The Iva Valley Massacre: The Bloody November 1949

The Iva Valley Coal mine in Enugu have been said to be a haunted valley for over 72 years now.
This was due to the event that happened there in the year 1949, when the lives of 21 miners who were fathers, husbands, sons and also breadwinners, were cut short by the guns of the British police.

The event of that faithful day will never be forgotten in the history of the Eastern part of Nigeria, mostly the Enugu people.

It was indeed a black November.
Iva Valley which was named after a valley in that area was located in the heart of the present Enugu State.

There was a Coal Mine there, that was by the British government in the year 1917, two years after Udi Mine was opened.

Every one would believe that the life of a miner is never an easy one.
They can easily lose their lives at any given time due to the fact that the work itself was full of danger.

The harsh working condition, the racism going on at the mine and the demands of the miners that their rosters, payment for housing and traveling allowance be paid and that the mine should also be upgraded, was all what led to the protest.

The British government rejected their demands but went on to sack over 50 miners.
The miners at first used the operation to go slow (the slow- down on the way the were mining before) to protest This reduced the productions of goods for the British. So they decided to remove the miners and replace them with others.
This descended into chaos. The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Captain F. S. Philip and 75 armed policemen were invited to remove the miners.
The miners in turn started protesting and singing with red pieces of cloth tied to either their helmets, wrists, or knees, as a mark of solidarity.

The SSP opened fire and 21 miners were killed while 51 others were injured.
Their only crime was because they asked for a better working conditions and pay.

It is said that till date, cries of those killed could still be heard at the Iva Valley.

Author: pattommy3@gmail.com

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