The Egba Market Revolt was an anti-colonial protest that occurred in 1947 and involved over 10,000 market women. The revolt was in response to Britain’s exploitation of Egba women’s labour through its colonial machinery. In 1916, Lord Lugard, the governor-general of Nigeria urged the Colonial office to impose direct taxation in Egbaland (Byfield, 2003) . Three years later, Sir Hugh Clifford imposed a tax that was justified on the basis that it will raise revenue for the Colonial Treasury (Byfield, 2003). The Egba market women, outraged by the state’s complicity in deteriorating their lives, challenged the new political structure and economy by engaging in a politics of resistance and refusal. By refusing to pay taxes and striking, these women’s anti-colonial struggle ‘broadened into a larger critique of relations of power under colonialism’ (Byfield,2003: 21).
In 2017, I wrote, directed and produced my first play ‘ you did not break us’ which explored the Egba women’s resistance. The play was shown at Warwick University as part of FRESH FEST on the 27th and 28th of February as well as the 3rd of March. The cast was made of Warwick University students and was attended by over 300 young people.
In 2018, as part of the Poetic Theatre Makers Programme , this play was developed. Directed by Madeleine Kludje, it was shown at the Birmingham Rep Theatre in February 2019.
In 2020, my dissertation ‘daughters of disobedience: how Nigerian feminists are using Twitter as a tool for storytelling, resistance, and solidarity’ was awarded the peter gutkind prize. Here is an excerpt from a chapter on the Egba Revolt
‘Bibi Bakare-Yusuf highlights the importance of locating contemporary African gendered experience in historical encounters (Bakare-Yusuf, 2003). An example of this historical encounter can be situated in Nigerian feminist movements tradition of naming and shaming. Remarkably, the #arewametoo movement and #churchtoo movement has borrowed from its grandmother’s tradition to stand against sexual violence. The strategy of naming and shaming originates from early African feminist movements were women’s collective refusal to be silent culminated in public protests and embarrassments of male figures in communities (Van Allen, 1972). For instance, in Egbaland, the Egba women’s naming and shaming of the Alake’s imposition of colonial taxation led to his ‘temporary abolition of the flat tax on women, the temporary abdication of the Alake […] and the entrance of women onto the local council (Byfield, 2003: 270)’
By drawing parallels between historical feminist movements strategies and their legacies which are evident on Twitter, Nyabola (2018) establishes that from pre-colonial to contemporary times, naming and shaming ‘push state actors to work’ (Nyabola, 2018: 138). Through an engagement with hashtags, the stories of Nigerian feminists can be filed, shared, and be the starting point for revolutions. Indeed, Nyabola is also able to draw on a key African feminist tradition of commonality when she writes that ‘individual actions could never accomplish what these actions did’ (Nyabola, 2018: 144). This is echoed by Filomina Steady, an African feminist scholar that recognized that the feminist struggle requires collective frameworks for collective liberation and not ‘singularly, individualistic tasks’ (Steady, 1989: 20–21). This shows that collective effort is necessary for collective liberation.