Google is celebrating the posthumous birthday of late women’s rights activist, Chief Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti with a doodle.
Ransome Kuti would have been 119 years today, October 25.
She is one of the most prominent figures in Nigerian history and inspired women across Nigeria through her brave acts and most notably her fight for women in the country.
Here are all the things you should know about her.
Born Francis Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas was born on 25 October 1900 in Abeokuta, her father Daniel Olumeyuwa Thomas was the son of a returned slave, Ebenezer Sobowale Thomas, from Sierra Leone.
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti attended St John’s Primary School, Igbe in Abeokuta from 1906 to 1913 before becoming the first female student at the Abeokuta Grammar School which she attended from 1914 to 1917.
She also taught briefly before leaving to further her education at the Wincham Hall School for Girls in Cheshire, England from 1919 to 1923.
Upon her return to Nigeria, in reaction to the racism she had encountered in Britain, she dropped her Christian name, Frances Abigail and made a point of speaking Yorubarather than English, even with the colonial authorities.
She soon became associated 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 resumed teaching at Abeokuta and organized literacy classes for Women in the early 1920s and founded a nursery school in the 1930s.
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti began her active participation in feminism when she created the Abeokuta Ladies Club (ALC), which later became the Women’s Union of Abeokuta (AWU) in 1946. The club began with middle-class women who were Western-educated, but quickly expanded to market women, and soon, over 100,000 women were a part of the organization.
Owing to the number of women who were a part of the organization, they expanded once again. This time they became the Nigerian Women’s Union (NWU), in 1949 which was later renamed the Federation of Nigerian Women’s Societies (FNWS) in 1953.
Ransome-Kuti led countless protests against Abeokuta and Nigeria. Her first well-known protest came in 1948 when she led a protest in Abeokuta against a tax placed on women. In 1949, she also led a protest against Native Authorities, especially against the Alake of Egbaland. She presented documents alleging abuse of authority by the Alake, who had been granted the right to collect the taxes by his colonial suzerain, the Government of the United Kingdom. He subsequently relinquished his crown for a time due to the affair. She also oversaw the successful abolishing of separate tax rates for women.
Ransome-Kuti also campaigned for women’s votes. She was for many years a member of the ruling National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) party, but was later expelled when she was not elected to a federal parliamentary seat.
After her suspension, her political voice was diminished due to the direction of national politics, as both of the more powerful members of the opposition, Awolowo and Adegbenro, had her support close by. However, Ransome-Kuti continued her activism. In the 1950s, she was one of the few women nominated to the house of chiefs. At the time, this was one of her homeland’s most influential bodies.
She decided to change her surname to Anikulapo-Kuti in the early 1970s to further identify with the Yoruba culture.
Ransome-Kuti’s political activism led to her being described as the doyenne of female rights in Nigeria.
She was also regarded as “The Mother of Africa ” and 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.
She was the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria and was one of the delegates who negotiated Nigeria’s independence with the British government.
She was the only woman to join the Nigerian delegation when they went to lodge a formal complaint in 1947 with the secretary of state for the colonies. She was also Leader of Commoners Peoples Party.
She was also honoured with the Order of the Niger in 1965, a doctorate of laws by the University of Ibadan in 1968, and the Lenin Peace Prize in 1970.
She also held a seat in the Western House of Chiefs of Nigeria as an Oloye of the Yoruba people.
She married Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, an Anglican clergyman and teacher, in 1925.
Kuti was the mother of popular Nigerian activists Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Beko Ransome-Kuti, and Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti who played important roles in education, healthcare, political activism, and the arts.
Her grandchildren, Seun Kuti and Femi Kuti, also stood out in their field.
In 1978 Ransome-Kuti was thrown from a third-floor window in her son Fela’s compound, popularly known as the Kalakuta Republic when it was stormed by one thousand armed military personnel. She lapsed into a coma in February of that year, and died on 13 April 1978 as a result of her injuries.
After Ransome-Kuti’s death, Fela took her coffin and travelled nearly twenty kilometers to Dodan Barracks in Lagos (then Nigeria’s Supreme Military Headquarters), leaving the coffin at the gate in an attempt to shame the government. The invasion, her death, and the movement of the coffin is detailed in his song “Coffin for Head of State”.
She was buried in Abeokuta on May 5, 1978.