Anambra election and the women of Ebenebe
The women of Ebenebe, a sleepy town in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, are the true heroines of the Anambra election which took place last Saturday. A viral video from a polling unit showed where they turned down a princely N5000 bribe money, brazenly given by some party agents at a polling station, with one woman heard loudly and defiantly saying in Igbo language, “APC emego anyi ife; anyi achoghi APC”. Meaning, “We have been dealt by the APC; we don’t want APC again”. They were emphatic in their rejection of the bribe money openly clutched by some unscrupulous party agents. They left no room for negotiations. They were firm and final in their approach. They are poor rural women, ravaged by wants like all rural women, but they put up extraordinary courage in the face of inducement and took the moral high ground. And that’s why I celebrate them today!
These women are remarkable. They could have taken the bribe and still voted according to their conscience. But they didn’t want a stain on their conscience. The motto of The Guardian newspaper describes conscience as an open wound which only truth can heal. The women of Ebenebe held onto truth…their healing truth.
Ebenebe town is not Nnewi or Ihiala or Orafite or Osumenyi where most of Anambra’s billionaires come from. But what they lack in billionaires, they obviously have in moral ones. “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised,” says Chinua Achebe. The women of Ebenebe have bluntly refused to be compromised. That singular act, little as it seems, gives a lot of hope to Nigeria.
The true value of the symbolic courage of the Ebenebe women is that they live in the same state where a serving deputy governor had been lured away to a rival party. They live in the same state where serving and former members of parliament had defected to another party after alleged inducement. They live in a state where the basic measure of success is how much money one has. But they have written their story in gold and their names ought to make history. They have taught us that you can live poor and still live with dignity.
The relevant NGOs and constituted authorities should seek out these Ebenebe women and make them a shining example of what Nigeria could be if we get our acts right. The symbolism of their courageous act must not be lost on us. We must act and act now!
Some times, providence offers us a beacon of light with which to illuminate the pathway to the future. But it is up to a discerning society to recognise it and use it well. Aba women did a similar thing in 1929. Their courage inspired self-belief in our founding fathers to challenge the colonial masters. Enugu coal miners rose against their users on November 18, 1949. Their act of defiance inspired the Zikist Movement which eventually toppled colonial rule. Can we elevate the Ebenebe women’s act? The joke will be on us if we miss this opportunity to set a new moral tone for our society at a time when the larger population of the youths are involved in get-rich-quick-or-die-trying schemes.
The women of Ebenebe are a gift we cannot turn down!
Eze, a journalist and author, is based in Awka, Anambra State
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