Benin people ‘owned’ Lagos, Awori paid royalties to them—Erelu Abiola Dosunmu

The territory of Lagos has always been an extension of the Benin Kingdom in the sense that they used it as a passage to the port for their trading and interaction with foreigners. We all know that foreigners visited the Benin Empire long before colonialism and signing of the treaty of Lagos.


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This is their passageway and hunting ground. As soon as strangers came to settle down, they would pounce on them and make them pay royalties. Like all human beings, when you settle in a place for a long time, it is expected that you will have the right of ownership. And the foreigners were not ready to be subservient and refused to pay Isakole (royalty) and the Benin king did not take kindly to that. He sent an expedition and subjugated the foreigners and set up his own administration in form of a kingdom.

Therefore, when I say that we are purely and predominantly Benin, it is the truth. The royalty of Lagos is predominantly Benin. But we have all intermingled and have since inter-married with people from Yoruba land and people from other places. And we are enjoying the two cultures. We are even enjoying more because we now have Igbo, Hausa and other tribes settling in Lagos. We are not enjoying the Yoruba influence alone, we are also enjoying other influences.
The Benin has always known about Lagos because they considered it as part of their territory and they used it for many purposes. And when the Awori came from Ife to settle in the areas of Lagos, the Benin quickly got them to pay royalties. Benin was landlocked but, as Benin Empire, they were interacting with people from other parts of the world. It was Benin Empire and, when the Portuguese and others came, they also had to pass through the Kuramo waters to get there.
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