Women In Medieval West Africa

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WOMEN IN MEDIEVAL WEST AFRICA

The history of medieval West Africa utilizes archaeological artifacts, myths, chronicles, oral traditions, and work of Arabian and European writers. Ibn Battuta, circa 14th century, wrote about his experience in Timbuktu, the major city, that “…women were treated with more respect than men…” yet he denounced the nudity of their women and their lack of seclusion. As can be expected, caution is needed when using these Muslim sources, as from the 9th c. on Muslims attempted to conquer and convert West Africans. In the process many native customs were forgotten and many documents and artistic renderings were destroyed.
Women were greatly esteemed for their importance in various roles: state founders, mothers,
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In Ghana according to folk tales there were many female co-regents. In one of the Ashanti states eighteen queens were reputed to have reigned between 1295 and 1740. Queen Amina 1550-1590 was the most famous. Her image is on the Nigerian’s government home page and currency today. Amina was probably the granddaughter of the Sarkin King Zazzau Nohir. Zazzua was one of the Hausa city-states that dominated the trans-Saharan trade after the collapse of the Songhai Empire. At the age of sixteen, Amina became the heir apparent to her mother, the ruling queen of Zazzua. When her mother died around 1566, her younger brother Karama became King. Apparently it was Amina’s choice as she was the leading warrior of the Zazzua cavalry and wanted to continue that as her military achievements brought her great wealth and power. When her brother Karama died after a ten-year rule, Amina became queen. She ruled for thirty-four years, expanding Zazzua to its largest extent. This meant their territory went all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. It is now thought that Amina was instrumental in keeping England out of the gold fields of West Africa because of her military might. Queen Amina built many earthen city walls and fortifications, many of which are still standing, and known as Amina’s walls. The annexation of neighboring lands was not necessarily done…show more content…
The Nigerian area Hausa city-state was founded and ruled by her. Eight queens succeeded her. When Kings took over the ruling of these lands, a story about a snake was told to justify this change. Apparently, a Muslim stranger killed a sacred snake who had prevented getting water out of the only well. Thereafter it was ruled by
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