In history

Born in 1913, Henrietta Olaitan Lawson (nee Macaulay) was the first Nigerian woman to hold an elected office in government in Nigeria.

She was elected a Councillor, in the October 16 1950 Lagos Town Council elections. That election was equally historic in that it was the first time Nigerian women were “allowed” to vote and be voted for.

Three other women contested those elections – Mrs. Oyinkan Abayomi, Adebisi Adebiyi and Tinuola Dedeke of the Nigerian Women’s Party.

She was a member of the NCNC, contesting on the platform of the Democratic Alliance in the 1950 elections.

Margaret Ekpo, Keziah Fashina and Margaret Ededem were to follow in her footsteps by contesting and winning elections, a few years later.

In fact Ekpo, Remi Aiyedun and Janet Mokelu made history in 1953 with their appointment as members of the House of Chiefs in their regions (as well as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti).

Lawson came from a long line of history-makers. She was the grand-daughter of the late Reverend Thomas Babington Macaulay, founder and first principal of the CMS Grammar School, Lagos, the oldest secondary school in Nigeria.

Her maternal grand-mother, Abigail Macaulay, was the daughter of the late Rt. Revd Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the acclaimed first African Bishop of the Church of England, and the first to translate the Bible into Yoruba.

Lawson was also the niece of Herbert Macaulay, who founded the first Nigerian political party and was also the first Nigerian to own a motor car.

Salute to a woman who was breaking down barriers for women in Nigeria over 60 years ago!

Author: Yemi Olarinre