Remembering Nwayereuwa, Nwannedia, Ikonnia & Nwugo
I’m sure 90% of Africans, Nigerians and mainly people of Igbo origin who read the headline of this post will be like who the hell are these people?
Barbadian people likewise will be clueless to who these women were as the teaching of African history continues to be minimized in schools and the media.
Africans and their descendants across the globe who live in neo-colonial states, wouldn’t know them because they are busy learning about Mother Theresa and the fraudulent story of Mary Slessor and other such histories.
On the morning of November 18th 1929, a man called Emereuwa upon the directive of his boss Okugo the warrant chief, walked into the compound of a widow called Nwanyereuwa, ordered a census of all her livestock and household. The widow Nwanyereuwa knowing the census would determined how much she was going be taxed by the British colonial government, embittered, shouted at Emereuwa “was your widowed mother at home counted?”
An angry exchange ensued. Nwanyereuwa resentfully rushed down to the town’s market square and consulted other disgruntled women. They with palm fronds ( the foliage of a palm tree is called a frond) quickly mobilized other women. That marked the beginning of one of the greatest resistance, rebellion and uprising the British imperial colonial rule ever faced in Nigeria and Africa in general, It is known as Called The Aba Women’s Riot” otherwise known as “The women who went to war”.
While their men were subdued, and died in the face of oppression and tyranny of colonialism, the women stepped up and in. Record has it that over ten thousand women were involved in this revolt, and about 50 women lost their lives in the war/riot. This resistance was orchestrated by the persuasive Ikonnia, the intelligent Nwannedia, the Passionate Nwugo and the wise counselling and strategy of Nwanyereuwa. These were the women that led the famous Aba_Womens_Riot. Women from across six ethnic groups were involved, the Igbos, Ibibio, Andoni, Ogoni, Bonny and Opobo.
Hundreds of British colonial courts were burnt down and destroyed, hundreds of warrant chiefs were ostracized and banished.
On the aftermath of the revolt, the British were forced to abandon the proposed plans to impose tax on the market women, powers of the warrant chiefs were considerably curbed and more robust room was created for women’s inclusiveness in the grand scheme of things.
The Aba women’s riot was on the scale never seen before. It prompted, encouraged and inspired subsequent agitations like;
1) The Tax protest of 1938
2) The Owerri & Calabar oil mill protest of the 1940’s
3) The Onitsha Aba Tax revolt of 1956
Then consequently the Nigeria independence in 1960.
Unfortunately, when you drive through Aba today, you will see Faulks road, in Owerri you will see Wetheral Road and Douglas road all colonial relics. Imo state government house is called Douglas house, named after Harold Morday Douglas, a brutal British colonial district commissioner who orchestrated the Ahiara expedition of 1905 that saw villages wiped out.
Nigeria today has many streets, roads, government buildings and schools named after strangers, monuments raised for people of little or no importance to our history and future. But the real heroes, heroins and legends have been relegated to obscurity, sent to oblivion in a complete sheer and crass negligence. Barbados likewise drowns in a sea of recognition of people who championed the enslavement of African people.
I hope that one day, the Igbos, Ibibios, Andonis, Ogonis, Opobos, Bonnis will have a leadership that will remember these women, the fifty that lost their lives and all that paid the ultimate price, immortalize them. Barbados also needs a leader that will address the colonial residues of slavery on the island and remove them from the future of its people.
I hope one day I shall see Nwanyereuwa road, Ikonnia hospital, Nwannedia secondary school and Nwugo shopping plaza. I hope to see us name our children after these legendary women and mothers and tell them the story.
Today 25th December 2018 many pay homage to the birth of a revolutionist and his mother. I take this day to pay homage to liberation and these women who bore it. I remember the women who didn’t only fight against an oppressive British colonial rule, but also had to fight their own men (Warrant chiefs) who chose the side of the Oppressor because of crumbs that fall from the table of massa.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of Kwanzaa 2018, UMOJA (Unity). “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” ―
Adapted from article written by Ishilove by Simba Simba
Remember next Monday night you are invited to come and hang out with the family of the African Heritage Foundation at its Old Year’s Night Lime. Looking forward to meeting you.