Candido Da Rocha – Nigeria’s First Millionaire.

Candido, son of a slave returnee, Joao Esan Da Rocha, returned from Brazil and established a business firm. Candido Da Rocha was born in 1860 in Bahia, Brazil, and died on 11th March, 1959.

Candido Da Rocha was a native of Ilesha, Lagos State. His mother was Angelica Da Rocha, while his father, Joao Esan Da Rocha who was taken as a slave when he was 10 years old in the year 1840 to Brazil. On getting freed, Joao Esan returned to Nigeria, and Candido was registered to CMS Grammar School in Lagos, where he attended alongside Herbert Macaulay and Isaac Oluwole. Candido had a brother who was among the earliest Nigerian Doctors to be trained by the British, Moses Da Rocha.

Multilingual Candido was living in his father’s Water House at Kakawa avenue, in Lagos. The Water House was popularly known as the first water fountain ever, around Lagos island, which was the sole distributor of water to consumers.
Candido was once told of how he took his clothes to Britain for laundry services, owned Sierra Leone Deep Sea Fishing Industry, and The Restaurant Da Rocha. He was among the founding fathers of the Lagos auxiliary to the Anti-slavery and Aborigines Right Society. Da Rocha teamed up with Sedu Williams and J.H. Doherty in 1907 to establish the Lagos Native Bank, but it was short-lived as Candido Da Rocha was duped money. He later created the Lagos Finance Company lending institution, which was a target to help the masses.

In 1893, at 25 years, Candido Da Rocha filed to take over his late father’s assets after losing his father on 31st December 1891. Having taken over the father’s wheel, Candido turned his father’s business to a vast business empire.
The British government was paying him for supplying water to Lagos. With the money he made, he bought a gold bar from a British gold dealer at 6000 Pounds, not having enough money, Candido collected a loan from the Bank of West Africa. Having converted the gold bar into gold specks of dust, he sold it to the goldsmiths with up to 200% profits made.

Candido was successful that he gave out his Bonanza Hotel to shelter Nigerian students at King’s College. Being a Christian (Catholic), he lived a selfless life, as he helped many in need. He was remembered to have helped in paying Herbert Macaulay’s fine when he was caught for reviling against the British government.

Although Candido Da Rocha never married, had three daughters and a son from different women, Alexander Candido Da Rocha (M) from a Ghana woman, Enitan Salako, Louisa Ebun Turton, and Angelica Folashade.

After a great misunderstanding, Alexander Da Rocha left his father to his mother in Ghana and never met each other till Candido Da Rocha died in 1959 and was buried at the Ikoyi cemetery.

After the second world war, he was among the influential Nigerians to have contributed heavily for rehabilitations, although he asked that the amount should not be made public.