Queen Haja Ahmed is the only traditional woman ruler in Northern Nigeria.
Nigeria is primarily ruled by Kings. In spite of Nigeria’s legacy of Kings, the people in the Nigerian village of Kunbwada are celebrating their Queen. Queen Haja Ahmed has ruled for 12 years after inheriting the throne following the death of her mother.
No man has ever tried to usurp the throne, and the young men who remain in the village insist they are loyal subjects. Queen Haja told CNN, “Men cannot rule this kingdom. If a man insists we will let him. And then after two or three days, he will die.”
Sunday Shamari, a 25 year –old farmer, told CNN, “People outside always ask about my Queen and I will tell them the whole history. I feel proud.” Quenn Haja’s official capacity includes settling marriages and land disputes and keeping the peace. But she wants to introduce some changes of her own.
She told CNN, “Women must be educated. Education means women can be anything they want to be.” There are regions in Nigeria were women have few rights and little access to education, so for women Kunbwada offers inspiration.
Queen Haja is witnessing changing times. She is fearful about traditions being lost as result of young people leaving the community and heading to the towns in search of work and money. As for modernity, the Queen says it does bring some benefits. “I have seen many changes. Things have improved, and the new towns have helped education and infrastructure.”
However, many of the town’s elders believe Western influences have tainted the community and as result lead to an increased lack of regard for local culture and beliefs. “Mohammed Sani, who has the honorary title of “Custodian of the Shrine,” told CNN, “The West is making our tradition go back. We want our people to be enlightened, but Western values are having a bad effect.”