All That’s Black: Madam Efunroye Tinubu

Madam Efunroye Tinubu: Politician:

“The valiant that challenges the Almighty God, if the most high does not answer her on time”

Madam Tinubu was born in Yorubaland, an area in what is now known as Nigeria. She was a major political and business player, who campaigned against the influence of the British Empire over her people and for the elimination of slavery.

She became the first Iyalode of the Egba clan and is considered an important figure in Nigerian history because of her political significance as a powerful female aristocrat in West Africa. Iyalode (queen of ladies) is a title commonly bestowed on the most prominent and distinguished woman in a town. She is noted as a “women who had sex with other women”, never married, never had children and was sometimes referred to as lakiriboto or “a woman with no vaginal opening”.

She rose to become a very powerful and wealthy trader in the 19th century, and is one of the few Yoruba women that has withstood the test of history. Oral tradition states that she had three large farms, and that no less than 100 slaves worked in each at a time.

Apparently she owned over 2,000 slaves in her lifetime. Like other Yoruba women traders, she traveled across the land trading with all sorts of people. Her speciality was in arms and ammunition, she would lend these to warriors when they were going on military expeditions and it seems she also went to war a few times herself.

After Tinubu, a former slave trader herself, realized the treatment of Africans enslaved in Europe and the Americas was far more inhumane than the way slavery was practiced in Africa, she became a scathing opponent of all forms of slavery and used her influence to try to eliminate the practice in her region. Timbu Square in Lagos, capital city of Nigeria, is named after her.

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