Have you ever heard of an exceptional kingdom where women rule? A kingdom where it is impossible for men to ascend the throne? A kingdom that defies the norm?
Kumbwada is an ancient kingdom with a population of about 33,000 people which is located in Niger, a state in the Northern part of Nigeria. Although its dusty, undulating roads, temperate climate and brief, irregular rain remain typical of the region, its dominion and domination by women since its inception till this very day defy the Northern traditional Islamic practice which bars women from ruling.
This anomaly arises as a result of an ancient curse placed on the throne that any man who ascends the throne would die mysteriously. Aminu Abubakar, quoting the current female monarch, reports:
The curse of Kumbwada kingdom started over two centuries ago when the warrior Princess Magajiya Maimuna led her cavalry from Zaria, a town to the north and conquered the kingdom.
After the conquest Maimuna decided to leave her brother…as ruler but he fell sick and died within a week. The same thing happened with her second brother and in the end she decided to stay herself and she ruled for 83 years…
The last man who dared to defy this curse, the father of the current queen: Queen Hajiya Haidzatu Ahmed, had no sooner thought it than he failed. Echoing the queen, Robyn Dixon relays:
There has never been a male ruler… Even my father just voiced his desire to be chief, but it almost killed him.
As soon as he made his intentions known, Prince Amadu Kumbwada became mysteriously Ill and had to be taken to another kingdom to recuperate. He never returned to Kumbwada.
The kingdom of Kumbwada has been ruled by women for six successive years. Before Queen Hajiya Haidzatu’s reign, her grandmother was on the throne for 73 years. She died when she was 113. And barring any unforeseen circumstances, the queens daughter, Idris, would take her mother’s place when the time comes.
Where men have failed in other places, the Queen of Kumbwada has risen to the task; she does not only know her kingdom backwards and forwards, but has also kept the peace. She handles issues as domestic as domestic violence, marriage scuffles, petty violence, theft accusations, land disputes as well as issues as consequential as societal education – especially that of women.
While it has been mooted that there is some sort of black magic going on in this kingdom which ensures men’s abstinence from the throne, a claim which, if ever found valid, would be a grave offense under the conservative Islamic lenses that thrives in Northern Nigeria, the fact remains that the queen’s subjects – both men, women and children – adore her.
Black magic or not, she discharges her duty as a mother, a wife and most importantly as a leader. She prescribes her percipience like drugs and whispers sound judgments to a people who obey. These residents get their fix, basking in satisfactory waves of her well-thought rulings. “Where men fail, let women try”, the people of this unique kingdom concede.