Prior to the Portuguese name of Lagos being adopted, Lagos was originally called Eko, which stems from either Oko (Yoruba: “cassava farm”) or Eko (“war camp”), by its Bini conquerors. History has it that the Oba of Bini sent various trade expeditions to Ghana where spices were traded and one of his traders complained about the way she was being treated by the Awori’s. The Oba of Bini then sent a trade expedition by sea. Ironically, the leader of the expedition arrived in the evening at a time when the people who were predominantly fishermen were either wading into the water or getting into their boats to gather their catch. He declined to engage them further 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 constitute a war expedition led by Ado, a Bini Prince to go to Lagos and demand an explanation. This was over 650 years ago. However, 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 and have various classifications. Suffice it to state that those who got their crowns back were the original land owners. These were Olofin’s children. Moreover, 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 probably respective settlements about 1400AD. With the fleeing people from the hinterlands most of them scattered again to different places, some to Iro, to Otta, Ado, others to Ebute Metta i.e three landing places – Oyingbo, Iddo 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. The Olofin was said to have 32 children. His own known children are Olumegbon, Aromire, Oloto, Oluwa, Oniru, Onisiwo, Onitoolo, and Elegushi. Ojora, Onikoyi and Mogiso were not his biological children. After the demise of Agbodere, the name Olofin became the name used to remember him while a title of Oloto was given to his seccessor. With one of his sons becoming the Oloto his other children parted ways to what is known as visible settlements in the present day Lagos. Aromire whose name means defeated the river or became the river’s friend is likely to be the first to cross being said to have swam across the river. It is possible that his real name is not Aromire but due to the feat he became known as such.
Past Obas (Kings) of Lagos
Ashipa (1600–1630) died on the way back to Benin
King Ado (1630–1669) first King of Lagos
King Gabaro (1669–1704)
King Akinsemoyin (1704–1749)
Eletu Kekere (1749)
King Ologun Kutere (1749–1775)
Adele Ajosun (1775-1780 & 1832-1834)
Oba Idewu Ojulari (1819–1832)
King Oluwole (1836–1841)
King Akintoye (1841-1845 & 1851-1853)
Oba Kosoko (1845–1851)
King Dosunmu [Docemo] (1853–1885)
Oba Oyekan (1885–1900)
Oba Esugbayi Eleko (1901-1925 & 1932)
Oba Ibikunle Akitoye (1925–1928)
Oba Sanusi Olusi (1928–1931)
Oba Falolu (1932–1949)
Oba Adeniji Adele (1949–1964)
Oba Adeyinka Oyekan II (1965–2003)
Oba Rilwan Akiolu (2003–present)
Modern-day Lagos was founded by the Bini in the sixteenth century. It was later called Eko. The Portuguese explorer Ruy de Sequeira who visited the area in 1472, named the area around the city Lago de Curamo; the present name is Portuguese for “lakes”. An alternate explanation is that Lagos was named for Lagos, Portugal – a maritime town which at the time was the main center of the Portuguese expeditions down the African coast and whose own name is derived from the Celtic word Lacobriga.
When the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria was established in 1914 Lagos was declared its capital. Lagos experienced rapid growth throughout the 1960s and 1970s as a result of Nigeria’s economic boom prior to the Biafran War. This continued through the 1980s and 1990s up to the present date.
Lagos was the capital of Nigeria from 1914 – 1991 when the capital was moved to Abuja. Abuja is a capital like Washington, DC in USA and Brasilia in Brazil in that it was built from scratch specifically to be the capital.