Nwanyereuwa: The Principal Of The Aba Women’s Riot (1929)

Nwanyereuwa, an Igbo woman from South-Eastern Nigeria, rose to fame as a result of her participation as a commander in the 1929 Aba Women's War. It is uncertain when and where Nwanyereuwa was born, as well as exactly when she passed away. However, by 1929, she had established herself as a powerful market vendor in Oloko, in the Aba district, where she was well-known for her sales of palm kernels and oil. Although little is known about Nwanyereuwa's personal life or any of the significant occasions in her life prior to or during 1929, she is renowned for taking the lead during the Aba Women's War.


Between November 1929 and January 1930, Nwanyeruwa played a significant role in the Women's War against Taxation. As a result of the women's unwillingness to pay taxes to their British colonisers in the face of financial hardship, a revolution broke out. Nwanyeruwa organised over 10,000 women in a demonstration against the colonial and native authorities following an argument with a male Igbo warden officer who grabbed her by the throat when she refused to count her possessions for him. Even though Nwanyeruwa's requests were not met or many real changes were made as a result of the protest, it did encourage women to participate in the colonial Nigerian political system. In a series of deeds that functioned as a catalyst for social and political change, historians point to her activities as a significant turning point.


Nwanyeruwa has been cited as the first woman to come to mind when discussing the history of women's militancy in Nigeria because of her role in the Women's War. She is also said to be connected to the development of African nationalism.The protests were peaceful largely due to Nwanyereuwa's efforts. Compared to many of those who organised the protests, she was older. She advised the women to perform a song and dance protest, "sitting" on the Warrant Chiefs until they gave up their official badges and submitted their resignations. 


The women's rally was peaceful because other groups replicated this strategy as the uprising gained momentum. Other organisations visited Nwanyeruwa to obtain written documentation of the inspiring outcomes of the protests, which, in Nwanyeruwa's opinion, were that "women will not pay tax until the world ends [and] Chiefs were to no longer exist." Women from Oloko and other places gave money donations to Nwanyeruwa to assist them in evading taxes. Unfortunately, a lot of women broke into Chiefs' homes and attacked them, causing the uprising to be viewed as aggressive and inflicting property damage.