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THE ABA WOMEN RIOT

On the morning of November 18th 1929, Emereuwa walked into Nwanereuwa’s compound and ordered for a census of all her livestock and household. Nwanyereuwa a widow knowing the census will determined how much she will be taxed by the British Colonial Government, resisted such action. This led to angry exchange of words between them.

 

Emereuwa was sent by the Warrant Chief in Aba District by the name Okeogu.

 

A troubled Nwanyereuwa rushed down to the town market square, consulted other disgruntled women and they with palm fronds quickly mobilised other women. And that marked the beginning of one of the greatest resistances, rebellion and uprising the British imperial colonial rule ever faced in Nigeria and Africa in general. Over ten thousand women were involved in this revolt, and about 50 women lost their lives in the riot.

 

The riot was led by; Ikonnia, Nwannedia, Nwugo, Nwanyereuwa.

 

These were the women that led the famous Aba Women’s Riot. Women from across six ethnic groups were involved; Igbos, Ibibio, Andoni, Ogoni, Bonny and Opobo.

 

Hundreds of British colonial courts were burnt down and destroyed. Hundreds of Warrant Chiefs were ostracised and banished.

 

On the aftermath of the revolt, the British were forced to abandon the proposed plans to impose tax on the market women.

 

Warrant Chiefs powers were considerably reduced 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 1940s

 

3. The Onitsha Aba Tax revolt of 1956

 

4. The Nigeria independence in 1960.

Hopefully, one day, the Igbos, Ibibios, Andonis, Ogonis, Opobos and Bonnis will have a leadership that will remember these women, the fifty that lost their lives and all that paid the ultimate price and immortalize them.

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