Meet the First Nigeria woman to buy car, Efunroye Tinubu

Efunroye Tinubu

In pre-colonial and colonial Nigeria, Efunroye Tinubu was a powerful Yoruba female aristocrat, merchant, and slave dealer. 

During the reigns of monarchs (called Oba in Yoruba); Efunroye Tinubu was a politically and economically prominent woman in Lagos in the days of Adele, Dosunmu, Oluwole, and Akitoye. She assisted the latter two Obas in gaining political power. 

She married Oba Adele of Lagos and utilized his contacts to build a profitable trading network. Her trading network was with European and West African merchants; she traded slaves, tobacco, salt, cotton, palm oil, coconut oil, and weapons with them. Efunroye Tinubu was said to be the owner of nearly 360 personal slaves.  

Madam Efunroye Tinubu was the first Nigerian woman to own an automobile. She was also the first Iyalode of Egba land. 

She was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in approximately 1805, and was a slave trader who traded with Europeans. 

Efunroye Tinubu brief history 

Efunroye Tinubu

Madame Tinubu amassed a financial empire via the sale of weaponry and salt. Years after her first husband died, she married Adele, an exiled Oba of Lagos.

Through marriage, she obtained economic and political influence and was able to construct a commercial empire by trading salt and tobacco from Europe for slaves from Abeokuta.  

Adele returned to the throne in 1835, but died two years later, leaving her a widow for the second time. She subsequently assisted in the installation of Adele’s son, Oluwole, as the new king, and married his military advisor. 

Read: Indigenous Nigerian(s) who did it first

Following Oluwole’s untimely death, she assisted with the installation of her brother–in–law on the kingdom. Oluwole’s brother upon becoming king rewarded her with businesses in downtown Lagos. She was said to have over 300 personal slaves.  

Madam Tinubu was the main link between European merchants and traders in Lagos.

She was deposed after coordinating a plan to depose British consul Benjamin Campbell. Benjamin Campbell had raged against her hidden slave trade with Europeans. 

She was forced to flee Lagos and return to Abeokuta. Madam Tinubu, who died in 1887, was an economic powerhouse and a significant person in nineteenth-century Nigeria.  


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