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Nigerians In History: Kofoworola Ademola

Oloori Kofoworola “Kofo” Aina Ademola, Lady Ademola MBE, MFR, OFR (née Moore) was a Nigerian educationist. She was born May 21st, 1913. She was of Yoruba extraction. She was the first president of the National Council of Women Societies in Nigeria, she was head of the women’s organization from 1958 to 1964. She was the first black African woman to earn a degree from Oxford University and also an author of children’s books.


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Early Life and Career

Ademola was born to the family of a Lagos lawyer, Eric Moore and his wife Aida Arabella (née Vaughan). She was a first cousin of Oyinkan Abayomi and a niece of Charlotte Obasa. She spent half of her young life in Lagos and the other half in the U.K. Ademola was educated at C.M.S. Girls School, Lagos; Portway College, Reading and St Hugh’s College, Oxford. She earned a degree in education and English from Oxford, while at Oxford she wrote a 21-page autobiography at the instance of Margery Perham to douse British stereotypes about Africans, she wrote of her childhold as a mixture of African and Western cultural orientation.

Meet Kofoworola Ademola First African And Nigerian Woman To Earn A ...
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She, however, did not report overt racism while in Britain but expressed annoyance at “being regarded as a ‘curio’ or some weird specimen of Nature’s product, not as an ordinary human being” and at “ineffectual remarks about our ‘amazing cleverness’ at being able to speak English and at being able to wear English clothes. Ademola returned to Nigeria in 1935 and took up appointment as a teacher at Queens College. While in Lagos she participated in some women organizations such as YWCA. In 1939, she married Adetokunbo Ademola, a civil servant. As the wife of a Yoruba prince, she was entitled to the style Oloori, but as her husband was also a knight, it is as Lady Ademola that she was better known. Her husband’s work took the family to Warri and later to Ibadan and Ademola established links with the women organizations in both towns.

Women Movements and Other Engagements

While in Warri with her husband, Ademola was a member of a women’s literary circle and was a teacher at Warri College. When she moved Ibadan, she began to cultivate friendship with Elizabeth Adekogbe of the Council of Nigerian Women and Tanimowo Ogunlesi of the Women’s Improvement Society. She was a member of the latter and was a bridge linking both organizations and a few others to join hands and form a collective organization. In 1958, when the National Council of Women Societies was formed she was chosen was the first president. As president, she became a board member of the International Council of Women.


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Ademola was also a social worker, teacher and educator, she co-founded two schools: the Girls Secondary Modern School in Lagos and New Era Girls’ Secondary School, Lagos. She was a director of the board of trustees of UBA and secretary of the Western Region Scholarship Board. She also wrote children’s books, many of them based in West African folklore, including Greedy Wife and the Magic Spoon, Ojeje Trader and the Magic Pebbles, Tutu and the Magic Gourds, and Tortoise and the Clever Ant, all part of the “Mudhut Book” series.

Recognition and Honours

She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1959, receiving the award from Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s government awarded her the honour of membership of the Order of the Federal Republic.

Lady Ademola also held the chieftaincy titles of the Mojibade of Ake and the Lika of Ijemo.

An authorized biography of Kofoworola Aina Ademola, Gbemi Rosiji’s Portrait of a Pioneer, was published in 1996.

Lady Ademola died on 15th May, 2002.

Sources:

Ojewusi, Sola (1996). Speaking for Nigerian women: (a history of the National Council of Women’s Societies, Nigeria). Abuja: All State Pub. and Print. Co.

George, Abosede (2014). Making modern girls: a history of girlhood, labor, and social development in colonial Lagos. Athens: Ohio University Press.

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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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