Record has it that on the morning of 18th November 1929, a man named Mark Emereuwa who was conducting census (the census was in relation to taxation) on the people living in the town of Oloko, upon the instruction of the Warrant Chief- Okugo, had entered the compound of a Widow named #Nwanyereuwa and instructed her to “count her livestock and people living with her.”
Knowing fully well that it means she would be taxed based on the number, Nwanyereuwa became embittered; and in replying, she asked Emereuwa “was your Widowed mother counted?”
This reply simply means that women were not supposed to pay tax in Igbo society. The two quarreled in harsh words.
The widow proceeded to the town square to find other women who were already deliberating on the tax issue. She narrated her ordeal to them.
Quickly, the women mobilized others and with the symbol of palm leaves in their hands they moved. It marked the beginning of one of the greatest resistance, rebellion and uprising that the British Colonial Masters would ever face in Nigeria and Africa in general and it was tagged “ABA WOMEN’S RIOT”
While the Men were subdued in the face of Tyranny of Colonialism, The Women stepped up and went into defence of their dignity.
Within 24 hours, approximately 10,000 women were gathered in fierce Protest insisting on ..
1. The removal and trial of ,some Warrant Chiefs.
2. Removal of Tax on women.
3. Curb the Powers of the Warrant Chiefs.
These women were from 6 ethnic groups… Igbos, Ibibio, Andoni, Ogoni, Bonny and Opobo.
The chief actors who led this movement we’re
1. Ikonnia, 2. Nwannedia 3. Nwugo, 4. Nwanyereuwa
* Hundreds of British Colonial Courts were burnt down and destroyed.
* Hundreds of warrant Chiefs were ostracised or banished.
* The British Army shot at them , leaving over 50 Dead
Aftermath of the RIOT
1. Appointment of Women as Warrant Chiefs in some areas.
2. Women Participation in Social activities.
3. British was forced to abandon the proposed Tax on market women.
In conclusion, it would be recalled that the scale at which the protest was carried out has never been witnessed before and it was a Victory for them even though they lost many lives.
This bravery encouraged many more Protests eg.
* THE TAX PROTEST OF 1938
* OWERRI AND CALABAR OIL MILL OF 1940
* ONITSHA ABA REVOLT OF 1956
* NIGERIA INDEPENDENCE OF 1960.
These women didn’t only fight their Colonial Masters but they also fought their own Men (Warrant Chiefs) who joined the side of the Oppressor because of the crumbs they picked from their Tables.
We Remember them..
We Remember The Women Who Went to WAR, When the men were subdued.
RIP gallant women.
All hail IPOB women!
All hail BIAFRAN Women round the world