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Is Badagry’s White House Really The First Storey Building In Nigeria?

There was a report in April 2016 that suggested that the first storey building in Nigeria may really not be the proclaimed one in Badagry, but are there enough facts to prove that an the Gobarau Minaret in Katsina State and not the white building in Marina, Badagry is actually the oldest building in Nigeria?

A white, one-story building, with corrugated iron sheet roof overlooking the marina waterfront in Badagry, Lagos state has been acclaimed to be the first storey building in Nigeria. Badagry’s white houise is the most famous mission house in Badagry, Lagos State

The building which is now 171 years old is not just the oldest building in Nigeria but also the first storey building.

The storey building was first occupied by late Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, when he went about the translation of the holy bible from English to Yoruba. The first African Bishop of the Anglican Church, originally a native of Oyo state, was captured by slave merchants and sold to the Portueguese at 12. Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther would later become the first African C.M.S Bishop. The building was also used as Vicarage for Saint Thomas Anglican church.

The first African Bishop of the Anglican Church

The first African Bishop of the Anglican Church

Nigeria’s first storey building is located at Badagry, a coastal town situated between the city of Lagos and the border in Benin Republic at seme.

”Originally built of coconut fibers and located on an area of 1,144 square feet, the more than a century and half old monument was recently given a face lift to further preserve it for generations yet unborn.”

Freed slaves took refuge in this building and possibly spent their last moments in the building. This may be responsible for the rumoured ghost stories that trail the building. Tales have been told by some residents who claim to be haunted by the ghost of the returnee slaves that spent their last days in the antique building.

Relics from the slavery period found around the area after the abolition of the trade, is now housed in a museum not too far from the first storey building. The building has six rooms, two big sitting rooms, four stores and a safe where valuable items were kept. However, there was no toilet, bathroom or kitchen in the original construction work as those who lived in the house took their bath outside.

In view of the aforementioned history, is it really possible that the first storey building in Nigeria was the one built by white missionaries in Badagry? This question arises based on the fact that arab architecture had being existing for donkey years before the coming of the Europeans.

The Gobarau Minaret is claimed to have been built by Hausa Craftsmen using indigenous technology (sun baked clay and mud). This was during the reign of King Muhammadu Korau, even before the coming of the Europeans just around 1348-1398. Therefore, the Gobarau Minaret is believed to be some 650 years old.

Many Northerners believe the Gobarau Minaret was built some 650 years ago, way beyond when the foundation for the building in Badagry was laid

Many Northerners believe the Gobarau Minaret was built some 650 years ago, way beyond when the foundation for the building in Badagry was laid

Albeit, is the report on this building at the heart of the city of Katsina enough to displace or debunk an age-long fact. My candid opinion; It takes a lot than that to throw away a history that has gone viral.

Why is our history not being re-written to accommodate the about 650+ 1 years mystery called The Gobarau Minaret?

Why is the white house in Badagry that is not even half the age of the ancient minaret in Katsina more famous?

Would the Gobarau Minaret be popular if it were built by a white man?


Why should the oldest building or storey building in Nigeria be looking like this?



Wouldn’t it be more believable if our oldest building was looking like this?


Or this?


So many questions begging for answers.

Some would say these are just pieces of Islamic architecture, that could have been erected at any time and not necessary before the white man invaded Nigeria. However, are we not being sold a dummy here? The records we have about our oldest building can only be attributed to the white man, we don’t even have our own records. The northerners that claim they built many storey buildings before the one in Badagry was built are not known to be good at keeping records in relation to that era of civilization.

That notwithstanding, the so called “oldest building or first storey building” in Nigeria isn’t looking like a tourist attraction in any way. The building looks dilapidated and there is nothing really to show for the laudable record it has aside the history that goes with it.

In all, no matter what my opinion is about this historic building, the famous white house in Badagry has continued to attract many tourists within Nigeria and beyond. And Regardless of what anyone thinks about The Gobarau Minaret or any other building in northern Nigeria,  the building in Badagry erected by the missionary- Reverend Henry Townsend of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1842, remains Naija’s first and oldest building till proven otherwise.

One comment

  1. What a post and substantiating point despite a proof that one exists before the house at Badagry! In all history, once a precedent exists, it forever exists even if found to be non-existent at a point in time. Historians only add nuances to accommodate possible arguments like “first so-and-so”, “first this and that” etc. As a content writer, it is expected that you drop the bias and state the facts. By downplaying the Northern structure, you have only shown where you are tilted to clearly.

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