There are many claims as to who the first person to drive the first car in Nigeria was and when it was driven. Some say that the first person was a woman Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, and some say the first person was a man, but none of these claims is outrightly wrong. Notwithstanding, it is important to have a clear record of who the first person to drive a car in Nigeria was.
Take note, as it is not, the first Nigerian, but the first person in Nigeria because this is what confuses a lot of people. The record is not properly confirmed but according to popular sources, the first person to drive a car in Nigeria is not a Nigerian. His name is Thomas “Tom” Jones, a wealthy philanthropist.
The precise date on which Tom Jones drove his car in Nigeria is unknown but many believe that it occurred around the year 1913. At the time, Lagos was referred to as the Lagos Colony, and it was at this time that Tom Jones donated the first public library in Lagos to the state government.
The type of car which Tom Jones drove is unknown, but because of his wealth and popularity in the then Lagos colony, a street on Lagos Island in Lagos was named after him to honour his many philanthropic acts in the colony. He died almost 20 years after the public library he donated in 1931 was opened. The public library has been renamed to the Tom Jones Memorial Hall and Library, located on Lagos Island, Lagos.
There is much-undocumented information about Tom Jones, as he was born at a time when history was not properly documented for future reference. But, the first Nigerian to drive a car in Nigeria is Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti. She was not the first Nigerian to own a car, Sir Herbert Macaulay was, but she is the first to have driven hers. She was a teacher, a women’s rights activist, and a traditional aristocrat.
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