Activism & Politics
Between 1940 and 1950, F.R.K rose to become one of the leaders for women’s rights in Nigeria. In 1932, she founded the Abeokuta Ladies Club (ALC), a civic and charitable organization comprising of educated women. In 1946, she opened the membership to include market women who were generally poor and illiterate, thus changed the name of ALC to Abeokuta Women’s Union (AWU). Between 1947 and 1949, F.R.K rallied women to protest against price controls that were hurting the female merchants all over Abeokuta. In 1949, she led a protest against the kingship of Abeokuta (Alake of Egbaland) alleging abuse of power by the Alake on the issue of collecting taxes from women and oversaw the abolishment of separate taxes for women. Through the avenue of AWU, she organized several workshops for the empowerment of illiterate women in Abeokuta, including the first adult education program for women in Nigeria. Her intention was to raise the standard of living for women and to eliminate causes of poverty.
F.R.K was a member of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons party (NCNC), where she was the treasurer. She later became the president of the Western NCNC women’s association, but was later expelled from the NCNC when she was not elected to a federal parliamentary seat. After her expulsion she started the Commoners People’s Party (CPP) to challenge the ruling NCNC prior to the independence of Nigeria and was one of the delegates who negotiated Nigeria’s independence from Britain.
During the cold war, she traveled widely and had several contacts with the Eastern Bloc (a term used to identify countries for the former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe). As a result of this, the government of Nigeria failed to renew her passport because it was assumed that she would teach women communist ideas. She was also denied a visa to the United States of America because it was alleged that she was a communist.
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti undoubtedly influenced her children to advocate for human rights. All three of her sons, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Beko Ransome-Kuti and Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, also grew up to become activists.
FRK was a pioneer for women’s empowerment in Nigeria. Her life was a testament to women’s right and equity.and also continues to be an inspiration for several activists all over the world.