Subject: Eko For Show
EKO FOR SHOW
•If you’re not smart in Lagos, you’ll be stupid for life
By TOPE ADEBOBOYE
Sunday, August 9, 2009
the birth of the earth, God made the land, the lagoon and the sea. The
land was actually a small island, a limited stretch of dry land spread
in-between rivers, the lagoon and the vast, limitless sea.
the beginning, no humans inhabited the island; only trees and bushes
and beasts. Feeling forlorn and lonesome, the island, in a muffled
voice, beckoned on folks from far and near, inviting people to come and
savour its aesthetics and its bliss.
From as far-flung a place as
the great Benin kingdom, the people hearkened to the call of the
island. Journeying through the creeks, they came, adults and
youngsters, men, women and children seeking an expansion of the revered
With their goods and their gods, with their customs and
culture, they came. Led by fire-spitting warriors, the migrants hoofed
it across tortuous bush paths and wild woods. They combated and
conquered various beasts and demons, walked and waded through the
swamps of Ijawland, swam and skated through puddles and the treacherous
creeks of Ilaje and Ikale. They traversed the streams of Ijebu and the
rivers of Epe. In due course, they landed at a virgin land between the
vast lagoon and the sea, at a place known today as Eti-Osa. From there,
the warriors moved through Langbasa to Idumagbo on the Island of Lagos.
time, the group arrived at the sequestered island, a limited piece of
dry land sandwiched by the blue sea and the brownish waters of the
Bewitched by the welcoming breeze and the serene poise
of their newfound world, the Benin warriors elected to stay. They made
the place their home, fished in the waters, planted crops and hunted
animals in the forests. In the neighbourhoods, elephants roamed the
wild and the new settlers hunted the beasts for ivory. They christened
the new place Eko. In the fullness of time, Ado, a grandson of the
Benin monarch, became the Oba for the islanders.
the only ones that heard the call though. From Ile Ife, Oyo-Ile and
other parts of Yorubaland, the Aworis also heard the island’s call.
They moved at different times from their scattered homes in the
landlocked parts of Yorubaland, through the different communities
founded by the sons and daughters of Oduduwa, eventually arriving at
Iddo on the other side of the island.
Those that founded Lagos
in other Yoruba towns, those who founded Lagos, the charismatic capital
of commerce in West Africa, didn’t really commence their journey from
Ile-Ife. Neither did they, like the Gwari progenitors of Minna natives,
suddenly spring forth from the depths of some legendary lake atop a
They were actually from the Benin kingdom, according to Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, a blue-blooded Prince of Lagos.
is the national vice-chairman of the Action Congress. Beyond his
political leaning, Olusi, a former commissioner in Lagos State, is also
a walking encyclopaedia of Lagos history. He tells the writer in his
Lagos home: “The Binis acknowledge that one of their Obas moved from
Benin and settled on the island of Lagos and lived there for a number
of years. The Obas of Lagos also acknowledge that they are the
descendants of the Oba of Benin. They will dance and sing and say:
‘Bibi tiwa o yanju. Awa on somo abidanu. Ode Ibini nan bi baba awa si.
Oba lo bi won sibe, kii se agbe’. The song says, ‘Our heritage is of
dignity. We are of a royal breed. Our fathers were born in Benin, sired
by kings, not peasants.’ So there is no controversy that Lagos was
settled by people from Benin.”
Between Benin and Lagos
insist that several facts affirm that Lagos monarchs have their origin
in Benin. The abere, the sceptre of the Lagos monarch, is, for
instance, believed to have been brought from Benin. Names of many
titles and areas in Lagos are believed to have been coined from
corrupted Bini words. Oshodi, Ogbe, Bajulaye,Obasua, Bajulu, and many
more were Yorubanized for easy pronunciation.
There are others. Idun
in the Edo tongue means place, while Arogbo is a Bini god. Idumagbo is
said to be the place on the Island where the Arogbo’s shrine was
located. Iduganran, where the Lagos monarch has his palace, means an
area where pepper is planted.
But the folks from the Benin
Empire were certainly not the only ones that embarked on a migration to
Lagos. About the same time that the Benin party took off for the
Island, there were several other movements of migrants from many parts
of Yorubaland to the other side of Lagos. The Aworis, for instance,
claim to have moved from Ile Ife to Lagos. Led by Ogunfunminire, the
people journeyed through the forest, through places like Isheri and
Ogudu before settling down at Iddo. Ogunfunminire became their first
“We also have the Onikoyi who came from Oyo
Ile with his own followers,” Prince Olusi continues. “The first Onikoyi
was Adeyemi who left the old Ikoyi because of chieftaincy matters and
lived with the Olofin at Iddo. And later, during the Benin influence,
he left Iddo to move to Ikoyi. There are others like Ojora, the first
Ojora being Alara Orunjin who was said to be a son of one of the former
Alaras of Aramoko Ekiti. He settled at Iddo and was later allocated
land at the present Ijora. That was a distinct migration, not from Ife
but from Ekiti. You also have the Onisiwo who moved from Dahomey to
Lagos and was settled by either King Akinsemoyin or Ado and who finally
settled over the creeks and was brought to Isale Eko and allocated land
opposite the Oba’s palace. A number of Awori Obas also came from Benin.
The Olojo of Ojo and the Onibeju also came from Benin. From Iddo,
various settlements came out. The Onijanikin, and many of them. Even
when the praises of the Osolo are being chanted today, they say he’s
Onikoyi. So even though he’s Awori, they originated from Ikoyi in
•Okada riders: Kings of the road in Lagos
Photo: Sun News Publishing
Enter the Portuguese
trade had been on in Lagos since 1404. European civilization sought the
town out quite early. In 1472, Portuguese explorer, Rui de Sequeira
visited the area around the Island of Eko and named the area Lagos
after a coastal town in his native country. Trading developed between
the two societies, and a hundred years later, the Portuguese
monopolized trading in slaves in Lagos.
Blessed with the
Atlantic and a network of lagoons and creeks, with links with the Benin
Empire, Oyo kingdom as well as with white men from across the vast sea,
it was only natural that Lagos began witnessing intense commercial
activities. With slave trade, which flourished between 1404 and 1889 as
the town’s chief attraction, Lagos started a steady growth as an
important destination for traders.
...And the British
1841, Oba Akitoye mounted the Lagos throne and attempted to stop slave
trade, a practice already abolished by the British since 1807. The move
was resisted by many of the slave merchants, including the influential
Lagos trader, Madam Tinubu. They got the king deposed, and installed
his brother, Oba Kosoko, as the new king.
In exile, Oba Akitoye
met with the British and enlisted their support to regain his throne.
With British support, Oba Kosoko, who had refused to ban slave trade,
was removed from office. Oba Akitoye was reinstalled king in 1851 and
Kosoko was forced to seek a new abode in Epe. A notable warrior, Kosoko
was later brought back from Epe by his brother and installed the Oloja
Oba Dosunmu, the son of Oba Akitoye, reigned in Lagos
between 1855 and 1885. He it was that signed the Treaty of Cession of
Lagos to the British. Lagos was formally annexed as a British colony in
1861, thus effectively crushing the slave trade and establishing
British control over trades in the area.
Twenty-six years later, the
rest of the present day Nigeria was captured by the British. With the
amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates of Nigeria in
1914, Lagos, already a vibrant commercial town, became Nigeria’s
political capital, a position it continued to occupy even after the
British took their leave on October 1, 1960.
From the Island to the Mainland
the city expanded, some men of pedigree moved away from the limited
confines of Iddo and Lagos Island and sought land in other parts of
Lagos. Gradually, areas as far-flung to Lagos as Ikeja began to benefit
from the development of Lagos. And during the colonial era, many areas
were developed by the British imperialists. Surulere, Yaba, Sabo and a
number of other parts of the mainland were developed by the
Besides the Island of Lagos whose pioneer settlers
migrated from Benin, many other parts of Lagos, especially in the
mainland, were settled in by Awori migrants.
Between 1866 and 1874,
Lagos was in the United Kingdom’s West African Settlements, and in
1874, it became a part of the then Gold Coast Colony (now Ghana). In
1886, Lagos became a separate colony under a British governor. And in
1906, it became part of the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. When the
Southern and Northern Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914, Lagos became
the capital of the Colony and the Protectorate of Nigeria. In 1954 most
of the surroundings were incorporated into the Western Region, but the
city itself remained a federal territory. With the creation of Lagos
State in 1967, the hinterland was returned to the state. On December
12, 1991, Lagos lost its place as Nigeria’s political capital. But its
position as the capital of commerce, of entertainment and the most
important city in Nigeria is definitely not in contention.
Le Mensonge peut courir un an, la vérité le rattrape en un jour, dit le sage Haoussa
se SURPASSER ,ne JAMAIS ABDIQUER,TOUJOURS RESTER HUMBLE