Sunday 21 April 2024


Seriki Williams Abass was born originally at a town in Yorubaland called Ijoga Orile. The town is in todays Ogun State in South West Nigeria. Ijoga Orile is not far from Ilaro and Abeokuta. His birth name was Faremilekun and his father’s name was Fagbemi. He was captured by the Dahomeans and became a slave at the age of six years old. The country called Benin Republic today used to be known as Dahomey. The name Dahomey was changed to Benin Republic in 1975.

Seriki Williams Abass of Badagry’s journey as a slave began in Dahomey. His first owner in Dahomey was called Abass. His first owner (Abass) in Dahomey was an Islamic scholar and a slave trader. Abass in Dahomey later sold him to a European slave trader by the name of Williams. Faremilekun, the son of Fagbemi became known as William Abass because slaves bear their owners name. The first thing that was taken from a slave was his identity. A slave does not have a name. Slaves bear their owner’s name or the name their owners give to them or called them. Faremilekun took the name of his two masters, namely Abass and Williams. He became known as Williams Abass.

Mr. Williams brought him as a slave from Abass and took him to Brazil. There in Brazil, Mr. Williams realized that there was something unusual about him. So, he refused to resell the boy and took him to his house and made him a domestic slave while he sold his other slaves. Domestic slaves work in their master’s house and plantation slaves work on the farm. Mr. Williams (The European) treated him well and taught him (Faremilekun a.k.a. Williams Abass) how to read and write. Mr. Williams treated him well. The boy himself was so intelligent to the extent that he learnt how to speak English, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish through Mr. Williams and the friends of Mr. Williams in Brazil.

The Statue of Seriki Williams Abass at Aiyetoro roundabout near Abeokuta. Seriki Abass ruled Badagry for 24years, founded Aiyetoro and Idogo.

Seriki Williams Abass was a slave who later became a slave trader. Mr. Williams (The European slave trader who reside in Brazil) sponsored him (Seriki Williams Abass) back to Africa. The first place he settled down at was called the Colony of Lagos. He first settled down at OFIN, around Isale Eko in Lagos Island. Some of Seriki Williams Abass descendants in Lagos Island today bear Abass as their family name, some bear Williams, while some bear Seriki-Abass and others bear Williams-Abass together. The Banire families in Lagos Island are also related to Seriki Williams Abass.

Seriki Williams Abass later left Lagos Island to settle down in Badagry in the 1830’s. Before seriki Williams Abass settled down in Badagry, he was conversant with the territory. He usually visits Porto-Novo, Badagry,  the Egbado corridors etc. He had business relationships as far as Ketu in present Benin Republic and he maintained his business contact with Mr. Williams, his former master in Brazil who continued to send his Slave merchant friends to him. Seriki Williams Abass continued his exploits and because of the prosperous slavery business in Badagry, he decided to settle down there.

In Badagry, through the support of Mr. Williams (His European former master) and his friends, the Brazillian Barracoon was built for him (Seriki Abass) and he also spent his money and the labour was supplied by his slaves.

Chief Williams became one of the most remarkable figures in the Badagry District whose administration was effected by twenty salaried chiefs and 30 police Constables (Olaide-Mesewaku 2000).

 In 1897, he was given the chieftaincy of Seriki Musulumi of the whole Western Yorubaland around the Egba

Under the British Colonial Policy of Indirect Rule, Abass was appointed a Paramount Chief of Badagry District in 1913.

Seriki Williams  founded Aiyetoro and Idogo, both in today’s Ogun state.

On 11th June 1919, Seriki Abass died in Badagry.

PHOTO CREDIT: Anago James Akeem 

Source: Historical Nigeria

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