Olayinka Herbert Samuel Heelas Badmus Macaulay (14 November 1864 – 7 May 1946) was a Nigerian nationalist, politician, engineer, architect, journalist, and musician and is considered by many Nigerians as the founder of Nigerian nationalism.
Herbert Macaulay was born in Broad St., Lagos on 14 November 1864 to the family of Thomas Babington Macaulay and Abigail Crowther. His parents were children of people captured from what is now Nigeria, resettled in Sierra Leone by the British West Africa Squadron, and eventual returnees to present day Nigeria. Thomas Babington Macaulay was one of the sons of Ojo Oriare while Abigail Crowther was the daughter of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a descendant of King Abiodun. Thomas Babington Macaulay was the founder of the first secondary school in Nigeria, the CMS Grammar School, Lagos.
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Macaulay entered primary school in 1869 and from 1869 to 1877, he was educated at St Paul’s Breadfruit School, Lagos and CMS Faji School, Lagos. From 1877 to October 1880, he attended CMS Grammar School, Lagos for his secondary education.He was a student at the school when his father died in 1878. In 1880, he joined his maternal uncle’s trade steamer and embarked on a trade and missionary journey across the Niger River visiting Bonny, Lokoja, Gbebe and Brass. After going to a Christian missionary school, he took a job as a clerical assistant and indexer at the Department of Public Works, Lagos. Thereafter, with the support of the colonial administration, Macaulay left Lagos on 1 July 1890 to further his training in England. From 1891 to 1894 he studied civil engineering in Plymouth, England and was also a pupil of G.D. Bellamy, a borough surveyor and water engineer in Plymouth. In 1893, he became a graduate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, London. Macaulay was also an accomplished musician who received a certificate in music from Trinity College, London and a certificate in violin playing from Music International College, London.
Upon his return to Lagos in September 1893, he resumed work with the colonial service as a surveyor of Crown Lands. He left the service as land inspector in September 1898 due to growing distaste for the British rule over the Lagos Colony and the position of Yorubaland and the Niger Coast Protectorate as British colonies in all but name. Other authors such as Patrick Dele-Cole have noted the abuse of office allegations (leveled by his British superiors) and pursuit of private gain controversy that clouded Macaulay’s resignation as surveyor of Crown Grants.Kristin Mann, citing British Colonial Government dispatches, notes that Macaulay behaved dishonestly, by using “his position as Surveyor of Crown Lands to help friends acquire crown grants and persecute enemies by granting their land to others”. She further writes that Macaulay “obtained crown grants under false names and then sold them at a profit”.In October 1898, he obtained a license to practice as a surveyor. As a surveyor, his plans and valuations included E.J. Alex Taylor’s house on Victoria Street, Henry Carr’s residence in Tinubu, Akinola Maja’s house and Doherty villa in Campos Square.
Macaulay married Caroline Pratt, daughter of an African Superintendent of Police in December 1898.Their marriage came to an end in August 1899 upon Caroline’s death during childbirth and Macaulay is reported to have vowed never to marry again.While Macaulay never remarried in the Church, he had mistresses from whom he had a number of children,as well as companionships which bore no children (Sarah Coker, daughter of JPL Davies and Sarah Forbes Bonetta, lived with Macaulay from 1909 until her death in 1916).Macaulay was reportedly the first Nigerian to own a motor car.
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Though from a family of devout Anglicans, Macaulay embraced indigenous African religious traditions, was superstitious, and dabbled in the practice of magic.His personal papers contain notes from fortune tellers and diviners with instructions around taboos, divinations, sacrifices, and other occult practices.Macaulay was also a member of the Association of Babalawos (Ifa priests) of Lagos.
Macaulay was a great socialite in Victorian Lagos. He organized concerts at his residence (named “Kirsten Hall” after his German Consul friend Arthur Kirsten) on 8, Balbina Street in Yaba. Macaulay was nicknamed “Wizard of Kirsten Hall” because of his ability to obtain classified information. Macaulay ran a network of informants who he paid handsomely. Many times, minutes from colonial government meetings would be leaked in newspapers that Macaulay was associated with. Whole sections of colonial government files and telegrams can be found in the Macaulay Papers at the Africana section of the Library at the University of Ibadan.