1851 Agidingbi: Nigeria’s Inaugural Chess Variant Inspired by Lagos History Unveiled


The unique game of history, 1851 Agidingbi, crafted by a distinguished Nigerian activist, researcher, cultural advocate, and historian, Oludamola O. Adebowale, weaves together tradition and strategy, offering players a compelling experience rooted in the cultural heritage of Nigeria. 

In the 1851 Agidingbi Chess Game, players encounter a classic checkerboard layout adorned with distinctive chess pieces paying homage to Lagos royalties and chieftains. Notable figures include the Queen Mother, represented by the Erelu-Kuti of Lagos, the King embodied by the Oba of Lagos, the Rook as the Adamu Eyo, Pawn as Omo Ogun Eko, Bishop as Eletu-Odibo, and the Knight as Abagbon. These engaging variants allow players to assume the roles of either the defenders of Lagos or the British invaders, adding a dynamic layer to the chess experience.

The motivation behind this creative endeavor, was a battle between Oba Kosoko and his uncle, Oba Akitoye during the mid-19th century in Lagos, Nigeria. Kosoko wanted the throne, but Akitoye, with support from the British forces wanted it more, also, the control over Lagos translates to wielding significant trade influence in the broader West African region, so recognizing this strategic importance, British forces undertook a military intervention, resulting in the re-installation of Oba Akitoye as the Oba of Lagos.

The exhibition commenced with a grand opening ceremony on October 28, 2023, from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, which unfolded daily until November 1st, 2023, with operating hours from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It occurred at the gate of Red Door Gallery at Bishop Oluwole Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, commencing with a lively performance by a traditional praise-singing troupe, accompanied by the rhythmic beats of drummers and dancers. As it was, the usual red carpet of honor was replaced by a sprawling mat crafted from local materials as it set the stage. As guests dressed in vintage Lagos attires stepped onto this unique carpet, they were welcomed with the delightful taste of palm wine at the gallery’s premises, evoking the nostalgic memories of the Yoruba typical culture.

A view of the actual chess game variant at the gallery’s premises

In the esteemed company of dignitaries like HRH Abiola Dosunmu, the current Erelu Kuti IV of Lagos et al that graced the exhibition, pioneer Oludamola O. Adebowale shared the inspiration behind creating the unique chess board game variant. He also announced the availability of the cultural chess game online, accessible for download on both Play Store and App Store. This initiative aims to provide chess enthusiasts with a dimensional and culturally enriched gaming experience.

This captivating historical art exhibition offered an immersive journey into Lagos’s rich history, seamlessly blending education and entertainment for a truly engaging experience. The event further enhanced its enjoyment factor with the inclusion of refreshments and networking sessions, creating an atmosphere conducive to sweet and memorable moments.


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