Cosmopolitan, energetic, intriguing, unpredictable and globally famous; those are appropriate ways to describe Lagos, a city nestled right along the coastal edge of West Africa. If you live in Lagos or you have ever visited the place, then you will agree it is a delightfully crazy city.
But roll back to 165 years ago and you will find a quiet, fishing, village-sized place that was under a king called Kosoko with the British getting more interested in the coastal site primarily for economic reasons. It also held their attention because its name kept coming up in the many debates on the abolition of slave trade.
The British eventually intervened in the internal affairs of Lagos in what is now known as the ‘Bombardment or Capture of Lagos’ resulting in the installation of Oba Akitoye (the ouster of Oba Kosoko) who signed a treaty between Great Britain and Lagos on the 1st of January, 1852. The signing of the 1852 Treaty ushered in the consular period in Lagos’ history wherein Britain provided military protection to Lagos. That was the beginning of the take-over of Lagos and the birth of a country that would be known as Nigeria.
This is just a tip of the iceberg.
There are so many other captivating and intriguing stories about Lagos that have not yet been properly told. The sad thing is that many who live there are unaware of the tales behind the city they love so much.
Beecroft Street, Glover Street, Campbell Street, McCarthy Street, Luggard Street and others, are all streets that are famous in Lagos Island and each of these names bears an important part of the city’s history. You may want to learn more about them.
Supo Shasore, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a former Attorney General of Lagos State and a life-long student of history, has created two important books detailing the story of Lagos. One is titled, ‘Possessed’ which is a history of law and justice in the Crown Colony of Lagos between 1861 and 1906.
The other book is a more simplified version of Possessed titled, ‘The king and the Colony’ which is targeted at young readers and tourists. I once attended an event with hundreds of secondary school students in Nigeria who had each been given a copy of this book and I was amazed by how caught up in the book they were. Obviously written with lucidity and simplicity, The King and the Colony is both delightful and revealing. Its gripping tale told with fascinating illustrations and glossary of terms focusing on the struggle for land against colonialists, the very basis of Nigeria’s creation.
If you are one of those who dread picking up voluminous history books with slight academic leanings, you will probably never read beyond a few pages of Possessed but will always have a copy of The King and the Colony close to you.
Both books were published by Quramo Publishing Limited. They are must-have and must-read books if you have any interest at all in Nigeria’s history. They were written by a thorough researcher and a passionate writer determined to make history easily accessible and enjoyable.
Since he wrote the two books, Supo Shasore has gone on to write a classic titled, ‘A Platter of Gold’ which tells the story of the making of Nigeria. He has also produced a 7 part documentary series titled, ‘Journey of an African Colony’ which attempts to chronicle the story of Nigeria between 1440 and 1960.
Shasore’s labour of love might just trigger a surge in creating works that preserve and tell the many intriguing, captivating and yet-to-be-told stories of Nigeria.