Google is celebrating the 119th posthumous birthday of Nigeria’s serial trail-blazer, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, with a Doodle. Equally important, Funmilayo is the mother of the legendary Afro-beat king, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti; renowned medical doctor, Beko Ransome-Kuti and professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, a doctor and Minister of Health in Ibrahim Babangida’s military administration.
Also, she had a daughter, Dolapo.
The Doodle, deployed by Google today, Friday October 25th was illustrated by a Nigerian-Italian artist Diana Ejaita. It celebrates Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, a formidable leader; who founded what many refer to as one of the most important social movements of the 20th century.
The subject of Friday’s Google Doodle, Funmilayo, was indeed a trailblazer in more ways than one.
She is credited with the accolade of being the first Nigerian woman to drive a car. Also, she was the only woman in Nigeria’s 1947 delegation to London. The delegation had lodged a protest and set the nation on the path toward self-government. Additionally, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was one of the few women elected into the then-House of Chiefs.
Described in 1947, by the West African Pilot, as the “Lioness of Lisabi”; Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti’s political activism led to her being described as the doyenne of female rights in Nigeria. Equally important, she was widely regarded as the “Mother of Africa”.
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti: a worthy occupier of the Google Doodle
Funmilayo, a women’s rights and education activist grew up witnessing Great Britain consolidating control over Nigeria. As the grandchild of a slave, she became one of the first girls to enroll in Abeokuta Grammar School. Thereafter, she proceeded to England to continue her education. By the time she returned home, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti dropped her birth names and preferred to speak Yoruba.
In 1932, Ransome-Kuti established the Abeokuta Ladies Club (ALC). The club fostered unity between educated women and poor market workers. Further, it birthed the first adult education programs for Nigerian women. The organization boasted a membership of over 20,000 women.
Further, it was credited with clamouring for healthcare, social services, and economic opportunity. Significantly, it was renamed the Abeokuta Women’s Union in 1946.
However, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was imprisoned in 1947 for protesting against unfair treatment towards women. Google had quoted her as saying back then: “As for the charges against me, I am unconcerned.”
In 1978, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was thrown from a third-floor window in her son Fela’s compound; the very popular Kalakuta Republic, when it was stormed by about 1000 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.
She was born on October 25th in 1900 in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.