#OneNGWeekly (episode 33): Life History Of Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti

Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti
Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti, born on October 25,1900 in Abeokuta, Ogun state. She attended Abeokuta Grammar school in 1914. She left Nigeria and traveled to England to further more in her educational students, she attended Wicham Hall Schools of Girls in England in the year 1919, as seen she return to Nigeria, she became a teacher. She was a Nigerian teacher, political campaigner, traditional aristocrat and women’s right activist. On 20 January 1925, she married the Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome Kuti. Reverend Israel also defended the commoners of his country, and was one of the founders of both the Nigerian Union of Teachers and of the Nigerian Union of Students.

Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti’s political activism led to her being described as the doyen of female rights in Nigeria, as well as her being called “The Mother of Africa”. Early on, she was a very powerful force advocating for the Nigerian women’s right to participate in election, particularly to vote. She was described in 1947, by the West African Pilot as the “Lioness of Lisabi” for her leadership of the women of the Egba clan she belonged to on a campaign against their arbitrary taxation. That struggle led to the abdication of the then Egba high King, Oba Ademola II in 1949.

Ransome-Kuti received the national honor of membership in the Order of Nigeria in 1965. The University of Ibadan bestowed upon her the honorary doctorate of laws in 1968. She also held a seat in the Western House of Chiefs of Nigeria as an oloye of the Yoruba people. Aside the fact that she is the first woman to ride a bicycle and then the first woman to drive a car in West Africa, throughout her career, she was known as an educator and activist. She and Elizabeth Adekogbe provided dynamic leadership for women’s rights in the ’50s. She founded an organization for women in Abeokuta, with a membership tally of over 20 000 individuals spanning both literate and illiterate women

Ransome-Kuti launched the organization into public consciousness when she rallied women against price controls that were hurting the market women. Trading was one of the major occupations of women in the Western Nigeria at the time. In 1949, she led a protest against Native Authorities, especially against the Alake of Egbaland. She presented documents alleging abuse of authority by the Alake, who had been granted the right to collect the taxes by his colonial suzerain, the Government of the United Kingdom. He subsequently relinquished his crown for a time due to the affair. She also oversaw the successful abolishing of separate tax rates for women. In 1953, she founded the Federation of Nigerian Women Societies, which subsequently formed an alliance with the Women's International Democratic Federation.

Funmilayo Ransome Kuti campaigned for women's votes. She was for many years a member of the ruling National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons party, but was later expelled when she was not elected to a federal parliamentary seat. She was the treasurer and subsequent president of the Western NCNC women's Association. After her suspension, her political voice was diminished due to the direction of national politics, as both of the more powerful members of the opposition, Awolowo and Adegbenro, had support close by. However, she continued her activism. In the 1950s, she was one of the few women elected to the house of chiefs. At the time, this was one of her homeland's most influential bodies.

She founded the Egba or Abeokuta Women's Union along with Eniola Soyinka (her sister-in-law and the mother of the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka). This organisation is said to have once had a membership of 20,000 women. Among other things, Funmilayo Ransom Kuti organised workshops for illiterate market women. She continued to campaign against taxes and price controls.

Olufunmilayo ransome kuti is the mother of the powerful activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a popular musician, Beko Ransome- Kuti, a doctor, and professor Olikoye Ransome- Kuti, a doctor and a former health minister of Nigeria. She was also the grandmother to Seun kuti and Femi kuti, both musicians.

Her Achievements

*** One of the women elected to the native House of Chiefs, serving as an Oloye of the Yoruba people

*** Ranking member of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons

*** Treasurer and President Western Women Association of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons

*** Leader of Abeokuta Women's Union

*** Leader of Commoners Peoples Party

*** Leader of Nigeria Women's Union

*** First woman to drive a car in Nigeria

*** Winner of the Lenin Peace Prize

In old age her activism was overshadowed by that of her three sons, who provided effective opposition to various Nigerian military juntas. In 1978 Funmilayo was thrown from a third-floor window of her son Fela's compound, a commune known as the Kalakuta Republic, when it was stormed by one thousand armed military personnel. She lapsed into a coma in February of that year, and died on 13 April 1978, as a result of her injuries.

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »