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Yemisi Ransome-Kuti can die fighting injustice


Yemisi Ransome-Kuti is retired chairman and founder of the Nigerian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NNNGO).

The first organization of its kind in Nigeria to bring together civil society organization, it has worked since its formation 1992 to effect a harmonized agenda for third-sector development and its influence in the national framework.

Yemisi Ransome-Kuti
Yemisi Ransome-Kuti

In the early 1990s, Yemisi Ransome-Kuti established “Girl Watch”; an organization aimed at educating young Nigerian girls from poor backgrounds. In 2006, she was appointed a Civil Society advisor to the World bank.

She was one of those leading the charge in working for Nigeria to meet its millennium development goals and eradicate poverty.

In addition to her numerous contributions to human rights works, Yemisi Ransome-Kuti (YRK) Leadership Award was established in March 2015 to honour outstanding Nigerians working in the not-for-profit sector who exemplify the leadership ideals of Ms. Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, a civil society activist and founding Executive Director of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO).

Endowed  by World Hope Foundation a Nigerian and United States of America based Foundation; the YRK Leadership Award will be presented to an individual whose leadership within the Nigerian 3rd sector space, activities, causes or organizations have improved community life in any part of the Country. For sustainability the Board of the NNNGO will source for additional funds from reputable organisations, individuals or domestic as well as from international donors.

She is the founder of the Nigeria Network of NGOs, a Network that has grown from 60 members in 1992 to 1800 in 2015 (March). She continues to be an active and distinguished actor in Nigeria’s civil society, philanthropic, socio-economic and political life.

Her achievements in growing and raising the profile of the not-for-profit sector including her many achievements as a civil rights activist stands in tribute to the ideals this award celebrates.


Every year, starting in 2015, NNNGO will work with individuals and organizations across Nigeria’s not-for-profit sector to identify a recipient who is a shinning light for our sector. Winners of the YRK Award will set a good example for members of the Network, organizations and individuals working in our sector. Recognizing this beacon of achievement in our sector strengthens and uplifts the not-for-profit community.

Yemisi Ransome-Kuti from the famous Kuti family is known for fighting injustices and opposing wrong government policies. Highly meticulous and orderly, you can’t help but notice her love for books. Her books are neatly stacked in some well-organized shelf in her living room.

She is the only child of Azariah Olusegun Ransome-Kuti (MBE).  Her late father was appointed Chief Pharmacist for the Federation of Nigeria in 1956 until retirement from federal Medical Service; in 1951, he was appointed member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by King George VI.

She is also the granddaughter of the Late Rev. Canon Josiah Jessey Ransome-Kuti. Her aunt Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti  was a foremost feminist in Nigeria as well as the first woman in Nigeria to drive a car, and was also part of the delegation to negotiate independence for the country from the British.

Yemisi Ransome-Kuti is cousin to Fela Kuti, Olikoye Kuti, Beko Ransome-Kuti and Africa’s first Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka, whose mother was a Ransome-Kuti.

On what spurred her into activism, the soft-spoken woman says the easy answer is that she is a Ransome-Kuti. According to her, nature and nurture are the two things that mould a person in life.

“Naturally, if your family is prone to react in a way to issues or engage in certain activities either good or bad, there is a tendency that you will also go along that path because it is in your gene. Your environment also nurtures you because if you grow in an environment where people are outspoken, they are encouraged to challenge ideas or issues, it readily restructures what you already have inside”.

The fact that she went to school in England while she was 11 further sharpened her activism traits because the British jealously guarded their rights and made sure it was not infringed upon unlike what obtains in Nigeria.

Yemisi Ransome-Kuti said that the environment doesn’t worship wealth but forces you to build yourself, as the leaders there want you to challenge their position because of the next generation will pass and will be succeeded by a younger one.

Aptly describing herself as someone who abhors injustice, she stated: “I cannot stand myself being cheated or anybody else being taken advantage of. I wonder why Nigerians allow themselves to be manipulated, oppressed and deprived of what is rightfully theirs. Nigerians show tremendous courage in the face of adversity and oppression. Some few people are standing to fight injustice but where are the suffering masses? Are they suffering and smiling? I will challenge anyone who interferes in my space without enlightening me on why my space has to be disrupted even if no one supports me. I am willing to die doing that.”


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