Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Amalgamation Day January 1,1914

Modern-day Nigeria came into being on January 1, 1914, with the formal amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of the former British colony. Therefore January 1, 2014, will mark 100 years of the union.Here is a picture of "The Amalgamation day" celebrations on the 1st of January 1914

Friday, 27 December 2013

Julius Berger (1862- 1943)

Berger was the founder of the eponymous International Construction firm.
He was a German-Jew who started out in the Transport business and later established Julius Berger Civil Engineering AG in 1905.
It became a major contractor carrying out the construction of roads, drainage systems and railways in the eastern Prussian provinces and also in Turkey, Iran, Romania and Egypt.
In 1942 he and his wife were thrown in a Concentration camp where they died of hunger and exhaustion.
The company was revived after World War II. In 1965 it secured its first job in Nigeria- The construction of Eko Bridge.
It has since become one of Nigeria's leading construction companies securing major projects such as Tin Can Island Port, Ajaokuta Steel Plant,The 3rd Mainland Bridge, Abuja Stadium and Abuja International Airport.
It is currently Nigeria's largest private employer with 18,000 staff. Thank you Bimbola Babarinde
Picture 1 & 2 Julius Berger
Picture 3 Julius Berger in 1925 together with members of his staff at the Teliv Tunnel construction site in Romania

Monday, 23 December 2013

Oloku 1950

The principal god worshipped in the town of Okuku is Oloku. This god was brought by the ancestors of Okuku from Ile-Ife and his priest is called Aworo.
The yearly festival of the god takes place when the first yams are ready, towards the end of May or the beginning of June.
The Aworo then goes to his farm and brings back a yam which he divides into four pieces and places on the shrine of Okuku.
The Aworo and the chief of Okuku, the Olokuku, Cook and eat pounded yam, after which the people of the town start to use their own yams and their is a general celebration.

It is said that the Aworo lights a fire in the market as a sign of rejoicing, but the Olokuku scatters the burning sticks. The Aworo then challenges the Olokuku to a wrestling match which, however, must always end with the Olokuku throwing the Aworo. This is taken as a sign for renewed rejoicing and thanksgiving that Oloku has spared their lives for another year.

The position of Aworo Oloku belongs to one family. When an Aworo dies he is succeeded by his eldest son, whether a child or a grown man.
The Aworo does not cut his hair. It is normally plaited. As also often do priests of Sango, the god of thunder.

The Aworo Oloku in this picture became the Aworo at about 6 years old, at the time of the picture he was about 16.

The name Okuku means the " survivors of the dead". After leaving Ife their ancestors went to  Ara, but on the death of the Chief his younger son was chosen as his successor instead of the eldest who left Ara in anger taking the god Oluku with him. After much wondering he settled in a place called Itokin. This town increased and prospered until the Ijesha Ararat war about 1760 when it was attacked by the Ijeshas and destroyed. After sometime a few people crept out of the ruins and we're advised through the system of divination called Ifa to leave. When they reached the present site of Okuku they were advised by Ifa to stop and to take the name of Okuku. - Nigeria Magazine 1950

Bonny - Nigeria Magazine 1958


It is not so long, in years at least since Bonny was one of the most important ports on the West Coast. Less than 100 years; and that is little enough time for a thriving community to fall into obscurity. 

As a landfall, it is still important. Great ships, larger by far than those known in the heyday of Bonny trade, still seek the entrance to the Bonny river among the shores  and sandbanks of the Niger Delta. But now they steam past the town, following the channel that will take them to Port Harcourt, the thriving, new centre that has taken Bonny's trade.
Every commercial coastline shows examples of upstream ports that have gone out of use because ships have grown larger and deep water berths have become necessary. Bonny shows the reverse of the picture, for port harcourt lies inland up some thirty miles of tricky winding waterways. The cause of Bonny's decline is the same as the cause of her earlier success: there is no land communication inland. The early eighteenth century (and earlier) traders needed local help to ferry goods through the Delta labyrinth  to the only place where ocean going ships could lie in safety on what is, for most of the year, a dangerous lee shore. Now, the dredging of the channel to a new, hard-ground commercial centre gas left Bonny without even the smallest share of the growing Nigerian trade.




Founded in the fifteenth century, the early west African trade transformed Bonny from a mixture of small groups of people into a powerful island state, rich in a degree comparable only with Calabar. Her military an economic position, together with the political influence that followed, gave to the town virtual control  of the trade of the whole Delta.

Behind the growth of Bonny lay the age old demand for slaves and the new and growing demand for Palm oil. Both these commodities the men of Bonny were anxious to supply or act as the middle men for suppliers further inland. Bonny was bred and sustained by this  trade, the gateway to her prosperity and the key to her glory.

Yet that same trade caused her undoing. Apart from the growth of new ports. ( Port harcourt in the 1920s, but Lagos and Forcades came much earlier), internal dissentions hurried on degeneration that, commercially could barely be foreseen. Successfully trade nurtured ambition and jealousies which did as much as anything to bring  about the downfall of the town. Twenty critical years was enough to cover the change.

In looks, mid - twentieth century ( as seen in the pictures) has changed little from the town of 1856 described by the Reverend Hope Waddell as " a semblance of mean houses, without order....with winding foot tracks for streets and huge iguanas, four or five feet long, sacred and used for juju"



Winding foot tracks still represent streets ( As of the time this article was written in 1958) few modern houses have risen beside old fashioned and "mean" ones whose roofs of corrugated sheets are brown with age and rust. Not only are the iguanas no longer sacred, they have disappeared .

Christianity, within a hundred years, has wiped out traditional religion, the hub of traditional life . In a way this is regrettable, for most of the cultural institutions  evolved by that strange mixture of tribes have gone with it. To her resounding victory, Christianity built along the weedy Marina  fronting the Bonny River, a monument  - a small cathedral hanging with chandeliers. The cathedral is a worthy tribute to Rev. Adjai Crowther, the first Christian missionary to Bonny in 1864

Bonny eventually did retrieve some significant relics from the ruins of her past glory.Kingship founded, it is said in 1450 by Ashimini. It was slowly waning. Until  the Eastern House of Chiefs  forced Bonny to fill a long vacant throne and kingship assumed importance once again. 

Bonny it is said, was founded by Alagbariye who, with a handful of followers, formed the nucleus of the present day town.Local tradition traces the origin through the Ijaw tribe to Benin. It gives his occupation as hunting and the name of his settlement as Okolo-Ama( land of curlew) Igbo immigrants christened her Ibani or a Ubani ( after a patriarch of the founders ) a name which was later anglicised to Bonny. 

Immigrants and slaves from the hinterland swelled Okolo - Ama. As she expanded her pattern of traditional life gradually evolved . She remained a fishing town until immigrants began to settle. Their arrival paved the way between Bonny and the hinterland ; this was the first rung on the ladder of progress. With trade, developed the "House" system, which later became a pronounced feature of Bonny organisation. It was a system in which identical interests and economic necessities rather than kinship bound the people into units know as "Houses". Each "house", consisting of a master, his family and other dependants , was a unit for cooperative trade and local government. Each graded its members into rank which carried with them duties and responsibilities , privileges and rewards.

By 1700 she was exchanging elephant tusks, pepper oil and slaves for copper rods, fish and European goods. Some of her people rose to factors and brokers for Europeans, mostly Netherlanders, and for their own countrymen.

The demand for slaves to work on American plantations and in mines plunged Bonny into the human traffic. Her thickly populated hinterland proved a never failing source of slaves. By 1790 Bonny had become Africa's biggest slave market, exporting annually a minimum of 20,000 slaves of whom 16,000 were Igbo.By now the "house" system had fully grown . It became a strong institution, for many of the "houses" had amassed wealth and their masters became powerful. Such names as Jumbo, Banigo, Stowe, Allaputa and Green became prominent. Royalty accorded them recognition as chiefs, thus adding to their status and authority.

These chief exercised absolute powers of life a death. They showed much  brutality in the course of everyday life. Their actions were, apparently to avoid and stem revolts among their thousand Bondmen and domestic slaves and the maintenance of a peaceful atmosphere for the success of the "house" and it's commercial ventures. Traditional religion aimed at preserving this life but the fears it engendered were at the root of their lust for torture and bloodshed. . They approved of sacrifices which they sincerely believed to promote the well being of their state. No sacrifice was too great. Thus, in the fifteenth century , Princess Osunju was sacrificed for supply of water and Princess Ogbolo was offered to the Bonny river god. Indirectly it justified the sacrifices of commoners for the welfare of the " house".

Each "house" built up an army from its stock of bondmen and slaves for its defence against rival "houses" . The need to fight a common foe - The Kalabari , for example, who proved a threat to their power by quickly recuperating and thriving  after each conquest - united under the Amanyanabo (King). At such times, large trading canoes  sixty feet long and seven wide, rowed by sixteen to twenty paddlers, and capable of carrying a hundred and forty persons, we're mounted with brass and iron cannon of large calibre and converted into war canoes .With these, Bonny commanded the waterways to the hinterland, defended herself, and terrified stubborn people to subjection.


By 1830 Bonny was exporting  " as much slaves as all the rest of Africa put together" or, as Dr Madden put it, " more than three quarters of the whole African supply". In 1839 and 1841 Bonny signed treaties which guaranteed for her a payment of 2,000 dollars and 10,000 dollars respectively in return for the end of slave trade. In order, therefore, to avoid the economic bump which loomed large in the path of the slave trade and in order to maintain her lead in the trade business, she quickly switched over and, in a few years, built herself a reputation far greater than that she had made in human trafficking.

By 1846, Bonny had become the centre of the palm oil trade in the Niger Delta area. annual shipment reached 15,000 tons. She did such roaring business that King Pepple's income from shipping dues and other sources was estimated, in 1853 £15,000-20,000 annually. At the commencement of the oil season in 1854, Bee-croft estimated at £500,000 sterling the value of ships and cargo in the river Bonny. Two years later, twenty six vessels on the rivers Bonny and abandoning formed an aggregate of 13,216 tons. Those were Bonny's best years - years that  witnessed her glory. Her efficient political , military and economic organisation and her observance of the treaties of 1850 , 1854 and the twelve articles added to them by the Bonny Court of Equity in 1856 contributed greatly towards her success in the last lap of her progress.


The attainment of her climax was quickly followed by a change of fortune. The deportation of Pepple in 1854 marked the beginning of her decline. The Pepple's were ambitious. In their bid to gain ascendancy over the surrounding towns and concentrate all trade in Bonny, each had plunged the state into wars . Yet each Peppel had managed to command the support of his chiefs by confining his ambition within the orbit of the States constitution .

Then came King William Dapa Pepple. When at 20 he ascended the throne in 1837, he brought his intelligence to play on his accepted policy of  his predecessors. Within seventeen years he had succeeded in piloting the state to success and glory, making a name for himself and accumulating wealth. His chiefs noticed a deterioration  in his government. It was as though the fulfillment of his ambition had brought out certain inherent tendencies which, once released, set the fateful course that led to Bonny's downfall. It was known that he had no regard for the state and her protectorates. He made no attempt  to conceal this. On the contrary, he snapped the cordial relations between him and his chiefs  and treated Bonny and her allies as slaves.


Chief W.I Allaputa in 1958



This oppression and tyranny led his chiefs to revolt against him in 1853. The resultant dispute was detrimental  to Bonny and British trade; yet, Peppel would not be controlled by the state's constitutions . In 1854 his chiefs decided to have him as King no longer . Realising his life was in danger, he fled, under Consul Beecroft's protection, to Fernando Po.

His successor, Dapu, had a very short reign and the years that followed his death saw the prevalence of anarchy  due  to jealousy between the  "houses" of the four regents who formed the quartumvirate.

From March 1858 the town of Bonny was in open warfare. Some super -cargoes and principal chiefs requested the reinstatement  of Pepple . The preferred a despot rule to the insubordination which caused an estimated loss of some 2,000 puncheons of oil annually.

Their request was not granted and the state continued in confusion. Law and order deserted Bonny. Criminals increased in number and misfortune haunted the town. In 1862 Bonny was burned by rival "houses" . That same year an epidemic of yellow fever spread in Bonny, killing in less than four months more than half the 290 European residents.

Then came the final act of the drama. Out of the confusion arose Oko Jumbo who, by 1879, had become the most powerful chief in Bonny, having 7,000- 8,000 armed men . In 1869 he engaged Jaja, a rich and powerful slave of  the "house" of Pepple in a civil war. It lasted till 1870 when Jaja fled and founded Opobo, from where he applied the strangle hold on Bonny. Jaja blocked Bonny's trade routes to the hinterland for three years and succeeded in diverting trade and attention to Opobo where trade conditions were more favourable.This blockade, the growth of direct trade between Europeans and the hinterland and, later the development of Port harcourt wrote " FINISH" across Bonny's prosperity, her fame and power .
Canon and gun carriages lie around Bonny Town. They belong to the various houses of the town
St Clements at the Marina




St Stephens 1958
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Saturday, 7 December 2013

How Mbazulike Amaechi hid Mandela from the apartheid regime in Nigeria

ONE of the few surviving nationalists and former Minister of Aviation in the first republic, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi has revealed how he hid the foremost South African nationalist and former president of South Africa, Chief Nelson Mandela for six months in Nigeria to evade his arrest by officials of the apartheid regime in that country.
Amaechi, who spoke with Vanguard at his Ukpor country home in Nnewi South local government area of Anambra State said people like Mandela are great assets to humanity and should not have gone through the pains of life.
The former minister, popularly known as ‘the boy is good’, said it was a privilege to him being asked to live with Mandela when he ran away from the apartheid regime and came to Nigeria in 1963, adding that they shared great moments during the six months plus Mandela lived in his house.
According to Amaechi, even when Mandela returned to South Africa and was sentenced to life imprisonment, he still wrote him letters from prison, showing how appreciative he was.
The interview with Amaechi on Mandela went thus:
PRESENTLY, the foremost South African nationalist, Nelson Mandela, is sick and in the hospital. We want to know if you had any relationship with him in the past or an encounter?
Yes, he was the leader of the Africa National Congress, ANC. He led the group that struggled for democracy in South Africa. That was the time of the apartheid regime in South Africa and when the British government was desperately looking for him to imprison him; he ran away from South Africa and took refuge in Nigeria.  That was when the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the President of Nigeria and late Dr. Michael Okpara the Premier of the Eastern Region.
When Mandela came to Nigeria, Zik as the leader of the nationalist group in Nigeria in consultation with Okpara decided that they should find a nationalist of Mandela’s caliber who would accommodate him. So they called on me to take Mandela and accommodate him.
At that time, I was the parliamentary secretary and also a member of the parliament before I became a minister. He moved in to my house and stayed for about six or more months with me and my wife. I was then newly married while he was in his early 40’s or so.
We used to go out together and both the British intelligence and the South African intelligence services knew that he was with me, but there was nothing they could do about it because I was in government. Then, after sometime, during our discussions, he said: “My stay here, how long will it last? “I think I better return to South Africa. They will either kill me or send me to prison and it will spur the other nationalists remaining to continue with the struggle.
So, after about six or seven months in my house, he decided to move back to South Africa. When he went back, he was promptly arrested, charged and sentenced to life imprisonment. He went to prison, but the nationalism in him did not depart from him.
He continued doing his best for some of his colleagues. He wrote me a letter from prison asking me to find employment for one Dr. Barange. Barange’s father was a lawyer who defended the nationalists in a previous case, while Barange himself was a geologist. The apartheid people in South Africa were seriously looking for him and so Mandela wanted him to get out of South Africa. I was able to get a job for Dr. Barange at the University of Ife as a senior lecturer in Geology.
Mandella wrote me from prison. In fact when you called that you were coming, I went to my office to search for this letter. This is the letter he wrote me from the prison on the 18th of February, 1964, he signed the letter as Nelson Mandela, prisoner No 116570/63.
Then during his 74th birthday, he was still in prison, I joined his family to send him goodwill messages.
When he came out from prison, I wrote him too. When he came to Nigeria after his release, he specifically requested to see me and Dr. Azikiwe. So, when he came to Enugu, the then governor, Col. Robert Akonobi, because we were in military rule then, wrote me to say Mandela wanted to see me. I honoured the invitation and I went to Enugu with my wife to see him. He was in the company of his former wife, Winnie. We shared some time together before he went back to South Africa.
After that visit in 1993, have you been communicating with him?
Yes, my last letter to him was on 18th November, 1993.
Since the last letter, have two of you been communicating?
No. We have not spoken to each other again. When he was appointed the President of South Africa, I was invited to his inauguration ceremony, but the military here did not allow me to go. They said I needed clearance to go and I did not get it.- Vanguard

Sule Baki: Retired interpreter for the United Africa Company Ltd Zaria. 1950

"I don't know when I was born. It's a long time ago. About eighty years, I think. But I still remember the days of my childhood at Kontagora.
My father was called Amadu - People only had one name in those days - and he had four wives. But they didn't see much of him, because he was a trader and used to travel about the country. He bought Ivory and took it to the white traders at Eggan. We had never seen white traders before.
First, I learned to farm and also to read the Koran. But when I was about twenty I went to Lokoja to work for the Royal Niger Company. They had two steamers the "Liberty" and the "Empire" Although I started as a labourer on the "Liberty" I worked up to quartermaster and finally became bosun.
I was on the steamer for many years. Carrying palm products to Akassa and Forcados. I remember when the bush was cleared to make Burutu, and I saw many other new trading stations opened on the river. Sometimes we went up the Benue for Ivory, gum and gutta.
One day both the "Liberty" and "Empire" were sent to Forcados. We found many people waiting for us. Each steamer took eighty four of them on board, and we brought them to Lokoja. They were the first Government people to come to Nigeria.
By now I had a wife and two children. I was going to take them home but the Niger Company asked me to go with my family to Keffi. I used to take the pay from there to the tin miners at Naraguta.
Next I helped to open Jos. We had to cut trees and grass, and build mud and stone houses. After, I worked in a bank in Jos for a long time. In 1919 I was sent to Kano canteen to be a salesman, and a few years later the agent made me his interpreter.
Then 1929 came. This was an important year for me. The United Africa Company was formed, and I began to work for the general manager of the Zaria area, Mr F.G.C. Wallach. I was his interpreter and I told him many things about Africa. He called me his adviser on African Affairs. That was a fine title, wasn't it?
I was proud that the company found my experience useful. My work was very interesting too. I went on doing it till 1942, then the company gave me my pension.
Now I have plenty of time to look back on those happy years". Nigeria Magazine 1950

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013

Nelson Mandela in Nigeria

After his release from prison Nelson Mandela travelled to many countries in Africa and abroad to thank those who had supported the ANC during the years of struggle and to implore them to continue to pressurize for democratic transformation in South Africa. Here, Nelson Mandela gives a salute as he disembarks a Nigerian jet during his state visit to Nigeria.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Save Us From Extinction-Abuja Artists Lament

Source: Daily Trust, By Sunday Michael Ogwu.

Pre-colonial Nigerian arts were predominantly made for important ceremonial occasions most of which were connected with births, puberty, marriage and rites of passage (death), nonetheless many of Nigeria's great works of the past adorn the world's major museums where they enjoy a place of honour among other master pieces.The artist was required to provide appropriate artworks for such occasions and thus provided motivation for artistic creation, these works have become part of the sum total of mankind's cultural heritage.Nigeria became renowned for Art works such as the bold and imaginative Nok terra cottas, described as the oldest sculptures in Africa South of the Sahara, the bronze and terra cotta heads of lfe which represent a naturalism comparable to that of classical Greek sculpture, the famous heads, figurines and plaques from the foundries of the ancient city of Benin and the lgbo-Ukwu bronzes.Nigerian art has however come of age having evolved from experimentation with diverse materials and techniques which have produced unique art forms which are now tailored towards the personal and material benefit of tourists, collectors and other consumers.No wonder Lilian Bulle Fagg, Historian of Yoruba and Nigerian art and pioneer in the systematic study of African art recognized Nigeria's pre-eminence in African art and observes that "in Nigeria alone can we discern the mainstream of artistic development through two millennia and more... it is to Nigeria that all the African nations must look as the principal trustee of the more durable fruits of the Negro artistic genius."The seemingly huge reputation of Nigeria in the world of art has been bankrolled largely by tourist and foreign art collectors as the averaged Nigerian attitude to a beautiful art piece remains mere admiration without any meaningful financial commitment.When Sunday Trust visited the makeshift art village located along the airport road in life camp, Jabi Abuja, it was a testament of tribulations as these naturally gifted group wait in nostalgia for the faith that awaits them with the declining patronage from foreigners or tourist on account of the non provision of an art market in the country's capital that will strategically position for tourist and Nigerians alike to patronise.The art village comprises of about 30 to 40 exhibitors specializing in different forms of art from painting to sculpture, art furniture, ceramics, clay works, artefact and art history beautifully adapted to contemporary human needs like center tables, television stands, console frames, garden chair, wine rag wall frames space fillers, flower pots, kitchen chair to mention but a few.George Usen Henry a regular customer of the art village and a chattered artist by profession who was approached by our reporter said: "everyone's' attention has drifted towards music and we have relegated these form of art largely because we don't see them as often, rather we see more of the digital forms and other forms of arts like a new car, watch or computer aided designs."One interesting thing that caught the eye of most visitors was the sale of Nigerian old currencies including the silver jubilee medal of Nigeria's independence, Eunice Chinyere Augustine who deals on this interesting piece of history said, " We sell this old currency to customers to enable them teach their children about our history and culture, and it's a must have for every home if you ask me."Although the space currently occupied by the exhibitors is said to belong to an individual, Sunday Trust observed that the make shift pavilion have been marked for demolition by the Development Control unit of the Federal Capital Development Administration (FCDA) supposedly for not conforming with the master plan of the FCT.This development has forced some of the exhibitors to close shop while others were said to have abandoned this rear talent to take up paltry paying jobs as sales boys/girls in supermarkets, security attendant in private residents and fine arts teachers in private schools around AbujaOur reporter also scooped that he art village has been privileged to host customers like the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala which unfortunately has not translated into any form of deliberate infrastructural provision as witnessed in other climes.Lawrence Akinsheye Ilori one of the exhibitors summed up their frustration when he said, " Most of our customers are the rich and foreigners but this location is not where a foreigner can easily access because there is no security presence and is not strategic at all so except for hearsay or passersby, we would have all gone into extinction."The few Foreigners who through adventure or exploration of our land mark have identified these art village have also cut down drastically on their purchase, this according to Taiwo Jimoh who specializes in art furniture is due to the frustrating customs requirements to export our art work. Some of the tourists told us that when they get to the airport, they are told to get some approval from our museums and the amount required for such approval is even far much more than the cost of the art pieces."Augustine Odeh, a consultant said: "Art is a massive foreign exchange earner for countries like Italy, Kenya, South Africa and Greece, but we cannot get there if we do not add values to what we have. The masterpiece produced by these "art hawkers" will only attract true monetary value if they are structurally grounded and that is the secret of successful artist like Nike Lee, 27/7 in Oshogbo and Pablo Picassoart works are better with the amount of time spent on a piece as well as the quality of material input, so the question is who will commit so much into a piece knowing fully well that the next minute they will be chased out of their location by the FCDA or even asked to quit by the original land owner should he want to develop his property?"

Friday, 29 November 2013

Nigeria: The Itsekiri's Rich History and Their Bond With the Yoruba

Premium Times

Opinion:

One of the lasting friendship that I most cherished while I covered the Senate as National Assembly Editor between 1979-1983 was with Senator Franklin Oritsemueyiwa Atake (1928-2003), former Chief Judge of the old Bendel State.
Shortly after losing the Senate Presidency to the now ailing Dr. Joseph Wayas on October 7, 1979, I asked Senator Atake of the then Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) what the O. in his initials stood for. He smiled, and said "Oritsemuyiwa" and translated the meaning in clear and fluent Yoruba language to "orisa-mu-yi-wa" which means "God has brought this one".
From then on till he left the Senate in 1983, Senator Atake made it a point of duty to converse with me in fluent Yoruba language.
"Madawonlohun" meaning "don't mind them" while referring to his NPN colleagues in the Senate. I salute his scholarship till today.
The last journey Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987) made before he died on May 9, 1987 was to his trusted friend and steadfast colleague, Chief Alfred Ogbeyiwa Rewane (1914-1995) in Warri.
He was in Warri for three days and some interpreted that Chief Awolowo went to Warri to thank Chief Rewane for his enduring love and friendship that spanned over forty-five years. It turned out to be a farewell visit. A sort of good-bye. Abbe Jacques Delile wrote "Fate chooses our relatives, we choose our friends" while Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote that "A friend is, as it were, a second half".
Those who knew Chief Awolowo very well like Chief Ayo Adebanjo,Chief Olanihun Ajayi, Chief Ebenezer Babatope (Ebino Topsy), Senator Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Fasoranti, will acquiesce to how Chief Awolowo values true amity and friendship while disavowing ingratitude.
Till he was assassinated on October 6, 1995 in his residence at Ikeja GRA, Lagos by yet unknown persons, Chief Rewane was the Ologbotsere of the Itsekiris. The title Ologbotsere is very common in many Yoruba cities and in the Bini kingdom also. In Idanre for example, the Ologbotsere, Chief Felix Olagundoye Olurankinshe, is one of the kingmakers and very close to the Owa of Idanre, Oba Frederick Arubuefin Aroloye. He inherited the title from his late dad, Chief Isaiah Akinyawo Olurankinshe, who was very powerful and highly influential in Idanre before he died in 1967 at the age of 112.
I attended a nuptial in Lagos recently, between Eyituoyo Amuka Pemu, son of my mentor, Chief Sam Amuka Pemu, who employed me thirty-seven years ago in the Punch, and the love of his life, Oladepe Funmi-Adeshina.
Great man, all of us whom Chief Sam Amuka Pemu employed in the Punch and in the Vanguard between twenty to forty years ago, including Mr. Shola Odunfa (Our Editor), Muyiwa Adetiba, Gori Ogunyemi, Kenny Adamson, Bunmi Sofola(Our bonny and plantinum with undying beauty), Toyin Akiyode, Fola Arogundade, Jimi Disu, Gbenga Adefaye, Ikeddy Isiguzor (Ilekun) and others were all present at the wedlock.
I noticed a strong resemblance between the Yoruba and the Itsekiri cultures.
The resemblance confirm to what Professor Obaro Ikime wrote years ago: "Though distance might be long the Yorubas and the Itsekiris have common and spiritual bond".
The likes of Chief Arthur Edward Prest (1906-1976), Chief Alison Ayida, Professor Horatio Oritshejolomi Thomas (1917-1979), Chief Festus Sam Okotie-Eboh (1912-1966), Professor I.E. Sagay, Sam Omatseye of the Nation, Pa J.O.S. Ayomike, Alex Ideh, Chief Mrs. Rita Lori Ogbebor, Daniel Reyenieju, Ojoye Oma Eyewuoomo, Mr. Omolubi Newuwumi, Edward Ekpomo, Chief Thomas Eteyitomi, Isaac Jemide, Dr. Stephen Gbejero and others remind us of the Itsekiri.
Who are the Itsekiris? The Itsekiri are a peculiar and unique people in the Nigerian Niger Delta. They have for long inhabited their homeland,which now constitutes the three Warri Local Government Areas out of the twenty -five local governments of Delta State. The Itsekiri have rich traditional and cultural practices.
Itsekiri modern history dates from the late fifteenth century when the Itsekiri people adopted a prince from Benin Kingdom as their monarch. Prior to this time, Itsekiri lived independently in different communities that included Irigbo, Ureju, Omadino and Ugborodo. With the arrival of the prince and adoption of the monarchy. These communities coalesced to become a Kingdom.
History reveal that in several waves of migration before the 15th Century, and some a little later, groups from Igala in Nupe country came in through the creeks; Yoruba from Ijebu-ode, Akure, and Owo found their way into parts of the kingdom and a group from Aboh also came in. Some along the coast came in through Gulani/Amatu.
Historically, the Itsekiri have a monarchy, over 500 years old, and which, as a rallying point in their society, remains its supreme government. From 1480 to now, there have reigned 19 Olu of Warri: five Olus of the Christian era; 1480-1597: eight Roman Catholic Olus from 1597-1735 and six Olus of the post-Roman Catholic Christian era.
According to Bini and Itsekiri histories, Ginuwa, a prince of Benin founded the Iwerre (Warri) kingdom about 1480. In the 15th century, Warri was visited by Portuguese missionaries. At the beginning of the 17th century, a son of the reigning Olu was sent to Portugal and returned with a Portuguese wife. Their son, Antonio Domingo, was Olu of Warri in the 1640s. OluErejuwa, who reigned from about 1720 to 1800, expanded Warri politically and commercially, using the Portuguese to further Warri's independence off Benin and to establish control over wider area.
Later Warri served as the base for Portuguese and Dutch slave traders. Warri became a more important port city during the late 19th century, when it became a centre for the palm oil trade and other major items such as rubber, palm products, cocoa, groundnuts, hides, and skins. Warri was established as a provincial headquarters by the British in the early 20th century. In May 1952 the government of Western Nigeria under Chief Obafemi Awolowo changed the title of the Itsekiri ruler from the Olu of Itsekiri to the Olu of Warri, at the request of the Itsekiri. The Ijaw, Urhobo and other people of the community objected to the change, since they felt the new title implied that the Olu was ruler of Warri, not just of the Itsekiri.
Section 5 of the Constitution of Mid-Western Nigeria Acts 1964 states that "Without prejudice to the provision of section 9 of this Constitution, the House of Chiefs shall consist of - the Oba of Benin, the Olu of Warri and the persons for the time being holding such other chieftaincies as may be prescribed by the Governor, who shall be ex-officio members of the House, fifty-one Chiefs having such qualifications and selected in such manner as may prescribed by the Legislature of the Region; such Special Members, being Chiefs, as may be selected by the Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Premier.
The present Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse II, was crowned in 1987.
In 1997, General Sanni Abacha set up a committee for the creation of states and local governments.
The committee was headed by Chief Arthur Mbanefo, a renowned Chartered Accountant while Alhaji Adamu Fika, who is now the Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, was secretary. The committee created a Warri South-West Local Government Council, with headquarters at Ogbe-Ijoh,in the Ijaw area of Warri. Due to political pressure by the Itsekiri, the headquarters was then relocated to Ogidigben, an Itsekiri area of Warri. Riots ensued, hundreds died, and six Shell Nigeria installations were taken over by youths. The crisis was known as "Warri Crisis of 1997".
Whatever may be the future of Nigeria, it is to be hoped that the Yorubas and the Itsekiris will strengthen the spiritual bond between them in spite of the distance that exist among the two tribes.


By Eric Teniola,a former Director at the Presidency.


Monday, 18 November 2013

UNITED NATIONS: NIGERIA



The United Nations was formed in 1945 after World war II. In order to maintain international peace and promote cooperation in solving international economic, social and humanitarian problems. It also replaced the flawed League of Nations.

Nigeria formally joined the UN in October 7th 1960 as the 99th Member State.
In his inaugural speech delivered at the plenary session at the general assembly in New York on 8th October, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa said " Nigeria will participate actively in the work of the United Nations and uphold the principles upon which the United Nations was founded" .
 


 
Soon after, Nigeria was inducted into global politics where the country was asked to contribute and deploy a contingent of its national troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo for peace keeping under the auspices of the United Nations.
This request provided the first indication that Nigeria was already fully accepted as a credible member of this world community, and was expected to assume a decisive role in African affairs.
Despite other African nations withdrawing their troops due to the murder of the Congolese Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, Nigeria stayed till the end of operations in 1964.

Nigeria chaired the UN Anti Apartheid Committee from 1970 till it was dissolved in 1994 and in 1977 Nigeria hosted the first United Nations conference for " Action Against Apartheid" in Lagos.

In the 44th session, Joseph Garba also served as the President of the United Nations General Assembly 1989

Here are some of the images of those who have represented us at the UN.
Mr. Gervais Bahizi (left) of Congo and Mr. Jaja Wachuku of Nigeria.
20 September 1961
 
 
Chief S.O. Adebo, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, making a statement.
23 May 1966
 
 
Leslie Oriseweyinmi Harriman Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations 1975   
Ibrahim Gambari Permanent Representative of Nigeria 1995 
 
Nigeria's Federal Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Zanna Bukar Dipcharima.
16 June 1964
Geneva, Switzerland

Alhaji Yusuf Maitama-Sule, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations..
10 July 1981

Major-General Ike Nwachukwa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria (right), confers with his delegation during a Conference.
09 June 1992
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN. Mr B. Akporode Clark .
26 June 1979
 
Ambassador Joseph N. Garba of Nigeria

B. A. Shitta-Bey  1973
 
 
 
Sir Adesoji Aderemi, Oni of Ife (2nd left) meets with Secretary-General U Thant at the UN Headquarters, left is P.A. Afolabi, Consul-General of Nigeria. Right is Edwin Ogebe Ogbu, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN; and Prince Aderemi (far right), Son of Sir Adesoji.
31 July 1968
Olusegun Obasanjo attending a luncheon given in his honour by Mr. Waldheim at the UN. Seated on his left is General Assembly President Lazar Mojsov.
New York. 1977

United Nations: Chief S.O. Adebo (Nigeria) making a statement to the Peacekeeping Committee. Emeka Anyaoku is seen sitting behind him. 1965


Rev. Jesse Jackson talking with Nigerian Ambassador Joseph N Garba at the UN headquarters.1987
 
Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim is seen greeting General Gowon and his wife upon their arrival at the UN Headquarters.
05 October 1973
            
“We have to learn from our past ...we must not forget ...we must be better.” - From the film, The First Grader.

FORGOTTEN HEROES


In 1977 the Federal Government of Nigeria commissioned the production of the replica of the Queen Idia mask. It was used as the emblem for The Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC '77) and has since become the most recognizable African art. But the man that carved the mask, Mr Joseph Alufa Igbinovia claims he is yet to be paid for his services.
This is a truly heartbreaking video but must be seen.

Please watch this video and share
Thank you Omoregbe Erediauwa of the Benin Royal Foundation for Arts and Culture for giving him a voice!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Inside Nigeria’s first storey building

A visit to the first storey building in Nigeria revealed many things about its historical significance, writes ARUKAINO UMUKORO
The whispers of palm trees from afar off welcome any visitor to Badagry, the serene town which is home to some of Nigeria’s famous historical sites.It is also home to the country’s first storey building.From the building, which overlooks the Marina waterfront, one could hear the sound of the waves of the ocean waters.Currently donning a fresh coat of white paint, with its wooden windows painted in light blue colours, the 168-year-old building, which is located in a sprawling compound in the town hundreds of miles away from Ikeja, the Lagos capital, still holds the aura of historical significance for any visitor.“The foundation of the building was laid in 1842, although it was built by the missionaries in 1845.
The first storey building is a monument today and many people come to see it every week. It also contains pictures of the first missionaries who came to Badagry and that of the late Bishop Samuel Ajayi-Crowther, the first African Anglican Bishop in Nigeria; who helped the missionaries to translate the Bible into Yoruba,” Ezekiel Viavonu, an indigene of the town and curator of the building, explained.The said Bibles – the Yoruba and English versions – are located side by side in a glass casing in one of the two rooms on the upper floor of the building. “While the English Bible is 171 years old, the Yoruba Bible is 168 years old. The Yoruba Bible was printed in Great Britain by Lowe and Brydon Printer Limited, London,” Viavonu noted.According to the curator, the first missionaries came to Badagry in September, 1842. “These were Thomas Birch Freeman of the Methodist Church, England, and his assistant, Reverend Deegraft. In December, 1942, Reverend Henry Townsend of the Christian Missionary Society also came to join them in Badagry to spread the gospel. They used to preach under a tree called Agiya tree. The Badagry town hall was built where the tree was once located,” he explainedOn the ground floor, one could still see some of the materials used for building, including the bricks, nails, the hinges to mount the doors and the iron corrugated sheets to roof the building. ‘1842’ was written on one of the corrugated sheets in one the rooms where the labourers was said to have stayed. A part of one of the rooms where some of the building items were placed is decorated with thin bamboos.The floor also housed the room of the ‘first teacher in Nigeria’, Mr Claudius Philips. Philips, who wore a black shirt, suit and a white trouser in the portrait which adorned the wall, lived in the room for 23 years, from 1845 to 1868.Philips was said to have built the first primary school in Nigeria called St. Thomas Primary School, which was established in 1845 with 40 men. According to the history, the pupils spent 12 years in the primary school. There are no historical records of the pupils, but Viavonu said they also became teachers themselves.The floors are connected by a wooden staircase which seem to require renovation. Another staircase leads to the upper floor from outside.There are also two rooms upstairs, as well as a sitting room, two stores and a safe. One of the rooms upstairs was where Ajayi-Crowther lived in for seven years, between 1843 and 1850, said Viavonu.A picture of Ajayi-Crowther’s grandson, Herbert Macaulay, hung on the wall.Inside one of the rooms where the Bibles were placed sits a  missionary trust fund box, with an inscription encouraging visitors to ‘donate generously to the maintenance of this building.’From the look of it, the building will make do with more donations, as the source of light was the afternoon sunshine from the open windows.The portraits of Freeman and Townsend were in the sitting room, while the other room had the pictures of Ajayi-Crowther and that of Reverend C.A Gollmer, the first CMS parsonage said to have finally completed the building in 1845. A wooden bench, the first bench used by the missionary, is also kept in the room.Just at the extreme, beside one of the rooms, was a safe designed in 1856 in West Bromwich, UK. It was used by the missionaries to store their valuables, as well as their documents and Bibles.There was also a well inside the compound which Viavonu said was dug in 1842 and served as drinking water for some in the community. Just then, a woman walked into the compound to fetch water from the well. On enquiry, she acknowledged that this was indeed the first storey building in Nigeria.History is not lost on the young generations in the vicinity. About two hundred metres away from the building, our correspondent accosted some children in the community who also recognised the significance of having the first storey building in Nigeria in Badagry.“I have visited there and I saw the English and Yoruba Bibles,” said one named Godwin.“I enjoyed my visit there because I learnt a lot of things about the missionaries who came here first,” said another called Cynthia.Although there is a counter claim by some historians that a few multi-storey mud structures may have existed in the northern part of Nigeria before 1845, when the firststorey building was completed in Badagry,  it is generally accepted that it is the first ‘European’ storey building in Nigeria’.Nevertheless, it still holds a significant place in the country’s history. If well preserved, the first storey building will remain a tourist attraction and historical landmark for many years to come.
Source: Punch

The last Interview Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu gave in April 1967

Ejindu: I am glad to meet you, Sir. How would you feel if you knew that you are being regarded as a hero?

Nzeogwu: Very pleased naturally. But the truth is that I am not a hero. If there was any famous Major Nzeogwu, I have never heard of him

.Ejindu: It is rumoured that you have just finished writing a book, what is it like?

Nzeogwu: Good gracious! Ninety-nine per cent of all the stories you hear in this country are false. I have not written any book because there was nothing to write about. You can only write about a finished job. It would have been a useful means of warding off boredom though, but one did not do it for the fear that the authorities might seize the papers. However I had enough time to make detailed notes on what happened, and one might use them if in future there was any need to write something.

Ejindu: Before you went into prison, the cloud was so clear above this country that one could see very far into the future. Now that you are out, what do you see ?

Nzeogwu: A job very badly done. If I may borrow your metaphor, the atmosphere is admittedly somewhat cloudy. But I don't think there will be rain. Indeed if you look steadily up you will find that the sun is not yet set and might still peep through. The trouble is that people generally can't tell which is a rain cloud and which is not, and as a result they tend to be confused. As you know there is too much bitterness at present in the country, and in the past people had imagined that they could conveniently do without one another. But the bitterness will clear in the end and they will find that they are not as self-reliant as they had thought. And they will long to be together.The .same applies to the Northerners. It may take ten or fifteen years for them to come together again but there is no doubt, as far as I can see, that they will. You see, in this world of imperfection, it is sometimes very difficult to capture the ideal. But we can, at Ieast start with the second best.

Ejindu: What is the second best?

Nzeogwu: A Confederation.

Ejindu: Before I come back to that, may 1 take you back to January, 1966. What exactly happened at Nassarawa (the premier's residence at Kaduna) on the night of the 14th?

Nzeogwu: No, no, no; don't ask me anything about that, I don't want to remember it.

Ejindu: All right. A lot has been talked and written about the January coup. But how tribalistic was it really in conception and execution?

Nzeogwu: In the North, no. In the South, yes. We were five in number, and initially we knew quite clearly what we wanted to do. We had a short list of people who were either undesirable for the future progress of the country or who by their positions at the time had to be sacrificed for peace and stability. Tribal considerations were completely out of our minds at this stage. But we had a set-back in the execution. Both of us in the North (himself and Major T. C. Onwuatuegwu) did our best. But the other three who were stationed in the South failed because of incompetence and misguided considerations in the eleventh hour. The most senior among them (possibly Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna) was in charge of a whole brigade and had all the excuse and opportunity in the world to mobilize his troops anywhere, anyhow and any time. He did it badly. In Lagos, even allowing for one or two genuine mistakes, the job was badly done. The Mid-West was never a big problem. But in the East, our major target, nothing practically was done. He and the others let us down.

Ejindu: You must have anticipated that Gen. Ironsi would let you down in the end. Why did you surrender to him the way you did?

Nzeogwu: I was being sensible. The last thing we desired was unnecessary waste of life. If I had stuck to my guns there would have been a civil war, and as the official head of the Army, he would have split the loyalty of my men. Again, you must remember that the British and other foreigners were standing by to help him. Our purpose was to change our country and make it a place we could be proud to call our home, not to wage war.

Ejindu: It has been said that Gen. Ironsi set out to complete your job for you. Was there anything you did not like in his administration ?

Nzeogwu: Yes, everything. First he chose the wrong advisers for the work he halfheartedly set out to do. Most of them were either mediocre or absolutely unintelligent. Secondly, he was tribalistic in the appointment of his governors. Thirdly the Decree 34 (which nullified the federal constitution and established a unitary government) was unnecessary, even silly. In fact .

Ejindu: But you wanted a unitary government ?

Nzeogwu: No. Not a unitary government as such. We wanted to see a strong centre. We wanted to cut the country to small pieces, making the centre inevitably strong. We did not want to toy with power, which was what he did.

Ejindu: Tell me, what do you think of him as a soldier?

Nzeogwu: I am afraid I cannot tell you that. But I will say that as a person he was very well liked and as the Supreme Commander, his orders were promptly carried out.

Ejindu: If he joined the Army as a gunner, he must have progressed as a military strategist?

Nzeogwu: Yes, if he had, he could have done so. But he actually joined the Army as a tally-clerk and was a clerk most of the time.

Ejindu: From the present chaos, what type of Nigeria do you envisage?

Nzeogwu: In the first place, secession will be ill-advised, indeed impossible. Even if the East fights a war of secession and wins, it still cannot secede. Personally, I don't like secession and if this country disintegrates, I shall pack up my things and go. In the present circumstances, confederation is the best answer as a temporary measure. In time, we shall have complete unity. Give this country a confederation and, believe me, in ten or fifteen years the young men will find it intolerable, and will get together to change it. And it is obvious we shall get a confederation or something near it. Nothing will stop that.

Ejindu: Do you think there will be any war?

Nzeogwu: No. Nobody wants to fight. The East which is best equipped and best prepared for war, does not want to attack anybody. The North cannot fight. And Lagos cannot fight now. If they had attacked the East in August or September, they would have had a walk-over. Today, I think they will be ill-advised to try.

Ejindu: An Englishman said to me the other day that the best thing Ojukwu can do is to take over Lagos. Do you think he can do it even if he wanted to?

Nzeogwu: Yes, I think the East is strong enough to do it if they want to. But it will serve no useful purpose. It can only serve to destroy life and property. You see, the effective power does not lie in Lagos but in Kaduna, and if you remove Gowon somebody else will take his place. If you capture the South against the North, all you can achieve is civil war, disintegration and border clash.

Source: Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria, January1966 - July 1967. A. H. M. Kirk-Greene.Oxford Univeristy Press, 1971


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Kings College, Lagos is 104!

 
King’s School (as it was then called) came into being by an act of British parliament on the 20th of September 1909, with Mr Lomax as its first principle.
The school opened with 10 pioneer students which included J.C. Vaughan, Isaac Ladipo Oluwole, Frank Macaulay, Herbert Mills (from the Gold Coast), O.A. Omololu and Moses King. Oluwole was the first senior prefect of the school.

In 1914, Sir Fredrick Luguard, the Governor General of Nigeria described Kings College, Lagos in a white paper as " the leading school in the colony as well as the premier school"

Happy anniversary KC! 

(Picture: Kings College c1909)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

August 23, 1963. The First Two Way Call Between Heads Of State Via Satellite Was Made



50 years ago (Friday August 23, 1963) the first two way call between Heads of State via satellite was made. It was between American President John Kennedy and Nigerian Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa this real time interaction and conversation via satellite by Heads of State symbolized the beginning of a technological revolution across the globe through space applications.

In the telephone conversation, Kennedy and Balewa traded pleasantries, briefly mentioned the nuclear weapons text ban treaty, signed that year and talked about a boxing match in which Nigerian middle weight boxer Dick Tiger had retained his title against an American. The symbolic phone call lasted two minutes and went like this:

PRESIDENT KENNEDY : Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes

PRESIDENT KENNEDY: It is a great pleasure to talk to you from the White House. We send our very best wishes to your people and to you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT KENNEDY: I hope that this is the beginning of much closer communication between Nigeria and the United States and indeed between the whole continent of Africa and our continent, our hemisphere. I think that this can be a very important means of providing for closer understanding among our people and also of course, among the people of Africa.
We send you particularly, Prime Minister, our best wishes remembering your visit here to the United States. I also appreciate the wire you sent me in early August in regard to the best ban treaty. I think that what we are doing today shows what can be done through the peaceful use of Space.

PRIME MINISTER: We congratulate you heartily Mr President for this very big achievement.

PRESIDENT KENNEDY: I hope we will be seeing you back in the United States and that all goes well for your country and your people.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.

PRESIDENT KENNEDY: Very good wishes Prime Minister and we look forward to having Dick Tiger come over here.

PRIME MINISTER:  It was indeed a very great day for us when Dick Tiger beat the American, Gene Fulmer.

PRESIDENT KENNEDY: I know we watch those things over here. Well, we wish you good luck, regards from the people of the United States to the people of Nigeria

PRIME MINISTER:  Mr. President, I would be very happy if you would convey our greetings and all the best wishes to the people of United States.

PRESIDENT KENNEDY: Thank you, Prime Minister, and we look forward to seeing you back at the White House again someday.

PRIME MINISTER: It is my intention to visit the United States very soon, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT KENNEDY: Good. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, and good bye.

Monday, 29 July 2013

ON THIS DAY 29-07-1975




Whilst Nigeria's Military Head of State,  General Yakubu Gowan (R) attended an Organisation of African Unity ( OAU) summit in Kampala, Uganda, a group of officers announced his overthrow and appointed Brigadier Murtala  Mohammed (L)as the head of the new government.




ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY 29-07-1966:

Nigeria's Head of State Gen Thomas Johnson Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi (L) and Military Governor of the Western Region Lt-Col Francis Adekunle Fajuyi (R) were murdered in a  counter coup which was in response to first military coup in January of the same year. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

The Nigerian Railway 1950 - Canteen Cars

First of 2nd and 3rd Class canteen cars which was place in service in in 1950 for the Lagos - Kano route

View of the refreshmant bar which formed one half of the coach

View of the kitchen. When in use the shutters seen on the left are opened and form a serving hatch to the corridor that leads to the large refreshment compartment .

Lagos Steam Tramways

Kokomaiko (1907) delivered for the sanitary line

First of a batch of five passenger and good locomotives

The Lagos steam tramways was planned to serve three main purposes. Firstly as a link  for travellers and merchandise between Lagos Island and the railway terminus on the mainland at Iddo. Secondly, as a means of conveying passengers before the advent of popular public transport on Lagos Island. Thirdly, and its final phase as a sanitary railway.

In 1885 the lagos Government Railway had established itself on Iddo and slowly forced its winding way northways with Ibadan, 123 miles away, as its primary objective.

Formal opening took place on the 4th of March 1901, the first General Manager being Mr Bedford Glasien, C.M.G, appointed on the 8th April of the same year.

Five years before this work had commenced on a bridge to connect Lagos Island with Iddo. The length of the bridge was 2,110 feet. There was a swing type centre span 123 long and when this was opened for the passage of a river vessels the operation took more than an hour, during which time road traffic was at a standstill and Lagos water supply was cut off!
None the less it was described as probably the largest engineering work in west Africa, justifiably at the time.


By 1901 It had been decided that the Tramway should extend over Carter Bridge to the Railway terminus at Iddo, an obvious necessity for the conveyance of passengers to and from the terminus and Lagos Island and particularly for the carriage of produce to the wharves, merchandise and stores in the opposite direction before the advent of proper roads and road transport.

Tram passes over old Carter Bridge c1907


Construction of the line commenced in 1901 and formal public opening took place in May 1902, but no sooner was the line operating then it was beset with misfortune which was described in the colonial report of that year:
The closure of Carter Bridge, owing to importand and necessary repairs, prevented access to the railway terminus at Iddo, and detracted from the full value of the tramway service, which had, in consequence, to be confined to Lagos town. The Tramcars are, however, being increasingly used in Lagos itself, and ought hereafter to prove a great public convenience. (CR1902)

The Lagos Government Railway was made responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of the Tramway.

The line as originally laid commenced at Kokomaiko on the Marina opposite  the Chief Secretarys residence (as of 1958 but in 1902 it was the the Botanical Gardens) and ran along the water front in a northerly direction as far as customs wharf where it turned east up Balogun Street then into Ereko Street and over Old Carter Bridge via Ashogbon street to Iddo.
Picture of passenger and good trains passing on Marina



In a 1958 letter written by Archdeacon G, Burton who lived at Owo, he says:
I landed in Lagos on November 11th 1907 and I remember, I travelled to Iddo Station on the old Steam Tramway at a cost of 2d. I joined the line somewhere near the present ferry terminus (opposite Bishops Court). It ran along the Marina on the Lagoon side until it reached the customs sheds then turned at right angles up Balogun street and then proceeded to the Carte Bridge and Iddo Station.
It was a very great convenience in pre motor days. It was of course very slow, but it eventually got you to the station in reasonable comfort.
The fares were: Kokomaiko to Iddo, 3d; Christ Church to Iddo 2d; and Ereko to Iddo 1d.

One familiar figure often seen in the tramcar riding to and fro, obviously for pleasure, was a big man with a stick. He was a worthy man and very impressive, The owner of Manchester House ( Now part of Marina end of Kingsway Stores) he was Zaccheus Archibald Williams, grandfather of Chief Rotimi Williams.
Details of track lay out at Customs Wharf 1911