The world’s attention was recently directed to Ejinrin as the Elejinrin of Ejinrin Kingdom,  Oba Rafiu Ishola Balogun celebrated his 5th year coronation anniversary. Ejinrin is a  coastal community in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria

Speaking at a symposium to commemorate the 5th year coronation anniversary of the  community’s monarch, entitled, Ejinrin: The Past, Present and Future, Professor Hakeem  Danmole of the Lagos State University stated that Ejinrin used to be the commercial nerve  centre of the whole Yoruba race, known particularly for easy movement of goods to other  parts of the world, especially Europe.

Apart from the coronation anniversary, Ejinrin Kingdom, one of the six districts of Epe  Local Government Area of Lagos State, is very significant in the history of Yoruba race, as  it has historical sites that many Nigerians are not aware of. The first post office in  Nigeria is said to be in Ejinrin. The post office was built by the colonial administrators  in 1857 and till date, it is still functioning, though patronage is low.

The first Comprehensive College in Lagos State built in 1978 is also said to be in Ejinrin.  The Comprehensive College, Lofi-Ogunmude, was named after the founder of Ejinrin-Epe  community. According to local history, a hunter called Lofi founded Ejinrin about 400 years  ago and it was named after a herbal leaf called, (Ejinrin leaf) use to cure different types  of diseases.

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When the Europeans invaded Ejinrin in the 19th Century, they constructed a sea port, which  is today the second oldest sea port in Nigeria. They built the largest market containing  over 1,800 stalls. The market, which is presently abandoned, was formerly known for trading  in commodities such as cocoa, fabric, herbs, fish and other consumable and exports alike.  Ejinrin has one of the oldest roads, which link Lagos to Kano State. The oldest Anglican  Church, built in 1892 by the Europeans is still standing in the community. All these  building are still in their original form.

Several multinational companies like United African Company (UAC), Patterson Zochonis, PZ,  and individuals like Chief Okunowo of Ijebu were said to have started their businesses in  Ejinrin. It was the popularity of this ancient community that motivated the Juju musician,  Chief Ebenezer Obey, to sing the song, “Bi okan kan o lo Ejinrin, egbegberun e alo (meaning,  if a vessel refuses to sail to Ejinrin, thousands of such vessels will be ready to go).

Despite the importance of Ejinrin, the community has not developed. Speaking with P.M.NEWS,  Oba Rafiu Balogun, the traditional ruler of the town, said the movement of multinational  companies out of the community has been the major factor that has affected development in  Ejinrin. “The companies left their warehouse in Ejinrin and took their economic activities  to Lagos after the colonial masters built Apapa Wharf and railways,” he informed.

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Another factor which the monarch identified was rivalry between the indigenes of Ejinrin,  which led to several wars. “For several years, the community was divided, it was a serious  war in Ejinrin and between 1971 and 2005, there was no functioning head in Ejinrin until  2005 when I was installed as the king,” the Oba said.

The king, who marked his fifth year coronation anniversary recently in Ejinrin, said his  greatest achievement on the throne was to unite the people of Ejinrin. He therefore called  on government, multinational companies and individuals to come and site their projects in  Ejinrin.

According to the king, Ejinrin is now a peaceful place with plenty of fertile land for  investors to build companies and industries. Schools should also allow their students to  visit Ejinrin, especially the historical sites like the first Post Office in Nigeria.

The community appreciates Lagos State government’s the efforts to develop the state into  mega city and called on Governor Fashola to include Ejinrin in his developmental plan. Oba  Rafiu stated that there are several abandoned projects in Ejinrin. A Skill Acquisition  Centre has been abandoned since 2005. Though the community gave the Lagos State government  50 hectares of land to build a low cost housing estate, the project is yet to take off. He  said the government also promised to relocate Oko-Baba sawmillers to Ejinrin but they have  not come to start working until recently when I heard that the project has been moved to  another community.

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“It is an undisputed fact that Ejinrin has done it before, served what is now known as Lagos  State and the entire Yoruba race  and it can do it again if government and individuals come  together to develop the community. This will not only be profitable to the community but the  entire Lagos State as it may also attract the attention of tourists and investors from all  over the world,” Oba Rafiu Balogun said.

—Rasheed Abubakar