The Igbo Women’s War of 1929

African feminist ancestors

An important act of women’s resistance in Nigeria’s history is the Igbo women’s ‘war’ of 1929, which centred around market women’s opposition to unfair taxation and indirect rule in southern Nigeria by the British colonial authorities. Before the British colonised southern Nigeria in 1884, Yoruba and Igbo women in the region had powerful political, judicial […]

An important act of women’s resistance in Nigeria’s history is the Igbo women’s ‘war’ of 1929, which centred around market women’s opposition to unfair taxation and indirect rule in southern Nigeria by the British colonial authorities.

Before the British colonised southern Nigeria in 1884, Yoruba and Igbo women in the region had powerful political, judicial and religious roles within dual-sex systems of female and male authority. Power was shared between men and women in such a complementary manner to promote harmony and the well-being of the societies. In pre-colonial Igboland, social roles and responsibilities were the channels through which power diffused, and hierarchical relationships were determined by age, experience, ability, marital status and rites of initiation. Women exercised direct political power (though less than men) through all-female organisations, which included women’s courts, market authorities, secret societies and age-grade institutions. They wielded collective and individual power both as members and as heads of these organizations. However, the colonial period brought about the marginalisation and even erosion of female political power and authority in the region.


Footnote:

[1] Chuku, G. (2009). Igbo women and political participation in Nigeria, 1800s-2005. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 42 (1), 81-103.

[2] Anonymous (n.d.). Women’s movements – Autonomous and affiliated women’s movements in Nigeria – Family, development, organizations, and national. Retrieved from http://family.jrank.org/pages/1763/Women-s-Movements-Autonomous-Affiliated-Women-s-Movements-in-Nigeria.html#ixzz1h8X7Vgnb

[3] http://www.onwar.com/aced/nation/nap/nigeria/fwomens1929.htm

[4] http://www.revolutionprotestencyclopedia.com/fragr_image/media/IEO_Womens_War_of_1929

[5] Oriji, J. N. (2000). Igbo women from 1929-1960. West Africa Review, 2(1).

[6] Hanna, J. L. (1990). Dance, protest, and women’s “wars”: Cases from Nigeria and the United States. In G. West & R. L. Blumberg (Eds.), Women and social protest (333-345). New York: Oxford University Press

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