The British Were Arrogant | Ekumeku Underground Resistance Movement
Invasion of British troops was a catastrophe for the ingenious Igbo African way of life, but the Ekumeku underground resistance movement attempted to right the wrong.
British attitudes towards the Igbo peopleThe British were arrogant and domineering and from this the foundations of a resistance movement which became known as the Ekumeku was born. The Ekumeku was an underground movement of resistance to the British Royal Niger Company, British-trader, missionary and bureaucrats whose uprisings are legendary in Nigerian history.
British rule of the Western Igbo’s of Nigeria led to unfair rules against ingenious religious and political practices, the establishment of courts, and legal security to missionaries. Igbos considered all these as unwelcoming to their traditional way of life especially since they had no legal authority or input into the life-altering changes. The state of affairs catapulted the Ekumeku forces by galvanizing the resistance movement into action in the Asaba hinterland.
Murder and Massacre
"Onye onye ocha chulu oso na-abu o fu onye anyali o gbafuo." translated from Igbo to English means, “He who has been harassed by the white man takes to his heels on sighting an albino.”
The murder of O. S. Crewe-Read, the then-District Commissioner for Agbor on June 9, 1906, supposedly by the Ekumeku touched off the Asaba massacre. The British between 1906 and 1909 raised forces that randomly attacked anywhere and anybody suspected to be connected with Ekumeku soldiers. Many people were killed or put in prison by British judges at Onitsha.
Between 1902 and 1910, the Ekumeku offered a courageous and prolonged resistance to British encroachment in the Asaba hinterland.
Chief Nwakpuda lessons learned by the Igbo people
Legal enactments, special town laws and prosecution in the native courts and the British maltreatment of Chief Nwakpuda, who was said to have been friendly with the white administration in the area all came to ahead in 1912 when the colonial government in Nigeria began to construct the railway line from the interior to the coast. Neither the chiefs nor the local people on whose lands the line would pass were consulted.
In 1916 when the project was completed, Chief Nwakpuda out of rabid anger and frustration, probably occasioned by some feeling of self-righteousness, stood on the railroad track daring the approaching train to stop, and in the process was crushed.
"E kwekwele i gho Nwakpuda choro ibaa ndi ocha ogu gbuo onwe ya" translate to “Don't be like Nwakpuda who killed himself in the process of wanting to wrestle with the white people.”