Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti: The Education Game-Changer
Francis Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas was born in October 1900 to Chief Daniel Olumeyuwa Thomas, the son of a returned slave from Sierra Leone.
After her secondary education at Abeokuta Grammar School, she left for England.
Upon her return, she became a teacher and married to Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, the co-founder of the Nigeria Union of Teachers and of the Nigerian Union of Students.
With her husband’s support, Funmilayo held literacy classes for women and founded a nursery school in the 1930s.
The educationist also founded the philanthropist organization Abeokuta Ladies’ Club (ALC) in 1942 as well as the Social Welfare for Market Women Club (which formed the first adult education program for women in Nigeria.)
The activist is responsible for organising market women protests against indiscriminate taxation by the Alake of Egbaland and the United Kingdom. In 1953, she again founded the Federation of Nigerian Women Societies and convinced women to vote.
An active participant in the politics, she was the president of the Western National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) Women’s Association.
She went on to found the Egba or Abeokuta Women’s Union alongside her sister-in-law Eniola Soyinka (the mother of the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka). This association had over 20,000 women.
More so, she played a major role in Nigeria’s independence and is also the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria.
The mother to Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Ransome-Kuti, former Minister of Health, Olikoye and Bekolari a medical doctor cum activist, she and her children became a stench to the several military governments.
She met her untimely death on the 13th of April, 1978 after she was thrown down the window in Fela’s Kalakuta Republic and lapsed into a coma.