My feet first touched Nigerian soil in 1972. Lagos State was a mere five years old. Eko Bridge (1975) had not yet been completed; the only bridge that connected the mainland (and Apapa where we lived) with Lagos Island was Carter Bridge.
Of course, Lagos (Èkó in Yoruba) has a much longer history than 50 years, in fact, people have inhabited these islands for centuries. The actual founding of the area is lost; however, it is recorded that the first people to settle in the fifteenth century were known as Awori, a Yoruba subgroup.
Lagos meaning ‘lakes’ named by the Portugese explorers around 1472, naming the Lago de Curamo. Lagos was first a port city originated on a collection of islands that are separated by creeks. Open to the Atlantic Ocean, it was protected by long sand bars, now completely urbanized. The islands consist of Victoria, Ikoyi and Lagos Islands are the network islands which are separated from the Mainland.
Before the creation of Lagos State on 27 May 1967, Lagos, which was the country’s capital. Eventually towns—Epe, Badagry, Agege, Ikeja, Ikorodu— from nearby regions were incorporated into Lagos State.
To celebrate Lagos State at 50, I am posting a series of articles (from my private collection) written in 1952, 1961, and 1969 for the Nigeria Magazine. Nigeria Magazine of 1961 published a special centenary supplement to celebrated one hundred years (1861-1961) since the Yoruba Kingdom of Lagos was ceded to Britain by its ruler, Dosunmu. On the 1st of October 1960, Lagos became the capital of Nigeria. Today, Abuja is the capital of Nigeria but Lagos remains the a mega commercial centre of Nigeria and Africa.
Read about Lagos :
British Occupation of Lagos 1861-1961 (1961)
The Beginning of Modern Lagos (1961)
LAGOS—Nigeria’s Melting Pot (1961)
Eko Bridge (1969)
Lagos in Portugal and Lagos in Nigeria (1952)
A Walk Through Lagos Island
To view captions, pass the cursor over the photograph.
All rights reserved by Lesley Lababidi.
All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the written permission of Lesley Lababidi 2023.
Thanks for the article. As usual, like prior writings, it’s very informative and shows the rich culture and history of the Yurba and others who lived in the region. It’s a privilege to learn new things from your articles.
I hope the family is well and everyone is enjoying what they are doing. I hope Maan is not exceedingly upset in what is happening in his home land. How about you and the kids? I hear something about Zane now and then from Omar. Omar accepted a teaching job in Denver this summer and will be close to his older brother Sami.
Mellen is doing fine and works PT jobs and is enjoying it. I am fully retired and don’t regret it. Currently, in Egypt. Spent time in El Gouna and heading home in a few days. Best regards and please say hi to your lovely family. Mohamed Tanamly
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Thank you so much for your comment and particularly for following my wanderings and writings. It is really great to hear about your family. I hope you had a lovely time in el-Gouna. Give my best to Mellen.
Thank you for posting this historically informative article. You are in the best position to tell the history of Lagos because you were in the Island when the major bridges and roads, that amalgamated the area, were not constructed. Therefore, the blueprint of Lagos is in your mind. History will not forget your (you and Maan) contribution to the development of the Island. As ‘Otun Yaye’ ‘Mother of Exemplary Character’ of Lagos, people expect you to do a compatrastive analysis of the character of Lagosians in those days, and their characters now.
If I am the king or governor of Lagos, I would have given you another chieftaincy title, ‘Yarmasanin Lagos’, which means the ‘mouthpiece of Lagos’. You explored Lagos when reformers like Tinubu, Fashola, and Ambode were no where to be found. Laila, you have a lot to say about Lagos, therefore, do not hesitate. Once again, thank you for the article.
I am thrilled that you have found the Lagos article of interest! Lagos Island was special in the 70s when all the big department stores ….Leventis, Kingsway, UTC, Chellerams etc were on Broad Street and it was like going into the BIG city. There were restaurants and Nigerians and foreigners lived together on streets. The major hospitals were there. I often went to Jankarra market for shopping. When Julus Berger built the Ring Road by the 80s, cars passed over Lagos Island rather than going along the Marina and Broad Street so people were more likely not to stop anymore. Then in the 80s people began to move to V.I. and by the 90s Lagos Island really started to deteriorate. I was lucky to experience Lagos Island during its heyday and even got to see Yaba and Surelere before all the Brazilian architecture disappeared. I am very fortunate to have had such an amazing experience. Thank you for appreciating the experience with me.
I want you to know that I wait to see if you will comment on my blog. Your opinion is important to me. L.