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When we talk politics in Nigeria, women are hardly seen at the forefront. But a daring woman who stopped at nothing to enter the political arena with the strongest of men in the early history of Nigeria changed that narrative.

This icon was born Oyinkansola Ajasa to Sir Kitoye Ajasa, a prominent Yoruba who was the first Nigerian to be knighted by the British, and Lucretia Olayinka Moore, a princess of Egba royal family, in Lagos, on March 6, 1897.

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Oyinkan schooled at the Anglican Girls’ Seminary, Lagos, from where she graduated in 1909. She completed her training in music at the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1917, right after finishing from the Young Ladies Academy at Ryford Hall, Gloucestershire, England.

After 11 years abroad, she moved back to Lagos in 1920 where she started as a teacher of music at her alma mater, the Anglican Girls’ Seminary (now renamed the Anglican Girls’ School).

Oyinkan dropped her maiden name  – Ajasa – when she married a lawyer named Moronfolu Abayomi in August 1923. Moronfolu Abayomi was, however, assassinated in court two months after the wedding and Oyinkan became widowed.

Oyinkan did not allow this tragedy to stop her in her tracks to greatness as she soon continued in her quest of educating women and girls.

She did fundraising and promotions for Queen’s College through another organization which she founded – West African Educated Girls’ Club which opened in 1927. As a founding teacher and the only Nigerian teacher at Queens’ College, she became even more actively involved in the education of women and girls in Nigeria.

She was also one of the earliest women to drive a car in Nigeria after the likes of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. In 1930, Oyinkan remarried a doctor named Kofo Abayomi.

As a member of the Girls’ Guide when she was in the U.K, Oyinkan became very instrumental to the establishment of the Girl Guide association in Nigeria as she became chief commissioner in 1931. The Girls’ Guide became recognized and supported by the Nigerian government. She was the first head of the Nigerian chapter of the organisation and also the first native Nigerian woman to work for the organization.

As the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) which was foundational to the earliest political parties in Nigeria was formed, Oyinkan joined in 1935. She wrote an article in NYM’s journal in 1935, demanding that wealthy women in the country should stand up for the poor and illiterate ones and be willing to work with other women for that goal of women equality.

After making her name in advocacy for better representation of women in the political arena, Oyinkan herself founded the Nigerian Women’s Party on May 10, 1944 – during a meeting with twelve other women at her home.

The organization took to the trenches to advocate for more awareness among women to participate deeper in politics. Her daring effort in this regard, among other reasons, must have necessitated Oyinkan being knighted by the Queen of England in 1954 as she became known as Lady Abayomi.

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Abayomi retired from the Girls’ Guide in 1982 and the organization in return named her Life President of the Girls’ Guide for her work in giving the organization traction.

Among other chieftaincy titles which Oyinkan Abayomi was honoured with, being named the Iya Abiye of Egbaland stood out. Oyinkan died on March 19 1990 at the age of 93.



Featured Image Source: Nigeria Galleria

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This article was first published on 20th December 2019


Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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