Abimbola Awoliyi, Nigeria’s First Female Medical Doctor



The Life History Biography ABIMBOLA AWOLIYI, Nigeria's First Female Medical Doctor 1_Naijarchives

2-She was born on the 11th of November, 1910 on Lagos Island. She was the fourth child in a family of seven. She started elementary school at the St. Mary’s Convent in Lagos State and from there to Queen’s College, Lagos (where are the QC babes now o? Dem dey always represent sha!) and then proceeded to Dublin, Ireland to study medicine in 1929 after getting the Cambridge Examination Certificate.

3-She qualified as a medical doctor in 1936.

4-Her parents were Mr. David Evaristo Akerele and Mrs. Rufina Oyinkan Akerele, a very well-known and respected Catholic family in Lagos, with links to the Brazilian quarters (reminds me of the Cardosos and the Fernandezes)

5-She graduated from the University of Dublin, Ireland with first class honors, including a medal in medicine and a distinction in anatomy. Now, that’s outstanding!

6-She was the first West African female medical doctor with Licentiate of the Royal Surgeon (Dublin) and bagged a diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics at the Trinity College, Dublin (for laymen, that simply has to do with women and childbirth, and as a golden Abiyamo that she was, you will agree that makes a lot of sense).

7-She became a specialist in gynaecology and obstetrics.

  1. She later bagged a additional diploma in child health.

9-She also got a diploma in midwifery, was a member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP). Once a junior medical officer at the Massey Street Hospital, she later became the Chief Consultant and Medical Director for almost 10 years (1960-1969).

  1. An outstanding philanthropist and a religious woman, she belonged to a number of charities and organizations, and these include the following:

-Girls Association of Nigeria
– The Catholic Women’s Association
– Old Girl’s Association of St. Mary’s Convent School
– St. Anthony’s Guild
– Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos (she was the first President of the Holy Cross Parish Women Council)
– Catholic Ladies Friendly Society
– Motherless Babies Home Governing Council
Business and Professional Women’s Association (she was also the President).
Child Care Voluntary Association (President)
– Young Women’s Christian Association
– Lagos Colony Red Cross
– National Council of Women’s Society (she was the first president of the Lagos Branch).

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11- She was into private practice and did very well as a surgeon.

12- She was a member of the Royal College of Physicians (United Kingdom), and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (MRCOG).

13- She was also a director of the Commercial Medical Store, Lagos, which she meticulously administered.

14- An avid business woman, she also owned a 27-acre poultry and citrus farm in Agege, Lagos State.

15- In 1962, the Federal Ministry of Health appointed her as a Senior Specialist Gynaecologist and Obstetrician.

16- Her titles and awards include the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), Iya Abiye of Lagos State (1962) and the Iyalaje of Oyo Empire. She was also awarded the Nigerian national honour, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR).

17-The novel ‘A Return to Life’ was written by his son, Tunji Awoliyi, in her honour. In the book, he described her as a mother in a million and a good woman by any standard.

18- She was married to Dr. S. O. Awoliyi, who was also a medical doctor and later the Chief Medical Adviser to the Federal Government. He died in 1965.

  1. Her marriage produced two wonderful kids: a boy and a girl.

20- She departed this world on the 14th of September, 1971. She was just 61.


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