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Madam Tinubu

Every Lagosian must have at least heard of Tinubu square in Lagos Island. Did you know that this was named after a woman? Still in celebration of International Women Month; our star for this week is Madam Tinubu. Tinubu Square remains one of the major commercial hubs in the city of Lagos, a lasting tribute to her success.

EfunporoyeOsuntinubuOlumosa (often shortened to EfunroyeTinubu) is one of the few women penned down in our Nigerian history. She was an ambitious business tycoon popular in Western Africa and a powerful political voice in Western Nigeria. Madam Tinubu was born in the early 1800’s in Abeokuta where she married her first husband with whom she had two sons with. Her journey to entrepreneurship begun after the death of her first husband. She sold tree barks and leaves to make ends meet. These skills she learned from her grandmother Osunsola who traded in tree bark, roots, herbs, and leaves; and her mother Nijede who had been a food seller.

maam tinubu


Madam Tinubu remarried Adele, an exiled Oba (King) of Lagos in 1833. This marriage paved way for her acquisition of economic and political power. She moved to Badagry where she fully utilized her husband’s connections to build a successful empire trading salt and tobacco from the Europeans in exchange for slaves from Abeokuta. After her husband Adele returned to his throne in 1835, she moved to Lagos. Quite unfortunately, Adele died two years after making Madam Tinubu a widow for the second time. She ensured Adele’s son Oluwole was made the new King, thereafter she married his military advisor, YesefuBada. By this time, she had expanded her trade to include palm oil and firearms which amplified her wealth during the Yoruba wars in the 1840s and 1850s.

madam tinubu

Madam Tinubu made her brother-in-law Akintoye King, after the accidental death of King Oluwole. She was greatly rewarded by the newly enthroned King, Akintoye who gave her ownership of valuable stores in downtown Lagos. When she learned of the difference between domestic slaving and the inhumane treatment of slaves, she turned from being a trader of slaves to a key person in the abolishment of slave trade. The European Nations abolished slave trade in 1845 to turn to commercial crops, she took advantage of this to expand her empire by controlling the majority of the commercial produce; palm oil, coconut oil, and cotton. Her established business made her to become the major conduit in Lagos between the Europeans and Brazilians in Politics, Military, and Commerce.

Her challenging the British Consul Benjamin Campbell led to her downfall which resulted to her being banished from Lagos. She was forced out of Lagos to Abeokuta where she remained a major trader in interior Nigeria until her death in 1887.

Madam Tinubu was truly a powerful woman.  You can buy a Madam Tinubu carving now on – The one-stop shop for Afrocentric art, craft, and lifestyle products in Nigeria

Adaptations: Qeturah | Noicon | Blackpast







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Madam Tinubu
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