25 October 1900 in Abeokuta, Nigeria – 13 April 1978 in Lagos, Nigeria
Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was born on 25th October 1900 in Abeokuta, Nigeria. She was known as a prominent leader and a women's right activist fighting against the military government over unjust practices and abuse of human rights. She was also the mother Fela Anikulapo Kuti one of the greatest musicians to have come out of Nigeria. Her political activism led her to be regarded as “The Mother of Africa.” She was one of the women elected to the native House of Chiefs, serving as an Oloye of the Yoruba people. She was also a ranking member of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon as well as the first Nigerian lady to drive in Nigeria. She died from injuries sustained when she was thrown from a third-floor window in her son’s compound. The federal government sought to immortalize her on the then proposed N5,000 note.
1951 in Zaria, Nigeria – 9 June 1996 in Lagos, Nigeria
Kudirat Abiola was born in 1951 in the Northern city of Zaria, Nigeria. She took active part in pro-democracy movement in 1994. She was actively involved in moving and sustaining the oil workers twelve week strike against the military. The strike successfully weakened the government and was the longest in African history by oil workers. In December of 1995, when the pro-democracy groups decided to march for freedom in Lagos, she joined the likes of Chief Anthony Enahoro at the forefront. She defied military decree banning political associations and was an inspiration to many. She won ‘Woman of the Year’ in both 1994 and 1995. Her life was cut short by assassins on June 4, 1996.
1914 in Calabar, Nigeria – 2006 in Lagos, Nigeria
Margaret Ekpo was born in Creek Town, Calabar. In 1938, she married a doctor, John Udo Ekpo who was predominant in Akwa Ibom State. In 1946, she studied at what is now called the Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin, Ireland. On her return to Nigeria and with a diploma of Domestic Science in hand, she founded a Domestic Science and Sewing Institute in Aba.
She was a known Nigerian women’s rights activist who was a pioneering female politician in the country’s first republic. She played major roles as a grassroot and nationalist politician in the Eastern Nigerian city of Aba. She was a member of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) and was nominated by the NCNC in 1954 to the regional House of Chiefs in 1953. In 1950, she alongside Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti protested killings at an Enugu coal mine, the victims were leaders protesting colonial colonial practices at the mine. In 1954 she established the Aba Township Women’s Association and by 1955, women in Aba had outnumbered men voters in a city wide election. In 2001, Calabar Airport was named after her and she later died in 2006.