The origin and history of Lagos trace back to deep and full Nupe roots. Lady Flora Shaw (Mrs Frederick Lugard), R.F. Ruxton, and other authorities related that Lagos was originally a Nupe settlement founded by a detachment of Nupe colonialists from the interior.
Lagos was originally founded as a sea-port outreach by the Nupeko or Nupekoro people in ancient times. These Nupeko or Nupekoro Nupe people are the same that were referred to as the Kornofa by Sultan Bello and as the Kororofa by the Hausa city chronicles. In those days, according to Sultan Bello and Sir H.R. Palmer, the Nupekoro people ruled over virtually the whole of today’s Nigeria and particularly over the Nigerian Middle Belt and the whole of the southern half of Nigeria.
The Nupekoro or Kororofa people were the United Kingdom of Nupeko founded by Tsudi (Tsoede) in the 1250s AD. And by the first half of the 14th century, immediately after the death of Tsudi in circa 1310, the Kororofa Nupe people have already reached the sea and have founded today’s Lagos, among many other such Nupe coastal settlements, on the Atlantic Coast. In those days the Nupe Empire of Nupeko or Kororofa covered virtually the whole of today’s Nigeria and parts of its neighbouring countries.
What we are in essence saying here, and on the authority of Sultan Bello and Lady Flora Shaw, is that Lagos was originally founded by the Nupeko or Kororofa Empire of Tsudi (Tsoede) the famous founder of Nupe. The Nupeko Kororofa founding of Lagos by the Nupe people of Tsudi should be dated to the earliest decades of the 14th century, that is somewhere around the 1300s.
Ever since those days Lagos had witnessed a steady flow of aristocratic dynasts coming from the heart of KinNupe to rule over Lagos as colonial governors on behalf of the Central Nupe Government headquartered in the heart of KinNupe.
Eko: The Nupe Name of Lagos
It was those Nupekoro people who referred to Lagos as ‘Ikoro-Edu’ or ‘Ikorodu’ which is usually shortened into ‘Iko’ or ‘Eko’ which the local name of Lagos to this very day.
In Middle Nupe ‘Ikoro’ or ‘Koro’ referred to a River and ‘Edu’ refer to a large body of water, the names the Middle Nupes used for the River Niger. It was these names ‘Ikoro-Edu’ that the Nupe people who founded and established Lagos used to christened the Lagos lagoon.
16th Century Foundation of Lagos by the Nupes
Apart from the fact that Lagos was founded by the Nupe people since prehistoric and Nupeko or Kororofa times, the foundations of Lagos as a Nupe settlement was reinforced and accentuated in the mid 16th century when the Nupe Empire renewed its expansion southwards towards the sea upon the invasion of the Western half, now mostly in Benin Republic, of the Nupe Nation by a re-emergent Songhai Empire under Askia the Great.
The renewed expansion of the Nupe Empire southwards at that beginning of the 16th century resulted in the destabilization of the various city states that were initially located in today’s Yorubaland since prehistoric times. Among many others, two powerful city states in the northern Yorubaland of those days that were destabilized and actually destroyed were Ogudu and Oyo Ile. Both Ogudu and Oyo, like many others of the city states in the Yorubaland of those days, were Nupe. But the fall of both Ogudu and Oyo Ile led to the complete destabilization of Yorubaland in those 16th century days.
All these destabilization of Yorubaland in those days facilitated the further renewed expansion of the Nupe Nation southwards through today’s Yorubaland to the very place where we have Lagos today on the Atlantic Coast. A large number of Nupe people, warriors and rulers, moved down to places including Lagos in those days to found and establish Nupe settlements on the Coast.
Professor S.F. Nadel also emphasized the fact that Lagos has always been a colony of Nupe fishing communities ever since the beginning of the sixteenth century, that is in the 1500s. This, of course, is in the wake of the sack of the Oyo Ile by the Nupe overlords back here in Central KinNupe somewhere around 1535.
When the Nupe overlords sacked Oyo Ile they repatriated the Alafin and the aristocracy of the Old Oyo kingdom back to here Central KinNupe the original homeland of the Oyo people. The Nupe overlords then did not just stopped at the sack and conquest of Old Oyo but they pushed on further south with their war of conquest until they got to the shores of the Atlantic along which they established the various communities that were to eventually merge into the place we know as Lagos today. Professor Idris Shaba Jimada also noted that after the Nupes sacked the Old Oyo kingdom at the beginning of the 16th century they, the Nupes, pushed on further with their conquest until they got to the place where we have Lagos today.
18th Century Lagos
By the 18th century Nupe power and dominion over Lagos has became so consolidated to the extent that the entire socio-cultural outlook of Lagos was more or less a Nupe one. Although all the initial traditional religions practised by the people of Lagos were Nupe traditional religions which were originally introduced to Lagos by the Nupe people. The spiritual and religious traditions and values of Lagos in the 18th century was most definitely Nupe.
One of the most famous religious cults of Lagos is the Igunnu cult. This cult of Igunnu was at one time, in the 17th to 18th century period, the most famous spiritual practice among Lagos. Yet, and in those days, Lagosians openly acknowledge that Igunnu is a Nupe cult and that the priests of the cult in Lagos and their descendants are all Nupe people.
As early as the latter half of the 18th century the Obas of Lagos were already documented to have been ardent practitioners of the ancient Nupe religion dominated by the cult of Gunnu otherwise known to the Yorubas, and the Lagosians, as Egungun. Oba Adiele, in particular, was said to be a staunch promoter of the Nupe cult of Egungun.
There are also documentary evidences to the effect that the Lagosians got their Crocodile Cult from the ancient Nupe people since the Crocodile Cult is indigenous and original only to the Nupe. The Crocodile Cult was originally practised here in Central KinNupe for centuries on end before it was introduced to Lagos by the Nupe canoemen who attend the Nupe communities that initiated Lagos as a settlement.
The Kitsa Cult of the Nupe people, seen by the Lander brothers as being still practiced with bloody sacrifices at the Kitsa Rock on the Jebba Island, was also introduced to Lagos by Nupe traditional religious missionaries. In Lagos the Nupe Kitsa cult became known as ‘Olokun Isale Eko’.
19th Century Lagos Dominated by Nupe Influence
Such was the influence of Nupe on Lagos that as late as the beginning of the 19th century it was the Nupe people who decide who will succeed to the throne as the new Oba of Lagos. When a vicious power struggle broke out in 1821 between the two sons of the late Oba Kutere for the throne it was Adiele, the son favoured by the Nupe Lagosians, that succeeded in becoming the new Oba of Lagos through the support and assistance of his Nupe people.
And as a matter of fact the whole of Oba Adiele’s court and ruling cabinet was dominated by a preponderance of Nupe people. It was more or less like Lagos was still nothing but a Nupe city even as late as those first decades of the 19th century. The military machinery of Oba Adele was almost completely a Nupe military machine. As a matter of fact all the war generals used by Oba Adiele to fight his various battles and wars against Badagry, Whydah, Porto Novo and Dahomey were all Nupe war generals. Balogun Bambani, one of Oba Adiele’s most famous war generals, was Nupe man.
The decisive influence of the Nupe people in deciding who rules as the Oba of Lagos is best illustrated in the case of Oshodi Tapa who was the Nupe man who dominated the political and diplomatic horizons of Lagos in the 19th century. Oshodi Tapa was not only famous as the one who installed Kosoko as the Oba of Lagos but was also famous as the man who was able to check the excesses of the British colonialists in Lagos.
Oshodi Tapa was born here in KinNupe in the early 1900s. His real Nupe name his Gana. But he was also referred to with the sobriquet ‘Landzungi’ in reference to the fact that he came from the general Bida area. The city of Bida is to this very day dissected by the famous river, now stream, known as Landzun.
Contrary to the mischievous claims of Yoruba propagandists, Oshodi Tapa was not a slave. He arrive Lagos in the company of his parents who were well-to-do aristocrats who came to Lagos somewhere around 1910. Oshodi Tapa’s parents were so wealthy and so influential in Lagos that his father became one of the closest confidants of Oba Osinlokun who was the king of Lagos in those days. But some six years later, circa 1916, the young Oshodi Tapa had lost both of his parents and he was taken into the care of Oba Osinlokun.
The young Oshodi Tapa inherited the great wealth and riches of his parents and was treated as a respectable and wealthy prince in the palace of Oba Osinlokun. It was in those days that he became popularly known as ‘Prince Landzungi’. Such was Prince Landzungi’s fame and popularity in the Palace of Oba Osinlokun that when a Portugues merchant who was a close friend of the Oba asked the Oba to let him the Portuguese merchant take two of the Oba’s sons to the Americas the Oba presented Oshodi Tapa as one of his sons.
The Portuguese merchant took Oshodi Tapa, and another young man called Dada Antonio, to the Americas. Oshodi Tapa was in the Americas for years where he became a highly cultured and educated man before he eventually came back to Lagos. By the time Oshodi Tapa came back to Lagos he was one of the few highly educated native Africans in Lagos who could manage the accounting department of a large trading company.
Oshodi Tapa was immediately employed as a Commission Agent by Messrs. G. L. Gaiser. With time Oshodi Tapa’s wealth became inestimable due to the large commissions that accrued to him from the extensive trading enterprises of the Portuguese ships in Lagos. Oshodi Tapa became so wealthy that he was rated as one of the richest people in the Lagos of those days. He also became the closest confidant to Oba Osinlokun.
Oba Osinlokun later on died and was succeeded by his son Oba Idewu. After Idewu’s reign Oluwole was wrongly installed as the new Oba by the mischievous but very powerful kingmaker Oletu Odibo. The descendants of the late Oba Osinlokun, headed by Kosoko, rebelled against the new Oba Oluwole but were defeated in a battle and Kosoko had to flee Lagos and go into hiding. After the death of Oluwole he was succeeded by Akitoye who had Oshodi Tapa as his Balogun or War General.
In those days Oshodi Tapa was practically the most powerful man in Lagos. He went and brought back Kosoko to Lagos from hiding and actually reconciled Akitoye and Kosoko. But the ever mischievous Oletu Odibo succeeded in pitching Akitoye and Kosoko against each other in a vicous battle. Oshodi Tapa supported Kosoko and defeated the combined forces of Akitoye and Oletu Odibo. Oletu Odibo was killed but Oshodi Tapa humanely let a captured Akitoye escaped to Abeokuta.
Akitoye in exile succeeded in getting the British to fight Kosoko and Oshodi Tapa for him. Akitoye and Oshodi Tapa were defeated by the British and they had to flee into exile to Epe. It was Oshodi Tapa who led Kosoko to Epe because Epe was a Nupe settlement and an overwhelming majority of the army and people of Kosoko were Nupe people.
Epe is now a town and the seat of Epe Local Government Area in Lagos. But Epe was founded a very long time ago by Nupe settlers even before the 16th century. It was named Epe because in those days Epe was the name with which the Nupe people were referred to. As a matter of fact the very name ‘Epe’ is nothing but an Old Nupe variant of the very name we pronounce as Nupe today. Our modern national name ‘Nupe’ is progressively derived from Nyipe, Nipe, Ipe, and then Epe. In other words ‘Epe’ is the ancient form of ‘Nupe’.
Professor S.F. Nadel also discussed the fact that the original settlers of Epe were Nupe people from here Central KinNupe. As a matter of fact many people of Epe to this very day trace their origins t Nupe. Majority of the prominent and famous families in Epe admit that thir origins go back to immemorial Nupe genealogies. And in fact Professor Shaba Jimada had remonstrated that the very fact that there are two Obas at Epe with one representing the earliest and original Nupe settlers is a strong confirmation of the fact that the original settlers of Epe were Nupe people.
In any case Oshodi Tapa took Kosoko to Epe which was by and large a Nupe settlement in those days. And while Kosoko and Akitoye lived in exile at Epe the British brought Akitoye back from exile in Abaokuta and re-installed him as the Oba of Lagos. Oba Akitoye died two weeks later and his son Dosunmu was installed as the new Oba of Lagos by the British. But the forces of Oshodi Tapa and Kosoko continued to sporadically attack Lagos and thereby destroying the economic activities of Lagos. This greatly disturbed the British imperialists who eventually arranged for peace reconciliation between the people of Oba Dosunmu and Kosoko.
The peace treaty was negotiated by Oshodi Tapa with the British colonial authorities. That made Tapa Oshodi so famous and popular in those days as the most powerful man in Lagos. In 1862 Oshodi Tapa and Kosoko were allowed back to Lagos and Tapa Oshodi set up his very large estate, comprising some 200 families, at the place that came to be known as Epetedo or ‘Camp of the Nupe(Epe) people’ to this very day. It was at the center of this Epetedo estate that he established his Oshodi Palace.
Today almost half the population of inner city Lagos are descendants of Oshodi Tapa and his Nupe people who came back with him from Epe. This, of course, means that Lagos is basically to this very day a Nupe city as far as the genealogical roots of the original Lagosians are concerned. In fact a great part of Lagos mainland is known as Oshodi to this very day.
Chief Oshodi Tapa was highly regarded by the British colonial authorities who even presented him with a sword of recognition from England and took one of his sons for studies in England. Chief Oshodi Tapa died in 1868. The British authorities actually accorded Oshodi Tapa a special visit to the Queen of England, a very rare gesture of respect by the British in those days.
Islam Introduced to Lagos by the Nupes
In the 19th century days of Chief Balogun Oshodi Tapa the Nupe people were also instrumental in spreading and establishing Islam as a dominant religion of Lagos.
As is the case with all the religions, traditional and otherwise, of Yorubaland, Islam was also introduced to and established in Lagos by the Nupe people. Two strands of Islamic proselytization actually got to Lagos, an earlier one directly from here Central KinNupe across Yorubaland to Lagos and a latter one indirectly through the arrival of the Portuguese Nupe repatriated from Brazil, Sierra and Leone and other places.
By the time of Oba Ologun Kutere by the end of the 18th century Islam had became so established in Lagos that even the Oba himself was said to have been a strong promoter of Islam. And, of course, Oba Adiele who succeeded Oba Kutere is well known in history as an Oba during whose reign Islam became almost the state religion of Lagos.
It was during the reign of Oba Adiele at the beginning of the nineteenth century that Lagos was said to have witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of Muslims. And an overwhelming majority of these Muslims of Lagos at the beginning of the 19th century were Nupe Muslims who came from Central KinNupe. It has been said that the Nupe Muslim handlers and cabinet members of Oba Adiele’s council were so much in Nupe that Oba Adiele’s reign was undergirded by an unprecedented mien of Islamic influence.
That the first people to establish Islam in Lagos were Nupe is also attested to by the fact that the earliest Muslim scholars of Lagos were Nupes. In fact the first Chief Imam of the Central Mosque of Lagos was a Nupe man. This first Chief Imam of Lagos was actually known as ‘Sheikh Jumadah Shadi; the title ‘Shadi’ being a variant of the Nupe generic title ‘Tsudi’ or ‘Tsoede’ which is the same that the same Yoruba tongue has also pronounced as ‘Oshodi’.
As a matter of fact a large number of the early Muslim population of Lagos were Nupe people who came directly from KinNupe. These were mostly in the form of Nupe Muslim scholars and Nupe Muslim slaves. These were the direct Nupe Muslim population of Lagos that we have earlier on made reference to.
But then, and by the mid-19th century, that is around the 1850s, a large number of Nupe Muslim ex-slaves began to be repatriated in very large numbers from the Americas and West African freetowns to Lagos. It was the era of the Bahia Slave revolt of 1835 in Brazil which led to the Brazilian and other South American authorities into deporting large populations of their Black American people back to West Africa. Many of these repatriated ex-slaves were Nupe Muslims and many of them ended up in Lagos.
These zealous and ardent Nupe Muslims who organized the rather abortive Bahia Slave Revolt in Brazil in 1835 arrived Lagos in large numbers in the mid-19th century and they immediately accentuated the Islamic outlook of Lagos by their vigorous Islamic proselytization through their Islamic missionary activities and their construction of various mosques and their establishment of various Islamic schools and institutions. These Nupe Muslim ex-slave returnees to Lagos spread Islam through their population and vigorous missionary activities that the Muslim population of Lagos immediately rose above 50% by the second half of the 19th century.
Nupe Ex-Slaves Who Dominated Lagos
These Nupe ex-slaves were also instrumental in cementing a serious and historical commercial and diplomatic relationship between Lagos and KinNupe. After being repatriated back to Lagos in large numbers the Nupe ex-slaves became the elite class of the Lagos society as they completely came to dominate all the commercial, administrative, political and diplomatic affairs of Lagos. These Nupe ex-slaves became the richest, most educated, and the dominant class of people in the Lagos of those days.
Being the richest and most educated class of people in the Lagos of those days it is no wonder that these Nupe ex-slaves also began to look back towards Central KinNupe their original homeland. They began to think of how to extend the social developments they have been able to carry out in Lagos to KinNupe. It is in this regard that many of these wealthy Nupe Lagosians began to work on the establishment of commercial and diplomatic links between Lagos and KinNupe. In this, also, they were encouraged and facilitated by Etsu Masaba to do commerce with KinNupe their homeland.
One of the most famous Nupe people who dominated 19th century Lagos was James Babington Macaulay. But James Macaulay was just one out of many other such Nupe Lagosians who dominated the economic, political and administrative sectors of the Lagos of the latter half of the 19th century. There was also Oshodi Tapa who was the principal actor of the political affairs of Lagos in the latter half of the 19th century. Balogun Aliyu was another very wealthy and politically powerful Nupeman who was a prominent powerbroker in the Lagos of those days. Then there was also the duo of Gogo Habiba and Madam Tinubu, both Nupe women, who also dominated the commercial affairs of Lagos in the same latter half of the 19th century. Then there was also Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who was also a Nupe man, who became the leading diplomat handling the diplomatic affairs between Lagos and KinNupe in that same latter half of the 19th century.
Other wealthy Nupe people who dominated the Lagos of the 19th century included Shitta Bey, Balogun Aliyu, the Aguda families, and many others.
These Nupe people, and many other Nupe peoples, were the movers and shakers of Lagos and they are the actually builders of Lagos. Unfortunately there has been a deliberate attempt by Yoruba historians to claim that Lagos is Yoruba when the truth is that Lagos has always been Nupe right from the beginning and to this very day. The fact of the matter is that an overwhelming percentage, some say up to 70%, of the indigenous people of Lagos today are the descendants of the Nupe people who founded, built and established Lagos into a major city since in the beginning. We discuss, in the following paragraphs, the life and times of some of these wealthy and influential Nupe people of 19th century Lagos.
Balogun Ali was an ex-slave Nupe man who became extremely wealthy in 19th century Lagos. Balogun Ali was a contemporary of Oshodi Tapa but while Oshodi Tapa was in support of Kosoko, Balogun Ali was in support of Akitoye.
As a very rich Nupe Lagosian Balogun Ali did not forget his homeland KinNupe. Instead he actually focused his business energies on extensive commerce with KinNupe. He established his commercial base at Lokoja and with his trading station at Lokoja he carried out large scale commerce between Lagos and KinNupe.
Balogun Ali’s very successful business strategy of doing business between Lagos and his homeland KinNupe became a model many other Nupe Lagosians who also began to engage in commerce between Lagos and KinNupe. This large scale commerce with KinNupe contributed in no small measure to the development of the economy of Lagos in those days.
Balogun Ali became so wealthy that he was rated one of the richest men in the Lagos of those days. So famous and influence did Balogun Ali became in Lagos that many streets, markets and places were named after him even after his death.
A prominent figure in the Islamization of Lagos in the 19th century was Muhammed Shitta Bey who was a very wealthy Nupe Lagosian who used his wealth to promote the establishment of Islam in Lagos.
Shitta Bey was born to Nupe parents in Sierra Leone in 1824. He came with his Nupe parents who were liberated ex-slaves from Sierra Leone to Nigeria in 1844. They initially settled at Badagry where his father was a prominent and influential Islamic leader of the Muslim community at Badagry.
After the death of his father in 1847 at Badagry, Shitta Bey moved to Lagos where he became a businessman. From Lagos he moved further to the Delta where his business expanded into an extremely successful one. While in the Delta he contributed the bulk of the financial assistance that went into the building of the Lagos Central Mosque in 1873. He continued to exercise great influence on the affairs of Lagos while still in the Delta. He later on left his brother as his business agent in the Delta while he went back to Lagos in 1885.
With his inestimable wealth he built and commissioned the Shitta Bey mosque 1894. The opening ceremony of the mosque attracted the most powerful and famous people within and outside the Lagos of those days. Even famous Reverend Edward Blyden from the Americas and the Caribbean attended.
James Babington Macaulay
A wealthy Nupe ex-slave Lagosian who worked very hard in establishing trade and commercial links between KinNupe and Lagos was James Babington Macaulay.
James Macaulay was born among the Mamagi Nupe tribal section on the outskirts of Bida back here in KinNupe. He was seized and sold into slavery at a very young age. From Eggan through Budan to Onitsha he was shipped from Bonny by Spanish slave merchants en route to the Americas. But their slave ship was the British and the young James Macaulay was liberated and settled at Sierra Leone.
In Sierra Leone James Macaulay received some education in Freetown which was a town set up for rehabilitating liberated slaves. From Sierra Leone he was later on repatriated back to Nigeria where he settled at Lagos in the 1850s.
Back in Nigeria James Macaulay became an ardent businessman and with time became a very wealthy man. He in particular engaged in large-scale business and commercial enterprises with his homeland KinNupe. He established large trade stores at Eggan here in KinNupe. And he was most especially encouraged to do extensive business with KinNupe by Etsu Masaba the Great. James Macaulay also encouraged other Nupe Lagosians, including Shitta Bey and Madam Tinubu, to engage in extensive business enterprises with KinNupe.
James Macaulay married Abigail the daughter of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther. But, and contrary to Yoruba revisionist propaganda, was also a Nupe man. One of the children James Macaulay got from Abigail was Herbert Macaulay who became the leading political activist of pre-Independence Nigeria.
Etsu Masaba and Lagos
That the latter half of the 19th century was characterized by a serious commercial and diplomatic relationship between Lagos and KinNupe was not only due to the interest of the Nupe ex-slaves’ interest in the development of their original homeland KinNupe but was also due to the fact that Etsu Masaba, who dominated the latter half of the 19th century KinNupe, seriously promoted commercial and diplomatic links between Lagos and KinNupe.
Etsu Masaba was the grand emperor of the Nupe Nation who was so interested in the expansion of the influence of Nupe to the Atlantic. His strategy was that of fostering strong economic and diplomatic ties with the Yoruba and other states to the south down to the Atlantic Coast where he was most interested in monopolizing the trade in arms with the European imperialists.
Etsu Masaba seriously encouraged and facilitated the expansion of commerce between Nupe and the Yoruba city states and Lagos to the south of KinNupe. He also maintained deep diplomatic relationship with these states and Lagos. As a matter of fact Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther was Etsu Masaba’s special envoy who served as Etsu Masaba’s ambassador to the White colonialists in Lagos. There was also a continuous exchange of diplomatic correspondence between Etsu Masaba and Lagos. It was also severally reported that diplomatic envoys from the various Yoruba states were also seen with gifts waiting on end at the palace of Etsu Masaba in Bida.
Etsu Masaba called on all the Nupe people of Lagos to do business with KinNupe. That was how came about wealthy Nupe Lagosians, including people like James Babington Macaulay and Madam Tinubu, ended up establishing large business enterprises between KinNupe and Lagos. So many Nupe Lagosians – the Saros, the Nupe ex-slaves, and all other Nupe Lagosians – became commercialist businessmen transacting business and Lagos to the extent that the economic development of Lagos in those days was largely dependent on its business exchange between KinNupe and Lagos. It was the Nupe people who built Lagos into an economic centre in the latter half of the 19th century most especially under the patronage of Etsu Masaba the Great.
Etsu Masaba’s usage of Nupe people to develop the economic and political base of Lagos led to the further consolidation of Nupe influence over Lagos. As a matter of fact Nupe people became overly famous and popular as the economic builders and establishment politicians of Lagos in those days.
But, and apart from their fame as the people who dominated the economy and politics of Lagos in those days, the Nupe people were also famous as the dominant force in many other aspects and facets of the Lagos society in those days. The educational, academic, architectural, military, cultural, spiritual and religious, and many other aspects of the Lagos society of those days were also wholly dominated by the Nupe people.
The Nupe people were particularly famous as the best military materials in not only Lagos but the whole of the Yorubaland of those days. Etsu Masaba’s vigorous expansionist warfare had given the Nupe people the enviable fame and reputation of being the most proficient warriors in the whole of the Central Sudan of those days. Etsu Masaba’s strategy was to form alliances with selected Yoruba city states like Ibadan and to use these military alliances to conquer other Yoruba states all in a bid to establish Nupe sovereignty over Yorubaland in order for Etsu Masaba and his Bida Emirate to have unfettered access to business with the European merchants on the Coast.
Masaba was fundamentally interested in monopolizing the commercial in military hardware with the European merchants on the Coast and mainly in Lagos. And so effectively did Etsu Masaba succeeded in this that with time, and as documented by Professor Smaldone, the Bida Emirate under Etsu Masaba became the singular military superpower in the whole of the Central Sudan. Under Etsu Masaba the Bida Emirate became the state with the largest collection of European military weapons and hence the military superpower of the whole of the Central Sudan.
It should also be noted that even the British colonialists had to depend on Nupe Lagosians to form their West African Frontier Force which later became the Hausa Constabulary and which was to later on form the foundation of the Nigeria Army that we see today. It was Nupe people that the British colonialists brought together to form the earliest form of the Nigeria Army in Lagos and it was this Nupe Lagos force that was used by the British colonialists to form not only the Lagos Colony but also to establish the foundations of their various protectorates including the Northern Protectorate and the Southern Protectorate.
The Nupe Settlements of Lagos
As Professor S.F. Nadel rightly observed majority of the communities that eventually merged into today’s Lagos were originally Nupe settlements ever since the early days of the 16th century and, for many of them, even long before then. Places like Agege, Epe, Epetedo, Oshodi, and even Badagry, Ikoyi, and others were all originally Nupe settlements founded, settled and established by the Nupe people.