The Story Behind the Stories
Nwanyi Enwe Eze by Jonathan Edelstein
The colonial-era uprising that the British called the Aba Riots and the Igbo call the Ogu
Umunwanyi--the Women's War--is one of those historical events that really ought to be a movie.
In 1929, women in southeastern Nigeria, galvanized by rumors that the British colonial authorities
planned to impose a head tax on women in addition to the one already imposed on households,
came out to protest in a manner that they had historically used against their own chiefs. The
uprising quickly became about much more than taxes, and the British, who had never taken much
account of colonial women, were taken aback by its force. Although the British ultimately put the
revolt down with many dead, reforms afterward gave the women much of what they wanted and
returned considerable self-government to the Igbo communities.
Mary Ejiofor, the hero of this tale, has previously appeared in IGMS ("Oba Oyinbo," issue 59),
and this is her origin and coming-of-age story. She is fictional, and of course the historical
Women's War didn't feature working sorcery, but at least one attempted use of magic in this story
is drawn from primary historical sources, as are certain other events.
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