Mohammed Shitta-Bey

Mohammed Shitta-Bey
Shitta-Bey’s picture dated 28 December 1892. Source: National Archives, U.I Ibadan

Mohammed Shitta-Bey was a wealthy Moslem trader of the 19th Century credited alongside Dr. Blyden who was an educator, for the change in the religious demographics of Colonial Lagos. Shitta was himself baptized a Christian in Sierra Leone but he changed to the faith of his father who was an eminent Sierra Leonean Muslim in 1844. He moved to Lagos like many Yoruba former slaves in 1852. In Lagos, he achieved renown for his ascetic lifestyle even though he was a successful trader who acquired substantial wealth in the Delta.

When the mosque building for which he devoted thirty years of his life was commissioned on 4th July 1894, it was described as the noblest achievement with which the Negro of West Africa will mark the closing decade of the nineteenth century. In this ceremony in which the Colonial Governor, Gilbert Carter was present, Shitta was invested with the order of Mejidish by the envoy of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, hence the addition, -Bey to his name.