The Nigeria Nostalgia Project - Pre Nigeria Discussion

Paterson Zochonis employees, Shop No. 1 Lagos - July 1912

Photos of West Africa and its People - c.1910-1913


Yoruba staff of wood, leather and cowrie shells

Acquired 1956

© The Trustees of the British Museum


Calabar-Oron Ferry Crossing: Cross River, Calabar Side - 1951

© Lorenzo Dow Turner, Smithsonian Institution


Garden and Ornamental Pool, Sokoto

not dated

Church Missionary Society


Abakliki - 1959

© Dr. Simon Ottenberg, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives


Abakliki - 1959

© Dr. Simon Ottenberg, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives


Madarikan and his Brother

We add the following interesting circumstance from the Journal of the Rev. T. Peyton, dated Dec. 25, 1848 —

At the early part of this year a youth named Madarikan, of about fifteen years of age, the son of a Native Chief at Abbeokuta, was sent by the Rev. H. Townsend to the Local Committee of the Church Missionary Society in Sierra Leone, to be placed in the Grammar School.

He was brought to this place in a native trading vessel, and the ship’s crew consisted entirely of Liberated Africans.

On the 9th of this month (Dec.), one of the crew, James Foster, met Madarikan in Freetown, and informed him that there were many boys, lately come from Abbeokuta, at the barracks, enlisted for soldiers, and that among them was his own natural brother on the father’s side.

Many questions were put by Madarikan to James Foster, with a view to ascertain the identity of his brother ;…

On the 11th of December, during the hour allowed to the pupils for walking out for exercise, he went to the parade at the barracks, placed himself in the front of the ranks, and with great anxiety of mind, and a stedfast eye fixed on the recruits, he recognised his brother; and after the drill he went up to him and called him by name. …

I have had the young man several times at my house, and well investigated the whole case.

He has given me many particulars respecting Mr. Townsend, his departure from his own country, and the Mission at Abbeokuta.

The family marks on his arms were also pointed out, by which both Madarikan and his brother can be identified to be the sons of the same father.

The circumstances under which he became a soldier are these.

  • illustration from the History of the First West India Regiment, by A. B. Ellis (1885)

The Church Missionary Intelligencer (1850)

1 Like

In the month of June his father, a Chief at Abbeokuta, sent the young man in question to a town named Aji to pay his respects to a Native Chief there, named Komih; and as one of the inhabitants of Abbeokuta had previously kidnapped two of Komih’s people out of a farm, and as they had not been returned, and no satisfaction made for them, he detained the young man and many others from Abbeokuta, and made them slaves.

After being sold and re-sold several times, he, with many more, were brought down to Lagos, and shipped on board a Brazilian slaver, which was captured by a British cruiser about three months ago, and brought into Sierra Leone.

On the arrival of this cargo of slaves, according to the usual practice, some military officer or officers visited the Liberated African department, examined the newly arrived people, and chose the best of them for their service.

The country name of the young man is Aja ; his English name is Horace Lonsdale.

He is enlisted into the 1st West-Indian Regiment.

His countrymen are willing to bear the expenses of his discharge.

1 Like


The earliest inhabitants of Kano, it is said, were descendants of a Gaiya smith named Kano who had come to the Dalla hill in search of ironstone.

To this day there are people in Kano, generally blacksmiths, who call themselves Abagayawa and are supposed to be descendants of the original inhabitants.

Although there were probably even earlier inhabitants, tradition goes no farther; at the same time a Kano manuscript has the following mythical genealogy : The Chief of the Kano people was a giant named Barbushe, ‘a man from the slave country’.

He was ‘a black man of great stature and height, a hunter who slew elephants with his stick and carried them on his head about nine miles.

He lived on the Dalla hill and was high priest to the pagan god Tchunburburai, a tree called Shamuz, whose festivals were observed on two days in the year.

On these occasions various mystic rites were performed, black animals were sacrificed, and prophecies foretold.

The scene of these observances was the grove of Jakara, which was called ‘Kurmin Bakin Ruwa’, because its water was black, and it was surrounded by the grove.

We are usually indebted to the art of ironworking for the earliest information of a people because it is a trade which has always been held in esteem by primitive peoples ; its secrets were jealously guarded and handed down from father to son.

Its eminent utility apart from its hereditary atmosphere of superstition kept it immune from molestation despite successive changes of dynasty.

  • photo from Hausa superstitions and customs by Major A. J. N. Tremearne (1913)

The Muhammadan Emirates Of Nigeria by S J Hogben (1930)

Nigerian Aristocrats

location unknown

Photos of West Africa and its People - c.1910-1913

Public Works Department House, Calabar (not dated)

1 Like

The Eleko

A pension for life was paid to him [Docemo], equivalent to the total revenues of his principality at the time, which were assessed at 12,000 bags of cowries or £1,000 in English money.

Docemo thereupon retired into private life; and his pension died with him.

As an act of grace, however, a compassionate allowance was continued to the Head of the House of Docemo for the maintenance of its Members.

Similarly, when in 1900 Oyekan, the then Head of the House of Docemo died the present Eleko was chosen to succeed to the family honours; and to him also a compassionate allowance for the support of the Family was allotted by the Colonial Government.

The late Sir William MacGregor, who at that time Sir William was Governor of Lagos, in a Despatch dated February 23rd, 1901, addressed to the Secretary of State, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, wrote as follows on the subject of the selection of Eleko to the Headship of the House of Docemo : -—

“ I have made it abundantly plain that the successor to Oyekan is only the head of the Family; that he has no ruling function; and that he has with regard to the Government no official position beyond that of Chief of the Docemo-Oyekan house.

“ At a full meeting of the principal Chiefs, Christian, Pagan and Mahometan, I explained the position clearly to them and they all understood perfectly that the present appointment, if sanctioned by you, will be a matter of grace, and that the nomination has no political significance.

“ I have promised to strongly recommend to you that the person to be appointed should receive a compassionate allowance at the rate of £200 a year, the sum at first paid to the late Oyekan, to whom it was gradually increased till it reached £400 a year.

“ It has been fully explained that this would be for the maintenance of the women and children, more particularly for the education of the latter, who cannot be permanently provided for by the Government, but must by education prepare themselves for a struggle in the World in the ordinary way.”

  • photo from Dawn in darkest Africa by Harris, John Hobbis (1912)

Nigerian Council - Address by the Governor, Sir Hugh Clifford, President of the Council

29 December 1920

Kano, a camel caravan - December 1918


Leopard escaped and shot in Lagos 1912

Photos of West Africa and its People - c.1910-1913



In addition to the oath taken for an alose which calls upon it to kill a man if he swears falsely in giving witness, there is another kind of oath known as ebwando, that is joining life together.

At Awka if two members of a family have a quarrel they meet when they wish to come to an agreement and say " whichever sees a thing that can kill us if he does not tell the other let the alose kill him" ; eating kola together completes the ceremony.

It may also be used by a man who fears that his wife will kill him.

Anthropological report on the Ibo-speaking peoples of Nigeria by Thomas, Northcote Whitridge

Published 1913


The New Yam Feast

The following notes on the tribes and great families of the Old Calabar District (Niger Coast Protectorate) are contributed by Mr. J. C. Cotton, an official in the Service of that Protectorate, and were mostly compiled by educated natives at his request.-

The Old Calabar people were originally settlers from the Ibibio country, driven out by civil quarrels to seek new homes for themselves. They first attempted a location at a place called Old Efik, on the upper end of one of the adjacent islands in the Cross River, but various differences and wars drove them from that spot; whereupon they separated, part going up the river to Mbiabo (near Brickfield), others locating themselves near the place where Creek Town now stands, while some ascended the other branch of the river and formed Adiabo.

Calabar is said to have been divided into seven provinces: namely, Mbiabo, Ikoneto, Adiabo, Creek Town, Duke Town, Henshaw Town, Old Town. Those who formed their location near where Creek Town now stands soon split up into factions, owing to dissensions, and some of them went down the river, procured land from the Kwa people on the east bank, and built Old Town.

The New Yam Feast is held in the wet season, each house fixing its own day. It lasts twelve hours. The participants call on the name of some particular juju.

With the Kwa people, the festival lasts one week, and the dancers wear feather dresses. The name of the juju called on is “Nim.”

The Calabar people call upon :— Ebrukpabi, Aka, Akibomi, Ekpinon, Ekpenyon, and Omponim. These names are not indigenous.

Some jujus allow only men to be present at the ceremonies, others only women.

Women, men and children all call upon Omponim.

  • The gathering and eating of the first new yams is a very important affair, like the Zulu Kutshwama or Feast of First-fruits.—Editor.

Yams, Igboland 1880-1939 © The Trustees of the British Museum

The People of Old Calabar

Journal of the African Society 1905


On the road to knowledge

The reader must be told something of this country’s style of government to understand all that follows.

The management of these distinguished Yoruban communities is in the hands of an association, the Ogboni League, of which much more will be heard later on. These Ogboni are the " Elders," the oldest members of the families held in the highest esteem and pledged to work together by the most solemn sacrificial ties from which there is no release. Those only are admitted to it who give evidence of an uncompromising esprit de corps’ and unquestioning obedience and whose trustworthiness has withstood the severest tests.

This league may well be called the " Decapitation Company, Limited."

It is a union of unscrupulous persons, who, without the least qualms of conscience, get rid of all inconvenient elements like a " Vehmgericht," with poison or the knife, exterminate respected parvenus, confiscate their possessions and, more particularly, while keeping a jealous eye on the even balance of prestige , among themselves, pull the strings which make the principal civic power, the Bale, dance like a marionette at their behest.

They elect this Bale, give him their instructions, control him, keep him under the closest observation, and quietly remove him should he ever dream of undertaking anything on his own account without due regard to the interests and dignity of the Ogboni League. The Ogboni, however, expect everyone to treat this tool of theirs with every mark of respect and the greatest ceremony. They themselves, indeed, are the first to kow-tow to him and kiss the ground ; but woe betide the instrument of these Ogboni should it forget its own limitations and attempt to set up an authority or will of its own !

They immediately send him an ominous token, and if he does not forthwith commit suicide on its receipt, the poor Bale is very soon poisoned.

It is not so very long ago that every Bale, who had served his statutory two years of office, was murdered in conformity with the laws of a very ancient ritual.

The voice of Africa : being an account of the travels of the German Inner African Exploration Expedition in the years 1910-1912
by Frobenius, Leo
Deutsche Inner-Afrikanische Forschungs Expedition

Published 1913


The Interregnum

Chief Ṣomoye died (August 8, 1868) before the final settlement of the outbreak palaver.

After his death the Egba thought of electing a King in succession to Okukẹnu, who had died in 1862.

During the interregnum Ṣomoye was acting the part of a King, and the royal salute “Kabiyesi" was accorded him.

Prince Oyekan, one of the sons of Jibodu, the predecessor of Okikilu, in the original homesteads, and Prince Ademọla, son of Ajayi Tẹnidade, the daughter of the same Jibodu, were fighting for the crown.

Prince Oyekan had as his supporters Madam Tinubu, Chief Ṣolankẹ the Balogun, Akodu the Seriki, and several other powerful Chiefs of War and their followers.

But the supporters of Prince Ademọla were Ọṣundare, the Nlado of Kemta, the Ogboni Chiefs, Ogudipẹ Alatiṣe, and all the Oke Ợna people and the native Christian elements.

Oyekan had a large number of powerful War Chiefs, whilst the supporters of Ademola were numerically larger.

Ademọla therefore succeeded, and he was made King Alake on November 28, 1869.

  • Abeokuta from Photos of West Africa and its People - c.1910-1913

History of Abẹokuta by E. Olympus O. Moore (Ajiṣafẹ)

Fellow of the the incorporated Guild of Church Musicians
Licentiate in Music, Victoria College of Music
Author of "Life of Fadipẹ “, Compiler of “Olympus Moore’s Abẹokuta Almanac”
Translator of “Aṣaro Kukuru fun awọn Imale” and “Itumọ Ijinlẹ, Irapada,” and
Winner of “Native Play Competition” and “Ibadan History Competition” Prizes, etc., etc.

Published 1916


Bros are u a historian?

1 Like

yeah sorta … its a hobby.