Monument to the miners at Enugu, Nigeria.
On the 18th November 1949, 21 striking miners and a bystander were shot dead at a British government-owned coal mine at Enugu, Nigeria; 51 were injured.
The miners were fighting for back-pay owed to them for a period of casualisation known as ‘rostering’, later declared illegal, and had been sacked following a work to rule. They occupied the mine to prevent a repeat of the lock-out they had suffered during the 1945 general strike. Because Enugu was home to the Zikist independence movement, which included Marxists and other radicals; police were sent to remove the mine’s explosives, accompanied by Hausa troops drafted in from the North of the country; whose language and even their uniforms were unfamiliar to the Igbo miners.
Local Igbo constables fraternised with the workers, they were sure the government would pay them what they were due; in return the…
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