Funmilayo Ransome Kuti (25 October 1900 Abeokuta, Nigeria - 13 April 1978 Lagos, Nigeria), born Francis Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas to Daniel Olumeyuwa Thomas and Lucretia Phyllis Omoyeni Adeosolu. She was a teacher, political campaigner, and women's rights activist. 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.
Funmilayo Kuti's grandfather was a son of a repatriated slave from Sierra Leone. He became a member of the Anglican Faith and soon returned to the homeland of his ancestors, Abeokuta. Funmilayo Kuti was born in Abeokuta, she attended the Abeokuta Grammar school for secondary education and later, went to England for further studies. She soon returned to Nigeria and became a teacher. On 20 January 1925 she married Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome Kuti. He also defended commoners and was one of the founders of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in the 1930s and of the Nigerian Union of Students (NUS). They also are the parents of human right activists. Their children consist of three sons; Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, Musical legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Doctor Beko Ransome-Kuti, and one daughter; Dolupo.
She was the first woman in Africa to drive a car.
Throughout her career, she was known as an educator and activist. She and Elizabeth Adekogbe provided dynamic leadership for women's rights in the '50s. She founded an organization for women in Abeokuta, with a membership tally of over 20 000 individuals spanning both literate and illiterate women.
Ransome-Kuti launched the organization into public consciousness when she rallied women against price controls which hurt market women. Trading was one of the major occupations of women in Western Nigeria at the time. In 1949, she led a protest against Native Authorities, especially against the Alake of Egbaland. She presented documents alleging abuse of authority by the Alake, who had been granted right to collect taxes. She also led the successful abolishment of 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. Originally, she was a member of National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, but was later expelled by the party after she chose to run as an independent when the party snubbed her as a candidate for a federal house seat. After, her suspension, her political voice was diminished due to the direction of national politics, as both powerful members of the opposition, Awolowo and Adegbenro, had support close by. However, She never let her voice and activism be diminished.
In 1978, she suffered injuries after being thrown from a second floor window when her son Fela's compound, known as Kalakuta Republic, was stormed by one thousand armed military personnel. She lapsed into a coma in February and died on 13 April 1978 as a result of the injuries.