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The last of ‘Kuti original’

Posted by BY CHRISTIAN ITA on 2006/02/12 | Views: 771 |

The last of ‘Kuti original’


The death of Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Friday in Lagos, finally drew the curtain on the Rev. Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti’s original family.

The death of Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Friday in Lagos, finally drew the curtain on the Rev. Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti’s original family.

Although several grand children who would carry on the family name have been sired, they lack the passion for what the family came to be known for- activism.

Beko, until his demise, was the last surviving child of the late Reverend Ransome-Kuti and his wife, Fumilayo. He was also the last born of the family.

A trained physician, Beko was by accident of fate born into activism as both his parents were activists of note.
While the mother was the most pronounced activist, his father, a reverend gentleman, was also an activist in his own right. He was not only involved in the campaign for human rights in pre-independence Nigeria, he is credited with forming the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), a union he led to wage many a protest against the British colonial government.

Fumilayo, the first Nigerian lady to drive a car, was the founder of women’s movement of Nigeria and the leading female activists of her time.
In 1948, the matriarch of the Ransome-Kuti family led Egba women in a sustained struggle against taxation. The fall-out was the abdication from the throne of the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Oladapo Ademola 11.

In the 50s, Mrs. Ransome-Kuti was appointed into the Western Nigeria House of Chiefs.
She died in 1978 allegedly from injuries she sustained during the raid by soldiers on Fela’s Kalakuta Republic a year earlier. The soldiers reportedly flung her from the first floor of a storey building.
Fela, the second son of the family, continued where their parents stopped. He created the Afro-beat music, which he used to fight tyranny, oppression and social injustices in the country. He died in 1997 reportedly from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

His physician brother, Olukoye, a fine gentleman, passed on in 2003. Death again, came knocking on their door late 2005 and their eldest sibling, Dolupo, bade them bye-bye.
The late Beko started activism in 1963 after returning from Manchester University. He joined a children hospital and in no time had organised his colleagues to understand that medical care was a right to all.
From then on, Beko never looked back, teaming up with various pro-democracy and civil rights groups in the country against tyranny, military rule and rights abuses.

For this, he was detained at various times by military governments including the 1976-79 Obasanjo administration, the Buhari/Idiagbon regime and the Babangida regime as well the regime of late General Sani Abacha.

Beko fought for the rights of all including even those who at one time or the other had denied him his own rights.

A case in point was when Abacha’s goons arrested him in 1995. His offence was that he campaigned against the incarceration of Obasanjo- the same Obasanjo he had accused of killing his mother in the “unknown soldier” raid of Fela’s Kalakuta Republic. Obasanjo was falsely accused of plotting a coup.
While addressing a press conference on the incident, an unhappy Fela, excoriated Beko for getting involved in what he saw as a purely military affair.

“Soldier wan kill soldier, were human rights dey there,” Fela had queried.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.