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History Africana

The Ekumeku Movement

EKUMEKU Movement (Aya Oyibo) was a war of resistance against the British encroachment into the affairs of (Ndi Enuani) Anioma people. It was a decisive revolt to save from the hands of the white settlers the territorial integrity of Igbo West of the Niger. Virtually all the towns and villages in the present day Oshimili, Aniochas and Ika Local Government Areas were involved in the revolt.
British influence into the political, economic, religious cum Socio-Cultural autonomy of the people came with the establishment of the Royal Niger Company in Asaba hinter land.

The white man deceitfully penetrated into the land of the Anioma people with missionary evangelism in disguise.
He came cunningly and quietly. Our people were deceived and the Whiteman got many black followers and converts who later became traitors to betray their fellow black brothers. As Chinua Achebe said in Things Fall Apart “the white man is so clever”. “He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amazed at his foolishness and allowed him stay. Now, he has won our brothers and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on that thing that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
The White man’s calculated attempts were discovered by the Chiefs and Elders. He was seen as an agent of discord and mischief. The only way to stop the impending doom was to crush the albino, and his settlement devastated. Unexpectedly, the white man saw his ego and supposed military superiority floored to the ground. His economic and political pursuit became dislodged. Though this was temporal, the move angered the Whiteman. He rose up with his superior arms and ammunition as he used black brothers to locate the roots, hideouts and strongholds of Ekumeku. Ibusa at that instance was turned battle field and the Military might of Ekumeku there, was put to nothingness. “Ndi Enuani” did not allow the seeming defeat to dampen their spirits instead Ekumeku got a wider spread as communities such as Ogwashi-Uku, Okpanam, Ubulu-Uku, Issele Uku, Odiani and some settlements in Ika combined forces to dismantle the seat of authority of the white man.

These Anioma towns rallied round and raised a formidable and well coordinated army. The British army was given an unimaginable and incredible defeat. The Ekumeku army was determined and courageous that all government and missionary buildings within the territory of Enuani were destroyed. Many of the white officers lost their lives in this encounter. When it was near total defeat, the remnant of the British force had to send for reinforcement from the Royal Niger Company based at Lokoja.
With the provocation of this unexpected defeat and dislodgement of the British force, a punitive expedition and total crush of Ekumeku military might and hideouts was ordered.
Consequently, Ekumeku uprising was silenced totally but the British army will never forget the lesson Learnt. According to Dan Olisa in his book The Realities and Values of Anioma Identity, “Although, the British was able to smash Ekumeku forces by its military might, the spirit of Ekumeku will remain indelible in their memory. For example, this kind of indigenous military resistance to British imperialism by the people, points to one important factor in the making of a people. This factor lies in the spirit of communal individualism which is strongly cultivated among the people of Anioma based on their ability to manipulate the concept of age-grade system, socio-political organizations and associations which builds up an extensive network of communication throughout the entire territory referred to as Anioma. This clearly defines a people whose ethnic ethos based on loyalty, respect and dedication to a common course is highly developed and respected.”