because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Madame Efunroye Tinubu

Thanks largely to the brutal effects of colonization at a point when European nations desperately needed sources of massive wealth to bankroll their industrialization process, African history and "development" over the past five hundred years or so has been quite complicated. One in-your-face woman who bore this out was Madame Efunroye Tinubu, who started out as a prosperous slave trader, but changed horses in mid-stream when she began to understand that the nature of African slavery was radically different from what was being perpetrated in Europe and the Western Hemisphere. African traditions and practices consider all life sacred, so it was possible -- over time -- for a slave in Africa to marry into or even wind up leading the group they had been serving as a slave. But the slavery of Africans that was being used to establish England, Portugal and Spain as world powers dehumanized both the slave and the slaveholder and was gutting the African economy to boot.

Madame Tinubu's response when she recognized this was to become an unapologetic adversary of the British colonizers in what is now Nigeria. A member of the Egba clan of the Yoruba tribe, she not only became an opponent of all slave trade, but she built a financial empire by trading salt and arms and took position as a person of great political power and influence in the region. By the time she died in 1887, Madame Tinubu had ensured her position in history as a leader among her people, a vocal advocate for the rights of all humans, and an in-your-face woman. New information brings new ideas and calls for new responses. In-your-face women pay attention to new information.

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