Gbadebo I

Alake Gbadebo in a 1854 photo in London
Gbadebo I (1854) was ruler of the Egba in Abeokuta, a traditional state in southwestern Nigeria.© Michael Graham-Stewart

Gbadebo I, original name, Tegumada Ademola was the sixth Alake of Egba land who ruled from 1892 to 1920. Alake Gbadebo was born in 1854. His father, Okukenu, was the first Alake after the Egba migration to Abeokuta. Gbadebo’s sovereignty was interrupted in 1914 with the termination of the Egba Unity Government, which educated elites had helped him arrange with his ascension to power. The British ruled indirectly through him after the subsumption of his territory under their government. Gbadebo attended church services, breaking with traditional religious customs of the Egba. His admiration for Britain also took him to London in 1904. There, he made acquaintance of King Edward VII of England who on the eve of his return to Lagos, presented him with a copy of the Bible. Before his death on 28 May, Gbadebo asked for baptism and was obliged by his old friend, the Roman Catholic Father Coquard.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer