Subscribe Now
Trending News

Blog Post

Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti: Nigeria’s Pioneering Female Driver

Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti: Nigeria’s Pioneering Female Driver 


Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900–1978), originally named Frances Abigail, hails from Abeokuta, which is situated in present-day Ogun State, Nigeria. Her legacy is etched in history as the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria. 

During an era when investing in girls’ education was not the norm in Nigerian families, Frances’ parents stood out by recognizing the importance of education for all their children, regardless of gender. She enrolled at Abeokuta Grammar School in 1914, a school initially exclusive to male students. In 1914, the institution opened its doors to female students, and Frances was among the pioneering six girls to register for classes. She eventually returned to the school to teach.

Frances proceeded  to Wincham Hall School for Girls in Cheshire, England, in 1919. When she came back to Nigeria in 1922, her transformation was evident. Undoubtedly, her experiences in Britain, where she faced racial discrimination, led her to abandon her Christian name, Frances Abigail.

She soon became associated with some of the most important anti-colonial educational movements in Nigeria and West Africa, and fought tirelessly to further women’s access to education and political representation. Her children Beko, Olikoye and Fela, would all go on to play important roles in education, healthcare, the arts and political activism.

In 1944, she founded the Abeokuta Ladies’ Club (later, the Abeokuta Women’s Union), committed to defending women’s political, social and economic rights. This became one of the most important women’s movements of the twentieth century. Her unwavering commitment to cooperation, solidarity and unity led her to play an active role in politics, notably in the pre-independence constitutional negotiations of 1946.

On the 20th of January 1925, Funmilayo married Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, a member of the Ransome-Kuti family. Israel had studied at the Abeokuta Grammar School several years before Funmilayo. While she was still in school the two had developed a friendship followed by a courtship. 

Israel found work as a school principal, and he strongly believed in bringing people together and overcoming ethnic and regional divisions. He later became a co-founder of both the Nigerian Union of Teachers and of the Nigerian Union of Students.  His marriage with Funmilayo, lasting 30 years until Israel’s passing, was characterized by a profound sense of equality and mutual respect.

Between 1935 and 1936, the couple decided to acquire a secondhand car, which they had shipped from England. Remarkably, Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti went on to become the first woman in Abeokuta to ride a car.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *