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Did You Know? Tinubu Square (Independence Square)


Driving out on to Broad Street on a giving day, you are sure to notice it gets busier until you reach the heart of the Lagos central business district, the road opens up onto a 2000sqm square from where the road divides up into Nnamdi Azikiwe Street. That square is now known as Tinubu Square but it was not always called that. It was once called Independence Square.

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Initially known as Ita Tinubu, in honour of Efunroye Tinubu (Madam Tinubu). she was a slave and business magnate. Subsequently, the square was called Independence Square and finally, Tinubu Square. The square has historical significance dating back to when Lagos was just one of the biggest slave ports on the West African coast. It was always a square in as it was a point where many streets met. The square was also a meeting point between some of the major socio-political and economic groups in colonial Lagos. To the north-west of the square was the Brazilian quarters (Aguda)-home to Brazillian returnees and other immigrant communities, to the north-east was the indigenous Awori population and to the south was the European settlements that are now known as the Marina.

The square became a literal meeting point for three groups when city matters were to be discussed by the colonial government. It was the literal heart of Lagos as it were. The first court of justice was situated there from the year 1890 until 1918 when the Supreme Court or the Court of the Assizes was created. The court would stay there until it was demolished in 1960 to make way for the square.

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The place has under major transformation in the past 100 years. The most significant was when it became a park after the Supreme Court was transferred to the east of the Island in 1960. In preparation for Nigerian independence, the Syrian/Lebanese communities contributed fountains to the square as independence present to the country. Since that time, the layout has changed significantly. The square is now barred by iron meshes that surround it forming a fence and it is now secured by a private security firm under contract with the state government.

That square in many ways remains the beating heart of Lagos: a cradle of sorts, and a testament to a saner past. We hope the next time you are in the district, you appreciate just the history behind the edifice.

Featured Image Source: Loving Lagos

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David Okwara

Some call me David. Others, Emerie. Others, (unfortunate fellows) Biggie. I like to think that I have sense and that is why I write too. Otherwise, I draw and paint and sing (in the bathroom) and love to make people laugh. I love to understand how things work and that’s why I love DIY videos and YouTube of course. Follow me on Twitter @EmerieOkwara

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