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The Untold Story Of Balogun Oshodi Tapa Of Lagos; Peacemaker, Warlord And Statesman


During the reign of King Eshilokun, he immigrated to Lagos from Bida
in what is now known as the Niger State. This was after he had lost his
parents in a tribal war when he was only six years old. He put himself
under the protection of the King as his servant in order to prevent
himself from being taken and sold into slavery. The King, in turn, put
him under the supervision of one of his trusted men, Fagbemi. Chief
Balogun Landuji Oshodi Tapa was an outstanding warrior and a statesman.

Some
years later, one of the Portuguese merchants, a friend of King
Eshilokun, asked the king to let two of his children accompany him to
Portugal and he promised to bring them back. The King was very wary of
this offer and he thought instead of risking the lives of any of his own
children, he would offer two people loyal to him. Hence he chose Oshodi
and Dada Antonio to go with the Portuguese merchant.
While the
King thought he was protecting the interests of his own children, he was
in fact denying them an opportunity that would have benefited them more
in the future.

 Balogun Oshodi

Oshodi and Dada Antonio went with the Portuguese merchant to America and they were later returned to the King after many years.
On
arrival from America, Oshodi was employed by Messrs. G. L. Gaiser as a
Commission Agent and Toll Collector. With the arrival of the ships of
the Portuguese merchants, business flourished, and Oshodi’s commissions
from sales increased and he eventually became a rich man. Oshodi never
forgot the hands that fed him, so to speak; he continued to be loyal to
the King and was made a chief solely responsible for looking after the
King’s wives. He was the only one who could go into the Queen’s
apartment to oversee repairs, if the need arose.

After the death
of King Eshinlokun, Chief Oshodi remained loyal to his children. He
particularly cast his lot with Idewu Ojulari who succeeded his father.
After the reign of Chief Idewu Ojulari, Kosoko, a son of Oshinlokun, was
said to be the rightful heir to the throne, but he was an enemy of
Chief Eletu Odibo, whose duty was to install and crown any new king. It
was said at the time, that young Prince Kosoko had seduced Eletu Odibo’s
would-be wife. In retaliation, Eletu Odibo used his powerful position
to crown Oluwole as the next King of Lagos in 1836.
 
Kosoko and
other descendants of King Eshilokun were not satisfied with the decision
and were ready to show their resentment. They waged a war against King
Oluwole and Chief Eletu Odibo. Kosoko and his warriors invaded
Isale-Eko. The battle was fierce and prolonged but ended with victory on
the side of the king’s army. Kosoko fled to Whydah, realizing the
consequences of his action.

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When King Oluwole died, Akitoye was crowned in 1841 as the next King of Lagos.
Conscious
of the right of Kosoko to the throne, Akitoye justly decided to search
for Kosoko his nephew, who had taken refuge in Whydah. He believed that
he must enjoy his patronage while on the throne. Akitoye organized a
search party under the command of bold and gallant Chief Oshodi. The
rapidity with which the party achieved its success was directly related
to the military might of Chief Oshodi.
Kosoko finally returned to Lagos with Chief Oshodi in a vessel belonging to a merchant called, Domingo.
Henceforth,
Chief Oshodi worked to maintain peace between Kosoko and Akintoye, and
eventually brought the two together on terms. The peace effort was
thwarted by Chief Eletu Odibo who had employed all the persuasive words
he could, to dissuade King Akitoye from bringing Kosoko back to Lagos.
He believed that Lagos would not contain the two of them. For a while,
he did all he could to create conflicts between them, but later left
Lagos for exile in Badagry.

When a war broke out between King
Akitoye and Kosoko, Chief Oshodi loyally pitched his tent with Kosoko,
the son of Eshilokun, through thick and thin. Akitoye asked Eletu Odibo
to return to Lagos with his warriors to fight on his side. Akitoye’s men
led by Eletu Odibo were soundly defeated. Eletu Odibo was captured in
an ambush and killed.
With the death of Eletu Odibo, the elders
advised Akitoye to escape to his mother’s town in Abeokuta. When Kosoko
heard about the plan, he detailed his war chief, Oshodi, to lay ambush
for Akitoye, kill him, and bring his head before him. Akitoye was in
fact caught by Oshodi in the Agboyi waters, but instead of killing him,
he paid homage to him and his Lord and prayed for his safe journey and
safe return.
Chief Oshodi returned to report to Kosoko that
Akitoye had escaped by the use of a powerful charm which put them all to
sleep when he was passing. Historians were not able to assign any
reason for the treatment which Oshodi gave Akitoye when in fact he was
on orders to bring his head to Kosoko. In 1845, Kosoko defeated Akitoye
and ascended the throne. In the meantime, Chief Oshodi remained Kosoko’s
“Abagbon” war chief.
While in exile, Akitoye appealed to the
British Government for help to restore him to his throne. A war broke
out; the British started to bombard Lagos, setting the town on fire.
Kosoko’s defense under the command of Chief Oshodi was effective and
modern by the international standard of the time. After nine days of
consecutive serious military actions, the British fleet unleashed
excessive gun power which resulted in the defeat of Kosoko’s fleet.
Under this unfavorable condition, Kosoko had to flee to Epe with Chief
Oshodi and his warriors on the night of the13th of August 1853.
Akitoye
was brought back to Lagos by the British Consul and was restored as the
King of Lagos. Akitoye died on the 2nd of September 1853, about two
weeks after Kosoko and his men had fled. In the afternoon of September
3rd, 1853, his son, Dosunmu was formally installed as the King of Lagos.
Although
the war seemed to have ended with Kosoko in exile, there were sporadic
raids on Lagos from Epe; disturbing the peace and trade of the island.
The raids caused the British Consul Campbell, the Elders, and White Cap
chiefs of Lagos, to initiate a move to reconcile the warring royal
relatives.
On the 26th of January 1854, a peace conference,
historically known as Langbasa meeting, was held at Agbekin (Palaver
Island) about four months after King Dosunmu’s coronation. The British
Consul’s party included the Commander of HMS Plato with other officers
under his command, and Kosoko’s party which included Chief Oshodi Tapa
and Chief Onisemo Adeburusi of Epe. They came without Kosoko in about
sixty canoes each containing forty men. King Dosunmu was represented by
several white cap chiefs and war chiefs.
At the opening of this
remarkable conference, the Epe people, led by Chief Oshodi Tapa
expressed their strong desire to return to Lagos as to the British
Consul and be at peace with their friends and relatives. Chief Oshodi
proposed that Kosoko be allowed to return to Lagos and live as a private
person.
The proposal was not agreeable to the Consul on the basis
that two Kings could not rein in Lagos. As an appeasement, Chief Oshodi
was offered to return alone as the Consul for the people of Epe, but he
declined the offer and insisted on Kosoko’s return from exile. Several
years later in 1862, Kosoko was allowed back to Lagos with his war
chief, after signing a peace treaty negotiated with the British Consul
by Chief Oshodi.
Governor Glover was very grateful for Chief Oshodi’s contributions to peace inLagos.
On
their arrival to Lagos, Governor Glover sought permission from Aromire
to give part of Epetedo to Chief Oshodi. For himself, his family, his
followers, and servants who returned with him from Epe, he held the area
under the native customary law of land tenure, subject to the native
system of the devolution of land.
The palace of Oshodi is located
in the center of the area of land in Epetedo. The area is uniquely laid
out into 21 compounds. Four of these compounds; Oshodi, Akinyemi, Ewumi,
and Alagbede courts belong exclusively to Chief Balogun Oshodi’s
extended family.
                            
For the most notable and extraordinary role of
Chief Oshodi in the restoration of peace to Lagos and his contribution
to the Government of Lagos, he was presented by Governor Glover on the
Lagos Race Course grounds with a sword from Mr. Cardwell, the Secretary
of State to the British Government. The sword was inscribed “presented
by the Government of Queen Victoria to Chief Tapa in commemoration of
the loyal services rendered by him to the Government of Lagos”
With
his background of having been to America, Oshodi did not miss the
opportunity to educate his children. He solicited Governor Glover to
educate one of his children in England. This child later assumed the
surname of Oshodi-Glover.

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Chief Balogun Oshodi Tapa died on 2nd of
July1868 about six years after his return from exile in Epe, leaving
forty six surviving children. His body was laid to rest at the center of
Oshodi Street in Epetedo, Lagos. The descendants of Chief Oshodi
constructed an imposing edifice at his burial site, as a monument to the
memory of the renowned warlord, peacemaker, and statesman. This
monument has been classified as a historic site by the Lagos State
Government

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