AANI Mourns First Nigerian Female Army General, Kale


The Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI),on Friday mourns the demise of one of the association outstanding elder stateswoman and member, Major General Aderonke Kale (rtd) mni SEC 9, 1987, who passed away at the age of 84, in London, United Kingdom, at 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 8, 2023.

The National President of the Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI), Ambassador EO Okafor mni, said this in press statement signed by the AANI National Publicity Secretary, Brigadier General SK Usman (rtd). 

The late General Aderonke Kale mni, a medical doctor, was a pioneer in a field which, from time immemorial, has been traditionally reserved for men all over the world – the military profession. 

She ventured into this field and distinguished herself by rising to the top of the profession. She was the first female Major General in the Nigerian Army and the first to command the Nigerian Army Medical Corps.

The late General Aderonke Kale mni was born on July 31, 1939. Kale's father was a pharmacist while her mother was a teacher and they ensured she had good education. Kale went to primary school in Lagos and Zaria and undertook secondary education at St. Anne's School, Ibadan and Abeokuta Grammar School.

She trained as a medical doctor at University College, which later became the University of Ibadan. Kale then specialized in psychiatry at the University of London. She was inspired to pursue psychiatry by Thomas Adeoye Lambo, Africa's first professor of psychiatry. She worked briefly in Britain and returned to Nigeria in 1971.

A year later in 1972, she joined the Nigerian Army. This was a very rare decision for women in those days, particularly those at such a high professional level. She was a colonel and deputy commander of the Nigerian Army Medical Corps by 1990. 

She was later promoted to the rank of brigadier-general, becoming the first female general in West Africa. Kale 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.

As she took on more responsibilities in her professional field, so did she continue to receive recognition as a military officer. By 1978, she was already a Lt. Colonel and in 1983 she became a Colonel. By 1990, she joined the rank of the generals, first as a Brigadier General and, in 1994, as a Major General. 

No woman has ever achieved that status in the Nigerian Army. In 2011, shortly after the introduction of females into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) programme, the female hall of residence was named after Major General Aderonke Kale.

Her role was initially as chief psychiatrist to the army. Kale later became director of the entire Nigerian Medical Corps and was its Chief Medical Officer until 1996. This was the first time in the history of the Nigerian Army that a woman was given responsibility for the healthcare of all Nigerian soldiers at all levels in preparation for and during the war. She voluntarily retired from the Nigerian Army in 1997.

Her contributions, however, went beyond her activities in the army. She was involved in many organizations that are relevant to the practice of her profession – such organizations as the Nigerian Medical Council, the West African College of Physicians, the Institute of Management Consultants, the Nigerian Medical Association, the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, and the World Psychiatrists Association. 

She also contributed to the development of medicine, the field of Psychiatry in particular, through participation at seminars nationally and internationally at which fora she highlighted, through her contributions, the peculiar circumstances of psychiatric and general medical practice, particularly in Nigeria. She was honoured in 2012 with the THISDAY award for her various contributions to the development of the country.

Major General Kale has been a trailblazer and an achiever. She took up the challenge of aspiring to the top and succeeded in exercising leadership in a world still dominated by men. It is important to note that all her achievements notwithstanding, Major General Kale have a home: she is married to Professor Oladele Kale, a distinguished Professor of Preventive and Social Medicine, and she is a mother of five sons. 

She has lived in the world of men both at her place of work and at her home, and she has made a success of it all. One of her sons, Yemi Kale, became statistician-general of Nigeria. She provided land for the founding of the Bodija-Ashi Baptist Church in Ibadan.

The burial arrangements will be announced by the family. However, the National President conveys his sincere condolences to members of her family, AANI and the entire nation over this irreparable loss. 

AANI and indeed the nation will continue to remember the remarkable legacy of the iconic legacy of the late Major General Aderonke Kale (rtd) mni, who had been a trailblazer in Nigeria’s medical and military history. May her gentle soul continue to rest in peace, Amen.

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