Joseph Odumosu

Joseph Odumosu, founder of the Aborigines Society with strong base in Lagos, was born in 1863 to ‘Daddy Odubela’ of Ita Ntebo, Ijebu Ode. Odumosu acted as the leader of Ijebu Christians during the reign of Awujale Adeleke and Fusigboye Adeona, outrivaling both in in wealth, popularity, power, followership and respectability. Though sickly as a child, Odumosu had grown to become a tall, lanky individual with a fragile exterior. He was a self-trained shoemaker, mason and trader. Joseph was a pioneer publisher of news magazine. His newspaper, Iwe Irohin ilu was followed by Yoruba dictionary and one of the first efforts of the Yoruba to record their history, Iwe Iranti Itan Ijebu ati Yoruba.

Joseph Odumosu converted to Christianity before the 1892 military expedition that ended Ijebu independence. After the punitive expedition of Ijebu land he became a close collaborator with the British and he emerged as a senior member of the Native Council, which was the new Travelling Commissioner, Captain Reeve Tucker’s experiment with democracy. On December 3, 1903, the revolutionaries, among whom Odumosu was counted, divided portfolios among themselves, sidelining the traditionalists, believing that power has been effectively transferred to the people. A terrific backlash was launched in March 1904 by conservatives and by April, a crowd of over 15,000 people tried to wreck Joseph Odunmosu’s house, being the most unpopular of council members. The Colonist government, sensing trouble, made Joseph and other non-traditionalist members of the council to resign.

Joseph would later become a leader of the agitation against British imperial interest, arousing anti-British feelings among the masses including even the Awujale and his chiefs, culminating into first mass movement against British rulers since the Imagbon War. The trade boycott which he roused began in weeks to affect British traders for whom Ijebu palm kernels and palm oil were important. The face-off resulted into the arrest of Odumosu for prosecution. By then, his popularity had soared so much that the Supreme Court had to discharge him. His return in 11 September 1907 was greeted with great ovation and he celebrated the event with a thanksgiving at St. Savior’s Church, four days after. Joseph Odumosu died in 1911.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer