Our Lagos History preserves rare primary documents, published and unpublished essays on the cultural, social, and political history of Lagos from the 18 th to the 21 st century. The collection focuses on three themes: chieftaincy politics, biographies of influential figures in Lagos history, and discourses of citizenship. The original materials are in the private archive of Chief Honorable Adekunle Alli and Late Professor Olakunle Lawal, who have both contributed to various aspects of Lagos society, especially the development of Lagos historical studies.
At various times, Hon. Alli and Prof. Lawal have shared their repository and knowledge with individuals and public figures including Sandra Barnes, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, Olasupo Shasore (SAN), the former Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State, and Dr. Habeeb Sanni, a Senior Lecturer of the Department of History at Lagos State University. Our Lagos History honors the contributions of Hon. Alli and Prof. Lawal and provides broader access to their archive.
In addition to the digitization of archival materials, Our Lagos History Project is dedicated to the preservation of Hon. Alli and Prof. Lawal’s personal archive. The coordinators, Somotan Halimat Titilola and Jimoh Mufutau Oluwasegun have worked with Hon. Alli to preserve the archival materials located in his home in Lagos. In addition, they have contributed to the creation of a center in honor of Prof. Lawal at Lagos State University, which will house his papers. History in Action at Columbia University (http://historyinaction.columbia.edu/), which aims to enhance public access to historical knowledge and resources has supported this project.
Adekunle AbdulLateef Alli is an octogenarian, a public historian, and a bibliophile. Born on March 14 th 1934 on Lagos Island, Alli was a member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives during Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the sixth president of Nigeria. During Shagari’s presidency from 1979 to 1983, Alli served on the Science and Technology, Finance and Appropriation Committees in the National Assembly.
Although Alli studied accountancy at the City University of London from 1961 to 1964, he developed a passion for the study of history after he visited the British National Archives around 1962. Since then, Alli has tirelessly accumulated resources from the British National Archives, Church Missionary Society archives, Nigerian National Archives (Ibadan and Abeokuta), as well as the Kenneth Dike Library at the University of Ibadan. Alli is not only a bibliophile, but also a self- taught historian, who continues to write on the socio-political and cultural histories of Lagos. He has self-published some of his sources as well as essays and lectures on Lagos’s history. Our Lagos History has included few of his publications, British Naval Attack on Lagos in 1851. In addition to his writings, Alli has been the official historian of two successive Obas (Kings) of Lagos, the late Oba Adeyinka Oyekan (1965-2003) and the current Oba Rilwan Akiolu (2003-present).
Alongside his publications, he has disseminated his knowledge and archive to the public through journalism. From 1986 to 1996, Alli served as the executive director and acting managing director of Lagos News, established by Lateef Jakande, a former governor of Lagos State. In 1996, Alli created a historical consultancy agency, Akete Independent Communications, which produced television series entitled, “This is Lagos,” and published pamphlets on Lagos history. He later published in Eko Today and Island News from 2006 to 2012. Some of his newspaper publications are available on Our Lagos History.
Alli has received several awards from organizations such as the Association of Lagos Indigenes, National Union of Lagos State Students, Eko Heritage, Lagos Television News for his untiring efforts towards the development of Lagos history. In 1981, Alli was honored with double chieftaincy titles, Otun Maiyegun and Baba Oja of Lagos by Oba Oyekan. In 2006, he was turbaned as the Otun Baba Adinni of Brazillian Olosun Mosque. Alli continues to serve as a historical consultant and mentor to many scholars. He regularly publishes historical essays on his Facebook page.
Olakunle Abdul-Rasheed Lawal was one of the pioneering history lecturers at the Lagos State University (LASU). Before his death in 2013, Lawal was a Professor of History at the University of Ibadan. Born on Lagos Island on May 9 1959, Lawal attended the Federal College of Arts and Science, Lagos before proceeding to the University of Ibadan, where he earned his bachelors (honors), masters, and doctoral degrees in History. He received his doctoral degree in 1991 and published his doctoral thesis as Britain and the Transfer of Power in Nigeria, 1945-1960 in 2001. Lawal was a J. William Fulbright Senior African Research Fellow in 1993. He wrote sixty-seven articles and book-chapters including two self-authored books and three- edited volumes. Some of Lawal’s writings on citizenship and identity in Lagos as well as primary documents from United Kingdom and Nigeria have been uploaded to Our Lagos History.
Lawal served in many administrative capacities. He worked as the Dean of Faculty of Arts and Head of Department of History and International Studies at LASU. He was the director of LASU’s Office of Foreign Affairs and International Linkages and of Ford Foundation/ Lagos State University Center for Development and Democratic Studies. Later, he became Chairman of the Governing Council at Adeniran College of Education, Otto-Ijanikin from 2001 to 2003. He joined the Nigerian National Council of Education from 2003 to 2006
In addition to his work as a Professor and mentor to many upcoming scholars, Lawal actively participated in socio-political activities in Lagos state from the 1990s onwards. In 1991, he served as the secretary of Diamond Group, a political group within the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the leading populist political party in Lagos at the time, and Director of IBILE Holdings, an Investment Company of the Lagos State government. From 1989 to 1996, Lawal was the Secretary of Awori Leaders Forum. In 2001, the Lagos state government appointed Lawal to a committee that investigated the creation of additional local governments. Two years later, he was appointed a Commissioner for Education in Lagos State. Following the end of his tenure in 2006, Lawal served as the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for one year. In 2007, he was a governorship aspirant under the Action Congress of Nigeria and later a running mate to Jimi Agbaje, the governorship candidate of Democratic Party Alliance.