Our Lagos History presents biographies, account of events and photographs of peoples that have shaped the history of the city from the nineteenth century to the present moment. Many historical moments that define Lagos are entwined with individual stories. For instance, Prince Kosoko and Akitoye’s struggles for the Obaship title during the 1850s cannot be separated from the British bombardment of Lagos in 1851 and the colonization of the city in 1861.

In the early twentieth century, the emergence of Herbert Macaulay, a surveyor and political organizer, changed the political matrix of Lagos society. Macaulay founded the Nigerian National Democratic Party, which enjoyed the support of Lagos populace. During the 1920s, Macaulay worked with elites and working class Lagosians to campaign for the re-installment of Eshugbayi Eleko, the Oba, who was exiled by the British.

He served as Chief Amodu Tijani Oluwa’s secretary and interpreter during Oluwa’s Privy Council case against colonial administrator in Lagos in 1921. Macaulay’s confrontation with colonial authorities remained an important part of the city narratives until his death in 1946. Other prominent individuals in the socio-political life of Lagos included Madam Alimotu Pelewura, who mobilized market women to oppose obnoxious colonial economic policies. Hon. Alli’s biography of Pelewura and Macaulay’s newspaper, Lagos Daily News are available on the website. 

On the other hand, many notable events have changed the course of the city’s history. The treaty of cession of Lagos to the British Crown in 1861 created major problems around the authority of the Oba of Lagos and it subsequently played a role in the battle for succession to the throne.

The 1908 protest over the introduction of taxes for public water supply had a lasting legacy on the division of opinions in political and religious circles. The battle over the status of Lagos as Nigeria’s political capital during the late 1950s and after Nigeria’s independence in 1960 exposed the tension over the place of Lagos within Nigeria and the Atlantic World. Lagos continues to be defined by different individuals and events, which has shaped the status of the city as one of the fastest growing mega-cities in the world. 


Cole Patrick. Modern and Traditional Elites in the Politics of Lagos. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975.