Friday, 27 July 2018


Women demonstrating


The ABA women Riot of 1929, like never before, it will be coming in three parts. This is the Part ONE. This project took me 69 days to research on from when I made up my mind to work on it, I visited 6 states, read dozens of books and old newspapers of 1929, 1930 and 1931. Interviewed 6 elderly ones with 86years being the youngest and 4 younger ones in their 40's and above. Visited 3 national Museums, 2 national Archives and 4 national Libraries and I worked with a budget of close to half a million naira, worked with no sponsor.

The first time I heard about the ‘Aba Women Riot’ was in 1979, my secondary school Agriculture class teacher, Mr Okeugo Gabriel Ihueze who later became a Canon Reverend, while he was in Azuiyi Oloko Secondary school, will tell us about his father – Chief Okeugo, before he commenced class almost every morning. It did not matter so much to us then, but as I worked on this project, I could hear his voice as if he is by my side, He was born at about the same time of the uprising for his father died in 1934. When I got home on holiday, I told my grandmother who was about 70 years old then about the women riot, that night she sat us down, me and my cousins and Nephew staying with us and she told us stories of the ‘Ogu Umunwanyi’ (Women War) and the roles she played as a 20 year old young women then, my grandmother Mama Nnuji was born at about 1909 and she died in 1997 at age 88. 

Arriving Sam Mbakwe airport Owerri from Lagos to commence the journey by road to Oloko in Abia State

In the course of the research work, I met and interviewed the great-grandsons of Mr Ojim, the husband of Nwanyiriuwa who played a major role in the Aba woman riot - Amos Ojim in Oloko, Abia state and his younger brother Emmanuel Ojim in Lagos.

I visited and interviewed Eze Godfrey Okeugo, the son of Chief Okeugo, I visited the house of Chief Warrant Officer Eze Ngadi Nwaonuma who took over from Chief Warrant Officer Eze Okeugo, there I met his 2nd son De Ebubedike Ngadi and I interviewed him. I also visited Eze Toti Igbokwe Oko 1 of Oloko, though I did not get an interview, but his daughter Nkem Igbokwe was of great help. I visited and interviewed Deacon Okechukwu Egbe a grandson of Nwaola Agamba from Ahaba Oloko, one of the women who was involved in the uprising and a kinsmen of Mr Mark Emeruwa.

I visited Chief Okeugo’s office, Oloko Native Court at Ndugbe built in 1904, the Aba Prison, the customary court in Aba, I was also at Eke-Akpara, and interviewed two elderly men, I was at the palace of the King of Eke-Akpara but he was not at home so I missed talking to him. I visited Uyo in Akwa-Ibom and Calabar in Cross-Rivers state.

My challenges while working on this research work was mostly the grand children of most of those I needed to interview, practically all of them had one mind set – that government must have paid me huge money to carry out the research as such demands where made of me, ranging from N20, 000 to as much N100, 000. In areas where the interviewee has a story to tell base on my assessment, I negotiated and paid what I could afford, in other areas I walked away. For example at Eke-Akpara I was introduced to Nne Oyiridiya, a woman said to be 109 years old and she took part in the riot. The old woman was not quite stable due to old age, in my attempt to interact with her, she seemed incoherent. The grandchildren through their spokesperson Nickolas insisted that I pay them N50, 000 to have an interview and photograph with her. I objected, when I realised that she may not remember anything from the event that is worth the money been demanded of me.   

Presentation of Kolanut to me on arrival at the home of Deacon Okechukwu Egbe a grandson
of Nwaola Agamba from Ahaba Oloko

On a bike heading to Oloko in Ikwuano LGA of Abia State

1.11      The Colonial master never attempted to tax the women, if they did there is no record of it anywhere.
22    Chief Okeugo never asked the women to pay tax, like it is speculated in most write-ups and that was why he was later discharged and acquitted and even paid 800 pounds as compensation.    
33    Mark Emeruwa the court Clerk that went to Nwanyiriuwa’s house never asked her to pay tax for her goats and chickens, rather he demanded to see her husband.
44    Aba woman riot never started in Opobo (Ikot-Abasi), rather it ended there because of the number, of 53 people killed there.
55     Margaret Ekpo never took part in the 1929 Women uprising, she was born in 1914 and was only 15 years as at 1929, she was a standard 4 student of Girls Institute, Greek Town during the riot.
66    Nwanyiriuwa was not an old widow as at 1929, the husband Mr Ojim was still alive.
77   The riot started in Umungboro, Oloko in what is today Abia state.
88      The rumour that women and domestic animals were to be taxed was the making of warrant chiefs who wanted to cheat their subjects, it was speculated to have been first announced officially by Chief Ananamba of Umuala Oloko.
99    The attack on commercial and colonial buildings and the looting that took place in Aba is what gave the uprising the colonial name, “Aba Women Riots.”
110.  The women in Oloko did not cause major damage to either Okeugo’s compound or the native court, in other areas women wreaked havoc on warrant chiefs’ compounds, tearing the grass mats off their roofs to roast confiscated yams and pulling down storage sheds. Buildings linked to the colonial administration or European trading interests, especially the native courts, also became common targets.
111.  The women looted European stores but left local stores untouched. They also targeted roads and railways erected by the colonial masters, giving out the impression that the uprising was obviously an action to harass Warrant chiefs, court clerks, and British officials.
12.  Chief Okeugo was forced into exile at Aba, where he was taken care of by Chief Obasi, the then Resident Commissioner at Owerri set up a panel of inquiry on the women riot and the result of investigation showed Chief Okeugo acted within the limits of the warrant given to him. Chief Okeugo was thereafter discharged and acquitted and was paid the sum of 800 pounds as compensation for damages and assault in 1932.
13.  Before the 1929 riot there was a Calabar Market women demonstration in April of 1925, when the women of Ibiobio and Efik protested the introduction of market tolls at the Watts and Marina Beach markets. This riot has no connection to the tax riot of 1929.
14.  Three names can be associated to the demonstrations based on effect in the arrears they happened. ‘Oloko Women Uprising’ Aba Women Riot’ and ‘Opobo Women Killings’ in all the names, one stand unique ‘Ogu Umuwanyi’, Women’s War,

Margret Ekpo never took part in the 1929 Women uprising, she was born in 1914 and was only 15 years as at 1929, she was a standard 4 student of Girls Institute, Greek Town during the riot. In her biography written while she was alive, this is the fact on page VII


In 1914, the Northern and Southern Protectorate and the Colony of Lagos were amalgamated to form the present day Nigeria, by Lord Frederic Lugard, who also became the Governor General of Nigeria. The amalgamation was with little or no consideration to the traditional power system in place by the different ethnic nationals that became Nigeria. For easy governance, the ‘indirect rule’ system was introduced, in which the new amalgamated Nigeria was ruled through local representatives as selected by the colonial master in the South and West, the colonial master did not take cognisance of the fact that the Northern Protectorate culture and tradition were different from that of the South and the East. In 1918, the British Colonial government attempted to abolish local currencies altogether.

The first elections for the unofficial members for Lagos and Calabar were held on September 20, 1923. The new Legislative Council was inaugurated by the Governor on October 31, 1923. The Protectorates (including the mandated territory of the Cameroons) were divided into twenty-two Provinces, each under the immediate control of a Resident Colonial Master. The Southern Provinces and Colony was 91,139 square miles in space.

In 1924, about three thousand women “rioted” in Calabar when a market toll was ordered by the government upon the women. In the Southern Province, Warrant Chiefs were introduced, which was strange to the people, the Igbos generally don’t believe in kingship or single paramount leader, leadership was a collective thing. Traditionally, the Igbos leadership system was held among groups power sharing formula, where elders made most decisions, women had a significant role like participating in village meetings, and had very strong solidarity groups, through their kinship networks and market networks, there was also the age grade system, but with the introduction of the warrant chief, things started falling apart. The center could not hold, when it was observed that the newly introduced Warrant Chiefs became increasingly powerful, rich, oppressive, and demanding. Most of them told lies and misinterpreted the laws of the white man taking advantage of their positions.

In November 1925,  Nwaobiala dancers appeared in Owerri and presented a message to local warrant chiefs and elders to be careful in the way they deal with the citizens and by February of 1926 the Nwaobiala dancers gradually disappears; participants fined by government.

Same year, 1926 the British colonial government held a census, in which only the men were counted, the result of the census was later used as bases for taxing the men. In April 1927, government took measures to enforce the Native Revenue (Amendment) Ordinance on the citizens. A colonial resident, W. E. Hunt, was commissioned by the Lieutenant Governor of Nigeria to explain the provisions and objects of the new Ordinance to the people throughout the five provinces in the Eastern Region. This was to prepare the ground for the introduction of direct taxation due to take effect in April 1928, for men in south-eastern Nigeria.
Census officer at work

On September 27, 1927, while the Officer Administrating the government from Sapele visited Sabo in the present Edo State, he announced the introduction of tax to be paid by the men, some of the men who came to welcome him, objected. The Colony Police contingent stationed at Sobo opened fire on what they described as mob reaction to the Administrative Officer. The Acting Inspector General fired first shot into the air and one of his officers followed by firing into the crowd and he killed a Sabo man instantly while others got injured. The other Sobo’s did not take the killing likely and this led to the police arresting some of them, the police beat up another Sobo man to the point of death and the result was a riot that spread through Sapele, Forcados and Burutu. Markets were closed down and the police continued night patrols all of the towns.

After the incident in Sabo, Mr C W Duncan, resumed work officially as the Inspector General of the Southern Province Police Force.

Major F. H. Ruxton, C.M.G., the Lieutenant-Governor of the Southern Provinces, retired on the 14th March, and was succeeded on May 15th by Mr. C. W, Alexander, and he announced that there will be a fresh census in areas around Warri, Owerri, Onitsha, Calabar and Ogoja Provinces.

A warrant Officer  presiding 

Direct taxation on men was introduced in 1928 without major incidents, thanks to the careful propaganda during the preceding twelve months.

Tax schedules for the then four Eastern Provinces of Calabar, Owerri, Onitsha and Ogoja were established early in 1928. Calabar Province was assessed (7/-) seven shillings per adult male. The Kwa or Ekoi area, known locally as Abakpa, was assessed to pay the lowest rate of (5/-) five shillings per head of an adult male person. Opobo – Ibekwe District was rated to pay the highest rate of tax per adult male, then fixed at (8/-) eight shillings. The tax was used to maintain roads and to keep navigable waterways open. Roads were maintained at the expense of Native Authorities.

With the introduction of tax for men and the fact that prices of palm oil products fell because of the economic depression, hardship increased, the people expected a reduction in the tax or even outright cancellation.

In September 1929, Captain J. Cook, an assistant District Officer, was sent to take over the Bende division temporarily from the serving district officer, a Mr. Weir, until the return of Captain John Hill from leave in November. He took over and felt that the tax income was low. He set about reviewing to find out if they were tax evaders.

Cook asked for the verification of the census results in his province to find out why the tax income was low, invariably, he wanted the District Officer to reconfirm that every male paid their tax.

That same month of September, strikes occurred at the Government Colliery, in Enugu, because of illegal deductions made by the headmen from the labourers' pay, in the Onitsha Province the collection of tax preceded smoothly.

On October 14, 1929, the news was passed around the districts by a van mounted with a loud speaker, and the native news announcer with the Gong commenced the announcements streets by streets within the villages. The news got to the Warrant Chief in Oloko Native Court in the then Bende division and now Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State among others.

Among the chiefs were Chief Ori, of Umumkpe who commenced the counting immediately, then there was a Chief Ananamba of Umuala Oloko, this same Chief Ananamba had earlier been convicted for six months for obstructing the counting of men and paying of tax in his community, it was rumoured that after he came out of prison that he felt that since he was convicted and sentenced for trying to protect his people he should then join them if he can’t beat them. He worked out a way to get more from the people through the same tax method, he summoned a meeting of all the elders of Umuala and explained to them that the District Officer had instructed that a new census will be held for women, young girls, children, and all domestic animals, he also went further to prepare their mind that it was for tax. Let us look at a practical example: a man with 3 wives, 15 children 20 goats, 40 chickens, 30 sheep, will either pay more or forfeits some of the domestic animal to the chief, thinking they were for the District officers.   

From Umuala, the news went out across the province that the women will pay tax and even for their goats, sheep and chickens. (Note that it was not officially from the colonial master.) Everybody in the villages was prepared for the tax collectors. 

Women exhibits fear of being taxed as the look ahead in bewilderment  

What later became the ‘Ogu Umuwanyi’, (Women’s War) took its foundation from events of  Monday November 18, 1929, at about 9 am, Mr Mark Emeruwa, arrived at Mr Ojim’s house in Umugboro Oloko to collect tax from Mr Ojim. Contrary to most report, he did not go there to collect tax from his wife, goats and chicken. (There is no record anywhere that women where to be taxed as of that date) it was not the first time that Emeruwa was meeting Ojim’s wife, everybody knew him within the village, as ‘Onye Nkusi’ (teacher), though it was not too long that he got appointed as a Clerk Officer to the Warrant Officer. Mr Emeruwa hailed from Ahaba Oloko, a distance of less than two kilometres from each other. He was a teacher at the Local (NDP) Niger Delta Pastorate Mission.

As he approached Ojim’s house, he saw De Ojim (as he was popularly called) going out and he greeted him, ‘De Ojim, it’s you I have come to see’, Ojim greeted him back and asked what was his mission for the morning visit and he explained to him that is has to do with tax, Ojim looked at him and directed him to go and see his senior wife in the compound, while he walked away. Emeruwa walked into the compound and he saw the younger wife - Nwanyiriuwa.

Nwanyiriuwa, a native of Umuosu from the Ngwa clan, two villages away from Oloko, through Azuiyi-Oloko, she was a traditional nurse, very good with  circumcisions of new-born babies and older babies, she was the second wife of De Ojim. Very hard working woman and ever busy, when she is performing her duties as a nurse, she is either producing palm oil, palm kennel or she is harvesting cassava to produce garri, that was generally the occupation of most people in the village. 

Pa OJIM the husband of Nwanyiriuwa

Standing by the grave side of Pa Ojim on Oloko

Mark Emuruwa greeted Nwanyiriuwa as he approached her with a smile and told her that he wanted to see the elder wife. Nwanyiriuwa asked him what his mission was and he explained that her husband directed him to come in and collect money for tax, from the elder wife. (contrary to most report that Nwanyiriuwa was a widow is not true) as at the time of his visit, Nwanyiriuwa and her kids were preparing palm oil from the palm nut they harvested on Saturday November 16.

When Emeruwa demanded for Ojim’s tax, Nwanyiriuwa retorted, “Are you still counting? Last year my son’s wife who was pregnant died. I am still mourning the death of that woman. Was your mother counted for tax?”

Nwanyiriuwa told him to go away that her husband don’t work for the white man like him and as such have no money to pay. Mr Emeruwa replied that he was only a messenger and he is obeying orders from above. At this point Madam Nwanyiriuwa was said to have whispered something to the ear of one of her children. The young boy took to his heals. She turned to Mr Emeruwa and asked him, if he was not aware that she was the one running the family from her meagre income that her husband had no job and the senior wife was of age.

Mr Emeruwa, at this point told her that it is either she call out the elder wife to come and pay the tax fine or he will call for backup from the warrant office for them to take away properties worth the tax. On hearing that, she became hysterical and with her palm oil hand grabbed Mr Emeruwa by the collar of his white short-sleeve shirt, he struggled to free himself and tried to push her away, she held on tight and started what eventually led to the uprising. She screamed for help, making sure the shirt has enough oil, as she screamed the son returned with some women from the neighbouring compounds and her senior mate also joined, Nwanyiriuwa told the women how Mr Emeruwa came to her to pay tax since her husband was not working and how she objected and he decided to beat her up, she told them that Mr Emeruwa on the authority of Chief Okeugo plans to start the next day Tuesday to move around with local police to confiscate properties of all those who may not afford to pay tax.  Mr Emeruwa tried to explain his own side of the story but the number of women kept on increasing and he took to his heals and ran straight to his boss house Chief Okeugo. (Note, the order to collect the tax and remit to government was passed by the authorities of the British Colonial Masters, the British-appointed Warrant Chief Okeugo, was only following orders when he delegated Mark Emeruwa to go round and collect the tax.

Nwanyiriuwa and her senior mate (co-wife) with few women went to Chief Okeugo palace to explain things but Chief Okeugo chastised her, and insisted that her husband must pay the tax whether she liked it or not.

Nwanyiriuwa said to him on arrival, (Nna anyi, O bu gini ka nmere) ‘My father, what have I done?’ and Chief Okeugo was said to have replied: ‘Woman, dared you assault my messenger and soil him with oil? If you have yams, you had better go and eat them, as your own matter is over, when the District Officer comes, he will take charge of you.”

After this confrontation, Nwanyiriuwa made her way to the Oloko Eke market where some Christian women were holding a meeting, though they were not her age-mates, she called out to the women, recounting how Emeruwa had tried to count women and saying that Okeugo had personally threatened her for resisting the count and told her that women were to be taxed. Outraged by this news, the missionized women eventually marched to the compound of their co-religionist, Mark Emeruwa, and proceeded to “sing and dance for him.” After forcing Emeruwa and his entire household to escape into the mission compound, the Christian women returned to Eke market, where they continued to sing and dance throughout the night, drawing a larger crowd as the evening progressed.

Nwanyiriuwa’s husband Ojim spent the night in a distant relative compound after hearing about the incident between his wife and Mark Emeruwa.

By the morning of Tuesday, the women returned and assembled in Chief Okeugo’s compound. They sang and danced around in the compound in a “sit on” style. Chief Okeugo’s wives came out to attack the women verbally and this did not go down well with the women, the women got irritated by the action of Okeugo’s wives. They started throwing objects to the chief and his households. 

Chief Okeugo Ekeoma Ule

They did not go to the court where he presides which is located in Ntugbu, situated between Azuiyi stream and Obuba on the island bounded by Azuiyi in the West and Orokoro river by the North, the Ogbuoneyeugo river by the East and the Ahaba Oloko Umugo river by the South and South East.

This time around Chief Okeugo knew it was no joke again, when he saw the large number of women. He came out and tried to apologise to the women, he explained to them that the tax was not for or on women and not on animals too, he reminded them that he has 60 wives and hundreds of animals as such he will never support the colonial master if he had ordered the women to pay tax and pay for their domestic animals too. His pleading had no effect on the women, then he ordered that ‘Achama’ his most beautiful cow, be given to the women to appease them. The women accepted but just as they were about to take the cow away, Chief Okeugo’s most elderly wife objected that the cow should not be taken away and that was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The women erupted in anger demanding for Chief Okeugo’s cap, which is his symbol of authority.   

The Police Officer attached to protect him opened fire in the air and there was confusion in the compound, several women were injured in the skirmish, including one woman named Enyidiya who later claimed that she miscarried as the result of a blow from a stick. The news went far and near through the markets in Oloko and surrounding areas, and several thousand women from neighbouring towns filtered into Oloko in the days that followed.

On November 24, 1929, Oloko women “sit on” Warrant Chief Okeugo; several women were hurt, as news of Nwanyiriuwa’s case spreads throughout the area and women flood into Oloko

The women left Okeugo’s place and instead of going to their homes, went back to Ahia Eke Ukwu, the central market place in Oloko. Some of them entered the bush to get palm fronts of which they immediately dispatched (a way of declaring emergency) to other women in Ahaba and Ntalakwu the nearby villages and by evening hundreds of women gathered in the compound of Warrant Chief Okeugo, chanting war songs, dancing around his compound and demanding his removal, this continued in small scales.

(Chief Okeugo Ekeoma Ule was born at about 1840, a native of Umumgboro Oloko, it was said that he was a great friend of King Jaja of Opobo, he was at a time a slave dealer, though he stopped after the abolition of slave trade and he became a palm oil merchant. He was so powerful, he had 60 wives and hundreds of children, about 40 cows, 100’s of goats and chickens. History have it that the colonial master wanted the railway to pass through Oloko for his sake to bring development to his people but he objected for fear that the train will carry his wives away and many other beautiful women in his community away as slaves. In 1904, a native court was built at Ntugbu Oloko, and Chief Okeugo became the Warrant Officer, with jurisdiction over Owerri Province, which included Aba, Arochukwu and Umuahia Divisions, as well as Ikot Epene, Nkannu Divisions. His cows had names like humans and among the cows was ‘Achama’ the most beautiful of his cows.)

News went round Oloko, Oboro, Ibere and Ariam-Ushaka, the moment the news got into Oboro the women were mobilised, women of Ntalakwu, Umuigu, Ahuwa, Amaoba, Oguebulle, Iberanta, Nnono and Ngwugwo. From Bende Province the news moved to the neighbouring villages, through Azuiyi Oloko, who shared boundary with the Ngwa people of the present day Akwa-Ibom: Ikpe, Ikono, Iwerre, Itu Mbon Uso, Nkari. My grandmother, Pelinah (aka) Mama Nnuji was one of the women from Ahuwa who took part in the uprising, she was a woman leader and a great farmer with massive farmland, she told me how her name was changed to Nnuji, during the uprising for her donation of the first 100 tubers of yam to the women during their ‘sit at Okeugo’ and after then the women addressed her Nnuji (100 yam). Besides, the case of my grandmother, several other women donated food stuffs and a compulsory ten shillings contribution to assist the women for mobilisation and logistics. The news of the women uprising spread like wild fire, more women were all summoned to Oloko. The news was that the District Officer forced Oloko women to start paying tax and before soon all the women will be forced to pay tax. 

My secondary school Agriculture class teacher, Rev Okeugo Gabriel Ihueze, son of Chief Okeugo

On November 26, a representative of the women of Oloko went to see the acting District Officer, Captain Cook, at Bende and reported the actions of Emeruwa and Okeugo. The next day, another group of women visited the district office and informed Cook that women from Bende, Aba, Owerri, and Ikot-Ekpene divisions had converged on Okeugo’s compound. Cook dispatched his police sergeant to reassure the women that the government had no intention of taxing them, he even travelled to Oloko himself to appeal to the women. For two days he did all to appease the women, but more women joined their colleagues in Oloko.

On December 2, 1929, thousands of women gathered and demonstrated at Oloko under the leadership of three women: Nwannedia,  Nwugo and Ikonnaya Nwanyiukwu Enyia, who was the leader of the women meeting prior to the uprising and she continued in that capacity during the period of the uprising. Madam Ikonnaya was a blood relation to Chief Okeugo as such some of the women who knew about the link felt that she may want to protect the Warrant Chief, but to their greatest amazement she was the one that led the women. The crowd mobbed Chief Okeugo, damaged a part of his house, demanded for his cap of office, and when he was not forth coming with the cap, Madam Ikonnaya led the others to seize his cap off his head and in the process he sustained bruises that brought out blood from his head, which was an abomination in the community. Blood related persons don’t harm each to the extent of producing blood).

Standing at the balcony of Chief Okeugo's court

Chief Okeugo's court still standing now nicknamed Oloko Okeugo

A shelve probably used by Chief Okeugo still in the court

Inside Chief Okeugo's office
That same day Captain John Hill returned from leave and relieved Cook, Captain John Hill immediately gave orders for the arrest of Chief Okeugo on the charge of assaulting some of the women, at least, since there was evidence that some of the women (about 9) had sustained injuries from sticks, whips, and arrows.

The next day the women marched from Oloko to Bende to attend the trial of Chief Okeugo, about 4,000, women with their spoke persons: Ikonnaya, Nwugo, and Nwannedie, three leaders chosen by the women of Oloko.

Nwaola Agamba from Ahaba Oloko, one of the women who was involved in the
uprising and a kinsmen of Mr Mark Emeruwa

Statue of madam Ikonnaya

Madam Nnuji who donated 100 yam to the woman

Nwanyiriuwa did not expect that her little confrontation will pull together so much force among the women, so she consistently pleaded that they should be no destruction what so ever. For example when the Oloko women merged with other women including the women of Oboro and marched through Umudike to Bende, a woman from the crowd had spoken about one Mr Robert Fisher, who according to her had claimed their land in Umudike two years later, she told the women that the land was so massive that her family presently has no land inheritance, she went on to tell the women that the said Fisher had just started gathering people on the land claiming it was a special school to train teacher and she queried how do you train teachers when it is the teachers that are supposed to train people. She insisted that the women should follow her and seize her land back, but the women leaders objected that it was not their mission. (that land is the present day 10 square miles (26 km2) premises of Government College Umuahia which was open to the public on January 29, 1929 first  as a teacher training institute and in 1930, converted to a secondary school.)

On arrival at Bende, the trio met with Captain Hill’s wife and appealed to her to arrange a meeting with her husband. That evening Mrs Hill arranged for the meeting, which was held in Hill’s house and the woman demanded that for peace to reign that Chief Okeugo must be tried. Captain Hill accepted. On December 4, Chief Okeugo was tried, convicted, and sentenced to two years imprisonment at the Bende court compound.

Sitting on a bench and table said to be over 80 years old and probably used
by Warrant Chief Ngadiuba in Oloko

Standing with De Ebubedike Ngadi, after my interview with him. He is the second son of
Chief Warrant officer Eze Ngadi Nwaanuma

Standing under a tree said to be over 100 years withing the Chief Okeugo's court compound in Oloko

Azuiyi river where the women drank from after visiting Chief Okeugo's court

After he was sentenced, the women mounted pressure on Captain Hill for his staff of office and on December 22, Captain Hill surrendered Okeugo’s cap of office to the women.
Though, in her confessional report at the commission of enquiry, Nwanyiriuwa told the commission that “Emeruwa simply appeared before her and demanded that she count her goats, sheep and people.” Which obviously was not true. Also at the Aba Commission of Enquiry days later, Mr Ojim was asked whether he approved of the women of his household and their actions against Emeruwa, he responded tersely, “I am not a woman.”

In an exclusive interview with the 82 year old Eze Okeugo, the son of the 
Warrant Officer Chief Okeugo of Oloko

standing with 64 years old Mr Amos Ojim, the grandson of Nwanyiriuwa Ojim 
of Umugboro, Oloko after my interview with him

with elder Emmanuel, the second grandson of Nwanyiriuwa Ojim
of Umugboro, Oloko after my interview with him

There was no recorded shooting during the Oloko uprising, so no death was recorded officially in Oloko, but many of the women were injured.

Traditional way of preparing palm oil, this was how Nwanyiriuwa was doing her thing when Mr Emeruwa visited

Watch out for part two and three, covering Aba and Opobo

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Tuesday, 10 July 2018


With my copy of Roots

 ‘Roots’ opens with the birth of an African child in a village in Gambia. The child Kunta  Kinte grows up in a conducive, loving and happy environment. His parents and indeed, the whole community were proud of the energetic and handsome youth. As a teenager, Kunta Kinta, is initiated into manhood, he along with the rest of his peers are taught the rudiments of becoming adults and also how to protect their community against marauders.  

The young men were also warned to avoid the white men like a plague, since they have the penchant for carting away Africa’s prominent young and healthy men and women to America to work where they are subjected to excruciating labour on the plantations. As he becomes an adult, Kunta Kinta goes into the forest to get the right wood with which to make a drum for his younger brother and he is caught alongside many other Africans from outside his tribe. From the plantation, Kunta Kinta makes his way across the country and meets a girl he knew back home in Africa. He continues to emphasise his strong African heritage, and this led to his right foot being amputated to prevent his escape. It went on to show how the 30-year old Kunta Kinta, who then worked for US Public Broadcasting service adjusted to life as a slave without harbouring any desire to get his freedom.

The book ‘Roots’ by Alex Harley is the search for the origin of his African family, the book is a blend of fact and fiction. In July 1977, the TV version attracted 130 million viewers and was adjudged the largest television audience in America.

Have U read the book ‘Roots’? You just have to read it.

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Monday, 9 July 2018

The day I saw a mermaid - Dr Raphael James

at the Atlantic ocean waiting to see a mermaid 

It was on a Sunday May 24, 1981, I remember it like yesterday, on May 23 night I had told my grandma that I will need some pocket money to attend the May 27th children day program at the LGA capital. My grandma told me that my best option will be that I should go and harvest my own cassava and prepare garri and sale in the next market day which was to be on the Tuesday 26. So, while everyone left for church, I left for the farm to harvest the cassava, I got it and as I headed home I had to pass through a river, as I walked through the about 200 meter long  river all alone that morning at about 11.30, I turned, and I saw the creature with a basket seated on the trunk of the wood we wash dirty cloths on, she saw me and dived into the river, I had goose pimples all over me with the size of my head twice as big as its size, I poured out the basin of cassava into the river and ran half way before I changed my mind and went back to the river and I started calling on the mermaid to come and bless me, but she never came out. When I got home and told my story, the elders said they should hold me that I may be running mental. 

A most strange and true report of a monstrous fish' Illustration from 
an early printed report of a Mermaid sighting. 1604

My friend Bella Nwachukwu told me her encounter with a mermaid and merman at the Marina beach in Calabar, according to her she was relaxing by the beach when she sighted them in the water and how they moved in and out of the water whenever she tried to make calls. 

16th centure Zennor Mermaid Chair

Victor Uwaifo in his song “if u see Mami Water” told us his encounter with a mermaid at the Lagos Bar beach, in his song:

Guitar Boy!! Guitar Boy!!
If you see Mami water ohh,
If you see Mami Water ohh,

Never Never you run away,
Never run away with your wife ohh.
If you see Mami water ohh,
If you see Mami Water ohh,
Never Never you run away,

Sing that song of love, Sweet, I love you.
Guitar Boy!! Guitar Boy!!
If you see Mami water ohh,
If you see Mami Water ohh,
Never Never you run away, …..

mermaid captured

Mermaid in Africa are called Mami Water or water spirits, they are regarded as diabolical beings, and are often femme fatale, luring men to their deaths, though in some other cases they blessed their victims, so are the many tales associated with it.

In 1151, a Mermaid was carved on the wall in the Romanesque capital of the Rio Mau Monastic church.

In the British Museum there is 1376 photo of a wall painting of mermaid.

The goddess Atargatis is depicted as a fish with human head, on an ancient Greek coin of Demetrius III Eucaerus.

In August 2009, after reports that some people saw a mermaid leaping out of Haifa Bay waters and doing aerial tricks, the Israeli coastal town of Kiryat Yam offered a $1 million award for proof of its existence, the offer is still on.

In February 2012, work on two reservoirs near Gokwe and Mutare in Zimbabwe stopped when workers refused to continue, stating that mermaids had hounded them away from the sites. It was reported by Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, the water resources minister.

There are tales too that at the construction of the River Niger bridge in Onitsha of how a Mermaid told them to stop disturbing her with the sounds of heavy irons. 

Yesterday July 8, 2018 on the Family Discovery channel of DSTV, at about 8.30 pm to 9 pm, they showed a documentary on the scientific evidence that mermaid do exists. The documentary dated back to May 2012, showed a television documentary of the experiences of former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists, showing a video evidence released in what a former Iceland GeoSurvey scientist witnessed while diving off the coast of Greenland in an underwater submersible. The videos provide two different shots of what appears to be a humanoid creature approaching and touching their vehicle.

Do mermaid really exist is the BIG question  

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