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10 Queens in African History

The 10 powerful Queens of Africa (Blog Post):

In light of international women’s day, I’ve decided to put together my research on African Queens of history in order to expand our knowledge and gain motivation as there are so many queen like traits and characteristics within all of us, that we don’t tap into because we don’t have the belief that we could rule - whether that’s our lives, a business, a family, a household. Trust and know that you are great and mighty.

Each Queen tells a different story and teaches a different lesson, all which we can adopt and apply in our lives today. If you have more knowledge on the topics, or any of my facts are incorrect, please feel free to let me know in the comments as this is the result of my own research conducted.


  1. Yaa Asantewaa (Ghana)

  2. King Ahebi Ugbabe (Nigeria)

  3. Nzinga Mbande (Angola)

  4. Makeda "Queen of Sheba" (Yemen/Ethiopia)

  5. Queen Yargoje (Nigeria)

  6. Queen Idia (Nigeria)

  7. Queen Abia Pokou (Ivory Coast)

  8. Hatsepshut (Egypt)

  9. Ranavalona I (Madagascar)

  10. Amina (Nigeria)

Yaa Asantewaa

Nana Yaa Asantewaa was the leader of the war of the Golden Stool in Ghana, otherwise known as the Yaa Asantewaa war of independence against the British. She had trained in the military with her younger brother, so when he became king, he put her in charge of it and also made her Queen Mother, which meant she was in charge of guarding the Golden stool. She took much offense when Frederick Hodgson demanded the stool be brought for him to sit on and taken for the Queen in England. As battle commenced and all hope was being lost, she famously said “if you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields”. Although she was eventually captured and exiled to Seychelles where she died 20 years later, Yaa Asantewaa succeeded at protecting the Golden Stool and it is still in Ghana today.

King Ahebi Ugbabe

She was born in 1880 in Nigeria and was the only female King in colonial Nigeria. As a young girl, she had to escape Egala land as she was sentenced to marry a female deity to pay for her fathers crimes. During her first exile, she became a prostitute and learned new languages which gave her access to the King and British Powers who helped her return home and supported her claim as “head man, warrant chief and Eze (King)”. She was the only one who could communicate in English. She imposed a census and British Tax which caused a small resistance to her kingship. She attended a festival in her own mask which wasn’t allowed for a woman. She went to court and lost. She collected multiple wives who could do what they wanted and remained in power until her death in 1948, but she held her funeral 2 years before so she could attend.

Nzinga Mbande Nzinga was a skillful negotiator who fought the Portuguese’s attempt to expand their slave trade territory within central Africa. Initially, she was from a region called Ndongo where she was born into royalty amongst the Mbundu people, however, after her father’s death her brother became king and she had to flee to Matamba for her safety. Her brother needed her help negotiating with the Portuguese in Luanda and thus made her Queen alongside him. She was able to get the Portuguese to stop invading their territory and stealing people for slaves, however they betrayed this agreement. She built up her army by offering her land as refuge for escaped slaves and forming a military alliance with the Dutch. After decades of warfare, Nzinga decided to defeat the Portuguese politically and used a local port to encourage trade and create a central area of commerce.

Makeda (Queen of Sheba)

Queen Makeda, more famously known as Queen of Sheba, was a rich and powerful Queen. The location of her kingdom is much disputed with some believing she was from Yemen, Ethiopia and even Nigeria. She is mentioned in the Bible, Quran and the Kebra Negast (Ethiopian religious book). She is known for her trip to Israel to visit King Solomon and gain wisdom from him. She embarked upon this journey taking with her gold, precious stones and large amounts of spices as gifts for the King. During her stay, she not only learnt from the King, but also left pregnant with his son.

Queen Yargoje

She was Queen of Zamfara in Nigeria from 1310-1350 over the Hausa Tribe. She expanded and relocated her kingdom. She was born into royalty as daughter of the 5th king and was made head of the Bori cult which was a pre islamic mode of worship in Hausa land. The kingdom was originally in Dutsi, but she relocated to Birnin Zamfara for a greener environment and more fertile land. She surrounded herself with female chiefs and led a peaceful and prosperous rule. The ruins of her palace where she used to hold court sessions still exists today in Kuyambana village. The new area was strategically more defendable.

Queen Idia

She was Queen Mother as her son was the Oba of Benin, in southern Nigeria. She ruled from 1504 to 1550 and was a great warrior. She provided political council and medicinal knowledge to her son which is the reason they believed he achieved military success. She was the first queen mother and a fearless army general. Her political status within the court was equal to that of a senator/chief. She helped her son to defeat his brother and become the only Oba once their father had died.

Queen Abia Pokou

In Ivory Coast, she ruled over the Baoule people, but she was originally from Ghana. She was niece to the founder of the Asante Kingdom, but had to flee Ghana for her safety. She left with people who decided to follow her. Between Ghana and Ivory Coast, she reached the comoe river and she didn’t know how to pass so she sacrificed her son for the survival of her people under instruction from the wise men with her. She founded the Baoule nation, but eventually died due to war between throne successors.

King Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut was erased from history 20 years after her death, but Egyptologists were able to piece her story together using architecture and statues. Hatshepsut was one of few young girls who were taught how to read and write, and she used this to her advantage by studying leadership, ethics, religion, rituals, economics, morality and history. She ruled for 22 years during one of Egypts most prosperous times (18th Dynasty) without bloodshed or social trauma and was trusted by her people because of her devotion to the God “Amen” who protected their land.

For more on Hapshetsut, check out our blog post here

Ranavalona I

Ranavalona I was queen of Madagascar and she believed in the power of tradition and Malagasy Culture. She annulled the Anglo-Merina treaty which agreed yearly payments from the British to operate freely in their land and forbade her people from adopting any foreign concepts which interfered with the way of the Merina people. The Queen drew close personal relationships with Europeans to draw expertise, but limited their activity to reduce their influence. Many did not agree with her politics, but can agree that she protected traditions and customs of the Merina people against colonialism, whilst still developing her country with new found expertise.

For more on Ranavalona I, check out our blog post here


Queen Amina or Zaria, formally known as Zazzau was a descendant of Habe Nohi through her mother, the princess of Zazzau. At the age of 16 she began training with the Sojojin Zazzau, the warriors of their clan. She was the first girl to train as a warrior within Hausa Land. During her reclaim of her clan from Etsu Isudi she uttered the words “call me a child, call me just a girl. It matters not what you call me. It matters what I can do”. She resembles a symbol of strength and confidence.

For more on Amina, check out our blog post here

Happy international women's day!

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