On a sad day, the sea became angry as the first black Senator Franca Afegbua bowed out of the Earth’s surface. She was Nigeria’s first female senator since the country’s independence in 1960. She was elected as a senator for the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
She was regarded as the world’s first elected black female senator.
She was born on October 20, 1943, and died at the age of 79 on March 12, 2023.
Afegbua, a beautician, represented Bendel North in the Nigerian Senate in 1983.
Senator Franca Afegbua was only in the Senate for three months (October 1983-December 1983) before the Republic was overthrown in a military coup.
She was a high-end, Bulgaria-trained, Lagos-based hairdresser. She rose to prominence in 1977 after winning an international hairstyling competition.
Afegbua was close to Joseph Sarwuan Tarka, a Nigerian politician from Benue State who served as Transport and then Communications Minister under General Yakubu Gowon.
Tarka invited her to his party, NPN. When she announced her intention to run for a senatorial seat in Bendel in 1983, few believed she could win.
Her party was in opposition, and the incumbent governor and senator were community leaders.
However, Afegbua, who had won an international hairstyling competition in 1977, calculated that enticing more women to vote would help her win.
Her victory in the hairstyling competition had made her name well-known in her Etsako community; she targeted female voters, and as her campaign gained traction, it was too late to stop it. She narrowly defeated John Umolu in the August election.
Earlier, A statement issued by the Afegbua family said the deceased breathed her last in the morning of Sunday, March 12, 2023, with no cause of death stated.
“The Afegbua family of Edo state has confirmed the demise of the first woman senator in Nigeria, Senator Franca Afegbua, whose sad event occurred this morning, Sunday, March 12, 2023. She combined beauty and brain during her service to Nigeria. Funeral details will be announced by the family soon,” the statement read.
She was 79 years old at the time of her death.
RIP to the trailblazer!!!