Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was a teacher, political campaigner, women’s rights activist and traditional aristocrat of Nigeria. She served with distinction as one of the most prominent leaders of her generation. She was known for her association 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.
She founded the Abeokuta Women’s Union, one of the most impressive women’s organisations of the twentieth century (with a membership estimated to have reached up to 20,000 women), which fought to protect and further the rights of women.
She was also the first woman in the country to drive a car.Ransome-Kuti’s political activism led to her being described as the doyen of female rights in Nigeria, as well as to her being regarded as “The Mother of Africa.” Early on, she was a very powerful force advocating for the Nigerian woman’s right 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 people on a campaign against their arbitrary taxation. That struggle led to the abdication of the high king Oba Ademola II in 1949.
Her strength and dedication to equal rights is why we honour her still today.