453: Mum-Zi

She Became a Grandmother at Age Seventeen

Born: c.1876, Nigeria

Died: Unknown

This fact makes her possibly the youngest grandmother ever.

She gave birth to her first child aged eight years and four months in 1884.

Mum-Zi was a member of her chief’s harem on the island of Awka Akpa, now known as Calabar in Nigeria. The father of Mum’s baby was the chief, and that same chief reportedly also impregnated her daughter eight years later, meaning both Mum’s daughter and granddaughter had the same father.

According to Kuulpeeps.com, the main source for Mum-Zi’s story comes from a 1936 book The Future of Taboo in These Islands by Lyall Archibald; however, if any copies of the book survive, they are extremely hard to come by so I obviously haven’t examined the book myself to check if this is true or not.

Sadly, Mum’s story is not just a historical one; today, Nigeria is one of the worst countries in the world in terms of child-brides, with as many as one third or more girls married before age eighteen. In 2019, it was estimated twenty-two million girls in Nigeria were victims of child marriage. Part of the issue stems from the fact that the age of consent in Nigeria is eleven, and the constitution states any woman or girl who is married, regardless of age, is considered an adult. To read more about the issue of Child Brides in Nigeria, click the CNN link below.