THE DR ANN O’HEAR ARCHIVE
4.2 Interviews and information gathered 1980-1985
4.3 Interviews conducted during my research visit to Ilorin, 1988
4.3a General notes on the interviews
4.3b(i) Interview with Nafisatu, Ile Eleke, Ilorin, 7 September 1988: Background information
4.3b(ii) Interview with Nafisatu, Ile Eleke, Ilorin, 7 September 1988:Extracts from interview
4.3c(i) Interview with Alhaji Imam Idiaro, Ile Ongaari (Oni Gaari), Ilorin, 8 September 1988: Background information
4.3c(ii) Interview with Alhaji Imam Idiaro, Ile Ongaari (Oni Gaari), Ilorin, 8 September 1988 : Extracts from interview
4.3d Discussion with Alhaji Saka Aleshinloye, Baba Isale of Ilorin, Ile Baba Isale, Ilorin, 9 September 1988: Background information and notes on discussion
4.3e Interview with Mariama Ajibade, Dyer, Okelele , Ilorin, 10 September 1988: Background information and extracts from/notes on interview
4.3f(i) Interview with Baba Elesin, Ile Asileke, Okelele, Ilorin, 13 September 1988: Background information
4.3f(ii) Interview with Baba Elesin, Ile Asileke, Okelele, Ilorin, 13 September 1988: Extracts from interview
4.3g(i) Interview with Baba Magaji of Magaji Village, behind the Kwara State College of Technology compound, 13 September 1988, and Mamadu Alau of the same village: Background information
4.3g(ii) Interview with Baba Magaji of Magaji Village, behind the Kwara State College of Technology compound, 13 September 1988, and Mamadu Alau of the same village: Text
4.3h Interviews with Magaji Yaba, Ile Magaji Yaba, Balogun Fulani Ward, Ilorin, 29 September 1988 and 30 September 1988: Background information and text
4.3j Interviews by Suleiman Ajao with Madam Nafisatu, Ile Eleke, Okelele, Ilorin, Alhaji Saka, Ile Alawo, Okelele, Ilorin, late 1988 to early 1989: Background information and text (proverbs)
Table of Contents
4.1 Introduction to Interviews and Information Gathering Conducted on or on behalf of Ann O’Hear 1980-1988 and Onwards: Text
From 1976 to 1985, I was employed as a lecturer in history at the (then) Kwara State College of Technology, Ilorin, Nigeria, apart from the year 1983 when I was on leave in Birmingham writing my Ph.D. thesis. The focus of my research was on the economic history (precolonial and later) of the city and environs of Ilorin, including its craft industries, its trade, and its “Metropolitan Districts,” where its agricultural slaves and ex-slaves were to be found. I was also developing an interest in slavery specifically.
In 1988, I was awarded a U.S. Social Science Research Council grant to embark on a study of slavery in Ilorin and its environs. During a six-week research visit to Nigeria, I was able to begin the process of information gathering which led to the production of a number of works on slavery and associated topics in the Ilorin area. The process of oral information gathering continued over a number of years, thanks to the aid of a number of able research associates whom I was able to recruit.
Section 4 of this collection deals specifically with interviews conducted/information gathered between 1980 and 1988. As in other sections, I have made transcriptions of some material, due to problems including fragility and/or legibility of paper copies.
4.2a(i) Information from Emmanuel Alao, 1980-1981: Background information
This discusses the history and culture of Oke-oyi, a large, pre-Fulani settlement within the Metropolitan Districts. Emmanuel Alao is a member of the Oluo Isale Ruling House, Oke-oyi, and was at the time when he collected this information a student at Kwara State College of Technology, Ilorin.
The detailed accounts provided here of the history and religious practice of Oke-oyi can be contrasted with the lack of such detail available from former slave settlements in the Metropolitan Districts.
Included are the following: A detailed account of the history and culture of Oke-oyi, by Emmanuel Alao, November 1980; Questions for Emmanuel Alao, November 1980; Answers to these questions, November 1980; Kinglist for Oke-oyi provided by Emmanuel Alao, January 1981.
4.2a(ii) Information from Emmanuel Alao, 1980-1981: Text
A detailed account of the history and culture of Oke-Oyi: information provided by Emmanuel Alao, November 1990 (Text transcribed from Emmanuel Alao’s handwritten accounts)
How it was founded
Oke-oyi Oja was one of the prominent ancient Yoruba towns in the former Ilorin Division. Oke-oyi was firmly established before Ilorin was founded, precisely in the 17th century. The founder of Oke-oyi was one “OLUO” who was a reputed hunter from Old Oyo called Oyomesi. He was a son of Sango, one of the great Alafins of Oyomesi.
He was on a hunting expedition when he arrived at a spot near Oyi stream in the northern part of the then Oyo Empire. He found the place most conducive as a base and consequently settled there permanently. This place where he finally landed is called “Oke-oyi.”
Because of his sterling qualities as a courageous hunter, an efficient herbalist, and a famous warrior in his life-time, people from various walks of life came from different parts of the Oyo Kingdom to settle with him and they joined hands with him in his struggle to establish a stable and strong Community.
In many of the villages around Oke-oyi, kidnapping was very frequent. Villagers therefore came to Oluo [for help] against kidnappers. Oluo used to help them. He would fight the kidnappers until the wives and children were able to return to their people.
All complaints from the surrounding villages were directed to the Oluo. Because of the nature of his job as a hunter, he had travelled far and wide. This same Oluo was the founder of Kulende near Ilorin. The present site of Ilorin was then a great forest. There was no settlement at Ilorin at this point in time. Because of the great forest, it was only brave and courageous hunters who could hunt in the forest at the time. Oluo and other great hunters hunted at the forest. There was a great stone where hunters used to sharpen their hunting tools. The term used in Yoruba to describe the grinding stone was “ILO-IRIN.” Years later, the grinding spot became so popular among the hunters to the extent that they used to inform [each other] about the great stone where they always sharpened their hunting tools. As a result of its popularity, the name Ilorin was coined for the spot which later became a Community some fifty years after Oke-oyi had been in existence. The stone that gave rise to the name Ilorin could be located at a place called “Idiape” in the present Ilorin town.
Also, during Oluo’s hunting expedition, he hunted towards the northern part of Oke-oyi and sited a landmark with a pile of stones at a place where Share is presently sited. The pile of stones is located at Odeagun in the town even to the present day, named after Oluo as “Okiti Baba Oke-oyi.”
At this very point of time at Oyomesi, Sango who was the then Alafin of Oyo was worried at home over his missing son, Oluo. As a result, a search party was organised. After days of intensive search towards the northern part of Oyomesi, Oluo was found where he had already become the founder and ruler of Oke-oyi. He later accepted to pay a visit to his father, which he did some few days after the search had left. Oluo was hospitably welcomed at Oyo as his arrival was accorded not only as that of a prince but also as a ruler in the new found land “Oke-oyi.”
When Oluo was returning to Oke-oyi, he took his brother named Odebode along who also settled at Oluo’s Compound. A few years later when the population of the town increased, the elders of the town determined to establish “Koso” in accordance with the pattern in which Oyo was created. As a result “Koso” was established a few kilometres eastwards of Oluo’s Compound where Odebode finally settled. The creation of Koso was to represent a religious centre (Sango worship) while the Oluo’s Compound was to serve as administrative centre. This system was also practiced in Old Oyo/Koso and Ile-Ife/Modakeke.
Oke-oyi had been existing before Oyomesi was dismantled. Evidence to this was that when some immigrants from Oyomesi got to Oke-oyi, they branched to the Oluo who allocated some places to them to settle. Some of the places include present day Budo-Oyo, Budo Isale and Budo Oja known as Marafa.
About the creation of the second Ruling House, history says that there was one successor of Oluo who did not have children. As a result, he was advised to take a girl as a wife, who should not be allowed to live in her matrimonial home for fear of being harmed by the elderly wives. Because of this, the ruler who took the title “Oluo” married a daughter of Olu-ode (the head of the hunters) and settled her in her father’s house as earlier advised. When she gave birth to a male baby, the prince was named Osin. At the death of his father, Osin was installed the Oluo and his mother’s house where he had been brought up was renamed Ile-Oluo Oke (formerly known as Ile-Oluode), because the name of Oluo overwhelmed Oluode’s Compound. The “oke” that is added to the renamed compound is owing to the fact that Oluode’s Compound was located at a relatively elevated area and with this, it could also be distinguished from the first Ruling House which was at this time called Ile-Oluo Isale since it was at the foot of where the new Ile-Oluo Oke was. Other compounds such as Ile Ogun, Ile Akogun, Ile Ajiponbe etc. were some of the compounds that sought refuge under Oluo, the most recent among them being Ile-titun who came from a village called Likeje [?]. This last group of people accepted to be serfs to Oluo if only he could give them land to live which they did by presenting half of their farm produce to Oluo every year.
From the inception of Oke-oyi, eleven “Oluos” or Bales have reigned and the present incumbent, Oba Joshua Alao, is the twelfth.
By the history of Oke-oyi and in accordance with Oke-oyi native law and custom, all Oluos are chosen from the Oluo Oke and Oluo Isale Ruling Houses, and under no circumstances could an Oluo be chosen outside these two Ruling Houses. The person to be selected must have a blood relationship with one of the two Ruling Houses, but under the tradition no woman could be allowed to ascend the stool of the Oluo of Oke-oyi.
Relationship of Oke-oyi with surrounding towns & villages
Oke-oyi like any other Yoruba town has other towns and villages as neighbours. These neighbourlines [?] was as a result of hunting expeditions of Oluo and [the?] boundary share accorded to him by other boundary sharers. Oke-oyi and Ilorin shared [a] boundary with a village near Ilorin called Kulende, that makes Oke-oyi the rightful owner of Kulende which is vivid from what has been mentioned about this village earlier on. Oke-oyi’s boundary with the Nupes is a town called Share (present headquarter of Ifelodun LGA). The boundary indication was marked by a stone at the present site of the Central Market of Share. It is as a result of this that we have two traditional rulers in Share up to date, one a Nupe, the other a Yoruba, with the title “Ndapoto” and “Olupako” respectively. Oke-oyi has its boundary with the people of Igbaja at Osi river. As a result of these classified boundaries, Oke-oyi neighbours accorded the Oluo [the] full honour of a ruler, while the same right was also accorded [to] other neighbours’ rulers by the Oluo. These totally ruled out domination of one ruler by the other. However, with the advent of the Europeans, attempts were made to make larger towns the administrative centres of an area. As a result many traditional towns and villages were merged with Ilorin for administrative convenience. It was as a result of these new developments that the rulers of the administrative town started to claim superiority over other rulers. However before Oluo left Oyomesi, he was given an emblem or symbol of authority by his father, Sango, the Alafin of Oyomesi, which made Oluo a legitimate and independent ruler. These symbols of authority included “Odu” and “Ogun” which identify Oluo as a prince in Oyomesi. The site of the Odu is at the frontage of the present Oluo’s palace while that of Ogun is with Odebode, the leader of the kingmakers.
Procedure and method of selecting the Oluo of Oke-oyi
There are two Ruling Houses in Oke-oyi. These houses as earlier mentioned include Ile Oluo Oke and Ile Oluo Isale. Succession to the stool of Oluo between these two Houses is rotational. However, if the House whose turn it is to supply a candidate is unable to supply a suitable one then the other will be asked to supply a candidate(s) even though it is not its turn. In any case, the decision to nominate a candidate or candidates is made by the two Ruling Houses, and the decision of the Kingmakers as to the selection of an Oluo elect is final.
Under the custom and tradition of the people of Oke-oyi, the Kingmakers consist of Chief Odebode (leader), Chief Bale ode, Chief Elemoso, Chief Jagun, Chief Akogun and Chief Iyalode. Under the custom, this body is accorded the power of electing an Oluo. And this is done in such a way that when an Oluo dies and the stool becomes vacant, the Kingmakers will invite nominations from the two Ruling Houses. The two Ruling Houses will meet and select a candidate or candidates who must be a member of [one] of the two Ruling Houses. The name or names selected by the Ruling Houses will be submitted to the Kingmakers. After the submission of the name or names of candidates to the Kingmakers, they (the Kingmakers) will invite the Ifa Priest to consult the Ifa oracle on the prospects of the candidates submitted. The Kingmakers will then deliberate on the results of the consultation with the Ifa oracle and finally select one of the names as the Oluo elect. Under the custom, the decision of the Kingmakers is final as earlier mentioned.
After such election, the head of the Kingmakers will announce the result to the members of the Ruling Houses in particular and to the town’s people in general. After the announcement, the Ruling Houses and the Kingmakers will perform series of rituals for the Oluo elect for seven days, praying to the Gods that his reign may be prosperous for the town’s people as a whole. On completion of the rituals, the Oluo elect would be taken to the Alafin of Oyo for final installation. However, this custom and tradition of selecting the Oluo, especially going to the Alafin for installation, has been somehow disrupted with the coming of Islam but not completely anyway.
Traditional religions of Oke-oyi
Oke-oyi, a notable Yoruba town, has many religious setups such as Egungun, Sango, Orisa-oke, Ọrọ, Ogun, Ifa and many others which originated in Oyomesi the Cradle of the Yorubas.
Before the coming of Islam, these religion[s] as in other Yoruba towns were the most important religious setup in Oke-oyi, with each celebrated annually. The Egungun festival for instance is normally celebrated for seven days towards the end of every raining season with dances, exchange of gifts and contests among the Masquerades. As for the Sango (God of thunder), Ogun (God of iron), Ifa and others, these are normally celebrated during the beginning of the dry season with worship of the different gods, exchange of gifts and dances to show their gratitude to their gods for guiding them through the past y ears. This unlike the Egungun festival, normally lasts for nine days.
However, most of these religious organisations have been superseded by Islam and Christianity. But traces of these can still be seen today, e.g., the Egungun, Sango, Ogun and Ifa which are still celebrated every year.
Oke-oyi and the advent of Christian missionaries
As to the activities of the missionaries in West Africa, Oke-oyi was also not left out. At one time, the only missionary society in the area was the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) [mission] from America which was stationed at Shao, a small town near Ilorin under the leadership of Rev. Babcop [Babcock?].
The coming of the missionaries to Oke-oyi happened [after] one Nuologun, a creditor from Oke-oyi, once went to Shao to claim his money from a debtor by name Aderonmu who had a son by name Adebiyi, an Evangelist under the
SDA mission. Nuologun was fascinated by the way the missionaries had developed Shao. And so he told Evangelist Adebiyi that he wanted Christianity to be extended to Oke-oyi as well. Following this, the SDA missionaries came to Oke-oyi in 1921. At that time, one Babajide was the Oluo. Due to his hospitality, the missionaries asked whether they should send an Evangelist teacher to Oke-oyi [to] which he agreed. And so an Evangelist teacher by name Thomson Atolagbe was sent as the first missionary teacher. On coming to Oke-oyi, he sojourned with the Oluo for about two years, and during this period, he gathered people both young and old whom he taught how to write and read the Bible. As his followers were multiplying every day, he was given a more spacious place outside the Oluo’s palace. When later the white missionaries came back and saw the progress made within the short period of Evangelist Thomson’s coming to Oke-oyi, they were very happy and they approached the Oluo for a piece of land which he gave them at the outskirts of the town (where the present church is built). There, they built a school and a church. Thomson Atolagbe was later transferred from Oke-oyi. But after him, many other missionaries were sent to Oke-oyi. Prominent among them was Evangelist Amos Alao who was the first headmaster of the school. In fact the school had reached Standard four (as it was called at that time) before he was sent by the SDA mission to the Nigeria Teachers Training College at Ohe (presently in Oyo State) for further studies. While he was away, new missionary teachers were sent to the school. However due to their lack of experience, the school started heading for a precipice. It was during this period that the Local Education Authority (LEA) also proposed to open a new school at Oke-oyi and by 1947 an LEA Primary School was opened at Oke-oyi. Meanwhile, Evangelist Alao returned to Oke-oyi after his course, but before his return, the school had fallen considerably [in] its standard. His staying at Oke-oyi did not last long when he was transferred. His departure however meant the final fall of the school. But the church lingered on for another ten years before it also fell completely.
The failure of the early missionaries (SDA) in Oke-oyi can be attributed to many reasons. First was the inexperience of the Evangelist teachers later sent (especially after Evangelist Alao) who could not rally [?] on converts as was done by their predecessors. Second was the pressure from the Moslem Jihadists who were forcefully converting people. So dreaded were they that even the Christian converts quickly changed into Moslem. Third was the competition with the LEA who also wanted to have a foothold at Oke-oyi as well as other missionary societies such as the African Church mission and the Cherubim and Seraphim Church [which] are also among the early missionary societies that came to Oke-oyi.
Questions for Emmanuel Alao, November 1980:
1 Who founded Ilorin?
2 Did the Ilorins settle their own people/serfs at Kulende?
3 Did the Oke-oyi people bring crafts from Old Oyo, e.g., pottery, beadmaking? What crafts are practiced in Oke-oyi today?
4 Who became district heads in the area including Oke-oyi? Any memories of them?
5 Often missionaries were prevented from settling in Muslim emirates. Did the Seventh Day Adventists have to get permission to settle in Shao and Oke-oyi? Did they find it difficult to get permission? Why do you think they were allowed to settle in Shao and Oke-oyi, and not in other parts of Asa, Moro, etc.?
6 In some areas, efforts at “development were made by the emirs after the Second World War, e.g., schools, maternities, earth dams, fishponds—was this done at Oke-oyi?
7 What kinds of pressure did the Muslims bring to bear on people to convert them?
8 The Ilorin Talaka Parapo or other political party—role in Oke-Oyi?
Answers to these questions, November 1980:
1 THE FOUNDER OF ILORIN. Long before the coming of the jihadists, Ilorin had been founded by one Laderin who migrated to the present site of Ilorin from Oyomesi.
2 HOW KULENDE CAME TO BE PART OF ILORIN. Ilorin did not actually settle her people at Kulende but the inclusion of Kulende or the control by Ilorin came as a result of the administrative boundary brought about by the Colonial masters so as to make the administration of the area easier.
3 CRAFTS OF OKE-OYI [THAT] PEOPLE BROUGHT FROM OLD OYO. With the foundation of Oke-oyi by Oluo, many people came from Oyomesi, among which was his brother Odebode, who came to help Oluo to build up his chiefdom. And while they were coming, they brought with them many crafts such as weaving, especially the weaving of a cloth known as “Ofi,” carving of mortar and pestle, dyeing of cloth, pottery such as moulding of pots, making of baskets, making of beads, making a crown with the use of beads etc. However with the increasing migration of young men and women to look for jobs in the urban centres, these crafts and artistic skill have been reduced to only dyeing, weaving (added note: both men and women) and in most cases, carving.
4 DISTRICT HEADS OR “SARIKI.” Right from the coming of Islam to Ilorin and her surrounding towns and villages, it had been the attitude of the Jihadists to place a “Sariki” in any conquered territory or town especially in those areas which they had found difficult to conquer. Initially, these Sarikis were charged with the duty of teaching the converts the doctrines of Islam. But with the coming of Colonial rule, the British were forced to recognise these Sarikis as district heads instead of chiefs of the respective towns and villages where these Sarikis were. And from that time onward, the Sarikis had been charged with the duties of district heads instead of only as religious leaders. And in most cases, these Sarikis are friends, relatives or brothers of the Emir. The first Sariki that was sent to Oke-oyi was one Malam Gadanga, who was an Hausa Jihadist. And after him, many have been sent to Oke-oyi and incidentally the present Sariki is the grandson of the first Sariki who is by the name Yakubu Gadanga (added note: nowadays, just mainly to collect tax; he lives in Oke-oyi).
5 HOW THE MISSIONARIES CAME TO SHAO AND OKE-OYI. As the SDA mission was spreading its influence from Ibadan like other missionary societies, they came first to Ilorin and asked the Emir whether they could be given permission to establish at Ilorin, but the Emir refused to grant them permission, instead, he told them that they could go to other parts of the emirate like Shao at the southern tip of Ilorin where the number of Moslem converts was very small. Following this the SDA established a station at Shao and it was from here that Christianity was spread to other places like Oke-oyi as mentioned earlier on. Frankly speaking, the Emir was not against the emergence of other religious setups in other parts of the emirate especially where Islam had little influence, but he was particularly against the establishment of any form of religion other than Islam in Ilorin which was the religious and political capital for fear that such a new religious setup might overshadow “the true religion,” Islam.
6 DEVELOPMENT AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN OKE-OYI. Since the end of World War II, there have been many developments in Oke-oyi, e.g., the establishment of a primary school in 1947. However the very recent ones are the establishment of a poultry farm by the Kwara State Agricultural Development Corporation, the electrification of Oke-oyi, the establishment of a Cooperative Federation and the building of the Osin Area Council Secretariat at Oke-oyi. The Area Court there had been built before the Second World War.
7 HOW ISLAM WAS ABLE TO GAIN GROUND QUICKLY. In their conquest for more territories, one major weapon which the Jihadists used was raiding of towns and villages. It was the ruthlessness of this raid that was so dreaded that many people quickly surrendered to the Jihadists. And it was for this same reason that many converts feared to go back to their former religion.
8 [no answer provided]
Kinglist for Oke-oyi provided by Emmanuel Alao, 16 January 1981.
The following are the twelve Oluos that have reigned at Oke-oyi, according to their order of succession and the ruling house where each of the candidates came from:-
1 OLUOOluo Isale Ruling House
2 AjayiOluo Isale Ruling House
3 OsinOluo Oke Ruling House
4 AkinwumiOluo Isale Ruling House
5 OyediranOluo Isale Ruling House
6 Banrole [Bankole?]Oluo Isale Ruling House
7 AkudoOluo Oke Ruling House
8 BabajideOluo Isale Ruling House
9 OyetundeOluo Oke Ruling House
10 Jimoh OdedeyiOluo Isale Ruling House
11 Alhaji Yusuf AkanjiOluo Oke Ruling House
12 Joshua Alao (the presentOluo Isale Ruling House
Oluo of Oke-oyi)
4.2b Information from Member of Ilorin Chiefly Family on Slavery: Text
Informal discussion [12 July 1982?]
Previously his people used slaves to do the farming.
What happened when the slaves were freed?
We became baba kekeres. ***
Do you still have people out on the farms who come in for festivals?
Yes--they bring food for festivals.
But many other families have now sold their land--very profitable nowadays.
In the past, the people used to bring food every 2 weeks.
Informal discussion 29 September 1982 (second day of Id el Kebir)
People from the villages--very few came into his family compound this year. Now they have their own Local Government Areas, they don’t want to come.
They used to come for sallah, bringing foodstuffs. Would be housed, would stay 4-5 days. Would be fed 1-2 days. Would expect to take a piece of meat home.
The villagers in the old days would send food when they harvested and during festivals.
The villagers wouldn’t kill rams themselves. Really pagan--just a veneer of Islam.
*** After the beginning of the colonial period, chiefly families which did not receive District Headships would have had to rely on their role as “unofficial” intermediarieso (baba kekere) between villages and the court for income. See O’Hear, “Political and Commercial Clientage in Nineteenth-Century Ilorin,” African Economic History, vol. 15 (1986), in this collection.
4.2c(i) Information from Kayode Abubakar Ibrahim, of Ile Magaji Are, Ilorin, 1982: Background information
Information collected as part of a project in which he gathered information on beadmaking from members of various families which traditionally had been involved in stone beadmaking. At the time when he collected information for this project, Kayode Ibrahim was a student at Kwara State College of Technology, Ilorin. Note: the information has been excerpted from the original report, in order to protect the identity of an informant who wishes to remain anonymous.
4.2c(ii) Information from Kayode Abubakar Ibrahim, of Ile Magaji, Ilorin, 1982: Text
Excerpted from the original, to protect an informant who wishes to remain anonymous
4. Questions given to researcher 13/9/1982, to be asked of members of beadmaking compounds:
4. Did the family employ any slaves to help with beadmaking? If so, how many? Were these slaves given a full apprenticeship? Did they help the family to farm? Were they given any beads to sell? What happened to these slaves.
Oral response from researcher 13/9/1982:
4. The beadmaking art was hereditary--a “cult.” The master of the day would also take people from outside--but the skill--usually--continues within the family.
Written response received 18/9/1982:
4. In tre[a]ding on the subject of slaves care should be taken to distinguish the category concerned in this respect among the people. Note should be taken of the fact that there are both the war captives and those either used as deposit or for payment of goods and services they are called Iwofa. These are people who become servants in the household of another person because his own family are either indebted to him or that he is used to secure loan or even as compensation for a crime. He stays in this household and help in the acts of beads making by his overlord. In this way he is acculturated in the craft and becomes an expert in it. He stays with the overlord for as long as the loan has not been paid, for as long as his punishment has not ended. And if used to offset a loan he stays for the number of y ears stipulated. After which he regains his freedom and go back to his home. Having become expert in the act [art?] of beads he could as well start his own industry. In some places they are given certain amount to sell. This they take to the market and return to the house of their overlord. In farming they could help if the overlord is also a farmer. This is also the general trend in all the houses visited in Ilorin.
[At the end of the answers to the various questions on beadmaking, the reporter lists various informants from beadmaking compounds. He then goes on:]
The only male informant is from Ile . . . . . . . . . . . He wants to remain anonymous because of the nature of his information. This has to do with real captured slaves.
I am not suppose to tell you what I am going to tell you. [here, the reporter seems to be writing down a direct translation of what his informant is saying] This is partly because it is a very sensitive issue to deal with. As you must have known slaves, real slaves, that is those who are either bought or captured from war, are regarded as sort of outcast. So in order to give them their freedom, it has been deemed fit to keep their past strictly secret from the generations of today. Also this is to make sure that there is no barrier between their children and those of other people.
The first fact is that there is no house engaged in beads making that do not have slaves either purchased or captured in war in their midst today.
For those who are bought we have beads makers who are usually rich to buy these people from their lords so that they could help him in the process of beads making. It is not uncommon to find both male and female owned by the same person. Also within the same family another person could also own slaves. And these slaves are usually engaged both in beads as well as in the farming. While the female are also engaged in house chore pari pasu their beads making. When these people gain their freedom the common thing is for two house to intermarry these people. In this way they start a new life.
For the war captives warriors from a beads making family being captured slaves home to help them in both beads and farming. And when they are to regain their freedom their masters arrange for them to also take wife and start their own life.
Because of the difficulties encountered by the children of these two categories of slaves in terms of mixing with the whole society in the past. Because they are set up in the household of their masters as they could not go back to their original homes, it has been deemed fit to keep their history secret from the public.
In this way we have members of various tribes becoming parts and parcel of a different society other than they one in which they were born. It is not uncommon for a bead maker to give in marriage to his important customers slaves to marry and also accept into his household children of such customers. This is done mostly to cement their friendship.
One significant trend has also developed that has prompted the sealing of lips about these category of slaves. And this has to do with the fact that in almost all the houses in which they are found, these people has always been known to be prosperous. And their children today occupy exalted position in all fields of human endeavour.
Having settled down, the slaves go into all fields of human endeavour with enthusiasm and vigour. So that in business, education etc., we have them producing people. Even in the politics of the town, they have produced leaders, ministers, lawyers, doctors, etc before the children of the so called free citizens.
[At the end, I noted the amounts that the reporter paid to his informants: 20 naira for his anonymous informant, 20 naira for one female informant, and 10 naira for each of three more female informants.]
4.2d(i) Interview with Alhaji Sulu Gambari, Emir of Ilorin, 1982: Background information
Although I was normally interested in staying below the radar of most members of the local chiefly families, I realised that when I presented my Ph.D. thesis I might be queried if I had not attempted to interview the Emir of Ilorin.
The interview was arranged through the Emir’s son, political scientist Dr. Ibrahim A. Gambari, who was chairman of the Kwara State College of Technology Council. I was invited to attend a discussion with Dr. Gambari, and as a result of this meeting I refined my questions and sent them to him, asking if he could arrange an audience for me with the Emir. At the audience, the Emir had a copy of my questions in front of him, and the interview was conducted in English. I had included questions on a range of topics, hoping that some of them might elicit information on the people of the dependent districts. The Emir, however, neatly sidestepped any such possibilities.
Included here are my letter to Dr. Gambari, 22 October 1982; and my notes on the interview with the Emir, 8 December 1982.
4.2d(ii) Letter to Dr. Ibrahim Gambari, 22 October 1982
Kwara State College of Technology,
22 October, 1982
Dear Dr. Gambari,
I would like to thank you very much for allowing me to take up your valuable time recently, for a discussion of my thesis on the economic decline of Ilorin under the colonial government. As I mentioned, I am interested in rounding off my thesis with an examination of the economic effects on the great families of Ilorin of the imposition of colonial rule; since, as you rightly pointed out, the wealth of the important families should serve as a major indicator of the general prosperity of the town. Thanks to the suggestions you gave me during our discussion, I have been able to refine my questions, which I have listed below. I would be most grateful for your further comments on them.
I would also be most grateful for your assistance in arranging an audience with the Emir or his representative, and an interview with a representative of the Gobiri family. I hope to go to Britain in late December, and stay there until next September, in order to complete the writing of my thesis, and these interviews would be most valuable to me in this endeavour.
The questions I have drafted are as follows:
INCOME AND EXPENSES OF THE PALACE.
1 In the pre-colonial period, did the Emir levy taxes on the caravan trade?
2 How were these taxes collected? (eg. caravan tolls?)
3 Was it necessary for newly-arrived long distance traders to apply for permission from the Emir before engaging in trade in Ilorin?
4 Did the palace actively engage in long distance trade? For example, I recently came across a thesis in which it was said that the Emirs controlled most of the firearms in Ilorin; does this mean that the Emirs were engaged in and controlling the firearms trade?
5 How many retainers and horses did the Emir himself keep before the colonial period?
6 How many horsemen and footsoldiers were kept under the command of the Sarkin Baraji?
7 What were the costs involved in keeping horses—eg. grooms, feeding, health care, etc.?
8 In Ilorin, how long could a horse normally be kept alive?
Colonial period—economic effects.
1 In the early colonial period, when the caravan trade was still continuing, did all caravan taxes have to go direct to the colonial government?
Did all taxes on the cattle trade have to go direct to the colonial government?
2 Did all the tax money collected from the townspeople have to go direct to the colonial government, which then paid back a proportion of it in salaries?
3 Did the Emir still have to support as many retainers and horses as before, but on a reduced income?
Or, was he forced to reduce the numbers of retainers and horses kept?
For example, how many retainers and horses were kept by the Emir in the 1920s, 30s and 40s?
4 In the early 20th century, according to Colonial Government Reports, Ilorin families were said to have sent large numbers of dependants out of the town to settle on the farms.
Was this true?
Did it affect the palace?
How did it affect the other chiefly families?
Were the people sent out because it was no longer economically possible to keep as many retainers as before?
5 Did this sending out of dependants lead to extra foodstuffs being brought in to the palace?
If so, was the palace able to profit from this by engaging in the foodstuffs trade, either local or long distance?
6 In what way did the colonial government interfere with the revenue previously obtained from the Emir’s market?
7 What extra expenses did the Emirs have after the beginning of the colonial period? For example, were any extra demands made on them by the colonial government?
Were any extra demands made on the Emirs by retainers or chiefs?
Decline of the “lantana” bead industry.
The industry and trade in lantana beads declined to virtually nothing by the 1930s (because, for example, of the importation of European goods and changes in fashion). If the major families of Ilorin had previously been profiting from this trade, then its decline must have added to their loss of income. Thus, I would be interested in finding out the answers to the following questions:
1 Did the Emir exercise any control over the production of beads?
For example, did he/could he limit the numbers of beads produced, in order to keep up their value?
Did he levy the chiefs in beads?
2 Did the palace control or profit from the trade in beads in any way?
For example, did the Emirs ever send beads to the Oba of Benin?
Once again, Sir, I would like to express my gratitude for your interest and assistance.
4.2d(iii) Notes on interview with Alhaji Sulu Gambari, Emir of Ilorin, 8 December 1982
Transcribed 2020 from Ann O’Hear’s handwritten notes, which she made very soon after the interview and which closely followed the rough notes she had written down during the interview. The 2020 transcription includes explanatory annotations inserted in square brackets.
Interview with His Highness Alhaji Sulu Gambari, Emir of Ilorin.
Place—palace reception room.
Interview arranged through—Dr. I.A. Gambari, son of Emir (Emir referred to him as “my son”) and Chairman of KwaraTech College Council [KwaraTech was an abbreviation for Kwara State College of Technology, Ilorin].
Also present—3 unidentified old men [retainers?].
—Alh. F. Kawu Agaka, Emir’s Secretary.
Interview conducted in English.
Emir had been given a copy of my letter to Dr. Gambari (including questions) of 22 October 1982. He had this letter in front of him at the interview.
1 In this period, did Emir levy taxes on caravan trade? Yes.
2 Were these collected by caravan tolls? Yes. Town walls—entrance on each side. Representative/Messenger of Emir at each. These collected dues from caravans. Submitted the money every day—directly to Sarkin Dogari, thence to Emir, thence to treasurer.
3 Necessary for newly arrived traders to apply for permission from Emir before engaging in trade? Not necessarily.
4 Did the palace engage in trade? Only very petty—retainers and household—wives etc—weaving and other petty trade.
4b Control of firearms? (reference to Mustain thesis). Emir replied that probably what he meant was that during that time the Emir waged war—had army—thus controlled firearms. [Mustain thesis: Ivan B. Mustain, “A Political History of Ilorin in the Nineteenth Century,” M.Phil. thesis, University of Ibadan, 1978]
5 How many horses did emir self keep before colonial period? 100+.
6 How many horsemen did Sarkin Baraji control? SB—controlled about 250 horsemen.
7 Costs involved in keeping horses? Not expenses—sons would cut fodder for their own father’s horse. Cost—minimum (minimal?)—say 1 naira per day. Nowadays—children go to school.
8. How long could a horse be kept? Remembers his own father’s horse lived to about 30 years old. Twenty to thirty years.
Colonial Period—Economic Effects
1 In early colonial period, when caravan trade was still continuing, did all caravan taxes have to go direct to colonial govt? Emir’s messengers were replaced by the Europeans’ messengers. He remembers one called “Bangbala Sata.”
2 Did all the tax money collected from the people have to go direct to the colonial govt? Tax and jangali—collected by VH [Village Head]—to DH [District Head]—to Emir—to Treasury. Emir laughs—i.e., Emir still taking his share before went to Treasury?)
3 Did the Emir still have to support as many retainers and horses as before? No. Reduced.
In about 1930s-40s, how many horses did the Emir keep? About 15-20 horses?
4. Early Colonial Govt reports said that Ilorin families sent many dependants out of the town to settle on the farms. Was this true? Yes. There was no more war. They went outside in safety to farm. The villagers are from Ilorin.
Were they sent out to farm because the families in the town could no longer afford to feed them? Yes. If brothers together, the junior brother would take the children (of both) for farming. Feeding people in the city.
5. Was there trade in extra foodstuffs? Yes, up till now. They went to village market and bought, brought foodstuffs in to town.
Was there trade to the south? People from Lagos came to buy?
Were Ilorin long distance merchants also involved? People from Ibadan, Lagos and the south came to buy.
7 [sic] (re question about extra expenses, demands on Emir). Colonial government only recommended new methods, e.g., licences—bicycle etc. These went to treasury. Emir and chiefs had own share or revenue—government gave estimate of yearly share for chiefs.
Decline of lantana bead industry
1 Did the Emir control the production of beads? No. Only—if people were selling too much (any product—manufactured or foodstuffs) he would tell them to reduce.
2 Did the beadmakers pay their tax in beads? No, in cash.
3 Did the Emir send beads to the Oba of Benin?
*The Oba sent presents annually—palm oil, kola, plantains (this last item of information was supplied by Emir’s secretary.
The Emir sent beads.
Trade with Benin—people came from Benin to Ilorin to buy beads.
Was Benin the most important customer for beads? Benin was the most important customer. They used more beads than any other tribe in south.
*Note—the details may have been in mind of Emir and Secretary because the Oba of Benin had recently visited the Emir
4.2e(i) Interview with Alhaji Yekini A. Okunola, 16 December 1982: Background information
Alh. Okunola was at the time a senior member of staff of the Ilorin Agricultural Development Project (IADP). As a native of Offa, an important town outside the dependent Metropolitan Districts, Alh. Okunola had no hesitation in speaking freely of the restrictions that had been imposed on those districts.
Alh. Okunola was assistant to Mr. B. Dawtrey (land surveys). He was born in 1934.
4.2e(ii) Interview with Alhaji Yekini A. Okunola, 16 December 1982: Text
Questions for Alh. Okunola:
Ilorin Metropolitan Districts
1 Trade in agricultural goods (including export crops) would go through Village and District Heads. Is this correct?
2 So the VH and DH acted as the middlemen—ie they were taking their own profit?
3 Was this always the case, or only during wartime?
4 Was it still happening in the 1950s?
5 Did it happen only in the North-Western Districts—or also in eg. Owode, Afon?
6 If an unauthorised lorry was seen on its way to eg. Malete, the Emir could halt it and send it back. Why?—to make sure there was enough food for Ilorin?
7 Did this happen in other Metropolitan Districts?
8 Was it happening as late as the 1950s?
9 People in the Metropolitan Districts were not allowed to migrate to the south? Is this correct?
11 Did this apply only to the North-Western Districts, or also in eg. Akanbi, Owode, Afon?
12 The type of clothes that the people in the Metropolitan Districts could wear were controlled. Is this correct? ie, they were not allowed to wear fine clothes?
13 Was this true of any sign of riches?
Alh. Okunola’s responses, 16 December 1982:
1-5. Trade in agricultural goods & export crops—Metropolitan Districts.
In the colonial days, VH [Village Head] and DH [District Head] had big influence over trade. Eg, if a man was in favour—could sell without interference.
VH, DH—would expect forced payment.
If producer could tell DH he had a bounteous harvest—would receive congratulations. VH and DH would all take some. Then the man could trade freely.
This happened in the whole emirate—except the southern districts like Offa, Ekiti, Igbomina. Happened until the 1960s.
Offa—once a year the people bring yams etc & firewood. At Moremi festival. Bring their own people to cook etc.
6-8. If an unauthorised lorry was seen—DH could halt it and send it back.
Why?—to keep food for Ilorin?—not only that—people can’t carry on anything without the Emir’s permission—even marriage.
Happened all over emirate—except in southern districts as above.
This has stopped for some time. Happening as late as the 1950s.
9-11. Migration to south.
Migration to south—not forbidden, but Ilorins wouldn’t do it because of their feeling of superiority.
Districts didn’t dare—unless secretly, a man who had committed some offence would run off to the south.
The only other form of movement—Ilorins who had some Islamic learning—would go to teach their “half baked Islam” to us in the south.
12-13. Clothes etc.
Dared not wear fine clothes—because DH should look best.
Other signs of riches—dared not show unless were very powerful—either (a) magically or (b) a very hard worker on farm with many wives and children.
Lanwa Area—notorious for medicine. Villages eg Elegun, Eleja. Practice a kind of Ogboni cult—though not called by that name. This is because they are neighbours to the Bariba.
4.2f(i) Interviews in Ago Oja Village, near Ilorin, 1985: Background information
These interviews were arranged by Alh. Saka Aleshinloye, Baba Isale of Ilorin, with the Magaji of Ago Oja. Alh. Saka Aleshinloye held one of the chiefly titles associated with the family of Afonja, pre-Fulani ruler of Ilorin. He had been a pioneer journalist in Nigeria and media adviser to successive military heads of state. My translator during these interviews was Suleiman Ajao, a resident of Okelele area of Ilorin Town, whom I had trained in interviewing. The interviews were conducted with the intention of improving a paper I had written based on colonial records by incorporating grassroots information. The amended paper was published as “Agriculture in Ilorin during the Precolonial and Colonial Periods,” Odu (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria), no. 30 (1986): 67‒97.
Included here are the following: Much of the text of the interview in Ago Oja, about 30 July 1985; Discussion with the Baba Isale, 1 August 1985; Interview in Ago-Oja, 12 August 1985; Summary of information on extension workers, fertilisers, tractors.The notes presented here give a good impression of the extent to which one village in the dependent Metropolitan Districts had or had not gained from development efforts up to the 1980s.
4.2f(ii) Interviews in Ago Oja Village, near Ilorin, 1985; discussion with the Baba Isale of Ilorin: Text
Text transcribed from notes Ann O’Hear took at the time
Interview in Ago Oja 30? July 1985
Arranged by Alh. Baba Isale with Magaji Ago. Interviewers: Ann O’Hear and Suleiman Ajao
Went to Ago Oja from the Baba’s compound with the Magaji. He said Ago Oja was founded by the Baba Isale’s forefathers. The Magaji’s name is Raji Akanbi.
The Magaji called together a number of old farmers. Much of the answering was done by the Magaji himself, and by the father of Muhamadu Yusuf, both in about their 60s. Then most of the answering was taken over by Alh. Isiaka, when he was called in by the Magaji.
The interview was held in what is apparently Magaji Ago’s new house—well built, plastered, good ceilings, heavy wooden doors. In room with slightly raised platform at one corner—topped with a mattress. Here the Magaji sat. The other old men ranged themselves on large mats around the walls.
We explained we were interested in changes in agriculture over time. They said the only change is they are now using fertiliser. They have been using fertiliser for about 10 years. Started using it after the whites had gone. Cost when they started was 2 naira 10 kobo. That was a good price. Later went up to 3 naira. Now much more expensive. Some farmers buy 3 bags each, or 4, or 5—differs according to the farm.
What were they using before fertilisers? Nothing. They didn’t use animal fertiliser.
Did the whites encourage tobacco? The farmers have never planted it here.
When the whites were here—did they bring improved seed eg maize? No.
Since then, have they been given any such advice? Nothing like that, they only use fertiliser.
Did they ever have people from the colonial government or the NA (Native Authority) advise about farming? No.
How did they learn about fertiliser? People farming in Ilorin advised them to buy it.
The Methodist missionaries who used to be at Afon—man and woman (doctor)—do they remember these people? They used to hear of them, but have not seen them.
Main crops in Ago—1st yam, 2nd maize, 3rd guinea corn. Since they were children, have they always been planting the same crops? Yes.
Do they use different fertiliser for different crops? No, they use the same for all crops.
What they are using now is urea. They used to use 26:12.
Is urea better than 26:12? Urea is what they are using now. 26:12: “they never brought it out again.” Suleiman Ajao’s gloss on this is that urea doesn’t sell as well as 26:12, so therefore the sellers are trying to make the Ago farmers buy urea.
Where do they buy their fertiliser? Ogbondoko or Afon. Sule thinks from a cooperative.
Is there any cooperative in Ago Oja? No.
Where do they sell their crops? Yam, part to market and they eat part.
Do they send any by railway to the south? If they sell to Ilorin people, some will take them south.
Gama railway station—any use to them? Long ago they used to join the railway from there to Ibadan and Lagos, but the train doesn’t stop there any more.
Anyone rearing “agric” chickens? No.
Asked about Community Hospital—about 5 years old. Built themselves, then taken over by government.
No school in Ago Oja—primary school in Laduba.
Do all the children go to this school from Ago? Yes.
Asked about Development Association—there is one.
Then the Magaji sent for someone who could tell us about all these.
Meanwhile, we asked the farmers what improvements in farming would they like to see? They never knew anything but fertiliser.
Is there any son of the village who has been educated and has come back to make a big farm? Nobody has ever done it.
One of the farmers said he the only one who has a son in “university”—will pass out this year. The “university” turns out to be Kwara State College of Technology, not a university. The father said the institution was “higher than secondary school ... at Oke Oyi.” The name of the student is Muhamadu Yusuf.
They have no light yet. Government has recently sent someone to look, and has promised.
They have borehole (from Govt) water – no tap water yet. Before, they had a well.
Arrival of Alh. Isiaka, Secretary of the Community Association. Perhaps in his late 30s—early 40s.
The Magaji told us that Alh. Isiaka is son of the Magaji’s senior brother. Had Primary 6 (Standard 5?) education.
Alh. Isiaka said the Community Association is working on light and improvement of water. The Community has developed the hospital (actually a dispensary and maternity – 1n 1973) from its own pocket, even the school.
The mosque—also Community—is 20 years old.
They rent tractors (several families together) by themselves for ridging.
Often when they go to buy fertiliser, they don’t see the seller. They use any available fertiliser.
Conversation with the Magaji on the way back to Ilorin (the Magaji was going back to report to the Baba Isale):
“trotros” etc – go between Afon and Ilorin. Ago people catch them on the way. They are not based in Ago-Oja.
Are there any potters in the village? None. They buy pots from Ilorin.
Discussion with the Baba Isale of Ilorin, 1 August 1985
Present: Ann O’Hear, Hugh O’Hear
Mentioned that these villages in Afon area seemu to have “woken up” to development around the same time, 25 to 30 years ago. The Baba pointed out the reasons—Ilorin Talaka Parapo/1959 elections/proximity to the West. Also proximity to Igbomina, Offa.
Lack of success/penetration of extension work—he mentioned one reason, e.g., people in charge have some differences with the recipients [see eg 1950s—ITP people regarded NA workers with suspicion].
Accessibility of Ago—even years ago? Yes, the (now) tarred roads are the old ones.
The Baba Isale saw the Emir the day after I went to Ago—the Emir said he had heard the Baba Isale had sent a “white lady” to Ago.
Interview in Ago Oja village 12 August 1985.
Present: Ann O’Hear, interpreter Suleiman Ajao, also the Magaji, Alh. Isiaka, Kadiri Kuranga (farmer in early middle age), Isiaka Amole Salami (also early middle age) plus others, including a number of women and old men.
[numbers indicate responses to questions we had prepared]
3 and 4. Any male or female weavers in Ago Oja? No women weavers. One man present, Isiaka Amole Salami, used to weave cloth, but stopped because of no sales. When he was learning, there were up to four who came to learn. His father taught them. His father was the only one.
5. Any lantana beadmakers? Never any lantana beadmakers in the village.
6 and 7. We saw calabashes (halved) drying last time—any further processing?
They sell the calabashes, when they are dried, to whoever is interested. People come to buy.
8. Do many people from Ago go to the south? If people do go, when did people from Ago first start doing this?
Many people from Ago go to the West. Eg bricklayer, carpenter, barber. The first to go (answer from Kadiri Kuranga) was Amao Ololu, whose trade was pressing aso-ofi cloth by beating. He is now dead. His children are in Ibadan. When did he go? He went before Awolowo and Adelabu introduced politics in Ibadan.
9-26 mostly answered by Alhaji Isiaka.
9. Have any extension workers ever come to village to advise re fertiliser or anything else?
Extension workers have been coming (1st in 1972) but haven’t done anything yet. “They only take our water.”
10. Have they ever taken soil samples? They did, but no feedback. [later questioning in Ago Oja by Suleiman Ajao (October 1995) elicited the response that the people who had come to take soil samples were from the Ministry of Agriculture; they came two years after Nigerian independence. They came to take the samples because Ago had “no water by then”]
11. How long have the village farmers (In Ago) been using fertilisers?
Ago farmers have been using fertilisers for about 5 years. The first time they tried them, they misused them – they were killing the crops, so they abandoned them. Then about 5 years ago they came to realise how to use them.
12. Same fertiliser for all crops? no answer recorded
13. Are they using urea now? Just started last year.
14. Did they use 26:12 before? They mostly use[d?] this.
15. Why have they started using urea? They couldn’t get 26:12.
Does urea give same result as 26:12? Alh. Isiaka says it is not strong as 26:12. Kuranga said it kills crops if no rain – gave example of his own maize – he fertilised it with urea, then there was no rain for 3 days, and the maize was burnt.
16. Where do they buy fertiliser? Afon mostly, at the IADP [Ilorin Agricultural Development Project] station there. The Ogbondoko IADP just started last year. NO IADP at Laduba. Till this year, they could only by 2 bags each from IADP. Now, they allow them to buy as many as they want.
17. Any advice from Afon IADP about best fertiliser? They explain that 26:12 or 15:15 is best – but they can only sell them urea.
18-21. How many farmers use tractors (catacata)? About 100 want to use, but can’t get. Many have paid but have not yet got. They are mostly disappointed if they go to IADP to book for catacata. It may come as late as the dry season.
Where do they get the tractors from? They book from Afon IADP or Ogbondoko.
Afon IADP has about 6 tractors, but they are distributed to far away places.
The tractor at Ogbondoko is one of the 6.
The Local Govt at Afon has 2 tractors, but one is spoiled – since March of this year.
How did they first learn that tractors are useful? First saw from IADP Afon – saw that it does harrowing and ridges. Plant improves more than if done by hand.
Both young and old farmers in the village interested in tractors? Yes.
How many have actually succeeded in getting a tractor this summer? About 25 – including Alhaji himself.
22. When built or founded/started?
Primary School Laduba – first said c 20 years – then checked up – 1971.
“Hospital” at Ago – 1979.
Borehole Ago – March this year.
Mosque Ago (present building) 15 years.
Community Association Ago – 20 years.
There is a bank at Afon now.
Police Station – at Ogbondoko.
Post Office at Laduba but it is not functioning.
23. Community Association –who founded it? 3 people?? When community improving ----- They had to contribute 3d every Sunday. When the amount was growing, it would be taken to the Bank in Ilorin – the “DCO bank –now Union bank – it was the only bank in Ilorin by then.
24 When Alhaji Isiaka went to school? He went to Adult School in Laduba – in 1972. At that time, many children from the village were going to school.
25. Muhamadu Yusuf – is the only one from this village yet to go to Tech [Kwara State College of Technology]. From here, and Laduba and other villages around, there are about 50 who have finished secondary education.
From Ago specifically (answers provided by discussion among whole group).
2. Baba Bello
There are many yet to finish secondary school. All the village children are now in primary school.
26. “Agric” chicken – they want to start, but no money.
Does IADP help – they haven’t done so.
27. Were the old roads motorable even when Alh. Isiaka was a child? He answered that people drove, but they were not tarred.
[later questioning in Ago Oja (October 1985) by Suleiman Ajao elicited the response that Ago Oja is 4 kilometres by tarred road from Gama, which is on the main road to Ilorin]
We met Iyabo Olatinwo. She came to join the others at the Magaji’s house. She is at CMS Secondary School Yaba Lagos. She is a native of Ago Oja. Going to form 5. About 18-19 years old. Left Ago 1976 and hasn’t been back since. Was brought back this holiday by her father who has since returned to Lagos. Very good English. Somewhat sophisticated.
Tax collectors arrived. The Magaji, Alh. Isiaka and others were called out to discuss. Chief tax collector – very well dressed, in turban – the roomfull of people greeted him in unison responses. Sule thought he was from Osin Aremu. A bit of a palaver developed outside for some time, but seems to have ended OK. The Magaji is collector for his own village. Then has to hand over to this one?
Ago Oja, August 1985
[Note added later: I believe this was a report I prepared for Alh. Baba Isale, maybe with input from Suleiman Ajao]
Until 1972, the farmers in Ago had no visits from extension workers. The extension workers started to come in 1972, but so far the farmers report they have done nothing useful.
Soil samples have been taken but the farmers have received no feedback.
They learned about fertilisers through the recommendation of farmers elsewhere. When they first tried fertilisers they did not know how to use them properly. Instead of helping, the fertilisers were killing the crops, and so the farmers abandoned their use. About five years ago, they began to use them again. They now use fertilisers extensively.
When they started, fertilisers cost just over 2 naira per bag. Now a bag costs 9.00 – 9.50.
They use the same fertiliser for all crops – any available fertiliser. Until recently, they were using 26:12, but are now using urea, because it is the only one readily available. They buy fertilisers mostly at the IADP station at Afon. There is also an IADP station at Olobondoroko, opened last year.
The IADP people at Afon tell the farmers that the best fertilisers are 26:12 or 15:15:15; but the only one they have for sale at present is urea.
[urea is really only for soil maintenance? Should be used together with other fertilisers?]
The farmers at Ago learned about the usefulness of tractors by seeing what the IADP had been doing at Afon. They learned that a tractor does a number of jobs, and tills the soil thoroughly so that an improved result is achieved.
Some people in Ago have managed to hire a tractor this year. Many others want to, but cannot get one. Many have paid for the hire of a tractor, but have not yet got it. The farmers complain that they may not see the tractor (which they have already paid for) until the dry season.
Afon IADP has 6 tractors, but they are scattered over a wide area. Only one of them is stationed at Olobondoroko. Afon Local Government has two tractors – but one has been broken down since March this year.
4.2g Information from a member of a branch of the Ilorin royal family, on theJimba family: Text
Transcribed by Ann O’Hear from notes made at the time
The individual who gave me the information was a member of one of the branchesof the Ilorin royal family. He came to see me for advice on his studies, and in the course of the conversation, I recommended that he might want to go and talk to Lawyer Safi Jimba.
[Lawyer Safi Jimba is a member of an Ilorin family whose founder, the originalJimba, was a nineteenth-century elite slave]
The individual said that Jimba was a “brother.”
I asked if his family married members of the Jimba family.
He said the Jimbas were “their” [the royal family’s] slaves.
He said that in the old days, Jimba daughters would marry their sons.
This was to keep the slaves’ loyalty intact.
Would Jimba sons marry their daughters? No.
4.3a General notes on the interviews conducted during my research visit to Ilorin, 1988
Some of these were multipurpose interviews, mostly with informants associated with craft families whom I had interviewed on earlier occasions about craft industries. I was hopeful that I could insert questions about slavery into interviews on craft issues.
My lead translator for the interviews was Suleiman Ajao. Also present at the interview was Busayo Simeon. For further information on them, see 3.1a Introductory information on the Lovejoy-Adesiyun materials. I discussed the interviews with both of them, in an effort to clarify/amend/add information, though I had only limited time in which to do this.
In most cases, the formal interviews that I conducted were not tape recorded, for various reasons (see 8.1 Appendix 1: Notes on Decisions regarding Tape Recording of Interviews). In this series of interviews, one interview (that with Nafisatu) was partially taped, but taping had to be stopped, as I remember, when the interviewee withdrew her permission. Only one interview was taped in its entirety (that with Baba Magaji), and this enabled discussions and the production of detailed translations (of which one is extant, and is included here).
The arrangements described above generally worked well, but from the translation of the taped interview by Suleiman Ajao I see that the long, complex answers produced in that interview proved particularly challenging to him.
I include in this section background information on the interviews, and the text of the interviews, in translation.
At the end of this section, I append selected text from two interviews conducted by Suleiman Ajao on my behalf in late 1998 and early 1989.
4.3b(i) Interview with Nafisatu, Ile Eleke, Ilorin, 7 September 1988: Background information
Nafisatu was an elderly potter, who had given me information on pottery during previous interviews. This time she had agreed to talk about dyeing. A question about whether slave women were involved in dyeing led into a discussion of slaves. Part of this interview was tape recorded, but taping had to be stopped, as I remember, when the interviewee withdrew her permission.
For a further interview with Nafisatu, see 4.3j Interviews by Suleiman Ajao with Madam Nafisatu, Ile Eleke, Okelele, Ilorin, Alhaji Saka, Ile Alawo, Okelele, Ilorin, 3 December 1988: Background information and text.
4.3b(ii) Interview with Nafisatu, Ile Eleke, Ilorin, 7 September 1988: Extracts from the interview
I had asked Madam Nafisatu to tell me about dyeing, and much of the interview involved various aspects of this, but as one of my questions I asked her if women slaves were used to help in the dyeing. She replied: if you have a slave, you can use.
She went on to tell more about slaves:
There was a period of slavery when these slaves were brought from the war.
These slaves were used in the farm when the master was a farmer.
Balogun Gambari was the great warrior so he had more slaves than the others.
If the slave was a woman she might be married to the master. (Jagun jagun ama fẹ obinrin ti oba mu ni ẹru)
I asked again, did the slaves help in dyeing? She said yes.
How did the women dyers get their slaves? They got their slaves through their husbands that went to the war front. They also taught their slaves how to do dyeing of cloth.
They didn’t use to punish the slaves, because if they did, the slave might put a spell on them. They believed the spell would work.
You had to give the slave wife the same rights as a free wife.
If the slave wife was pregnant, and was asked to climb a food barn, then the free wife should be asked to do the same when pregnant, or the free wife’s baby would die, due to the spell.
If the iyale (senior wife) cooked for the slave wife while the slave wife was pregnant, and didn’t put in salt, then the same should be done to the senior wife, or the senior wife’s baby would die.
They used the slaves in the farm, but they allowed them to come back home to sleep after they were done.
They gave them regular food.
They took care of slaves as their child.
She kept repeating the following words: These days there are no more slaves.
This was probably because other people were present.
4.3c(i) Interview with Alhaji Imam Idiaro, Ile Ongaari (Oni Gaari), Ilorin, 8 September 1988: Background information
Alhaji Imam Idiaro (Alh. Abdullahi Abdul-Salami) was a member of a family of leatherworkers and Islamic teachers. He had himself been a leatherworker and he had become an imam in succession to his father. He informed us that his family was given its land by Magaji Seeni, who had established a compound in the same area.
I had previously visited Imam Idiaro on a number of occasions, to collect information on leatherworking and on the history of Ile Ongaari. This time, I had prepared questions for him on saddlery and fans, and also on horsekeeping (including the use of slaves in horsekeeping), and on family and neighbourhood history. Alhaji Imam noted that his family had been both saddlemakers and Islamic teachers, which led to a discussion of charms (including those involving slaves).
4.3c(ii) Interview with Alhaji Imam Idiaro, Ile Ongaari (Oni Gaari), Ilorin, 8 September 1988: Extracts from the interview
Many of my questions were on saddlery, as Ile Ongaari is traditionally a saddlemakers’ compound. But Alhaji Imam noted that his forefathers, like himself, were also Islamic teachers, and this led him to show us his charms.
One of these is a charm to prevent a slave from running away; it is the same charm that is used to prevent a wife from running away.
I asked Alhaji Imam about the information given to me the previous day, by Madam Nafisatu (interview 7 September 1988), that a slave wife could use a charm against a free wife. He replied as follows: In the old days, chiefs or whoever had money, if they went to buy a woman slave, and, when they came home, they didn’t treat her well, the slave would put a spell on the chief. The spell would circulate around the chief’s family.
I also asked various questions about a major early settler in the neighbourhood, Magaji Seeni. Ile Ongaari were given their land by Magaji Seeni. He was first there. He gave Balogun Alanamu family their land [Balogun Alanamu was a major warchief and is still head of the ward in which Ile Ongaari and Magaji Seeni’s compound are located]
Alhaji Imam told me that Magaji Seeni had a male slave who was an alfa. He maltreated the slave and the slave put a curse on him. Now if you go to Magaji Seeni’s compound, all is wretched. They are not progressing. [Later he took us into Magaji Seeni’s compound, very close to Ile Ongaari: it looked very down at heel, though there were remains of a large entrance, an indication that the family had been important in the past.]
I also asked several questions about horsekeeping in the past, including the use of slaves. Alhaji Imam proffered the following information:
Ile Ongaari kept horses in the old days. Members of Ile Ongaari were warriors—they also used charms in war.
Balogun Alanamu compound kept up to 50 horses, after the British arrived.
It took 5-6 people to look after a horse:
One to collect the grass;
One to chop the grass into short pieces, for easy digestion;
One to clean the horse;
One to wash it;
One to exercise it.
Those looking after horses were mostly slaves, caught at the war front.
4.3d Discussion with Alhaji Saka Aleshinloye, Baba Isale of Ilorin, Ile Baba Isale, Ilorin, 9 September 1988: Background information and notes on discussion
Alhaji Saka Aleshinloye held one of the chiefly titles associated with the family of Afonja, pre-Fulani ruler of Ilorin. He had been a pioneer journalist in Nigeria and media adviser to successive military heads of state.
The discussion was held in English, and concerned my interest in gathering information on slavery.
The Baba Isale told the story of a woman from the Baba Isale family. She married the Balogun Gambari [a major Ilorin titleholder] and later divorced him.
Then she married a relative of the Balogun Fulani [another major Ilorin titleholder].
She traded in slaves.
She planted her slaves in Ago, and this was the first settlement in Ago.
He noted that [the present] Balogun Fulani would dispute this!*
*This reference was to the long-standing dispute over land between successive Baloguns Fulani and the families associated with Afonja (those of the Magaji Are and the Baba Isale). When I was looking for information on rural development, it ws to Ago Oja village that he sent me. See 3.2a(vi)2 Interviews in Ago Oja Village, near Ilorin, 1985; discussion with the Baba Isale of Ilorin: Text
4.3e Interview with Mariama Ajibade, Dyer, Okelele, Ilorin, 10 September 1988: Background information and extracts from/notes on the interview
Mariama was previously interviewed by archaeologist Philip Allsworth-Jones, who introduced her to me. She was married into Ile Alaro, in which I also had other informants. She was interviewed on dyeing and connections between dyeing and slaves.
Were women slaves used to help in the dyeing? Slaves were not asked to do it. They only taught their daughters.
Elu is a[n item used in?] witchcraft which alhajis use for black medicine. They have to take permission first. They have to come and buy it from alhaja (Mariama). If they take without permission—i.e., stealing—the juju won’t work.
Were slaves among those plucking and crushing the elu? They asked slaves to do other types of work, not this type. They didn’t do this type of work because it is secret.
Slave males farmed, females did housework.
Chiefs took female slaves for wives—“wọn ama fi wọn se aya”
The only problem was that of a quarrel between children of slaves and the other children (“those the slaves met at home”), then the other children would say,
“you are children of slaves, you are slaves yourselves, your mother was caught as a slave, our mother was married legally”—“wọn gbe iya awọn ni.”
Asked her about the curse if a slave wife is maltreated as a slave wife, she said: if you behave cruelly, the slave will say whatever you do to me, the same will happen to you.
4.3f(i) Interview with Baba Elesin, Ile Agba, Okelele, Ilorin, 13 September 1988: Background information
In the past, members of a number of compounds in Ilorin were engaged in making the red stone beads called lantana, for which Ilorin was famous and which were exported, for example, to Benin City and Ekiti. The beadmaking was labour intensive, and the beads were very expensive up to about the 1920s. Major beadmakers had been wealthy, even able to afford to buy horses. The original Baba Elesin, grandfather of the man I knew, had been one of them.
The Baba Elesin I met had been a beadmaker himself, but when I knew him he was an elderly man trying to make some money from buying old beads and repairing and reselling them.
I had previously visited him on a number of occasions to collect information on beadmaking. On this occasion, I was interested in collecting further information on beadmaking, but I added a few questions on the use of slaves and iwọfa (debt pawns). Baba Elesin gave only brief answers on slaves but gave a little more detail on iwọfa. Extracts from the interview are provided here.
4.3f(ii) Interview with Baba Elesin, Ile Agba, Okelele, Ilorin, 13 September 1988: Text
Extracts from notes on interview with Baba Elesin, 13 September 1988
How is business now? It doesn’t move regularly any more. The material is expensive.
Are you still buying old beads? Yes.
From where? From those that go to villages to purchase.
Where are you selling them to? They come here from Ekiti—they take them there for reselling.
You learned beadmaking from your father? Yes.
Did you have brothers or other relatives who also learned beadmaking from your father? Those that also learned from my father are old and dead.
Was it your grandfather who was the original Baba Elesin? Yes. The father of my father. He was the founder of the beadmaking in this family.
Was he called Baba Elesin because he had a horse? Yes. He bought and rode. He would sell one and buy another.
Did your grandfather have slaves? No.
Did other beadmaking compounds have slaves? Most rich compounds used to have them.
Did your family ever have iwọfa who helped in the beadmaking? No, but Ile Asileke had iwọfa and taught them to do beadmaking.
There are no iwọfa nowadays. Even I only heard of it as a story.
The iwọfa would work until the debtor returned the money.
The father must come back to pay.
The creditor didn’t pay the boy anything except feeding him, but might teach him a craft, and that would be his pay.
There were no female iwọfa. Baba Elesin doesn’t know why.
4.3g(i) Interview with Baba Magaji of Magaji Village, behind the Kwara State College of Technology compound, 13 September 1988, and Mamadu Alau of the same village: Background information
Baba Magaji’s name is Lawani Akano. I got to know him when he was a nightwatchman at the Kwara State College of Technology staff club, and we had been friends for a number of years. Thus, he was happy to give permission for me to tape the interview.
My lead translator was Suleiman Ajao, and Busayo Simeon was also present at the interview. For further details information on them, please see this collection, 3.1, Introductory information on Lovejoy-Adesiyun materials.
Written translations of the tape were produced by both Suleiman Ajao and Busayo Simeon. Unfortunately, the tape is no longer in my possession, and the written translation by Busayo Simeon faded to such an extent that it was no longer usable.
Baba Magaji and his friend? or relative? Mamudu Alau were old men, and the language they used was sometimes difficult for the translators to comprehend. The written translation of the tape produced by Suleiman Ajao reveals that the responses of Mamudu Alao, with their use , succession to the Balogun Gambari title, were particularly challenging to the translator.
Note: The interview includes material about an important warrior under Balogun Gambari, who settled in the area. This warrior was named Omodare (or Opopo, Opoopo, Okpokpo). In the Ilorin Emirate Reorganisation of Districts file, Ilorinprof 4/1/829A/1917, Nigerian National Archives, Kaduna [see this collection, 8.3c], it is stated that the original head of Oloru Village Area in Oloru District was Balogun Ali, second Balogun Gambari, and the area was “Presented by Balogun Ali to his slave, Omodare.” No reference to the slave status of Omodare is made in the interview.
Included here are the following:
Detailed translation of the tape by Suleiman Ajao, with brief follow-up interview
4.3g(ii) Interview with Baba Magaji [Mogaji], Magaji Village, behind Kwara State College of Technology compound, 13 September 1988, and Mamudu Alau of the same village: Text
(this includes prepared questions and translation by Suleiman Ajao from the tape recording with a brief follow-up interview)
Questions prepared for Baba Magaji
When you go into Ilorin Town, do you go to the Balogun Gambari Compound?
When do you go there?
Have you ever heard of one Omodare, who was given land by Balogun Alli, the second Balogun Gambari?
Is this part of that land?
Who was Omodare? What can you tell me about him?
What happened to the family of Omodare?
You are the head of Magaji Village?
Have your forefathers also been heads of Magaji Village?
Were your forefathers asked by Balolgun Gambari to come here and look after the land and the slaves and dependents, and collect tribute?
Did your forefathers follow Balogun Gambari to war?
Tell me about it . . .
In the olden days, did slaves on the farms work half a day for the master and the rest of the day for themselves? Or, did the slaves send in a certain amount of produce to the master every so often?
What happened to the slaves when the British arrived?
Translation from the tape recording, plus brief follow up interview
This translation was typed from the original handwritten version for legibility (plus the present tenses were changed to past in the typescript when this was obviously the intended meaning) and annotated in square brackets by Ann O’Hear.
Q Do you often go to Balogun Gambari [a major titleholder in the Ilorin Town hierarchy]?
A No, I don’t go.
Q Why don’t you go there?
A Balogun Gambari owns this land but I don’t use to go to him. If Balogun Gambari has a ceremony we do go there.
Q I am interested in the history of this village and Ilorin Town. Have you ever heard of somebody named Omodare, [whom] Balogun Ali gave the land to?
A I have heard about him.
The other name of Omodare is Opopo. [in the handwritten version, Omodare is spelled consistently with diacritical marks under both letter “o”s, and Opopo is spelled with diacritical marks under all the “o”s]
Q What do you know about him?
A Opoopo [spelling different from first reference; spelled with diacritical marks under all the “o”s consistently through the handwritten version] was a great warrior behind Balogun Gambari. This Opoopo if he arrived from the warfront he settled here.
This village is one of the important villages to Balogun, and also one of the lands known to Balogun Gambari.
There is no mate of Oba [here=Emir] could underrate him, Opoopo Omodare.
Q What is happening to the family of Omodare? Where are they now?
A Omodare’s family are in Ilorin.
Q Which area?
A At Balogun Gambari.
Q Are you the head of this village?
A I am the head of this village.
Alangua title was donated by Magaji Village to Ara Village.
Omodare gave the title (Alangua) to Ara people because he had no time for problem.
Q We heard that your forefathers have been holding the title Magaji.
A The Magaji title is a rotation among the villagers in Magaji area.
Q Did Balogun Gambari put his people there to look after the village?
A Yes, including the slaves.
Q Do you still take tribute?
A Yes, we still take the tribute.
Our land is extended [extended? extends?] to Akuro Village. It is also extend [extends? extended?] to Ara Village Primary School.
Q Did they use the slaves to work for them in the farm by then?
A But the slaves later freed themselves by paying some amount to their masters.
Q Did they work for their master in the farm?
A [No answer recorded]
Q How did they treat the slaves?
A I don’t know.
Q. Did your forefathers follow Balogun Gambari to the warfront?
A They were asked to look after the house.
[Baba Magaji said with respect to some of the questions, there was a man older than himself who could answer them better. He took us to this man, whose name was Mamudu Alau; this is the point at which Mamudu Alau started to answer the questions]
A The Tapas [Nupe] were driven from Magaji Village across River Niger.
After Opopo drove the Tapa from Magaji, he stopped at Gata.
He left Gata and came to Oke Ose. He left Oke Ose and decided to settle at Magaji.
The name is Magaji Opoopo.
The Balogun Gambari owns the village right from generation to generation.
Q When were the Tapas driven from the village?
A We were very young, we can’t remember.
A Why he came about this name Opoopo was because whenever he went to the warfront and came home late, when his people asked him why he was late, he would answer them opo opo nahi [spelling?] meaning it is many, after he might have come across many enemies.
After he came back they didn’t call him other name than Opoopo. He can’t remember his real name.
Q Where did Ara people come from?
A The Ara people came from Oyo. The Ara people had a quarrel over Ara Village, they had to carry this case to the Balogun Gambari, and Balogun told them that no one of them has land. The late Balogun (3) [sic] to the present one witnessed the quarrel.
A Anywhere Balogun captured he would put one person there to look after the place.
A There is a village called Ariori and it was the first village to be known.
The conspiracy of the white people destabilized this village [that is, Magaji Village?] by passing through their village with the army to Ariori Village. The villagers ran away when they saw them.
The army had their barracks at Ariori. It is more than ten miles to [from] Magaji.
Ariori was under the Government by then.
The Ariori left Ariori Village later and settled at Oloru.
In those days the army would be parading here and there, and the [?] were not selfish [?].
But immediately the white man came to inspect them on the parade ground they became bios to [biased toward?] the people and stabilized them.
If you hear any village called Aru they are from this village or if you hear any other village called Magaji around here they are from this village.
The village (Aru) was found[ed] by through [sic] a stream nearby here.
If the elder women from Ariori wanted to come to Magaji Village there was no way for them to come through.
When they had been enduring it for long, the people stood up and said that they would use Oloru as their headquarters.
So Oloru was given the headquarters.
They removed the headquarter again and took it to Elemere because they were endangered by Oloru people.
One of the sons of Balogun Gambari [has] settled there now.
The name of that son of Balogun is [names crossed out, but should read Oladimeji--see later answer].
Okandeji was not entitled to the chieftaincy [that is, the Balogun Gambari title]; it was Balogun Laro [dot under final “o”; later spelled Laaro] who was entitled, but now they have agreed for him.
Q Did they collect slaves by then?
A But if anybody came here for slaves by then or to take anybody as slave, Opoopo would go there and bring back his people.
If you go [to] the Balogun Gambari and ask of Magaji they bring you to the [this] village.
Balogun Murogo [also spelled Morogo in the handwritten version] was formerly living at Okelele before coming to Gambari to hold the title of Balogun Gambari, because the son of Balogun Gambari was [too] small to hold the title by then.
So the title was given back to the son when they [sic] grew up.
Balogun Murogo was a greater warrior than Balogun Kaara. But everything that Balogun Murogo did they think it is Balogun Kaara.
Q Are the Balogun on the throne now the relative of Balogun Murogo or his sons?
A They are his sons. [a confusing exchange in this translation--referring to one Balogun or more?]
One of Balogun Murogo’s sons is called Oladimeji, he is the one that settled at Elemere.
When Balogun Morogo died the [present?] owner of the throne came to power.
Q What is the name of the real [apparently meaning the actual present] Balogun who owns the throne?
A. Buhari Baba Oloko [diacritical marks under the “o”s] Ile [diacritical mark under the “e”].
One of Balogun Murogo’s sons is called Daniyau.
The name of [an]other son is Adeleke.
The name of the senior son is Haruna (Daudu, senior son).
Jimoh Baba Eleku followed Haruna.
All the sons of Murogo mentioned have been the Magaji of this village before their death.
After the death of Olaniyan, Baba Oloko Ile did not come here to take over the throne. He was trading in cows.
Although the title was given to him, he was busy selling cattle.
Baba Oloko Ile’s real name (that is, his title name) is Balogun Buhari.
Balogun Buhari is the father of Balogun Laaro.
Balogun Laaro will soon be given the title [of] Balogun Gambari.
Q In the olden days did the slaves work till “down” or did they only work till afternoon?
A In those days they did take the slaves to the market to sell. But if the slave happened to be a woman or girl they [would] buy them and marry them as wives.
By the time they buy them they are freed from slavery.
Q Did the slaves work for their masters in the farm on commercial basis?
A They just worked for their master and their master fed them accordingly.
Since the slaves have been paid for or have been bought there was no more slavery. The iwofa [diacritical mark under the “o”] came to exist.
Iwofa were used in borrowing money. After the money was repaid he or she was freed.
They have stopped iwofa because some people didn’t have money to pay back, they [the iwofa] remained there and might not remember their home again.
Q What about the slaves that were before iwofa came in?
A Nobody should ask about that anymore, the Government has stopped it.
Q Do you remember when there was iwofa?
A Yes I remember, I had married by then, when I went to my inlaws village I used to meet one iwofa.
[a new page begins here. It is not always clear from the pronouns in the handwritten translation as to which of the two interviewees was speaking]
A man who had 9 iwofas was the same mother and father with his [Mamudu Alau’s?] mother. The name of the man is Sule Ajala.
Q What is the name of the 9 iwofas?
A I can’t remember the name of the iwofas.
Q What is Baba Magaji’s brother’s [actually friend’s?] own name?
A His name is Mamudu Alau.
Q Baba Magaji, what is your own name? We only know you as Baba Magaji.
A My name is Lawani Akano.
Q What happened to the slaves when the whites came?
A When the British came they didn’t want the whites to come to Ilorin.
The whites had to throw or spread gas on to them to allow them gain entrance.
It wasn’t in their [the informants’] presence, but the story was told by their father.
The smoke of the gas covered the whole place [so] that nobody could see.
They formerly thought the whites would bring some difficulties to them, but later on they discovered it was for their own good.
The whites hated cheating.
When the whites left everything suffered.
Q Did the iwofas use to be male and female?
A Both male and female participated in iwofa.
The iwofas participated in any job their master had to do.
Brief follow-up interview
Brief interview by Suleiman Ajao with Baba Magaji and Mamudu Alau: Follow-up questions from interview of 13 September 1988. No date given, but probably soon after that interview. Questions provided by Ann O’Hear.
Q They said the Tapas were driven away--Was this during Baba Magaji’s lifetime, or before he was born?
A Before he was born.
Q How much isakole do they pay nowadays?
A They don’t pay anymore.
Q Is it in form of money, or in form of farm produce?
But they pay through economic trees, such as mango tree and locust bean tree.[present or past tense intended by the informant?]
Q How much isakole did they pay when Baba Magaji was a boy?
A 10 shillings.
Q Is it true to say that when slavery was stopped, then people took to the iwofa system?
4.3h Interviews with Magaji Yaba, Ile Magaji Yaba, Balogun Fulani Ward, Ilorin, 29 September 1988 and 30 September 1988: Background information and notes on the interviews
Magaji Yaba was a titleholder in Balogun Fulani Ward of the city of Ilorin. I was recommended to him by Alh. Saka Aleshinloye, Baba Isale of Ilorin (for whom, see other references in this catalogue.
Both questions and answers are included in these notes on the interviews.
Interview with Magaji Yaba, 28 September 1988
Name of compound: Ile Magaji Yaba.
Origin of the name “Yaba”? From the emir.
Their forefathers came from Kawoje, in the north.
Their compound is under Balogun Fulani. The boundary with Balogun Gambari is close by.
Did owners give slaves any special facial marks? Anyone could become a slave, whether they had facial marks or not.
Did the owners teach their slaves to be Muslims? Those who refused to become Muslims would be captured by force as slaves.
Did they use many slaves on the farm? Those that refused to be Muslims would be working on the farm. The owner of the land would put them on the farm.
Did they also use slaves as soldiers? Yes. If a slave saw that his master was very strong in war, he could help him in war – so slaves also caught slaves for the master. A slave who did this was still a slave, but was given different treatment.
When a man put his slaves on the farm, did he put them all together on one big farm, or did he put them in small groups in different places? He put them in different locations – on lands bearing different names but belonging to the same master. – because the master might have many pieces of land.
Did the slaves normally live on the farm, or did they live in the town, and go out daily to the farm? They lived on the farm—because they were accustomed to the farm – the farm had become their home.
What happened to the slaves when the whites arrived? This is the 4th emir since the whites arrived. The slaves were no longer serving the master, instead the masters of the slaves became slaves to the whites.
Did many slaves leave after the whites arrived? – everything scattered – all the ,chiefs were caught by the whites, and the chiefs were taken away – so people could scatter.
Interview with Magaji Yaba, 30 September 1988
Magaji Salumanu Yaba
Is it correct to say slaves that refused to be Muslims would be put on the farm? Yes.
If a slave caught slaves for his master in war, would that slave be given different treatment? Yes.
When slaves were caught, if it was a male and a female, if the male agreed to be Muslim, they would give him the female to marry.
If a warrior went to war and caught many slaves, he had to report to the Emir (i.e., hand over the slaves to the Emir). The Emir would reward the warrior with slaves. He would also give some to the chiefs. He might give one of the strongest slaves to a chief, then that slave would provide food for the chief’s horse.
The Emir would send slaves to dillali to sell them. The slaves would sit down with bakati (shackles).
The slave’s people would pay 5 pounds 10 shillings to ransom them. Sometimes a slave said he was satisfied with the master, he wanted to become a Muslim.
5 pounds 10 shillings -- 22 people carried it (in cowries). Five shillings in cowries was a heavy basket, difficult to carry far.
Is it true that when slavery ended, people took to the iwofa system? Yes. If someone wanted to borrow money, he had to take one of his children. The child would work on the farm. If the child wanted to be freed quickly, he would also farm on his own account – plant something to be sold.
Iwofa – both males and females.
Iwofa – was to teach a child to be hard working.
They would teach an iwofa crafts e.g., blacksmith, butcher.
Iwofa system ended when Muslims felt that such was bad, was against their religion. (i.e. – I gather – the work done by an iwofa is a form of interest.)
Asingba = iwofa.
If a person took a child to be iwofa, he wouldn’t have to pay interest on the debt. If he didn’t take a child, then he would have to pay interest.
The other man [present] said that taking a housegirl/boy is an example of iwofa. The iwofa will learn from the master.
4.3j Interviews by Suleiman Ajao with Madam Nafisatu, Ile Eleke, Okelele, Ilorin; Mr. Anagi, Ile Eleke yan gan, Okelele; and Alhaji Saka, Ile Alawo, Okelele, Ilorin, late 1988 to early 1989: Background information and text (proverbs)
I gave Suleiman Ajao a list of proverbs in Yoruba referring to slaves and iwọfa (debt pawns) and asked him to show them to people in Ilorin. I asked him, if these proverbs were known in Ilorin, to try to provide an English translation of both the literal and the figurative meanings. I also asked him to see if his informants could provide other proverbs dealing with slaves and iwọfa.
Here are some of the results (the Yoruba version is given without diacritical marks):
Afotele ko je ki a pe iwofa ni eru
Once you bring somebody as iwofa you can’t turn him or her to slave.
Agreement did not allow us to call iwofa as slave. Once you present somebody as iwofa you have no right to treat him or her as a slave.
Ibi ko ya to si ibi: baa ti bi eru la bi omo.
Umbilical cord is not different from each other. Both child and slave were born the same way.
We should treat a slave the same way we treat our child, it is condition that changed one into slave.
Bi aba logun eru, bi aba logbon iwofa, omo eni lere eni.
When you have many slaves or iwofa, when you die your property belongs to your child.
Ojo joo n se iwofa, won ni o ko iseere de: bo ba somonwon, won a maa nonwo, won a maa nonra.
The way you spend money when your child is sick you can’t spend when iwofa is sick.
Iwofa is fallen sick, they still believe he has done nothing, if it were to be their own child they will spend much more to see him survive.
No matter how you treat somebodys child, you will give your own child a special treatment.
Imado iba se bi elede, aba ilu je: eru iba joba, enion ki ba ti ku kon.
If bush pig were home pig, it would have destroyed the town. If slaves were to be made a king, no one should have [been] left behind/nobody should have stayed alive. If a slave comes to the throne, he would want to retaliate more than the way he was maltreated as a slave.
Bi eru ba pe loko ama j’oye.
When a slave stays longer in the village he could become a chief. Whoever that tries to endure his suffer[ing] he or she will one day overcome it.
Bi eru ba ti pe ni ile Alajobi ni bu.
When a slave stays longer in the house he abuses the compound. It is used for somebody below your age, [when] you are very familiar to each other. When it occurs that the person is making mess of you, then you use that proverb. Because when a slave stays longer in a house he know the history of the compound so that when there is a little quarrel he may abuse [them] by telling [the] history of their great grandfather.
For further work on proverbs relating to slaves and iwọfa, see 5.2 Text of O’Hear/Bolaji Interview Transcripts and Notes, Series I, 1988-1989: 5.2f Vocabulary definitions; Proverbs with translations, in this collection.