The Lioness of Lisabi Was A Woman And More: 5 Significant Contributions Made By Funmilayo-Ransome Kuti


As it’s still International Women’s Month, it’s fitting to continue highlighting women who have made significant contributions to society.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, born Frances Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas on October 25, 1900, in Abeokuta, Nigeria, was a Nigerian educator, political campaigner, women’s rights activist, and traditional aristocrat.

Today, let’s explore five notable achievements of this Nigerian woman whose legacy continues to inspire generations of Nigerians and Africans to advocate for equality, justice, and freedom.

Funmilayo Was The First Female Student In Nigeria’s First Grammar School  

Frances Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas and born in 1900, became the first girl to attend Abeokuta Grammar School, which was Nigeria’s first grammar school. This happened in 1914, the same year when five other girls also started attending, showing a shift in the school’s gender balance. A feat that paved the way for more girls to access formal education.

She Was The Founder Of The Abeokuta Women’s Union (AWU)

In 1918, colonial rule introduced changes that particularly impacted women, including a tax imposed on those deemed of marriageable age, affecting girls as young as 14, who were required to pay an annual tax of three shillings.

In 1932, following her education in London, she established the Abeokuta Ladies Club (ALC), initially limited to western-educated women. Over time, the club evolved to embrace feminist and political ideals. By 1944, it began admitting illiterate market women suffering under colonial rule. In 1946, the club opened its doors to all Abeokuta women and was renamed the Abeokuta Women’s Union (AWU).

In 1948, the women protested these policies, leading to the removal of the taxes and the abdication of the local king who enforced them. Ransome-Kuti’s leadership and activism were instrumental in improving the lives of Nigerian women.

The AWU became a powerful force for social change, advocating for women’s rights, education, and economic empowerment.

The Only Nigerian Woman In Nigeria’s 1947 Delegation To London 

While figures like Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikwe are often celebrated for their roles in Nigeria’s struggle for independence, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti’s contributions are not as widely acknowledged. She was part of the 1947 National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) delegation to London, where she advocated for Nigerian interests. 

During her time in the United Kingdom, she penned an article that condemned colonial rule for its political and economic marginalization of Nigerian women.

Funmilayo’s The Only Nigerian Woman With The Lenin Peace Prize

Funmilayo was a strong advocate for women’s political participation. She also played a crucial role in the formation of the Nigerian Union of Teachers.

She traveled extensively, delivering lectures to raise awareness about the challenges faced by Nigerian women and advocating for their rights. 

Her dedication and activism were honored with the Lenin Peace Prize in 1970. 

Recognized Member Of The Order of Niger (MON) 

In 1965, the government recognized Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti for her efforts by awarding her the Member of the Order of the Niger (MON). This was in appreciation of her leadership in the Abeokuta Women’s Union (AWU) victory against tax imposition in 1948 and for establishing the Nigerian Women’s Union (NWU) to advance women’s rights nationwide, establishing branches throughout Nigeria and making educational opportunities for girls and women accessible. 

Additionally, the honor acknowledged her work in enhancing the political involvement of Nigerian women.

Final Thoughts

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti lived a remarkably eventful life spanning 78 years, marked by her leadership in Nigeria’s independence movement and her advocacy for women’s rights. Her activism and commitment to social justice had a profound and enduring impact, not only in Nigeria but also beyond its borders. 

From generations to generations, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti’s legacy will keep inspiring Nigerians and Africans to fight for equality, justice, and freedom. 

This is what only a Lioness can do, do you agree?

Written by Seunfunmi Joshua

Seunfunmi is a Publicist, Filmmaker, Writer & Producer of Live Events..

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