Today, Oba Sulaimon Bamgbade, Olofin of Isheri and Adimula of the Awori Kingdom, stated that the Aworis were the original inhabitants of Lagos.
In keeping with long-established Awori tradition, Bamgbade reportedly persuaded Oba Ewuare II to trace the Benin Kingdom’s origins back to Ile Ife.
This is in reaction to something said recently by Oba Ewuare II, who said that the Benis were the original inhabitants of Lagos.
Some scholars, a Lagos chief, and a famous Awori monarch—Olota Adeyemi Obalanlege—have spoken out against the monarch’s remark.
While visiting with Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State, on Sunday, Oba Ewuare II caused a stir among Nigerians, particularly on social media, by claiming that the Binis were responsible for founding Lagos.
“The Binis established Lagos, as recorded in the annals of history. Some people will go absolutely bonkers when they hear it today; what on earth is the Oba trying to say? Indeed, though. Verify the documents. Perhaps not in its entirety, but certainly in parts of what is now known as Lagos—perhaps even the city’s core—my forefathers laid the groundwork. If you ask Oba Ewuare, the Oba of Lagos will tell you.
Olofin Ogunfuminire, ancestor of the Awori people, issued a statement today in response to the remark in which he denied that Oba Ewuare had built Lagos.
According to him, Olofin Ogunfuminire and his wife Ajaiye migrated from Ile-Ife to Isheri, and then to modern-day Iddo in the middle of Lagos. The blessings of the womb were bestowed upon Ajaiye at Iddo. The true traditional landowners of Lagos are her offspring, the Idejo.
The Idejo family’s landholdings extend from the mainland of Lagos (Iddo) to the island of Lagos and beyond, all the way to Eti-Osa, which the patriarch gave to his offspring in an absolute fashion.
With this in mind, he put Iru in charge of the Oniru, Ikate of the Elegushi, Aromire of Lagos Island, Otto of Ojora, and the Oloto of the mainland (up to Odo-Iya Alaro) under Iganmu. various descendants of Olofin Ogunfunminire fled Isheri to create various cities among the Awori people. To name just a few examples, Akeredun departed from Isheri to found Igbesa, Odoyi sought out Agboyi, and Osolo and Eleidi Atalabi sought for Ota.
“Existing literature written by foreign authors and researchers, such as Kristin Mann in her book “Slavery and Birth of an African City: Lagos 1760–1900,” stated, and I quote, “that migrant fishing people first settled in Lagos and that water and canoes had a prominent role in the lives of its inhabitants from the beginning.” This lends credence to the mentioned facts. The Aworis, who spoke Yoruba and lived in the southernmost part of the country, left the settlement of Isheri, twelve miles up the Ogun River, before the sixteenth century. On the mainland, near the present-day town of Ebute Metta, a number of them made their home.
The inhabitants remained on Lagos Island until they were relocated to a smaller island in the lagoon across from it due to concerns about their safety. Otto and Iddo were two communities they founded there, and they quickly began to draw in newcomers. People from Iddo eventually settled in what is now Lagos, a city on the bigger island to the northwest, in search of arable land.
According to the colonisers, “the Olofin” was the supreme king who had mythical ancestry that began in Isheri and went through the founder of Iddo to Ile-ife, the birthplace of Yoruba civilization.
When Olofin and his descendants arrived in Lagos as traders, they were warmly welcomed by the locals and eventually settled on the island of Iddo and its surrounding area. The Benin were welcomed with open arms by Olofin and his successors. A rift developed between the Benin and their hosts as the days passed. When they realised they were about to lose badly, they contacted the Oba of Benin to request help and more troops.
The mentors Olofin Ogunfunminire and his mentees fiercely and triumphantly fought off these assaults. The Benins were eventually relocated to live with Aromire on his pepper farm on Lagos Island at Iga Idungaran (Idungaran in Awori means pepper farm). They eventually introduced a more structured organisation, likely due to the original landowner’s indifference, as a compromise and as part of the typical Awori character—a tolerant disposition.
Isheri is the dispersion point of the Awori people, who were the initial immigrants in what is now Lagos. My deepest plea is with The Oba of Benin, on behalf of the Olofin of Isheri and the Adimula of the Awori Kingdoms: follow the Awori tradition and go back to Ile Ife to find out where the Benin Kingdom was born.