Sir Herbert Macaulay

Life is a journey heading to an unknown destination, what you do with the activities therein will either make or mar you and also write your name on the sand of time.

Sir Herbert Samuel Olayinka Heelas Badmus Macaulay was a Nigerian nationalist and politician, surveyor, engineer, architect, journalist and musician. He was considered the founder of Nigerian nationalism. 

Herbert Macaulay was born on the 14th of November 1864 in Lagos colony to an Anglican priest Reverend Thomas Babington Macaulay and Abigail Crowther, the daughter of Late Samuel Ajayi Crowther.


Sir Herbert Macaulay attended CMS grammar Lagos and then proceeded toThe Royal Institute of British Architects where he graduated in 1893. Macaulay was a great socialite and found solace from his political travails in music. He had earlier on learned the violin in the United Kingdom, even obtaining a certificate in it from the Trinity College of Music in London and was excellent at it.


In December 1898, Sir Herbert Macaulay got married to Caroline Pratt, the daughter of an African Superintendent of Police but the marriage was short-lived as a result of Carolina’s sudden death in August 1899. Herbert Macaulay never remarried but had several mistresses with whom he fathered 16 children out of which includes Oliver Ogendengbe, Sarah Abigail, Idowu Macaulay and so on.


Sir Herbert Macaulay helped to lay the foundation of modern Nigeria and he contributed majorly to Nigeria’s independence from colonial masters. He co-founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons(NCNC)together with Nnamdi Azikiwe and became its president. The NCNC was a patriotic organisation designed to bring together Nigerians of all stripes to demand independence.

Between 1910 and 1927, Macaulay was a frequent contributor to the Nigerian Chronicle. In 1927 Macaulay joined forces with his friend Dr John Cauldick Akinlade to buy the Lagos Daily News, the first daily newspaper in British West Africa, founded in 1925. Macaulay decided on the political tone of the paper. This provided his platform for his battles against the government and his African political opponent.

In 1928 he went to prison at a time when he had become a serious opponent to the colonial government. He served six months in prison without an option of a fine.

In 1946 Herbert Macaulay fell ill in Kano and later died in Lagos.

In honour of his contribution to Nigerian politics, architecture and journalism, a shipping line was named after him in 1972. The Herbert Macaulay Library in Yaba, Lagos is also named after him, and his portrait is featured on the defunct one naira note and coin.


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