THOMAS GILBERT CARTER (1848 – 1927)The month of January appears to be crucial in the life of Gilbert Carter who was governor of the British Colony of Lagos from 1891 to 1898. He was born on 14 January 1848 in England, died on 18 January 1927 in Barbados; his first wife died on 13 January 1895 in Lagos. One can say that January meant life and death for Thomas Gilbert-Carter (Jnr).
As governor of the Colony of Lagos, Gilbert Carter would appear to be the first to move hinterlands on military expeditions – to further conquer the land – first to Ijebuland, then to Egbaland on route to Ibadan, Oyo and Ife.
Carter seemed to have enjoyed his interactions with the Egbas and so much was his fond memories of Ilaro (then regarded as part of Egbaland) that his second wife Gertrude Parker named the British colonial governor’s residence in Barbados “Ilaro Court.” He had been transferred from Lagos in 1898 to Bahamas, then to Trinidad & Tobago and finally to Barbados where he ruled from 1904 up to his retirement in 1911.
Ilaro Court in the parish of St. Michael, Barbados, was completed in 1919 – eight years after Carter had retired from the Colonial Service. But as the memory of his Ilaro encounters lingered, Carter returned in the 1920s to Barbados and lived in Ilaro Court where he died on 18 January 1927. Ilaro Court has remained the residence of the prime ministers of Barbados to date.
Diokpa Ndukwe A. Atube always talks about the need for an Olubor Hall in Lagos; and I am thinking that with the above historical narrative, we can brace up and do the needful in this regard. Olubor natives in Lagos as well as in the Diaspora can, individually or collectively, put up an edifice if only to emblazon the name OWERRE-OLUBOR in faraway places. We have seen how doing a similar thing has popularized the Egbas (or precisely, the Egbado, now Yewa people) outside Egbaland.
In this era of cooperation and development, let the glorifying of Owerre-Olubor be our preoccupation, even if it means realizing this in other areas of human endeavours or actions. Perhaps, a native may name his house outside the native land OWERRE OLUBOR VILLA, or OWERRE OLUBOR LODGE, or OWERRE OLUBOR COTTAGE. In the same vein, a street in another city can be named OWERRE OLUBOR STREET if an Olubor native were the first developer on the street; for example, Eloseh Street in Surulere (Lagos) might have been named OWERRE OLUBOR STREET by Chief Nwankwor Elosie. In Lagos alone there are more than a dozen streets named ABEOKUTA, rather than the personal names of the first Egba developers.
It is in the above contexts that I remember the colonial governor Thomas Gilbert Carter (Jnr) who died today in 1927. And lest we forget, Carter Bridge in Lagos was named after him.
Frank Monye: Lagos, 18 January 2017