Nigerian common history has been unfair to Aku Women. We are used to the historical account that the first women Riot that took place in Nigeria was the Abba Women Riot of 1929. Unfortunately, it is not so. The first Women Riot in Nigeria was the Aku Women Riot of 1924; 5 solid years before the Abba Women Riot. What happened? How did the then Minister of health, late D. C. Ugwu describe the Aku Women? What is the level of significance accorded to respect for womanhood among Aku Women? Visit the link that follows for answers to these questions provided by the author, late Chief Christopher Okechukwu, an educationist and former Chairman of the Aku General Assembly (AGA). The article was first published in the Okikpe Magazine, Vol. 1, 1974, pp. 77-78.





This author has chosen to write on this topic because of the significant role Aku Women have played and continue to play in the development of Aku town .


In his book ‘This is Nsukka’, the author, Mr. D. C. Ugwu described the Aku Woman as a ‘go-getter’. Many people were splitting their hair and were to lynch him for using that phrase. The phrase was not meant to be derisive. It was aptly used to describe the industry, the spirit of adventure, strength of character and the foresight of an Aku Woman.


To an Aku woman nothing is too difficult. No market or farm is too far for her to trek, and no load too heavy for her head. She trekked the length and breadth of what was Nsukka and beyond. From Nkwo Ibagwa to Odeke and Ejule in Kwara State; from Anaku, Igbankwu, Umerum, to Nzam the riverine areas. She also went to Ubulu, ltu and Aro­chukwu trading like the Phoenicians. Almost always she arrives at the market a day earlier buying cheap and selling dearer. This business acumen earned Aku women the appellation “oji Eke eme Orie”.


The Aku woman is very proud and honourable. The pride derived from the family name which she must respect and maintain. She has no room for indolence and extravagance. Right from early childhood, girls are tutored in those virtues which will make a girl worth her salt, industry, faithfulness and thrift. It is not unusual to see parents upbraiding their daughters for indolence. Girls therefore learn how to trade and farm with their parents so that they could ‘Sell'(get married)


After marriage an Aku woman does not look on her husband. She is a home builder, a real housewife. If her husband is broke, she takes up the family problems of feeding, paying school fees, taxes and general maintenance without grumbling.

She pays her children’s school fees from primary, secondary to university level. Examples abound of University graduates whose sponsors were their mothers, father’s wives, great aunts and what have you.

She is a member of many thrift societies: Ogbajili, Ogbunobodo, Loloanyi. These societies are marks of affluence and members are well respected in the society.


The Aku woman is a great lover of children. When she is not fortunate to have her own children, she would get a wife for an ‘Ojiloshi’ so that her husband’s name will not be wiped out. It is a grievous offence for an Aku woman to give an Aku child to another person whether the child is a product of friendship or not. She loves strangers and treats them with much hospitality because she travels out a lot. None-the-less she is very garrulous and at times in a high pitched tone.



On her way to the farm or market she talks and discusess of “nwunyedi”, market commodities and ‘Igbu obodo’. Travel in a lorry with her and you will confirm it. You need to see an Aku woman weeps when one dies. She cries more than the bereaved and can call down tears in a second, inducing the dried-eyes to­

weep. She is very emotional.


But what distinguishes Aku women from others is their respect for womanhood and their enviable governance as a body. That was why the women association had on several occasions passed resolutions calling on all free women to abandon their flaws and blemishes for the dignity of womanhood. They almost succeeded but for some unscrupulous and greedy girls who have learnt sad lessons, though the scales are gradually falling off their eyes. In fact, i have not read about or heard of any government which has successfully controlled free women. Today we have the hippies all over the world. To the uninformed, those girls do so because Aku custom does not condone the unfaithfulness of married women.

The Aku Women Association is a welfare organization. In 1947, the Aku women pressed for and got a maternity home. As early as 1944, they encouraged the men and started free Primary education. Thus Aku became the first town in Nigeria to introduce free primary education in a large scale. In 1949, they pressed for a Post Office and got one and also carried out a campaign for girls’ education. The bore-hole that gives Aku water was their brain child. In fact, there is no successful project in the town without the women’s co-operation. Our men have been accused of having longer throats while our women were wonderful and devoted.


In 1932, a house wife from Ezelu-Obie, Ochiebo Nwangwu, brought the Protestant Mission, Church Missionary Society (CMS) to Aku. It was this woman that found this institution that gave Aku her first university graduate, the first in the old Nsukka Province.


Presumably, the greatest historical landmark achieved by Aku women was the “ONYONYO MURU NWANYA” riot of 1926. To them it mattered so little  should the construction of the Ehamufu railway line come to a halt. They demonstrated their objection to the exploitation and use of their sons as cheap labour in the construction of the railway line. Chief Ugwumanu and Ugwuisife said “enough”. The District Officer and the Police also said ‘enough’! To the Colonial masters and chief Onyeama of Eke who intervened still shouted louder ‘enough’ ‘ONYONYO MURU NWANYA’ – meaning the woman is the mother of her child. Their ‘enough’ was final.


Very unfortunately, our present educated girls are no where comparable with our then illiterate mothers. Our present day men are also not comparable with our illiterate men. In fact, if Aku men are as united as the women, Aku would have turned a showpiece.  May be one of these days we should start electing women into  the Community Council, or making our famous women leaders Chairmen of the Council. The women should be given a chance. They merit it.