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40 Interesting Facts you did not know about Ibadan

Image of Anna Hinderer Church and Mission House at Ibadan.
Anna Hinderer Church and Mission House, Ìbàdàn, 1854.

The city of Ibadan was created in 1829 as a war camp for warriors coming from Oyo, Ife, and Ijebu. A forest site and several ranges of hills, varying in elevation from 160 to 275 metres, offered strategic defence opportunities.

Ibadan is the largest indigenous city in West Africa and is located in the South-Western part of Oyo State of Nigeria. It is the capital city of Oyo State and is located about 145 km North-East of Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria. Its population of 2,550,593, according to the 2006 census results, includes 11 local government areas. The population of central Ibadan, including five LGAs, is 1,338,659 covering an area of 128 km².

Image of Anna Hinderer Church and Mission House at Ibadan.
Anna Hinderer Church and Mission House, Ibadan, 1854.

Ancient Ibadan

1. Ibadan is a city built on seven hills. It was founded by the Yoruba in 1750. It became a Yoruba military headquarters in 1829 and came under British rule in 1893 as part of the Niger River Delta Protectorate.

2. Ibadan has no “ancestral father” or founder; it only maintained an indirect link with Ile-Ife which was regarded by most of the older states as their orírun (original home), from which their princes obtained the adé ìlẹ̀kẹ̣̀ (beaded crown) that symbolised their right to rule and from which they also developed a spirit of brotherhood that bound a number of Yoruba rulers together.

3. Ibadan was founded by “iron and blood” and right from the beginning, a military aristocracy was set up where most of the notable warriors of the 1830s controlled the reins of government.

4. The first leader was Oluyedun, a distinguished warrior who took the title of Àare-̣Ọ̀nà-Kakanfò meant for the Oyo war general. His lieutenants and subordinates were selected in accordance with their valour. Lakanle, who had been the commander-in-chief of the Ìbàdàn ad hoc army, then acclaimed “the bravest of the brave,” became the Ọ̀tún Kakanfò while Oluyole who was reputed to be the next most powerful man, was made the Òsì Kakanfò.

5. The reign of Basọ̀run Oluyole from the mid-1830s to 1847 further emphasised that a powerful military leader was in control. He was feared by his subjects and chiefs for his firmness and toughness which was often excessive and bordered on oppression and wickedness. In fact, so well did he succeed that Ibadan became known as Ìlú Olúyọ̀lé (“town of Oluyole”) long after his reign, to this present day.

Geographical Location

6. Long-established Ibadan oral traditions speak of “three Ibadans”, the first two being smaller settlements inhabited by some migrants from other parts of Yorubaland, including the Egba Gbagura who were later to move to Abeokuta. Among these people were the descendants of Lagelu, the ancestral founder of the first Ibadan who migrated from Ile-Ife.

7. The first Ibadan disintegrated as a result of destruction; the second suffered from defeat and desertion, and the third has remained in existence ever since.

8. Ibadan began as a temporary settlement and war camp (bùdó ogun) for the allied armies of Ijebu, Oyo, and Ife who had gone to participate in the Owu War.

9. The Egba, Ife, and Oyo were the original inhabitants of Ibadan. Egba left in 1829 for Abeokuta while Oyo expunged Ife under the leadership of Máyè ̣Okunade in 1833 and Oyo became the sole inhabitant of the land.

10. In the 19th century, Ibadan offered natural protection. This was why the settler settled at Oke Mapo (Mapo Hill) and clustered around its brow. Thus, Ibadanwas referred to as ìlú orí òkè (the city on the hill).

11. There was no ààfin (palace) centrally located to the town since there was no Ọba. Consequently, the various compounds were not built to look towards the direction of any ruler’s compound as was the case in older towns where houses were built to face, as much as possible, the palace. Instead, they were built on slopes of hills to face whatever direction the owner found convenient and to avoid the ridges where erosion and flooding could wash their houses away.

Commerce and Trade

12. While the people were predominately farmers, some engaged in trading. The central market at Ojaoba was the economic nerve centre of the town. Traders from the neighbouring countries of the Egba and Ijebu attended the market at Ìbàdàn, bringing coastal goods like salt, dried fish, and European commodities. Female Ìbàdàn traders, too, left the town to attend the markets in Apomu, Ikire, and some villages in the Ife kingdom.

13. To facilitate the movement of traders entering and leaving Ibadan from different places, the town wall had 16 gates, all in the direction of the 16 highways entering the town. The system of many gates was considered unique and described as the first of its type in the whole of Yorubaland.

14. Four of Ibadan’s gates were of special importance because of the traffic on them and the importance attached to their maintenance and security. These were the gates leading to Abeokuta, Ijebuland, Oyo, and Iwo. Both Abeokuta and Ijebu gates linked Ìbàdàn with the coast while the others linked the people with their kinsmen in Oyo-Yoruba towns and villages.

15. The location of Ibadan also favoured trading activities. Ibadan had the economic advantage of being located on a network of communication routes. It could easily be linked with the older Yoruba states and with the ports in Lagos, Porto Novo, and Badagry through the Egba, Egbado, and Ijebu territories. These three ports were important because of the lucrative trade in slaves and later in agricultural products with the Europeans on the coast. Ìbàdàn succeeded in exploiting this advantageous location to establish trade contacts with many other parts of Yorubaland.

Internal Relations

16. In less than two decades after its establishment, Ibadan had grown into a big commercial centre. From the small settlement of the 1830s, it rapidly expanded to such an extent that the second town wall had to be built in the late 1840s, and the third in 1858 to protect its almost one hundred thousand dwellers.

17. Ibadan maintained an open-door policy to strangers, attracting and welcoming them irrespective of their places of origin. Many were lured into the town by its great commercial potentialities, its liberal and accommodating attitude towards strangers, and the opportunities it provided the hardy and the adventurous to make use of their talents.

18. Unlike the older states which were founded by just a few people and took hundreds of years to grow, Ibadan had a large and rapidly expanding population right from the beginning. This made an impact on the economy. Farmlands had to be rapidly expanded to meet the food requirements of the people. More tools and cloths had to be provided and this led to the phenomenal expansion of the crafts industry. The exchange economy had to be developed too.

19. Ibadan provided unparalleled security to all its inhabitants and this created in the minds of its citizens a spirit of invulnerability. Anybody who set his foot on Ibadan territory was sure that, except for war or civil rebellion—the two conditions that were capable of subverting peace in Ibadan—he was completely safe from the hands of invaders. For, it was believed “ogun kò lè kó Ìbàdàn” (“Ibadan can never be plundered in war”).

Economy

20. Apart from its strategic location which gave it natural protection, it boasted of many distinguished warriors who could successfully defend the town against attack from any part of Yorubaland.

21. With an expanding economy characterised by a high degree of specialisation, Ibadan rapidly grew into a big, urban centre. This rapid transformation of the town is in line with the “functional specialisation theory of urbanisation” which stresses that an economy based on specialisation and division of labour, as obtained in Ibadan, is capable of transforming a small settlement into an urban centre.

22. Based on this economic theory, its numerous farmers operated far above the subsistence level; its military rulers provided the necessary peace and control over the economy, and its exchange sector allowed for the distribution of surplus local items and imports.

23. Many Ibadan traders grew wealthy by exchanging local products and by participating in the clearing of higher-value goods from different sources. This generated considerable employment for many people as retailers, wholesalers, food sellers, and in other nonagricultural occupations. It also brought more revenue to the military rulers.

24. Thus, by around 1850, Ibadan had become an urban centre with a population of about 60,000 to 100,000 people living within the town, which covered about sixteen square miles.

25. It had also established an identifiable social, political, and economic structure that sustained it for the remaining fifty years of the century.

Modern Ibadan

26. Ibadan (Yoruba: Ìbàdàn or fully Ìlú Ẹ̀bá-Ọ̀dàn, the town at the junction of the savannah and the forest), the capital of Oyo State, is the second-largest city in Nigeria by population after Lagos and the largest in geographical area. At independence, Ibadan was the largest and the most populous city in Nigeria and the third in Africa after Cairo and Johannesburg.

Image of The Cocoa House, Ibadan.
The Cocoa House, Ibadan.

Completed in July 1965, it is the 3rd tallest building in Nigeria and the 78th tallest building in Africa as of June 2017.

27. Its central location and accessibility from the capital city of Lagos were major considerations in the choice of Ibadan as the headquarters of the Western Provinces (1939), which became the Western Region of Nigeria in 1952.

Political

28. Ibadan is the largest city in Nigeria by geographical area. It is larger in size than Ekiti, Abia, Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra and Lagos States.

It is more populous than Ondo, Osun, Kogi, Zamfara, Enugu, Kebbi, Edo, Plateau, Adamawa, Cross River, Abia, Ekiti, Kwara, Gombe, Yobe, Taraba, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Bayelsa States and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

And it is more industrialized than Sokoto, Jigawa, Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Osun, Bayelsa, Cross River, Kwara, Kogi, Kaduna, Kebbi, Gombe, Bauchi, and Borno States.

29. Ibadan as a city has 11 local government areas; three more than Bayelsa State and just two less than Ebonyi State.

Facts

30. The first “skyscraper” in Nigeria, Cocoa House, is at Ibadan.

31. Ibadan has the first standard Nigerian stadium; The Obafemi Awolowo Stadium formerly Liberty Stadium.

32. The first television station in Africa is at Ibadan.

33. Ibadan boasts of the oldest surviving private-owned Newspaper (The Nigerian Tribune).

34. The first school in Ibadan was founded by Rev. David Hinderer at Kudeti in 1853.

35. There are more federal tertiary institutions/institutes in Ibadan than any other city in Nigeria.

36. The busiest highway in Nigeria, Lagos- Ibadan expressway, terminates at Ibadan.

37. The city of Ibadan is naturally drained by four rivers with many tributaries: Ona River in the North and West; Ogbere River towards the East; Ogunpa River flowing through the city and Kudeti River in the Central part of the metropolis.

38. Ibadan is the second largest non-oil city economy in Nigeria after Lagos.

Side Attractions

39. Tourist attractions include:

40. Some notable people from Ibadan include;

If you enjoyed the article, don’t forget to drop a comment and share it. You can also follow me on Twitter @AmazingAyo

While you’re still here, you can quickly watch this video on A Short History of Abeokuta. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more videos.

100 Days of Hell: The 1994 Rwandan Genocide

Images of Rwandan Genocide

The Rwandan Genocide occurred over the course of 100 days in 1994, between April 7 and mid-July. Nearly a million people were killed in Rwanda, in a mass slaughter unparalleled in modern history. It is believed that 800,000 people were killed in the first six weeks, at a rate five times higher than that of the Nazi Holocaust. Around one-fifth of the country’s entire population was murdered.

Most of the dead were Tutsis, and most of the killers were Hutus. This was genocide; a concerted effort to exterminate an entire group of people.

Origin

The Tutsi minority were the ruling caste, historically in control of the monarchy, the army and the administration. Resentment boiled over among Hutus, who made up 84% of Rwanda’s population. In 1990, rebels of the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) invaded Northern Rwanda from neighbouring Uganda.

The RPF’s success prompted President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, to sign a deal with them to end years of civil war and allow power sharing. However, Habyarimana was slow in implementing the plan and a transitional government failed to take off.

On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundi’s President Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down in a rocket attack. Habyarimana’s death triggered a 100-day orgy of violence, perpetrated mainly by Hutus against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Hutu extremists blamed the RPF and immediately started a well-organised campaign of slaughter. The RPF said the plane had been shot down by Hutus to provide an excuse for the genocide.

Genocide

With meticulous organization, lists of government opponents were handed out to militias who went and killed them, along with all of their families.

Neighbours killed neighbours and some Hutu husbands even killed their Tutsi wives, saying they would be killed if they refused.

Image of Rwandan Genocide
Family photographs of infants and children killed in the massacre hang on display/Ben Curtis, AP.

At the time, identity cards had people’s ethnic group on them, so militias set up roadblocks where Tutsis were slaughtered, often with machetes which most Rwandans kept around the house.

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A Murder in the Cathedral—the Power of the Tongue

Thousands of Tutsi women were taken away and kept as sex slaves.

Hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered by hand, using home-made weapons and household tools – knives, hammers and machetes.

Tutsi families were blown up in churches where they had taken refuge.

Aftermath

Finally in July, the RPF – under the command of Paul Kagame – captured Kigali, and around two million Hutus fled to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Thousands of these refugees, who included those who carried out the massacres, died of dehydration and cholera.

The West largely stood by and ignored what was happening. When diplomatic messages warned the United States, Britain and the United Nations of an imminent “new bloodbath” in February 1994, no action was taken. The UN finally agreed to increase its contingent of troops to 5,000 but they weren’t deployed until after the killing had stopped.

Further Reading

Rwanda genocide: 100 days of slaughter

Rwanda: How the genocide happened

Rwandan genocide remembered by Tutsis and Hutus, 25 years on

11 powerful photos from the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide

Bashorun Gaa: The “Wicked Prime Minister” of the Old Oyo Empire

Image of Bashorun Gaa

The Oyo Empire was a monarchial one and ruled by an Alaafin (King), (Alaafin means ‘owner of the palace’ in the Yoruba language). However, an administrative and governing body, made up of chiefs (Oyo Mesi) served to maintain a balance in power. They were headed by a Prime Minister called Bashorun and could request the king’s suicide by sending him a calabash of parrot’s eggs.

Image of Bashorun Gaa of Oyo
An artistic representation of Bashorun Gaa of Oyo (c.1700–1774)/Pinterest.
The Oyo Mesi

The Oyo Mesi were the seven principal councilors of the state. They constituted the Electoral Council and possessed legislative powers, similar to today’s Nigeria’s National Assembly.

Led by the Bashorun, acting as Prime Minister, who was assisted by the Agbaakin, Samu, Alapini, Laguna, Akiniku and Ashipa. They represented the voice of the nation and had the chief responsibility of protecting the interests of the empire.

The Alaafin was required to take counsel with them whenever any important matter affecting the state occurs. Each man had a state duty to perform at court every morning and afternoon. Each member also had a deputy whom they would send to the Alaafin if his absence was unavoidable.

The Oyo Mesi acted as a check and balance on the Alaafin’s power, preventing the king from being an autocrat; the Council forced many Alaafin to commit suicide during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The head of the council of Oyo Mesi, the Bashorun, consulted the Ifa oracle for approval from the gods. New Alaafins of Oyo were seen as appointed by the gods. They were regarded as Ekeji Orisa (companion of the gods).

Bashorun

The Bashorun had the final say on the nomination of the new Alaafin, his power rivaling the king himself. For example, the Bashorun orchestrated many religious festivals; in addition to being commander-in-chief of the army, which gave him considerable independent religious authority.

The Bashorun was also the chief authority of the all important festival of Orun. This religious divination, held every year, was to determine if the members of the Oyo Mesi were still in good graces with the Alaafin.

If the council decided on the disapproval of the Alaafin, the Bashorun would then present the Alaafin with an empty calabash, or parrot’s egg as a sign that he must commit suicide.

This Bashorun Gaa was remarkable because he successfully enthroned four Kings, deposed all four of them and was murdered by the fifth.

This was the only way to remove the Alaafin because he could not be impeached or legally deposed.

Once given the parrot’s egg or empty calabash, the Bashorun would proclaim, “the gods reject you, the people reject you, the earth rejects you.” The Alaafin, Aremo, his eldest son, and the Samu, his personal counselor and a member of the Oyo Mesi, the Asamu, all had to commit suicide in order to renew the government all together. The process and suicide ceremony took place during the Orun festival.

Gaa

Bashorun Gaa was born at the time the Oyo Empire was ruled by Bashoruns ((1692–1728) as the throne had been vacant since Alaafin Osinyago was poisoned in 1692. By my calculations, Gaa must have been born in the late 1690s or early 1700s.

Notwithstanding, Gaa was a notable nobleman and leader of the military in the old Oyo Empire during the reigns of Alaafin Gberu (1732–1738), Amuniwaye (1738–1742) and Onisile (1742–1750). He was instrumental to the military conquests during his time as a military leader.

In 17th Century Oyo, the monarchical failings came as a succession of cruel kings to the exalted throne of the Alaafin.

According to oral history, Alaafin Odarawu (1658–1659) was bad-tempered; Kanran (1659–1665) was an absolute tyrant; Jayin (1665–1676), effeminate and immoral; Ayibi (1676–1690) cruel and capricious; and Osinyago (1690–1692), insignificant and hollow.

The Rise of Gaa

Gaa became Prime Minister and the head of the Oyo Mesi during the reign of Alaafin Onisile.

Onisile was a great warrior and of great courage. He was brave and warlike, and he was also very artistic. His rashness was the cause of his death. He was struck by lightning and was incapacitated, before being deposed and allowed to die peacefully.

Bashorun Gaa himself was a brave and powerful man who was respected and feared by the people of Oyo-Ile for his potent charms and supernatural strength. It was said that he had the powers to transform into any animal he wished.

Gaa was feared to the extent that he became more authoritative than the Alaafin who made him the Bashorun.

Gaa’s tyranny started in the days when Labisi was being prepared for the throne of Oyo. He killed the prince’s friends and silenced his supporters, thereby starting his own rule, which he surreptitiously did with the installation of puppet kings from whom he demanded homage.

However, it was impossible for him to become the Alaafin as he bore no blood of Oranmiyan to claim the throne.

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So, as Prime Minister for 24 years (1750–1774), Bashorun Gaa supervised the dethronement and execution of four successive Alaafins as follows:

Crown Prince Labisi (1750) – Alaafin Labisi remains the shortest-reigned Alaafin of the Oyo Empire till date. He spent only 15 days on the throne. He committed suicide because of pressure from Bashorun Gaa‎. This unfortunate king was elected to the throne but not allowed to be crowned. His Bashorun, Gaa, became very powerful, conspired against him and killed all his friends. Labisi eventually committed suicide when he could not rule.

Alaafin Awonbioju (1750) – Succeeded Labisi but lasted a mere 130 days because he refused to postrate before Gaa.

Alaafin Agboluaje (1750–1770) – He was a very handsome prince installed by Gaa. His reign was peaceful and the kingdom was big and prosperous. The Bashorun made him fight the king of Popo who was his friend and destroyed his kingdom. In frustration, the king committed suicide before the expedition arrived.

Alaafin Majeogbe (1770–1772) – Agboluaje’s brother who succeeded him. Alaafin Majeogbe tried to defend himself against Gaa whose sons were now too powerful. They collected all the tributes and were cruel. The king eventually died in frustration.

Alaafin Abiodun (1770–1772) – Abiodun wasn’t about to suffer the same fate as his predecessors but his daughter Agbonyin was murdered by Gaa. To take down Gaa who had many powerful friends and connections, he lied to Gaa about being ill, disguised himself as a commoner and went to rally for external help from the Onikoyi and the Aare Ona-Kakanfo, Oyabi from Ajaseland, on how to send Gaa to the grave.

The Fall of Gaa

For the first time in Oyo history, the Aare Ona-Kakanfo, head of the Imperial Army, marched with his troops to the capital of the Oyo Empire to end Gaa’s tyranny.

On the appointed day in 1774, Oyabi’s soldiers overwhelmed Gaa, murdered his children including his pregnant wives and captured him alive.

He was tied to a stake at Akesan market and Alaafin Abiodun ordered that every citizen cut a pound of flesh from his body and drop it in a huge fire in front of him. He was made to smell the odour of his own flesh, his nose was not allowed to be cut and flesh from his left part of the chest was excluded too (to prevent him from dying quickly).

He died a slow death as he begged for mercy but his pleas fell unto the deaf ears of angry citizens.

His remains were later burnt in fire to prevent his re-incarnation.

Aftermath

Gaa’s downfall and death killed the Old Oyo Empire and the power of civil authority that had checked it.

Firstly, it decreased the military and political strength of the Empire; this was due to the destabilization of the Oyo Mesi after Gaa’s death.

The Oyo Mesi was never itself as it slipped into oblivion. The Oyo people were subjected to giving in to the triumphant princes and provincial kings.

Secondly, the political unrest the Empire witnessed after Gaa’s death made some kingdoms who had been paying tributes (like Dahomey) declare their independence. All these were undoubtedly among the factors that led to the subsequent fall of the Old Oyo Empire in 1837.

The Alaafin had won in crushing Gaa and the old order, but his victory would prove pyrrhic for the royal line in the long run.

In fact, just five years after Gaa’s death, Abiodun’s son, Awole, poisoned him and succeeded him as Alaafin.

Interestingly, the next time the imperial army would march on the capital, this time led by Afonja, (Aare-Ona-Kakanfo who succeeded Oyabi) it would come not to support the king nor to protect the empire, but to claim his head and desecrate the vestiges of royalty.

The revolution had begun!

Hope you enjoyed the article? You can leave your comments below and you can also follow me on Twitter @AmazingAyo

Sources

Emotana Africa

Medium

Old Naija

Alvan Ikoku: 10 Interesting Facts about the Man on the 10 Naira Note

Alvan-Ikoku-10-Naira-Note

Mazi Alvan Ikoku was a Nigerian educationist whose face graciously adorns the 10 naira note but only a few Nigerians really know who he was. Ikoku remains one of Nigeria’s finest educationists. He was also an activist, nationalist, politician and undoubtedly, a statesman. Now, join me to take a look at the life of this great man and what could have warranted the honour given him on one of Nigeria’s legal tenders.

Who was Alvan Ikoku?

1. Alvan Ikoku is the man on the 10 naira note. He was born, Alvan Azinna Ikoku, on August 1, 1900, to a rich merchant family in the little town of Amanagwu, Arochukwu, present-day Abia State. Ikoku was born three months after his father’s death, hence, the name, “Azinna”, which means coming after your father.

2. Although Alvan Ikoku was an Igbo man from Arochukwu, his mother was an Efik woman from Calabar, present-day Cross River State, where he schooled at the Hope Waddell Training Institution. Ikoku was trained by his mother’s relations and spent his formative years in Calabar, which would lead to the next fact.

3. As a student-teacher at Itigidi, present-day Cross River, Alvan Ikoku met his wife, Goomsu, who was also an Efik woman from Calabar and an exceptional organist too. Together, they had six children.

Alvan-Ikoku
Alvan. A. Ikoku (August 1, 1900 – November 18, 1971).

4. Alvan Ikoku and his son, Samuel Goomsu Ikoku (1922–1997), were political enemies. Samuel won an election against his father at the Eastern Regional Assembly elections on March 15, 1957.

Alvan Ikoku contributions to Education

5. As an educationist, Alvan Ikoku established the first indigenous private secondary school in Nigeria, Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu, present-day Abia State in 1932. He named the college after a Ghanaian teacher and missionary, James E.K Aggrey. Initially, the College was a teacher’s training school, it was later converted to a full-fledged secondary school in 1935.

6. At Aggrey, where he was principal for 39 years, Alvan Ikoku introduced Carpentry as a subject, which he called ”the Education of the Hand.” Interestingly, students were able to make their own desks, chairs, and tables all by themselves.

7. In 1955, as the National President of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, Ikoku was at the forefront of championing the causes of the teachers and also criticized the educational system at the time for failing to teach indigenous languages.

8. As a member of the Eastern House of Assembly, Alvan Ikoku saw to the establishment of a hospital and post office for his people in Arochukwu. He was equally instrumental in the construction of the two major roads that linked Arochukwu with Umuahia and Itu, now Akwa-Ibom State. Ikoku also fought for the provision of pipe-borne water for the Arochukwu people. When the Eastern Nigeria Government set up a Committee on Education to revise the educational system in 1962, Ikoku was named as the chairman. Alvan Ikoku was also a recipient of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). His contemporaries accused him of too pro-British.

Death and Legacy

9. A practising Protestant, Alvan Azinna Ikoku died of a stroke-related illness on November 18, 1971, at the Aba General Hospital, Aba, Abia State. He was 71.

10. Many monuments and places are named after him. Chief among them is the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State, which was the first school to establish a full-fledged Igbo Language Department in Nigeria in 1975. And in reference to the title above, his face has adorned the 10 naira note since 1979.

You can also follow me on Twitter @AmazingAyo.

Martin Luther King Jr: 25 Interesting Facts you did not know

Martin-Luther-King-Jr

On this day in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968), an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement in the United States from 1954 through 1968, was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he later died.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was known for his use of nonviolence and civil disobedience. His last words were to musician Ben Branch, who was scheduled to perform that night at a planned event.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was scheduled to visit Biafra in a bid to end the civil war raging in Nigeria in March 1968 but the visit got cancelled and he was assassinated three weeks later on April 4, 1968.

Below are some interesting facts you did not know about the revered clergyman and activist:

Early life and Education

1. Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael Lewis King. His father changed his own name to Martin Luther, after the German preacher and reformist, and he renamed his son the same.

2. King suffered from depression throughout much of his life. As a child, he befriended a white boy whose father owned a business near his family’s home. When the boys were six, they started school: King had to attend a school for African Americans and the other boy went to one for whites. King lost his friend because the child’s father no longer wanted the boys to play together.

3. At the age of 12, King blamed himself for his grandmother’s death and attempted suicide by jumping out of a second-story window but he survived.

4. King was a precocious child. He skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grade, entering college when he was only fifteen. At 19, he received a degree in sociology and earned a PhD in theology seven years later at 26. He eventually garnered another fifty or so honorary degrees from various colleges and universities around the country before his death at the age of 39.

Personal Life

5. Martin Luther King Jr. was a life-long smoker.

6. King was jailed 29 times, charged with everything from civil disobedience to driving five miles over the speed limit.

7. On October 14, 1964, King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, until Malala Yousafzai in 2014, which was awarded to him for leading nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in the U.S. He donated all $54,123 of the prize money to the civil rights movement.

8. King became romantically involved with the white daughter of an immigrant German woman. He planned to marry her, but friends advised against it, saying that an interracial marriage would provoke animosity from both blacks and whites. King broke off the relationship after six months. He never recovered.

9. King was 24 and his wife was 26 when they got married. They had four children together. Three are still alive as of April 2018.

Career and Activism

10. In 1957, King and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He led the SCLC until his death.

11. King survived an assassination attempt in 1958 after being stabbed in the chest by a deranged woman. He spent several weeks in surgery.

12. In 1963, the FBI, under written directive from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, tapped King’s telephone line suspecting he was a Communist.

13. Martin Luther King Jr. organized and led marches for blacks’ right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into the law of the United States with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

14. In the 1963 March on Washington, King delivered a 17-minute speech, later known as “I Have a Dream”. It came to be regarded as one of the finest speeches in the history of American oratory.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., American clergyman and civil rights leader, at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, minutes before he was shot and killed, April 4, 1968.

15. On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his death—King delivered a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” He spoke strongly against the U.S.’s role in the war, arguing that the U.S. was in Vietnam “to occupy it as an American colony” and calling the U.S. government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

16. Martin Luther King Jr. is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using the tactics of nonviolence and civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs and inspired by the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.

Martin Luther King Jr. Death

17. On April 4, 1968, King was fatally shot by James Earl Ray at 6:01 p.m. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. He died at the hospital an hour later at 7:05 p.m.

18. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared April 7, 1968 a national day of mourning for the civil rights leader.

19. King made a request that at his funeral no mention of his awards and honors be made, but that it be said that he tried to “feed the hungry“, “clothe the naked“, “be right on the [Vietnam] war question“, and “love and serve humanity.

20. King’s favourite hymn was “Take My Hand, Precious Lord“. It was sung at his funeral.

Legacy and Aftermath

21. On January 17, 2000, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all fifty U.S. states.

22. King’s mother, Alberta Williams King was also shot and killed at the age of 69.

Image of Martin Luther King's epitaph.
Martin Luther King’s epitaph.

23. As a Christian minister, King’s main influence was Jesus Christ and the Christian gospels. His faith was strongly based in Jesus’ commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself, loving God above all, and loving your enemies, praying for them and blessing them.

24. King’s autopsy revealed that stress had taken a major toll on his body. Despite being just 39 at the time of his death, one of the doctors noted that he had “the heart of a 60-year-old”.

25. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest civilian award of the United States of America) to Martin Luther King.

Are there any other interesting facts about Martin Luther King Jr. that you would like to tell us, kindly share in the comments below.

Did Alexander Graham Bell kill the 20th President of America?

Image of Guiteau shoots Garfield
Charles Guiteau shoots President James Garfield, July 2, 1881.

On the morning of July 2, 1881, the 20th President of America, James Abram Garfield (1831-1881) was preparing for a trip to New England, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech. While waiting for his train at a Washington D.C Railroad station, the newly elected president was felled and gravely wounded by the shots of an assassin. He was shot twice at the back. Garfield was carried to the presidential mansion, the White House.

Image of Guiteau shoots Garfield
Charles Guiteau shoots President James Garfield, July 2, 1881.

For weeks, he was nursed there by his doctors led by Dr. Willard Bliss. Later he was moved to Elberon, New Jersey, to be with his family. Garfield never left his sickbed, and on September 19, 11 weeks after the shooting, he died.

But who actually killed President Garfield? Was it the assassin that shot him, his doctors led by Dr. Willard Bliss or Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone?

Guiteau

Garfield’s assassin was Charles J. Guiteau, a religious fanatic and a Stalwart, who was apparently angered because he had been refused a government job. He stated that he shot Garfield in order “to unite the Republican Party and save the Republic.” Guiteau readily gave himself up after the shooting, certain that the people would understand the high-mindedness of his purpose. He was found guilty of murder, however, and was executed in 1882.

Bell

Alexander Bell invented the telephone in 1876. He also made other notable inventions some of which are the photophone, which transmits speech by light rays; the audiometer, used to measure acuity in hearing; the induction balance, used to locate metal objects in human bodies and the first wax recording cylinder, introduced in 1886.

Bliss

Dr. Willard Bliss was an American physician and expert in ballistic trauma. He studied at Cleveland Medical College and during the American Civil War (1861-1865), was a surgeon with the Third Michigan Infantry.

Image of Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the inventor of the Telephone.

Garfield became increasingly ill over a period of several weeks due to infection, which caused his heart to weaken. He remained bedridden in the White House with fevers and extreme pains. His weight dropped drastically as he was unable to keep down and digest food. Blood poisoning and infection set in and for a brief period the President suffered from hallucinations. His body oozed pus as the infections raged.

After Garfield had been shot, Bliss was summoned by Garfield’s Secretary of War, Robert Lincoln (President Abraham Lincoln’s son) and he (Bliss) examined Garfield’s bullet wounds with his fingers and an unsterilized metal probe and concluded that the bullet was in the President’s liver. (Robert Lincoln was present at three of four America’s presidential assassinations).

Garfield was carried back to the White House. Though doctors told him that he would not survive the night, the President remained conscious and alert. Subsequently, his condition fluctuated. Fevers came and went and he spent most of that summer taking liquids and was unable to take solid food.

Doctors continued to probe Garfield’s wounds with dirty, unsterilized fingers and instruments, attempting to find the location of the bullet (Wilhelm Roentgen had not invented the X-ray machine until four years later in 1885).

In the years following the American Civil War, there was a theory in the medical community that germs could be spread by introducing unwashed hands to an open wound. It was common practice at the time for surgeons to use unsterilized instruments in multiple surgeries while wearing a bloody gown.

Joseph Lister, for whom Listerine was named, worked tirelessly to promote the theory of antiseptic surgery. He taught that infection could be lessened by sterilizing instruments and washed hands. But Bliss disregarded the theories of Dr. Lister.

In a desperate measure to find the elusive bullet, Bliss brought in Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone who attempted to locate the bullet with an electrical device he called the Induction Balance, a metal detector. Bell discovered what he thought was the bullet and had doctors cut the President to remove it. Alas, Bell was wrong. His metal detector had found a metal spring in the mattress under the President.

Garfield became increasingly ill over a period of several weeks due to infection, which caused his heart to weaken. He remained bedridden in the White House with fevers and extreme pains. His weight dropped drastically as he was unable to keep down and digest food. Blood poisoning and infection set in and for a brief period the President suffered from hallucinations. His body oozed pus as the infections raged.

Image of President James A. Garfield death
Death of General James A. Garfield, 1881/pbs.org

On September 6, 1881, Garfield was taken to Elberon, New Jersey to escape the Washington D.C heat and with the vain hope that he might recover. But the ailing president died exactly two months before his 50th birthday and remains one of the only two Presidents who died before their 50th birthday, the other being John F. Kennedy, who was also assassinated when he was just 46 years old in 1963.

So, who killed Garfield? Bell, Bliss or Guiteau?

Some historians argued that Garfield might have survived had the doctors simply left him alone and not treated him. It was their ignorance of antiseptics that ultimately resulted in the President’s death in so much pain.

At his trial, the shrewd Guiteau argued he did not kill the President. He only injured him. He protested that the doctors actually killed Garfield. It was a defense that would have worked in this modern age but not in 1881. He was sentenced to death in January 1882 and then hanged on June 30, 1882.

In a desperate measure to find the elusive bullet, Bliss brought in Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone who attempted to locate the bullet with an electrical device he called the Induction Balance, a metal detector. Bell discovered what he thought was the bullet and had doctors cut the President to remove it. Alas, Bell was wrong. His metal detector had found a metal spring in the mattress under the President.

As for Dr. Bliss’ ignorance of antiseptics that resulted in the death of President Garfield, a new phrase was given birth to in the English Language; “Ignorance is Bliss.”

As for Alexander Graham Bell not being able to painstakingly search for the bullet, posterity exonerates him for the invention of the telephone (my opinion anyway, but I think he was innocent as he was working under Bliss’ direction).

And as for President Garfield, he died with the “help” of his many doctors. Thus, his work was ended and Vice President Chester Alan Arthur was sworn in as the 21st President of the United States.

Further Reading

The dirty, painful death of President James A. Garfield 

President James Garfield dies 

Alexander Graham Bell Tries to Save James Garfield

Assassination of James A. Garfield

Why Nigeria changed from Left-Hand to Right-Hand Drive in 1972

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Right-Hand-Drive-Left-Hand-Drive-1972

On Sunday, April 2, 1972, the Federal Military Government of Nigeria cut off one of the British colonialists’ vestiges in transportation when the country ditched the British styled left-hand drive to the right-hand drive common among the French, Germans, and the Americans.

Surrounded by Francophone countries who drives on the right, the Nigerian government thought it wise to adopt the method.  But was it for aesthetics and conformity or the government’s alignment to Western ideology and political romance with America?

Origin of the Right-Hand Drive

In time past, almost everyone travelled on the left side of the road because that was the most sensible option for primitive societies. Howbeit, most people were right-handed and swordsmen preferred to keep to the left in order to have their right arm nearer to an opponent and their scabbard further from him.

Also, a swordsman finds it easier to mount a horse from the left side of the horse, and it would be very difficult to do otherwise if wearing a sword (which would be worn on the left). It is safer to mount and dismount towards the side of the road, rather than in the middle of traffic, so if one mounts on the left, then the horse should be ridden on the left side of the road.

However, in the late 18th century, haulers in France and the United States began moving farm products in big wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. These wagons had no driver’s seat; instead the driver sat on the left rear horse, so he could keep his right arm free to lash the team. Since he was sitting on the left, he naturally wanted everybody to pass on the left so he could look down and make sure he kept clear of the oncoming wagon’s wheels. Therefore he kept to the right side of the road.

Image of Right-Hand Wagon Driving
Illustration of wagon driving in 18th century America.

The French Revolution of 1789 gave huge popularity to right-hand drive in Europe. The fact is, before the Revolution, the upper classes travelled on the left of the road, forcing the lower classes over to the right, but after the Revolution, to save themselves from the guillotine (an execution method in France), they kept a low profile and joined the lower classes on the right.

Therefore, the right-hand-drive became an unwritten rule in France.  Nevertheless, an official keep-right rule was eventually introduced in Paris in 1794.

Traffic in the 19th Century

In the early 1800s, the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered much of Europe (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and many parts of Spain and Italy) and enforced the new rule there. However, Britain, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Portugal resisted Napoleon and maintained the left side.

With the expansion of travel and road building in the 1800s, traffic regulations were made in every country. The British made left-hand driving obligatory in 1835 and British colonies which were part of the British Empire followed suit.

This is why to this very day, India, Australia, New Zealand and former British colonies in Africa, mainly East and Southern Africa, navigate left. Though Japan was never part of the British Empire, its traffic also goes to the left. However, it did not become a law until 1924. That is why all Japanese cars are originally built as a left-hand drive.

America

In the New World, the early years of English colonisation of North America continued with the English driving customs and the colonies drove on the left.

After gaining independence in 1776, the United States was anxious to cast off all remaining links with their British colonial past and gradually changed to right-hand driving. This was also made possible through the influence of other European immigrants, especially the French.

In the U.S., the first law requiring drivers to keep right was passed in Pennsylvania in 1792, New York in 1804, New Jersey in 1813, and Massachusetts in 1821.

Europe

In Europe, the remaining left-hand drive countries switched one by one to the right-hand drive except for Sweden, the odd one out in mainland Europe.

However, in 1955, the Swedish government held a referendum on the introduction of right-hand driving. Although no less than 82.9% voted “no” to the plebiscite, the Swedish parliament passed a law on the conversion to right-hand driving in 1963.

Finally, the change took place on Sunday, September 3, 1967, at 5 o’clock in the morning. The day was referred to as Dagen H or, in English, H-Day. The H stands for Högertrafik, the Swedish word for right-hand traffic or right-hand drive. After Sweden’s successful changeover, Iceland changed the following year, in 1968.

Image of H-Day
Right-Hand Drive or H-Day in Sweden, September 3, 1967.

Meanwhile, the power of the right-hand drive kept growing steadily. American cars were designed to be driven on the right by locating the drivers’ controls on the vehicle’s left side. With the mass production of reliable and economical cars in the United States, initial exports used the same design, and out of necessity many countries changed their rule of the road.

Nigeria, Africa, and Asia

In Asia, China changed to right-hand drive in 1946. Korea is now on the right-hand drive, but only because it passed directly from Japanese colonial rule to American and Russian influence at the end of the Second World War. As stated before, Japan maintains the left-hand drive.

Image of Right-Hand-Drive Nigeria; Traffic in Lagos, 1960.
Right-Hand Drive Traffic in Lagos, 1960.

In fact, in 1973, it attempted to officially rename Lagos, then federal capital with the nomenclature of Portuguese origin, to Eko (an indigenous word the city is also called) but the change was shunned among its citizens.

Proponents of Nigeria’s change to the right-hand drive have argued that it was to break ties with its colonial master, the story runs deeper than that. In the same vein, antagonists and critics of the policy believe it was because of Western imperialism. To a layman, both stories would be easily believed.

First, Nigeria was surrounded by countries with French colonial history who had always been on the right-hand drive; the Republic of Benin, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.

Then, their drivers used Nigeria’s ports and borders while Nigerian drivers delivered goods to those countries with much confusion. It made much sense to make that change.

So, if you wanted to drive from Lagos to Lome (Togo), you had to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road. Changing to the left simply made the journey easy. That was why Ghana had to change as well. The entire West African region is dominated by the Francophone countries and the need for a seamless transportation and business flow triggered the change.

Second, most cheap and affordable cars in vogue then were made in France (Renault, Peugeot) and Germany (Volkswagen) which were designed for right-hand drive roads. It would be an expensive process to convert them. Though Japanese cars are built for left-hand drive roads, they were not popular in Nigeria in the ‘70s.

Image of Right-Hand driving, Abuja, Nigeria, 2015.
Right-Hand drive, Abuja, Nigeria, 2015.

Third, in reference to the table below, more countries use on the right-hand drive side than the left. Most of whom are giant automobile manufacturers. The right-hand drive is used in 165 countries and territories, with the remaining 74 countries and territories using the left. Countries that use the left-hand drive account for about a sixth of the world’s area and a quarter of its roads.

S/N  Right-Hand Drive Countries S/N Left-Hand Drive Countries
1 Afghanistan 1 Anguilla
2 Albania 2 Antigua and Barbuda
3 Algeria 3 Australia
4 American Samoa 4 Bahamas
5 Andorra 5 Bangladesh
6 Angola 6 Barbados
7 Argentina 7 Bermuda
8 Armenia 8 Bhutan
9 Aruba 9 Botswana
10 Austria 10 Brunei
11 Azerbaijan 11 Cayman Islands
12 Bahrain 12 Christmas Island (Australia)
13 Belarus 13 Cook Islands
14 Belgium 14 Cyprus
15 Belize 15 Dominica
16 Benin 16 East Timor
17 Bolivia 17 Falkland Islands
18 Bosnia and Herzegovina 18 Fiji
19 Brazil 19 Grenada
20 British Indian Ocean Territory (Diego García) 20 Guernsey (Channel Islands)
21 Bulgaria 21 Guyana
22 Burkina Faso 22 Hong Kong
23 Burundi 23 India
24 Cambodia 24 Indonesia
25 Cameroon 25 Ireland
26 Canada 26 Isle of Man
27 Cape Verde 27 Jamaica
28 Central African Republic 28 Japan
29 Chad 29 Jersey (Channel Islands)
30 Chile 30 Kenya
31 China, People’s Republic of (Mainland China) 31 Kiribati
32 Colombia 32 Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia)
33 Comoros 33 Lesotho
34 Congo 34 Macau
35 Congo (former Republic of Zaire) 35 Malawi
36 Costa Rica 36 Malaysia
37 Croatia 37 Maldives
38 Cuba 38 Malta
39 Czech Republic 39 Mauritius
40 Denmark 40 Montserrat
41 Djibouti 41 Mozambique
42 Dominican Republic 42 Namibia
43 Ecuador 43 Nauru
44 Egypt 44 Nepal
45 El Salvador 45 New Zealand
46 Equatorial Guinea 46 Niue
47 Eritrea 47 Norfolk Island (Australia)
48 Estonia 48 Pakistan
49 Ethiopia 49 Papua New Guinea
50 Faroe Islands (Denmark) 50 Pitcairn Islands (Britain)
51 Finland 51 Saint Helena
52 France 52 Saint Kitts and Nevis
53 French Guiana 53 Saint Lucia
54 French Polynesia 54 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
55 Gabon 55 Seychelles
56 Gambia, The 56 Singapore
57 Gaza Strip 57 Solomon Islands
58 Georgia 58 South Africa
59 Germany 59 Sri Lanka
60 Ghana 60 Suriname
61 Gibraltar 61 Swaziland
62 Greece 62 Tanzania
63 Greenland 63 Thailand
64 Guadeloupe (French West Indies) 64 Tokelau (New Zealand)
65 Guam 65 Tonga
66 Guatemala 66 Trinidad and Tobago
67 Guinea 67 Turks and Caicos Islands
68 Guinea-Bissau 68 Tuvalu
69 Haiti 69 Uganda
70 Honduras 70 United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
71 Hungary 71 Virgin Islands (British)
72 Iceland 72 Virgin Islands (US)
73 Iran 73 Zambia
74 Iraq 74 Zimbabwe
75 Israel
76 Italy
77 Ivory Coast
78 Jordan
79 Kazakhstan
80 Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of (North Korea)
81 Korea, Republic of (South Korea)
82 Kuwait
83 Kyrgyzstan
84 Laos
85 Latvia
86 Lebanon
87 Liberia
88 Libya
89 Liechtenstein
90 Lithuania
91 Luxembourg
92 Macedonia
93 Madagascar
94 Mali
95 Marshall Islands
96 Martinique (French West Indies)
97 Mauritania
98 Mayotte (France)
99 Mexico
100 Micronesia, Federated States of
101 Midway Islands (USA)
102 Moldova
103 Monaco
104 Mongolia
105 Morocco
106 Myanmar (formerly Burma)
107 Netherlands
108 Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, Saba)
109 New Caledonia
110 Nicaragua
111 Niger
112 Nigeria
113 Northern Mariana Islands
114 Norway
115 Oman
116 Palau
117 Panama
118 Paraguay
119 Peru
120 Philippines
121 Poland
122 Portugal
123 Puerto Rico
124 Qatar
125 Réunion
126 Romania
127 Russia
128 Rwanda
129 Saint Barthélemy (French West Indies)
130 Saint Martin (French West Indies)
131 Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)
132 Samoa
133 San Marino
134 Sao Tome and Principe
135 Saudi Arabia
136 Senegal
137 Serbia and Montenegro
138 Sierra Leone
139 Slovakia
140 Slovenia
141 Somalia
142 Spain
143 Sudan
144 Svalbard (Norway)
145 Sweden
146 Switzerland
147 Syria
148 Taiwan
149 Tajikistan
150 Togo
151 Tunisia
152 Turkey
153 Turkmenistan
154 Ukraine
155 United Arab Emirates
156 United States
157 Uruguay
158 Uzbekistan
159 Vanuatu
160 Venezuela
161 Vietnam
162 Wake Island (USA)
163 Wallis and Futuna Islands (France)
164 Western Sahara
165 Yemen

Do you think Nigeria should have maintained the right-hand drive? You can share your thoughts in the comment box below..

Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @AmazingAyo

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