Lagos: A History In Pictures, 1861 to 1961

by Akintokunbo A Adejumo

In August 1961, Onuora Nzekwu edited a Special Centenary Supplement of Nigeria Magazine, No. 69 (a quarterly publication for everyone interested in Nigeria and its peoples, and edited by Michael Crowther and published by the Federal Government of Nigeria and printed by A Brown & Sons, Hull, England). At the time, the quarterly had been published for over 20 years, and was headquartered at the Exhibition Centre, Marina, Lagos.

This edition, No 69 was dedicated to LAGOS and highlighted the history of the city from 1861 to 1961, thus celebrating the Centenary of this great city.

The magazine, consisting of many advertisements which showed that Nigeria had once been great, with potential, started with a short preface and then several chapters as thus:

• The British Occupation of Lagos, 1851-61, A Critical Review by J F Ade Ajayi
• The Beginning of Modern Lagos, Progress over 100 years, by N S Miller
• Traditional Kingship in Lagos by Dr J Olumide Lucas
• Lagos – Nigeria’s Melting Pot by Akin Mabogunje
• Brazilian Influence on Lagos by A B Laotan
• Nigeria’s Finest Moment by Cyprian Ekwensi
• King Eyo Honesty II of Creek Town by J V Clinton
• Nigeria as seen by Leo Africanus, 1526 (A Note by M Raymond Mauny of Ifan, Dakar)
• Book Reviews.

I cannot reproduce all the articles in this Magazine, but I have decided to make it a historical pictorial journey, to remind us of our former greatness. Maybe one day at a time, I will reproduce the various fascinating and interesting articles which I am proud to be in possession of, after a world-wide hunt.

The preface started like this:

“On 6th August, 1861, the small Yoruba Kingdom of Lagos was ceded to Britain by its ruler, Dosunmu (wrongly spelt and called, Docemo). Though Britain had been active in Lagos for at least fifteen years beforehand, as well as in many other parts of the Coast, this was the first time they occupied land in what is now the Federation of Nigeria. Today, one hundred years later, Lagos is the capital of the largest independent nation in Africa. From these small beginnings in 1861, Lagos has developed into an international commerce centre, with a vast port and a population of over 350,000 people. This special centenary supplement is an attempt to present some of the factors that led to the occupation of Lagos, its subsequent growth as a commercial and political capital culminating in the achievement of Independence on 1st October, 1960, when Lagos, as capital of the Federation, was the focus of the nation’s celebrations.”

The destruction of Lagos by the British Squadron in 1851 because it was a notorious “slave post”.

Treaty with Lagos, 1861 signed by British Naval Officers on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen of Great Britain, and Docemo, King of Lagos, on the part of himself and Chiefs.



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denny September 11, 2010 - 5:45 pm

It was poor article from A text book of government for West Africa by Adeoye Oyebola, adekuncle Ojelabi on page 62-63)

It was not research work and the situation when a licence is granted, an author can kep control over his work to a greater degree. A license has a right to see it exclusiverly in the way the licence states.

“To start with it is at best only a half truth to say that was bombarded in 1851 because it was a slave depot according to Professor J.F. Ajayi “the anxiety of Britain to intervene in Lagos was not just the philanthropic desire to destroy slave trading activities of the Portuguese and Brazilian, the economic desire to control the trade of Lagos from which they had hitherto been excluded and from which they hoped to exploit the resources of the vast country stretching to and beyond the Niger”

Reply August 2, 2010 - 11:20 am

A well research documented and researched work….nonetheless, there is also some lack of research evident, as Dosumu (The Son of Akitoye) didn’t ceded Lagos to The British, and the date was wrong. The ceding was done in March 8th1862 through a fierce battle between Dosumu army and his uncle’s Kosoko as regarding the rightful heir to the through of Eko; and on the other hand with the British forces as part of his refusal to cease fire by alligning with his brother Akitoye;

Imperatively, it will be nothing authentifying if we as Nigerians do not produce the ambiguities contained in the British historic chronicles;

The elders advised Akitoye to escape to his mother’s town in Abeokuta. When Kosoko had about the plan, he detailed his war chief, Oshodi, to lay ambush for Akitoye, kill him, and bring his head before him. Oshodi captured Akitoye in the Agboyi waters, but instead of killing him, he paid homage to him and his Lord and prayed for his safe journey and safe return.

Chief Oshodi returned to report to Kosoko that Akitoye had escaped by the use of a powerful charm that put them all to sleep when he was passing. Historians were not able to assign any reason for the kindness and goodwill that Oshodi gave King Akitoye when in fact he was on orders to bring his head to Kosoko. In 1845, Kosoko defeated Akitoye and ascended the throne. In the meantime, Chief Oshodi remained his war chief.

Akitoye, in exile, appealed to the British Government for help to restore him to his throne. A war broke out; the British started to bombard Lagos, setting the town on fire. Kosoko defense under the command of Chief Oshodi was significant and modern by the international standard of the time. After nine days of consecutive serious military actions, the British fleet unleashed excessive gun power that resulted in the disposal of the Kosoko’s fleet. Under this unfavorable condition, Kosoko had to flee to Epe with Chief Oshodi and his warriors on the night of the13th of August 1853.

Akitoye was brought back to Lagos by the British and was restored as the King of Lagos.

Akitoye died on the 2nd of September 1853, about two weeks after Kosoko and his men had fled. In the afternoon of September 3rd, 1853, his son, Dosunmu was formally installed as the King of Lagos.

This was not the end of the issue, rather the beginning of the chapters of hope. There were sporadic raids on Lagos from Epe, disturbing the peace and trade of the island.

With the understanding that things should not be made to rest as such, the British Consul Campbell, the Elders, and White Cap chiefs of Lagos, initiated a move to reconcile the warring royal relatives.

On the 26th of January 1854, a peace conference code named Langbase peace meeting, was held at AGBEKIN (Palaver Island) about four months after King Dosunmu’s coronation. The British Consul’s party included the Commander of HMS Plato with other officers under his command, and Kosoko party’s which included Chief Oshodi Tapa and Chief Onisemo Adeburusi of Epe. They came without Kosoko in about sixty canoes each containing forty men. King Dosunmu delegates included by several White Cap chiefs and war Captains.

At the opening of this remarkable conference, the Epe people, led by Chief Oshodi Tapa expressed their strong desire to the British Consul to return to Lagos and be at peace with their friends. Chief Oshodi proposed that Kosoko be allowed to return to Lagos to leave as a private person.

The proposal was not agreeable to the Consul on the basis that two Kings could not rein in Lagos. Chief Oshodi however declined an offer to return to Lagos alone as the Consul for the people of Epe and insisted on Kosoko’s return to Lagos. Consequently Kosoko was allowed back to Lagos in 1862 with his war chief, after signing a peace treaty negotiated by Chief Oshodi with the British Consul.

From the foregoing it is clear that Chief Oshodi was in a position after his return from Epe and his contributions to peace entitled to the grant of so large an area of land.

On arrival to Lagos, Governor Glover sought permission from Aromire to give part of Epetedo to Chief Oshodi. For himself, his family, his followers, and servants who returned with him from Epe. This area was bestowed and held under the native customary law of land tenure subject to the native system of the devolution of land.

Oshodi Place is located in the center of the area of land in Epetedo. The area is uniquely laid out into 21 compounds. Four of these compounds; Oshodi, Akinyemi, Ewumi, and Alegbede courts belong exclusively to Chief Balogun Oshodi’s extended family.

Gbola Bowale X September 8, 2009 - 11:52 pm

A well researched historical piece which keeps our past in proper perspective so that our future can be born undeformed!

Keep it up.

Femi September 8, 2009 - 11:15 pm

Toks, This is fantastic…please Keep it up!

Alh K Atilola September 8, 2009 - 8:42 pm

This is a job well done.

Bode Oladuja September 8, 2009 - 12:03 pm

This is great!

Hope to access to materials if possible get one.

Really want to know much about that.

Thanks for the piece;The pictures support the assertions .


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