Madam Efunroye Tinubu (c. 1810 – 1887), born Efunporoye Osuntinubu, was a politically significant figure in Nigerian history because of her role as a powerful female aristocrat and slave trader in pre-colonial and colonial Nigeria. She was a major figure in Lagos during the reigns of Obas Adele, Oluwole, Akitoye, and Dosunmu.
Early life: Tinubu was born in the Ojokodo forest area of Egbaland. Her father’s name was Olumosa. She was allegedly of Owu ancestry, either through her maternal or paternal side. Madam Tinubu was reportedly married multiple times. Her first marriage was to an Owu man. It bore two sons. After her Owu husband died, she remarried the exiled Oba Adele Ajosun in 1833 who, while visiting Abeokuta, was charmed by Tinubu. She moved with the exiled Oba to Badagry, which was traditionally the place of refuge for Lagos monarchs. At Badagry, she exploited Adele’s connections to build a formidable business trading in tobacco, salt, and slaves.
Death and Legacy: Tinubu died in 1887. Tinubu Square on Lagos Island, a place previously known as Independence Square, is named after her. Ita Tinubu (Tinubu’s precinct or Tinubu Square) had long been known by that name before the country’s independence, but it was renamed Independence Square by the leaders of the First Republic. (She was buried at Ojokodo Quarters in Abeokuta)
Achievements: Madam Tinubu traded in arms and supplied Abeokuta with munitions in the war against Dahomey. Her activities in the war earned her the chieftaincy title of the Iyalode of all of Egbaland. While in Abeokuta, she allegedly opposed colonial policies in Lagos. Tinubu became involved in Abeokuta king-making activities as well, supporting Prince Oyekan over Ademola for the Alake of Egbaland’s title in 1879.