A Brief History of Ojuelegba

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A Brief History of Ojuelegba

Long time ago, before the presence of civilization and the british bombardment of Lagos in 1851, the area known today as Ojuelegba was a forest and the consecrated site for the worship of Ẹ̀shù Elegbua also referred to as Légba among the Fon people of Benin Republic, Exu in Brazil, Echu-Elegua in Cuba, Papa Legba in Haiti and to some African-American as Papa La Bas.

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It was right under the present-day Ojuelegba bridge that the Aworis who were said to be the first inhabitant of this area used to worship láàlu ogiri òkò – the deity in charge of orderliness and the divine enforcer of natural and divine laws. The stone which was of lateritic earth with cowrie shells marking the eyes and mouth of Eshu which worshippers pour daily offerings to appease the god has now paved way for urbanization, the shrine has been moved several times before it was finally settled at its current location, a few steps (to the South) away from the present Ojuelegba roundabout. It has on it the inscription ‘Ojú-Ìbọ Elégba’ from whence the town’s name was coined Ojú-elégba (meaning eyes of Elegba or the Shrine of Elegba).

In the 1970’s, Ojuelegba became known for its boisterous night life, partly due to Fela’s shrine which was first located at empire and also due to the fact that it is a vital connection point for travellers within the mainland connecting surrounding districts of Surulere, Yaba and Mushin, it also serves as the connecting link between the ever busy Apapa-Wharf shipping yard and Ikorodu and Agege motor road such that it became famous for its everyday gridlock due to the absence of traffic lights and traffic warden. It was the subject of Fela’s song – “confusion” in 1975:

“For Ojuelegba, for Ojuelagba
Moto dey come from south
Moto dey come from north
Moto dey come east
Moto dey come from West
And policeman no dey for center
Na confusion be dat oo
Na confusion be dat oo”

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