Kumbwada in Niger State is ruled by Queen Hajiya Haidzatu Ahmed, who presides over thousands of subjects. Kumbwada in Kano has always been ruled by a woman.
A throne curse which makes men sick and die, keeps males off the throne. Sadly, the woman-ruled Kumbwada is the least funded chiefdom in Nigeria.
Kumbwada, in Nigeria’s conservative Islamic North, where strict Sharia law is the rule, has never had a male ruler.
The Queens palace is a shack with a rusted corrugated roof, but her rule over the 33,000 citizens is unquestioned.
“There has never been a male ruler,” the queen says, chuckling.
“Even my father just voiced his desire to be chief, but it almost killed him.”
“It’s a women’s affair, women are the rulers and they rule as effectively as men, sometimes even better than men.”
As the traditional ruler, the queen handles disputes such as quarrels over land, divorces, petty violence, accusations of theft and arguments between neighbours.
Government courts step in, only if a traditional ruler refers a case or if the situation isn’t resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
“When domestic issues come to me, the way I treat them will be quite different to other traditional chiefs,” she says.
“I’m a woman and I’m a mother and I have so much concern and experience when it comes to the issue of marriage and what it means for the maintenance of the home and what it means for two people to live together.”