FUTURE LAGOS | The Lagos Tour: Lagos Island

‘Lagos Island has the potential to be a space that citizens and tourists alike, can engage with a historical past, present, and future Nigeria.’



The Lagos Tour’ is a monthly feature from Future Lagos that explores the city using photography and this month we drove around Lagos Island, where old and new Lagos meet.

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by Olamide Udoma

Photographs courtesy of Chuka Ejorh

Read previous editions of The Lagos Tour

Lagos Island is the historical centre of Lagos. The buildings, alone, within this area are a display of Nigerian history, from the birth of Lagos (around 1300-1400 CE) till today. Despite all the history that encompasses this island, it is rarely visited for this purpose. These historical buildings are rarely noticed nor appreciated and many are at the point of disrepair with the island becoming a nightmare to navigate.

Building and monuments on the island include, Tafawa Balewa Square (where Nigeria’s independence celebration took place on October 1st 1960), the Brazilian Quarter (where the majority of the slave trade returnees from Brazil settled), the National Museum (A museum with notable Nigerian art), Civic Centre (the largest and most important Convention Centres in the city.), Taiwo Olowo’s Monument (a monument building over the tomb of Chief Daniel Conrad Taiwo, who died in 1901) and less known Oba’s Palace (a magnificent building constructed over 300 years ago. It is the official residence of the Oba (King) of Lagos), Water House (one of the oldest examples of Brazilian architecture in Lagos), and Cuban Lodge (a residential property completed in 1931 that is a mixture of British and Brazilian architecture).

Lagos Island has the potential to be a space that citizens and tourists alike, can engage with a historical, present, and future Nigeria.

Lagos Island is not just a historical location but it is also the heart of Lagos commerce. It is where largest market in Nigeria, Balogun Market, sits side by side to 14 story, high rise buildings that house all the major banks in Nigeria.

From 8am to 6pm, the Island is buzzing with activity, people coming in to discuss their assets and make important transaction as well as buy beautiful fabric for the next big wedding. At 6pm the commuters come together to battle hour long traffic jams to get home to their families.

But the Island doesn’t go to sleep when the offices close their doors, from the end of the work day till day break you can find locals and tourists alike drinking, dancing, watching plays and whiling away with the breeze from the Atlantic at places such as Freedom Park (An arts recreational site, born out of the ruins of Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prisons), Muson Centre (The Musical Society of Nigeria’s serene establishment where music, art and culture is enjoyed, practiced and learnt) and local Bukkas (informal eateries).

The Island that saw the birth of Lagos continues to hold on to its history and celebrate the future.


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About FutureLagos

Olamide Udoma is a researcher, writer and filmmaker holding degrees in BSc Architecture, MA Design and MPhil Infrastructure Management. Olamide has worked in London, South Africa and Nigeria with various organisations focusing on transport management, slum upgrading and housing rights in urbanising African cities. At Our Future Cities NPO, she is the Lagos manager and editor.