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A STUDY OF IYALOJA TO DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH OF SURA MARKET (LAGOS ISLAND): Hello welcome to Projectstores, a place where all projects unique topic resides.

In this blog post, we will be discussing on the development of SURA market with other related information.

Let’s delve in.



Title Page …………………………………………………………………………………………. i

Certification ……………………………………………………………………………………… ii

Dedication ………………………………………………………………………………………. iii

Acknowledgements ……………………………………………………………………………… iv

Table of Contents …………………………………………………………………………….. v-vi

Chapter One: Introduction and Literature Review

1.1 Introduction of the study

1.2 Statement of problem

1.3 Research objectives

1.4 Research questions

1.5 Scope of the study

1.6 Significance of the study

1.7 Research method

1.8 Literature Review

Chapter Two: The Roles and Status of Market Leaders in Yoruba Land

2.1 Emergence of Traditional Market in Yoruba Societies

2.2 Cosmological Believes and Rites in Yoruba Societies

2.3 Market Leaders and Roles Segmentation in Yoruba Land

2.4 The Growth and Development Marley Women Association in Lagos

Chapter Three:  Origin and Development of Sura market.

3.1 Foundation and History of Sura Market

3.2 Organisation Structure of Sura Market

3.3 Commerce and Wares of Sura Market

3.4 Sura Market and the Economic Development in Lagos Island

Chapter Four: The Position of Iyaloja and the Development in Sura Market

4.1 The position of Iyaloja in Sura Market

4.2 The Iyaloja of Sura Market in History

4.3 The Iyaloja and Political Development

4.4 The Iyaloja and their Efficiency

Chapter Five

Summary and Conclusion




Several authors who wrote about Yoruba historical contents of pre-colonial era have identified the important role of women in trade. Traditionally, Yoruba women of old were traders while men dominated the farming profession. Markets in traditional Yoruba settings were governed by women whose major leadership then was known as Iyalaje. Pronounced ‘Eeyah-lahjay’, it’s a term used then, even till date, by the Yoruba for an entrepreneur lady.

However, in some towns, the Oba (monarch) appoints the woman market leader (Iyalaje) while in other situations the same head is chosen by the traders, before the ratification of the monarch. In pre-modern governance, whoever became Iyalaje earned the office based on her being a successful entrepreneur.

It’s not exactly clear at what point in history that the Iyalaje of old became Iyaloja. Pronounced ‘Eeyah-lohja’, it’s currently the head of market women across different parts of Yoruba land. Every market across Yoruba land has its Iyaloja and Babaloja (a male head) as complementary.

Market in Yoruba land is under the leadership of Iyaloja, usually a democratically chosen leader by her constituents (and is thereafter confirmed by the Oba) or single-handedly chosen by the Oba himself. It has commonly been used to refer to a prominent traditional chieftaincy title among the Yoruba people, just as it is political as well as cultural. The respect paid to the title is synonymous with the kind of respect deserving of mothers.

After all, the Iyaloja’s are the mothers of the market and every single trader in it. It stands as a firm reminder that women can be leaders. Every Iyaloja ensures the smooth day-to-day running of the market, play a vital role in keeping a market in order, thereby enhancing safety and security.

They also act as intermediaries between trade groups and the government, relaying to the respective institutions what a particular market needs in order to thrive. Perhaps a better road that leads into the market, or more space for traders.  In the emerging democratic setting, the rural women, through the Iyaloja’s therefore considered the ways in which they can be relevant politically as well as ensuring that the community benefits from the dividends of democracy.

They have, however, extended their roles beyond the traditional institutional frameworks which enthroned them to perform political functions. Utilizing feminism approach and self-propelling advocacy, these women leaders were able to participate effectively in community governance.

These positions and the officeholders therefore represented the economic interest of their fellow kinswomen and the socio-cultural and political interests of Yoruba women. As political figures, they have political roles and enjoyed political influence on the Oba’s cabinet.

The history of Iyaloja in Lagos offers an idea of how Iyalaje became Iyaloja in southwest of Nigeria. During the British colonial rule, women traders in markets came together to confront constituted authority on Lagos Island.

Led by a fish seller, Alimotu Pelewura (circa 1865-1951), the women revolted against the then British law of taxation for peasant traders. Pelewura, like most Yoruba women of leadership quality before her, was also recognised by the traditional rulership of Lagos, ahead of being a market leader. In 1910, a Lagos monarch, Oba Esugbayi Eleko (reign 1901-1912) conferred a chieftaincy title on Pelewura. From being a woman activist to market leader. (1920s-1951), Pelewura became a politician and joined Nigerian National Democratic Party NNDP led by Herbert Macaulay (1864-1946).

Pelewura’s extended activism into the political terrain of pre-Independence Nigeria appeared to have laid a precedence for a synergy between traditional rulership, trade unionism and mainstream politicking. Escalating that synergy between market leadership and politicians was Pelewura’s deputy, Abibatu Mogaji (October 1917).

Mogaji took over the leadership of Lagos Market Women Association in 1952. Mogaji’s office, over the decades, was actually expanded and reigned as President of Association of Nigerian Market Men and Women otherwise known as Iyaloja General of Nigeria. Mogaji, MFR, OON, a Lagos aborigine was one of the strong members of the then ruling party Action Group (AG), under the leadership of the then Premier of Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

The political history of the first Republic, in Lagos specifically, cannot be completed without Mogaji’s name. Sources said she mobilised votes of traders in Lagos against the then Federal Government ruling party National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). Her efforts, it was said, led to the victory of AG in Lagos.

Sura market is strategically located in Lagos Island. It is on the other side of the Osborne Ikoyi Link Bridge and situated around the edges of the ever-busy Simpson Street where it is accessible to thousands of customers daily.

It is an open-air market particularly known for discounted household items, domestic goods, including foodstuff, fruits and vegetables. Sura market has a long history dating back to the colonial era in Nigeria. Its odyssey began as a Swamp turned to a waste dump site later sand filled. Sura market past leaders have done a lot from 1976 till date for the existence and improvement in thestate of the market through private and government sectors. This study aims to examine the growth and development of Sura Market in Lagos Island.

Statement of Problem on The Study Of Iyaloja To Development And Growth Of Sura Market (LAGOS ISLAND)

Power struggles and politics have been one of the problems faced by Iyaloja within the market. As a leader, the Iyaloja holds significant authority and influence over traders and market activities. This can lead to rivalries and conflicts among different factions within the market, each vying for control and dominance. These power struggles often revolve around issues such as stall allocation, pricing regulations, and access to resources. The Iyaloja must navigate these complex dynamics while maintaining order and fairness in the market.


Resistance to change is another problem, Markets are often deeply rooted in tradition, with established practices and norms that have been followed for generations. When  Iyaloja attempts to introduce new policies or regulations aimed at improving efficiency or addressing emerging challenges, there can be resistance from those who are resistant to change or fear disruption to their established ways of doing business. This resistance can hinder progress and make it difficult for the Iyaloja to implement necessary reforms.

Corruption and bribery are pervasive issues that affect the role of Iyaloja. Some traders may attempt to bribe or influence the Iyaloja in order to gain preferential treatment or secure unfair advantages over their competitors. This undermines the integrity of the market and can lead to a lack of trust and fairness among traders. The Iyaloja must be vigilant and take measures to prevent corruption, such as implementing transparent processes for stall allocation and ensuring that all traders are treated equally. This Long essay explores how the Iyaloja navigates this political terrain and combines it with relating with the political leadership at both local and state government levels.

Research Objectives

  1. To examine the impact of Iyaloja to the growth and development of the market.
  2. To examine the contributions of Iyaloja towards the market.
  3. To identify the challenges faced by the people in the market.
  4. To examine the trade activities in the market place.
  5. To measure the diversity of the market place.

Research Questions

  1. What is the impact of Iyaloja to the growth and development of the market?
  2. What is the contribution of iyaloja towards the market?
  3. How to identify the challenges faced by the people in the market?
  4. What are the trade activities in the market place?
  5. How to measure the diversity of the market place?

Scope of the Study

This study investigates the impact of Iyaloja to the development and growth of Sura Market, Lagos island. In the study, the aim is to show the contributions of Iyaloja towards the development and growth of the market.


Significance of the Study

This study ensures the academic significance by adding new knowledge to the existing theories while future researchers would test and develop theories by incorporating the research findings relating to the research topic. The study is conducted to benefit the following; Students. This study will serve as reference for the students undertaking similar studies.

Related Researchers. This research will aid in their discussions regarding related lessons. It will be easier for them to tackle related topics about this research.


Research Method

The Long essay adopts qualitative and analytical method of research through the use of primary and secondary sources of information such as oral interviews and newspapers/magazine analysis.

Literature Review

Trade was one of the dominant occupations in Yorùbáland. Typically, these commercial activities take place in the marketplace which meant that the market was a feature of every town and village in Yorùbáland. Regardless of the size of a Yoruba town, its population or political status, the market was a constant feature – as it was a place where people engaged in the exchange of goods and services. Reverend Samuel Johnson, an Anglican priest and Yoruba historian noted, every Yoruba town has a market and “the principal market of the town is always in the centre of the town and in the front of the house of the chief ruler.”

Since it was the king or chief ruler of the town that established or authorized the establishment of markets in precolonial period, the markets in Yorùbáland tend to be located across from the royal house. Most of the trading activities in the marketplace were undertaken by women, and they were usually in charge of the administration of the markets. Marjorie McIntosh “because most local traders were women and female officials controlled the market in many Yoruba communities, the physical location of the marketplace had symbolic importance in gendered terms.”

In Yorùbáland, the symbolism of the marketplace for women was similar to the palace for men. While the palace was a male domain where men exercised political authority with women having limited political presence, the marketplace was an arena where women flourished independently in their economic activities. Markets were an important feature of Yoruba towns, and there were distinctions in the different classification of the markets. Sudarkasa “In the classification of markets in Yorùbáland, three sets of distinctions are used by Yoruba speakers. Sudarkas, noted the first distinction is between daily markets and non-daily markets. For non-dailymarkets, Yoruba speakers did not use the term “periodic” to refer to these markets. Rather, they were classified according to the days the markets were operational.

For example, they speak of markets that conduct daily operations as ‘oja ’ojojumo,’ while markets that operate every fifth day are referred to as ‘oja ijo Karun,’ and markets that are held every ninth day are known as ‘oja ijo kesan.’ Furthermore, Sudarkasa noted that the second distinction is made between the different market’s hours. There is the day market which commences in the morning (oja aro) and night markets which starts in the evening (l’ale). The third distinction noted by Sudarkasa is tied to the location of the market.

The markets in Yorùbáland were situated in urban and rural areas. For the most part, market was held daily in Yoruba towns, while on every fifth day there is a “large market; when the few thousand people who attend daily are increased to a multitude, and the noise and glee are proportionately increased.” The various commodities sold in the market were mostly produced locally while there were also some “imported articles from the four quarters of the globe.”

The presence of Yoruba women and their role in the marketplace was solidified in the years following the Yoruba Civil Wars (1877 – 1893). Johnson noted, before the war, while commerce was more important for Yoruba women, they still did farm work and assisted their husbands by partaking in agricultural activities. While there was division of labour in play, with men doing most of the actual farm work, “women and children assist in reaping and in bringing harvest home as no beasts of burden are employed in agricultural operations.

“However, during the prolonged war, which was characterized by the kidnapping of women and children, agricultural activities became stratified. Sudarkasa ,the sexual division of labour among Yoruba people was intensified by the “conditions of insecurity which prevailed during the nineteenth century, “and as Yoruba women did not depend on their husbands for their livelihood, they engaged in the processing of the farm produce into finished products which they sell at the market, while also keeping livestock.36 The broad division of labour by sex that ensued in Yorùbáland during this period would therefore broadly categorize men as agriculturalists and women as traders.


Simi Afonja  also suggests that over time, due to the Yoruba Civil Wars (1877 – 1893), the participation of Yoruba women in farming activities decreased in proportion to trading. During the course of the war, women and girls became targets for the various warring factions.

The insecurity that came along with working on the farms, which were mainly situated outside the town walls, and were often target of raids, caused women to spend little time in extensive cultivation. Rather, they became more engaged in the trade of agricultural products and other items.

In essence, the dominance of Yoruba women in trade and rural marketing may be traced back to the nineteenth century, a period of internal insecurity in Yorùbáland in which it was safer for women to trade within the town walls and enjoy relative immunity from external attacks. Thomas Bowen also provided a succinct account of women in precolonial Yorùbáland, mostly describing women’s activities in the economic sphere. As a Baptist missionary, he spent considerable amount of his time doing missionary work crisscrossing Yorùbáland.

Based on his travel experiences, he noted the pattern of sexual division that existed in precolonial Yorùbáland. While everyone was free to choose whatever occupation they desired, Bowen notes that “for the most part, men and women have their own occupations, and it is worthy of particular remark, that women never cultivate the soil as they do in Guinea.”

Rather than participate in farming activities, he observed that women were mostly into trading, an activity that was typically carried out in the market. He placed equal measure of emphasis on the timing of trading activities. (The principal marketing hour, and the proper time to sell all the wonders, is in the evening. At half an hour before sunset, all sorts of people, men, women, girls, and travellers lately arrived in the caravans, farmers from the fields, and artizans (sic) from their houses, are pouring in from all directions to buy and sell and talk.

At the distance of half a mile their united voices roar like the waves of the sea. On one of his trips to Badagry, Bowen noted that he came across “women and children on their way to the Badagry market, with palm-oil, corn, yams, fowls, firewood, and co. which they carried in heavy loads on their heads, according to the universal customs of this country.”

For the most part of his entry, he gave remarks on the trading activities of these women, noting how much control women exercised in the market space. When discussing the intersection of the social and economic life of Yoruba women, particularly in the marketplace.

The most attractive object next to the curious old town itself – and it is always old – is the market. This is not a building, but a large area, shaded with trees, and surrounded and sometimes sprinkled over with little open sheds, consisting of a very low thatched roof surmounted on rude posts. Here the women sit and chat all day, from early morning till 9 o’clock at night to sell their various merchandize.
Apart from serving as a centre for commercial activities, where women acquired some level of economic independence and success, the marketplace also served as a place for women’s camaraderie. Furthermore, Bowen noted that “at the distance of half of a mile their united voices roar like the waves of the sea.

The women, especially, always noisy, are then in their glory, bawling out salutations, cheapening and haggling, conversing, laughing, and sometimes quarrelling, with a shrillness and compass of voice which indicates both their determination and their ability to make themselves heard. Through their association and involvement in the market, it was a space where Yoruba women socialized, garnered female solidarity and support, and enjoyed socioeconomic autonomy.

The ability of Yoruba women to climb up the social ladder through their economic activities can be compared with the idea of motherhood as a route for women to attain the most powerful political position and improve their social standing in precolonial times. Through their economic activities, and the wealth accumulated from these activities, Yoruba women were able to transcend the economic sphere and had substantial presence in the political sphere.

For example, political offices such as Iyalaje (head of market women), Iyaloja (mother of the market), and Iyalode (leader of women) came with immense political authority. These political positions were not possessed from birth or inherited. They were accorded on Yoruba women solely because of the respect they earned within their society and the wealth they accumulated from their economic activities.




  1. McIntosh, Marjorie. Yoruba Women, Work, and Social Change. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.
  2. Surdakasa, Niara. Where Women Work: A Study of Yoruba Women in the Marketplace and in the Home. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1973.
  3. Surdakasa, Niara. Where Women Work: A Study of Yoruba Women in the Marketplace and in the Home. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1973.

4  Surdakasa, Niara. Where Women Work: A Study of Yoruba Women in the Marketplace and in the Home. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1973.

  1. Surdakasa, Niara. Where Women Work: A Study of Yoruba Women in the Marketplace and in the Home. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1973.
  2. Johnson, Samuel. The History of the Yorubas:From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate.Lagos: C.S.S. Bookshops, 1977.
  3. Surdakasa, Niara. Where Women Work: A Study of Yoruba Women in the Marketplace and in the Home. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1973.
  4. Afonja, Simi. “Changing Modes of Production and the Sexual Division of Labour among the Yoruba.” Signs 7, no. 2 (1981): 299-313. www.jstor.org/stable/3173879
  5. Bowen, Thomas Jefferson. Adventures and Missionary Labors in Several Countries in the Interior of Africa from 1849 to 1856. 2d ed. with a new introd. by E. A. Ayandele. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1968.
  6. Bowen, Thomas Jefferson. Adventures and Missionary Labors in Several Countries in the Interior of Africa from 1849 to 1856. 2d ed. with a new introd. by E. A. Ayandele. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1968.
  7. Bowen, Thomas Jefferson. Adventures and Missionary Labors in Several Countries in the Interior of Africa from 1849 to 1856. 2d ed. with a new introd. by E. A. Ayandele. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1968.
  8. Bowen, Thomas Jefferson. Adventures and Missionary Labors in Several Countries in the Interior of Africa from 1849 to 1856. 2d ed. with a new introd. by E. A. Ayandele. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1968.
  9. Bowen, Thomas Jefferson. Adventures and Missionary Labors in Several Countries in the Interior of Africa from 1849 to 1856.2d ed. with a new introd. by E. A. Ayandele. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1968.

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