#BlackHistory: Remembering Lady Kofoworola Ademola: The first black African woman to graduate from Oxford University

Nigerian educationalist, writer, and advocate for women’s education Kofoworola Aina Ademola is remembered in the history books as the first black African woman to bag a degree from Oxford University.

An active voice for women empowerment and education, Kofo born in 1913 to renowned Lagos lawyer Omoba Eric Olawolu Moore, a member of an Egba royal family, and wife Aida Arabella (née Vaughan). She had a privilege blend of upbringing from Lagos and the United Kingdom.

Kofoworola Ademola studied at CMS Girls school in Lagos before proceeding to New York USA getting admitted into the Vasser College and later Portway College Reading, United Kingdom before attending St. Hugh’s college, Oxford, where she earned a degree in education and English between 1931 to 1935.

Her experiences outside the shores of Nigeria influenced her to pen a book that challenged the stereotypes of African people in 1930s Britain. Her writing appeared in historian Margery Perham’s 1936 collection, Ten Africans.

Her love for impacting knowledge led her to return to Nigeria in 1935 after earning her degree to fulfill her ambition of becoming a teacher. Ademola took up an appointment as a teacher at Queens College, but aside from teaching in Nigeria, she also established schools as well as wrote numerous children’s books such as Tortoise and the Clever Ant and Tutu and the Magic Gourds.

A woman of many firsts, in 1958, Kofo was elected the first president of Nigeria’s National Council of Women’s Societies. She was also the first Nigerian graduate teacher in Queen’s College, the first Nigerian woman to be appointed Secretary of the Western Region Scholarship Board, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Bank for Africa, as well as served as Director of the Western Region of the Red Cross.

Kofo’s contributions towards the advancement of the cause of Nigerian women and the society at large ushered in her appointment as MBE in Britain in 1959, and an Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in Nigeria.

Lady Ademola poured in her all until she died in 2002, at the age of 89. She was married Adetokunbo Ademola, a renowned Nigerian lawyer later Chief Justice of Nigeria .

Lady Kofoworola Ademola also held the chieftaincy titles of the Mojibade of Ake and the Lika of Ijemo

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