Nigerian Women In History

A Brief History Of Hajiya Gambo Sawaba -The Fearless Politician Who Fought For The Freedom Of Northern Women In Spite Of Several Imprisonments


Hajiya Gambo Sawaba was a Nigerian politician and activist and was well known for her charitable causes, especially for fighting for the liberation of northern women.

Born to a Ghanaian father and a Nupe mother, Gambo as a child was stubborn and she got into fights with bullies while also showing affection to those who were bullied.

This character trait developed her fierce attitude towards the ills against poor masses in her society.

After Gambo lost her parents in 1943, her education stopped and she was forced into an early marriage at 16 years but separated from her husband when they didn’t get along.

Gambo joined politics when she was 17. During that time, northern Nigeria was dominated by the Northern People’s Congress, which had the support of the Emirs and British Colonial Authority but Gambo joined the opposition group.

She was made the women’s leader at Kaduna, Sabon Gari branch and her party’s message was to take away power from the elites and bring together the poor.

Gambo made a name for herself when at a political lecture in Zaria, she climbed a podium and spoke out in a room full of men.

Gambo campaigned against under-aged marriages and forced labour. She also advocated for western education in the north.

She also met with women who were not allowed to attend political activities because of their gender.

As a result, Gambo was arrested alongside two hundred other women for not obtaining a permit before the assembly. They were sentenced to one month imprisonment each.

Meanwhile, Gambo was said to have been sent to jail 16 times in her lifetime and she was often brutalised by the police.

Despite low education and coming from the northern part of Nigeria where women are least encouraged and their education neglected, Gambo struggled through all these obstacles to emerge as a dynamic, independent political activist helping to educate many people.

Gambo died at 71 years in October 2001.

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