TIN HINAN

She was stretched out on a bed of sculptured wood when they found her many centuries later… her body facing east her arms bend over with heavy leather armour and jewellery. Seven silver and seven gold bracelets on her left arm, and a single silver bracelet on her right. A string of antimony beads around her left ankle, precious pearls covered her breasts.

Dates and fruits in baskets had been placed next to her with a statue of a woman and other pottery decorated around her bed.

Along with her in the tomb they found a Roman cup and a wooden cup and coins bearing the effigy of Roman Emperor Constantine and other Roman funerary accessories of the 4th century.

The tomb wall was inscribed with Tifinagh alphabet. She was the famous Tuareg African Amazon Queen Tin Hinan

It’s easy to be born into royalty, becoming princess, then being groomed into becoming queen. It’s easy to marry a king, becoming a queen in one simple answer of “Yes I do”.

But it’s never easy to evolve from a young warrior woman, an average member of a small tribe, to a powerful matriarch, becoming queen through pain, hardships, courage and endurance to rule an entire nation.

First fighting for her own existence, coming from a foreign land, not considered as one of the local people in her new domain. And then finally winning the hearts of all and becoming their queen.

A remarkable achievement indeed. Her story deserves to be told.

This story is based on the legend of Tin Hinan as orally handed down by Tuaregs throughout generations to today where festivals are still arranged in her honour.

However Most elements of the story in this book are pure fiction.

The following are based on legend facts:

Tin Hinan (including her characteristics mentioned and her mystical beauty), Takamat and how they arrived in the Hoggar, her teachings in poetry, the Tifinagh alphabet, her healing abilities, medicines and practices.

She was a fearless warrior (known today as Amazons), some Tuaregs today still refer to her as the Africa Amazon Queen.

She founded and united the Tuareg, establishing a kingdom in the Hoggar.

They established the five important desert caravan trading routes and they did build wealth and riches through the century.

Tin Hinan had a daughter Kella from who descend the Kel Rela.

Takamat had two daughters. Tin Hinan gave the oasis of Silet and Ennided to the two daughters of Takamat to whose descendants they still belong.

In 1925, in Abalessa near Adrar of the Ifoghas, the ancient capital of the Ahaggar or Hoggar region of Algeria, archaeologists discovered a well-preserved female skeleton in a burial site that belonged to the famous Tuareg African Amazon Queen Tin Hinan.

 

But no records nowhere noted why she took the journey, where she was born, who was her parents, why was she arriving there… why was she so far away from her original tribe, who was her husband, or her lovers. Also not recorded, is how she died exactly. These are therefore fiction.

We only know… and history records: From one (Tin Hinan) descend the secondary tribe of Ihadanaren and the other (Takamat) from descend the plebean tribes of Dag Rali and Ait Loaien.

How she really managed to win the favour of the Amazigh, becoming queen and why they become to be veiled in blue, her husband Amezwar and true love Chikae, are all fiction.

However, historically recorded, the invasion of the vandals into North Africa is based on facts, the slave trade definitely based on facts, the Ghana Empire becoming a mighty force, trading with gold in the entire region are all facts.

These are all elements that played an important role during that time, which are used to give flavour to the story. If one reads through the history pages, one’s imagination can easily perceive all to be fact.

Sadly and regretfully, as the Tuareg or Amazigh of those ages were not record keepers as the Romans were, no proper and true recordings are available.

The Tuareg

The Tuareg was a sight that struck terror in the hearts of all who beheld, sweeping across the deserts, protecting their caravans, creating wealth and power. They were feared and respected as the daring, deadly warriors for as long as merchants have crossed the Sahara.

Today there are more than 2 million Tuaregs divided between the political borders of Algeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Lybia, suffering from the loss of historical capacity and position, dismantled by French colonialism and perpetuated since by voracious military regimes in the name of exclusivist and smothering notions of nation-state.

They are people struggling to re-invent a better future, experiencing a marginalisation and denials of their social, political, and cultural rights in all of these nation states.

The aim with the story is to highlight them as those accountable for linking north and west Africa, establishing important trade routes still in use today.

And off course, the fascinating tale, the heartaches, despairs, struggles, challenges and triumphs of Queen Tin Hinan, the remarkable women who founded them.

The Tuareg’s history is colourful, exciting, rich in culture but now totally forgotten and adrift.

Tin Hinan Festivals

Festivals are held in Tin Hinan’s honour every year in the oasis city Tamanrasset in southern Algeria (location of the tomb of legendary Queen Tin Hinan). The organisers of the event, Ahaggar’s Friends Association, confirms that 26 African countries, along with Arab and European countries feature in the festival which is held anytime between 20-28 February every year.

Her tomb is one of the main tourist attractions in southern Algeria.