The Aba Women revolt of 1929 (Igbo womens war of 1929)

In November of 1929, thousand of women from the eastern part of Nigeria, came together to protest against the warrant chiefs of whom they accused of diminishing the role of women in their local government and high taxes on market women. The revolt was led by village women from Calabar and Owerri.

They employed a non violent method of “sitting” or “sitting on men” to censor the accused. This was done by singing, dancing and chanting sounds all night around the warrant chiefs offices and homes until their plight was heard. By following these men around, some of them where forced to resign and as a result the position of women’s role significantly improved. They were able to achieve the following.

  • Women were able to replace the Warrant Chiefs. 
  • Women were also appointed to serve on the Native Courts. 
  • After the Women’s war, women’s movements were very strong in Ngwaland, many events in the 1930s, 40s and 50s were inspired by the Women’s War, including the Tax Protests of 1938, the Oil Mill Protests of the 1940s in Owerri and Calabar Provinces and the Tax Revolt in Aba and Onitsha in 1956 (wikipedia)
  • They were able to stop colonial masters from imposing higher taxes on market places.
  • They succeeded in taking over businesses, banks and courts runned by colonial masters. The British guards fired at the women, killing 50 and injuring 50. 

Notable women that led a the peaceful protest include;

  • Nwanyereuwa
  • Mary Okezie
  • Mary of Ogu Ndem (Mary of the Women’s War) 
  • Ihejilemebi Ibe of Umuokirika Village Ahebi Ugabe of Enugu-Ezike: “The Female Leopard” who was appointed as a Native Court Member in 1930.(wikipedia).

I just recently learnt about this incident in Nigerian History (when i think of 1929, great depression comes to mind)…and i am not sure if any of us learnt this in school in Nigeria, I sure didn’t…sad. But its stories like this that should be passed down to not only inspire us but also commemorate those that lost their lives standing for their rights…rights that impacts us till today.

The picture above is from the revolt and a list of the lives that where lost as a result of the Brit soldiers gun fire attack.

To learn more about it click here


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