Who Was the First Man to Buy a Car in Nigeria

Sir Herbert Macaulay was the first man to buy a car in Nigeria. However, there is no available record of the type of car and at what price it was bought.

Buying a car during the early colonial era in Nigeria was a luxury not everyone could afford. It was, in fact, the rarest thing you would find even among the elites in the country. You could even count the number of car owners in the whole country. This, however, began to change after the First World War. More cars were being produced and a few more wealthy Nigerian elites afforded them. Get to know facts about the first man to buy a car in Nigeria.

Who Was the First Nigerian to Buy a Car?

Olayinka Herbert Samuel Heelas Badmus Macaulay, popularly known as Sir Herbert Macaulay is known to be the first man to own a car in Nigeria. The exact year he bought his car is unknown and it is unclear what car brand he bought.

However, considering it was still in the colonial era, some of the best cars used at that time included Caddilac and Winton Bullet. It is a four-cylinder gas-powered racer that was built in 1902. The Ford Model T was also in good use in the colonial era, and it was worth around $300 in the 1920s.

Who Was Herbert Macauley?

Born on November 1864, Herbert Macauley was a Nigerian journalist, nationalist, politician, surveyor, engineer, architect, and musician. He was the first to found a political party in Nigeria. His iconic photograph adorned the old one-naira note from 1979 until 1991 when the note was replaced by a coin.

Macauley was the 7th son of Thomas Babington Macaulay and Abigail Crowther. He was of royal blood and one of the few wealthy men during the colonial era. His mother was the daughter of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a Yoruba clergyman famous as the first African Anglican Bishop of West Africa.

In 1881, Macaulay became a clerk in the Public Works Department in Lagos and in 1890 he was awarded a government scholarship to study civil engineering in England, where he spent 3 years. He returned to Lagos and was appointed surveyor of crown lands for the colony of Lagos, a position he held until 1898 when he resigned following his growing resentment for the racial discrimination practiced by Europeans in the civil service.

Macaulay was the founder of the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP). He also presided in 1944 at the meeting of the Nigerian Union of Students, from which ultimately emerged the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), Nigeria’s first national political party. He died on 7 May 1946.

Was Herbert Macaulay the First Person to Drive a Car in Nigeria?

Herbert Macaulay was not the first person to drive a car in Nigeria. Records have it that the first person to drive a car in Nigeria was not a Nigerian, his name is Thomas “Tom” Jones, a wealthy philanthropist who donated the first public library in Lagos to the state government. The exact year Thomas drove his car in the country is not known but it is largely believed to fall around 1913.

The first Nigerian to drive a car in Nigeria is Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti. She is an educator and political campaigner largely recognized as the first female Nigerian political activist. Also known as “Mother Africa”, Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti drove a car back in 1951, which marked the beginning of the country’s history of female drivers.

Aside from being the first Nigerian to drive a car, Mrs Fumilayo accomplished other feats:  She was the first female student to be admitted into Abeokuta Grammar School — the first grammar school in Nigeria. She was also the only woman in Nigeria’s 1947 delegation to London and the only Nigerian woman to receive the Lenin Peace Prize.


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