Long before the renowned Queen Amina of Zazzau’s reign, a formidable queen named Sarauniyya (Queen) Yargoje was a prominent figure in the history of Northern Nigeria. Yargoje ruled over the ancient Zamfara Kingdom, which corresponds to present-day Zamfara state, for four remarkable decades (1310 to 1350).
Yargoje’s reign was an evidence of her extraordinary courage, a trait often associated with male leaders of her time. She left an indelible mark even before the legendary figure Bayajidda arrived in Hausa Land.
One of her notable achievements was the strategic relocation of the kingdom’s capital from Dutsi to Birnin Zamfara (or Kuyambana), situated at the confluence of two rivers, a greener and militarily advantageous location, where fertile soil abounded. Kuyambana’s modern reputation for fertility and its hosting of a game reserve in Zamfara state is a testament to her wisdom.
Queen Yargoje, who was the daughter of the fifth king of Zamfara, King Dakka, was not merely a political and military leader; she also held a significant role as a religious leader, heading the Bori Cult, which featured a pre-Islamic mode of worship in certain Hausa regions.
One of her most founding actions was her inclusion of female chiefs in her courts, a first in Hausa history. This progressive step paved the way for women’s participation in legislative activities. This effort made by Yargoje made a way such that when Queen Amina later ascended the throne after her brother, it was a smooth transition.
A good point to note is; Queen Yargoje’s rule was characterized by peace and prosperity, devoid of major warfare. Her legacy continues to inspire and serves as a testament to the power and capability of women in leadership roles, making her a true Amazon of her era.