Femi Fani-Kayode was born to the Kayode family of Ile-Ife ,Osun State in South-Western Nigeria. He is an Ife of Yoruba ethnic stock. His great-grand father, The Reverend Emmanuel Adedapo Kayode, attended the famous Anglican Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone and got his Master of Arts Degree (Durham) in the 1880s’ after which he went into christian ministry and was ordained as a minister of the Anglican Church. He brought christainity to Ile-Ife and he joined hands with others to take it to other parts of south-western Nigeria where he served as a pastor. He was married to Mrs. Sophia Kayode (nee Cole) whose brother, The Reverend M. S. Cole was also an Anglican Priest, was the first principal of Abeokuta Grammar school (1908 – 1920) and was the first Principal of Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife. They had nine children and their first child, Victor Adedapo Kayode m.a., l.l.b (hons cantab) was the grandfather of Femi Fani-Kayode.
Victor Adedapo Kayode studied law at Cambridge University in 1917, got his m.a. in 1920, got his l.l.b in 1921 and was called to the British Bar at Middle Temple in 1922. After a distinguished career at the Bar, he joined the bench and went on to become one of the most respected magistrates in Nigeria. Many had expected him to rise to the top of the Nigerian bench but unfortunately he passed on at the age of 37.It was rather his best friend, the Oxford-trained olumuyiwa Jibowu,who was called to the Bristish Bar(Middle Temple) one year after Victor Kayode in 1923, that went on to become the first Nigerian to be appointed as a high court judge and the first Nigerian to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.Victor Adedapo Kayode got married to Mrs. Aurora Kayode (nee Fanimokun). She was the daughter of Reverend Joseph S. Fanimokun who also attended the Anglican Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone and got a Master of Arts Degree (Durham) in 1891, who was also an Anglican priest and who later became the principal of C. M. S Grammar]] School Lagos from 1896 to 1914. Victor Adedapo Kayode met his wife Aurora Kayode whilst he was studying at Cambridge. They had five sons and three daughters and the first of those children, Chief Remilekun Adetokunbo Kayode, was born in Chelsea, England in 1921. This was the father of Femi Fani Kayode.
Remilekun Kayode was so close to his mother that he attached the prefix of her maiden name (Fani) to his father’s name and that was how the name “Fani-Kayode” was created. Remilekun Fani- Kayode went to Cambridge University (Downing College) in 1941 after which he did the British Bar examinations where he came top in his year for the whole of the British Commonwealth. He was called to The British Bar at Middle Temple in 1945 and he went on to be appointed Queens Counsel (Q.C.) in 1960 (he was the third and youngest Nigerian ever to be made Q.C) and later Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1977 (he was the third Nigerian to be made a SAN). He set up the first Indigeneous Nigerian Law Firm in 1948 with Chief Frederick Rotimi Williams and Chief Bode Thomas who were also both lawyers who had been trained at Cambridge and London University respectively. The law firm was called “Thomas, Williams and Kayode”. Remilekun Fani-Kayode played a major role in the struggle for Nigeria’s Independence. In 1952 he, together with Rotimi Williams, Bode Thomas and a number of others were all detained by the British colonial authorities for the very active and passionate role that they played in the struggle against the British. He was elected the leader of the Action Group youth wing in 1954. He set up a formidable, militant and combative youth wing for the party who wore “black shirts” and used the “mosquito” as their emblem in order to reflect their disdain for British colonial rule. Again in 1954, he was elected into the Federal House of Assembly on the platform of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group and he continued his fight for Nigeria’s Independence from there. He made eloquent, moving and passionate submissions on both national and International issues from the floor of the house. He was the Assistant Federal Secretary of the Action Group and in that respect played a pivotal role, with the Federal Secretary, the late Chief Ayo Rosiji, in the organisation and adminstration of the Action Group. He, alongside with Chief Awolowo, S. O. Ighodaro, E. O. Eyo, Adeyemi Lawson and S. G. Ikoku represented the Action Group at the 1957 London]] [[Constitutional Conference. This conference was mainly concerned with the revision of the 1954 constitution. Amongst their major achievements at this conference was the granting of self-government to western Nigeria. In 1957 he led the team of Action Group lawyers who represented and fought for the people of the Northern minorities at the Willinks minorities Commission in their quest for the creation of a middle belt region which would have been carved out of the old Northern Region of Nigeria. In July 1958 he successfully moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in the Federal House of Assembly. He argued that independence should take place on April 2nd 1960 (the minutes of Hansard, 1958; Richard Sklar’s “Nigeria’s political parties:Power in an Emergent African Nation”,World Press,p6.269; pg269;Professor Onabamiro’s “Perspectives on Nigeria’s History” pg140). It was accepted by the House and the motion was successfully moved. However the British appealed for a delay of 6 months and consequently in August 1960 Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister, moved another motion calling for a minor amendment to the original 1958 motion. He argued that the year 1960 should be retained as the year for independence as originally moved by Remilekun Fani-Kayode but that the month for that independence should be October. The motion for this minor amendment was seconded by Raymond Njoku, who was the Minister of Transport, and it was successful. That was how october 1st 1960 was agreed upon as the date for Nigeria’s independence from Britain. In 1959 Remilekun Fani-Kayode resigned from the Action Group and joined the ( N. C. N. C) National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons, opposition party. In 1960 he was elected the leader of the N. C. N. C party in the Western House of Assembly. In 1963 he was elected Deputy Premier of the old Western region of Nigeria under Chief Samuel Akintola on the platform of the N. N. D. P party. He was also appointed Minister of Local Government Affairs for the Western Region in that same year. Again in 1963, he was conferred with the title of Balogun (Leader of the Warriors) of Ife by one of the most senior traditional rulers in Nigeria, His Royal Majesty Oba (Sir) Adesoji Aderemi, the late Ooni of Ife. After the first ever military coup in Nigeria on January 15th 1966 Remilekun Fani-Kayode together with a number of other notable figures were all detained by the military government of General Aguiyi-Ironsi. They were later released. In July 1966 , after the northern counter-coup,led by Murtala Mohammed and Theophillus Danjuma and after Yakubu Gowon became Nigeria’s Head of state, Remilekun Fani-Kayode left Nigeria with his whole family and moved to the seaside resort town of Brighton in south eastern England. They set up home and lived there in exile, for many years. In 1978 he was one of those that founded and pioneered the National Party of Nigeria (N. P. N). In 1979 he was elected to the position of the National Vice Chairman of that party and in recognition of his contribution to national development he was conferred with the honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (C. O. N) by President Shehu Shagari.
In the mid-70’s Remilekun Fani-Kayode was commissioned as a lay preacher of the Anglican Church (Christ Church Cathedral, Marina, Lagos) and later on in life he became an active and leading member of the Pentecostal / Evangelical movement in Nigeria. After the annulment of Chief Moshood Abiola’s presidential election on june 12th 1993, Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode was one of those who openly wrote about and spoke out strongly against the annulment. He even went to court over the issue. In 1994 he was appointed into the Justice Kayode Eso panel of inquiry which effectively probed and helped to sanitise the Nigerian judiciary and rid it of corrupt judges.
Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode got married to Chief Mrs Adia Adunni Fani-Kayode (nee Sa’id), whose mother Alhaja Agbeke Sa’id (nee Williams ), was the daughter of the famous Alhaji Isa Williams, one of the greatest and wealthiest muslim leaders and businessmen in Lagos in his day. Her first cousin, the late Justice Atanda Fatai-Williams, was a colleague of her husband, Remilekun Fani-Kayode, at Cambridge University and he went on to become the Chief Justice of Nigeria from 1979 to 1983. Her father, Alhaji Nurudeen Sa’id was a civil servant from Ilesa, south western, Nigeria. Their daughter Adia Adunni Fani-Kayode became a devout and practising christian before getting married to Remilekun Fani Kayode and later became a leading member of the Pentecostal/Evangelical church. The two of them had five children: Akinola Adedapo Fani-Kayode, Rotimi Fani-Kayode (the famous photographer and artist who passed on in 1989), Femi Fani-Kayode, Toyin Fani-Kayode (Mrs Bajela) and Tolu Fani-Kayode (Mrs Fanning). Femi Fani-Kayode was the third child and the youngest son of his parents. Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode also had five other children: Aina Fani-Kayode (Mrs Ogunbe), Remilekun Junior Fani-Kayode (who was married to Nana Akuffo-Addo, the Oxford-trained Ghanian lawyer and politician, former Attorney-General and former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Ghana and the leading presidential candidate for the 2008 presidential election in Ghana. They have two children but they were later divorced), Lola Fani-Kayode (the famous film producer who was actually his neice but was adopted by him from birth and raised as his own daughter), Tokunbo Fani-Kayode, Ladipo Fani-Kayode and he has over 30 grandchildren.