Image: Oba of Lagos, Akitoye I with his aides in the 1850's
Tradition maintains that Kosoko might then have been called upon to reign, but his whereabouts were unknown. Instead, Akitoye, a younger son of Ologun Kuture and uncle of Kosoko, was crowned. In an effort at reconciliation, the new oba located his nephew and announced that he intended to invite him home. The chiefs protested none more forcefully than the Eletu Odibo, but Akitoye would not listen. Kosoko soon returned to Lagos in the ship of a famous West African slave trader, José Domingo Martinez. Akitoye tried to appease his nephew, giving him gifts, granting him the title of olpjà of Ereko, or owner of Ereko market, and allowing him to establish a court at Lagos. Convinced that the town was not big enough for both of them, the Eletu Odibo departed for Badagrwith many of his followers. When Akitoye insisted on the chief’s return, Kosoko vowed to “make himself king” if his enemy reentered Lagos.
He sent a crier around the town singing, “Tell that little child at court yonder to be careful; for if he is not careful he will be punished.” Akitoye’s crier replied, “I am like a pin firmly driven into the ground, which is always hard to root out but ever remain[s] firm.” Kosoko’s crier returned, “I am the digger who always root[s] out a pin.”Important chiefs and powerful warriors lined up on both sides—the Asogbon and lesser àbàgbpn or war chiefs behind Akitoye and the Oloto, other ìdfjo or landowning chiefs, and Oshodi Tapa, Ajenia, and Iposu—powerful warriors—behind Kosoko
War soon broke out between the two factions. Akitoye at last persuaded the Eletu Odibo to come home from Badagry, and he also appealed to the Egba for assistance. Kosoko sought help from Dahomey and Ijebu. These alliances drew Lagos into the broader regional conflagration. During the battle that ensued, Kosoko’s forces burned the town and then surrounded the oba’s troops, cutting off their supply of fresh water, which forced them to drink sea water and gave the encounter its name: Ìjà Omiró, or “the battle of salt water.”Kosoko’s supporters subsequently captured the EletuOdibo. #historyoflagos #ASIRIMagazine #obaoflagos #heritage