Google is paying homage to Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti today by celebrating her posthumous 119th birthday with a wonderful doodle by Nigerian-Italian artist, Diana Ejaita.
Here’s what you need to know about such a great legend, who once pursued a king from his throne:
- She was born on October 25, 1900 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria; and was christened as Francis Abigail Olufunmilayo.
- She was the first female student in her secondary school, Abeokuta Grammar School, which she attended from 1914 to 1917.
- She later went on to study at Wincham Hall School for Girls in Cheshire, England from 1919 to 1923.
- Afterwards, when she returned from England, Madam Kuti stuck to her heritage by giving high preference to her Yoruba name–Funmilayo.
- As a believer of equal rights for women, Funmilayo was instrumental in educating women; she organized literacy classes classes for women and established a nursery school in the 20s and 30s, respectively.
- She created the Abeokuta Ladies’ Club (ALC) for educated women in 1942. She also started the social welfare for market women club to help educate working-class women.
- Regarded as the Lioness of Lisabi, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti led a protest in the 40’s against arbitrary taxation on the Egba people; this evetually led to Oba Ademola II’s abdication of his throne in 1949.
- Funmilayo was a cultural ambassador, ensuring that she was always clad in traditional outfits every time.
- She was part of the delegation, as the only woman, that laid a formal complaint in 1947 for the colonies. She also partook in the negotiations of Nigeria’s independence.
- She was the first woman in Nigeria to drive a car and ride a motorcycle.
- Funmilayo was also an Oloye of the Yoruba land, holding a chieftaincy title.
- She was the mother of the late afrobeats legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and aunty to, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka who also followed in her footsteps as social activists. Apparently, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
- Her other sons, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti were also renowed professors and Mnisters of Health and Education in Nigeria before their deaths.
- Her grandchildren Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti are also well recognized and highly respected worldwide for their role in the musical world in Nigeria and the world over.
- Her father, Ebenezer Sobowale Thomas, was a son of a returned slave, from Sierra Leone, who discovered he was from Abeokuta and decided to return to his hometown after he became Anglican.
- Funmilayo’s husband, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, was an activist as well, although not as fierce as she was. He was one of the founders of the Nigeria Union of Teachers and the Nigerian Union of Students, which are amongst the strongest organizations in the educational system in Nigeria.
- She died in 1978 after being thrown from a second floor window during a military attack in Fela’s compound.