The Guru [Godwin Etakibuebu].
The Aba Women Riot [War] of November – December 1929, prompted colonial authorities to drop their plans to impose a tax on the market women, and to curb the power of the warrant chiefs. The women’s uprising is seen as the first major challenge to British authority in Nigeria and West Africa during the colonial period.
The “riots” or the war, led by women in the provinces of Calabar and Owerri in south-eastern Nigeria in November and December of 1929, became known as the “Aba Women’s Riots of 1929” in British colonial history, or as the “Women’s War” in Igbo history. Thousands of Igbo women organized a massive revolt against the policies imposed by British colonial administrators in south-eastern Nigeria, touching off the most serious challenge to British rule in the history of the colony. The “Women’s War” took months for the government to suppress and became a historic example of feminist and anti-colonial protest.
The roots of the riots evolved from January 1, 1914, when the first Nigerian colonial governor, Lord Lugard, instituted the system of indirect rule in Southern Nigeria. Under this plan British administrators would rule locally through “warrant chiefs,” essentially Igbo individuals appointed by the governor. Traditionally Igbo chiefs had been elected.
Within a few years the appointed warrant chiefs became increasingly oppressive. They seized property, imposed draconian local regulations, and began imprisoning anyone who openly criticized them. Although much of the anger was directed against the warrant chiefs, most Nigerians knew the source of their power, British colonial administrators. Colonial administrators added to the local sense of grievance when they announced plans to impose special taxes on the Igbo market women. These women were responsible for supplying the food to the growing urban populations in Calabar, Owerri, and other Nigerian cities. They feared the taxes would drive many of the market women out of business and seriously disrupt the supply of food and non-perishable goods available to the populace.
In November of 1929, thousands of Igbo women congregated at the Native Administration centers in Calabar and Owerri as well as smaller towns to protest both the warrant chiefs and the taxes on the market women. Using the traditional practice of censoring men through all night song and dance ridicule (often called “sitting on a man”), the women chanted and danced, and in some locations forced warrant chiefs to resign their positions. The women also attacked European owned stores and Barclays Bank and broke into prisons and released prisoners. They also attacked Native Courts run by colonial officials, burning many of them to the ground. Colonial Police and troops were called in. They fired into the crowds that had gathered at Calabar and Owerri, killing more than 50 women and wounding over 50 others. During the two month “war” at least 25,000 Igbo women were involved in protests against British officials.
The Aba Women’s war prompted colonial authorities to drop their plans to impose a tax on the market women, and to curb the power of the warrant chiefs. The women’s uprising is seen as the first major challenge to British authority in Nigeria and West Africa during the colonial period.
The movement was sparked by the necessity to stop the oppression of women through the tax system, the abuse of the warrant chiefs, and other ways. A revolt that affected the women of Calabar, Ogoni, and Opobo was started by the headcount to determine the amount of tax that each home would be required to pay as part of the taxation system.
The revelation that women would be added to the chain on top of already having to contend with poverty and an enforced tax system was the final straw. We believe it was very personal for Nwayereuwa because she asked Emereuwa, who had come to tax her in accordance with British law, “Was your mother counted?”
When the protest originally started at Oloko in Aba, Nwayereuwa had allies who supported the colonial resistance. These women were known as the Oloko trios (Ikonnia, Nwannedie, and Nwugo), leaders of the ogu umunwanyi.
The Oloko trios bravely demanded what should be as it threatened to thwart the norms and traditions of the Igbo system.
The Women’s War will also leave an impression on 15-year-old Margret Ekpo such that by the time she was older, she formed the Aba market association in 1946.
Unfortunately, one whose name will be forgotten by the history books is Princess Nnete Okorie-Egbe of Akwete, the inspiration behind the Aba women protest.
THE 419 QUOTES THAT TRICKED NIGERIANS IN 2015:
- ”A serious government will fix power problem in six months.” – Babatunde Raji Fashola (November 12, 2014)
- ”Stone us [APC] if we do not perform after two years.” – Tony Momoh (April 3, 2016, The Guardian)
- ”The only way to have stable electricity is to vote out PDP.” – Babatunde Raji Fashola (July 12, 2014, The Nation)
- ”We seriously frown at President Goodluck Jonathan, over the unceremonious removal of the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Andrew Yakubu.” – (APC, August 4, 2014, Channels TV)
- ”It’s Time To Restructure Nigeria: The present situation of things where all component units get monthly allocation from the Federal Government only makes the states lazy and unproductive.” – Nasiru El-Rufai (August 2010)
- ”Jonathan should resign if he has no solution to the violence being unleashed on some parts of the country.” – Nasiru El-Rufai (August 2012)
- ”The only solution to the present political uncertainty in the country is for the National Assembly to set machineries in motion for the impeachment of ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.” – Muhammadu Buhari (March 10, 2010, Sun Newspapers)
- ”Waste: Let me give an instance, presently, there are more than 6 aircraft in the presidential fleet. What do you call that? “Billions of naira is budgeted every year for the maintenance of these aircraft not to talk of operational cost and other expenses.” – Muhammadu Buhari (February 2015, Nigerians in UK)
- ”We intend for instance, to bring back our National carrier, the Nigerian Airways. We shall do this by bringing all the aircraft in the presidential fleet into the Nigerian airway and within a year increase the fleet into about 20.” -Muhammadu Buhari (February 2015, Nigerians in UK)
- ”Why do I need to embark on a foreign trip as a president with a huge crowd with public funds? ”Why do I need to go for foreign medical trip if we cannot make our hospital functional?” – Muhammadu Buhari (February 2015, Nigerians in UK)
- ”Why is the nation’s currency; the Naira, now trading for N180 per Dollar, while the South African Rand is trading at R11 to one United States Dollar?” – Babatunde Raji Fashola (Dec 26, 2014 – The Nation)
- ”Give Nigerians a daily update on the health of President Umaru Yar’Adua to stem the growing rumours surrounding his state of health.” – Lai Mohammed (December 21, 2009, The Nation)
- ”Amaechi is not only clean but a tool to free Nigeria from the corruption imposed on us by those who hate our nation.” – APC (October 24, 2016, Vanguard)
- ”The recent proscription of Boko Haram and Ansaru violates the Constitution.” – Lai Mohammed (June 10, 2013, The Nation]
To the Nigerian Politicians:
Be careful of what you say today because it shall be held against you tomorrow in the Peoples’ court of justice.
To the Nigerian Electorate:
Is what you are hearing today different from what you heard in 2015 and 2019? Your destiny is in your hands, and with the BVAS now available at your disposal, go out there and vote, not according to your conscience only, but illuminated conscience that can separate between evil and good – a conscience that will not betray your personal future and that of your generations yet to be born.