• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Meet Yoruba women that shaped Nigeria’s pre independence

Meet Yoruba women that shaped Nigeria’s pre independence

Before Nigeria gained independence in 1960, several powerful Yoruba women played significant and crucial roles in shaping the sociopolitical landscape of Nigeria before independence such as politics, commerce, and social activism paving the way for future generations of Nigerian women leaders. Here are a few notable figures:

1. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900–1978)

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a prominent educator, political campaigner, and women’s rights activist who fought for Nigerian independence and was a key figure in the anti- colonial movement. She was one of the most influential leaders in Nigeria’s independence movement and the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria. She founded the Abeokuta Women’s Union (AWU), which fought against unfair taxes and advocated for women’s rights. Her activism played a crucial role in challenging the British colonial rule and improving the status of women in Nigeria.

2. Madam Tinubu (c. 1810–1887)

Madam Efunroye Tinubu was a powerful trader and political figure in Lagos and Abeokuta. She was a formidable businesswoman involved in the lucrative trade of goods such as tobacco, salt, and slaves (before the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade). Tinubu was also a key political advisor and played a significant role in the politics of Abeokuta and Lagos, using her influence to protect her people and her business interests.

3. Hajia Sawaba Gambo (1933–2001)Though not exclusively from the Yoruba ethnic group, Hajia Gambo Sawaba had Yoruba roots and was a prominent activist. She was a politician and women’s rights advocate who worked tirelessly for social justice and the empowerment of women. She joined the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) and was known for her fearless stance against colonial and traditional authorities, advocating for women’s education and participation in politics.

4. Chief (Mrs.) Olufunmilayo Adunni Olayinka (1951–2013)

Though her prominence was more pronounced post-independence, Chief Olayinka’s efforts in education and civil service during the late colonial period helped set the stage for her later achievements. She was deeply involved in community development and women’s advocacy, contributing to the foundation of structures that supported women’s roles in governance and public service.

5. Princess Omu-ga Elugbani:


A notable female leader in the 19th century, recognized for her bravery and strategic thinking during the Kiriji War.

6. Efunsetan Aniwura:


A wealthy and influential Yoruba merchant and political figure in 19th-century Ibadan, celebrated for her business.

7. Oya, the Yoruba Goddess:

A powerful deity in Yoruba mythology, associated with storms, change, and transformation, often invoked by women in pre-independence Nigeria for strength and inspiration.