Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was not just the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria, the beautiful woman was also the mother of great Nigerian music legend and activist, Femi Anikulapo Kuti.
She was born on October 25, 1900 and died on April 13, 1978 at the age of 77. The deceased was a teacher, political campaigner, women’s right activist and a traditional aristocrat in Nigeria. She served with distinction as one of the most prominent leaders of her generation.
According to Wikipedia, late Funmilayo’s political activism led her to being regarded as the, ‘The Mother of Africa’ and in 1947, she was described as the ‘Lioness of Lisabi’, by the West African Pilot.
Funmilayo was the mother of Beko Ransome-Kuti a medical doctor and Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, who is a doctor and one time health minister. She was also the grandmother to music legends, Seun and Femi Kuti.
Born to the family of Chief Daniel Olumeyuwa Thomas and Lucretia Phyllis Omoyeni Adesolu’s family, her father was a son of a returned slave from Sierra Leone. He traced his ancestral history back to Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria where he became a member of the Anglican faith.
She attended Abeokuta Grammar School for her secondary education, and later went to England for further studies. She soon returned to Nigeria and became a teacher and on January 20, 1925, she married Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti.
In 1942, Funmilayo founded the Abeokuta’s Ladies Club (ALC) for educated women involved in charitable works and in 1965, she received the national honour of membership in the Order of the Niger. The University of Ibadan (UI) conferred 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.
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 makes Professor Wole Soyinka her nephew.
OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS INCLUDE:
• 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.
N5,000 NOTE CONTROVERSY:
It could be recalled that on Thursday, August 20, 2012, one of her grandsons Seun Kuti responded to questions from fans and friends on Channels Television, Nigeria’s platform via Google+. Saying that his grandmother was murdered by the federal government. Here. He asked them to apologize to his family for the death of his grandmother, before considering immortalizing her by putting her picture on the proposed N5,000 note.
However, as of September 3, 2012, the Nigerian government neither responded to his request nor apologized. The N5,000 proposal was later withdrawn by the Nigerian government.
CAUSE OF DEATH:
In old age, it was reported that late Funmilayo’s activism was outshined by that of her three sons, who provided effective opposition to various Nigerian military groups. In 1978, she was thrown from a third-floor window of her son Fela's compound, the Kalakuta Republic when it was stormed by one thousand armed military personnel.
In February, 1978, she lapsed into a coma and died on April 13, as a result of the injuries she sustained from the incident.
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was portrayed in Kunle Afolayan's blockbuster film October 1. She was represented by famous fashion designer, Deola Sagoe. The movie was released in 2014.
She was a true hero!
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