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Sarraounia Mangou was a chief/priestess of the animist Azna subgroup of the Hausa, who fought French colonial troops of the Voulet–Chanoine Mission at the Battle of Lougou (in present-day Nigeria) in 1899. She is the subject of the 1986 film Sarraounia based on the novel of the same name by Nigerien writer Abdoulaye Mamani.[1]


Sarraounia means queen or female chief in the Hausa language. Among the predominately animist Azna people of Lougou and surrounding Hausa towns and villages, the term refers to a lineage of female rulers who exercised both political and religious power.[1] Sarraounia Mangou was the most famous of the Sarraounias due to her resistance against French colonial troops at the Battle of Lougou in 1899. While most chiefs in Niger pragmatically submitted to French power,[1] Sarraounia Mangou mobilized her people and resources to confront the French forces of the Voulet–Chanoine Mission, which launched a fierce attack on her fortress capital of Lougou.

Overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the French, she and her fighters retreated tactically from the fortress, and engaged the attackers in a protracted guerrilla battle which eventually forced the French to abandon their project of subduing her.

The 1986 film Sarraounia is a retelling of her struggle against Voulet and Chanoine's troops. But according to native oral historians she fought the French colonialists with her untold and mythical powers.



  1. ^ a b c Alou, Antoinette Tidjani. (2009). "Niger and Sarraounia: One Hundred Years of Forgetting Female Leadership." Research in African Literatures 40(1): 42–56 (Spring 2009).