17th September, 2010
The world’s attention was recently directed to Ejinrin as the Elejinrin of Ejinrin Kingdom,Â Oba Rafiu Ishola Balogun celebrated his 5th year coronation anniversary. Ejinrin is aÂ coastal community in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria
Speaking at a symposium to commemorate the 5th year coronation anniversary of theÂ community’s monarch, entitled, Ejinrin: The Past, Present and Future, Professor HakeemÂ Danmole of the Lagos State University stated that Ejinrin used to be the commercial nerveÂ centre of the whole Yoruba race, known particularly for easy movement of goods to otherÂ parts of the world, especially Europe.
Apart from the coronation anniversary, Ejinrin Kingdom, one of the six districts of EpeÂ Local Government Area of Lagos State, is very significant in the history of Yoruba race, asÂ it has historical sites that many Nigerians are not aware of. The first post office inÂ Nigeria is said to be in Ejinrin. The post office was built by the colonial administratorsÂ in 1857 and till date, it is still functioning, though patronage is low.
The first Comprehensive College in Lagos State built in 1978 is also said to be in Ejinrin.Â The Comprehensive College, Lofi-Ogunmude, was named after the founder of Ejinrin-EpeÂ community. According to local history, a hunter called Lofi founded Ejinrin about 400 yearsÂ ago and it was named after a herbal leaf called, (Ejinrin leaf) use to cure different typesÂ of diseases.
When the Europeans invaded Ejinrin in the 19th Century, they constructed a sea port, whichÂ is today the second oldest sea port in Nigeria. They built the largest market containingÂ over 1,800 stalls. The market, which is presently abandoned, was formerly known for tradingÂ in commodities such as cocoa, fabric, herbs, fish and other consumable and exports alike.Â Ejinrin has one of the oldest roads, which link Lagos to Kano State. The oldest AnglicanÂ Church, built in 1892 by the Europeans is still standing in the community. All theseÂ building are still in their original form.
Several multinational companies like United African Company (UAC), Patterson Zochonis, PZ,Â and individuals like Chief Okunowo of Ijebu were said to have started their businesses inÂ Ejinrin. It was the popularity of this ancient community that motivated the Juju musician,Â Chief Ebenezer Obey, to sing the song, â€œBi okan kan o lo Ejinrin, egbegberun e alo (meaning,Â if a vessel refuses to sail to Ejinrin, thousands of such vessels will be ready to go).
Despite the importance of Ejinrin, the community has not developed. Speaking with P.M.NEWS,Â Oba Rafiu Balogun, the traditional ruler of the town, said the movement of multinationalÂ companies out of the community has been the major factor that has affected development inÂ Ejinrin. “The companies left their warehouse in Ejinrin and took their economic activitiesÂ to Lagos after the colonial masters built Apapa Wharf and railways,” he informed.
Another factor which the monarch identified was rivalry between the indigenes of Ejinrin,Â which led to several wars. â€œFor several years, the community was divided, it was a seriousÂ war in Ejinrin and between 1971 and 2005, there was no functioning head in Ejinrin untilÂ 2005 when I was installed as the king,â€ the Oba said.
The king, who marked his fifth year coronation anniversary recently in Ejinrin, said hisÂ greatest achievement on the throne was to unite the people of Ejinrin. He therefore calledÂ on government, multinational companies and individuals to come and site their projects inÂ Ejinrin.
According to the king, Ejinrin is now a peaceful place with plenty of fertile land forÂ investors to build companies and industries. Schools should also allow their students toÂ visit Ejinrin, especially the historical sites like the first Post Office in Nigeria.
The community appreciates Lagos State government’s the efforts to develop the state intoÂ mega city and called on Governor Fashola to include Ejinrin in his developmental plan. ObaÂ Rafiu stated that there are several abandoned projects in Ejinrin. A Skill AcquisitionÂ Centre has been abandoned since 2005. Though the community gave the Lagos State governmentÂ 50 hectares of land to build a low cost housing estate, the project is yet to take off. HeÂ said the government also promised to relocate Oko-Baba sawmillers to Ejinrin but they haveÂ not come to start working until recently when I heard that the project has been moved toÂ another community.
â€œIt is an undisputed fact that Ejinrin has done it before, served what is now known as LagosÂ State and the entire Yoruba raceÂ and it can do it again if government and individuals comeÂ together to develop the community. This will not only be profitable to the community but theÂ entire Lagos State as it may also attract the attention of tourists and investors from allÂ over the world,” Oba Rafiu Balogun said.