Richard Beale Blaize
Lagos, Caxton, Marina
Richard Beale Blaize (1844–1904) was a West African businessman of Sierra Leonean and Nigerian heritage. He was a prominent member of the Royal African Society during the second half of the nineteenth century. He was also at various times, a newspaper publisher. He entered the newsprint business in 1876, with the launch of The Lagos Times and Gold Coast Colony Advertiser, a bi-monthly newspaper sold for a few pence. The paper brought on Mr Mojola Agbebi, who later became prominent and known for his views on cultural Nationalism. However, the life of the newspaper was short, it folded in 1884. He was thereafter approached by John Payne Jackson, a Liberian emigrant who wanted to re-invent the Times. After much prodding, Blaize agreed to publish a new rag: the Lagos Weekly Times. Both papers were involved with promoting views on self-government.
Richard Blaize was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone to the family of emancipated slaves of Yoruba origin. At an early age, he attended a mission school and was nurtured in the Christian way. He started work as an apprentice for a printer in Freetown but soon left the country for the Lagos Colony in 1861. He continued along the lines of the printing industry in Lagos before jettisoning it for merchandise trading and importation. In trading, the participants, especially those from Lagos were numerous; most of the traders mainly dealt with exchanging goods with exporters and a few delved into exportation. A number of traders owned steamers, which were used to navigate the Niger river to buy goods from groups across river, and some even boasted they showed the imperialists how to move across the river. Blaize was among a few of the Lagos merchants that was very successful in trading, he was an importer and was also involved with trade across the Niger. Though the ruinous approach of competitors led to many indigenous enterprises foundling not the least helped with the dominance of sole proprietorships, Blaize thrived in the midst of strong competition and became one of the wealthiest West Africans of his time.
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