Saturday, 12 October 2019

IVA VALLEY MASSACRE 1949 - HOW IT ALL STARTED



It all started on November 15, 1949, When Mrs Alice Afamefuna, the wife of a blacksmith in Coal Camp Enugu, who for days had not set eyes on her husband, led several of the Miners Wives about 300 of them to Iva Valley coal mine to seek clarification on why their husbands did not return home for some days and to give them food. As the women visited the Mines, it was reported that they kidnapped four Europeans staff at the Obwetti Mine, and the peaceful demonstration became violent. Three days after on the 18th of November  there was a gathering of Miners occupying the Iva Valley Mine, their aim was to prevent a lockout in an industrial dispute that was on, due to poor remunerations. 

Coal miners at the entrance of the Iva Valley Mine


Some of the workers had red pieces of cloth tied to their miners helmets, wrist, or knees, they sang hymns and songs of solidarity- ‘Anyi bu Ofu, onye emebula nwannaya’ “we are all one, no one should cheat his brothren.”


Entrance of the Iva Valley Mine after the shooting 

The colonial master in charge of the Iva Valley Coal Mine, Captain Phillip saw the workers with the red pieces of cloth tied to their miners helmets and he heard them singing and carrying their tools of which he saw then as dangerous weapon and concluded or rather observed that they were in angry mood, brandishing “weapons-bows, arrows, machetes, long steel bars”, he assumed that their song was a kind of military songs in preparation for an attack, as the men danced and jumped around enjoying their songs and displays all that the Captain could hear was a “Tremendous howling and screeching noise going on” – to which several men danced in a “dangerous”


A coal miner


As the seconds roll into minutes and the minutes into hours, The Captain gave the order to his guards to fire. The Guards were still contemplating if they should fire or not when the Captain aimed his revolver at a dancer in front of him who “was jumping up and down, that dancer was Sunday Anyasado, he shot him in the mouth. He Died immediately. Anyasado Sunday was a miner and a hewer of Mbieri, Owerri a brother of B.U Anyasado a prominent clerk and union dissident in the forties. Sunday became the first victim of the Iva Valley massacre of November 18, 1949.


monument build in remembrance of the shooting 


After Anyasado, was Livinus Okechukwuma, a machine man from Obi-Owerri, as Livinus dropped death, Mr. Okafor Ageni, an Udi tub-man, who was inside the mine all the while on hearing the gun shot and noise ran out as he was asking; “Anything wrong? Captain Philip bullet killed him on the spot.


Women Club set up in 1951 for coal Miners wives 


In all, on that faithful day troops fired eighty-seven rounds of ammunition at a peaceful gathering of miners occupying the Iva Valley Mine. When the shooting stopped, twenty men lay dead on the site and scores were wounded. Within a few days, the death toll climbed to twenty-two. Riots erupted in all the major cities of Eastern Nigeria and crowds attacked those expatriate trading firms that had profited so greatly from the war. The Iva Valley massacre has been the primary event ending British colonialism in Nigeria. 

the remains of Iva Valley Mine

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