Chief Ẹfúnṣetán Aníwúrà

Chief Ẹfúnṣetán Aníwúrà (c. the 1790s – June 30, 1874) was the second Iyalode of Ibadan. Revered as a successful merchant and trader, her impact encompassed the political, military, economic and religious spheres of Ibadan. She is famous for being arguably the most powerful – and certainly one of the wealthiest – Yoruba women that ever lived. She has been described by historians as an authoritarian leader who often utilized capital punishment on erring slaves. This has been attributed to the psychological breakdown due to the death of her only daughter, and her inability to procreate afterward.

Early Life: Born in Abeokuta in the 1790s (or 1820s), Aniwura was a migrant from Egbaland in present day Ogun State. Her father, Chief Ogunrin, was a warlord from Ikija while her mother was from Ife. Her entrepreneurial drive is reported to have originated when her mother, who was a petty trader, took her to the market with her. She was married multiple times and had a child, whom she lost at birth. This event has been the subject of numerous historical writings, and has been attributed to influencing the latter parts of her life, both positively (in terms of focus) and negatively (in terms of ruthlessness).

Achievements: She is reputed to have had about two thousand slaves and multiple farms, exporting agricultural produce to Porto-Novo, Badagry, and Ikorodu. Her major line was in tobacco and slave trading. She also manufactured a local cosmetic product, Kijipa, that was transported to America for use.

Legacy: Chief Aniwura got mainstream attention after being the subject of a play by Professor Akinwunmi Isola. Aniwura’s statue is placed at the center of Challenge roundabout, a major point within the modern city of Ibadan. She has also been the subject of some Nigerian film productions.

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