In Nigeria in 1929, about 10,000 rioted and rejected colonial oppression through taxation and changed the value placed on women in their region.
Direct taxation on men was introduced in eastern Nigeria in 1928 without major opposition as premeditated propaganda sold the idea well to the people.
12 months before the tax was introduced around September 1929, Captain J. Cook, an assistant District Officer, was sent to take over the Bende division temporarily from the serving district officer.
Cook found the slated nominal rolls for tax inadequate because they did not include details of the number of wives, children, and livestock in each household. He recommended the reversal of the status quo to include other variables left out.
The riot erupted from a town called Oloko, where the warrant chief, Okugo, sent his representative Mark Emereuwa on the morning of 18 November 1929, to conduct the census for the tax.
Emereuwa was met with stiff and ferocious opposition by a widow named Nwanyereuwa who felt the taxation will deepen the existing inequality and oppression sponsored by the colonial masters.
Reports said the widow who was processing palm fruit when the new District Officer arrived rejected the order to count her lives stocks and people living with her as that implied she will be taxed based on the number of the outcome.
She retorted impolitely and asked rhetorically “was your widowed mother counted”?
Argument led to anger and Nwanyereuwa poured her palm oil on the ‘tax officer’.
The widow proceeded to the town square to and mobilised other willing women who supported her train of thought.
More women were mobilised with the aid of palm leaves from other areas of the Bende district.
Ten thousand women protested and demanded the removal and trial of the Warrant Chief
The is what became the famous Aba Women’s Riot which prompted the British administration to drop their plans to impose tax on the market women and to curb the power of the Warrant Chiefs.
Also, the value and positions of women in the society were greatly improved and women were appointed to serve as Warrant Chiefs warrant in some areas.
The Aba Women’s Riot primarily chronicled brave who took their destinies into their hands and rejected economic and socio-political oppressions and inequalities in Bende, Umuahia, and other regions of Igboland.
Over 10,000 women came out to protest from majorly six ethnic groups: Ibibio, Andoni, Orgoni, Bonny, Opobo, and Igbo.