Broad Street, Lagos of the 1950s [etcetera] & the creativity of our African ancestors that should continue to shame us – Tola Adenle

Blogs from elsewhere: Broad Street, Lagos of the 1950s, courtesy rested & much-missed 234NEXT – 

Fatai Bakare Says:
January 6, 2013 at 11:52 pm e

Old Broad Street, what a beautiful picture! Shame that we could not preserve and blend our old ways to suit our modern lives. We still have the types of the black caps in the picture up till today in UK manufactured in their likes and as new as 2012 models. Alas, things have gone from bad to worse and from worse to worst in Nigeria. The only things we renew seems to be corruption, looting and stealing as well as other vices both in high and low places. I weep for my country.


emotan77 Says:
January 7, 2013 at 2:41 am e

Thanks, Fatai.

I do not know if your generation met the majestic St. Anna court building which was razed to the ground. I’m still on the look-out for any old picture. At Ibadan, just about all the old colonial buildings in the different Government Residential Areas (GRAs) AND at Lagos, especially Ikoyi, have been sold off government hands. The buyers (top government and industry types), especially at Ikoyi – in pursuit of humongous profits – have razed the grand old buildings down and replaced them with soul-less modern boxes, mostly multi-family dwellings. The case of Ikoyi is a big disgrace because those properties could have been sold with a condition that the exterior be not subjected to architectural/structural modifications.

Places such as properties around Queen Street, Yaba (Lagos) will soon disappear, and gone would be the old Brazilian-type architectural small bungalows. On my rare visits to Lagos, I never fail to hope the Okupes would not allow Agbonmagbe House, the building that housed the old Agbonmagbe Bank, Nigeria’s first indigenous bank founded by late Chief Okupe, to go the way of many that are being sold for huge amounts.

After Adekunle Police Station on Herbert Macaulay and just before the turn-off (left) towards the Third Mainland Bridge, the quaint Brazilian-design bungalow is on the right.

I’m aware that the house still remains in family hands but how long this will stand in the face of tons of money that such a place can attract is anybody’s guess unless, of course, Lagos State Government can start paying attention to the area of acquisitions of a few places to serve as small museums, etcetera to hold Yoruba artefacts. Philanthropists are also needed to rise to the challenge of donating places that would ensure generations yet unborn would not meet huge buildings with no pasts in the future.

I never stop wondering how our ancestors: the Edos of Benin Kingdom, the Middle Belters, the Yoruba, Sokoto, etcetera – all in Nigeria – came up with those magnificent Opa Oranyan & Ori Olokun (Ile-Ife), etcetera; Benin Bronze heads; the magnificent Nok Culture terracottas centuries, in some cases, over 1000 years ago AND YET, we the descendants, continue to feel no shame about our lack of any additions to these wondrous works.

Your note, Dear Fatai, has gotten me thinking of something I’ve planned to showcase for a while that may lead us to a path that I believe we Africans must pursue.  Ten years ago this month, I wondered aloud about the original manuscript for Rev. Johnson’s “The History of the Yorubas” in my weekly essays for a newspaper as “The manuscript that got lost:  Remembering the Rev. Samuel Johnson (Ayinla Ogun).

All the wondrous works below from different parts of Nigeria – with the exception of the monolith at Ile-Ife (Opa Oranyan) lie in various museums and private collections of the Western world:  the British Museum, The Louvre in Paris, and many university collections in the West.

Now, I’m not talking of getting these irreplaceable works of arts back but shouldn’t their creation be enough to spur Nigerians to strife for excellence?  Shouldn’t the creation of magnificent works of arts by our African ancestors West, East and South of the Continent – the North are much different – be enough impetus for us to raise our heads by striving for excellence rather than the corruption that envelope us?

While waiting for a renaissance of spirit in us all, let’s feast our eyes on a tiny few of these incredible works that were stolen, taken for a song many times over or given as gifts through trickery by Westerners who came to “civilize” our ancestors.  Remember my reference to how Alake of Egbaland Late Oba Lipede refused to part with ANOTHER ancient Bible that a white guy purportedly wanted to take to England to “re-bind/repair”.  The monarch said, ‘no thanks’ remembering the palace lost a previous one through the same kind of “assistance”.

Thanks, as always, Fatai for the continued contributions, and especially for this which has made me do this.



The Nok Culture of the Middle Belt appeared from around 500 BC to 200 AD – about thousand years ago but  somehow disappeared! If the civilizations that produced those wondrous works somehow disappeared, what happened and what have we done about them?

Below are some pictures from the web; many of us have seen the most popular ones while many may be new.  The publication of the old Broad Street picture even though it does not contain much AND Fatai Bakare’s comments got me going on this.

It’s all v. depressing but also v. exhilarating as regards our heritage.  It’s about the same all over Africa.

ALL PICTURES ARE FROM GOOGLE IMAGES with various sources: Brittanica, British Museum The Louvre, Wikipedia, etcetera.




NOK CULTUREstoreyhouses


Nok Culture – Jos

NOK 2pplNok Map

map 2


NOKhair220px-Nok_sculpture_Louvre_70-1998-11-1At the Louvre

SOKOTO terracotta

Sokoto Terracotta



These were done between 1000 BC to 1500 AD


Ooni (King of the ancestral home of the Yorubas)



Wunmonije Compound, Ife, Head with Crown, 14th-early 15th century, C.E. Copper alloy. Fundación Marcelino Botín/Museum for Africa

“Technically and visually the artworks of ancient Ife, the ancient Yoruba city state, are among the most remarkable in the world, including near life-size heads and figures of humans in terra cotta and bronze, some cast of nearly pure copper.

Dynasty and Divinity: Ife in Ancient Nigeria features the artistic accomplishments of this unique 12th- to 15th-century civilization in what is today southwestern Nigeria, and examines how factors of dynastic power and divine authority shaped the exceptional arts from Ife.”


1.  The stone carving is 18 feet high is the only one of the ancient Ife works that I’ve seen. I visited it when I worked at the University of Ife in 1969.  It is an artistic work of wonder; has  nails studded all over it!

2.  The Gatekeeper (Idena) Has iron nails in its coiffure and elaborately tied sash.

Opa Oranyan


The Ife terracottas

Ife terracotta23.Terracotta3


BENIN (Edo) Kingdom


Map of Benin Kingdom

BeninWIKIBenin Oba (Wikipedia)





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