Funmilayo Ransome Kuti - The Prominent Activist & Educator
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900–1978) was born in Abeokuta, in present-day Ogun State, Nigeria. She was one of the first women to attend Abeokuta Grammar School in 1914, where she would go on to teach.
In 1919 she left for Wincham Hall School for Girls, Cheshire, England, to pursue her studies. By the time of her return to Nigeria in 1922, no doubt in reaction to the racism she had encountered in Britain, she had dropped her Christian name, Frances Abigail.
She soon became associated with some of the most important anti-colonial educational movements in Nigeria and West Africa*, and fought tirelessly to further women’s access to education and political representation
Her children Beko, Olikoye and Fela, would all go on to play important roles in education, healthcare, the arts and political activism.
In 1944, she founded the Abeokuta Ladies’ Club (later, the Abeokuta Women’s Union), committed to defending women’s political, social and economic rights, which became one of the most important women’s movements of the twentieth century. Her unwavering commitment to cooperation, solidarity and unity led her to play an active role in politics, notably in the pre-independence constitutional negotiations of 1946.
A trailblazer in many ways, Ransome-Kuti was also the first Nigerian woman to drive a car. She was also the only woman in Nigeria’s 1947 delegation to London, which lodged a protest and set the nation on the path toward self-government. As one of the few women elected to Nigeria’s house of chiefs, she was recognized for her advocacy work on behalf of women's rights and education, and revered as the “Lioness of Lisabi” and the “Mother of Africa.
In February 1978, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was thrown out of a window by Nigerian soldiers ransacking the home of her son, renowned Afrobeat musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti. She died of her injuries in April that year.