Ordinarily and notwithstanding the medium of diffusion, any information without a correspondence should not be dignified with any attention (reading, spreading, and rejoinder) but since we are enthralled in the era of social media where majority of its users are pseudo historians, writers, journalists etc. such that their conjecture become caustic and misleading to the gullible public; rhetological fallacy in this case when they are not contested may be interpreted as consent and dignified as truth. It is for this simple reason that I have taken the pain to put in proper perspective the biography of Late Chief Conrad Taiwo Olowo spreading around the Social Media.
Stories (particularly fictional) are necessarily not reliable information; although biography is a non-fictional story that is considered to be how a person lived his life, but biography is also not a reliable document especially when it is written by a person’s ally. Like my history teacher would say; biography is like when a student is asked to grade his own examination script, such student will not likely fail himself. But this should not be a capital crime, after all historian themselves had considered history to be essentially subjective – simply put; historical fact especially the ones borne out of oral tradition are accepted to be correct and useful for public policy not because they are true but for their logicality. Thus; when a biography become illogical, it therefore exposes the plain intention of the biographer which must be lies, deceit, and shenanigans.
The fact that the biography in question cannot be identified to any person or source, further verify the underlying ulterior motive of whoever that is behind the hoax. Many questions would have been possible if the identity of the biographer was revealed; for instance; it is often impossible to write a story of a person without living in his time or a source that live in such persons time or anyone who can check or verify what has been written. Sadly in this case, there is no identity, nor evidence of a witnesses to cross-examine.
The first paragraph of the biography reads;
“On Wednesday 19th February 1901, the late Chief Daniel Conrad Taiwo the first enlightened Oba Olofin of lsheri passed into the realms beyond, One hundred nineteenth years ago”
The author was confused or perhaps find it rather impossible to use his mischief to specifically and in clear terms inform us whether or not Chief Conrad Taiwo was a King and at what period. His being ambivalence explain lack of confidence to defend an obvious non-existent bragging status purportedly manufactured to win an imaginary war. In any case, what was true is that there was no time that the business mogul was an Oba of Isheri or anywhere in Yoruba land except in the wildest imagination of the fictional writer.
In the second paragraph, he wrote that;
“The influence he was wielding in Lagos and the confidence the Nigerian Government had in him could have been employed to the best interests of a federation of the Egbado tribes who were the first settlers on the Coastal regions of Southern Nigeria under the leadership of Olofin Ogunfunmunire, whose Royal appendage is still known today as the Olofin of lsheri.”
The writer of this fictitious biography must have a poor sense of Nigeria history which he absurdly arrogates to himself a master of. Firstly, he noted that; Chief Conrad Taiwo influence wielded the confidence of the Nigerian government. He himself had said in the first paragraph that the late chief Conrad died in 1901, conversely, the Nigeria state officially came into being after the amalgamation of the Southern, Northern protectorates and Lagos colony in 1914. It is thus repugnant to commonsense that a man played a noticed role and wielded such supposed influence in an organization where he died thirteen years before its existence. Secondly, in trying to create in Chief Conrad the status he does not enjoy in his lifetime, the author inadvertently denigrated the Chief by acknowledging his exploitative, extortionate and double-dealing attitude which premised and calibrated his wealth and influence in the group British colonial exploiters.
For instance, according to (Wikipedia), Chief Conrad Taiwo was described as a “successful slave owners, planter, canoe owner, and trader”. Chief Conrad was said to be a self-imposed patron of the Isheri people and with the support of Oba Kosoko to whom Taiwo was a protégé, he acted as a middleman to foreign slave traders. According to Kristin Mann an American historian who majorly worked on History of Slaves in Africa, he said;
“In his capacity as Baba Isale, Taiwo was a patron and representative of the Isheri people. In return, Taiwo enjoyed monopolistic privileges over all others in access to Isheri trade routes and markets.”
He was to this extent the source of Isheri economical backwardness as he lived all his life selling his people as slaves and traversing the proceeds, his wealth to enjoy his boisterous life as a dandy and renowned Lagos socialite which I quite agree with the author that this wealth and influence he dubiously amass could have been employed to the best interests of his kinsmen. Although, he was once a slave, but partnering with the slave traders to propagate the slave business was the conditioned he was offered and which he tacitly accepted for his emancipation; therefore, there was no time that he raised voice against slavery let alone helping to fight this exploitative venture just as the author ignorantly put it.
Thirdly and perhaps the most ridiculous, and provoking was the writer’s crooked and cooked sophistry where he said that;
“The said Chief Concad afforded the Ota people protection during the internecine wars when the Egbas besieged that town on an appeal to him as a mark of friendship and in is well known in history.”
Although Chief Concad Taiwo was wealthy but what is true was his pro-slavery mentality which made him unnoticed in any deliberate colonial resistance or emancipation struggle and tendencies. His political career according to Wikipedia started when Oba Kosoko in 1863 introduced him to Governor Glover who will later encouraged him to join politics in Lagos. His sphere of influence was according to Oba Kosoko and Governor Glover instruction. In fact it was explicitly documented how Chief Taiwo was overwhelmed by the Egbas power bloc;
“Glover introduced Taiwo to the firm of Messrs G.L. Gaiser, who became Taiwo’s main trading partners and who assisted him in the collection of debts owed Taiwo by Egba traders (Wikipedia).”
How then can someone who was rescued from the torment and encumbrances of the Egbas now assisted the Ota people against the Egbas bellicose advances that although only happen in his dream. There were even no evidence (written or unwritten) that he was in a good or having a comparatively advantage relationship with the Egbas.
Another skewed truth was where the writer said;
“Chief Taiwo was presented in 1890, with a Staff and a Big Bible by Her late Majesty Queen Victoria the Good as a mark of friendship and in appreciation of the services ably rendered to the imperial Government”
He mischievously or ignorantly failed to mention that Chief Taiwo was baptized in the late 1870s at the Holy Trinity Church in Ebute Ero, where he was giving the name Daniel Conrad Taiwo and it was to this effect he was giving a bible in 1882 (not 1890) as the usual tradition for accepting Christianity. If at all it was for meritorious service which did not happen though, that must have been a dedicated service to the British scavengers for exchanging with them his kinsmen for money.
I must conclude by admonishing the writer and his co-traducers that; crafting a concocted, and bogus biographical, or historical sketch of a messiah (or as the case may be) that never existed thinking this will increase the confidence and boost chances to achieve a supposed goal is to me a waste of time, and such endeavor will undoubtedly end in counterfeit – an effort in total debacle.
Salako, Azeem Oladimeji writes in from Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
2nd July 2020.