Hafsat Abiola ’92

Activist helping to promote democracy and improve the lives of the women in Nigeria.

In 1993, just a year after her graduation from Phillips Academy, Hafsat Abiola had another momentous occasion to celebrate—her father’s election as president of Nigeria. The election was considered the fairest in the country’s history, and Moshood Abiola’s victory was viewed by many as a sign of great hope for the country’s poor and struggling population.

That hope was cut tragically short, as the election was annulled by Nigeria’s military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, who himself was soon to be overthrown in a coup by General Sani Abacha. Less than a year later, Abacha also imprisoned the elder Abiola for treason. In 1996, Hafsat’s mother, Kudirat Abiola, an outspoken opponent of the military dictatorship, was assassinated, and in 1998, her father died under suspicious circumstances on the day he was to be released from prison.

Had these personal tragedies caused Hafsat to turn her back on her native country, no one could blame her. But just the opposite happened. The events propelled her into a career as a human rights activist, helping to promote democracy and improve the lives of the women of Nigeria.

Among other things, she founded the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), an organization that strives to end violence against women and promote their full participation in politics and business.

Abiola was presented with the Andover Alumni Award of Distinction in 2013. 

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