How Lagos First Millionaire, Candido Da Rocha Built His Fortune.


Candido Joao Da Rocha a native of Ilesha, was born to the family of Joao Esan Da Rocha. His father Joao Esan da Rocha was abducted in 1850 when he was just 10 years old and sold into slavery in Salvador, Bahia Brazil. Candido was born in the Bahia region of Brazil, He returned to Lagos in the 1870s. Candido’s mother was Angelica Josephina da Rocha.

Candido with his mother.

Many Lagosians today, do not really know how Lagos came into being. What is today known as Lagos is a city where a host of African returnees from Brazil, Portugual and Cuba resettled after the abolition of the slave trade.

Candido was one of these returnees, and with the business acumen acquired in Brazil, he quickly set about building his empire in Lagos. According to reports, Da Rocha laid pipes from Iju to Lagos Island, Yaba, Ebute-Metta and other communities in the state where there are high demands for pipe borne water. His lived in Water House on Kakawa Street (opposite Union Bank) and operated the Iju water works that serve the entire Lagos in the 20s.The colonial administration was paying Da Rocha for the supply of water to the state. His house had a borehole and the first water fountain in Lagos Island; water was sold from his house to consumers.

kakawa house

His water business was very lucrative since it was almost a monopoly, It grew so powerful and eventually the state government took over the business. By then Da Rochas was described as the richest man in Nigeria. He has also diversified his business interests.

Some of his business interests included a restaurant called The Restaurant Da Rocha and Sierra Leone Deep Sea Fishing Industries Ltd. He collaborated with Lagos businessmen J. H. Doherty and Sedu Williams on a money lending business established under the name of the LAGOS NATIVE BANK.

Although there was no Range rover or limousine in that era, yet Da Rochas still traveled in style, with a “limousine” of that era, a horse drawn carriage. Although his legacy is almost forgotten, but his early business enterprise still proves that private business ownership trumps government ownership any day. While he ran the business of water supply, water was flowing consistently, but today, with such utilities in the hands of government, the reverse is the case. Da Rocha’s granddaughter was Mrs. Omololu Mulele, she presented the queen with flowers at the airport when the queen visited Nigeria in the 50s. She is the daughter of  Da Rocha’s last born, Mrs. Candida Adenike Afodu and proprietress of ADRAO school beside NTA at Victoria Island.

Da Rochas was so wealthy that there is popular saying in Yoruba; if you want to lure someone into spending too much money, the person would resist your trap by saying ” do u think I am Da Rocha”.

Lesson for Entrepreneurs:

  • It is easy to build a great fortune if you can identify a cheap product or commodity that almost everyone needs. Da Rochas – Water, Dangote – Salt, Sugar, Cement, King Gillette – disposable razor blade, Rockefeller – Kerosene (before gasoline). Even in IT, the same holds true. Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook (Free), Larry page/Sergey Brin – Google (free), Bill Gates – Software licensing. etc. Do you get the drift ?


  • Government has no business in business. Whether we like it or not, Entrepreneurs and business people, are the ones that develops economy by running businesses and utilities efficiently and profitably. Government should only empower private enterprises, and forget about running businesses and focus on governing.




Comments are closed.