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Obadiah Johnson

Obadiah Johnson




Obadiah Johnson, M.D. (1849–1920), born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, was a notable Saro figure and the second Nigerian to qualify as a medical doctor. He is also renowned for co-authoring the influential book "A History of the Yorubas from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate" with his brother, Reverend Samuel Johnson.

Johnson hailed from a liberated African family originally from Nigeria and was a descendant of Alaafin Abiodun of the Oyo Kingdom. He pursued medical studies at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, earning his M.B., C.M. degree in 1886 and his M.D. in 1889. Johnson served as the Chief Medical Officer in Lagos from 1890 to 1897, a significant achievement that marked a milestone in Nigerian history.

Beyond his medical career, Johnson's fame largely stemmed from his involvement in preserving Yoruba history. His brother Samuel Johnson dedicated over two decades to writing a comprehensive history of the Yorubas. However, the original manuscripts sent to an English publisher in 1899 were lost, and Samuel never saw his work published before his death in 1901. Determined to honor his brother's legacy, Obadiah Johnson undertook the monumental task of rewriting the entire history using Samuel's extensive notes and rough drafts.

In addition to his literary contributions, Johnson played a crucial role in Lagos's political landscape. In August 1901, he was appointed as an unofficial member of the Legislative Council of the Colony of Lagos. His advisory role was particularly significant during the 1903 crisis over toll payments collected from traders by native rulers. Alongside other indigenous leaders like Christopher Sapara Williams and Charles Joseph George, Johnson advocated for retaining the tolls to maintain stability among the rulers.

Dr. Johnson passed away in London in 1920, and "A History of the Yorubas from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate" was published posthumously in 1921 by George Routledge and Sons. The book remains a pioneering historical study, solidifying the legacy of both Obadiah and Samuel Johnson in the annals of Nigerian history.


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Place of Birth: Freetown, Sierra Leone



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Date of Birth: June 29, 1849.

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