The Ransome-Kuti Family: Are They Nigeria’s Most Iconic And Impactful Family?

By Ikenga Chronicles October 16, 2019

The Ransome-Kuti Family: Are They Nigeria’s Most Iconic And Impactful Family?

–Sayo Aluko

I love this picture – Oluwani’nfela pelu Olikoye, egbon re.

Timeless legend Fela, with his elder brother, Professor Olikoye Ransome Kuti – the best Minister of Health Nigeria has had till date. Go check the facts!

There was also Dr. Be’ekolabola | Be’ekololari [Beko] Ransome-Kuti. The man who beyond his medical feats, became the face of human rights activism at one point in this country.

I mean, can we say the Ransome-Kuti family has created the largest impression on the earth of our nation’s history?

The dad of Fela, Olikoye and Beko, Reverend Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, was a ranking Anglican Priest and foremost educationist who founded the Nigerian Union of Teachers;

Their mum, a certified doyenne of rights’ activism, Madam Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, gave real meaning to the now easily misconstrued and merely misused cause called “Feminism”. She was the harbinger of women rights and women votes in the country, first woman to drive a car, the prominent woman to partake in the discussions for Nigeria’s independence, entered the International Women’s Who’s Who in 1969, won the Lenin Peace Prize in 1970, etc. Fam, she made a King abdicate his throne for the right reasons in her fight for justice for women….a whole King!

She was not alone, she had a partner-in-stride, her sister in-law, Grace Eniola Kuti. Grace co-founded Abeokuta Women’s Union with Funmilayo, leading a revolt against draconian taxation. Her womb gave the world the enigma called Wole Soyinka. [Yes, Wole Soyinka and Fela are cousins.]

Their grandad, Josiah Jesse ‘JJ’ Ransome-Kuti, gave us the Christian hymns we sing till date. He was a master composer and translated existing hymns to Yoruba. He was vastly revered for his political prowess too as he had a reputation for justice and fairness.

Their aunt, Azariah Olusegun Ransome-Kuti MBE, was appointed Chief Pharmacist for the Federation of Nigeria in 1956; in 1951, she was appointed Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by King George VI.

Then, Fela. Should we wait for wordsmiths and oxford to forge new words to describe his ineffable soul, mind and being? Okay, we wait.

Femi, Yemisi, Yeni, Seun…and many of the other children, following these steps of making indelible marks on their chosen path(s).

A family that has managed to sustain its relevance to our history and our story till date. True to their name, wón kútì – they’d never die.

Won’t end this piece without stating my deep admiration for Rev. Oludotun and Madam Funmilayo’s love for the native language that showed in the names given to their children; Oladolupo, Olikoye, Oluwani’nfela, Be’ekolabola | Be’ekololari. Deep indigenous names with stinging meanings. Iba!

Well, I love this photo. And, happy birthday Fela.

Photo Credit: Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti