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Prior to the Portuguese name of Lagos being adopted, Lagos was called Eko, which stems from either Oko (Yoruba: “cassava farm”) or Eko (“war camp”), by its Bini conquerors.

Around 650 years ago the Oba of Bini sent trade expeditions to Ghana, where spices were traded, and one of his traders complained about the way she was being treated by the Awori people. The Oba of Bini then sent a trade expedition by sea which declined to engage the people and returned to what is now called Benin City where he reported to the Oba of Bini that they were attacked. This prompted the Oba of Bini to assemble a war expedition led by Ado, a Bini Prince. The expedition went to Lagos and demanded an explanation.

On getting there, they were well received. The people were so enamored with Ado they asked him to stay and lead them. He agreed on the condition that they surrendered their sovereignty to the Oba of Bini to which they agreed. The Oba of Bini was told this and he gave his permission for the expedition to remain. The Oba of Bini later sent some of his chiefs, including the Eletu Odibo, Obanikoro and others, to assist Ado in the running of Eko.

Till today, the Oba of Lagos is the head of all the Kings in Lagos State and his status is different from other Oba’s most of whom were later given back their crowns and staff of office only within the last 40 years. Those who got their crowns back were the original land owners (Olofin’s children). Modern-day Lagosians have so intermingled that no single tribe or people can claim it even though the predominant language is Yoruba.

The present day Lagos state has a higher percent of this sub-group who allegedly migrated to the area from Isheri along the Ogun river. History has it that the Awori were actually from Ife, the cradle of Yorubaland. The Awori people are a peaceful people initially not taken to warfare. Due to war, those from the hinterlands, like the Ekiti, ran towards Isheri, which at that time had more than one Olofin (Alafin)who were heads of settlements about 1400AD.

With the fleeing people from the hinterlands most of them scattered again, some to Iro, to Otta, Ado, others to Ebute Metta i.e three landing places – Oyingbo, Iddo Island and Lagos Island (Eko). The Olofin that brought those who went to Ebute-Metta was Ogunfunminire later known as Agbodere. With the full commencement of the war about 2000 moved to the nearest island of Iddo, others to Otto Awori or Otto Ijanikin towards modern-day Badagry. Those from Ekiti Aramoko came to Ebute-Metta, Iddo and then Ijora.

After the demise of Agbodere, the name Olofin became the name used to remember him while a title of Oloto was given to his successor. With one of his sons becoming the Oloto his other children parted ways to what is known as visible settlements in present-day Lagos.

Until the coming of the Binis, Lagos’s geographic boundary was Lagos Mainland. Lagos Island, the seat of the Oba of Lagos, then consisted of a pepper farm and fishing posts. No one lived there. The name Eko was given to it by its first king, Oba Ado, during its early history; it also saw periods of rule by the Kingdom of Benin.

Eko was the land area now known as Lagos Island where the king’s palace was built. The palace is called Iga Idunganran, meaning “palace built on the pepper farm”. Oba Ado and the warriors from Benin, as well as some of the indigenous people who sought safety, settled down in the southern part of Eko called “Isale Eko”, Isale literarily meaning bottom, but must have been used to indicate downtown (as in Downtown Lagos).

The first king of Lagos, Oba Ado, apart from having two sons also had a daughter Erelu Kuti, who begat Ologun Kutere, who later became king. Shokun his brother, who was more aggressive and whom the Erelu suspected could plan a palace coup, was given a chieftaincy title, “Onile-gbale”, and a palace just behind the king’s palace. This was the first time that a Chief would be appointed and installed at the same time as a King’s coronation. See also http://www.eraffoundation.org/erelukuti.php

Oba Akitoye who ceded Lagos to the British was oba Kosoko’s uncle. Oba Akitoye was the first Oba not to be buried in a Bini. Prior to this, all the Kings of lagos were buried in Bini. They passed on taxes to the Oba of Bini until the British came and explained that there was no need to send taxes to Bini anymore especially as the Binis themselves were paying taxes to Britain. It was during his reign that the direct influence of the Binis on Lagos ended.

Oba Kosoko believed in the slave trade and was at loggerheads with the British, hence his dethronement and flight, first to Badagry and later to Epe, where he founded kingdoms that still exist today.

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