Friday, December 31, 2010
THE ABA WOMEN’S RIOT AS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE OF BRITISH RULE IN NIGERIA DURING THE COLONIAL PERIOD
The 1929 Aba women’s riot was one outstanding attempt to resist colonial policies and control of the British against the local Nigerians. This was very outstanding due to the creative and highly recognized role played by women in the disturbance. This happened under the British control which had Lord Fredrick Lugard as the British governor of the British colonized Nigeria. The British failed to understand the cultural make of most of their African colonies and believed that indirect rule was practicable in most places. The south eastern part of present day Nigerian had was not very suitable for the holistic implementation of the Indirect rule system and the British had little of know knowledge of that. The British went ahead to great chiefs in a place where that practically used classical democracy where no one person can be said to have the views of every body but majority decisions stands. Lord Lugard did not realize that the people in this region were not used to taking orders from anyone chief, king etc. The British appointment of Warrant Chief and divided the region to them. This angered a whole lot of people but nothing much happened in the early stage. Clashes were later to develop based on the activities of these people that were serving the imperialist interest of the British.
Tension was instituted when a census was carried out to know the number of men and their annual income ration in 1927. After this census, a tax system was imposed on men in the area each based on his income in 1928. Resistance was low but most people were not happy with the situations. The life style of most of these warrant chiefs did not help matter for most of them became corrupt and used all means to enrich themselves on the detriment and suffering of the people in the area. To these behavior of theirs, the British look the other way because they were getting the need fund they seriously desired through the instrumentality of these warrant chiefs. Grudgingly, people agreed to pay the imposed taxes. The British made a very grave mistake through the actions of their District officer on the region. He wanted to improve on the assessment of adult males and asked his warrant chiefs to assess details of number of wives, children and domestic animals each man has. When agents of the warrant chiefs came asking questions about women and animals, this alarmed women.
The major problem started in a village under the Aba region where Okugo an indigene appointed a British warrant chief made an attempt to assess the information as demanded by the District Officer. This situation seriously angered the people. To the people, especially women, this meant that the people would be made to pay more taxes; and women who hitherto had not been paying taxes, would be made to pay. To show their disproval, all the women in Aba region met to decide about it. In their meeting they agreed to demonstrate against the development. The next day after the meeting, they demonstrate in front of the administrative officer (A Briton) of the region. The administrative officer misinterpreted the situation. He felt that the women. He felt that the women want to declare war against his administration and other a serious police clamp down on the women. The attempt so bring down the demonstration led to the shooting of some women and as well triggered a wide spread violent demonstrations against British rule by most women.
The violent demonstrations spread to most other places in the present south eastern part of Nigeria. Places like Owerri, Calabar, Opobo, and other south eastern communities. In the demonstration, warrant chiefs were molested; local courts burnt, British stores were burnt. Some of these women were shot death by the Police loyal to the British authorities. The riot was even stronger in Opobo were it was said that the Police shot 32 women and injured many people.
When the news got to Britain, many people condemned the development. The Foreign Office condemned it and a commission was set up to ascertain the development that created the problem. Surprisingly though the commission made up of only British personnel came up with points absolving the British administrators in the area while blaming the development on helpless Aba women.