Awori People: A brief history and belief of the original indigenes of Lagos

Awori people of Lagos

The Awori is a tribe of the Yoruba people speaking a distinct dialect of the Yoruba language. And they are presently found in both Ogun State and Lagos State, Nigeria.

History Of Lagos

Lagos is the largest city and former capital of Nigeria and the largest city in Africa in terms of population (Approx. 14.3m (2020 est, from the UN), It is also the 4th largest economy in Africa.

Lagos State in situated in the South-Western part of Nigeria.
Lagos is bounded on the west by the Republic of Benin, to the north and east by Ogun State with the Atlantic Ocean providing a coastline on the south.

Lagos is made up of a collection of islands surrounded by creeks that fringe the mouth of the Lagos lagoon on the southwest. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a stretch of loosely connected barrier islands and sand spits.

Historical names

The name Lagos is derived from the Portuguese language meaning Lakes, the language of the first Europeans to arrive at the land already long inhabited by the Awori which belonged to the Yoruba people. To the Awori, the area was initially known as “Oko”,

Later on, the Kingdom of Benin dubbed the local settlement “Eko”, before the Portuguese would refer to it as “Onim” and later “Lagos”.

The Awori is a tribe of the Yoruba people speaking a distinct dialect of the Yoruba language.

The Awori people migrated from Ile Ife and occupied the present day Lagos state. Post-colonial creation of States and local governments influenced the splitting of the homogenous people into the present Ogun and Lagos States in South-western Nigeria. Awori towns in Ogun State are Otta, Igbesa, Ilobi and Tigbo.

The Awori People of Yoruba. (

The Awori could be grouped into two major divisions. These are the early Awori and the latter Awori groups. Among the early Awori group of settlement are Isheri, Otto-Olofin, Iddo, Ebute Metta, Apa, Ibereko as well as Otta and Ado-Odo in Ogun state of Nigeria.

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A common feature of these settlements is that they were founded before 1500. They also have a related migratory history and recognise Ogunfunminire as their progenitor. The later settlement include Ojo, Itire, Mushin, Iba, Otto-Awori, IjanikinIlogbo Elegba, Ilogbo-Eremi, Iworo, Agbara, Imoore, lsunba, Alapako, Mosabo, Agia, Ibasa, irede, Ikaare, Iyagbe, Ilashe, Igbologun, Itomaro, Oko-Ata, Ayimorafide, etc. all of which are post-1500 settlements.

The Awori whose ancestral home is Isheri-Olofin were in Lagos before the Benin invasion as propounded by the Olofin Adimula of Orile Isheri and supported by other Awori groups such as Apa, Ilogbo-Eremi, Ibereko, Oto, Ota, Ado-Odo and Igbesa. Post-independence political creation of States however saw the dispersal of the homogenous clan scattered around the present Ogun and Lagos State.

Benin Invasion of then Lagos

And they are presently found in both Ogun State and Lagos State, Nigeria. Traditionally, the Awori people are found in Ogun State and Lagos State, Nigeria. Towns including Ado-Odo, Isheri, Ota, Igbesa, Agbara, Ilobi, Tigbo are all Awori settlements within today’s Ogun State (created 1976) in Nigeria.

The Awori the Youruba tribe

Digging Deep In History

The island of Lagos was inhabited by Yoruba fishermen and hunters at least since the 15th century. In 1472, Portugese explorers arrived, and began to trade, eventually followed by other Europeans.

The area fell under the domain of Benin in the 16th century. By 1600, it served as a frontier town, and Benin limited it local presence to soldiers led by four military commanders.

Benin and European Traders

This military presence as well as the exchange with European traders resulted in economic growth, as locals would travel along the coast and from further inland to Lagos Island for trade; at this point, clothes were the main item sold at and exported from the island as well as Benin as a whole. In the 17th century, the trade with the Portugese also began to increase, as Onim became a center of the Atlantic slave trade. The local obas (kings) developed good relations with the Portugese.

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By the early 19th century, it was a small kingdom and a tributary to the Oyo Empire. Like many West African states, Onim developed strong diplomatic as well as economic links to South America. It sent embassies to the Portugese colony of Brazil, and became one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Brazil in 1823. Meanwhile, the Oyo Empire had begun to collapse. This allowed Lagos to assume the leading economic position regionally, becoming the most important market in the Yoruba territories as well as growing substantially

Economic growth of Lagos

From the crowning of Ado as its first Oba, Lagos (then called Eko) had served as a major center for slave-trade, from which then Oba of Benin Ado and all of his successors for over two centuries supported – until 1841, when Oba Akitoye ascended to the throne of Lagos and attempted to ban slave-trading. Local merchants strongly opposed the intended move, and deposed and exiled the king, and installed Akitoye’s brother Kosoko as Oba.

Oba Ado (original Bini name was Edo) who reigned from 1630-1669 was the second Oba of Lagos. He was son of Ashipa, whom the Oba of Benin appointed as the first ruler of Eko.  

Slave trade in Lagos

Exiled to Europe, Akitoye met with British authorities, who had banned slave-trading in 1807, and who therefore decided to support the deposed Oba to regain his throne. In the “Reduction of Lagos”, the British militarily intervened in 1851, reinstalling Akitoye as Oba of Lagos. Lagos subsequently signed a treaty which ushered in the British consular period. In practical terms, however, British influence over the kingdom had become absolute.

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Bombardment of Lagos by British Naval Forces (Photo Credit -The Guardian)

Modern City Of Lagos

Lagos maintained its status as capital when Nigeria obtained its independence from Britain in 1960. Lagos was therefore the capital city of Nigeria from 1914 until 1991, when it was replaced as Federal Capital Territory by planned city of Abuja, built specifically for such purpose. 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.

Modern Day Lagos

In 1991, Ibrahim Babangida, the Military President and other government functions moved to the newly built capital. This was as a result of intelligence reports on the safety of his life and what was later to be termed his hidden agenda, which was the plan to turn himself into a civilian president. He finished what was started by the Murtala/Obasanjo regime. The change resulted in Lagos losing some prestige and economic leverage. However, it has retained its importance as the country’s largest city and as an economic centre.

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