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The History Behind the Names of Popular Places in Lagos

Do you know that most of the popular places in Lagos did not just derive their names by mere coincidence neither are they just names of places based on logistics? This article exposes the origin and true meanings of popular locations in Lagos that virtually most Lagosians have come in contact with one way or the other.

Lagos which has become home to all is sometimes being referred to as no man’s land, however the true owners do know themselves and cannot be separated from their heritage no matter the vast array of people that trudge into the city of excellence on a daily basis.

As it happens, most places in Lagos did not just spring up from nowhere. They have always been part of a larger set-up, while the names of such places have a rich history behind them. Imagine a place named after a red bearded white man or a street that derived its name from its broadness.

Here’s the history behind some notable places in Lagos. I’m sure this should take you totally unawares.

1. Ojota

Photo credit: Pulse.ng


You know that popular place in Lagos where there is a notable motor park where you can get vehicles to any part of the country? Here is what you never knew about Ojota…

At a period in the late 18th century, Ojota was a military settlement where soldiers practised shooting or perfected their shooting skills.  It will be right to call it a shooting range actually.

The area had several gun firing spots and became known as “Oju Ota” in Yoruba which means “Bullet spots”.  It later metamorphosed into Ojota as it is fondly called these days.

2. Abule Egba

The area called Abule Egba located along Lagos-Abeokuta expressway may be handed a face-lift soon due to the undergoing construction works there. This area is on the outskirts of Lagos and got its name from the early settlers who were Egba people from Abeokuta.

The area was first called “Abule awon egba” in Yoruba, which means “Village of Egba people”. It later became “Abule Egba”. Some Lagosians don’t even know that such place exists in the city of hustlers.

3. Apongbon

If you’ve never been to Apongbon, then you probably don’t go to market. Apongbon is one of Lagos’ most popular markets, and it’s also quite close to the popular Oke-Arin market. It got its name from the then acting governor of the Lagos colony, William McCoskry, who had a Red Beard.

The Yorubas who couldn’t pronounce the colonial governor’s name decided to describe him by his red beard and started calling him “Oyinbo to pon ni igbon” meaning a red-bearded man. It later became Apongbon.

4. Magodo

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This highbrow area in Lagos mainland that is now home to the affluent was once a place for traditionalists. Though now a posh area, in the past Magodo was a sacred land. The residents had a lot of taboos and one of them was to avoid using mortars and pestles, “Ma gun odo” which means “Don’t pound it”. It later became ‘Magodo’.

5. Epetedo

Epe is a historical area in Lagos Island where some of the followers of erstwhile deposed and exiled Oba of Lagos, Kosoko settled in the 1860’s. The area is named after the early settlers who were Epe traders.The environs of Epe can be compared with suburbs like Mushin and Oshodi.

It is thickly populated and filthy. Epetedo was also the site the acclaimed winner of the June, 12, 1993 presidential elections, Late Chief M.K.O Abiola declared himself President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria following the annulment of the elections. The area became dominated by the Epes and they still trade there until today.

6. Ebute-Metta

Photo credit: Jere Ikongio

The name Ebute-Metta has always intrigued me and really does sound unique.

Ebute-Metta is one of the earliest harbour docks where British ships berthed at. It was a hub for trade and commerce in colonial times. Ebute-Metta is a fusion of the words “Ebute” which means the seaside in Yoruba, and “Metta” which means three. Ebute Metta is known for the production and sale of local food and cloths.

It is a very ancient part of Lagos, many of its houses were built during the colonial er

Photo credit: Mufuta Apooyi

Broad street used to be one of the longest and widest streets in the city. It got its name from its broadness. It is one of the oldest streets in Lagos. Broad street is one of a kind, home to several financial banks in Lagos. Its medieval, new and elegant building architecture are assembled together in arrays.

You will find tall buildings and skyscrapers on this street. Normally, you will find bankers, corporate officers and business people in this area. There are a few restaurants where you can eat some delicious Nigerian dishes. The street offers scenic views of Lagos Island

8. Agidingbi

Photo Credit: Mufuta Apooyi

The British Naval forces invaded Lagos in 1885 under the pretext of stopping slavery and human sacrifice. The noise their canon made was really loud, and the sound was heard round the streets of Lagos Island. The people described the sound as “A gb din gbinnn”. Which means a loud groundbreaking noise. The name Agidingbi was borne out of this.

9. Victoria Island


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Victoria Island popularly called V.I is an affluent area that encompasses a former Island of the same name that sits between Lagos Island and the Lekki Peninsula in the Lagos Lagoon. The town and island lie within the boundaries of the Eti-Osa Local Government.

Before Victoria Island became one of the most revered areas in Lagos, it was just an Island surrounded by water. Victoria Island was also a major hub for commerce and British ships berthed there often. It is named after Queen Victoria of England who was Queen from 1837-1901.

10. Ikeja

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Historically, Ikeja consists of 78 communities and the earliest settlers in Ikeja and its environs were Aworis who migrated from Ota-an Awori town in Ogun State about 24 km North of Ikeja township. It was in the wake of migration of yorubas from Ile-Ife to Ota in the 15th Century.

Ikeja, the capital of Lagos, is actually an abbreviation for “Ikorodu And Epe Joint Administration”. It was coined by the colonial masters for ease of administration.

Ikeja is an outer-ring suburb of the city of Lagos and capital of Lagos State. It is also the official seat of the Governor of Lagos with Alausa, Ikeja as the location of the state secretariat.

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