Funmilayo Ransome Kuti: First Woman to Drive a Car in Nigeria

Funmilayo Ransome Kuti
  • Real Name: Funmilayo Ransome Kuti
  • Place of Birth: Abeokuta
  • Date of Birth: the 25th of October 1900
  • State of Origin:
  • Nationality: Nigerian
  • Net Worth: N/A
  • Occupation: Politician and Human Right Activist
  • Gender: Female

One of the things we learned while growing as kids were, what a man could do a woman can do better. We grew up in a culture where you are faced with an insurmountable amount of criticisms and drawbacks.

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Culturally you are banned from doing or taking parts in some specific roles as a woman, and you get brainwashed with the idea that your future and dream should end in the kitchen and nowhere else.

Many of our African mothers grew up with this same mindset of being an obedient wife, whos say does not count, or whose role and expertise should end in the kitchen. And this training was passed down from mother to daughter for generations.

Over the years, there have been a lot of inventions. A considerable number of them are ascribed to the male race of the society, while a meager amount comes from the female race.

Generally, society dictates that the female race should always come second after the male race, while this remains a barbaric idea; it has not always been the case.

The number of accomplishments by men might be higher than that of women, that does not mean that the women haven’t accomplished a thing, No. women around the world have always fight to make their voices be heard, and they refuse to be suppressed and ensure their opinion count and prove to the world that I can do it.

And one of these strong women is Funmilayo Ransom Kuti. While there is a list of tons of things that have been achieved by men, there is equally a significant number of achievements ascribed to the female race, and our country is no exception too.

While there is a first man to fly a plane or a first man to visit the moon, there is also a first woman to drive a car in Nigeria, proving the fact that what a man could do, a woman could definitely do

Who is Funmilayo Kuti?

Many might not know this, but she was one of the women that changed the rights of women in Nigeria forever. She was a politician, an activist for the right of women and a teacher.

She had qualities that made her one of the prominent leaders who set an excellent example for people to see, and she was the very first woman to drive a car in Nigeria.

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History describes her as the first female activist in Nigeria, the first woman to drive a car and also regards her as “The Mother of Africa.” Funmilayo was an influential politician who advocated for women’s rights in Nigeria, some newspaper like the West African Pilot describes her as the “Lioness of Lisabi.” You might be wondering where you have heard the name Kuti from.

Well, you guessed right. She was also the mother of Late Fela Kuti, the “Revolutional and Afro Singer” and Beco Ransome Kuti. She is equally the grandmother of Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti.

Her full name is Francis Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas, born on the 25th of October 1900, to Mrs. Lucretia Phyllis Omoyeni Adeosulu and her father Mr. Daniel Olumeyuwa Thomas; and was born and raised in Abeokuta.

Her road to success began from Abeokuta Grammar school, where she got her primary education, she eventually traveled to England to complete her education. After her education, she decided to come back home and give back to her country all that she had acquired, so she became a teacher.

Career and Success Stories

In 1925 she got married to Reverend Oludotun Israel Ransome-Kuti, who later became the father of Fela Beco Ransome-Kuti.

Few years after her union, she became the leader of the Nigerian Union of Students and joined the Nigerian Union of Teachers. In 1965 she received the Order of Nigeria, and a decorate in law in 1968.

This opened doors of opportunity, and he became the representative of the Western House Chief in Nigeria. She fought for the rights and freedom of women in Nigeria while proactively being an activist and an educator.

Her views were equal rights for women and that women should be seen as equal to men. This lead to the campaign she started to help women get the right to drive a car. In the year 1950, she formed an organization comparison of about 20,000 women in Abeokuta.

She was involved in the Nigerian trading activities. It was there she realized that many West African Women were involved in the same trading activities, so she did her best to ensure that the rights and privileges of this woman were looked into and safeguarded.

She led a protest against the Alake of Egbaland in the year 1949. In the year 1953, she helped to form the Federation of Nigerian Women Society. She also took part in the formation and activities of the Women’s international and Democratic Federation.

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She became a member of the ruling party at that time. She campaigned for the voice of women to be heard in the parliament. She actively stood her ground in the politics of the country but was suspended, which reduced the influence she had in the politics of the country.

She became one of the house chiefs in the year 1950, which happen to be one of the influential bodies in the country. This led her to the creation of the Egba and Abeokuta Women’s Union.

This union consisted of 20,000 women, and various workshop was created for these for the illiterate women, to help them stand out in the society.

Funmilayo, The Communist

Funmilayo Ransome Kuti

During the cold war, Funmilayo did what no woman could dear do, seat in the driver’s seat. She did this and traveled around the eastern bloc.

The countries she visited included the USSR, China, and Hungry. Mao Zedong, who was a Chinese Communist and later became the founding father of the Republic of China, met with Funmilayo in 1956.

This led to her denial of the opportunity to renew her passport in her country. She was banned from traveling to the USA as she was declared a communist.

She even created the Commoners party to challenge NCNC, which was the ruling party at that time, and also took part in the negotiation of the Independence of her country with the British authorities.

Death of Funmilayo and Net worth

She never stopped her political activism. Even in her old age, she still took part in various political activities, and her sons were not idle either as they also created active political warfare for various Nigerian Juntas.

In 1978 she was killed due to her political activities as 1000 military men invaded her house, beat her up, and threw her down from the third floor, and died at the hospital from the injuries. Her estimated Net worth in 2019, was about $100,000 to $1million.

Summary

Funmilayo was a leader to all Nigerian women, and it was impossible to find another woman in her time who could do all that she did, which made her story an exceptional one that portrays the example of what the Nigerian woman could achieve.

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Funmilayo Ransome Kuti
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Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.
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