King Ahebi Ugbabe

Ahebi Ugbabe’s life story is to me, equal parts fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because Ahebi Ugbabe was a woman ahead of her time, and her story provides incredible insights into pre-colonial Igbo attitudes towards gender and sex. And frustrating because of the exact same reason; that is pre-colonial Igbo attitudes towards gender and sex. Ahebi Ugbabe was a woman who rose in the dawn of British colonialism of what is now Nigeria, to become a female king to a people who did not have autocratic rule, and a female headman and warrant chief to the British colonial forces. She was a woman who became a man as Igbo society allowed, ruled as a man with the support of foreign powers, until the elders of the society thought that she had gone too far and essentially re-transformed her to a woman.

By gathering several oral histories about her character, Nwando Achebe paints a very detailed and amazing picture of a defiant woman who challenged established ideas of how much a woman could become a man. As a young girl, Ahebi Ugbabe fled to Igalaland for two apparent reasons. One was to escape being forced to marry the goddess Ohe as a punishment for crimes her father had committed in Enugu-Ezike. The other may have been due to being raped, and then possibly being forced to marry the man who raped her and fathered her child. It may have been a combination of these reasons that lead to a Ahebi Ugbabe fleeing to Igalaland as a teenager.

In Igalaland, Ahebi Ugbabe turned to sex work, this gave her enough finances to set up a trade, and also access to important and powerful people such as Attah Igala, the King of the Igala, and some European colonists, both of who aided her in realising her ambitious goals as a ruler. Her activities, as a trader and sex worker, gave Ahebi Ugbabe economic power and political influence.
After establishing herself as a person of influence and affluence, Ahebi Ugbabe acted as an informant to the British by leading the British invaders to Umuida and Ogrute. It is still uncertain what Ahebi Ugbabe’s motives in aiding the British were, Achebe suggests that she used the British to enact revenge on the people whose customs had caused her to flee from her home at a young age, or possibly to remove the institution of deity marriage and domestic slavery which the British used as justification for colonialism.*

In return for her aiding them, and in recognition of Ahebi Ugbabe’s linguistic skills (she was fluent in Igbo and Igala, and pidgin English with which she communicated with the British colonialist), Ahebi Ugbabe was given political offices by the British. First as a headman, then as a warrant chief in 1918. The headman was an agent of the British who controlled the wards that comprised villages, while the warrant chief was the indigenous leader who ruled the people in place of the British in the indirect rule system. In Igboland which was decentralised and gerontocratic, warrants (basically pieces of paper) were given to men who rose to claim positions as heads of their communities. Although Ahebi Ugbabe’s high political office was not so strange in Igbo political life in which women could attain high levels of powers, she was apparently the only woman in colonial Nigeria, and perhaps British Africa to fill these offices. In occupying these roles (of headman and warrant chief), Ahebi Ugbabe’s authority was okayed by the British and grudgingly accepted by the people of Enugu-Ezike. Similarly Ahebi Ugbabe’s becoming a king was sanctioned by the Igala.

Ahebi Ugbabe was made king by Attah Aliyu Obaje, she was initiated into the sacred throne of the attah and had her ears pierced as all attah (rulers of the Igala kingdom) do in remembrance of the earliest female King Ebulejonu, Ahebi Ugbabe was then given a beaded crown, a horsetail that marked her station, beads to wear on her neck and wrists, a black fowl to sacrifice to her chi, and a staff that signified male kingship. This initiation is not so strange when you consider that in pre-colonial times, the official title of eze was one given by the attah, and that all ezes were required to make a pilgrimage to Igalaland. Achebe mentions Igala pioneers that may have inspired Ahebi to pursue a female kingship, such as Attah Ebulejonu, a female king of the Igala who is said to be a woman born of a half-human, half-leopard father, and who ruled as a Female King; Princesses Inikpi who buried herself alive, along with nine of her slaves as a willing sacrifice to help safeguard the Igala kingdom in a time of war, and who afterwards was elevated to become a goddess; and Oma Idoko who was similarly sacrificed, although unwillingly.

The Igbo pre-colonially practised a gerontocracy and believed in leadership by merit, power was shared between male and female elders in a complimentary fashion, yet Ahebi Ugbabe ruled autocratically. Her subjects, the people of Enugu-Ezike were compelled to recognise Ahebi Ugbabe as king because she had the Attah and the British behind her and supporting her. Ahebi Ugbabe soon became known as a greatly feared ruler, she was bestowed titles that were usually the reserve of male kings and chieftains, along with titles solely for exceptional women and women who had transformed themselves into men. Ahebi Ugbabe was praised both as an exceptional woman and an exceptional man.

And as a man, Ahebi Ugbabe’s treatment of women followed society’s taboos. She had a masquerade house in her palace that women were forbidden to enter. She slept surrounded by young virginal girls, teenagers and women were not allowed to sleep near her following the belief that menstrual blood was contaminating. Ahebi Ugbabe married several women, and several slaves one of whom she adopted as her own son. Her palace was a sanctuary for women who ran from abusive husbands, and Ahebi Ugbabe married some of the women who decided not return to their husbands. At the same time, her palace was a kind of corrective facility for “difficult” wives. Men sent their wives to King Ahebi’s palace and paid her to deal with their stubborn wives, until they became softened and were ready “to live in peace and harmony with their husbands”. King Ahebi’s palace was a sexually liberated place, her wives not only had as many lovers as they wanted to, but they were apparently also encouraged to sleep with her important male visitors. Thus the women in her palace lived as free women and sex workers. There was also a coed school in King Ahebi’s palace at a time when it was rare for girls to be educated.

There were several people who were not happy with King Ahebi. Particularly the male elders who were upset with her disregard of traditional leadership and elders, her autocratic rule, her reception of bribes and the manner she forcibly took away men’s wives. However they tolerated King Ahebi until she did the unthinkable, she tried to own a masquerade. Masquerades are believed to be the ancestors come back to the land of the living, they enforce the laws of the community and are agents of social control. They were also the domain of a solely male secret society and in a society where gender and sex were fluid, ownership of, and the ability to control a masquerade differentiated the male from the female. Only cis-gendered men who were initiated into the masquerade secret society were allowed to control masquerades. Ahebi Ugbabe was a female king and a female husband, and indeed she was treated as a man in her community. Yet when King Ahebi came out with a masquerade, this was considered the ultimate insult and disregard of society’s rules.

Ultimately, King Ahebi fell from grace when the British betrayed her by not supporting her when she took the male elders to court after they object at her masquerade. The British resident who presided over this dispute, concluded that Ahebi Ugbabe did not have the right to control a masquerade as she was a woman. With the British no longer backing her, Ahebi Ugbabe’s influence significantly lessened, people stopped attending her court and her market. Now the British sought to reconnect with the male elders they had previously ignored, and with this the male elders were free to force Ahebi Ugbabe’s re-transformation into womanhood.

She still retained considerable influence and wealth until she died in May 1948. Today most people do not know about King Ahebi and her legacy, however she lives on as she was transformed into a medicine by one medicine man, and then to a goddess who sees and reveals the unknown.

* Interestingly, although Ahebi Ugbabe may have been unique in Britain’s African colonies as a woman who became a headman and then warrant chief, she was not the only African woman who acted as an informant to aspiring colonial authorities. More on this in future posts.

What I Read
Achebe, Nwando (2011), The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe, Indiana University Press
Listen to Nwando Achebe talk about her research and King Ahebi here.

On Ancestral (Dis)Connections

An excellent post over at Odinani: The Sacred Arts and Sciences of the Igbo People gives advice on “connecting to your ancestry”. I consider connecting with ancestry to be very important, and not just the ancestors that have passed away but the elders who are living and still on this earth. Marcus Garvey said, “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. I can’t say how much this phrase speaks to me, and the importance I attach to knowing where I’ve come from in order to move forward, to having at least some idea of my roots.

At the same time, I see so much disconnection. I’m sure this will not be the first time I’ve mentioned encountering Africans who know next to nothing about their own history. I’ve come to realise that even relatively modern history is at stake. Lately I’ve been plagued with so many thoughts, wondering about how much Africans, generally speaking, know about how those that came before us and how much do we distort their histories. I have also consider how this distortion could affect any forms of connection, learning, and moving forward.

Last week while hanging out with some people I know, I was told that it was expected for a man to hold open doors for women. Because I (obviously) don’t agree with waiting on men to open doors for me I was labelled too “Western”. Now, I’m used to been called Western and I wouldn’t be writing this if one lady didn’t go on to lecture me about how we, as Africans, need to let go of Western thinking while the others agreed with her. Then I was confused, since when did men opening doors become part of an African way of life? I thought expecting men to hold open doors for women was a strictly Western thing.The lady’s words were on replay in my mind, over and over.

Then I watched this short clip and I was surprised at the mention that “in the [Nigerian] past” women were expected to stay in the home and not do anything for themselves. This again struck me as odd, I found myself asking out loud “which past?”. My interest in African history, along with my need to learn as much as possible on women in African history, has resulted in my different view of what live was like for women in the past. Now I know enough to understand that nothing was ever the same, reading on the histories of the Mali Kingdom, or the Ashanti or the Igbo will suggest that women in those times had considerable amount of autonomy and power. However from what I have read about women in the Buganda kingdom had considerably less freedom as they were considered minors and had to have male guardians who were responsible for them in every sense of the word, except when these women were royalty then they had autonomy. Once again African history remains truly diverse and complex.

When Africans talk about the “past”, is this in reference to the past before colonialism, or the past after colonialism? It never fails to surprise me, the ways in which colonialism extremely changed lives and what we remember of the “past”. If in the “past” and traditionally, African women were expected to stay in their homes and serve no one but their husbands, how do we explain the existence of people like Madam Tinubu or Efunsetan Aniwura? How do we explain the women who regularly travelled across West Africa to trade, such as my grandmother who spent most of her life working as a trader in Ghana.

In reconnecting with and trying to understand the ancestors, I do not think it is always necessary to look so far into the past. I know I may be sounding like an old woman but I feel that today, young people are very disconnected from their elders. I’ve sat through meetings where rather than carrying the torch over from the older generations and continuing the proverbial struggle, we were sitting trying to come up with new ways to solve problems, thinking we were the pioneers. When it would have been much easier to pick some pointers from those who had been there before, years ago, and learn from their experience. I see it when I read articles on African politics and/or society, essays that are supposedly “radical” and saying what “needs to be said but all Africans are too cowardly to say” yet people said the exact same thing years ago in the 60s and 70s.

However, back to this issue of me being tainted by Western ideas of feminism. I resent this suggestion that I was sitting down waiting for white Western women to tell me about f*eminism when my sources of inspiration are much closer to home. I do not have to look far back in history, ticking off African women that rose against all odds when I happen to have grown around them. My mother and her friends, the majority of them divorced women or widows living in a society that resents women like them and will do anything to reduce their successes. These are women who raised entire families on their own, became wealthy through their own means and fought the patriarchy the best way they could. And, they are by far the least “Western” women I know in their ideas and life views. I wonder what the lady who told me to wait for a man to open a door for me would say if I told her that the African women I know split bills with their husbands and that no, no big bad Western feminist taught them to do this.

I have recently rediscovered a folder in which I kept academic article, after academic article on women in African history. While I find that what these researchers and academics write about the lives of African women past is extremely different from common lore today that wants to paint African women in history as abused and victimised under the hands of the big bad African man, I have found unusual sources of inspiration. Not to mention my friends who are older than me, in their 30s, 40s and who can sit down and give me advice that other 20 year olds can’t have become invaluable to me as I try to navigate the world as a young Black African woman.

As someone once said to me, thanks to European colonisation, a lot of Africans have become Victorian in their thinking. It is my opinion that sorting through the misinformation and connecting with the past is the best way to understand what exactly is and/or isn’t part of an African philosophy. However, a lot of the work on Africa’s past is done by Western academics, and this could prove a hurdle in reaching people as they could label it as “Western” in the end. But nothing is ever easy.

In conclusion here’s a quote from E. Frances White’s, “Creole Women Traders in the Nineteenth Century”, The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 14, No. 4 (1981), pp. 626- 642

As the Nova Soctian women before them, Yoruba women brought to Sierra Leone a flexible attitude towards marital bonds. Robert LeVine and others report that Yoruba women divorce frequently, often seeking more advantageous relations. He maintains that they have the freedom to do this because they are economically independent of their husbands. Although the British expected recaptive men to support their wives, the Yoruba women set about insuring their own livelihoods and contributing to the family economy, a course which must have seemed natural to them. [emphasis mine]

A Folktale About Efusentan Aniwura

I promised to share any information I came across on Efusentan Aniwura, one of the three powerful Yoruba women from the early 19th century. I recently came across something on Efunsentan Aniwura while searching for African folktales.

This story comes from this course guide on African Communication Systems from the National Open University of Nigeria (links to pdf).

Efunsetan Aniwura, the great Iyalode of Ibadan, was a wealthy and powerful woman of unusual boldness, strength and intelligence. According to accounts of books, biographies and films about her, she reigned as the Iyalode of Ibadan for years. No light was shed about her husband but she had only one child (girl), who died at a very young age, between the ages of 19 and 22 years whilst in labour.

Efunsetan was a very close friend of Madam Tinubu the Iyalode of Egba. She was a wealthy woman in their days. Till date it is said that Efunsetan was the boldest, most powerful and wealthiest Iyalode that reigned in Yoruba land. Her glory was rare and could not be compared with any other during her reign. Efunsetan was a business woman who travelled round the country to buy products like bitter kola, kola-nut, cocoa, etc, she was well-known among the Hausa and the western states.

Efunsetan had her own warriors and slaves like the king and released them for war in favour of her people. During her days, she helped to improve the economy of Ibadan through business transactions. She was also a good employer of labour. She was among the first women that had business transaction with the white men.This also helped Ibadan in civilizing the people. She was loved by all. Although a very strict woman, she was also very nice to her slaves and employees. She gave out gift and money to them freely at times without measure. A story was cited about a slave of hers who delivered twins in her absence. At her return, she gave her food, clothing, pomade, even money. She gave out her slaves in marriages and even conducted naming ceremonies for them, but all these stopped after the death of her daughter.

After the death of her daughter, every thing took a new turn. She was no longer submissive to God or the King, for according to her, God has failed her. So, God should manage his heaven while she managed her own earth. She killed her slaves at will for committing atrocities either by beheading, poisoning, etc. She gave a sanction that no cry of a child must be heard in her domain, neither must conception, courtship nor marriage take place. Any female that conceived would either die or have the pregnancy terminated by forceful abortion depending on her (Efunsetan) choice while the man responsible would die.

Efunsetan was said to be powerful in terms of diabolic powers. It was not stated if she actually belonged to any occult groups like the ifa, osun, witches, etc, but she had unusual powers which were common mostly among the witches. After beheading one of her slaves for getting pregnant for another of her slaves, even though her younger brother claimed he was responsible. Her brother conspired with her slaves to save the life of the slave girl. She refused all pleas from friends and family members. She went ahead to kill the girl by beheading, her right in the village square. Several attempts were made by her salves and slave’s lover and her friend to prevent Esunsetan from killing her (to save her). She found out through her powers and ended up in killing them instead.

It was after this that the king ordered her to be brought to the palace dead or alive, since every effort in summoning her to the palace had failed. At a second thought, he (king) decided to go with them robed in all kinds of charms. At her house she asked for their reason in her house, which she was told, she asked if she could be excused to pick something. She went back into the room and killed herself with majele (poison) saying “kaka ki ileku ile oya saa” – Meaning it is better to die than to face the shame of being arrested, ridiculed or punished.

After her death all her slaves were set free, some returned to their villages while some remained in Ibadan and Oyo. Efunsetan was a woman of great principle. She was also beautiful, wealthy and proud, which led to her destruction.

There is a lot going on in here that I find problematic;

i) Have you noticed that when it comes to very powerful women in history, this is not limited to the African continent, they tend to reach horrible endings. I’m feeling so many things right now because as I found this tale which searching for ‘African legends and myths’, I also came across the story of Queen Arawelo of Somalia.

Notice how Efunsentan Aniwura goes from being loved by her people to possessing the powers of witchcraft. I’ve decided to forever side-eye this particular retelling, not only because it may have been doctored (perhaps Efunsentan Aniwura pissed off some powerful people in her day) but also because of…

ii) …this piece of nonsense; “She was among the first women that had business transaction with the white men.This also helped Ibadan in civilizing the people”. Can everyone witness yet another case of what I was talking about in this post? The people (Nigerians) that researched, compiled and wrote this piece obviously thought there was nothing wrong in insinuating that contact with ‘the white men’ civilised the people of Ibadan. Where’s my kiss teeth gif?

iii) Also notice the emphasis placed on God and ‘her King’ towards the second half of the story when there was no mention of either of them before. We know that Efunsentan raised her daughter on her own so why would she have had to be submissive to the King? I mean more so than the average rich person in those days. What was her personal relationship with the King? I do not compute.

iv) Note how Ifa and Oshun have become ‘diabolic powers’, this is another reason I seriously believe the original story has been tampered with. Why would a Yoruba woman living in the 19th century when Christianity was yet to have taken a stronghold in West Africa view the Gods and Goddesses of her own people as diabolic? It is completely natural for a Yoruba woman to follow the Yoruba religion (though there are Yoruba people of today that may not believe this). Or don’t tell me there are people who seriously believe that in the early 19th century, most Yoruba people were either Muslim or Christian. Olorun oba!

v) Finally, “She was also beautiful, wealthy and proud, which led to her destruction.” I hope I don’t even have to go into how problematic this is. I now understand why in this interview, Niji Akanni, the director of Yoruba movie Aramotu asked how Yoruba culture could venerate women highly in myth but downplay their contribution in modern history.

They really could have said that the death of her only daughter lead to Efunsentan Aniwura’s depression instead it is her wealth, pride and beauty that lead to her ‘destruction’. In order words, women shouldn’t aim to be wealthy and shouldn’t dare be proud or beautiful because these qualities would surely bring them down.

/rant mode off

On Madam Tinubu

Click for image source

Madam Efunroye Tinubu was among the most prominent and powerful Yoruba women in pre-colonial Nigeria (early to mid 19th century). Other renowned Yoruba women from that period were Iyalode Efunsetan Aniwura and Madam Omosa, both of whom deserve posts of their own.

Madam Tinubu was an Egba woman born to a trading family in Abeokuta (also known as Egbaland). After completing an apprenticeship, she headed to Badagry, Lagos where she started trading in tobacco and salt. She later expanded her trade to include slaves who she sold to European slave traders. As a shrewd businesswoman, Madam Tinubu became the most important middleman in trade between Europeans and the Yorubaland interior by creating large trading networks. Madam Tinubu’s wealth and connections led her to meddle in politics.

With her trade and wealth, she was able to lend support to military efforts, which in turn made her more powerful. Although she was not from Lagos, she began taking interest in Lagos politics. In 1846, King Akintoye of Lagos faced exile and sought refuge in Badagry with Madam Tinubu. Being the badass that she was, Madam Tinubu ignited and supported a movement to return King Akintoye to regain the throne he had lost, she was successful.

In 1851, after regaining his throne King Akintoye invited Madam Tinubu to Lagos where she further expanded her business and political activities. Due to her influence in Akintoye’s court, rumours abounded that Madam Tinubu was the real power behind the throne. Madam Tinubu’s influence was such that when Prince Dosunmu succeeded King Akintoye, she continued to hold a space in Lagos politics.

Today Madam Tinubu is called a patriot by some, I am not too comfortable with that term because technically there was no ‘Nigeria’ when she was alive. However, Madam Tinubu did take a stance against the British in their efforts to further flex their colonial muscles into Yorubaland. In 1855, she spearheaded a campaign against Brazilian and Sierra Leonean immigrants in Lagos who she felt were actively trying to oppose the King and did not respect local customs. Apparently, her actions against these immigrants worried the British (who had been keeping an eye on her since she helped King Akintoye regain this throne). By supporting the local king and insisting that foreign residents respect local customs, Madam Tinubu’s activities were getting in the way of British colonial and mission policies. In 1856, colonial authorities in Lagos deported her from Lagos to her home town, Abeokuta in 1856.

I believe it was in Abeokuta that Madam Tinubu developed and adopted a staunchly anti-British stance. She eventually stopped selling slaves to the Europeans, it seems, after she learnt of the ‘evils of transatlantic slavery’, that is, the differences between the treatment of domestic slaves and those sold to the Europeans. Apparently she fought European slave traders to liberate slaves in Lagos and thereabouts however there is no mention if Madam Tinubu liberated the slaves she owned when she became anti-imperialist.

In Abeokuta, she traded gunpowder, bullets and other firearms (she also traded in palm oil and food produced on her massive plantations). She concerned herself with the Abeokuta-Dahomey wars that were taking place at that time, and through doing so became involved in Egba politics. Madam Tinubu would make loans to the army and supply food and arms during wartime. She was also in charge of the market place in times of peace. She contributed to defending Egbaland during attempts at Dahomean invasion in 1863 after which she was bestowed the title of ‘Iyalode’ in 1864 officially placing her in a position of power. She was the second woman to receive this title.

She died in 1887, at the height of her popularity.

Today, Madam Tinubu has several monuments dedicated to her, in Abeokuta, one stands ‘in the town square named after her Ita Iyalode.

There seem to be conflicting dates on when exactly a colonial government was established in Nigeria (and dare I say other parts of Africa as well). I have noticed that a lot of people place colonial governments actually earlier than they were. This supports the idea that from the beginning African and Europeans economic and political relations were unequal. The academic essay I read places Madam Tinubu as a pre-colonial Yoruba heroine who has a lot of information on her because her alliances and political activities, including her anti-colonial stance worried the British.

At this point, I am about to discuss the main reason I’m writing this post. Recently there was a debate on Facebook with several Nigerians saying that we shouldn’t be celebrating Madam Tinubu because of her trade in slaves. Some people argued that Madam Tinubu could not be patriotic if she was selling slaves to Europeans. Someone went as far as comparing her to Hitler. From the start, the entire discussion unsettled me.

You see, a long time ago I came across Madam Tinubu while searching on Yoruba women in history, but I only learnt of her as a trader in slaves and firearms. At that time, I decided to ignore her due to her part in the transatlantic slave trade. The source I read only described Madam Tinubu as a powerful Yoruba woman who sold slaves and firearms, there was no mention of her ventures in politics and the fact that those British colonials were, truth be told, scared of her.

I am not a fan of selective information. With people arguing that we should ignore Madam Tinubu’s anti-colonial efforts, I feel that now or in the future people may only know her as a slave-trading woman. It has taken me months, literally to articulate my thoughts and opinions on Madam Tinubu and the rejection of her legacy by some Nigerians. I only hope I express my ideas clearly in this post.

Firstly, how many renowned women from Yoruba history exist in the minds of Yoruba and Nigerian people today? Apparently there are only THREE of them, as I mentioned above they are Iyalode Efunsetan Aniwura, Madam Omosa and Madam Tinubu. Is there readily available information on these women? Well no, not exactly I am yet to come across substantial information on Iyalode Efunsetan and Madam Omosa. It seems the only reason we know so much about Madam Tinubu is because the British colonialist kept dossiers on her. While searching for information on Iyalode Efunsetan, the only thing I kept coming across was how her name had been maligned by someone, she had been portrayed as a ‘bad’ woman in some way. Now, people are debating whether Madam Tinubu should be acknowledged. Is it bizarre that it looks to me like this kind of treatment is specially reserved for women in Nigerian history?

Would we be debating whether or not Madam Tinubu should be acknowledged as a powerful person in Nigerian history if she were male? For a while after following the debate, I was totally confused and feeling all sorts of emotions! I started looking at other personalities in ‘pop history’, that is the sanctioned popularised history, and compiling a list of all the now morally wrong things they did in their time. For example, why is it that no one is debating whether the Dahomey empire should be studied, admired, praised the empire’s rise and decline is directly linked to the transatlantic slave trade? Or should I cease appreciating the Dahomean Amazons because of this knowledge? Would that be the ‘right’ thing to do? Nzingha of Ndongo and Matamba reportedly killed her subjects at will and kept a harem of male concubines (slaves?) yet today we appreciate her efforts against the colonising efforts of the Portuguese. The interesting thing I found is that the a lot of those men and women who fought against European colonisation of Africa had at some point or the other sold slaves to Western buyers. This apparently includes my favourite history subject from secondary school, Samori Toure.

According to a friend of mine, I should ignore the entire debate around whether Madam Tinubu was a ‘patriot’ or not, an anti-imperialist or not, because every single important West African from that period of time had a part in the slave trade. Surprisingly, Wole Soyinka has an essay on ‘Africa’s role in the transatlantic slave trade’ in which he mentions this, that is the power some Africans in that period got from trading slaves. I do not entirely agree with his essay though, anyone who says Africans sold ‘our own people’ will automatically get a side eye from me.

What I am getting at is this, is it impossible for Madam Tinubu’s efforts against the British Colonial government to be celebrated despite her dealings in the transatlantic slave trade? I am not one for redemption stories to be honest but the fact that she became an abolitionist (it is not specified whether she was dedicated to liberating slaves headed towards Europe and America or the domestic slaves she owned…this opens another can of worms). I personally don’t think we should be having the debate at all.

What I read
Tinubu Square, Central Lagos. MADAM EFUNROYE TINUBU
Denzer LaRay (1994), ‘Yoruba Women: A Historiographical Study’, The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 1-39