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Hajiya Gambo Sawaba: ‘The Most Jailed Nigerian Female Politician.

Ndypmouwem
By Ndypmouwem | self meida writer
Published 7 days ago - 0 views

Stories from the life of Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, one of Nigeria's most important female political activists, born on this day in 1933, have become a myth.

According to one, his fighting spirit was evident when, as a young girl growing up in northern Nigeria in the 1930's and 40's, he often intervened in the wars of other children on the losing side, saying to them: "I bought this fight from you", before continuing the argument.


Wars were constantly coming, and his clothes would certainly be torn to pieces. Therefore, the story goes on, in order to reduce the frequency when she will have to replace her damaged daughter's clothes, Sawaba's mother, Malama Fatima, used to cover herself with a tarpaulin.


Whether this particular story is true or not, it would not be suggested that throughout his life, Sawaba did not come out to fight, especially when he was on the side of the oppressed.


Youth Activist


His story began on February 15, 1933.


In 1943, at the age of ten, her father died. His mother died three years later, and soon afterward, at age 13, Sawaba married a second world war veteran named Abubakar Dan Sarkin. At the age of 16, she gave birth to her only child, Bilchus.


By the following year, political activism had begun.


At that time, the British ruled Nigeria using the Indirect Rule system, in which the Native (NA) natives controlled colonial policies in the 12 northern provinces through local and regional and local officials.


The Northern Territory was ruled by the then Northern Peoples ’Congress (NPC). But in 1950, a Kano City schoolteacher named Malam Aminu Kano formed a new political party, the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU).


NEPU has supported "women's education in both religious and religious spheres and given them enough space - political and economic".


It was in stark contrast to the NPC, which controlled Native Authorities and whose leadership was quoted as saying: “We in the north are happy, our women are happy with their status. Not a single Northern woman has told anyone she is unhappy. We know what is best for women and our men know what is best for them. ”


NEPU's messages are in line with Sawaba's sense of justice and she became the first member of the party's women's wing.


By this time, there were already calls for women's voting rights in some parts of Nigeria - by popular women, Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Margaret Ekpo in western and eastern Nigeria, respectively. Sawaba will soon be lending his voice to them as well.


‘FREEDOM AND FREEDOM’


Sawaba was not his birth name. Meaning freedom or redemption, was given to her by her political adviser, Malam Aminu Kano, after she was elected president-general of the NEPU women's wing.


Although history gives us another way of how it came about by name. According to him, he became known as Sawaba after attending a political meeting at the Jakara Market in Zaria. While the crowd waited for the official Speaker, a member of the Zaria council known as Alhaji Gambo Sawaba, he took the stage and spoke on women's voting and education rights.


When Alhaji Gambo Sawaba arrived, he announced to the audience that as he was the first woman to speak at a political rally in the north, he would also be known as Gambo Sawabiya - a female version of Sawaba.


If this version of the story is true, Sawaba clearly chose the male version as the one that he adhered to. From then on, at Zaria's political rallies, people distinguished between two politicians: “Gambo Sawaba [male]; Gambo Sawaba [woman]. ”


Whatever the truth about her name, Sawaba was like the politics of freedom and liberation in northern Nigeria, especially women.


Imprisonment


He spoke openly against child marriage, forced labor and unpaid taxes, and demanded women's employment, girls' education and full voting rights.


Her husband's family, however, was unhappy with her efforts to combine motherhood with political activism and soon parted ways peacefully. As usual at the time, her baby daughter was given to her in-laws.


But he had also provoked the anger of the authorities. While many northern women followed the purdah ritual, a form of isolation, Sawaba went from house to house talking to them. This did not please the Native Authority in Kano and, in 1952, he was arraigned in the Alkali Court (Magistrates), on charges of "excommunication of purdah women". The court sentenced him to three months in prison.


It was the first of 16 sentences for life imprisonment. He was often arrested, in fact, for keeping a 'Prison Jail' sign next to him so that he could take it with him whenever the police came.


Later that year, Kano authorities ordered him to leave town. To ensure compliance, local authorities escorted him back to Zaria.


But he continued his political activism - and his imprisonment - in his hometown. Along with Zaira and Kano, he was also arrested in Kaduna and Jos.


According to the Daily Trust: "Whenever a case is heard, the court is full of its supporters."


But this was not the only time to be arrested.


The Daily Trust reported, “Twice he was stripped naked and given 80 lashes at Zaria Central Prison. She also endured insults and the pain of having her hair cut with a broken bottle. ”


In 1990, Sawaba's fellow politician, the late Malam Ladi Shehu, told First Nation Magazine about the abuse of female political activists: “Gambo and other NEPU women, many of whom had been arrested, had their hair cut and beaten; and some of our members have even been killed. Exactly the number

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