Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Lost Child

The BBC will air a documentary on the life of Lady Sara Forbes Bonetta

The documentary will be looking back to the mid-19th century to uncover a remarkable and unique tale that has remained in the footnotes of history. It is the story of Sara Forbes Bonetta, a young girl rescued from a life of slavery in West Africa (Nigeria), brought to England and taken under the wing of Queen Victoria, who raised Sara as her god-daughter within the British middle class. 

She became a celebrity in England and was admired by many for her intelligence, social skills and musical talents, this film charts the happiness and heartbreak in this extraordinary woman’s life and examines how she became part of the changing debate about slavery, race, identity and empire. 

The Lost Child will air on Saturday, 24 May at 11:10 and 23:10 as well as on Sunday, 25 May at 17:10 on BBC World News, channel 400 on DStv.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Lailo Dance 1950s

The dance from Abeokuta, known as Lailo, is specially performed to honour an intrepid hunter who, in Yoruba mythology, is a symbol of strength and prowess. 1950s

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Baro Station 1916.

Baro, town and river port, Niger State, west central Nigeria, on the Niger River. Originally a small village of the Nupe people, it was selected by the British as Nigeria’s link between rail and river transport; its solid bank—rare along the Lower Niger—could be used for loading river craft with Northern Nigeria’s cotton crop. 

Although the 350-mile (565-km) Baro–Kano railway was completed in 1911, it was shortly eclipsed in importance by a railroad built farther north, and the Baro–Kano line is no longer in use. 

Most of the town’s local trade is in sorghum, yams, rice, millet, fish, palm oil, shea nuts, peanuts (groundnuts), and cotton. Swamp rice is cultivated commercially both by farmers in the vicinity and at the government’s irrigated rice projects at Loguma and Badeggi.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

A Street Photographer, Lagos 1949

Nigerian Postman. Lagos 1939

Juvenile justice in Nigeria 1948

Nigeria’s system of juvenile justice, is modeled after the British system, it was established in 1914, although it has been modified in various locations to accommodate local customs. Juvenile offenders are legally defined as those aged 7 to 17, and they are subject to the authority of the juvenile court.

1948 - Here are a few pictures demonstrating some of the processes a juvenile will go through before his appearance in court

1.  Young boy arriving at the remand home.

The inspector who is charge of the "Special Children's Police Branch" hands over the remanded boy to the warden of the remand home, together with the remand warrant signed by the magistrate. During the time the boy resides in the home, the warden will study his manner and will report on him to the Probation Officer who is preparing a comprehensive report for the court.  

2 Cooking and grinding

The boys carrying out, under supervision, all the domestic duties of the remand home. The kitchen is a popular place to work in for obvious reasons. 


3 Schooling at the remand home

Since the boys only stay in the remand home for a few weeks, the aim is  to occupy them and improve them as much as possible in the time . Their day is taken up with domestic duties, gardening, schooling and leisure time recreation

4 The Magistrates of the Juvenile court

When a youth is brought before a Juvenile Court. The proceedings do not take place in public. The environment is informal so the child may talk freely without fear. There is no dock or witness box. The Chairman always sits with two lay Magistrates, a man and a woman. They are specially selected because of their knowledge of local conditions and interest in the welfare of children.

(Sitting beside the Chairman is Mrs Agbaje and A. Kudeyinbu II, Chief Bajulaiye)

Nigerian Magazine 

Nigeria and WW2

During the Second World War some 375,000 men and women from African countries served in the Allied forces. They took part in campaigns in the Middle East, North Africa and East Africa, Italy and the Far East.
Men of the 81st and 82nd West African Divisions served with great distinction against the Japanese in Burma, as part of the famous ‘Forgotten’ 14th Army. The 81st was composed of units from the Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast (now Ghana), while the 82nd comprised further reinforcements from Nigeria and the Gold Coast. Both Divisions formed part of the RWAFF (Royal West African Frontier Force).

Here some aspects of military life (official and  informal ) on the men of the Nigeria Regiment.

1. A Hausa sergeant having a shave by a civilian barber. 

2.  An old soldier of past wars. His medals include those of the Ashanti war, the 1914-1918 war and the life saving medal of the Royal Humane Society

3.  A group of lorry drivers

4.  A sergeant receiving treatment from an Army dentist.

5. An Army cook

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Mr Sawyerr, of the Nigerian Railway Stores Department, at work in his garden at Ebute Metta. 1939

Nigerian Ambulance and Driver 1940


"This ambulance is attached to the Lagos Police Headquarters and is ready day and night for immediate use. Such service calls for a car that has supreme riding comfort, an engine that gives power with economy and is absolutely reliable. 

If you demand those qualities in a car for private or other purposes let your choice be the FORD V8" 

From an advert by Joe Allen & Company Ltd. 

Carter Bridge. 1940. A man walks by telephone wires supported by an electric lamp.

The Scout Movement In The Northern Provinces

This picture shows Scouts of the Kano City Troop. It was the very first troop of the Northern Provinces. The youngest son of the Emir of Kano and the sons of the Chiroma of Kano were very keen scouts (Sorry I am unable to identify them in this picture).

As this was the first scout troop to be formed in Kano, the Emir allowed it to use his name; thus it was known as the "Emir of Kano's own" Troop.  

Monday, 5 May 2014

Nigerian Chiefs in London in 1913 to petition about new laws for the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria.

A group portrait showing the deputation of West African chiefs who came to London to petition the Colonial Secretary on the new Land Laws which would come into force with the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria the following year (1914). The group is seen here on the Terrace of the House of Commons where they were entertained to tea by Mrs. Alice Seymour Wason (centre of group) and her husband in early July. The European figure at the back of the group is possibly John Cathcart Wason (1848-1921), M.P. for Orkney and Shetland (1900-21) although he appears to be a younger man than Wason would have been at this time. The two other European women in the group have not been identified. Some of the chiefs have been identified as: O. Labinjoh (Representative of the Alara of Ara); A. Edun (Egba Government, Secretary to delegation); E. Adebiyi (delegate from Ibadan); Chief Adedeji (Risawe of Ilesha); Chief of Shobogun (Lisa of Kesi, Abeokuta); Demisokun (delegate from Ilesha); Sanusi (Ekerin Balogun of Ibadan); Omobulejo (Odi of Jebuode); Erabase (of Ife); Ajero (Odi of the Oni of Ife).

The Ataoja of Oshogbo 1959

"Samuel Johnson (Anglican Priest and historian) believed that Oshogbo was founded in the time of Alafin Kori and he explains that the town was a military outpost of the Owa of Ilesha, intended to guard the frontier against the warlike Timi of Ede one of the generals of the Alafin of Oyo. This story in unlikely, however, because Oshogbo has a list of only 15 Obas (as of 1959) which hardly takes the town back to the time of Alafin Kori. Moreover the Ataoja does not seem to have been a military title, but rather a form of sacred kingship. Oshogbo tradition describes how the people moved from their home in Ibokun ( the original home of all the Ijeshas) and how they wondered about looking for a suitable site to settle. They tried various places, but invariably the water supply proved to be insufficient and they had to move on. Finally they came to the river Oshun. The Ataoja first tried to build his palace on the bank of the river , where the Oshun shrine stands today. But the goddess of the river appeared and objected. She pointed out the site of the present Afin (palace) to him and ordered him to build there. 
The Ataoja and the goddess made a pact. Oshun promised to protect the town and the Ataoja promised to worship annually at the river bank. To this very day the site where Ataoja first sat down on the river bank is marked. Where he intended to build his palace, there is now an important shrine to Oshun, and in this sacred grove no fish may be caught" Ulli Beier  from his article Portrait Of A Yoruba Town 1959

Dancers, Agbor Ulli Beier 1959

Atilogu Dancers. Ulli Beier 1959

Atilogwu is a traditionally spirited youth dance from the Igbo ethnic group of Nigeria that focuses on vigorous body movement and often includes acrobatics. In the Igbo language, the word itself “Atilogwu” translates into “has magic—as in sorcery/ witchcraft—been put into it?”

The name stems from rumors that bewitchment or magic potions had to be involved if the children of the village could perform so exuberantly and energetically, while making it look so effortless. The tempo of the dance matches the tempo of the music, which is dependent on the beat of the drum and “ogene,” a metal gong instrument.

Pankshin Flute player, Plateau Province. 1959 Photographer: Peter Obe

Today in History - 5th May 2010 President Yar'Adua dies

Umaru Musa Yar'Adua was the President of Nigeria and the 13th Head of State (From  29 May 2007 till death ) He had previously served as governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007. In 2009, Yar'Adua left for Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for pericarditis. He returned to Nigeria in 2010, where he died on 5 May. 

Sunday, 4 May 2014


Queen Mother of Esigie, the ruler of Benin Kingdom in the early 1500s.  
Esigie created the political title Iyoba to include her in his administration . Idia has been described as a valiant warrior. She is credited with Esigie's successful conquest of the neighbouring Igala Kingdom. Her son built her a palace outside Benin and gave her territory over which to rule. In Bini oral tradition, Idia has several praise names,  such as "Idia ne ekonorhue" meaning "Idia, the womb of Orohue"

This Ivory carving of her face was adopted in 1977 as the emblem of the World Bank and African Festival of Arts and Culture

FOUR COPIES of the carving were taken from the private residence of Oba Ovoranmwen in 1897 by the British military force that invaded the capital of the Empire, Edo (now Benin City in Nigeria) during the "punitive expedition" and memories of the humiliation that the King suffered at the hands of the British (he was deposed and banished to Calabar) still evokes bitterness.

The carving is still the centrepiece of the African exhibition at the British Museum which attracts thousands of visitors each year. 

One of the other three copies of the carving is now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, another is in a private collection in California and the fourth is in the hands of an anonymous British collector.

When the Nigerian military government at the time (headed by Olusegun Obasanjo), made a formal request for the carving's return . The British government bluntly refused, their reason..... The head of the conservation department at the Museum was of the opinion that "because of the condition of the object, it was unsafe to travel. The surface of the mask was cracked and it was thought that a sudden change in environment, from a cold climate to a suddenly hot one could worsen its state." 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Thank you note written by Flora Shaw. February 1900

Flora Shaw was a British journalist. She is credited with having coined the name "Nigeria" (even though it had been in use way before) She married Sir Frederick Lugard in 1902 he was the first Governor-General of Nigeria.