To borrow a line from one of the main characters in the stage play Kakadu, “LAGOS IS A CITY THAT EMBRACES EVERYONE; EVERYONE IS FROM LAGOS”
Prior to the Portuguese name of Lagos being adopted, Lagos was originally called Eko, which stems from either Oko (Yoruba for “cassava farm”) or Eko (Yoruba for “war camp”), by its Bini conquerors. History has it that the Oba of Bini sent various trade expeditions to Ghana where spices were traded and one of his traders complained about the way she was being treated by the Awori’s. The Oba of Bini then sent a trade expedition by sea. Ironically, the leader of the expedition arrived in the evening at a time when the people who were predominantly fishermen were either wading into the water or getting into their boats to gather their catch. He declined to engage them further and returned to what is now called Benin City where he reported to the Oba of Bini that they were attacked. This prompted the Oba of Bini to constitute a war expedition led by Ado, a Bini Prince to go to Lagos and demand an explanation. This was over 650 years ago. However, on getting there, they were well received. The people were so enamored with Ado they asked him to stay and lead them. He agreed on the condition that they surrendered their sovereignty to the Oba of Bini to which they agreed. The Oba of Bini was told this and he gave his permission for the expedition to remain.
Until the coming of the Bini’s, Lagos’s geographic boundary was what is known now as Lagos Mainland. Lagos Island, the seat of the Oba of Lagos then consisted of a pepper farm and fishing posts. No one lived there though. Eko was the land area now known as Lagos Island where the king’s palace was built. The Palace is called Iga Idunganran which, translated means Palace built on the pepper farm. Oba Ado and the warriors from Benin as well as some of the indigenous people who sought safety settled down in the southern part of Eko called “Isale Eko”, Isale literarily meaning bottom, but must have been used to indicate downtown (as in Downtown Lagos).
Lagos today can only be described as a mega city, ‘Lagosians’ are so intermingled that no single tribe or people can claim it as their own even though the predominate tribal language is Yoruba. Wherever you are from, once you visit Lagos you cannot help but love our vibrant city. The people, our culture, our food, our ability to smile and laugh in the midst of difficulty endear this great city to everyone. We are not called ‘EKO FOR SHOW’ for nothing. Everyday more people migrate to this great city, and Lagos opens it’s doors to them, with a population over 15million, Lagos is the largest city in Africa.
When I watched this video clip yesterday it filled me with pride for this great place that I live in, a place that welcomed and accepted my Saro ancestors, a place we call home!
This video clip is a customized programme for British Airways and will be shown onboard British Airways flights helping to broadcast our beautiful city to the world.