Saturday, 22 April 2017

Aba Women's War of 1929: When the British Colonial Masters Shot and Killed 50 Women

Aba Women's War of 1929: When the British Colonial Masters Shot and Killed 50 Women
My daughter’s elective course in History of Africa, where she has involved me, has really spurred my interest in many historical events I knew little or nothing about, or cared not much about. I have recently read quite a lot of materials on some historical events in Nigeria while I prepared for an interview with her over the weekend, regarding her upcoming research paper on “The Imperial British Strategy of Divide and Conquer in Nigeria.” The Aba Women’s War of 1929 really drew my awe. I was so enthused by this story that I couldn’t help writing my own short essay on it. As I researched this monumental 88-year-old event, I was fascinated to learn that women of eastern Nigeria are still inspired by the bravery of their mothers and grandmothers. For instance, women of Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, reenacted this war on November 18, 1989, to mark its 60th anniversary. I think the Aba Women's War of 1929 against the mighty British, should be an inspiration to every black woman – Nigerian or non-Nigerian. Nobody can stop you when you are determined.

Here is what I found:
The British had difficulty conquering the Igbo people of Southern Nigeria (1). The complicatedness they encountered arose from the fact that, unlike many other parts of what became Nigeria and surrounding countries, the Igbos were independently minded and lacked established central political authorities for the colonial masters to build upon. The Igbos did not have central political or religious figures like the Obas of the West or Emirs of the North that were mainly time-honoured politico-religious positions acquired by inheritance. So, whereas the people of the western and northern parts of Nigeria were already accustomed to yielding to an established authority, the Igbos elected their own chiefs purely on individual merit, where anyone – regardless of lineage, could vie for the position and could also be removed by majority vote (2). In fact, some Igbos resented the only formation that appeared to be a political and economic establishment. It was called the Aro Confederacy, and had been a large, notorious, slave trading network.
The British noticed the anti-Aro sentiments amongst the Igbos, and in the name of liberating them from the confederacy, they launched the Anglo-Aro War of 1901–1902 led by British officers Lt.Col. H.F. Montanaro, Capt. A.T. Jackson, Major A.M.N. Mackenzie, Lt.Col. A. Festing, and Major Heneker. The Aro side was led by Eze (King) Kanu Okoro of Arochukwu, and Okori Torti. Despite easily conquering Aro villages by killing several thousand men, including Eze Okoro himself and some other Aro leaders (against 700-800 casualties on the British side), and burning revered shrines, people's houses, community squares and crops, continual political control over the Igbos remained elusive for the British. So, the British forces began intensive pacification missions to convince the locals of British supremacy and good intentions. But the Igbos soon realized they had been tricked (1). In actual fact, while the Aro Confederacy was complicit in slave dealing, they had challenged the increasing British penetration of the hinterland. They fiercely resisted what they perceived as Whiteman’s infringement and threat on their culture, influence, and sovereignty.
Anti-British sentiments remained strong among the Igbos, and in 1929, an elderly, uneducated Igbo woman – a widow, called Nwanyeruwa, challenged British authority. That was an unprecedented undertaking by any single individual, let alone a woman. Her audacity sparked a short and violent war between women and the highly organised and well-equipped British authorities and their security forces. The war was probably the most shocking major crisis the British experienced during their rule in Nigeria and environs. The war began on November 18, 1929, as a simple dispute, when a census man, named Mark Emereuwa, asked Nwanyeruwa to “count her goats, sheep, and people” (2). Traditionally, women in West Africa were not charged taxes, and they were not required to answer census questions. Nwanyeruwa was very suspicious of the British and concluded she would soon be taxed. Exasperated, she immediately stirred other women from her village and her call for resistance quickly spread to nearby villages. It wasn’t long before the entire region was engulfed by dissent by the women. The British authorities were shocked and chagrined that the women would not give up their resistance and will not be intimidated. Then, war broke loose. Thus, a sudden campaign, initially non-violent, meant to ensure women from the region wouldn’t be taxed, and to protest the oppressive nature of British rule, got progressively heated to the point of the British using their guns on the women (3, 5).
For the two fiery months of November and December of that year, 1929, around 25,000 women, stretching out from Aba to Calabar and Owerri provinces protested the looming taxes and the power of the Warrant Chiefs imposed on them by the unpopular British (4, 5). The women chanted and danced, urging noblemen who collected taxes to resign from their posts. The angry women went on a rampage. They looted European-owned stores. They raided and wrecked the British-owned Barclays Bank. They broke into jailhouses and freed prisoners. The women attacked native courts run by colonial officials and disrupted any on-going proceedings. They even burned some of the buildings to the ground (2). However, the campaign was not without cost. Armed colonial police and some military personnel gunned down at least 50 women, and 50 others were severely wounded (3).
The "Aba Women's War" took two months for the colonial government to suppress and it became a historic example of feminist and anti-colonial protest. To backtrack a little, the riots evolved from January 1, 1914, when the first Nigerian colonial governor, Lord Luggard, instituted the system of indirect rule in Southern Nigeria. Under his plan, British administrators would rule locally, through "Warrant Chiefs", who were essentially local individuals appointed by the British governor to administer the draconian policies of the colonial masters (4). As mentioned earlier, Igbo chiefs had been traditionally elected on their personal merit, but the British authorities abolished their democratic systems and, instead, imposed "Warrant Chiefs" who did the bidding of the colonial masters.
Within a few years, the appointed Warrant Chiefs became increasingly oppressive. They wantonly seized property, imposed overbearing local regulations, and jailed anyone who openly criticized them. These Warrant Chiefs were hated, similar to the hatred American slaves had for Black slave-drivers – called Taskmasters, who were appointed by slave owners to impose or execute harsh or onerous workloads on their fellow Blacks. Although much of the anger was directed against the Warrant Chiefs, most Nigerians knew the source of their power, the British colonial administrators. The attempt to impose special taxes on Igbo women added to the disdain the locals had for them, and bolstered their sense of grievance. These Igbo women were peasant farmers and market women (2). They were already unhappy with the heavy taxes imposed on their husbands and sons. Moreover, the women were responsible for supplying the food they grew to the growing urban populations in Calabar, Owerri, Port Harcourt, and other Nigerian cities. They feared the taxes would drive many of them out of business and seriously disrupt the supply of food and non-perishable goods available to the populace.
The angry Igbo women used the long-established practice of censoring erring men through all-night song and dance, jeering at the men. It was often called "sitting on a man", an ultimate ridicule of a weak or thoughtless man in that culture. The women congregated nightly at the Native Administration centers to protest both the warrant chiefs and the taxes on the market women. By going after the incomes of local women, the colonial masters and their Warrant Chiefs had lost any sense of decency and therefore, any regard the women had for them. So, as far as the women were concerned, these men must be sat upon (4). The women chanted and danced, and in some locations, the Warrant Chiefs were on the run, disappearing before dawn. Men stayed away except for the colonial male security officers who resorted to deadly force after the women would not budge under threat.
The sacrifice of Aba women, especially those that were killed or injured, was not in vain. After the war, the British dropped their tax plans. Their puppets (the Warrant Chiefs) were forced to resign. Moreover, Britain and other colonial powers in the West African region recognised the hitherto underestimated power of women and improved the overall position and rights of women over the regions.
(1) Crowder, Michael. The International Journal of African Historical Studies 20, no. 2 (1987): 325-27. doi:10.2307/219854.
(2) D. C. Dorward, ed., The Igbo "Women's War" of 1929: Documents Relating to the Aba Riots in Eastern Nigeria (Wakefield, England: East Ardsley, 1983);
(3) Judith Van Allen, "Aba Riots" or “Women's War"?: British Ideology and Eastern Nigerian Women's Political Activism (Waltham, MA.: African Studies Association, 1971)
(4) Nancy J. Hafkin and Edna G. Bay, Women in Africa: Studies in Social and Economic Change (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1976).
(5) Nina Emma Mba, Nigerian Women Mobilized: Women's Political Activity in Southern Nigeria, 1900-1965 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982);
SOURCE  from  Mazi NwankamaNwankama ........facebook wall

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Cameroon revive Italy 1990 spirit to create history


Cameroonian comeback seals famous win over Swiss

Gaelle Enganamouit #17 of Cameroon leads her team in a cheer with their fans

Cameroon turned in a dynamic second-half showing to defeat Switzerland 2-1 for their first win over a European opponent at a FIFA Women’s World Cup™.
The result secured second spot in Group C for the Africans behind Japan, and set up a last-16 meeting with China PR.
Both teams pushed forward at every opportunity, allowing for an entertaining contest, with Cameroon dominating the second half after equalising soon after the break.
Early on Swiss captain Martina Moser floated a free-kick over the backline to Ana Maria Crnogorcevic, who narrowly failed to make contact with the goalkeeper exposed.
Cameroon skipper Christine Manie powered in a header directly from a corner, which was perhaps as close as the Africans came to scoring in the first half.
Cameroon then failed to deal with a forward ball, allowing Ramona Bachmann through on goal, but goalkeeper Anette Ngo Ndom just got enough on the block to see it go wide. But Switzerland were not to be denied, and Bachmann burst into the penalty area before pulling the ball back for Crnogorcevic to comfortably slot home from near the penalty spot.
Despite the goal it was Cameroon, backed by a healthy and noisy contingent, who enjoyed a strong passage of play with several half-sights of goal. Cameroon’s Gaelle Enganamouit was, as always, dangerous with her strong running. However, Switzerland could have doubled their advantage with Fabienne Humm’s header blocked by a second excellent save from Ngo Ndon.
Cameroon made a dream restart with Gabrielle Onguene striking two minutes after the interval, with a sweet finish from 18 yards following a pullback from the byline. The goal saw Cameroon find their confidence and they took the lead just past the hour mark, as Madeleine Ngono Mani powered in a close-range header just five minutes after coming on following a dynamic run and cross from Onguene. 

The dynamic Onguene could have repeated her feat with yet another amazing run down the right, but Francine Zouga saw her shot blocked on the line by Vanessa Bernauer.
Live Your Goals Player of the Match: Gabrielle Onguene (Cameroon)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

BAD HOSTS :Why black South Africans are attacking foreign Africans but not foreign whites


Why black South Africans are attacking foreign Africans but not foreign whites

The attacks on migrant shop owners in Durban this week reminds us the position of foreigner in South Africa is a complex one. After decades of isolation from the rest of the African continent, and the world, during apartheid, South Africa finally opened up to the rest of world in 1994.
Under apartheid, South Africa’s immigration mirrored the narrow mindedness and prejudice of the National Party. Several laws made visiting or living in South Africa unpalatable to many. Particularly those of non-European descent.
At the dawn of the “new South Africa” in 1994, the country became home to many outsiders playing a key role in offering protection and refuge to people who had suffered unfavorable conditions in their home countries.
At the heart of South Africa’s complex problem with xenophobia is the loaded meaning of the term foreigner.” Pejoratively, the term “foreigner” in South Africa usually refers to African and Asian non-nationals.
“Other” foreigners—particularly those from the Americas and Europe go unnoticed—they are often lumped up with “tourists,” or even better, referred to as “expats.”
It is this reason why the South African government says its hesitant to call the recent attacks on foreign nationals as xenophobic.

Is it “Afrophobia” or xenophobia?

Many South Africans look at the attacks on enterprising African immigrants from Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria and Malawi—often running shops, stalls and other businesses in the informal economy—and resolve that the current attacks on foreigners are more afrophobic, than xenophobic.
Many ask: “Why is it that a Somali man can run a shop in a township, get raided and beaten up, while a white immigrant in town continues to run a restaurant full of patrons?”
It is this delineation that breeds ground for denial.
While this sentiment may be correct—that the violent expression of xenophobia in South Africa is meted out mainly against African immigrants – it is unhelpful to resolve the crisis that has left many foreign nationals homeless, tortured and dispossessed.
While we can ascribe the attacks to sentiments of Afrophobia, we must be willing to agree that the attacks are fuelled by a sense of hatred, dislike and fear of foreigners – and that is xenophobia. And given the fact that foreign nationals from Pakistan and Bangladesh have been profiled in this wave of attacks, it will soon no longer be enough for South Africans to cry “Afrophobia.”

 A hangover from the past, fueled by present

South Africa’s xenophobia reflects the country’s history of isolation. As a country at the Southern most tip of Africa, South Africans are fond of referring to their continental counterparts as “Africans” or “people from Africa.” Many business ventures, news publications and events—aimed at local audiences—routinely speak about “going to Africa.”
Of course this narrow-mindedness, suffered by both black and white South Africans, is a by-product of apartheid. For black people, apartheid was an insidious tool used to induce self-hate and tribalize people of the same race. For white South Africans, apartheid was a false rubber-stamp of the white race as superior.
It is these two conceptions that gave rise to the myth that South Africa is not part of the African continent, but a different place that just happens to be on the tip of the continent.
Long after the scourge of apartheid, it is also clear that we’re fueling this prejudice in the present.
It remains to be seen whether South Africans will break away from these shackles, and rid themselves of this horrid prejudice anchored in our past, but seemingly fuelled by our present.

Friday, 5 September 2014




September 3, 2014 — The Italian politician who caused widespread outrage after comparing the country’s first black minister, Cécile Kyenge, to an orang-utan, now claims he is under the curse of African spirits following a string of misfortunes he believes are linked to a video showing a ceremony performed by people believed to be Kyenge’s relatives

Italy's Deputy Senate Speaker, Roberto Calderoli. Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters
Italy’s Deputy Senate Speaker, Roberto Calderoli. Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters
Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli caused national and international fury when he said the then Integration Minister, Cécile Kyenge, looked like an orangutan. Following the outrage, he gave a lukewarm apology but refused to resign.
Last week, The Independent reported that he was also seeking ‘spiritual’ advice following the release of video “evidence” from the Democratic Republic of Congo where Kyenge’s father – who is said to be a “tribal leader” – is depicted performing a ritual that put a ‘macumba‘ on Calderoli as punishment for the insult.
Cécile Kyenge. Photo: European University Institute
Here is the video of the supposed ritual where Ms Kyenge’s father, Clement Kikoko Kyenge, leads a ceremony in the village of Katanga, in the DRC. In the video, he prayed to God for the “racist politician” to repent. A less orthodox part of the service saw Mr Kyenge place a photo of the Deputy Senate Speaker on an enclosed termite mound, while seeking to communicate with the spirits of the elders (Narrated in Italian):
The Speaker claims to have suffered the following misfortunes in the wake of the curse:
  • Six surgeries – two of them saved his life
  • The death of his mother
  • Fractured bones
  • The discovery of a six-foot snake in the kitchen of his house in northern Italy
These events prompted Calderoli to seek the services of an unnamed mystic.
Calderoli told Oggi magazine, who filmed the event: “The photos and the video were unsettling. They put a picture of me in the middle of a termite mound. That is not a friendly message.”
Mr Kyenge commented about the snake in the kitchen saying it’s a bad omen. “A snake in the house is not a good sign and I’m not sure Calderoli did well to kill it,” he said. “If when he apologised to Cécile he was sincere, he can feel comfortable. If, however, those excuses were insincere, the ancestors might become angry.”
Following Mr Calderoli’s comments against Ms Kyenge last year, racist protesters threw bananas at her during a public appearance.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Calderoli insiste: "Su di me macumba".

Calderoli insiste: "Su di me macumba". Papà Kyenge: "Hai fatto innervosire antenati"

L'ex ministro leghista: "Negli ultimi tempi mi è capitato di tutto, chiedo la revoca del rituale". Clement Kikoko Kyenge effettuò un rito tribale dopo alcune frasi razziste dell'esponente leghista. Kyenge: "Sono cattolica, non credo a queste cose"
MILANO - "Non sono mai stato superstizioso ma dopo la macumba che mi ha fatto il papà della Kyenge  mi è capitato di tutto e di più". Roberto Calderoli insiste e rilancia una storia che assomiglia sempre di più alla sceneggiatura di un film tragicomico. Intervistato dal settimanale Oggi l'esponente leghista rilancia le accuse rivolte al padre dell'ex ministro dell'Integrazione Cecile Kyenge.

"Sei volte in sala operatoria, due in rianimazione, una in terapia intensiva, è morta mia mamma e nell'ultimo incidente mi sono rotto due vertebre e due dita" ricorda l'ex ministro, reduce dalle fatiche parlamentari dove è stato relatore di maggioranza del ddl Riforme al Senato e sono in molti a ricordarlo con il braccio fasciato durante le sedute.

Dopo le disgrazie che gli sono accadute nei mesi scorsi, l'ex ministro leghista lancia un appello al padre della Kyenge: "Forse è il caso di mandare un messaggio distensivo a papà Kyenge per chiedergli la revoca del rituale che mi fece".

Pochi giorni fa Calderoli era stato protagonista di un altro episodio inquietante: aveva diffuso in rete le foto di un serpente di due metri trovato nella sua cucina e prontamente ucciso.

"Non sono mai stato superstizioso ma dopo la macumba che mi ha fatto il papà della Kyenge mi è capitato di tutto e di più", aveva postato su Fb alcuni giorni fa l'ex ministro, che continuava: "Non so se devo mettere un annuncio sul giornale o chiamare direttamente Bergoglio, sempre che non sia troppo occupato a sistemare gli immigrati a casa nostra, ma io devo trovare assolutamente un esorcista. Se qualcuno ha numeri di telefono o mail di esorcisti li aspetto con gratitudine...".

Il rituale del padre della Kyenge arrivò dopo le dichiarazione shock del luglio scorso dell'ex ministro leghista, che alla festa leghista di Treviglio paragonò l'allora ministro dell'Integrazione "ad un orango", salvo poi scusarsi pubblicamente.

Clement Kikoko Kyenge, raggiunto in Katanga (Repubblica democratica del Congo) dal settimanale Oggi, decise allora di compiere un rito tribale su di lui "affinchè gli avi lo liberassero da cattivi pensieri e parole offensive, usando parole di tolleranza e non di vendetta".

Evidentemente le rassicurazioni sull'effetto positivo del rituale non sono bastate a Calderoli, che insiste: "Le foto e i video di Oggi erano inquietanti: avevano messo una mia foto in mezzo ai termitai. Non è un messaggio amichevole. Dopo quel rito alcuni colleghi napoletani mi regalarono un cornetto di corallo: due giorni dopo, senza una pressione di nessun genere si è spezzato in due. Una maga ha visto forze tremende in azione attorno a me".

Il settimanale ha raggiunto telefonicamente lo stesso Clement Kikoko Kyenge, che dice: "Un serpente in casa non è un bel segnale e non sono sicuro che Calderoli abbia fatto bene a ucciderlo... Se quando lui ha chiesto scusa a Cecile era sincero, può stare tranquillo. Se invece quelle scuse sono state frutto di calcolo e convenienza, gli antenati potrebbero innervosirsi".

Alle parole di Calderoli ha replicato dalle colonne di la Kyenge, oggi eurodeputata del Pd, infastidita dalle affermazioni del vicepresidente del Senato: "Mi chiedo che religione pratichi il senatore Calderoli. Io sono cattolica per cui non credo a tante altre pratiche o tanti altri riti. Che per me non esistono, per cui non sto dietro a queste sue esternazioni che secondo me vanno anche contro le credenze".

Kyenge ha negato che sia mai stata fatta alcuna macumba da parte di suo padre che anzi, sottolinea, "gli ha rivolto un gesto di perdono e di accoglienza". Un perdono che però non eviterà al vicepresidente del Senato il processo per dichiarazione aggravata da odio razziale. "Il 30 c'è il processo e ci troviamo lì" ha concluso l'ex ministro.