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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Benin people 'owned' Lagos, Aworis paid royalties to them -Erelu Abiola Dosunmu

~Vanguard Nigeria. Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

Erelu Abiola Dosunmu
Her Royal Highness, Erelu Kuti IV of Lagos, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, in this interview, shares her
perspective on the controversy over the 'ownership' of Lagos and declares that the former federal capital was an extension of Benin Kingdom. She explains that there are no ambiguities regarding the ancestry of the aborigines of Lagos, saying they are predominantly Benin. Abiola Dosumu maintains that the Awori ,after settling in Lagos, paid royalties to Benin people. Excerpts:

Are you not concerned about the controversy over the true aborigines of Lagos?

I would not say I am concerned because I know the truth. The history of Lagos is not obscure, it is very clear. If people are going to say the truth, we all know what the truth is.

A friend was saying to me if I was not sure there is no third party trying to take the rights of Lagos through this raging controversy. We all know the story of Lagos from childhood.

Even a play was staged about the beginning of Lagos last year. I just know that the truth will surface after this raging controversy because a lot of the gladiators are being miserly in some of their discussions.

Can you give clarity on some of the things you consider not to be factual among those that have been said so far?

The territory of Lagos has always been an extension of the Benin Kingdom in the sense that they used it as a passage to the port for their trading and interaction with foreigners. We all know that foreigners visited the Benin Empire long before colonialism and signing of the treaty of Lagos. This is their passageway and hunting ground.

As soon as strangers came to settle down, they would pounce on them and make them pay royalties. Like all human beings, when you settle in a place for a long time, it is expected that you will have the right of ownership.

And the foreigners were not ready to be subservient and refused to pay Isakole (royalty) and the Benin king did not take kindly to that. He sent an expedition and subjugated the foreigners and set up his own administration in form of a kingdom.

Therefore, when I say that we are purely and predominantly Benin, it is the truth. The royalty of Lagos is predominantly Benin.

But we have all intermingled and have since inter-married with people from Yoruba land and people from other places. And we are enjoying the two cultures. We are even enjoying more because we now have Igbo, Hausa and other tribes settling in Lagos. We are not enjoying the Yoruba influence alone, we are also enjoying other influences.

Prior to the institution of the royalty with Oba Ado as the first king, who were the people that the Benin met on the ground?

The Benin has always known about Lagos because they considered it as part of their territory and they used it for many purposes. And when the Awori came from Ife to settle in the areas of Lagos, the Benin quickly got them to pay royalties. Benin was landlocked but, as Benin Empire, they were interacting with people from other parts of the world.

It was Benin Empire and, when the Portuguese and others came, they also had to pass through the Kuramo waters to get there. They had already laid claim to the land called Lagos. Whether they gave it a name or not, it was an extension of their playground. And when another group of people came to settle there, the Benin said they already had authority over the palace.

That was what informed their decision to make the Awori pay royalties. And after paying the Isakole for a while, they (Awori) decided not to pay anymore. That made the Benin to decide not to leave a vacuum anymore and set up an administration.

That is why I am saying that there is no ambiguity in the history of Lagos if we are going to tell the truth. All these people, who have been talking, never mentioned that they paid Isakole but we all know that.

It is written in books that they paid Isakole. That was the main reason the Benin came and took Olofin away. He refused to be subservient to them. The Benin came here because it is their territory. There is evidence that an expedition was sent from Benin, there is evidence that they were conquered because there was an obaship in place.

Even if they did not have anything and just sent an expedition to conquer, when someone conquers, he takes over the land and property of the conquered territory. Now, we want to unify our views and have a consensus so that those people, who are trying to take our rights away, can be confronted to see if we can get some kind of compensation for our children.

This is not the first time such controversy is raging, what do you think is responsible for its recurrence?

What I did at NIIA was to state that Oba Dosumu was an unsung hero. It was to state that the treaty for which he was being castigated was a masterstroke. He was a forward-looking king who had the interest of his people at heart. He did not allow his position to go into his head by allowing his subjects to be destroyed in a meaningless battle.

He found a way to a roundtable discussion and was able to retain integrity for his kingdom, while still retaining the friendship of the colonial people. There are many countries in Africa where people don't remember their culture but he found a way to get a concession by which he was allowed to remain a king and sustain the culture and pride of his people as independent human begins.

And the people actually enjoyed the benefits because they were able to carry British passports and get scholarships to study abroad.

That is why a lot of early educated people were the indigenous people of Lagos. For example, people like the late Justice Elias, Justice Junaidu, and Prince Ajose were among the early educated people. Our fathers and grandfathers were all products of King's College, they were either great bankers, doctors, pharmacists, etc. It is wrong to think that Lagos people are lazy. It is not the indigenous people of Lagos, who are lazy, it is those who come from other places.

This kind of controversy happened before and it is here again. In the light of that, how can the issue be resolved because oral history is easily distorted and told to suit individual and group interests?

If you don't talk about issues, solutions may not be found. I think it is appropriate that we should discuss it. There should be this kind of conversation going on but, at the end of the day, a superior argument will carry the day. It is okay to take a story from wherever, but it is right to take it from the beginning and analyse it in a sensible way based on what our ancestors told us, what other people have written and what we learnt from our researches.

That is the best instead of the jaundiced way it is being done now. We will get there. It is healthy that conversations will be going on, at the end of the day we will sit at a roundtable and harmonise our views. And whatever that is not clear, we will address it and come up with a consensus.

We have had this kind of issue before on the story of the Eyo. The story is so clear but when the conversation started, people were attributing it to a princess from Badagry, but, at the end of the day, it was confirmed that the fetish came from the palace of the father of Queen Olugbani, wife of King Ado of Lagos.

But the colourful Aga is a creation of Oba Akisemoye of Lagos, the fetish was to protect them from the curious gaze of the people of Lagos. Strong young men in the neigbourhood were clad in white and given a stick to ward off anybody that wanted to interfere and they were called the Laba. That is why the Laba will always say that they are the head of the Eyo because they were the ones guarding the fetish until the early 1950s when the fetish felt they were not guarded properly by the Laba. Otherwise, Eyo, in the past, instead of the yellow Aga, was always red.

They were protecting the fetish but when the fetish felt the Laba was not protecting them anymore, they started having their own people to protect them with different colours of Aga. From there it expanded to the palaces of the white chiefs who started having their groups. It also expanded to groups formed by the Eyo Omo Oloku because, whenever there is an Eyo, it is always to honour departed obas.

The Eyo Omo Oloku can also come out in subsequent Eyos. So it kept getting bigger and definitely more colourful but it was a creation of the Oba of Lagos. The fetish was what was brought and the first Eyo was performed at the funeral of Queen Olugbani from where the fetish came from.

But before we settled that matter, people told different stories. I believe this one will be resolved. The problem is even not with the indigenous people of Lagos, it is being caused by people who want to claim ownership by default. They are the ones who are actually fueling the controversy.

The Benin Kingdom is always a central factor in the history of Lagos and Oba Akiolu even acknowledged the place of the kingdom recently. Are there still some cultural activities that take place between the Lagos royalty and Benin royalty?

There is nothing stringent but there are still some courtesies that are exchanged between the palaces. For instance, at the coronation of a new king in Lagos, the Oba of Benin will, at some point, come over to welcome the new king into the fold of royalty and remind the king that he has a father in him.

That means that we still have those social courtesies that are exchanged between the two kingdoms. And if a new king is being crowned in Benin, the Oba of Lagos will have a vantage position as a son of the soil within the context of the ceremony. Apart from that, everybody is independent in his own right but we enjoy a lot of goodwill. Whatever is between us now is ceremonial and more of courtesies.

Since all these started, have you reached out to the dramatis personae?

I decided to talk because many people have called that, as the person who seems like a custodian of history and culture of Lagos for over 40 years, I should make a statement and reach out to everybody.

I am talking because I want us to speak with one voice and not allow other people to take advantage of the situation. I am reaching out and hope that my views wil throw more light on the issues. We are going to reach out to more people and iron these out behind closed doors rather than on the pages of newspapers.

On oral history

When people talk about oral history, they also have to think of logic because if people rely on what they hear, they can never have a consensus. But logic must prevail. Time must also prevail because things are time bound.

If, for instance, they are saying that a certain people were paying royalties to the Benin Kingdom and others said they had been there centuries before the Benin came, but the same person who was said to have landed first was the same person that the Benin captured, how many centuries can that be? How long do human beings live? If they are saying the same person who came the first time was captured by the Benin and then returned, how long can it be? A lifetime!

Okay, he came as a young man and was captured as an old man? How many years are we talking about? I have read stories where they said some had been here for centuries and they are talking about the same original settlers. Therefore, common sense and time factor should also come into play when saying things based on oral history.

No comments:


I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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