Sustaining the Glow: A Womanist Peek into the Female Emancipatory Attributes in Queen Amina of Zazzau.Part II
In the first part of this article, I briefly underscored the relevance of Queen Amina’s social status and its relevance in contemporary times. It is appropriate to complement that initial part with a logical conclusion.
Sustaining the lean on Queen Amina’s example in this presentation, it is relatively easy for one to recognize that individuals make the society and not perchance the other way round; otherwise, nothing more than a legion of social malady would exhibit within that culture. An individual who permits herself a total self- subscription to the dictates of a society without a full understanding of her functional role –and its application — within that environment does a disservice to her place in the community. Particularly in nations where the patrilineal distinction is eminent, a woman’s latent attributes will be stifled and her voice muted—and arguably deservedly so- if she does not live up to her latent attributes as a genuine woman. The latter guarantees the propagation of the erroneous designation of her gender as inferior. As in the example of Queen Amina, women should strive for self- actualization, social emancipation and the pursuit of the spirit of complementarity with the male gender for the good of her society and country.
In her commitment to national harmony and social justice, Queen Amina’s policy is inclusive of every human being –slaves and national citizens alike and this arguably led to her national stability. “You fight alone, you lose,” she tells her soldiers. “We fight together, we win and share the glory of victor… And if we must kiss the dust, we do it together in the service of our beloved Zazzau. Make Zazzau great. (Situation 529). From her fellow citizens, Amina asks for “ A humane society where no one is oppressed by those in positions of power,” (41) and “If I give to one, I shall give to the other. During my reign, you will have enough clothing for your wardrobes…Under my protection, no evil will befall the citizens of this land” (25). And again, “In my kingdom, let no one regret being born a woman…. Therefore, respect the dignity of the individual (Situation 6: 40).
The fact of Amina, a (female) warrior successfully expanding her territory in Hausa land is thankfully foregrounded in the instances which reference her; however, this fact of her prowess may well have encouraged a blotch in the portrait of her landscape, as sadly, legend casts her as something of a Black Widow spider because it is storied that Amina kills the men she has sexual encounters with; Ogunyemi’s drama sustains this tale. It is not far-fetched to suspect that such an account subscribes to the male-centric dominating social accent which lists the successful woman as a ‘social deviant” who must have a dark side to her. We need not look far into the cultural history of Nigeria to find examples to support this fact. (Madame Efunsetan Aniwura, Iyalode of Ibadan stands as an illuminating example). In Amina’s case, Ogunyemi justifies his rendition of the account by allowing the priest to enlighten the audience about Amina’s calling and the repercussion of her answer to the mission: “From now on,” he pronounces, “ her lust for men will be great….(Situation 3 :16) and is it any wonder that—as a male-centered society would believe- Amina kills the men she sleeps with to complement that lust and sustain her integrity if that would retain her on the social pedestal? That these tales have survived the times give room for concern; unfortunately, such is the battle successful women in the society face. Womanist principle is distinct: persons of good intent must ignore socially divisive statements or allusions if these persons would do good for self, neighbor, and nation; that singular pursuit serves to protect the womanist’s integrity and letter her credentialed to fight for social justice and equity.
Delving some more into the dramatic rendition of the legend that surrounds Queen Amina will not displace much of the success that has been attributed to a woman who concretizes her innate leadership qualities and actualizes her dreams. Women may benefit from emulating some of Amina’s attributes: in highlighting the community-created and-sustaining abilities of female figures in times of war, for example, Queen Amina challenges dominant masculine practices of governance in whatever sphere they present and this is a call to the female to promote that principle of complementarity between the genders. The female sex will be recognized for their furthering contributions to humanity and social values and not perchance as the weaker sex. Like Amina, they can affirm with pride that, “I am happy I came as a woman; a woman with a mission. If I would live my life again, I would be happy to come back as a woman (Situation 1.13). Women have a voice and must be encouraged to use this to nurture, heal and promote social justice and equity.
We must not overlook that Ogunyemi’s Amina was published in 1999, a fact which speaks to the need for the Nigerian society to revisit its culture and in giving it rebirth, cull from its resources what is expedient for the nation’s progress and apply these discoveries in national upbuilding. Queen Amina is not lettered in the sense of Western, formal education in this play, yet she succeeds and arguably, in contemporary times, women have much more at their disposal and therefore may achieve even more; the achievement need not be on a battle front or situations of contention but in any environment in which women find themselves—in the home, community, and the nation.
The story of Queen Amina of Zazzau celebrates female emancipation and able leadership. It is the story of a female gender’s victory in a world otherwise governed by men; hers is a story worthy of emulation if the aspersions cast on her person are recognized for what they are—an attempt to marginalize and compromise her integrity as I noted earlier. Culture and tradition should not be ignored as the lessons one garners from them only serve to sustain the present and enable a vision of the future that awaits a concretization. Queen Amina is cultural history in drama and should be revisited as its tale serves as a bridge from the past to the present. Womanists would do well to track that bridge and attend to what impressions the footprints thereupon report.
Credits::Article by Dr. Tolulope O. Idowu .Indiana, USA for ASIRI.
Work Cited: Ogunyemi, Wale. Queen Amina of Zazzau, Ibadan: University Press PLC.1999. Print.