Landuji Oshodi

Oshodi Tapa
Landuji Oshodi. Source: Unknown

Landuji Oshodi, known as Oshodi Tapa, was a powerful chief and war minister of King Kosoko of Lagos. Oshodi Tapa was born 1780 to a Nupe royal family, though he was recorded by some colonial sources to be of Egba origin apparently due to his early Yorubanization. There has also been an account that Oshodi was a Nupe former slave in the court of the Lagos king, Eshilokun, who reigned from 1780 to 1819. Family sources, apparently driven by prestige, claims he was a Nupe prince who fled from the land of his birth due to the fierce dynastic struggles of his youth. Being royal, it was said, he was taken by a kind Lagosian to Eshilokun who he began to serve at the court.

In many accounts, Oshodi was described as a skilled warrior, who, having lost his parents at the age of six, got exposed early to the nuances of war. By the time, Eshilokun, his godfather who assigned to him a chief, Fagbemi, for upkeep, died, Oshodi had acquired enough education and experience to last him through his successful career. He had journeyed to Portugal ostensibly learning a couple of European languages. He had also mastered the art of Trade which was to be in his future, and which he would be involved till the crisis in the court of the king after his own godfather required him to take up the arms.

Rebellion against Akitoye

Oshodi rebelled against Akitoye who occupied the stool, and helped Kosoko, son of Eshilokun take up the crown in July 1845. This will become first among the intrigues that will culminate in the British annexation of Lagos, which he also fought against, albeit unsuccessfully. Although he had instructions to murder Akitoye, he allowed the deposed king to flee instead, thereby winning the respect of even his adversary. In his campaign against the British who intervened to reinstall Akitoye in 1851 he quickly retreated. Akitoye had won the British to his side for his friendliness towards them and his avowal of anti-slavery stance which had been their policy since the 1807 abolition in England.

Epetedo Reward

Oshodi was at the wrong side of history but his wise choices afterwards preserved his relevance even after the fall of his king, Kosoko. While in exile at Epe with Kosoko, he had declined an invitation to return to Lagos, insisting Kosoko must come with him if he must. As a reward for his cooperation at peace meetings brokered by the British to unite Kosoko and Akitoye’s camp, now headed by Akitoye’s son and successor, Dosumu, Oshodi was granted a large stretch of land at Epetedo where Kosoko’s followers and Epe refugees camped upon the attainment of peace. Oshodi did well to adjust himself to the post-slave trade era and this transition was eased by the Europeans who consciously encouraged legitimate commerce. German firm, O’swald engaged Oshodi in carrying out their business in Lagos.

Though strip of political power, Oshodi maintained contact with British authority so warmly that he received a sword gift from the British crown. At his deathbed on 2 July, 1868, he requested the company of the colonial governor of Lagos, Glover, who obliged him in one of his last wishes. There, he refused to be ministered to by native doctors who came with their idols, affirming his belief in the Christian God. Oshodi’s Descendant Union erected a monument to him outside his compound at Epetedo, the Iga Oshodi.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer