Monument: Fafowora Berates FG For Destroying Herbert Macaulay’s House
A retired Nigerian diplomat, Ambassador Oladapo Fafowora, on Thursday berated the Federal Government for demolishing the house of a foremost nationalist late Herbert Macaulay in order to create space for the General Post Office on Lagos Island.
Fafowora said the demolition of Macaulay’s house, which was popularly known as ‘Kirsten Hall,’ amounted to a display of lack of a sense of history on the part of the government, describing the General Post Office built in its place as “a grotesque junk yank.”
He said it was ironical that it was not even the colonial government, which Macaulay vehemently opposed during his lifetime, that demolished his house but the indigenous government, which Macaulay struggled for.
Fafowora was the guest lecturer at the Herbert Macaulay Inaugural Gold Lecture held on Thursday at the Lagos Country Court, Ikeja.
The lecture, titled, “Herbert Macaulay and his relevance to the excellence of Lagos,” was organised to mark Macaulay’s 71st death anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the creation of Lagos State.
Fafowora, who recalled that he was only five years old when Macaulay died on May 7, 1946 at the age of 81, described Kirsten Hall “as an impressive and elegant one-storeyed detached building,” which he admired and often strolled from his house at Ita-Faji to see at No. 8, Barbina Street.
“Given his (Macaulay’s) prominence as an outstanding historic and public figure in Lagos, I think the house should have been preserved for posterity, not demolished,” Fafowora said nostalgically.
Taking the audience through the life and times of the late Macaulay, Fafowora, a professional historian, pointed out that Macaulay spent his life fighting against oppressive tendencies of the colonial government for which he was jailed on at least two occasions.
He said despite Macaulay’s many contributions to nationalism no one had written his biography and not much had been done to honour his memories besides a major street each in Lagos and Abuja that were named after him.
He said it was ironical that Glover Memorial Hall on Customs Street, Lagos was named after Sir John Hawley Glover, a British naval officer, who led the naval bombardment of Lagos in 1861, after its forceful annexation.
He called on government to rename the building, which he described as a sad reminder of our colonial past, after Macaulay.
“It should, with permission of its trustees, be renamed Herbert Macaulay Memorial Hall. Glover already has Glover Road in Ikoyi named after him. Other colonial governors such as Lord Lugard, Lord Milverton, Sir Hugh Clifford and Sir John Macpherson, already have streets named after them in Lagos. Victoria Island was named after HM Queen Victoria. Port Harcourt was named after Lord Harcourt, the colonial secretary who appointed Lord Lugard the first Governor General of colonial Nigeria.
“If we can so generously honour these colonial governors, then I think that Herbert Macaulay and our other national heroes deserve much more,” Fafowora said.
He called on the Lagos State Government to collaborate with private sector players to “urgently set up a Herbert Macaulay Foundation, to keep his memory and political ideas alive.”
Punch reports that the diplomat also challenged the state to name a public institution, preferably a higher institution, after Macaulay or to establish a Herbert Macaulay School of Politics and Government, preferably in the Lagos State University.
The Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Gbemiga Ogunleye, who chaired the lecture, noted that even the N1 coin, which had the image of Macaulay had gone out of circulation. He advocated the teaching of History in schools to give the younger generation the opportunity of learning about the country’s past heroes like Macaulay.
The event, which was graced by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode George, who is Macaulay’s great grand nephew and was moderated by the Chairman of The NationNewspapers’ Editorial Board, Mr. Sam Omatseye.
George, in his remarks, recalled how his late mother likened his (George’s) trial and incarceration to how Macaulay was treated by the colonial government.