The Letters to My Aunt/Letters to My Niece Series: Introduction – Tola Adenle

These things take a little more time to grasp as one moves along in years! Thanks for your understanding. TOLA.


Nigerian Women’s Empowerment – The Voice of Folayegbe Akintunde -Ighodalo: Years of Disillusion

Since her retirement from the civil service, Mrs. Akintunde-Ighodalo has become a prominent spokeswoman and facilitator, much-sought after, as earlier indicated, as a speaker, a chairperson,
or a patron. She feels it is her duty to accept as many of these invitations as possible, because they provide fora for sustaining her contemporaries and encouraging young women and men. As we shall
see in the next chapter, her interests bridge the gap between activist and scholar. From the beginning, she has supported academic efforts to establish Women’s Studies in Nigeria.

She became a source of inspiration for two generations of career women. A good illustration of this can be found in the defunct magazine, Emotan, which was published in Ibadan from 1978 to 1983. For
at least two issues, Tola Adenle, the editor-in-chief, published an editorial page entitled “Letters to my Aunt.” Addressed to “Auntie Fola”, the anecdotal information contained therein left no doubt that Mrs. Akintunde-Ighodalo was the aunt in question. In these letters, Adenle mused over Nigerian women’s political awareness and leadership problems. “Are we willing”, she wrote, “to pick up the torch that the pioneers have passed? Although she answered positively, she lamented that many of her associates were not nearly as dedicated as her “Auntie Fola.”

LaRay Denzer
Program of African Studies
Northwestern University

Paper presented at Dartmouth College and York University/UNESCO/SSHRCC Nigerian Hinterland Project Workshop: “Atlantic Crossings: Women’s Voices, Women’s Stories from the Caribbean and the Nigerian
Hinterland, May 18-20, 2001.

Post script: The trans-generational conversation would continue in The Nation on Sunday from 2002 to 2010 with a “niece”, Yewande, of whom “Auntie Fola would have concurred on most issues. Yewande was as confident as “Auntie Fola”, having no qualms about pursuing her goals while being very devoted to her young family. As in all things, that chapter was gently closed with my “letters to my niece, the writing life and saying goodbye” on December 26, 2010 as I wanted to do what I’m doing right now which I believe should not only bring the few public writings I have done together in a format that fit the present age but should reach a wider audience. I also intend to continue to contribute comments to happenings along the same old lines not just in Nigeria but across the continent – and even further afield.

I encouraged “Yewande” to [also] pass on the torch by adopting a “niece” with whom she can continue these trans-generational discussions in the last letter to her.

Correction to Ms. Denzer’s above referenced work: Emotan Magazine was launched July 13, 1977 at the Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan by Mrs. Fola Akintunde-Ighodalo, now of very blessed memory.

During the current filing of essays under group heads for easier access to what appears like a lot of researcher-interest, this essay has been cross-referenced to “Non-Blog old essays” to have it with “The Letters to My Aunt” series.  It’s become a prologue that comes as footnote.  TOLA, February 25, 2013.

Tomorrow: Late Christiana Essien speaks to Emotan!
Thursday: Letters to my niece, the writing life and saying goodbye.

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