The first indigenous chess game invented in Nigeria was the Agidingbi Chess game in 1851. Oludamola Adebowale, a historian, art curator, and the creator of ASIRI Magazine, talks to Guardian Life on the significance of historic preservation via chess. She was inspired by the history tale around Lagos that most Nigerians are unaware of.
Of all the events that happened in Lagos, why the 1851 Bombardment of Lagos?
The British Naval troops’ 1851 bombardment of Lagos is one occurrence that stands out in the very rich and mostly untold history of Lagos. The episode, which resulted in Lagos’ annexation in 1861, served as the cornerstone of colonial governance in Lagos and what would eventually become Nigeria. This historical account served as the foundation for my creation of the “1851 Agidingbi Chess Game.”
As a historian and curator, I feel it is more crucial than ever to digitize the past and use technology as a tool for storytelling preservation and advancement.
The characters in the board have unique names: Erelu- Kuti of Lagos (Queen Mother), Oba of Lagos (King), Adamu Eyo (Rook), Omo Ogun Eko (Pawn), Eletu- Odibo (Bishop) and Abagbon (Knight). What influenced the names?
We needed to infuse Lagos’s traditional royalty into the characters to create a base for the engagement of this game. The objective is to give Nigerians playing this game a homegrown feel while playing the game. So, next time you are playing the Chess game, you are playing “our own” version of the Chess game.
What is the most interesting thing about this board and what impression does 1851 Agidingbi hope to leave in the minds of players?
The 3D design of the board game was unveiled last week. It is more than just a chess game; it is a collector’s art piece. It is the first of its kind and a must-have for every lover of Lagos history, chess and arts. The impression we plan to create with the 1851 Agidingbi chess game is to export the history of Lagos via chess.
What plans are there for 1851 Agindingbi in the diaspora?
We have plans for virtual reality, XR immersive experiences and exhibitions. Also, we plan to create a UK/Nigeria history culture exchange tour with the game. Knowing how the world craves authentic African stories. We plan to export the history of Lagos and Nigeria to the rest of the world. The Commemorative Board Pieces will be unveiled in December to mark the 171 Historical Anniversary of the Bombardment of Lagos.