Tayo Agunbiade spotlights female activists in new book

by Araayo Akande

A veteran journalist and research consultant, Mrs Tayo Agunbiade, has spotlighted some early female Nigerian political activists in a new book.

The tendency in political literature has been to downplay the role of women in Nigeria’s nationalist, constitutional and socio-political historical movement, but Agunbiade painstakingly documents their contributions in ;Emerging from theMargins: Women’s Experiences in Colonial and Contemporary Nigerian History.' Published by Crater Library and released in 2020, the achievements of Amazons including Lady Oyinkan Abayomi, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Mrs Folayegbe Akintunde-Ighodalo, Mrs Wuraola Esan and Mrs Margaret Ekpo dance across the 378-page book. Others whose activities she documents in beautiful prose include Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, Malama Ladi Shehu and Professor Jadesola Akande. But aside chronicling the women’s political activism, the book also reveals women’s marginalisation in Nigerian society. It highlights events dating from 1922, the beginning of Nigeria’s constitutional, electoral and political systems and how women have fared since then.

Agunbiade also lists the names of political party executives and recipients of national honours, dominated by men, to demonstrate how much women have been sidelined from national affairs. Commending the author's effort in the foreword, Senator Abiodun Olujimi who has herself sponsored a bill on discrimination against women notes that: "The collection of fourteen narratives brings into focus how state institutions, constitutional reviews, and political party hierarchical command structures, were designed for male control and dominance, resulting in minimal female representation and participation.

Each narrative is based on information researched from correspondence between British and colonial officials, nationalist and contemporary newspapers and parliamentary debates.t;
“To support the assertion of institutional demotion of women, the author provides historical and contemporary data which shows female underrepresentation in political and public life…The stories are very important to unearth and narrate because they showcase women’s agency and voice, and give them their rightful place in Nigeria's colonial and contemporary history.”

Agunbiade, a graduate of History from the University of Lagos and Women Development Studies from the University of East London, started her professional career as a reporter/ researcher for the African Guardian magazine. She worked in the United Kingdom as a freelance journalist with West Africa Magazine.

She was also a broadcast journalist, creating and producing development-focused television and radio programmes for the Ogun State Government from 2003 to 2011. Mrs Agunbiade was also a columnist for ThisDay Newspaper and chaired the Editorial Board of the rested Compass Newspapers from 2011 to 2013.

‘Emerging from the Margins: Women's Experiences in Colonial and Contemporary
Nigerian History;’ is available for purchase at https://tayoagunbiade.com/books/

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