Ọláìyá House, a 161 year-old building declared a national monument in 1956 by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, has been pulled down. This is a sentence that has haunted me since I read this news story a few minutes ago.
The building, also called Ilọ́jọ̀ Bar, was one of the cultural landmarks on Lagos Island bearing physical stories of our colonial and post-colonial past. The structure, built in an old Brazilian style was recently the family home to famous Highlife musician Victor Ọláìyá. It was reportedly built by Afro-Brazilian ex-slave returnees to Lagos Island in the late 1800s and was once called Casa do Fernandez after the first residents/owners of the house.
There had been talks of restoring the building for touristy and cultural purposes. But to wake up to hear news of its demolition is sickening and shocking. The news report doesn’t provide any reason for the demolition except for this quote by an occupant:
“They did not call our attention to the fact that the house had been leased to a developer. The developer just came one day and said they wanted to demolish, promising to settle those who live there. That was since April, we did not agree. We don’t like the way they drove away those people occupying the building.”
If true, this continues a pattern recently established by the state government in demolishing buildings without due process. In this case, the building is actually a protected cultural site, and that makes it way worse.
I’m following this news as it develops and will publish my findings here as they manifest.
Update: 22nd October, 2016
All my subsequent reporting on this matter can be found on this blog in the following links:
2. Visiting the Demolition Site (First published on KTravula.com on September 18, 2016)
2b. Photos of the Demolition (September 19, 2016)
2c. Video of the Demolition (September 20, 2016)
3. Demolishing History (First published on KTravula.com and in syndication with the Guardian online/print and Premium Times online on September 25, 2016)
4. A Tragedy of Confusing Interests (First published on KTravula.com and in syndication with the Guardian online/print on October 2, 2016)
5. A Failure All Around (First published at KTravula.com on October 3, 2016 and in syndication with the Guardian online/print of October 9, 2016)