5. Are there differences in the testimony of men and women?
Whats interesting about this testimony is that the women seem to see this Commission as a chance to really get their grievances heard in a forum by someone who will listen. They do not appear to realize that this Commission might be aimed at assessing blame and at punishment. And indeed, at the end of the day, nobody is punished. They seem to have a great deal of confidence in the fact that they will not suffer the same sort of consequences that men might suffer in the same situation. Its interesting that they still hold that opinion because about 50 women do get killed in the Womens War. When these thousands of women come together outside of a courthouse, theres a colonial official who apparently gets very nervous and he opens fire into the crowd. Theres not any level of intimidation among the women here. There is some intimidation, you get a sense of, among the men.
The very last exchange between Ojim, Nwanyeruwas husband, and the Commissioner, the Commissioner says, What is that that youve got in your hand? And Ojim says, A tax ticket, sir. And the Commissioner says, to show that youve paid your tax? And he says, Yes sir, I have paid twice and my children have also paid. This is an interesting interaction because you see the way in which men have been so much more in contact with colonial authority since the establishment of colonial rule and theyre so much more intimidated and cowed by it, and for good reason.
At one point a woman actually swears at the Commissioner, the European Commissioner, and the translator wont interpret. He says, She said some foul language and Im not going to tell you what it was. And yet the men are saying, Here, Ive brought my tax. Ive paid my tax. And theyre only testifying if theyre called on to testify. Theyre not coming and volunteering like some of these women were. Another thing that you get to is the difference in how men and women experience colonialism. Not just that men are the ones who are making money and getting colonial government positions and getting the education. But men are much more fearful of colonialism, much more aware of what it can mobilize against them.