Lagos, Melting Pot for Enterprise, Exchange
Book: This Is Lagos, Our Legacy
Author: Abbey Wilson
Publisher: Ideas.Com Publishers, Lagos, 2015
Reviewer: Ada Dike
Abbey Wilson’s 172 pages book, This Is Lagos, Our Legacy, deals with the historical and vital information about Lagos.
Part One of the book traces the origin of Lagos from two angles -Lagos and Benin. It shares local, historical and traditional accounts about the original inhabitants of Lagos who were the descendants of Ogunfunminire, a hunter that lived around the 16th Century. Ogunfunminire settled in Isheri, moved to rule a fishing village on the mainland of Ebute Metta. Other progenitors in the book include the 12 descendants of Olofin who later became Idejo (the white cap chiefs).
The book also explores the history of Lagos from the influence of the Britain, the slave trade era, the deposition of Oba Kosoko, the signing of anti-slavery treaty with Oba Akitoye in 1852, the settling of the Saros (Sierra Leoneans) and Amaros (Brazillians) in Lagos, the Colonial Lagos, to the past Obas of Lagos, etc.
While discussing the creation of present day Lagos State on May 27, 1967in Part Two, the author presents how the state took off as an administrative entity on April 1, 1968 and became the Federal Capital Territory in 1976 before the capital of Nigeria was moved to Abuja on December 12, 1991, as well as the relocation of Lagos State capital to Ikeja.
A sub-heading under this section centres on: the History of the location of Lagos State, Relief (the dominant vegetation of the state -swamp forest consisting of fresh water and mangrove forest) and Demography, which explains that Lagos is the smallest state but has the highest population in Nigeria.
It states that the People (the inhabitants of Lagos State were the Aworis and Ogus in Ikeja and Badagry divisions, among others; Administratively, Lagos had major divisions including: Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos (Eko) and Epe.
Others topics that can be found in the part also include: Islands of Lagos comprising Lagos Island, Ikoyi and Victoria Island; Climate; Administration and Demographics; Census Data for Lagos; Economy; Transportation; Culture; (Music and Film Industry); Sports; Tourism and Education.
Part Three mirrors how the Government of Lagos State became administratively effective from April 1, 1968, the Lagos State Coat of Arms, five divisions of Lagos State, History of the Creation of Local Government Area in Lagos from 1971 to 2003, Names of 20 Local Government Areas and their Headquarters and The 37 Administrative Development Areas of Lagos State.
In this same part, she listed the Past and Present Administrators/Governors and their Achievements. Among them are: Mobolaji Johnson Administration (1967-79), Commodore Adekunle Shamsideen Lawal Administration (1976-77), Commodore Ndubuisi Kanu (1977-78), Navy Captain Ebitu Ukiwe (1978-1979), Alhaji Lateef Jakande Administration (Oct 1, 1979-1983) and Gbolahan Mudashiru Administration (1984-1986).
Others are: Navy Captain Mike Akhigbe Administration (1986-1988), Raji Rasaki Administration (1988-1991), Sir Michael Otedola Stewardship (1991-1993), col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola Administration (1993-1996), Col. Mohammed Buba Marwa Era (1996-1999), Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu (May 1999-2007) and Babatunde Raji Fashola (May 2007- May 2015).
In The Author’s First Note titled: “Can Lagos State Expansion be Contained?” she recalled with nostalgia, the old Lagos where they could play “hide and seek” without fear of being knocked down by a marauding commercial driver.
According to the author who returned from the North in early 1960 to live with her uncle along Ikorodu Road, Lagos, Lagos has changed drastically and dramatically overtime, especially since the late 1980s and much during the democratic era.
“The transformation of some areas in Lagos has been awesome. Even the streets lights work when we do not have electricity in our homes!”
Interestingly, the insightful book was written to equip pupils, students, tourists, Lagosians and non Lagosians with vital information about the Centre of Excellence, Lagos State.
Wilson crafted a work of outstanding artistry that engages a reader from the first paragraph to the end.
She did not forget to discuss about tomorrow’s Lagos. This can be read in Part Four of the book titled “Lagos of the Future Eko Atlantic City”.
Succinctly put, the book gives the estimated population of Lagos in 2015 at 25 million, making it the second largest city in Africa and the third largest mega city in the world.
It describes the Atlantic City as the Promised Land that will serve as a residential, commercial, financial and touristic accommodation on a location serviced by a state-of-the-art high tech-infrastructure for those who wish to live and work within walking distance; adjacent to Victoria Island.
She believes that the Eko Atlantic City could be considered as the ‘Dubai’ of Africa; a lively happening metropolis, cosmopolitan and culturally diverse, a melting pot for enterprise and exchange.
Part Five contains Lagos State Government Emergency/Vital Telephone Numbers for Ambulance Service, Emergency Management, Rapid Response Squad, Traffic Control and so on. List of Lagos State Government Agencies and their Codes can be found from pages 147 to 150.
Not forgetting to teach non Yorubas some commuters’ bus slangs, words like Shift in (Sun mo nu), where is your fare? (Owo e da?), When a passenger wants to alight (O wa o!), the passenger is pregnant and also a nursing mother (Oloyun oponmo o) etc, can be found in the book.
The book also contains historic tourist attractions like Iga-Iduganran (the official residence of the Oba of Lagos), Tarkwa Bay and Snake Island, the first storey building in Nigeria built in 1845 in Badagry and the National Theatre, among others.
Wilson garnished the book with memorable pictures of Shitta Bey Mosque (Brazillian Architecture), old Marina, beach scenes, pictures of the Railways, Carter Bridge, old Central Lagos, and old Tinubu Square.
Others include: modern central Lagos, Broad Street, Lagos 1950, Old Kingsway Stores in Lagos and Lagos Lagoon.
There is no better time to analyse the content of this book, This Is Lagos, Our Legacy, than now that Lagos State Government through the Governor, His Excellency, Akinwunmi Ambode, celebrated Lagos at 50, a year-long event which began on May 27, 2016 and ended a couplee of days ago.
Lagos at 50 attracted people from all walks of life to Lagos. Interesting events showcased include: Eyo Festival, Jazz Meets Runway, International Conferences, Arts Exhibition and Film Shows and Music, among others. Notable artistes including King Sunny Ade (KSA), Pasuma, Sir Victor Olaiya, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey and so on, thrilled guests, tourists and Lagosians during the event.
In fact, different artistic creativity made for the event still adorns many parts of Lagos. So, the Lagos at 50 celebrations buttressed the point that Lagos has rich cultural heritage.
I thank the author of this book for her contribution in documenting rich information on Lagos. The book was written with an easily comprehensible diction for everyone to read and digest it. The author with a sense of history takes its readers to nooks and crannies of Lagos by the way she handled each topic. This clearly shows that she is a great historian.
Whoever picks up the book to read will not want to drop till he or she reaches the end.
I hereby recommend it to whoever wants to get detailed information about the great mega city- Lagos.
There was no noticeable error in the book which shows how meticulous and painstaking the writer was while producing it.
Wilson holds Master's of Art in Architecture and Planning. She is a practising architecture who has flair for creative writing. The talented writer has authored many books including: Pride of Africa - A Collection of Poems and African Proverbs; Beauty More Than Skin Deep; Nuggets of Wisdom for Success; Amazing Household Cleaning Techniques at Your Fingertips; Irresistible Quotes on Women, Love and Life; and Mind Your Manners!