One of the most important historical characters in Lagos, Oshodi Tapa, would come to be one of the most notable Lagosian from the latter days of the sovereignty of the Obas of Lagos. Many would see the name and assume that Oshodi, the present-day transit and market commune/district was named after the man but that is sadly incorrect.
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The man himself distinguished himself in service so much that an entire neighbourhood was given him as an inheritance by the ruling house of Lagos.
Ladunji Oshodi Tapa was born a Nupe in Bida (Niger State) and according to most accounts, he came to Lagos as a war slave. He was said to have found favour in the eyes of the daughter of Oba Esinlokun after the little boy escaped the Portuguese barracoons headed for the Americas.
The boy would grow into a favourite of the king himself and as he grew, took on more responsibility for the king’s house. He became fluent in Portuguese when Esinlokun had to send an envoy to Portugal to enhance trade and cultural relations.
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He grew into a skilled trader and became a slaver himself on behalf of the king. When Kosoko became involved in a tussle with Akitoye for the thone, Tapa sided with the son of the now late Esinlokun and eventually helped the prince remove Akitoye in the Slat Water War. He was to chase the deposed Akitoye who had fled towards Ikorodu and return with his head. Some historians say he simply let the man escape and returned to tell his king that Akitoye charmed him and his men and hence got away.
Tapa was part of the Epe Treaty of 1854 which effectively gave legitimacy to Britain’s claim on Lagos. When Kosoko was deposed and absconded to Epe, Tapa went with his king. He would only return eight years later in 1862.
For the next six years, he became a valuable advisor of the British government and made the transition to “legitimate trade” dealing in palm oil, ivory, cotton, among other export items.
He died in 1868 in his homestead of Epetedo. Today, his monument still stands in what used to be his compound but has since become part of the road through the settlement in Lagos Island.
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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