Major General Aderonke Kale (Rtd), who made history as the first female Major General in the Nigerian Army and in West Africa, passed away on Wednesday in London after an undisclosed ailment. She was 84 years old.
Kale was a pioneer in her field, who embodied the courage, professionalism, capacity, and resilience of the Nigerian woman. She thrived and conquered where many feared to tread. She was a towering figure; an inimitable role model.
Born on July 31, 1939, Kale trained as a medical doctor at University College, which later became the University of Ibadan. She then specialized in psychiatry at the University of London, inspired by Thomas Adeoye Lambo, Africa’s first professor of psychiatry.
She returned to Nigeria in 1971 and joined the Nigerian Army as a psychiatrist. She rose through the ranks, becoming a colonel and deputy commander of the Nigerian Army Medical Corps by 1990. Her role was initially as chief psychiatrist to the army, providing mental health care and support to the soldiers and their families.
Later, she became Director of the Nigerian Medical Corps and was its Chief Medical Officer until 1996. She was responsible for the overall administration and management of the medical services of the army, overseeing hospitals, clinics, and personnel.
She was promoted to Brigadier General in 1992, becoming the first female general in West Africa. She was then promoted to Major General in 1994 and became the first Nigerian woman to achieve that rank. She was also the first female Major General in West Africa.
She retired from the army in 1997, after 26 years of distinguished service. She was honoured with several awards and recognitions, including the Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), the Fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (FMCN), and the Fellow of the West African College of Physicians (FWACP).
She was also a member of the Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI), where she served as the vice president from 2000 to 2002. She was an active participant in the activities and programmes of the institute, contributing to the development of national policies and strategies.
She was married to Professor Oladele Kale, a renowned expert in preventive and social medicine, and they had five sons, including Dr. Yemi Kale, the former Statistician-General of Nigeria. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and mentor to many.
She will be greatly missed by her family, friends, colleagues, and admirers. Her death was announced by the president of the AANI, Ambassador Emmanuel Obi Okafor, who described her demise as an “irreparable loss”. He said the burial arrangements would be announced by her family.
Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu has sympathiaed with the Kale family, the Nigerian Army, and the society of medical practitioners in Nigeria on the death of Major General Aderonke Kale (Rtd)
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Ajuri Ngelale, the president described Major-General Kale as a pace-setter and her death as a painful loss to the country.
“Major-General Aderonke Kale was a pioneer in her field. She embodied the courage, professionalism, capacity, and resilience of the Nigerian woman. She thrived and conquered where many feared to tread. She was a towering figure; an inimitible role model,” the President said.
President Tinubu prayed for the repose of the soul of the late officer and encouraged her beloved family to take solace in the peerless legacy she left behind.