Efunroye Tinubu

Madam Tinubu
Madam Efunroye Tinubu. Photo: NNP

Efunroye Tinubu was an amazon and Lagos merchant of the 19th Century who lent support to military efforts, and thereby became a powerful force in the politics of her time. Efunroye, in Oladipo Yemitan’s account was married to Adele as a prince, who later became king of Lagos, 1835 to 1837. In her natal home of Abeokuta her business exploits and land ownership was recognized with the honorific of Iyalode, making her the most senior woman in the town. In 1841, Efunroye as a slave dealer participated in the deposition of Akitoye who was an opponent of the trade and installed her own brother, Kosoko to the Lagos throne. Akitoye was later reinstated to the throne ten years later by the British. In Lagos Efunroye Tinubu acquired landholdings from the Island to the mainland. By 1855, her commercial network had become extensive, and she depended increasingly on credit from persons like JPL Davies to run it. Her debt, when she was expelled from Lagos in 1856 had climbed to £5,000, a huge sum by 19th Century standard.

Efunroye fell ill around December 1 1887 and breathed her last in the next afternoon. It is said that she later repented of her support for slavery, having realized the differences between domestic slaving and the inhumane treatment of slaves across the oceans. She is appreciated for her role in reducing British influence in Lagos before total annexation, but her role as a slaver pales her heritage. A now congested square in Lagos is named after her.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer