The Benin Factor In The History Of Lagos
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(Written by R.O. AJETUMOBI Ph.D) (Last Update June 18, 2021)

Historical Origin

Lagos is an essential part of Lagos State which lies between longitude 20 420 and 30220 E and latitude 60220N and 60420N respectively. The land area extends into the interior of the state with district ecological zones. The geographical environment has been conducive to human habitation for as far back oral traditions can remember. The possibility of satisfying the physiological and biogenic needs, such as food, water, made Lagos to be attractive to may immigrants. The Yoruba sub-groups such as the Awori .and coastal Ijebu constitute the bulk of the indigenous inhabitant. these groups could be distinguished from other ethnic groups in the area on the basis of their language with variations of dialects, traditions of migrations whether directly or indirectly from Ife; traditions amongst most of their rulers of descent from Oduduwa (the eponymous hero of Yoruba), affinal relation with Benin, and existence of Yoruba cultural feature such as regal paraphernalia, facial makings, as well as physical outlook. The various practices and socio-political organization. The wide0spread nature of these features is in-part a product of diffusion, and ancestral connection, but largely the result of common imperial experience f groups of Edo invader from Benin. Though, the power of the Benin kingdom was impressive as early as the second half of the fifteenth century during the reign of Oba Ewuare, Benin occupation and subjugation of Lagos and its neighbourhood did not start until the sixteenth century when Benin troops and trades took effective control of the coastal region from the Niger Delta in the East to Porto Novo in the West.

Ewuare ascendancy to the throne of Benin in the early fifteenth century put the kingdom into a splendid period of successful and rapid expansion. With a formidable military arsenal, strong, well equipped and battle-ready army, Benin became a terror and lord ;of her neighbouring settlements. She successfully laid the tradition of imperial annexation of coastal Yorubaland. This interest was reinforced in the 1550 as a result of the relative peace at home and the growing European trade on the coast which Benin wanted to control. The need for areas of economic control, security, free flow of coastal trade, as a result of the need to secure the base for harnessing goods from the inland made the control of Lagos a necessity for Benin. By the opening of the sixteenth century a large section of eastern Yoruba land had come under Benin influence and the Ilaje territory on modern Ondo state served a passage to the far western coast in the area of modern Lagos. Thus, the areas beteen Lagos and Porto Novo became the focus of Benin military activities till the seventeenth century. In this century, Mahin, an Ilaje communities founded by immigrants from the neighbourhood of Itsekiri and were sdestroyed, while Isheri Olofin, Lagos, Ido, Ebute Metta, Oto-Olofin and other coastal Yoruba communities in the area fell to superior Benin invading army.

After Oba Ehengbuda (C. 1578-1606) who consolidated the imperial achievement of Orhogbua (C. 1550-1578), Benin entered a long period of internal crisis. The Oba stopped being forceful as they no longer led their subjects in battles; rather, they reinforced their mystical attribute, palace rituals and led a secluded life. As a result, the noble men, chiefs and ambitious individual especially the soldiers seized the opportunity to increase their powers and founded their own kingdoms at the expense of the monarchy. Although, the era of warrior kings was terminated in the 17th century with the reign of Oba Ehengbuda who died on his way to Lagos, after him, priests and aristocratic rulers began a prolonged civil war which encouraged the flight of many families and soldiers to different parts f Lagos state. At the western extreme, the situation was such that the colonies were disbanded as a result of ineffective military and personal ambitions. The immediate effect of this was the widespread dispersal of Benin cultural traits. Added to this, the rise of Agaja Trudo of Dahomey (C. 1704-1740) and his coastal military in Porto Novo, coupled with internal disorder in Benin was decisive factors in the emergence of many Yoruba settlements founded by people of Benin origin in Lagos state. Other settlement in the region were founded by warriors, brave hunters, fugitives, refugees and adventurous individuals from other parts of Nigeria but such groups were not shielded from the effects of Benin militarism and cultural imposition.

The influence of Benin pervades every sphere of life of the Yoruba of the coast especially Lagos. The name of some of their towns, their folk tales, rituals, dialects, music, regal goods and dances in varying degrees portray evidence of close interaction with Edo. This is a manifestation of the nature of Benin relations with coastal Yoruba land from about 1500 onwards. Benin invasions of the region of Lagos were profound in shaping the socio-political, economic and culture history of the Yoruba settlement in the area that the erroneous impression that Benin kingdom actually founded all the pre-nineteenth century coastal Yoruba settlements was created. Oral traditions and archival source materials show that not all the Yoruba settlement in the area were actually founded by people of Benin origin.

Benin Invasions and Lagos and Awori Land

A major theme in the historical development of coastal Yoruba land in the sixteenth century was the collapse of many settlements as a result of Benin interests and military incursion into the region. The exact date when the Benin regular expedition began in the region of Lagos and Awori was not known. What is clear is that the region is had long been affected by the events in the interior, thus making Awori land the refuge of those seeking social security. There are many conjectures as to the presence of Benin military personnel in thee region of Lagos in the sixteenth century. A Benin source recorded by the Talbot, says that the first Benin settlers were part of an invading army which was unable to return to Benin and therefore encamped in Lagos at a place called Ogulata which is possibly a corruption of Ebute-Metta. Another tradition posits that it was Oba Orhogbua who, in about 1550 made his camp, Eko, on Lagos Island. What seem incontrovertible is that the Edo had already had camps and satellite states in Ikale and Ilaje areas before the major expedition to the Awori country. The quick response of Benin authorities to demand for military assistance and reinforcement, in the conflict between the party of Ogunfunminire and that of Aina Elewure, and the number of expeditionary wars in Awori land suggests that the invading armies were near to Lagos than to Benin soldiers could have been recruited from Benini Satelite camps from the east of the coastal Yoruba land.

The first military encounter between Benin and Lagosians which is well remembered in tradition is associated with prosperous, powerful and influential woman in Lagos who kept a large number of domestic animals on the account of which she was popularly nick-named Aina Elewure (Aina the goat rearer). It is stated on account of her riches she became a victim of communal jealousy and organized conspiracy. Her opponents falsely accused her of witchcraft and she was requested to go on exile since it was for people with witch craft to be sent to exile. Her resistance led to disputes in which her economic base was destroyed. Consequently, she left for Benin where she implored the king’s assistance in avenging the wrong done to her person and belongings. The Oba sent some of his men in canoes to Olofin Ogunfunminire at Ido to make enquiries. The messengers on getting near Iddo Island, observed from the distance, fishing stakes on which were hung fishing baskets and mistakenly took them for men who were ready to fight them. They at once returned to Benin and reported to the Oba that the inhabitant s on the Islands were strongly armed, and ready to attack them. The Oba thus decide to send the imperial army with three war captains named; Aseru, Akigbida and Olorungbiwe. The army attacked Ile-Olofin and his men repulse this attack. In a much futile effort to subjugate the Island, and alliance was made with Ajaye of the wives of Ogunfunminire. The tradition represent a classical of an aggrieved Aina-Elewure’ party, in a state troubled by internal dissension and socio-economic crisis, appealing for outside help against the majority and more powerful party. One observation here is that Aina did appeal to Benin and not to Ife or Oyo which were not only powerful Yoruba kingdoms but also the ancestral homes of the early Yoruba. An immediate suggestion is that the two parties belong to two different political backgrounds. Apart from the view that Aina was aware of the growing power of neighbouring Benin settlements along the coastal corridor, there is the plausible suggestion that she was one of the early Benin traders in the area.

This suggestion is reinforce by the fact that the early sixteenth century, the region was regularly visited by fishing folk from the area of the Ilaje, Itsekiri and Benin, and that by the seventeenth century the Benin traders were already on the coast in the Lagos Area. Added to this, the quick military response of Oba of Benin to Aina Elewure’s case would be explained in the terms of the need to control the economy of the area in the age of Benin imperialism and profitable European trade.

In spite of the great impact of Benin kingdom on the people and the settlement in the region, there are strong indications that Benin, as powerful as she was could not always have its ways without checks and balances or a competitor. In the military encounter at the battle of Isheri, one of the Benin Military generals, Aseru lost his life. Also, the prolonged nature of the war conquest, the enforced journey of Olofin to Benin and his eventual restoration as indicators that the aboriginal inhabitant of coastal Yorubaland in the Benin invasions were not push-over. Indeed, the return of the Olofin and his restoration as a vassal of Benin is a compromise between the conqueror and the conquered group. With an army of between 20,000 and 100,000, Benin successfully established a firm base and campus on Lagoon of the Lagos Island. Important places like Aromire’s pepper farm (Igaran), Ebute Ero and Enu-Owa became occupied by the people of Benin origin.

The resistance to Benin occupation continued till the opening of the seventeenth century. The Benin colonial administrator had to seek foreign support to suppress incessant revolts. It has also been suggested by evidence that activities of the foreigners (Benin) mercenaries precipitated a crisis which led to the death of Ogunfunminire under circumstance which suggests that his children though Ajaye (who had collaborated with Benin traders), were guilty of regicide. The death of Ogunfunmire put-paid on Lagos resistance. The children of Ajaye were consequently incorporated into the dynasty created by Edo in which four classes of chiefs wee created.

The Lagosians and indeed the people of Lagos state would continue to remember the incursion of Benin into the territory for long, as a result of emergence of Benin-Awori settlements and influence in the socio-political institutions. The Benin-Awori settlement were founded in the region of Aworiland by Benin imperial troops; Ojo, Iba, Idoluwo, Obanikoro, Ijanikin, Oto-Awori, Gbanko, Osolu, Omore, Ibiku, now Ibiye among others have rich traditions linking the origin of most of them to Benin in spite of recent attempt to link some of them with interior Yorubalands. Until the opening of the twentieth century possession of white caps and Abere (Scepter) as a symbol of authority confirm royal linkage with Benin. Although, the impressive population of Yoruba immigrants from the interior that settled among the groups imposed a distinctive emblem of Yoruba-Awori and Yoruba-Ijebu culture on the groups, most traces of their Benin origin are preserved in tradition, royal costumes and traditional titles.

Impact of Benin Invasion

The impact of Benin invasion on Lagos state depended largely on the character of each local ruler, the military and economic strength of the area, the degree of political stability in Benin, and the strength of pre-Benin cultural features. In area where traditional rulers remain of Yoruba Origin, minimal influences were exerted on the traditional socio-political institutions. But in the areas ruled by people of Benin origin, greater Benin cultural traits could be noticed. Also, in settlements which overwhelming Yoruba population, Yoruba cultural values played a domineering role and the impact of Benin remained virtually blurred. Lagos like other areas of the state witnessed the impact of army occupation. Independent kingdoms and village settlements were subjugated by Benin military men. Soldiers were stationed at strategic locations where they could easily mount defensive garrisons and overlook the coastal regions.

Traditional kingdoms in the state lost their independence as many settlements such as Isheri, Ebute-Metta, Otto-Olofin, Iddo and Lagos were reduced to mere vassalages. In some places apart from the establishment of military garrison, Benin dynasty was forcibly enthroned and the traditional rulers were relegated to second rate political authorities. Lagos, like other parts of coastal Yoruba became a Benin tributary and a recruitment centre for Benin soldiers. Lagos as a vassal state, paid annual tribute to the Oba since the Eleko – provincial ruler of Lagos (Eko) held his office at the mercy of Oba of Benin. In Lagos, whenever there were constituent crisis, appeals were often made to the Oba of Benin for his political and spiritual sanctions.

In tradition, dynasty changes and socio-political re-ordering became some of thed legacies of Benin invasions in the region of Lagos State. Obaship institution inLagos was one of the legacies. Egharevba’s account claims that the system of government in Lagos oriented from the role of Ashipa (Esikpa) in returning to Benin the corpse of Aseru, of the Benin military commanders. According to traditions, Asipa wa given a staff of office, Abere, Gbedu drum and recognized as Eleko of Eko. He was followed from Benin by powerful men who assisted who assisted him in the governance of Lagos. These powerful men became the royal and the first class chiefs in Lagos. The Akarigbere headed by the Eletu-Odigbo – the traditional prime minister. Eletu-Odigbo is said to be the corruption of the Benin title Eletu Odibo who was the traditional supervisor of the voters in Benin. One account says he came to Lagos with Asipa from Benin to assist in the collection and payment of taxes. Until the Benin invasion in Lagos, there was no Oba on Lagos Island, hence, Aromire, the owner of the farmland occupied by Benin soldiers was not considered as an Oba but the head of the war chiefs. However, his marriage to an Edo woman who gave birth to his successor, Ado finalized the process of laying the foundation of Benin dynasty in Lagos through conquest and inter-group marriage. Benin-Lagos relations became that of the imperial power and a colony just as happened in other parts of Yorubaland which power and colony just as happened in other parts of Yorubaland which witnessed the invasion of Benin imperialism. Thus, it became almost compulsory in western Yoruba (Ekiti, Owo and Ondo) and among the Ilaje of the coast for heirs to the throne to undergo a period of tutelage in the art of governance in Benin court as Emeda (sword bearer). Ugbo traditions talk of such socio-political and spiritual relations among early Ilaje traditional leaders and Benin court. It is therefore not a surprise that the Benin presence was accompanied by reforms in the traditional setting and adoption of Edo titles and customs. Benin names and titles such as Sasere, Isowa, Ojomo, Lisa (Oliha), Ologbosere, Esoghan (Asogbo) (Eso), Oloton (Olotu), Out and Iyase were adopted in varying degrees by the coastal Yoruba. Ologbosere for instance, belong the class of town chiefs called Eghaevbo, N’ore, Yasere or Sasere is a corruption of Benin’s Iyase. Iyase was the Benin principal Army commander in the seventeenth century until Ezomo (Ojomo) took over in the eighteenth century. The institution of Out in the northeastern part ,of coastal Yorubaland is of Benin origin. In Benin, an Otu is an association of freeborn retainers. It refers to palace chiefs such as Ivebo, Iweguae and Ibiwe. Ojomo and Olotu titles are also found among the Awori of coastal Yorubaland. The title Lisa (Olisa) among the coastal Ijebu is also a corruption of Benin Oliha. In the invasion of Ikorodu, Lisa Eregbuwa who led Benin contingent became the prime minister and chief executive of the town. His Keremesi, a large hat decorated in silk velvet is commonly found among the Benin traditional rulers. The Oba of Lagos also uses Keremesi which shows the Benin origin of Benin dynasty.

In addition, the palace of the Awori which is called Owa is a corruption of Benin word for palace – Ogwa. Isheri traditions relate the existence of two OwaOwa Ile and Owa Oko that is the early administrative centre and the latter palace. The two are significant in the coronation of any Olofin of Isheri. In the coronation of Owa Oko, he is given the flat brass blade, a variant of the Benin model as symbol of Authority, while at Owa Ile, he is given the crtown as a political head. Two conjectures could be made as to the significance of double inheritance the Owa Oko represents the resemblance of relics of the early palace and settlement. The acceptance of the flat brass blade, variant of which is common among the Awori of Benin origin, is an indication of Benin conquest and the acceptance of the flat brass sword by the Awori in the area to rule as vassal of Benin. The need for social security and prosperity led to the dispersal of the group from an earlier settlement which as been impoverished by Benin invasions and exploration. The event in the coronation ceremony shows the assimilation of Benin political authority into the Awori civil community. The Ade given at Owa-Ile shows the reinstatement of Yoruba traditional political structure and royal regalia, while the flat blade received at Owa-Oko shows early Benin political influence, and the two symbolizes the nature of early socio-political history of the people. Owa is characteristically a large hall for administrative purposes. While the use of Owa as name is gradually giving way to Afin Iga or palace, its use among the priestly class is an evidence of the impact of Benin invasions on the socio-cultural values of the people. Also, the use of the name Iga for palace and Idu for house which are of Benin origins are some of the noticeable impact of Benin on Lagos as elsewhere in coastal Yorubaland.

Also, the Benin word for settlement Ido (Udo) is commonly found among the Lagosians, Awori, Ilaje and Ikale. Ido has become the name of one of the most important military camps established by Benin warriors along the coastal corridor of Lagos. The Ologun as a set of first class chiefs in the Akarigbere group emerged in Lagos. This include Onilebgbade, Eletu-Odibo, Eletu-Ijebu, Eletu-Iwase, Ologun Igbesodi, Ologun Atebo, Ologun Sogade, Ologun Agbeje and Eletu Awo. A common appellation for this class of chiefs is Alabere the possessor of Abere, a bladed sword as insignia of office. Also, Iyaso, a nonhereditary title in Benin is present among the Awori; Esogbo or Asogbon, Suenu, Bajulaye, Sasore, Basua, Oshorun, Okole has been traced to Benin origin, constitute the fourth class chiefs known as Abagbon with the appellation war chiefs, and with Keremesi or top hat as insignia of office.

Benin invasion of coastal Yorubaland set in motion series of demographic revolutions and largely determined the nature of spatial distribution of the groups. For instance, areas with natural fortifications and geographical barriers in form of swamps became the hideout of refugees wars drove many people from the main land areas of Isheri and Ebute-Metta to other areas where refugees’ camps developed. Elegushi of Ikate and Ojomu of Ajiran have traditions starting that they fled Ido to escape Benin raids to settle in Eti-Osa area on the shore of the lagoon east of Lagos. In social parlance, the presence of Benin in parts of Lagos state led to significant cultural and linguistic diffusion. Benin influenced the variety of the language spoken by the coastal Yoruba. The influence of Edo language on Awori dialect was so great that the early 20th century administrator labeled the language spoken in Lagos not as Awori or Yoruba but a Benin Awori for the high degree of Bini loan words.

Thus the picture which emerges today in Lagos is a synthesis of many linguistic compositin with significant Benin influence on the Awori, Ijebu, and their neighbours. There was a high degree of flavours of Benin accent on the Yoruba language spoken by the group. For instance, the word Owo-Money is pronounced Ogho, eewo a forbidden thing ios egho, Iku – death is Uku, Isu – Yam is Usu, Ile-house is Ule, Ese- foot is ehe and so on especially among thr Ilaje. Generally, the vowel and tonal forms of the Edo such as gh/gw/u are adopted by some coastal Yoruba – especially the Ilaje. Among the group, Owo –money is Ogwo, skin- Awo is pronounced and spelt as Agho, won or han- dear, costly is ghan. Ise-work as use, idin, and maggot is iden and ose –Sunday ohe.

On the noticeable social impacts of Benin invasions of the region of Lagos state was the assumption that most Yoruba of the coast and their settlements have their origin in Benin invasions and occupation of the region. The assumptions developed as a result of the impressive influence on the socio-cultural settings in the region. The early rulers in the coastal Yoruba land as a vassals to Oba of Benin adopted almost all the outfits from the latter. Among the outfit borrowed are white wrapper tied round the waist by members of the place society. The use of white caps sewn with angles to distinguished it from those of Yoruba origin, as well as the tying white cloth round the waist as a royal dress among the various classes of chiefs of Benin origin in Lagos state is one of the enduring legacies of Benin hegemony. Also, in the mode of dressing, especially the royal regalia and symbols of political authority, most traditional Oba in their royal costumes show striking resemblance with Oba of Benin. The Olorogun (Ologun) in Lagos shave their heads and tie white wrapper round their waist just like those of Benin, while the Oba’s wrapper is tied up to the chest. Both the Oba of Benin and those of coastal Yoruba lavishly dress in beads. The Awori like their Ilaje neighbours have abebe – and abere a large flat brass sword, made familiar in the carvings of the Oba of Benin as symbols of authority. This sword symbolizes the power of life and death as well as the authority to rule on behalf of Oba of Benin.

The use of Gbedu drum is one of the legacies of Benin invasions. Oral tradition shows that apart from Abebe, Ashipa (Esikpa) returned to Lagos with Gbedu drum from Benin. This drum was used in calling people for the meeting of the royal administrative chiefs- Akarigbere, whenever stately matters were to be discussed, this drum is known by the sound it produces in Edo beating style Edindingben. In different part of coastal Yorubaland, the Gbedu drum has remained a royal prerogative, largely confined to the palace and members of the palace society. Boat regatta- Oko –Aje is one of the important festivals serving as a pointer to the impact of Benin invasions of coastal Yoruba land. This festival runs across Lagos state. One account claims that Oko-Aje was introduced from different parts of coastal Yorubaland especially Lagos in commemorating Benin conquest of the region, thus representing the coming of Oba who allegedly conquered Lagos and other settlements in war boat. Other sources claim that it was in commemoration of Asipa’s carrying of Aseru’s dead body to Benin for burial and his return to Lagos with royal regalia as the Elekoof Eko (provincial ruler of Lagos). The two accounts signifies Benin influence of the Yoruba of the coast. This could be hardly surprising since there was the assimilation of the people of Benin origin and culture into predominantly coastal Yoruba population in the state. The familiar trend is the adulteration of two cultural values. However, what is most important is that Oko-Aje represents a Benin impact on the socio-cultural value of the Yoruba of the coast. Similar festival was held annually in Benin known as Oko-Eze. Oko-Aje appears to be a corruption of Benin Oko-Eze. Yoruba coastal communities such as Epe, Ikorodu and Ilaje have similar festival. The dressing and costumes of the canoe paddles in the Oko-Aje festival is similar to those of Benin people which is one of the enduring impacts of Benin invasions of the area of Lagos state.

Also, significant Benin impact features in aspects of religious beliefs and practices of the Yoruba. Oju-Olobun shrine is one of the legacies of the Benin invasions. Traditions have it that its location was the early camp of Benin warriors. Though Obun is an Ijebu word for market, it would appear that the spot developed into market settlement controlled by Benin but with impressive population Ijebu traders. The Obun tree which surrounded by religious sacrosanctity is called ihwin in Benin traditions. The importance of this tree lies in the fact that the installation of a new Oba in Lagos is regarded as invalid without the performance of sacred rites at Enu Owa the gate to the palace. The priest of these shrines dress in white robes and shave their head in same manner like the Ologun. This is one of the most important shrines visited during the coronation ceremony. Also, the existence of Ikanse, a form of ancestral worship in part of Yoruba land is one of the traces of Benin hegemony. This form of worship is said to have been introduced by Eleko and his Akarigbere class of chiefs. Ikanse is connected the making of holes in the apartment of chiefs and Oba in the remembrance of the ancestors. These ancestors are often appeased and their spirit invoked in the time of need. This is however similar to Ikanse homage or respect paid to Oju-Egun (ritual spot of Egungun) in parts of coastal Yorubaland. Oju-Egun is observed in the Iga of Akarigbere class of chiefs that claim Benin descent which symbolizes an aspect of Yoruba influence on Benin cultural values. There are also artistic and spiritual influence not only of Benin cultural values. There are also artistic and spiritual influences not only of Benin but of those who had been influenced by them in parts of coastal Yoruba land; fofr instance Igodo types of masks were found in Ibeju near Epe. These masks are said to be similar to those of Ijo people who have a water spirit called “Ekine

The impact of Benin hegemony on coastal Yorubaland varied from group and from period to period. Socio-economic and political impact of Benin was largely dependent on the nature of controlled exercise by Benin conquerors. In places where Benin dynasties were established such as Mahin, Lagos, Idoluwo, Oto et al. higher degree of Benin influence is observed. In places where Benin population was scanty and control was weak, little traces of Benin influence survived as the impressive Yoruba-Awori population and culture, as well as those of Ijebu and Ilaje assimilated Benin cultural values. Also, the payment of annual tributes and reference to Benin for important political decision weakened over time in part of the region. When Lagos became a prosperous kingdom, attempts were made at shaking off the yoke of vassalage through the violation of some of the traditional protocols. The annual payment of tribute became not only intermittent but also a much more intolerable duty perfunctorily carried out. Lagos account says that during the region of Idewu-Ojulari and Oluwole, Benin emissaries sent to Lagos on tribute venture were sent back empy-handed.

Also, after Oba Ehengbuda, Benin monarchy was considerably weakened by palace chiefs as the kingdom witnessed a succession of weak and feeble rulers. This trend weakened Benin impact and the situation continued until the ascension of Akenzua 1 (1713-1735) who checkmated the influence of Uzama and Eghaevbo and set about rebuilding the monarchy. There was development in the level of socio interaction in the region as a result of influx of Yoruba of the interior and other groups to the region now known as Lagos state especially when the Ondo road was opened. Since communication is one of the essential features of social interaction. One of the major areas largely affected by the immigration of people of different cultures to the region of Lagos state was the language. The influence of Edo language on the linguistic repertoire of the area is as old as most of the communities. On the Awori for instance, the influence was so great that in the 20th century, the language of Lagos was described not as Awori or Yoruba but Benin-Awori.

However, the nineteenth century was to add a new dimension to the language of the many parts of the coast as the century witnessed the arrival of the people from Brazil, Siera Leone and Eupropean nations who engaged in commerce and social interactions with the Yoruba of the region. As a result, before the end of the century, a clear distinction had emerged between the dialect of Awori in the hinteland Ota, Ado-Odo and Igbesa, and those of the coast especially in the region of Lagos. This distinction could partly be accounted for the heterogeneous composition of settlements in the area.

Thus, before closure of the twentieth century, lagos had evolved as a region of cultural hybridization, and as a melting pot of groups, sub languages and dialects. The linguistic and cultural peculiarities of each group, was gradually watered down and the foundation of influential and almost homogenous Lagos variety of Yoruba language was laid. It could indeed be said that some of the words spoken by Lagos Yoruba are pidgins and have no genetic descent in Yoruba orthography. The fact that by 1900 Lagos had become a complex region with heterogeneous cultures and people. Though the region witnessed the influence of two major conquerors; the Benin and the British, the intermixture of cultures and multiplicity of groups in the area did not result in the evolution of Benin or British culture. Rather, a synthesis of cultures which is peculiar to the Yoruba of the coast particularly the Lagosians is noticeable.


Lagos and the entire Awori and Ijebu region owes its development to the interaction between various Yoruba and non-Yoruba speaking groups who related wit one another and after the twentieth century, the uniqueness of the ecosystem and abundant resources had given special attraction to immigrants who were absorbed into the local population before the colonial era. An observation of the region today gives the impression of that of a ‘united group of settlements’. The hitherto seemingly diverse groups and layers of settlement is now a cultural hybrid where people share a number of trait s and values in common. The experience of Lagos building a ‘united’ and culturally ‘homogenous’ group out of diverse groups is a lesson for Nigeria that is made up of several ethnic groups desiring to build a ‘united nation’ as has been the efforts of those who have had to struggle with history since lord Lugard ‘created’ Nigeria in 1914 up to the present time when all sort of political engineering code-named ‘power shift’, Federal Character’, ‘rotational Presidency’ constitutional conference and Quota system are being vigorously pursued.

Notes and Refernces

<!--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->A.A. Abegunde (1987) Aspects of the Physical environment of Lagos in Ade Adefuye et al (ed) History of the People of Lagos State, Lagos, Lantern p.6

<!--[if !supportLists]-->2. <!--[endif]-->Talbolt, P. The Peoples of Southern Nigeria, Vol. IV (Linguistic and Statistics) London, Frank Cass. 1969, p.31

<!--[if !supportLists]-->3. <!--[endif]-->See, Agiri, A. and Barnes, S.: Lagos before 1603 in Agiri. B. et al (eds) History of the Peoples of Lagos State. Lagos, Lantern.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->4. <!--[endif]-->See Adediran ‘Biodun: Pleasant imperialism : Conjectures on hegemony in Eastern Yorubaland African Notes 1991, pp.83-95: In swarch of identity: The Eastern Yoruba and the Oduduwa tradition ODU: A Journal of West African studies No. 36, July, 1989, p.125.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->5. <!--[endif]-->Ryder, A.F.C. The Benin kingdom in Ikime. O.(ed) Groundwork Nigeria History, Ibadan, Heineman, 1980 p.178

<!--[if !supportLists]-->6. <!--[endif]-->Oral histories of some Awori Kingdoms such as Ojo, Iba, Oto-Awori, show that the culture heroes of these kingdoms were ambitious individual soldiers of Benin origin.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->7. <!--[endif]-->See Intelligence Report on Badagry District of the colony. Province Wormal, National Archive, Ibadan.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->8. <!--[endif]-->See J.B. Losi, History of Lagos, Lagos. C.S.S. 914 pp. 1-2

<!--[if !supportLists]-->9. <!--[endif]-->Talbot, P.A. The peoples of Southern Nigeria op. cit Vol. 1 p 926

<!--[if !supportLists]-->10. <!--[endif]-->See Aderibigbe, A.B. Early history of Lagos to about 1850 in A.A. (ed) lagos.: The Development of an African City, Lagos Long. P.4

<!--[if !supportLists]-->11. <!--[endif]-->interview with Chief J.J. Eko, 7, Enuwa Street. The Olorogun Lagos. (Aged 60+) 13/02/1997.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->12. <!--[endif]-->Folami, T.A. A History of Lagos. Nigeria, op.cit p.8; Aderibigbe A. (ed), Lagos: op.cit. pp. 4-9

<!--[if !supportLists]-->13. <!--[endif]-->See Adefuye, A. et al (eds) History of the People of Lagos state. “Oba Akinsemoyin and the Emergence of Modern Lagos” Lagos, Lantern 1987, p.34 also Agiri, A. and Barnes, S. “Lagos Before 1603” in Adefuye, et al (eds) ibid.,pp.18-22.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->14. <!--[endif]-->See for instance, Losi, J.B. History of Lagos Op.cit pp 9,12

<!--[if !supportLists]-->15. <!--[endif]-->Bajowa, O.: Ikale Nigeria, Newswatch 1993, p.19; Intelligence Report of the Central Awori Group CSO 26.29979, pp 2-3.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->16. <!--[endif]--> These titles are found in varying degrees among the Yoruba of the cost. For various Benin chieftaincy titles, See Ryder, A.F.C. The Benin kingdom in Ikime. O. (ed) op.cit pp. 112-119.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->17. <!--[endif]-->Egharevba, J.U. A Short History of Benin, Ibadan University Press 1960, Also Ryder A.F.C. Ibid, p.119

<!--[if !supportLists]-->18. <!--[endif]-->Adefuye, A. et al (eds), History of the People of Lagos State op.cit pp.205-206.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->19. <!--[endif]-->Intelligence Reports on Ikale District of Okitipupa Division Ondo Province, N.A.I. CSO 26.29797, p.6

<!--[if !supportLists]-->20. <!--[endif]-->Eletu Odibo was the installing officer in the Akarigbere class of chiefs.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->21. <!--[endif]-->Eltu-ijebu was the Minister-in-charge of Ijebu Affairs in Lagos. Eletu-Ijebu and Eletu-Iwase were among the traditional kingmakers in Lagos.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->22. <!--[endif]-->The titles were noticed among the Awori and the Ilaje with great Benin influence or those founded by people of Benin origin; See also, Losi, J.B History of Lagos op.cit p.5 Keremesi (Keremesi) is said to be origin meaninig white

<!--[if !supportLists]-->23. <!--[endif]--> See for instance, Adetugbo, A.: “The Yoruba Language in Yoruba” in Biobaku, S.: Sources of Yoruba History op.cit. 183-186

<!--[if !supportLists]-->24. <!--[endif]-->Lawal, K. Urban Transition in Africa Nigeria, Punmark, 1994.

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