Why Is Lagos Called Eko

Why Is Lagos Called Eko?

There are a lot of accounts at Benin and Lagos camps, that tell the history of a city now known as Lagos; its ruler, its connection with Benin, and how it came to answer the name Eko. For a story about a city of its magnitude, inconsistencies and controversies must be avoided. In this post, Best Lagos answers the question, Why Is Lagos Called Eko?

The true origin of Lagos can be traced back to the Binis and Aworis, who were said to be the first settlers on a nameless Island that was being used as a fishing camp at that time. This was before the Portuguese christened this city, “Lago”, and when villages surrendered to a more powerful king. 

Which Language Is The Word “Eko” Gotten From?

The word Eko is reportedly derived from farm (Oko) of the earliest Awori settlers, although alternatively, it is also a Benin word (Eko) named for a war camp. Eko is a Benin word that means camp.

Why Is Lagos called Eko?

The state that is now called Lagos was originally settled in by the Awori subgroup of the Yoruba people in the 15th century, who named it ”Oko.” Led by the Oloye Olofin, the Awori migrated to an island that is now called Iddo and then to the larger Lagos Island.

In the 16th century, the Benin Empire conquered the Awori settlement and the Island was turned into a Benin war camp called ”Eko” under Oba Orhogbua, who was the Oba of Benin at the time. Till today, Eko is still the native name for Lagos.

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Who Named Lagos Eko?

Lagos answers the name ”Eko” as a result of its earlier inhabitation by the Benins. Oba Orhogbua of the Benin Kingdom was the person who named it.

History recounts that Oba Orhogbua, who reigned over Benin in the 16th century fought many wars, which took him to the land now called ‘Dahomey’. It was during one of those war expeditions that he found an Island (which the Portuguese would later name Lagos). 

Orhogbua was tired after his long journey and needed a resting place. He and his men found a sandy beach with clear water and plenty of fish, and they decided to build a camp there.

That was how Lagos got the name ”Eko.” The word is not a Yoruba name, and the Island was a nameless fishing camp before the Benins came in. In Benin language, “Bu Eko” or ”Bu Ago” means to “build a camp.”

Who Owns Eko? (Yorubas Or Benin Kingdon)

Historically speaking, the answer of who owns Lagos is clear – Eko was a Benin town ruled by a Benin Oba who paid his tributes to the Oba of Benin. His chiefs were descendants of noble Benin families. The Benin Empire ruled Lagos for more than 400 years before the Colonial powers took over.

True, the dominant people in Lagos at that time were the Yorubas, however,  they did not form part of the ruling class but they were subjects of the Oba.

It is an undeniable fact that was indeed Oba Orhogbua in the 16th Century who founded what is now known as Lagos Island. It is also a fact that when he returned to Benin after many years, he elected one of his grandsons named Aisikpa to oversee the affairs of the place. 

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It was Aisikpa who built the foundation for the Administration of Lagos. When he died, his son, Edo or Ado (as it is now called by the Yorubas) took over. 

How Did The Name “Lagos” Come To Be?

In 1472 when the Portuguese expedition came down to the African Coast for the slave trade, they first called the city Onim. explorer Rui de Sequeira later renamed it ”Lagos” (Lago) which is the Portuguese language for Lakes.

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