Ghanaian Settlers in Orimedu: Oju Ota, Gender, and Christianity in a Coastal Fishing Community


Orimedu was a relatively small coastal community in Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos State before the area was connected to other parts of state through access roads and electricity in the late 1980s. This article traces the relationship of Orimedu, a predominantly traditionalist and Muslim community, with migrant and Christian fishermen from Ghana and from Togo over the past century or so. It explains that the Ghanaians were welcome despite their Christian identity because they simply adapted to the local religious landscape when they arrived and joined into the worship of Oju Ota, a local deity of fishermen. However, over the past three decades, the Ghanaians have established a Christian community which has been largely accepted.

The establishment of Christianity was linked to struggles over the gendered economy of the town. When it was found that the Ghanaians spent most of their profit in Ghana rather than locally, the people of Orimedu insisted that according to the covenant of Oju Ota, the fishermen should no longer sell their fish as this was traditionally regarded as a female occupation. This helped the indigenous Orimedu community to share in the profit made by the Ghanaians. However, by the 1980s and 1990s, when it became obvious that this arrangement made the local women very wealthy, the Ghanaians sought to recapture some of the profit by inviting their own wives to Orimedu to act as fish sellers and traders. This led to a more permanent presence of the Ghanaians in Orimedu, and eventually to the establishment – and acceptance – of Christian churches in the locality.
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