THE WARRIORS THAT WERE NEVER CONQUERED
The warriors moved in silence as they await their target. They were bare-chested, barefooted, and had no guns. They had no modern weapons like the men they awaited to confront, but they were fearless and had the blood of their ancestors running through their veins. They were men of valor who feared no man or death, they only lived for their communities and were willing to lay down their lives for it. They are were not ordinary soldiers; these are the EKUMEKU warriors who resisted colonial invasion in the western part of Igbo land for over a hundred years.
Ekumeku movement is the army that defended the western part of Igbo before the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914. They were made up of thousands of men from many communities in Anioma, Isele-Uku, Kwale, Ogwashi-Uku, and other surrounding communities and clans.
The men were made to swear an oath of secrecy and dedicated their lives to the cause. Their leadership was made up of titled chiefs and it was no notable commander or general which is typical of the republican nature of the Igbo’s. Every community provided volunteers who worked together with the people from neighboring communities with the sole aim of keeping the foreigners out. Their mode of operation was very secretive, and members were not easily known or identified by non-members. This was made perfect by the use of codes in communication.
The year was 1880 and the British soldiers were marching into the hinterlands of present-day Delta State in Nigeria. They moved from Asaba through the tropical rain forests and moved towards Ogwashi-Uku. It was mid-August and the forests were thick and damp. It was a perfect time for the warriors to strike, but they held on in silence on top trees and behind their guerilla traps. The British with their local mercenaries fell for the ambush and once the onslaught started, they had no chance at all and were defeated once again. These tactics were used by these brave men to protect their culture, customs, and traditions from British desecration for years.
They gave their youth, blood, and life to their elderly and women to be safe. It doesn’t matter how many men they lost in each battle, they were willing to rise and fight for what they believed in. This can be seen from the events of December 1902 when the British attacked with great firepower and destroyed many towns and villages at Anioma, after which the British boasted that Ekumuku and all other secret cults and militia has been destroyed. After two years in the year 1904, the Ekumeku again struck causing more damage to the British than they had suffered in the Militia’s hands in ten years. This is the perseverance attitude of every Igbo man.
Their patriotism is unmatched, and their motherland means everything to them. The land of their Ancestors must be protected at all cost and no foreigner must lord over them. They were one of the greatest warriors that the British encountered in Africa. They were one of the greatest warriors that the British encountered in Africa. They protected their homestead for more than a century and ensured that the colonial masters always left their territories with tales between legs.
Every time I reminiscence the story of the great Ekumeku, I see their spirit of patriotism live not just in me, but in all Igbo scattered all over the world. We are our brother’s keeper and come together at all times to develop the community. All Igbo’s home and abroad has a community development Union that every indigene is encouraged to belong to and contribute his or her quota towards the development of the community. The Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airpot Owerri was built from the contribution of prominent Igbo men at home and in Diaspora.
The spirit of Ekumeku lives in me at all times. I see defeat as a momentary setback, then go back and strategize. This helps me come back stronger and better prepared to cross all hurdles. This has made me a better person and has helped me achieve more. To the Igbo man, there is always a way to make anything better.
However, I have realized that to achieve more, I need to study the heroics of my ancestors more. Western history hid most of it from us, but the internet is bringing it all to the fore. I have chosen to accept and live by the good examples set by those who lived before me. No race is perfect, and my ancestors too had their shortcomings. I try to overlook these shortcomings and embrace the good I can get from them.
My Igbo race is a great people and when we come to this realization we will all be great.