THE ROAD TO THE ABOLITION OF SLAVE TRADE IN LAGOS: THE DRAMA BETWEEN OBA AKITOYE AND KOSOKO By Anago James Akeem Osho
Oba Akitoye was a king who believed in legitimate commerce and he desired a good relationship between his people and the British, but his nephew was a defiant slave trader who believed that Oba Akitoye usurped his position as a king.
Before Akitoye became king, Kosoko was in exile in Whydah (Ouidah) and Whydah was another important slave trading port that time.
Kosoko and his friend, Gezo, the king of Dahomey does not want the seed of the British to be planted and to germinate in Yorubaland due to their success in slave trade of the era.
Kosoko and his army, with support from his bosom friend Gezo, the King of Dahomey, declared war against Oba Akitoye in July, 1845 and unfortunately for King Akitoye, the Eletu Odibo, the commander of his army, who could have rallied soldiers to protect the kingdom had relocated to Badagry because he did not support the pardon granted to Kosoko to come back home from exile in Whydah by Akitoye.
After the king sent for him (Eletu Odibo), he returned to Lagos but was assassinated on his way to Ikorodu. As soon as Akitoye heard the news, he feared for his life and him and his supporters departed Lagos for Abeokuta to seek protection. From there he relocated to Badagry where he made several attempts to communicate with the British consul in the area on the state of affairs in Lagos.
Akitoye was deposed and Slave trade became grounded by the new King, Kosoko. The British were invited by Akitoye to broker peace so that he could be restored back to the throne but Kosoko does not want any interference by the British. He ordered his men who had stationed his Warships on the waterfront to open fire on a British ship which was advancing toward Lagos, hoisting a flag of truce.
Beecroft and his naval team were so infuriated that they attacked Lagos but were immediately repelled by Kosoko and his men but it was momentarily because on December 28, 1851, Kosoko and his supporters were sacked by the British in Lagos.
It was victory for Akitoyewho was restored back as king on 1st of January, 1852, on board the British ship, HMS Penelope. He signed a treaty with commodore Henry W. Bruce and Mr. John Beecroft for the abolition of the slave trade, encouragement of legitimate trade and protection of missionaries.
The drama that ensued and the successful defeat of Kosoko made the British to realize the power of their guns over the natives. Later, Akitoye was not comfortable with the dominating presence of the British but there was nothing he could do about it.
His children were not happy with him because of his rash decision to take back his throne through the support of the British and their gun. To break the Camel’s back, he reigned for just twenty months. He died in August 1853.
Akitoye’s invitation of the British was the beginning of colonialism in Lagos and his environ and it plunged the Niger delta and other hinterland kingdoms into it.
The British conquered Lagos in 1851 and acquired it as a protectorate and colony of the British in 1861.
SLAVE PORTS OF LAGOS
1, Isale eko
4, Okun Apese
6, Takwa Bay
8, Epe etc.