Queen Amina of Zazzau and Joan of Arc: The Masculinity of femininity.
What a man can do, a woman can do?
Women all through the ages have always had a special spot reserved for them in the pages of history. Most of these historical accounts however do them no justice when tales of greatness, courage and leadership are read about. Most times, these afore mentioned credits go to the male folks.
Starting from the early legends of Queen Nefertiti of ancient Egypt- The Queen whose name meant 'The beautiful woman has arrived' to Helen of Troy whom was said to be the most beautiful woman on earth, the great Greek poet, Homer had quoted in his epic, The 'Illiad' about Helen's beauty the following words, "The face that launched a thousand ships" or still on to beauty, let me chip in the name, 'Elizabeth Taylor' the famous American actress known for her exceptionally blue eyes, very black natural hair, a skin smooth as silk and a curvaceous physique. Every man's dream. Alright, Let our minds not stray faraway. All these women who had existed at one time or the other in history had the 'killer' looks and I meant that literally (Take 'Helen of Troy' for instance whose beauty had caused a war). But, that was all they got. Their beauty served to please and influence the men the had to submit themselves to.
These women could not do much even though they had the looks. They relied on their feminine charms which could offer so little in a world where male dominance was revered in all positions that pertained to leadership and power. So, Women had to do more than look beautiful to get the attention of the world and to make their names ring through history. Some women such as 'Amelia Earhart' did just that by being the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean however remains an unchanging large mass of water and will remain so unless an asteroid from outer space falls and drops into it. So, Earhart's feat ultimately becomes washed out and forgotten when a new feat is attained by someone else. However, the names of two women who had distinguished themselves and extremely impressed their male counterparts comes to mind. These were women who had accomplished great, legendary, immortal, and worthy of remembrance feats in their respective societies and that has echoed through out the halls of time. I speak of no other than Queen Amina of Zazzau and Joan of Arc.
A feat as would be termed great, legendary, immortal and worthy of remembrance would have to be a feat that would go so deep into the very fabric of society, changing norms, displacing beliefs, bending rules, substituting values and building new ideals that will hold from one generation of a nation onto another. Such feat will never be forgotten because as generations of societies are replaced by newer generations, the story is passed on and the reverence of the icons who had carried out such feat is made anew and strengthened. I can assure you of one certain thing, Queen Amina and Joan enjoy this reverence till date.
Queen Amina of Zazzau.
Amina was born around 1533 in Zaria. She lived approximately 200 years prior to the establishment of the Sokoto Caliphate federation that governed Nigeria during
the period of British colonial rule
following the Islamic jihad (holy war) that overtook the region in the 19th century. She was born to the ruler, Bakwa of Turunku, who lived in the city state of Zazzau. The family was wealthy as a result of trading in imported metals,
cloth, cola, salt, horses and imported metals. When her father died in 1566, the crown was conferred upon Amina’s younger brother, Karama. Although her
father’s reign was characterised by
peace and prosperity, Amina nonetheless chose to spend her time honing her military skills with the warriors of the Zazzau cavalry. This led to her eventually emerging as a leader of the Zazzau cavalry, during which time she accumulated great wealth and numerous military accolades. Upon the death of her
brother after a 10 year rule, Amina had matured into a fierce warrior and earned the respect of the Zazzau military, so she was able to assume the reign of the kingdom.
Only three months after being crowned queen, Amina waged a 34-year campaign against her neighbors, meant to expand Zazzau
territory. Her army, consisting of
20,000 foot soldiers and 1,000 cavalry troops, was well trained and fearsome. In fact, one of her first announcements to her people
was a call for them to “resharpen their weapons.” She conquered large tracts of land as far as Kwararafa and Nupe.
Joan of Arc.
Jeanne d'Arc -better known as Joan of Arc- was born in January 6, 1412, in a village of Domremy in eastern France. Joan was the youngest of five children. When she as 13, she began having visions of saints telling her to attend church and be a good person. As time passed, the voices began telling her to speak with Charles VII ( A prince of Southern France) about her ability to help France in the war against England. After convincing Prince Charles VII, Joan was sent with the army to the city of Orleans and with her encouragement and ruggedity displayed as she charged into battle, the army's morale was high and they eventually defeated the English and took control of the city of Orleans.
A few months after this victory however, Joan was captured by the English army and executed by being burnt to a stake. Almost two decades later, in 1920, she was made a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
Joan's legacy was a one of enduring spirit, fearlessness and courage. These ideals have over the years served as the bedrock of France' political, social, religious and economic system.
Queen Amina of Zazzau and Joan of Arc are two magnificent women who went beyond the boundaries of femininity to attain masculinity, went beyond the limits of norms to achieve reforms. Their feats continue to result in a ripple through the domains of time resulting in a sharp contrast between them and most women of today.