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Celebrating Nigeria’s Trailblazing Women

April is International Black Women’s History Month. It means that through April, the World will take a step back to recognize the contributions of Black women to the World. Therefore, this month, you will hear familiar names – Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Ella Baker, Shirley Chisolm, and many more. These are Black women who, through their struggles and resistance, gave us a voice. We owe them our admiration and respect.

But for many of us from Nigeria, the role of women in the world is only complete with mentioning a host of Nigerian women who fought for justice and equality. There are many reasons why the World must know the names of some of these Nigerian women. The number one reason is that, like Rosa Parks and the rest of them, these Nigerian women displayed passion and courage at a time when it was rare for women.

The second reason is that we must teach our daughters they have courageous women whose shoulders they can stand upon to pursue their dreams. When Sha Battle, a tech consultant, and entrepreneur, dreamed of April as International Black Women’s History Month, it was to uplift and support the achievements of Black and minority women of the Diaspora.

The World must know the names of these Nigerian women.

In the line of Battle’s dream, the World must know that Nigerian women are as audacious as their counterparts in the United States and elsewhere. For example, women such as Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, or Beere’ as Wole Soyinka referred to her in his book – Aké led women to protest the imposition of taxes on their products. It is critical to note that the protest was successful. As a result, the government did not go ahead with its plans to impose tariffs.


There is Margaret Ekpo, who fought relentlessly for the inclusion of women in the politics of Nigeria. Although Nigeria could do more, her activism led to the involvement of more women in Nigerian politics. Until her death in 2006, Ekpo, a well-known women’s rights activist, continued to play a leading role in the grassroots mobilization of women in politics.

There is also Queen Aminatu – the Princess Warrior. Queen Amina was a historical figure from Zaria, Kaduna State. Amina distinguished herself as a leading warrior at age sixteen and gained notoriety for her military skills. British historian Michael Crowder noted, “after Amina’s death, the traditional titles and offices relating to authority over women and redress of their grievances have now become nominal or discarded.’

Then there is Ladi Kwali. Kwali was a renowned potter from the village of Kwali in North-Central Nigeria. Her artistry in pottery led to national and international awards. In 1977, Ahmadu Bello University awarded an honorary doctoral degree to Kwali. In 1980, she also received a Nigerian National Order of Merit Award. Other awards include Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Kwali’s work is on display at Oxford Ceramics Gallery.

Flora Nwapa, Alimotu Pelewura, Buchi Emecheta and many more. The list of Nigerian women who have played significant historical roles is long. Yet, most young people with a Nigerian heritage need to become more familiar with these names.

This month of April, I have dedicated my column to these trailblazers whom we must allow history to forget. You can join me in remembering these names. In addition, I urge you to send your submission of other Nigerian women trailblazers not mentioned in this piece.

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