Solo show 2014 — Didi Museum
Victoria Island, Lagos

L4YER CAKE — A Narrative on the History of the Crown of Lagos

A set of 4 prints 2013/2014 series. Produced for my Solo show at Didi Museum , Victoria Island Lagos curated by C.J. Jibunoh. I delve into the history of Lagos in particular the layers that go to make up the crown of Lagos how the kingdom was formed, its peculiar character and its interactions with other players in its history to create the vibrant port city we are proud of today there are 4 main layers to consider Idejos, Yeoba, Eyingbeti, Dankolo.

IDEJO

“In general it can be said that a nation's art is greatest when it most reflects the character of its people”

- Edward Hopper

The Idejos are the Dukes of Lagos, Yoruba Nobility, the Land Owners of Eko, the original name of the people of the area around the Lagoon. Their estates are spread around the Lagoon which would inspire the Portuguese to name the area Lagos . The Portuguese arrived in the sixteenth century and sailed through the bay of Lagos into the Lagoon surrounded by well tended plantations of palms and pepper from which the vast wealth of the Dukes were derived.

The Portuguese would establish a trading station at Epe east of the Lagoon the first administrative capital of Lagos and Ejinrin where the first post office in Nigeria would be erected The trade was mainly palm produce pepper and spices, smoked fish and dried shrimps which in the past was destined for the trans Sahara trade.

The Dukes of the Lagoon, Yoruba nobility sit in a plethora of golden pennies. The red and green of the Portugese who gave the city its modern name is brought to play against a back ground of the petrol blue of the Lagoon.The colour red a representation of the wealth of the fruits of the palm and our famous pepper crop ,The green for land and enterprise, the blue lagoon, and Multiplicity of chiefs for representational government . In Lagos the heavens shine down on the fertile green of great Nigeria


YEOBA

"A generation which ignores history has no past and no future"

- Robert Heinlein

The first King of Lagos was Oba Ado, the son of Prince Ashipa of the Kingdom of Benin. Being a Prince of Benin he understood the craftmanship of statehood and the importance of this. He would form the kingdom of Lagos with the help of the council of “white cap chiefs” Idejos the Dukes of Lagos. He had three children two male Gabbaro, Akinsemoyin and a female Kuti. His sons would go on to rule Lagos , but both of them had no male heirs and before he died Oba Akinsemoyin would confer on his sister the title Erelu and ask that her kids should rule Lagos. Erelu Kuti would sit as Regent until her son Ologun Kutere would be Crowned the fourth King of Lagos. The title Erelu is similar to that of Queen Mother “Eguae Iyoba” in Benin. The first Queen Mother was Queen Idia the mother of King Esigie the 16th King of Benin

In 1851 a british naval expedition would enter the bay of Lagos, bomb it to submission depose the King Oba Kosoko and annex the Kingdom in the name of Queen Victoria . Ending slavery. In 1861 Oba Dosunmu would sign a treaty with the British. Lagos became a crown colony. The treaty allowed for indirect rule, The Kings of Lagos and council of chiefs would retain their status and handle the affairs of the people. This treaty would save us from the terrible oppression of direct rule suffered by many other African colonies.

In 1897 the British would send a punitive expedition to raze the ancient kingdom of Benin after the King of Benin refused to entertain the British advances to annex It .The city was looted and demolished the King Oba Ovonramwen was deposed and the inhabitants moved to a new settlement 30km away modern day Benin. The jungle would take over and the only sign of this great city is from space where the indentation of the great moat which surrounded it can be seen.

In 1977 Lagos would play host to FESTAC a festival of arts and culture . At the National theatre a building set in a moat . The funeral mask of Queen Idia would be the Logo for the festival . The rich history of the people of Benin would once again be in the spotlight, their dignity restored by the impressive collection of art showcasing their rich traditions.


EYINGBETI

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance”

- Aristotle

Legend has it that as long as the people of Lagos do not turn a blindeye to the sea, Lagos will be proud. The Eyo masqurade a symbol of the city is held at the demise of a great son or daughter, it symbolises the coming together as one to stand in unity as individual families united by the assurance of a better future. It captures the “just do it “ attitude of the people of Lagos and their joyous nature with its greeting “I celebrate you, I celebrate myself”. The sea, the light on the lagoon, fish scales, the lights at night when the city is lit.

Lagos the city of EYO of commerce and prosperity, all Gold and silver, “just do it” Lagos , silver scales and Jedi knights , entrepreneurial Lagos of the people. The ingenuity of Eyingbeti the city with no pity. Bi oju o bati eyingbeti,oju oni ti Eko ,Ipinle Eko o. ni Baje oo


DANKOLO

"The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through”

- Jackson Pollock

Golden Caravans from the North bring knowledge of ancient kingdoms from the ivory towers of Timbuktu. New ideology connecting worlds hither to unknown. The River Dankolo springs in Guinea at the foot hills of the Futa Jallon highlands turning its back on the Atlantic it flows north to form the mighty river Niger, to see the Sahara, and to meet the ocean in the grand Niger Delta.

It gives rise to the Dankolo tribe in Mali, the southern most station of the Trans Sahara trade. Anchoring this trade with produce from the forests of West Africa Salt ,Pepper, Ivory, cloth ,iron and Gold.

In 1324 Mansa Musa the King of Mali went on a pilgrimage to mecca he took with him a retinue of 30,000 men and so much gold they would cause an inflation on the economies from Egypt to Arabia which would last for 30 years

The Dankolo's travelled on the river till it forms the mighty Niger Delta bringing with them wealth, enlightenment, trade, Islam, the spirit of adventure. Its many tributaries make up a myriad of rivers in Nigeria including the mighty Benue, Sokoto, Kaduna, and Anambra. In Lagos they will trade our pepper oil and spices with time they brought literacy and Islam to the throne of Lagos their military prowess helped Lagos gain a bargaining advantage. With the help of Oshodi Tapa one of the Okolo's, Lagos Sank a frigate of the British Navy in the 1851 bombardment of the bay of Lagos