In the words of George Thomas (1921), the chief disturbers of peace were certain bands of raiders who either acted on their own account or, more frequently, were hired by the men of one town to help them fight against one another.
Both these societies had a large membership and were responsible for a vast number of havoc in the districts which they operated.
The Ekumeku was, and is still, the most formidable confederation in the country lying between Asaba and Benin. Some account of the society would be given here, and it would more likely be described as a secret society.
It is rather difficult to describe what the precise meaning of the word Ekumeku is, it has been interpreted as meaning a “breathing” or “blowing.” Probably the idea is based upon that of the wind which “blows” where it “listers; though cannot tell where it comes from or where it’s going.
However, the Ekumeku movement was the name of the great warriors of Anioma, that held the British colonial government at bay, and fought them for 31 years (1883 - 1914).
Their reasons for fighting the colonial government was not only to prevent them from entering the land of Anioma, but also to prevent them from entering the entire Igbo land.
The war would have lasted longer, and possibly ended in a British defeat, if the Anioma had equivalent firepower, and more allies from other great Igbo kingdoms.
The war raged on till 1914, when the Ekumeku movement was defeated. That was the same year the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria were amalgamated.
Till today, the Ekumeku movement remains one of the most bravely fought wars and campaigns against British rule, not only in Nigeria but in Africa in general.
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