Ogu Ndem

In November, 1929, thousands of Igbo women from the Bende District of Nigeria, the nearby Umuahia, Ngwa, and other places in southern Nigeria traveled to Oloko to protest against the Warrant Chiefs, who they accused of restricting the role of women in the government; this incident become known as the Igbo Women’s War of 1929 (or « Ogu Ndem, » Women’s War, in Igbo). It was organized and led by rural women of Owerri and Calabar Provinces. During the events, many Warrant Chiefs were forced to resign and sixteen Native Courts were attacked, most of which were destroyed or burned down. They used the traditional Igbo women protest known as ‘sitting on a man’. This involves following an abusive man around while dancing & ridiculing him. It also involves knocking at the man’s hut, covering it with mud or destroying it. The actions of these women inspired women across Owerri & Calabar provinces to protest against oppressive policies. A total of 25,000 women took part, they destroyed native courts including the colonial administrative base at Ikot Abasi which was burnt down. They also forced oppressive warrant Chiefs to resign, freed prisoners and attacked British business interests in the region. The British opened fire at the women, killing about 55 women & injuring another 50. In the end, corrupt warrant Chiefs were replaced by women. The policy of unfair taxation without representation was revised. This event also inspired other protests in southeastern Nigeria until the 1950s.

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