When I was in secondary school ,as a student of history my favorite topic was the “Aba Women’s Riot of 1929”. I was taught that they were “brave women” , I still remember the trill I felt in class and I appreciated them for that.
The revolution started by the women from Bende District , Umuahia and other places in eastern Nigeria traveled to the town of Oloko and teamed up with the women in the village to protest against the warrant chiefs on the payment of taxes by women , restricting the role of women in government. Which brought about social , political and economic changes in the society. This resulted in women been appointed to serve in Native courts. They utilized collective action to champion their dissatisfaction upon direct taxes which was imposed on the men previous year and which they are already supporting their men in paying taxes. Nearly ten thousand women protested.
Few days ago I saw a tweet from Amnesty International Nigeria celebrating the Aba woman riot of 1929 , Prof. Farooq Kperogi quotes the tweet and he said it should be called “revolt” because a “riot” is senseless, disorderly violence by an unruly mob”! He continued that the colonialists called the “Aba Women Revolt “a riot ” to delegitimize it.
Many shared their opinion that we need to rewrite our history , that the colonialist tried to change our history , calling our achievements their own and they misinterpreted everything. Authors should strike out the word “Riot” for “Revolt” from textbooks and other materials . While some are of the view that the unfortunate incident of women destroying native courts , attacking the chiefs , destroying their homes caused the ” revolt” to be marked as “riot “.
We need to re write our history not in books but in movies , I don’t think there is a Nigeria movie about the riot. They are great women who championed women speaking up in traditional and modern day Nigeria !