Frances Abigail Oluwafunmilayo Thomas (later Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti, and finally, Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti) was born on the 25th of October, 1900 to Christian parents from Abeokuta.
She was the first female to attend Abeokuta grammar school, before going on to study at a finishing school for girls in England in 1919. It was while in England that Funmilayo dropped her English names, and finally adopted her shortened Yoruba name, Funmilayo.
After returning to Nigeria, Madam Funmilayo got married to her childhood sweetheart, Israel Oludotun Ransom-Kuti, an Anglican clergyman and teacher in 1925, and mothered four children; Dolupo(a daughter) in 1926, Olikoye(S) in 1927, Olufela(S) in 1938, and Bekolari(S) in 1940.
Funmilayo is most notably remembered for being a political campaigner, suffragist, and woman rights activist, spearheading the group Abeokuta Ladies Club(AWU), which later changed its name to Abeokuta Women’s Club(AWC). To include other women from other parts of the country, the group’s name was changed from Abeokuta Women’s Club to Nigerian Women’s Union(NWU) in 1949, and finally, the Federation of Nigerian Women Societies(FNWS) in 1953.
Part of her campaign with the earlier Abeokuta Women’s Club(AWC) was the reduction of taxes for women, as well as the age from which women were expected to pay taxes. This campaign bore fruit, and she saw the taxation system revisited to accommodate the lowly market women whom she fought for. This campaign also brought about the temporary abdication of the then Alake of Egbaland, Sir Ladapo Ademola II, and earned her the name “The Lioness Of Lisabi” for her stance for what she believed in irrespective of all the obstacles in her path.
The ultimate goal for Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti and the FNWS was the ultimate greater educational opportunities for women and girls, enforcement of sanitary regulations, and the provision of healthcare and all other social services for women.
Oluwafunmilayo Ransom-Kuti has served as a role model for other notable women suffragists and activists across Africa and beyond for her immense contribution towards the actualization of equal rights for the girl child.
Madam Funmilayo is also our #WiT in today’s episode of Gender Convos.