Folake Solanke

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Folake Solanke

Olufolake[1] Odulate[2]

(1932-03-29) 29 March 1932 (age 88)
Alma materNewcastle University
Years active1949–present
Spouse(s)Toriola Solanke
ChildrenDr (Mrs) Oluyemi Koya
Miss Olushola Solanke
Engr. B.A Solanke[1]
Parent(s)Jacob Odulate (father) and Sekumade Abiodun Odulate (mother)[1]

Chief Folake Solanke[3][4] (born 29 March 1932), SAN, CON, is a Nigerian lawyer, administrator, and social critic. She is the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria[2][5][6] and the first Nigerian female lawyer to wear the silk gown as Senior Counsel. She is the first Commissioner of Western State and is a former[1] Chairperson of the Western Nigeria Television Broadcasting Corporation (WNTBC).[1][5]

She was the 42nd and the first African International President of Zonta International, an international service organization that focus primarily on advancing the status of women.[1][2][5][6] The 43rd International President was also African.[1]

Early life[edit]

Solanke was born on 29 March 1932 in the family of late Pa. J.S Odulate at Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State in southwestern Nigeria.[1]

From 1937 to 1939, Solanke attended Ago Oko primary school. From 1940 to 1944, she attended Emo Girls School in Abeokuta. From 1945 to 1949, she attended Methodist Girls' High School Lagos,[2] where she took first prize in English and Mathematics consistently. In 1949, Solanke obtained the West African School Certificate, became School Prefect and Games Captain, and at the West Africa School Certificate Examinations she became the first student of the school to obtain grade one certificate. She spent a year at Queen's College, Lagos before she proceeded to Newcastle University (then University of Durham), England, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts (2nd Division) degree in Latin and Mathematics in 1954.[1][6] In 1955, Solanke received a diploma certificate in education (2nd Division) and joined the faculty of Pipers Corner School, Great Kingshill, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, where she taught Latin and mathematics for 2 years.[6] In October 1956, she married Toriola Solanke.[2] In 1957, she joined the faculty of St Monica's High School, Essex, where she taught the same subjects for one year.[1][6]

In 1960, Solanke was admitted into Gray's Inn, London to read for a degree in law. In 1962, she returned to Nigeria to practice law.[1][5][7]

Law career[edit]

Upon her return to Nigeria in August 1962,[1] Solanke began her law career at the chamber of late Honourable Justice Michael Adeyinka Odesanya (rtd),[1][8] while teaching Latin and Mathematics at Yejide Girls Grammar School in Ibadan, Oyo.[6] Her father died in April 1963.[6] In May 1963,[6] after she was called to the Bar in absentia,[5] she moved to the law office of Chief Frederick Rotimi Williams as junior counsel.[1][5][8]

In 1972, Solanke was appointed the first Commissioner of Western State and chairperson of the Western Nigeria Television Broadcasting Corporation (WNTBC).[5][6][9]

In 1981, Solanke became the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the first Nigerian female lawyer to wear the silk gown.[1][6][10]

Solanke rose through the ranks of Zonta International, first serving as the District Governor for Africa and then as International Vice-President.[5][11] In 1988, 1990, and 1994, Solanke ran for election to the International Presidency of the organization (she did not run in 1992). She lost the first two times, but won the third time, being elected in Hong Kong on July 21, 1994 as the 42nd International President, the first non–caucasian, African president of the organization since its establishment in 1919.[5][6][11]

Solanke's autobiography, Reaching for the stars was published in 2007.[4][5] The book described her as a "Lady of many firsts" and how she rose to prominence in the legal profession.[4]


Solanke has received numerous awards, including the National honour of the Commander of the Order of Niger.[12]

In 1981, Solanke was conferred with a traditional title of "Yeyemofin of Ife" by the late Olubuse II, the 50th Ooni of Ife, following her conferment with Senior Advocate of Nigeria.[1][13]

In 2012, Solanke received the International Bar Association's Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award at the Association's 5th World Women Lawyers’ Conference[6] held in London, in recognition of her professional excellence and immense contribution to the advancement of women within the legal profession.[14][15] Also in 2012, Solanke released her second book, A Compendium of Selected Lectures and Papers, Volume 1.[5][6][16]

On January 17, 2015, Solanke was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by The Sun Newspaper at a ceremony held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Chief Folake Solanke, SAN, HLR – Hallmarks of Labour Role Model Award". Hallmarks of Labour. 14 December 2004. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Osuntokun, Jide (11 October 2007). "When Solanke reached for the stars – Details – The Nation Archive". The Nation newspaper. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Meet the First Female Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who Dumped Mathematics for a Career in Law". Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b c 'Folake Solanke (2007). Reaching for the stars: the autobiography of 'Folake Solanke. Book Builders Editions Africa. ISBN 978-978-8088-43-1.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Lady SAN Turns 80!". Thisday Newspaper. 27 March 2012. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "An interview with Chief Olufolake Solanke SAN". March 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  7. ^ "Nigeria's Female Senior Advocates". Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  8. ^ a b MUSON (Organization : Nigeria). Festival (2003). The MUSON Festival. MUSON.
  9. ^ "Chief Folake Solanke, SAN, an icon at 80". The Eagle Online. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  10. ^ Bonnie G. Smith (2008). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History: 4 Volume Set. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-19-514890-9.
  11. ^ a b Ádébáyò Ádésóyè (25 March 2015). Scientific Pilgrimage: ‘The Life and times of Emeritus Professor V.A Oyenuga’. D.Sc, FAS, CFR Nigeria's first Emeritus Professor and Africa’s first Agriculture Professor. AuthorHouse. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-5049-3785-6.
  12. ^ "Not the End of the Road". thisday Newspaper. Retrieved 9 December 2015.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "At 83, I'm not brain-dead – Solanke, SAN". Premium Times Nigeria. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Chief Solanke SAN awarded 2012 IBA Outstanding International". Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  15. ^ "First Female Senior Advocate, Folake Solanke, Honoured by IBA". Thisday Newspaper. Retrieved 9 December 2015.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Solanke, Folake (2012). A Compendium of Selected Lectures and Papers, Volume 1. Book Builders Editions Africa. ISBN 9789789210060. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  17. ^ "The Sun Awards give hope that the best'll come for Nigeria – Solanke". The Sun News. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015.