A Lesson From The Lioness Of Lisabi


 I once had a  passionate affair with Nigerian History because I strongly believed a closer look at the triumphs and defeats of the past can arouse the spirit of national pride. Then I became a victim of the existing system that has lost its sense of direction, and I realized that sometimes it’s hard to respect the past if the present is ugly and the future is bleak.

Well, recently I have been lured back into that long lost affair, to take a closer look at the events of the Nigerian independence. Somewhere, in a dark corner of a rusted shelf in history, I found a treasure worth my adventure.

This has reminded me of an old picture hanging with pride on the wall of the school hall in my high school; as if someone is saying “see who we know” (I wonder if it’s still there). It also reminded me of a constant question in quiz competitions in my primary school, “who was the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria’’?

I found Funmilayo Ransome Kuti!

At a time when women were expected to be restricted to their traditional roles, she was an afrocentric feminist and activist at the forefront of anti colonial struggle for Nigeria’s independence. She challenged the multiple oppression facing women of her days and fought the myopic vision of those they called leaders. Not by mere words but by her deeds. She was called the Lioness of Lisabi for her leadership in Egba Land.

Space would not allow an in-depth analysis of her life and times or of her strengths and weaknesses (read more about her here – Funmilayo Ransome Kuti), but it sure will allow a lesson from it.

Our generation of women has been defined by the discovery of our wings; we can soar high as far as our imaginations can take us. We have the opportunities and resources our grandmas’ generation or even our mothers’ did not have when they were our age.

But to be truly free is to be able to take responsibility not only for ourselves but also in leading and contributing towards improving the welfare of our communities and eventually the nation at large.  This is a call to be aware and to be involved in the development of our communities (classrooms, neighbourhoods, offices, market, etc). When we recognize a need to be met and a space to be filled do we offer what we can and join the train of a campaign for positive progressions?

We will keep travelling on the journey of life, but when we leave where we are today, who will remember us and for what are we going to be remembered for?

Free as a bird? Yes, that defines the generation of today’s woman, but only a flight on a clear wind can soar  high. Positive changes in the society embellishes our freedom.

Shola Okubote

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