Hinane is a historical action adventure set in the 5th century, based on the legend of Tin Hinan, the remarkable woman who founded the Tuareg nation of Northern Africa.
Beautiful, tall, powerful and mysterious, as a young and robust warrior, but inexperienced in all else, she flees from a certain death, venturing from Tafilalt oasis in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, to Ahaggar mountain in modern day Algeria, struggling to find acceptance in her new home.
With determination and courage she advances to be the first and most famous queen (Tamenokalt) of the Tuaregs, a spiritual leader and irresistible matriarch, combining honour with authority and conviction.
As queen she establishes a kingdom in the Ahaggar mountain of Algeria. Even though with much interference, she still manages to unite the Tuareg nation with a legacy so great that even today, 1560 years later, the two million Tuaregs (blue people of the desert) still call her ‘Mother of Us All’.
Her story deserves to be told.
This book is based on legendary facts of queen Tin Hinan as orally handed down through many generations by the Tuareg tribes of Northern Africa weaved through works of fiction.
Today, festivals in Algeria are still arranged in her honour.
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Historical, epic action adventure fiction
North West Africa
With a fierce Amazon warrior as mother, Hinane only learned to fight in battle, hunt for food and write poetry. As a young untested girl – with only one dream (to find love like her parents’) – is thrown into a serious dilemma when having to flee from Roman slave capturers, leaving everything behind, her home, her childhood, her dreams.
Her friend/servant Takamat, her small tribe and warriors are reluctant to follow, scared of the deserts, fearful of the journey and would rather stay and fight the slave traders. But she’s not convinced they can win the fight if they stay and finally persuades them to go, but then leads them into an arid land with hardships and adversity not all could endure. She’s scared, alone and desperate to lead them to safety, and certainly not prepared for what lays ahead. But she finds strength in all around her…
They finally reach the Hoggar, a safe haven, a place to build a new home. At first they call her fugitive princess when she arrives and later on refer to her as a light-worker and healer.
She brought with her the ways of the warrior women (known as the Amazons), and enriches the Berbers (Amazigh) with war practises, poetry and language, healing with herbs and spice, and enforces in them pride, strength and integrity. She’s able to foresee the future and change it to suit her own beliefs.
But the current confederation leader Atisi, despises Hinane’s practises, and becomes jealous of the popularity she gains with his people. He offends her in public, threatening her mere existence, then takes away the one thing that sustains her more than anything else throughout all of her adversities.
Even more alarming: the lack of commodities within her household and tribe is daunting and worsens by the minute, she has to find a way to care for them all. But how? She only knows about battles and cavalry, nothing of commerce, nothing of farming, nothing of politics, nothing of creating wealth …
She finally finds a way to build riches, finally finds the courage to fight what she beliefs in and forms her own individuality as a leader. She deposes of Atisi, and becomes queen of the Tuareg in such a clever way, her followers in awe of her courage, mystical ways and powerful beauty. But her victory comes with a price, owed to the one who helps her, the person who loves her above all else – Amezwar.
Over the next 20 years she establishes the kingdom to a powerful and wealthy nation, founding the five important desert trading routes to Roman cities in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean.
But the influx of the Donastis Christians within her community, Catholic recruiters opposing the Donastis, and her tribe’s pagan beliefs and gods, threaten to divide the Tuareg. Her people are convinced the interference of the new gods among them is the cause for the sudden vandal attacks on their caravans, making them weak, and losing the protection from their own gods.
The Tuareg blames her for the divide and consequent severe losses of their wealth, accusing her of alienating them from their gods by allowing the Christians in their midst. But it was the betrayal of a trusted and loyal friend who infuriated her more than her tribe’s grievances.
She faces the challenges of uniting the Tuareg once again, re-establishing her authority, reconfirming her stance in politics and as queen. But she is also challenged to regain the belief within herself and to secure a future for her daughter.
The vandal king Gaiseric is a ruthless brute, raiding and plundering, taking North Africa by force, burning churches, killing women and children, all for power and treasures. He moves closer and closer to her domain, threatening their existence.
To re-establish the favour of her people, to prove herself as a worthy queen, she has to stop the raids, stop the plundering, stop the fatal threats her people face, reclaim their gods to their throne, and leave the comforts of her identity as a powerful matriarch to become a brave warrior once more.
She traverses to Carthage to oppose the vandal king. But will she triumph against Gaiseric, the devious, brilliant militant – clever, shrewd and cunning with thousands of barbarian followers?
And throughout all of this over the many years of her reign, inside her deepest being where no one else could see, she remains emotionally torn between her duty and respect towards her husband Amezwar, and the passionate undying love for her lover Chikae…
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.
In the book, 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 outlined 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.
All of these outlined in the book 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 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.
INTERVIEW WITH RIZéL DE’LANO
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by Tin Hinan’s legend when reading how, in 1925 AD, archaeologist Byron Khun de Prorok, with support from the French army, discovered Tin Hinan’s tomb in Abalessa near Adrar of the Ifoghas, the ancient capital of the Ahaggar, or Hoggar region of Algeria. Byron Khun de Prorok discovered a well-preserved female skeleton in a burial site, possibly a dwelling converted to a tomb, dated to the second half of the fifth century (450 AD). In 1933 archaeologists made a more thorough investigation which revealed the skeleton of an unusually tall woman about forty years old, her skull was closely related to the Pharaonic type and was deformed in her lumbar and sacral areas. It was decided and confirmed that the skeleton belonged to the famous first Tuareg African Amazon Queen Tin Hinan.
How did you come up with the title?
I thought Tin Hinan would be difficult to read and switched to the one word spelling of her name for easy reading. I chose the leading character’s name – Queen Tin Hinan – as title (Hinane) as all the other high-roller-money-making titles were taken [grin], so I chose one that would capture interest.
How much of the book is realistic?
I would say everything is realistic about it, or was at the period in which the book plays out. I did a lot of research and stuck to the truth, and what was relevant, as far as possible.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Most of the characters are based on people I’ve met before or still know. I believe that we learn so many interesting things about people around us when we look closely, and it was easier to keep an image of a specific person in mind when writing about him or her, but obviously the characters evolved much from the basic models I chose and ended up as different people. Some emotional experiences and feelings are based on some of my own experiences, or what I’ve learned from life from others.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finding time to finish it and balancing it with other writing projects in order to still earn an income.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes apart from the historical facts and incidences that are portrayed in the novel, I’ve learned a lot about having patience and how to persevere. If something is important enough you will move worlds to obtain it, no matter how long it takes or what you need to sacrifice. This book was worth many sacrifices, when my friends went out having fun, I wrote, when others went on holiday I wrote, when most had a Sunday relaxing afternoon, I wrote.
What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in creating your book?
That our minds are far more powerful than what we could ever imagine. Also characters can sometimes even surprise the author (their creator) and do things totally unexpected.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Oh yes plenty. Read the book, read between the lines and think about what you’ve read or what I didn’t write, listen carefully to my thoughts while I wrote it, let’s see if you pick up on them. I believe my thought energies of the time of writing and pondering, still cling to the words.
What is most inspiring about the book? Meaning why should people read it?
The book illustrates how we can derive much inspiration from nature around us and the warrior within each of us. It shows how to tap into available resources and build a rewarding life upon that. Elizabeth Hardwick once said, “The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”
That’s why people must read this small piece of legend what could have been real history. But most of all, I write to enrich people’s lives. As a writer, I’m making visible what, without me, might perhaps never have been seen or known.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
No. I researched the subject very carefully over and over and planned the outline meticulously. It was actually a screenplay at first which helped a lot with the plot and character development.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the story to life?
There were not a lot of facts available on the legend of Tin Hinan per se. The Tuareg in ancient times were not record keepers like the Romans, so there are no accurate accounts of affairs. The challenge was to stick as far as possible to historical facts and elements or events of the time to stay relevant. Mentally – it’s taxing to write, constantly having to concentrate and be creative, so I need a lot of healthy brain food and keep physically fit to make up for all the time in front of the laptop screen.
Which characters will you find hardest to part with?
Hinane for sure. She’s still with me every day, giving me strength and inspiration.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
Amezwar, Hinane’s husband. He reminds me of the good, solid, quiet and dependable type, someone to ground Hinane. And me [grin]. He’s like having a rock to cling on to in a rough storm.
How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Tuberon. He reminds me of weaknesses we all have. We can all overindulge at times and sometimes act out of character for personal gain and pleasure, and then react totally irrational about the outcome – which we off course created ourselves.
What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
I can’t think of anything right now, but when I decided to write it at first, Gladiator the movie, or the epic genre came to mind. I thought at the time the story of Tin Hinan could make a great movie. I still think so and will work towards finding a producer for it. Although six years ago a Hollywood producer told me it will cost around US$350million to produce Hinane and advised me to write the book instead, for the time being. So we will see about that [wide grin].
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
The book is for people with an open mind and active spirit. People who would like to know more about culture, history, about northern Africa in the 5th century and also how Christianity influenced people’s lives at that time. Also for people who are not scared to explore their own minds to find the truth. And off course, anyone who wants entertainment!
Will there be a there a sequel or series?
Maybe, there will be a Part 1.5 later when I have more time to write…. it’s the part between end of Part One in the book when she became queen and Part Two which only picks up 20 years later when her reign was threatened. The new addition will tell what happened during those 20 years.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Seven years from concept to publishing it online in October 2013. I had a lot of other work to deal with in the meantime and wish I could have had this done years ago already…
How about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalise us:
Hinane drew bow and arrow, turned in the ride, nocked and aimed. The arrow left the bow swiftly and hit the one with the gaping teeth in the neck. His eyes flared when the arrowhead pierced through to the other side, dragging with it small bits of flesh as he tumbled from his horse.
Hinane continued the charge with the remaining three following closely on their heels whilst preparing to fire the next arrow. But when Burn stumbled against a rope trap tied between two trees, the two women slumped into the earth with the bow and arrow flying from Hinane’s grasp. Burn rose on fours in an instant, standing befuddled while Hinane rolled onto her side, then on one knee searching for Lunja with flashing eyes, her heart pounding thick in her throat.
What books have most influenced your life most? Why?
Wilbur Smith’s River God. I think it was written with so much skill and creativity, he is truly a master of the written word. I wanted to write like that and it prompted me to learn more and more about the craft. River God was adventurous and exciting. I struggle to find a book as equally entertaining.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Wilbur Smith again for sure. His command of the English language is superb, a true wordsmith as they say.
Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Bryce Courtenay. I just like his style as I like Wilbur Smith’s off course. Then there is also Gary Jennings.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
No not really.
What do you think makes a good story?
Good characters and realistic events delivered with bare honest emotion and insight.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I do a lot of research for clients and sometimes an idea is sparked off from a tiny piece of info, or even a word or two.
Who is(are) your muse(s)
My three teddy bears. Collectively I call them the Buksies. They are also the main characters in a children’s book I’m planning to write one day. They are exceptional companions and access a part of my brain which I can’t. They come up with the most outrageous ideas, which work very well [wide grin].
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I’ve been writing for the past 23 years. Started in business writing in PR and reputation management and as the years past made sure I can write anything for any application. But I’ve learned writing fiction gives me the mind’s freedom I so crave.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It came naturally – I can’t really recall something specific now. Maybe the day when I wrote an invitation to a company’s yearend ball for all its customers and clients… My client was delighted and I discovered I have a knack for storytelling.
What are your current writing projects?
I’m in the process of writing many things – fiction and non fiction.
Is there anything else you find particularly challenging in your writing?
No. For me it’s all pure enjoyment and enrichment. The only challenge is to get peace and quietness around me when writing, which has been and still is the hardest part. I need to buy a farm somewhere far away from the crazy busy life we live in.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Yes and no. It depends what I’m writing and how much info I still need to source.
What do you do when you experience writer’s block?
I don’t get writer’s block. I only get tired and then take a break or rest. If you work according to an outline and plan with carefully laid out possibilities of what characters might do, or events that can occur, you never experience a time when you don’t know what to write.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
No. Hate is a strong word in this context [grin]. When I don’t like something or a sentence I change it until I feel it’s right.
What is your favourite theme/genre to write about?
Historical fiction no doubt. And then action, adventure, crime, thriller, mystery and sensual romance.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Write write write. From dusk till dawn. My daily job is also writing for clients and corporates so I’m constantly in front of my laptop and my schedule doesn’t really change at all. I don’t think I would function well if I have to go to an office every day. We waste lot of time on the road, time in which people could be more productive and deliver better work. I’m lucky I guess to work from home with no stress at all. I make time for physical training every morning, and I walk a lot to keep my brain free from cobwebs.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmmmmm can’t think of any. Except maybe discuss the next scenes with the Buksies in which we explore several outcomes [grin].
Can you remember one of the first things you wrote? What makes it memorable?
I wrote many things, except poetry, so it’s difficult trying to remember. My first article I ever wrote for publication was an article on Trust which was published immediately by True Love Magazine. After that I wrote so many articles that got published I can’t remember them all.
Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and discovered a whole new genre of writing? How did it turn out?
Yeah erotica. I’m quite good with that [naughty grin]. I was surprised actually how easy and fun that was. I think we all have fantasies sexually, and writing about it is almost as exciting as the deed itself [blushing with a chuckle]. I think women should relax more on the subject and really explore that part of their beings and love themselves for it.
What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating a masterpiece?
The constant discipline every day to write. Many people want to write a book, but it takes discipline, healthy habits, patience and time.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A correspondent (journalist) and videographer in times of war. Danger excites me. It still does. Now for the thrill I will sit in the bush, and wait for an elephant or rhino to approach and see how close I can get to take a photo or record a video.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I used to consult often with clients on corporate communications, but I now try to only consult in writing techniques and storytelling. I would like to travel more in future. As a hobby, I produce videos and short doccies.
What does your family think of your writing?
Most of my family is deceased; I only have a sister in Australia, a brother in Zambia and my son who is a curriculum developer in online education, a lifestyle consultant on physical wellbeing and performance regarding health and movement. I don’t think my brother and sister even know what I do for a living. We are scattered and each does his/her own thing. But my son is very supportive. I have many friends who are simply awesome fun and sometimes give me moral support, but they don’t know what I do exactly.
How do books get published in today’s industry?
The traditional way is still very difficult to break into as around every corner and under every stone is a writer who wants to get published in print. The competition is fierce. But there are many online market possibilities with the emerging of eReader apps on mobiles and tablets. So it is getting easier in digital markets, but to get it printed and distributed, remain a challenge.
What is up for your future?
Another book, maybe travel and documentaries.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
No. Just do what you feel you have to do. Write what you feel you want to write. And be what you feel you have to be.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Enjoy Hinane. If you going to unfairly judge the book by its cover or this interview, you might miss an amazing story [wide grin].