Oyinkan Abayomi

Oyinkan Abayomi
Photo: KIRBY Blog

Oyinkan Abayomi was a feminist and prominent member of educated elite in colonial Nigeria. Born in Lagos on 6 March 1897 to Kitoyi Ajasa, who became a High Court Judge of Lagos, Oyinkan was an only child, having lost her only sibling, a brother, in infancy. Her early education took place in Nigeria, after which she spent twelve years in the United Kingdom training in Liberal Arts in Ryeford Hall College, Gloucester. The female-only association she formed on her return to Nigeria in 1920 was instrumental to the numerous petitions and fund raising that led to the establishment of Queen’s College, the first government secondary school for girls in 1927. Under her guidance, the Women’s party called on the colonial government to provide more scholarships for women to study in Britain and agitated for more women in colonial service.

As a prominent member of the Nigerian Youth Movement led by Dr. Kofo Abayomi who she married, Oyinkan authored an article titled “Modern Womanhood,” published in the organization’s Daily Service newspaper, in which she cautioned women not to reduce their aspirations to matrimony only. She also exhorted women to participate in the political process that shape their future. The Nigerian Women Party was formed in 1944 as a reaction to prevailing situation where none of the early nationalist parties had women in policy-making positions or included in the limited franchise extended to men of the colony. Within another decade, however, the party had waned and was not able all through its existence to establish branches in corners of the country. A major street in Lagos, Oyinka Abayomi Drive was named in her honor after her death in 1990.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer