Monday, February 22, 2010
Funmilayo Ransome Kuti (25 October 1900 – 13 April 1978). A Wonderful Activist And A Great Lagosian.
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900-1978) was a Nigerian feminist who fought for suffrage and equal rights for her countrywomen long before the second wave of the women's movement in the United States. She also joined the struggle for Nigerian independence as an activist in the anti-colonial movement. Described by many as the mother of women's rights in Nigeria, she was regarded in her time as "The Mother of Africa."
An educationist and an activist, she founded a secondary school in Abeokuta to educate and train Nigerian men and women as future leaders.
She led a successful movement that helped abolish separate tax rates for women. In 1953, she founded the Federation of Nigerian Women Societies which formed an alliance with the Women's International Democratic Federation.
Ransome-Kuti's political activism led to her being described as the doyen of female rights in Nigeria and was regarded as “The Mother of Africa.” Early on she was a very powerful force advocating for women's right to vote. She was described in 1947, by the West African Pilot as the “Lioness of Lisabi” for her leadership of Egba women on a campaign against arbitrary taxation of women. That struggle led to the abdication of the Egba King Oba Ademola II in 1949.
She later ran for a Federal House seat on the ticket of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), a political party founded by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who later became the first president of post-colonial Nigeria. Though she faced opposition in the party and later left politics, she continued her activism.
She died in 1978 as a result of deadly injuries suffered from a brutal military attack and torture ordered by Olusegun Obasanjo, the dictator and Head of State.
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti is the mother of music legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Spending more than one hour beside the state's governor fulfilled Eniola Olajuwon's wildest dream and he declared: "I must say that today is the happiest day of my life because His Excellency, the governor of Lagos State, has made it so."
He grinned and clutched Governor Babatunde Fashola's hand as they walked through a line of pupils welcoming the governor to their school, Saint Savior's Schools, Ebutte Meta, on Thursday.
Master Olajuwon had made a promise to his fellow pupils that, if appointed head prefect of the school, he would invite the governor for a lecture on leadership - even though he says he "did not know that the governor will agree; but I hoped and prayed and sent an email to him."
Mr. Fashola said he received the email sent through Eniola's mother's email address on November 19, 2009 and decided to honour the student leader's invitation.
During his lecture, the governor used the head prefect's action as an illustration of the qualities of a good leader.
"You (Eniola) demonstrated leadership; you kept a promise," he said "It was a gamble he took just because he wanted to fulfill a promise. I'm sure he didn't know my email address before then.
"We can learn a lot about leadership when we look around us and see people have done and what we have failed to do," Mr. Fashola surmised and added that "leaders, in my view, do not tell people how to do things; they show them how to do it."
He urged the pupils to always be courageous and responsible, not only for themselves, but for everybody.
"Leaders take responsibility, not only for themselves, but for everybody. Courage does not mean being brave or being strong, it means having faith to continue in the face of fear," he said.
Under the hot sun, which left everybody sweating, the governor discredited the notion that leaders are determined by how much money they have.
"It is not how much money one has that qualifies him to be a leader; it is the moral authority that he can be relied upon. Moral authority comes with the ability to keep promise," he said.
Mr. Fashola said the ability to keep promises will earn a leader the power of persuasion, which must be used to lead the people aright.
Describing the governor, Annette Carter, the school's head teacher said "finding time to honor the promise of a young school boy in Ebutte-meta says a lot about Mr. Fashola."
The visit coincided with the school's diamond jubilee celebration, and the chairperson of the management board, Tom Ogboi, who described the school as the oldest private school in Nigeria, disclosed that the school has decided to supply classroom furniture to some public schools within its locality.
Mr. Ogboi said the furniture will be ready by the end of March, 2010.
Reacting to the donation, Mr. Fashola said the gesture will help his government realise its set goal that "by the end of 2010, no child in any public school in Lagos State will have to sit on the floor without a desk and chair."
"We have done it before. All my education was in this country. I believe that the resources, the skills and the energy that is necessary to produce first class education in this country is within this country," he said.