Nigerian Coal Miners, Protest and Gender, 1914–49: the Iva Valley Mining Community
This chapter presents a study of the Enugu miners. It shows how colonial labour policy, informed by the British state's bruising encounters with its miners at home, tried to prevent the formation in Africa of the type of coal mining villages that had proven so conducive to the growth of a militant class consciousness in the British coalfields. It also highlights how the Enugu miners were able to resist the attempts at social engineering that took place as colonial policy makers tried to reconstruct the African family. When the mines opened during the First World War there were three camp sites: 'Coal Camp' and two 'unofficial' camps, Ugwu Alfred and Ugwu Aaron, which were administered by 'native' labour contractors. By the outbreak of the Second World War, concern with the radical potential of coal mining villages was eclipsed by the state's desire to control them. Today the Iva Valley camps are but a sad reflection of these early days.