Storytime: how Abeokuta women protests caused removal of Alake in 1949

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Once upon a time in the vibrant city of Abeokuta, Ogun State, there was a community of strong and determined women. It was the year 1947, and the echoes of change were reverberating through the streets of the town.

Abeokuta was a place known for its rich culture, ancient traditions, and resilient people. However, a storm was brewing, one that would change the course of history.

The colonial rulers, the British, had imposed a new tax on the people, a tax that affected the very heart of the community’s survival. This tax, intended to help finance the post-World War II British economy, had dire consequences for the women of Abeokuta.

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Funmilayo Ransome Kuti’s father’s house, where the women often met to organise

They were the backbone of the local economy, responsible for trading in the markets, farming, and managing the family’s finances.

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The women realized that this new tax was not just an economic burden; it threatened their way of life and the well-being of their families. In their colorful and vibrant attire, the women organized themselves into a formidable force.

They were led by leaders such as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, the mother of the famous musician and activist Fela Kuti.

Under the leadership of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and other prominent women, the Abeokuta Women’s Union was born.

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These women, both young and old, came together to make their voices heard. They marched through the streets of Abeokuta, their songs echoing the spirit of unity and resistance.

The women took their protest to the Alake’s palace, the traditional ruler of Abeokuta, and presented their grievances. Their peaceful but determined demonstration sent shockwaves through the colonial administration.

The women demanded the repeal of the unjust tax and an end to oppressive colonial policies.

The Abeokuta Women’s Revolt soon gained national attention and support. Women from all over Nigeria began to rally behind their courageous sisters in Abeokuta.

Their actions symbolized not only a protest against taxation but also a broader resistance against the colonial oppression and injustice that had burdened Nigeria for so long.

The pressure from the women’s revolt and the widespread support it garnered forced the colonial authorities to listen.

In 1949, the tax was abolished, marking a significant victory for the women of Abeokuta and a milestone in the history of Nigeria’s struggle for self-governance.

The Abeokuta Women’s Revolt stands as a testament to the power of ordinary people, especially women, who, when united and determined, can bring about significant change.

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The spirit of those brave women still lives on, not only in the history books but in the hearts of the people of Abeokuta, Ogun State, and all of Nigeria, reminding them of the strength that lies within their unity and their voices.

The women chased Alake away from Abeokuta

The abdication of Oba Samuel Ladapo Ademola II, the 7th Alake of Egbaland, in 1949, as a result of the Abeokuta Women’s Revolt, indeed added a dramatic twist to the story.

As the Abeokuta Women’s Union, led by the indomitable Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, continued their relentless protests against the oppressive taxes imposed on them and the maltreatment they endured, the pressure on the Alake grew.

The women’s union and their leaders, notably Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, tirelessly voiced their grievances, rallied for change, and garnered public support.

The Alake was seen as a puppet of the colonial administration, complicit in the taxation and mistreatment of the women.

The relentless and widespread campaign by the women led to a situation where the Alake’s position became untenable.

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Faced with mounting public pressure, internal strife, and opposition, Oba Samuel Ladapo Ademola II chose to abdicate the throne on January 3, 1949.

His abdication marked a significant moment in the Abeokuta Women’s Revolt and the broader struggle for women’s rights and self-governance in Nigeria.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and the women who had been at the forefront of the protests had succeeded in removing a figurehead who had been associated with their oppression.

The abdication of the Alake and the triumph of the Abeokuta Women’s Union symbolized not only the power of collective action but also the resilience of women in the face of injustice.

It was a testament to their unwavering determination and their ability to effect change, even in the face of entrenched colonial power.

After the abdication, the Alake was forced to leave his position and moved to Ogbomoso or Oshogbo, where he resided until December 1950.

The women’s revolt and the removal of the Alake brought about a turning point in the history of Abeokuta and set the stage for greater political and social changes in the region.

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