Before the internet and #WomenCrushWednesdays
Before Lady Flora Shaw conjured up that one word to bind us all, these women were running things from the very beginning.
Even if their nationality is somewhat debatable, (Nigerian didn’t exist then), we shall still call them our fore mothers. Because such awesomeness.
1. Carlota Lukumi
She was balling even before there was a Nigeria.
Taken as a girl slave in the early 1800s from Yorubaland, Lukumi ended up on a plantation somewhere in Matanzas, Cuba. Even though she worked on a sugar plantation, life was not sweet at all.
In 1843, she began planning a rebellion with Fermina, another slave but their plot was discovered and Fermina was thrown in prison. Somehow, Lukumi didn’t get locked up. Because who would dare?
So to communicate plans with the imprisoned, she used a talking drum, something the slave masters thought was a religious ritual. By the end of that year, what began as drumming grew to a slave uprising that swept across the country.
2. Madam Tinubu
Efunroye Tinubu was actively involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The irony. While Carlota Lukumi was fighting slavery in Cuba, Efunroye Tinubu was fighting to keep it here. Stupendously wealthy, Tinubu was given the title, cash madam of Abeokuta. Many believe if she didn’t sell slaves, she would still be rich from selling weapons and salt. If you ask us, na who we go ask?
Many believe Eringa is just a legend and never really existed. Nobody knows what she looks like, but we believe she would look something like aunty Serena.
The story goes that she wrestled every man in the village to the ground. It is also important to note that she is believed to have lived in Orji, Owerri.
The original Ada Owerri perhaps?
However, there was one person she couldn’t wrestle down –her husband. We wonder why.
4. Nana Asma’u
In the 1800s, Nana Asma’u’s father, Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio discovered his jihad in revolution. Asma’u on the other hand, found her jihad in the education of women. Everywhere her father’s political influence went, her educational influence followed, training women teachers. She has 60 surviving works of poetry. Some argue that she is a symbol of pre-colonial feminism.
5. Queen Amina of Zaria
Arguably one of the most powerful women in African history and certainly the most powerful on this list, Amina ruled as warrior-queen in Zazzau, now Zaria. She is believed to have lived from 1533-1610. She is also credited with the construction of the famous Wall of Zaria.
6. Madam Ikonna
She is famous for organising the historic Aba Women’s Riot in 1929 to protest a new tax that was to be imposed on women. It worked. 28 years later, she was protesting against Nnamdi Azikwe’s Eastern government’s heavy taxes on the men, since they couldn’t do it themselves. It worked again. Another two years later, she protested the deaths of school children who took a food formula shared by the government. She was jailed but quickly released days later for fear of the wrath of the women.
Which legendary woman inspires you? Minus your mummy.
Nice. Didn’t know this before. Only heard of Queen Amina. It’s good to learn about awesome women of Nigeria.
You did not mention anything about the stylish Margaret Ekpo, the resilient Moremi (we don’t know if it was a legend or not), the powerful Queen Idia (the woman put the itch in bitch…conspired with her son against her son. Also, the first iyoba of the Benin kingdom).
Definitely Madam Ikonna and Carlota– smart. impressive.