolific author.

Writer and Counselor

Well educated in the classics of the Arab and Classical world, and well versed in four languages (Arabic, the Fula language, Hausa and Tamacheq Tuareg), Nana Asma’u had a public reputation as a leading scholar in the most influential Muslim state in West Africa, which gave her the opportunity to correspond broadly. She witnessed many of the wars of the Fulani War and wrote about her experiences in a prose narrative Wakar Gewaye "The Journey". As the Sokoto Caliphate began as a cultural and religious revolutionary movement, the writings of its leaders held a special place by which later generations, both rulers and ruled, could measure their society. She became a counselor to her brother when he took the Caliphate, and is recorded writing instructions to governors and debating with the scholars of foreign princes. USA Top 10 facts

Amongst her over 60 surviving works written over 40 years, Nana Asma’u left behind a large body of poetry in Arabic, the Fula language and Hausa, all written in the Arabic script. Many of these are historical narratives, but they also include elegies, laments, and admonitions. Her poems of guidance became tools for teaching the founding principles of the Caliphate. Asma'u also collaborated closely with Muhammad Bello, the second Caliph. Her works include and expand upon the dan Fodio's strong emphasis on women leaders and women's rights within the community ideals of the Sunnah and Islamic law.

Women's Education

Others of her surviving written works are related to Islamic education: for much of her adult life she was responsible for women's religious education. Starting around 1830, she created a cadre of women teachers (jajis) who traveled throughout the Caliphate educating women in the students' homes. In turn, each of these jajis in turn used Nana Asma’u's and other Sufi scholars writings, usually through recited mnemonics and poetry, to train corps of learned women, called the ’yan-taru, or “those who congregate together, the sisterhood.” To each jaji she bestowed a malfa (a hat and traditional ceremonial symbol of office of the pagan Bori priestesses in Gobir) tied with a red turban. The jajis became, thus, symbols of the new state, the new order, and of Islamic learning even outside women's community. In part this educational project began as a way to integrate newly conquered pagan captives into a Muslim ruling class. It expanded, though, to include the poor and rural, training teachers who traveled across the sprawling Caliphate.

Contemporary legacy
Nana Asma’u continued legacy rests not just on her literary work and role in defining the values of the Sokoto state. Today in Northern Nigeria, Islamic women's organizations, schools, and meeting halls are commonly named for her. She re-entered the debate on the role of women in Islam in the 20th century, as her legacy has been carried by Islamic scholars and immigrants to Europe and its academic debates.  The republishing and translation of her works has brought added attention to the purely literary value of her prose and poems.

Source: Wikipedia




Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January 2017 19:31
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