General Aderonke Kale: For many Nigerians, the first mental image that comes to mind whenever they think of an Army officer is a male. However, female soldiers are also breaking barriers.
For instance, General Aderonke Kale, 1994 broke a record when she became the first female soldier to be promoted to the rank of major-general in Nigeria and West Africa.
She was born into a family of professionals. Her father was a pharmacist, and her mother a teacher.
Kale went to primary school in Lagos and Zaria, and had her secondary education in St. Anne’s School, Ibadan and Abeokuta Grammar School.
She opted to read medicine and was able to gain admission into the University College, which later became University of Ibadan.
After her graduation as a medical doctor, she went to the University of London to specialize in Psychiatry. She worked briefly in Britain and returned to Nigeria in 1971.
Ronke Kale joined the Nigerian Army in 1972, a time when such decision is rare for female Nigerians.
Her competence as a psychiatrist was recognized in 1973, when she became Consultant Psychiatrist, and in 1982, she became Chief Consultant.
Her management career started when she became the Commanding Officer of the Military Hospital in Ibadan, a position she held from 1980 to 1985.
She thus had the distinction of being the first woman to command a military hospital in Nigeria.
She performed the same feat in the Military Hospital, Enugu from 1985 to 1987, and in the Military Hospital, Benin from 1989 to 1990. With such experience, it was not surprising that she was promoted to the position of Deputy Commandant, Nigerian Army Medical Corps and School, 1991 to 1994.
In 1994, she finally reached the zenith of her career when she became the Commandant of the Nigerian Medical Corps.
For the first time in the history of the Nigerian Army, a woman was given the crucial responsibility of health care for all Nigerian soldiers at all levels in preparation for war and during actual warfare.
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 Defence Academy (NDA) programme, the female hall of residence was named after Major General Aderonke Kale.
She is the mother of Nigeria’s former statistician general, Yemi Kale, who was born in 1975.