THE DR ANN O’HEAR ARCHIVE

Section 5: Source Materials Part III: The Dr. E.B. Bolaji Interviews and Information: O’Hear/Bolaji Interview Transcripts (translated into English) and Notes, 1988-1999 to 1991.

[Section  |     1     |     2     |     3     |         |     5     |     6     |     7     |     8     |     9     |     10     |     11     [Catalogue]

Section << 1      2      3      4      5      6      7      8      9      10      11      12  >>

5.1 Background information on O’Hear/Bolaji interviews 1988-1991 , Series I, II, and III.

5.2 Text of O’Hear/Bolaji interviews and information 1988-1999 Series I

5.2a Interview with Alhaji Mustapha Magaji Adeyi

5.2b Interview with Alhaji Yusuf Olore 

5.2c Interview with Anonymous Informant 1

5.2d Interview with Anonymous Informant 2

5.2e Interview with Anonymous Informant 3

5.2f Vocabulary definitions; Proverbs with translations 

5.2g Excerpt from letter from Dr. E.B. Bolaji, 15 March  1989

 

5.3 Text of O’Hear/Bolaji interviews and information 1989-1990, Series II

5.3a Notes on questions for Series II, sent to Dr. E.B. Bolaji in July 1989

5.3b Follow-up interviews from Series I (plantations)

5.3c Interview on Agbeyangi 

5.3d Ajias

5.3d(i) Re slave status : Definition of ajia

5.3d(ii)  Interviews on Ajia Ijesha

5.3d(iii) Interview on Ajia Atikekere

5.3d(iv) Interview on Ajia Ogbonde (Bonde)

5.3d(v) Interview/information on Ajia Opele, Ajia Gaju, and Ajia Ogidiolu

5.3d(vi) Interview on Ajia Sakasaka

5.3d(vii) Interview and information on the Idiape Crisis of 1936: Ajia connection? Elite slaves’ involvement as baba kekere?

5.3e Re slave status: Interviews and information on other titleholders

5.3e(i) Interview on Sarkin Dogari (Dongari)

5.3e(ii) Interview on Balogun Afin

5.3e(iii) Interview on Sarkin Baraje (Baraye, Barade)

5.3e(iv) Interview on Are Ogele

5.3e(v) Interview on Magaji Gari and Galadima Gari

5.3f Excerpt from letter from Dr. Bolaji, 20 April 1990, discussing interviews with Ajias and  the difficulty in translating oriki (praise songs)

5.4 Text of O’Hear/Bolaji interviews and information 1991 Series III

5.4a Follow-up questions  on concubines (from Series I) and Ajia Ijesha (from Series II)

 

5.4b(i) Notes on numbering and subheadings, extended interviews

5.4b(ii) Extended interview on pawnage,  Ile Alagbede, Okelele, Ilorin

5.4b(iii) Extended interview on pawnage, Ile Asileke, Okelele, Ilorin

5.4b(iv) Extended interview on pawnage, Ile Alawo, Okelele, Ilorin

5.4b(v) Extended interview on pawnage, Ile Alawo, ti Ile Onilu, Okelele, Ilorin

5.4b(vi) Two shorter interviews on pawnage, one with Dr. Bolaji’s mother, the other with his father

5.4b(vii) Excerpt from letter from Dr. Bolaji, 4 September 1991 (including pawnage)

5.4b(viii) Follow-up questions (sent to Dr. Bolaji November 1991) and responses (including pawnage)

Table of Contents

5.1 Background Information on O’Hear/Bolaji interviews 1988-1991, Series I, II, and III 

Interviews and information gathering conducted on my behalf by Dr. E.B. Bolaji, a native of Ilorin, a former colleague and a scholar of Yoruba oral literature, and his assistants. The questions, words to be defined, etc., were provided by myself, in English. Dr. Bolaji then translated the questions into Yoruba. He chose the informants and recruited assistants to help him with the interviews. Dr. Bolaji and his assistants transcribed the informants’ responses, and Dr. Bolaji rendered these into English, with explanatory annotations and comments. Given problems regarding the fragility and legibility of the paper copies, I transcribed them on to computer files in 2020. 

 

See also 2.4c(i) Ann O’Hear with E. B. Bolaji. “Slavery in Ilorin, Nigeria.” Unpublished paper: extended interview with Ilorin informant (Anonymous Informant 1), with background and commentary.  

 

Series I, 1988‒1989, contains five extended interviews with Ilorin informants, covering various aspects of slavery and related topics. Also included are the following: definitions of Yoruba words and translations/explanations of proverbs; and an excerpt from a letter from Dr. Bolaji discussing the difficulties he encountered. For follow-up interviews on plantations, see Series II. 

 

Series II, 1989‒1990. The first item here  features a set of notes that I sent to Dr. Bolaji in July 1989, regarding the questions for Series II (including the follow-up questions on Series I but in particular the numerous questions on elite slaves, this topic being the main focus of Series II). The next group of items consists of the follow-up interviews from Series I (on plantations). But the bulk of Series II is provided by the transcripts of the numerous interviews conducted on elite slaves; plus an excerpt from a letter from Dr. Bolaji, providing further information/background on the interviews. For follow-up on the Ajia Ijesha family, see Series III. 

 

Series III, 1991. This includes a short file of follow-up questions regarding previous series. However, the focus in Series III is on human pawnage. The material on this topic consists of four extended interviews, plus two shorter interviews (with Dr. Bolaji’s parents); follow-up questions and interviews; and an excerpt from a letter from Dr. Bolaji. 

5.2a Interview with Alhaji Mustapha Magaji Adeyi 

 

Who was the interviewer: Mr. Shehu T. Salami 

 

Date: 20th October 1988 

 

Where the interview took place: Adeyi’s Compound, Okelele, Ilorin 

 

Compound of the informant: Adeyi’s Compound, Okelele, Ilorin 

 

Approximate age of the informant: 80 years 

 

Any other relevant details about the informant: He is Alhaji Mustapha, Head (Magaji) of Adeyi Compound. Adeyi Compound is also leader of all Asudẹ families in Ilorin. They dispersed to various other areas from there. 

 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: He was, but he had to be given a monetary inducement. 

 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld: He would be pleased if his name was mentioned. 

 

Names of any other people present at the interview: Dr. E.B. Bolaji and Alhaji Babatunde Ẹlẹsin 

 

The 19th Century : Section 1 

 

1 About what proportion of the population of Ilorin and its hinterland were slaves, in the 19th century? Slaves were numerous. It was like buying vehicles today. 

 

2a Were many slaves used in the army? Yes. 

 

2b What were they used for in the army? They were used for farm work. 

 

3 Were many slaves used on the farms? Would it be true to say that the majority of slaves were used on the farms? Yes. 

 

4a Did some important people have large plantations worked by slaves? Yes. 

 

4b Can you give any examples? Yes. Awolarogun of Okelele. 

 

5 In the 19th century, did slaves working on the farms generally reside on the farms, or in town? Or both? They lived in town. 

 

6 Is it true to say that there were many large plantations/estates around Ilorin, or were there mostly small scattered holdings? Yes, for the wealthy, like (4b above). There were small farms for the poor. 

 

7a Can you estimate how many plantations there were with more than 100 slaves working on them? With more than 30? Not certain, but farms like Lawoyin; Larokun; Aloweru, and Kongbayi in Okelele, all had many slaves. 

 

7b About what proportion of farms had a few slaves, but less than 5? Can’t be sure of number, but such farms as belonging to Dawodu Isalẹ Oja and Daodu Fagba, had few slaves. 

 

8 It has been said that the 19th century Emirs tried to restrict the elite members to small scattered land holdings, so that they could not build up a consolidated power base outside the town— 

 

8a Is it true that they tried to do this?  Yes. 

 

8b Did they succeed? Yes. 

 

9a If so, were elite members likely to have several small land holdings? Yes. 

 

9b Did they move their slaves from one to another? Not necessarily. They keep small groups in the farms. 

 

10 Did slaves on the farms work in gangs under an overseer? Yes, they had leaders (Alakoṣo). 

 

11a Did slaves work half the day for the master, then half the day for themselves? Yes, they were given such liberty. 

 

11b Could they sell the produce they grew in their own time? Yes. 

 

12a Did slaves always work in gangs under an overseer? Or did they sometimes work on their own, and periodically bring/send in fixed amounts of produce for the master? Either, but in each case, the interest of the owner was paramount. 

 

12b Which of these was the more common in the 19th century? If a slave did not serve his/her owner, there could be trouble

for the slave. 

 

12c Under what circumstances did they work in gangs, and under what circumstances did they work on their own and send/bring in produce periodically? A slave would desire to help another slave and take permission from the owner. 

 

13 If a farmer had just a few slaves, would he and his family work in the fields alongside the slaves? No. Families worked apart from slaves. 

 

14a How much difference was there between slaves working on the farms and small-scale poor free farmers? Slaves were slaves and the freeborn could not be compared to them.  

 

14b In what ways were they different? Slaves manned bigger farms while the farms for freeholders were smaller. 

 

14c In what ways were they similar?  [no answer recorded] 

 

15a Were women slaves also used on the farms? No. 

 

15b What kinds of work did they do there?  House work; preparing food for the slaves on the farms. 

 

15c Was it the women slaves who carried the produce into the town? No, both male and female slaves. 

 

16 In the late 19th century, it was reported that the war-chief Jimba was the owner of the small village Oko Jimba between Ilorin and Offa, where he had settled his slaves. 

 

16a Is this true? Yes. 

16b About how many slaves were there? They were many. 

 

16c Was Jimba Oja also in existence at that time? Yes. 

 

16d If so, what was sold there? By whom and to whom? Buying and selling of slaves, by slave owners to those who needed slaves. 

 

17 In the 1850s it was reported that Balogun Gambari Ali had “a village of 26,000 slaves of his own, all working in irons.” 

 

17a Did he have such a village? Yes. 

 

17b Where was it? On the way to Offa. 

 

17c About how many slaves were there? They were numerous, but number could not be ascertained. 

Section 2

 

1 Were slaves taught to be Muslims? If masters were Muslims, slaves were taught to be Muslim. It was the same for any other religion since slaves practiced their master’s religion. 

 

2 Did they become good Muslims? Those who were taught to be Muslims, yes. 

 

3a In Ilorin, how many people were members of the bori cult? Pagan Hausa and Fulani. 

3b Did many slaves become members? For example, women slaves? Female slaves were members, but not all of them. 

 

3c Did many free born women become members? Muslim women would never have anything to do with such a cult. 

Section 3 

 

1 Where did the slaves come from? From Hausaland, especially Kano. 

 

2a Were slaves brought down from the north? Yes. 

 

2b Were these slaves bought by Ilorin people, or were they bought by traders from the south? All the people who had money bought slaves, no matter where they came from. Some bought female slaves to serve as wives. 

 

3 In what markets in Ilorin were slaves sold? In Seriki Gobir place in Gambari area. 

 

4a In what houses in Ilorin were slaves sold? In Mejidadi Compound in Okelele. Those who wanted to sell slaves hawked them. 

 

4b Is there a house (or houses) called 

 

Ile Aluweru?  Ile Alowoẹru 

 

Ile Aroworeru? X 

 

Ile Arowoteru? X 

 

4c Where is this house? Oke-Apomu. 

 

5 Is it true to say that the trade in slaves in Ilorin was especially important towards the end of the 19th century? It was very important. 

 

6a What happened to the slave traders in Ilorin after the slave trade ended? The white people put a stop to the trade, but the traders were not pleased. 

 

6b Did they go into other kinds of business? Yes 

 

6c If so, what? Trading, especially in women’s (native) cloth called Kijipa, which these traders took to Kano for sale. 

 

Section 4 

 

1 What proportion of slaves in and around Ilorin were women? About 2/5. 

 

2 What tasks did women slaves perform? Making thread for weaving, shredding melon. Domestic chores, in short. 

 

3 Were slave women used for domestic tasks so that free wives could go into purdah? Yes. 

 

4 What were women slaves most valued for? (1) for domestic work (2) for carrying farm produce to the town. 

 

5 Which cost more, a male slave or a female slave? A male slave. Because a male slave was more useful for physical activities. 

 

6 Which were more in demand, male slaves or female slaves? Male slaves. 

 

Section 5 

 

1 What was the name for “concubine” in Ilorin?   Ọrẹ  (friend). 

 

2 Were concubines always slaves? No: slaves were not used as concubines by free men. Slaves could have concubines among themselves. 

 

3 What was the status of a concubine who had borne a child to her master? Olowo jere (slave owner profited). Unless such a slave bought her freedom, she, together with such a child, would still be a slave. 

 

4 What was the status of a concubine who did not give birth? She was barren, and was either dropped or retained, depending on what the man concerned wanted. 

 

5 What was the status of the children of concubines? Thy were looked upon as ọmọ ale (offspring of concubines). If the man had other child, they could not inherit property. 

 

6 Was there any special name for such children? Children of slaves would be named Alheri, Nagode. 

 

7 What was likely to happen to daughters of concubines? They could be claimed or not. They did not have the status of legitimate children. 

 

8 In the 19th century, did concubinage increase or decrease over time? It was not prevalent. Most people were averse to having slave concubines. 

 

9 What happened to concubines in the 20th  century? They became more numerous in number. 

 

10 Are there still concubines today?  Yes. 

 

11 If so, for what reasons do women become concubines today? Greed; desire to secure a means of livelihood; as a means of obtaining money to take care of their children. 

Section 6

 

1 What was the attitude of a master to his slave? Hard-hearted owners used their slaves badly. They were very common. Some were very good to their slaves. 

 

2 What was the attitude of a slave to his master? Obedience and affection if the owner was good; fear and hatred, indifferent attitude if owner was cruel. 

 

3 To whom would a master marry his slave 

 

3a if it was a male slave? A hard-working, faithful slave. 

 

3b if it was a female slave? A well-to-do person. 

 

4 Were household slaves considered as of higher status than farm slaves? Yes. 

 

5 Did slaves become junior members of the family of their owner? Yes, if such slaves bought themselves out of slavery. 

 

6 What was the status of the child of a slave, if that child was born 

 

6a in the master’s house? (answer to both 6a and 6b) the child would still be a slave. 

 

6b on the farm?  

 

7 Was there any special name for such children? Yes, but such names were chosen by the parent(s). 

 

8a In the 19th century, did many slaves gain freedom through murgu payments? Yes. 

 

8b Is murgu a Hausa word? Yes. What word is used in Ilorin for murgu?  [question mark—presumably “don’t know”] 

 

8c What other ways were there in which a slave could be given or gain his or her freedom? If the owner considered himself/herself wealthy enough, slaves could be freed in homage to God’s assistance. 

 

9 Were slaves owned by families, or by individuals, or both? Only well-to-do individuals. 

 

10 Did women as well as men own slaves? Yes, both. 

 

11a How could people tell the difference between a slave and a free person? Slaves had distinguishing cultural/tribal marks. 

 

11b For example, were slaves given any distinguishing marks? Yes (tribal marks). 

 

11c Did they have a different accent from free people? Yes, their tribal languages. 

 

11d Did they behave in any way differently from free people? Yes. 

 

11e Did they retain their old religion? No, they followed the religion of their owners. 

 

11f Did they retain the customs of their home areas? At first; they were gradually absorbed into the culture of their new environment. 

 

11g Did they retain the dances of their home areas? Yes. 

Section 7: The Colonial Period

 

When the British arrived, it is said that in many places there was a large slave exodus—that many slaves departed. 

 

1 Was this true of Ilorin? Yes. 

 

2 What proportion of the slaves left Ilorin and its districts? They were many. 

 

3 If a large number left, what were the effects of this 

 

3a in the town? [same answer to both in the town and in the districts] The removal of slave labour led to labour disorganisation, the creation of a vacuum in domestic labour. 

 

3b in the districts? 

 

4 Or, did many of the slaves stay? Yes, many stayed and were absorbed into the society. 

 

5 If so, why did they stay? Some did not know where to go. Many others did not want to leave the benevolent life they enjoyed. 

 

6 What happened to the slaves who stayed? They were absorbed into society as free men. They had the opportunity to take up any vocation. 

 

7 In what way did their situation or status change? 

 

8 It is said that in the 19th century, when elite families kept up large households, they wanted more work/produce out of the slaves, but after the colonial period began, they wanted more the recognition from their slaves. 

 

8a Is this true? No.  

 

8b If so, why? [no answer recorded] 

 

9 Did the ex-slaves bring/send in less produce after the colonial period had begun? Yes. 

 

10 Did many of the slaves enter into murgu arrangements with their masters after the colonial period had begun? No, not many of them. 

 

11 How did the ex-slaves gain access to farming land? They were given land to farm, but most of the time, on a temporary basis. 

Section 8: The 1950s 

 

1 For what reasons did people join the Ilorin Talaka Parapo 

 

1a in the town? [same answer to both in the town and in the districts] So that life could be easier for them. So that they could have a say in their own governance. 

 

1b in the districts? 

 

2 Do you think it was largely because they were influenced by people in the Action Group, or not? Yes. They considered the A.G. closer to the common people. 

 

3 Why was it that people in the districts had to get permission from the NA before they could open a market? The Native Authority owned the land, and there was a law making it mandatory to obtain official approval to use such land. 

 

4a Who were the leaders of the “Afin Parapo”? People of  Aafin area. 

 

4b Who were the members of the “Okemale Parapo”? Okemale people. 

 

4c Who were their respective leaders? The groups had leaders like Maito, Dende Alatare, Adebimpe. 

 

4d Why did they split off from each other? Their philosophies were different. 

 

4e What different views did the two groups hold? Both claimed to champion the poor people’s cause, but leaders of the Afin Parapo were hegemonic: their intention was to sustain the status quo—the leadership of the Fulani group.* 

[note written by Dr. Bolaji at the end of question 4] *Question 4—not really helpful answers. But the people of Afin really represented areas within and surrounding the palace (and those who claimed to be related to them by birth). The Okemale is the rest of indigenous Ilorin. 

Section 9: Iwofa (iwọfa) 

 

1 Can you explain what is meant by iwofa? Whenever a person wanted to borrow money, he/she would take a child to the borrower where the child would remain until the money was repaid. 

 

2 Why did people become iwofa? They became iwofa when their parents needed money and gave them out as security. 

 

3 What special circumstances might lead a person to put his/her child or himself in pawn? When in serious and embarrassing financial problems. 

 

4 Were iwofa usually male, or both male and female? Both male and female. 

 

5 Would a man put his wife in pawn? No, this would  be against the institution of marriage and God’s wish. 

 

6 Would a person put his slave in pawn? No, a slave would react against this and would look for a means to escape. 

 

7 Was it usually a child who became iwofa? Yes, only children.* 

[note added by Dr. Bolaji] *Just a thought--?Would this be because children would not be sensitive to servitude because of their tender years, and would be less prone to feeling a sense of indignity? 

 

8 Could a child gain any advantages from being iwofa? No. 

 

9 Was the iwofa a security for the eventual repayment of a debt, or did the iwofa’s service actually repay the debt? It was a security for debt. 

 

10 Was any interest charged on a debt when the creditor had been given an iwofa? No. 

 

11 Apart from the iwofa system, could people also borrow money on interest in the olden days? Yes.  

 

12 If so, which did they prefer, to borrow money on interest, or to make an iwofa agreement? Whichever would serve an immediate need. 

 

13 Why did they prefer this [whichever] one? Immediate interest dictated line of action. 

 

14 In other parts of Yorubaland it is said that in the olden days people were put in pawn to obtain money for the redemption of their relatives from slavery. Was this true in Ilorin? Yes. 

 

15 In the olden days, did a scarcity of cowries lead to more people being put in pawn? Yes, it could have been. 

 

16 Why would a creditor want an iwofa? What were the advantages of this system for the creditor? An iwofa was like a slave who could be used for any labour without question. 

 

17 When the slaves were freed at the beginning of the colonial period, did this lead to more people becoming iwofa? [no answer recorded] 

 

18 If so, why was this? [no answer recorded] 

 

19 Is there any iwofa system nowadays? Not any more in Ilorin 

 

20 If not, then when did the system die out? Everyone became a Muslim. 

 

21 Why did the system die out? Same answer as above. 

Section 10 

1 I have heard that there was a slave in Ilorin called Dada (or Omo Dada?) who became a great warrior. 

 

1a Is this true? Yes. 

 

1b If so, where did he live? At Okekere, beyond Ọmọda. 

 

1c Did he serve under one of the major chiefs? Yes. 

 

1d Can you tell me anything about his career, for example:  

 

What wars did he fight in? Can’t remember. 

 

Why is he remembered as a great warrior? He was a fearless, dogged fighter, and his offspring were also prominent.

5.2b Interview with Alhaji Yusuf Olore 

 

Who was the interviewer: Dr. E.B. Bolaji and Mr. Shehu T. Salami 

 

Date: 28th October 1988 

 

Where the interview took place: Ile Olore, Okelele—Angua Ibagun, Ilorin 

 

Compound of the informant: Ile Olore, Okelele 

 

Approximate age of the informant: 96 years 

 

Any other relevant details about the informant: He was an enthusiastic informant, though, like all others, he expected to be given financial compensation—which he was. His name is Alhaji Yusuf Olore, and he is the Baba Salẹ Oloogun Enia Dudu (the Baba Salẹ of Native Herbalists). Alhaji Yusuf is the Atẹle Olore (the official second-in-command to the Magaji). He is a fine man with deep knowledge of local Ilorin history. He spoke about the reigns of the following Emirs—Mama, Shuaibu, Abdulkadir, as well as the present Emir, Zulu Gambari. He said he was still small during the reign of Oba Mama, but knew a bit of what happened in Ilorin at the time. 

 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: [see above]. 

 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld: He had no objection whatever. 

 

Names of any other people present at the interview: (1) Mr. S.A. Azeez; (2) Baba Magaji 

 

 

The 19th Century : Section 1 

 

1 About what proportion of the population of Ilorin and its hinterland were slaves, in the 19th century? The slave population was much less than that of the freeborn. 

 

2a Were many slaves used in the army? Yes, especially those who had been warriors before. 

 

2b What were they used for in the army? Cooking, washing/cleaning the clothes of warriors, taking care of horses used in wars. 

 

3 Were many slaves used on the farms? Would it be true to say that the majority of slaves were used on the farms? Yes, especially by the wealthy. 

 

4a Did some important people have large plantations worked by slaves? Yes. 

 

4b Can you give any examples? Yes—(1) Ladeyọ, (2) Akanji Larokun, (3) Karibuje. 

 

5 In the 19th century, did slaves working on the farms generally reside on the farms, or in town? Or both?  On the farms. 

 

6 Is it true to say that there were many large plantations/estates around Ilorin, or were there mostly small scattered holdings? Yes, there were many large farms, with slave labour. 

 

7a Can you estimate how many plantations there were with more than 100 slaves working on them? With more than 30? Cannot be specific, but some like Karibuje; Oja Adio; Asegbe (Oke Moro) had many slaves. 

 

7b About what proportion of farms had a few slaves, but less than 5? Not too many, because a poor man could only afford to buy a few slaves. 

 

8 It has been said that the 19th century Emirs tried to restrict the elite members to small scattered land holdings, so that they could not build up a consolidated power base outside the town— 

 

8a Is it true that they tried to do this? No, they did not stop people owning large farms. The Emir was not interested in farms, because the rich people used their slaves to serve the Emir, and all slaves were called “Ẹru Oba” (the Emir’s slaves). 

 

8b Did they succeed? [not applicable] 

 

9a If so, were elite members likely to have several small land holdings? (for 9, see 8 above)  [not applicable] 

 

9b Did they move their slaves from one to another? [no response recorded] 

 

10 Did slaves on the farms work in gangs under an overseer? Yes, they worked under recognised leaders.  

 

11a Did slaves work half the day for the master, then half the day for themselves? No, but they enjoyed a good life. 

 

11b Could they sell the produce they grew in their own time? They had no personal farms/holdings. 

 

12a Did slaves always work in gangs under an overseer? Or did they sometimes work on their own, and periodically bring/send in fixed amounts of produce for the master? They had leaders, but even when they worked without supervision, they were totally responsible to their owners. 

 

12b Which of these was the more common in the 19th century? Working in gangs. 

 

12c Under what circumstances did they work in gangs, and under what circumstances did they work on their own and send/bring in produce periodically? Fighting wars was a constant preoccupation, and slaves were always under supervision. If a slave found a means of buying his freedom, then he could work independently. 

 

13 If a farmer had just a few slaves, would he and his family work in the fields alongside the slaves? Yes. 

 

14a How much difference was there between slaves working on the farms and small-scale poor free farmers? Slave farms were much bigger and more numerous. 

 

14b In what ways were they different? Slave farms had larger yield. 

 

14c In what ways were they similar? Both slaves and small-scale farmers engaged in the actual physical work. 

 

15a Were women slaves also used on the farms? No. 

 

15b What kinds of work did they do there? No actual physical farm work. 

 

15c Was it the women slaves who carried the produce into the town? Yes, this was the only connection with the farms. Male slaves were also engaged in bringing farm produce to the town. 

 

16 In the late 19th century, it was reported that the war-chief Jimba was the owner of the small village Oko Jimba between Ilorin and Offa, where he had settled his slaves. 

 

16a Is this true? Yes. 

16b About how many slaves were there? Many, but can’t be definite. 

 

16c Was Jimba Oja also in existence at that time? Yes, and it is still in existence today.  

 

16d If so, what was sold there? By whom and to whom? All types of foodstuffs. People came from the surrounding villages to trade there. 

 

17 In the 1850s it was reported that Balogun Gambari Ali had “a village of 26,000 slaves of his own, all working in irons.” 

 

17a Did he have such a village? Yes. 

 

17b Where was it? There were many villages, not just one. 

 

17c About how many slaves were there? No specific number. They were shared into many of the villages under him, like Elemere, Alagbẹdẹ, Yeregi, Apoya, Olugbile, Marafa. 

Section 2 

 

1 Were slaves taught to be Muslims? Yes, but some kept rigidly to their pagan practices. 

 

2 Did they become good Muslims? Yes, those who accepted Islam did with total devotion. 

 

3a In Ilorin, how many people were members of the bori cult? Only the Hausas, because it was their cult. It still is. 

 

3b Did many slaves become members? For example, women slaves? Only Hausa slaves. 

 

3c Did many free born women become members? Can’t say, because the Yoruba, by tradition, did not join the cult. Only Hausas did. 

 

Section 3 

 

1 Where did the slaves come from? From wherever wars were fought, and those defeated were captured—Yorubaland, from up north, etc. 

 

2a Were slaves brought down from the north? Yes, just as slaves were taken up north for sale.  

 

2b Were these slaves bought by Ilorin people, or were they bought by traders from the south? They were bought by Ilorin people. 

 

3 In what markets in Ilorin were slaves sold? In front of the Emir’s palace  –  they had middle men, called Onidilali, like those selling livestock 

 

4a In what houses in Ilorin were slaves sold?(1) Ile Lakanla in Okelele; (2) Ile Eleru in Ọmọda. 

 

4b Is there a house (or houses) called 

 

Ile Aluweru?   X 

 

Ile Aroworeru?  XIle Olowoẹru  [same as Ile Eleru? See 4a]  

 

Ile Arowoteru?  X 

 

4c Where is this house?  [see 4a?] 

 

5 Is it true to say that the trade in slaves in Ilorin was especially important towards the end of the 19th century? It was very important. 

 

6a What happened to the slave traders in Ilorin after the slave trade ended? They lost their source of wealth. 

 

6b Did they go into other kinds of business?  Yes. 

 

6c If so, what? Buying and selling of foodstuffs; trading in general merchandise. 

 

Section 4 

 

1 What proportion of slaves in and around Ilorin were women? About 1/4. 

 

2 What tasks did women slaves perform? Buying for resale; all house work; cloth-weaving. 

 

3 Were slave women used for domestic tasks so that free wives could go into purdah?  Yes. 

 

4 What were women slaves most valued for?  House work. 

5 Which cost more, a male slave or a female slave? Male slaves—because of their physical superiority. 

 

6 Which were more in demand, male slaves or female slaves? Male slaves. 

Section 5 

 

1 What was the name for “concubine” in Ilorin? Friend. 

 

2 Were concubines always slaves?  No. Slaves were not used as “friends.” 

 

3 What was the status of a concubine who had borne a child to her master? She could not be legally married/attached to the father of her child. She would still be a slave, if there was any association at all. 

 

4 What was the status of a concubine who did not give birth? Just a friend without rights or claims. 

 

5 What was the status of the children of concubines? If born by a free woman, the status would be above slaves, but there would be no rights;  if born by slaves, they would be slaves. 

 

6 Was there any special name for such children? No. The father would give whatever name pleased his fancy. 

 

7 What was likely to happen to daughters of concubines? They could be given out in marriage, and for a dowry, by the father. Choice of husband was his. 

 

8 In the 19th century, did concubinage increase or decrease over time? It was not a common practice. 

 

9 What happened to concubines in the 20th century?  The number increased. 

 

10 Are there still concubines today? Yes; very prevalent in the society. 

 

11 If so, for what reasons do women become concubines today? Love of money in the main. 

 

Section 6 

 

1 What was the attitude of a master to his slave? He was in total control and would direct as he pleased. 

 

2 What was the attitude of a slave to his master? Slaves must of necessity/compulsion [give] respect and obedience to the owner. 

 

3 To whom would a master marry his slave 

 

3a if it was a male slave? Anyone he liked. 

 

3b if it was a female slave? Anyone who could pay whatever dowry or compensation demanded. 

 

4 Were household slaves considered as of higher status than farm slaves? They had the same status. Only a slave’s behaviour or performance could earn preferential treatment. 

 

5 Did slaves become junior members of the family of their owner? Yes, when a slave had lived with a family for a long time and had children. Such children would be looked upon as members of the family. [However] Such slaves, or their descendants, were expected to be of good conduct always, or they would be told the story of their origin as slaves. 

 

6 What was the status of the child of a slave, if that child was born 

 

6a in the master’s house? Answer to both a and b—such a child was still a slave. 

 

6b on the farm?  

 

7 Was there any special name for such children? Such children would bear normal names, but would not bear any special family name or cognomen. 

 

8a In the 19th century, did many slaves gain freedom through murgu payments? Yes. 

 

8b Is murgu a Hausa word? Yes. What word is used in Ilorin for murgu? Ra ara (buy one’s freedom). 

 

8c What other ways were there in which a slave could be given or gain his or her freedom? A slave who was of exemplary character, and who had many children, could be given freedom. 

 

9 Were slaves owned by families, or by individuals, or both? Only by individuals. 

 

10 Did women as well as men own slaves? Both. 

 

11a How could people tell the difference between a slave and a free person? (1)  Slaves carried loads whenever out with the owner; (2) Slaves sat apart from free persons. 

 

11b For example, were slaves given any distinguishing marks? No, only the names they bore would be different. 

 

11c Did they have a different accent from free people? Initially; after some time they spoke the local dialect of Yoruba. 

 

11d Did they behave in any way differently from free people? None, but for the constraints of slavery. Men and women still behaved like individuals. 

 

11e Did they retain their old religion? Yes, though many later became Muslims. 

 

11f Did they retain the customs of their home areas? For a period,  until they were absorbed into the stronger Yoruba culture. 

 

11g Did they retain the dances of their home areas? For a while; later they followed the customs of their masters. 

 

Section 7: The Colonial Period 

When the British arrived, it is said that in many places there was a large slave exodus—that many slaves departed. 

 

1 Was this true of Ilorin? Yes. 

 

2 What proportion of the slaves left Ilorin and its districts? They were many. 

 

3 If a large number left, what were the effects of this 

 

3a in the town? Answer to both a and b: They created a labour vacuum and erstwhile slave masters had to readjust to life without slaves. 

 

3b in the districts? 

 

4 Or, did many of the slaves stay? Those who left were more than those who stayed at Ilorin. 

 

5 If so, why did they stay? They were well-treated by owners. They looked on themselves as members of their owners’ families. 

 

6 What happened to the slaves who stayed? They were free, and were absorbed into the society. 

 

7 In what way did their situation or status change? They took part in family activities with their former owners as free men. 

 

8 It is said that in the 19th century, when elite families kept up large households, they wanted more work/produce out of the slaves, but after the colonial period began, they wanted more the recognition from their slaves. 

 

8a Is this true? Yes. 

 

8b If so, why? Because of past humane treatment, perhaps. 

 

9 Did the ex-slaves bring/send in less produce after the colonial period had begun? Yes, those who brought in produce brought only small quantities. 

 

10 Did many of the slaves enter into murgu arrangements with their masters after the colonial period had begun? No, they did not need it since colonial laws forbad molestation or continued enslavement. 

 

11 How did the ex-slaves gain access to farming land? They paid isakọlẹ (land dues) to landowners to obtain land. Farm produce could also be given from time to time in appreciation. 

Section 8: The 1950s 

 

1 For what reasons did people join the Ilorin Talaka Parapo 

 

1a in the town? Answer to both a and b—because of suffering from self-seeking politicians. 

1b in the districts? 

2 Do you think it was largely because they were influenced by people in the Action Group, or not? No, because

the Talaka Parapo was a party of ease, of regard for individuals. 

3 Why was it that people in the districts had to get permission from the NA before they could open a market? Before party politics, only Native Authorities could establish/found markets. 

 

4a Who were the leaders of the “Afin Parapo”? Those living in Afin area for the development/advantage of their area. 

 

4b Who were the members of the “Okemale” Parapo”? People of Okemale area, for their own benefit. 

 

4c Who were their respective leaders? Maito and Adebimpe for Okemale. 

 

4d Why did they split off from each other? Because of self-seeking interests. 

 

4e What different views did the two groups hold? They had different views on leadership, as well as the priorities of the party. 

Section 9: Iwofa (iwọfa) 

 

1 Can you explain what is meant by iwofa? Any person given in bondage or servitude as guarantee or security for a loan. 

 

2 Why did people become iwofa? Because their parents/relations needed money to carry out certain projects. 

 

3 What special circumstances might lead a person to put his/her child or himself in pawn? Dire need of money. For example, if three children in a family were old enough to marry, and there was no money, the youngest could be given out

as iwofa to obtain money for the other two. 

 

4 Were iwofa usually male, or both male and female? Both male and female. 

 

5 Would a man put his wife in pawn? Not at all. 

 

6 Would a person put his slave in pawn? No, a slave in such a position was considered sold. Slaves would never be returned. 

 

7 Was it usually a child who became iwofa? Yes. 

 

8 Could a child gain any advantages from being iwofa? Yes, such a child would become very wise to the ways of  life. 

 

9 Was the iwofa a security for the eventual repayment of a debt, or did the iwofa’s service actually repay the debt? A security only. 

 

10 Was any interest charged on a debt when the creditor had been given an iwofa? No. Iwofa and owo ele (money with interest) were different from each other. 

 

11Apart from the iwofa system, could people also borrow money on interest in the olden days? Yes. 

 

12 If so, which did they prefer, to borrow money on interest, or to make an iwofa agreement? Iwofa could be more convenient. 

 

13 Why did they prefer this [whichever] one? A loan could be paid back at convenience since only the sum borrowed would be paid back, whatever the length of time. 

 

14 In other parts of Yorubaland it is said that in the olden days people were put in pawn to obtain money for the redemption of their relatives from slavery. Was this true in Ilorin? No. In Ilorin, children were given out to obtain money for personal/family use, not to buy freedom. Such children returned home after the loan was paid. 

 

15 In the olden days, did a scarcity of cowries lead to more people being put in pawn? Yes, because as currency, it was very much in demand. 

 

16 Why would a creditor want an iwofa? What were the advantages of this system for the creditor? Whatever service was performed by the iwofa was free and something of a bonus since the sum lent out would still be paid back in full. 

 

17 When the slaves were freed at the beginning of the colonial period, did this lead to more people becoming iwofa? The laws against slavery also affected pawning. So pawning was not prevalent; it was practiced under the cover of domestic servants. 

 

18 If so, why was this? The colonial masters frowned at any form of enforced service or enslavement. 

 

19 Is there any iwofa system nowadays? No, not any more. People, young and old, are too civilised for that. 

 

20 If not, then when did the system die out? [answer to 20 is given in 21] 

 

21 Why did the system die out? During the advent of white colonial rulers. 

 

Section 10 

 

1 I have heard that there was a slave in Ilorin called Dada (or Omo Dada?) who 

became a great warrior. 

 

1a Is this true? Yes 

 

1b If so, where did he live? In Angua Ajikobi in Pakata area of Ilorin. 

 

1c Did he serve under one of the major chiefs? Yes. 

 

1d Can you tell me anything about his career, for example:  

 

What wars did he fight in? He fought in the wars of Orimope, Ogun Ọfa (Offa War) and Ogun Ọyọ Ile. 

 

Why is he remembered as a great warrior? Because he was courageous, and because he served the Native Authority faithfully. 

 

5.2c Interview with Anonymous Informant 1 

 

Who was the interviewer: Dr. E.B. Bolaji and Alhaji Tunde Ẹlẹsin 

 

Date: 2nd November 1988 

 

Where the interview took place: Ile Agbogi 

 

Compound of the informant: Ile Agbogi, Apata-Olowo area, Ọmọda, Ilorin 

 

Approximate age of the informant: Over 75 years 

 

Any other relevant details about the informant: He enjoyed talking about Ilorin issues to patient listeners. 

 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: He was, after assurance that he would be compensated, which he was. 

 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld: Yes 

 

Names of any other people present at the interview: Mr. Ibrahim Audu; Morufu Gidado 

 

The 19th Century : Section 1 

 

1 About what proportion of the population of Ilorin and its hinterland were slaves, in the 19th century? There were many slaves, but the predominating number of inhabitants were free born. Many of the slaves were captured in wars; many others

were bought. 

 

2a Were many slaves used in the army? Yes; all leaders had to deploy slaves to fight in wars. 

 

2b What were they used for in the army? The brave ones fought in wars; others carried loads, others still provided food for the horses, put up tents and prepared food. 

 

3 Were many slaves used on the farms? Would it be true to say that the majority of slaves were used on the farms? Yes, slaves were used on farms, and the more the number of slaves, the bigger the farms. 

 

4a Did some important people have large plantations worked by slaves? Yes. 

 

4b Can you give any examples? They were the people considered as rich at that time. One of them was JAMUROGO the Balogun Ajikobi. 

 

5 In the 19th century, did slaves working on the farms generally reside on the farms, or in town? Or both? Both. 

 

6 Is it true to say that there were many large plantations/estates around Ilorin, or were there mostly small scattered holdings? There were some large farms, but not only slaves were employed on the farms. 

 

7a Can you estimate how many plantations there were with more than 100 slaves working on them? With more than 30? (Both) about 50 farms. 

 

7b About what proportion of farms had a few slaves, but less than 5? They were many; but some holdings had more iwofa than slaves. 

 

8 It has been said that the 19th century Emirs tried to restrict the elite members to small scattered land holdings, so that they could not build up a consolidated power base outside the town— 

 

8a Is it true that they tried to do this? No. The elite had many farms and the Emirs did not interfere with them, since it was mandatory for them to give part of their harvest to the Emir every year. 

 

8b Did they succeed?  

 

9a If so, were elite members likely to have several small land holdings? They had large farms where they kept their slaves. All titled men had their own farms. 

 

9b Did they move their slaves from one to another?  [no response recorded] 

 

10 Did slaves on the farms work in gangs under an overseer? Yes, mostly according to seniority but the children of their owners were in supervising authority. 

 

11a Did slaves work half the day for the master, then half the day for themselves? The slaves could not work for themselves. Only the iwofa could do that. 

 

11b Could they sell the produce they grew in their own time? They had no private time. The only thing they could sell was whatever they stole from their owners. 

 

12a Did slaves always work in gangs under an overseer? Or did they sometimes work on their own, and periodically bring/send in fixed amounts of produce for the master? Slaves worked under leaders who were loyal to their masters. Slaves worked in gangs when necessary. 

 

12b Which of these was the more common in the 19th century? Working under chosen and loyal leaders. 

 

12c Under what circumstances did they work in gangs, and under what circumstances did they work on their own and send/bring in produce periodically? They worked in gangs when owners needed them for specific assignments that

necessitated grouping. 

 

13 If a farmer had just a few slaves, would he and his family work in the fields alongside the slaves? Yes. This would not mean any change in status, for “a slave knows himself as a slave and an iwofa knows himself as such.” 

 

14a How much difference was there between slaves working on the farms and small-scale poor free farmers? The difference between enslavement and freedom. 

 

14b In what ways were they different? A freeborn could sell the proceeds of his farm, a slave had no farm of his own. 

 

14c In what ways were they similar? Just as slaves worked the farms, so did the poor free farmers. 

 

15a Were women slaves also used on the farm? Yes. 

 

15b What kinds of work did they do there? Planting, harvesting and carrying of harvests to town. 

 

15c Was it the women slaves who carried the produce into the town? Male and female slaves, and even members of the owner’s family. 

 

16 In the late 19th century, it was reported that the war-chief Jimba was the owner of the small village Oko Jimba between Ilorin and Offa, where he had settled his slaves. 

 

16a Is this true? Yes. 

 

16b About how many slaves were there? There were many slaves, but his relations also lived there. 

 

16c Was Jimba Oja also in existence at that time? Yes. 

 

16d If so, what was sold there? By whom and to whom? Yams, maize, cotton, guinea corn, etc. Slaves came to sell these items, but were always followed by owners’ people. 

 

17 In the 1850s it was reported that Balogun Gambari Ali had “a village of 26,000 slaves of his own, all working in irons.” (Response) Only slaves who tried to escape, or did but were caught were put in irons. It was not common to maltreat slaves. 

 

17a Did he have such a village? Yes, but the slaves were not that many in number. Also they were not shackled. 

 

17b Where was it? On the way to Osi. 

 

17c About how many slaves were there? There were many, but one could not be definite about number. 

 

Section 2 

 

1 Were slaves taught to be Muslims? Yes. 

 

2 Did they become good Muslims? Yes. Most slaves adhered strictly to the teachings/injunctions of their owners, even on religious matters. 

 

3a In Ilorin, how many people were members of the bori cult? It was a taboo for Muslims to join secret cults. The Yorubas who still practiced their ancient rites joined the Ogboni Cult. The Bori Cult belonged to the Hausas.  

 

3b Did many slaves become members? For example, women slaves? Slave women’s lives were conditioned by the instructions of their owners, so that if any of them joined the cult, it would not be to the knowledge of their owners. 

 

3c Did many free born women become members? Yes. 

 

Section 3 

 

1 Where did the slaves come from? Many were captured in the various wars; many others were brought from Hausaland. 

 

2a Were slaves brought down from the north? Yes. 

 

2b Were these slaves bought by Ilorin people, or were they bought by traders from the south? Traders took their wares to the south for sale, or barter. Often times, traders sold their goods and bought slaves for sale at home in Ilorin. 

 

3 In what markets in Ilorin were slaves sold? In the markets of Jimba or Balla. 

 

4a In what houses in Ilorin were slaves sold? Ile Eleni (Ọmọda area) and Ile Kannike (Gambari area). 

 

4b Is there a house (or houses) called 

 

Ile Aluweru? 

 

Ile Aroworeru? Yes 

 

Ile Arowoteru? 

 

4c Where is this house?  Isalẹ Gunniyan. 

 

5 Is it true to say that the trade in slaves in Ilorin was especially important towards the end of the 19th century? Yes it was, as it was the best means of labour on the farms. 

 

6a What happened to the slave traders in Ilorin after the slave trade ended? They lost their source of wealth. 

 

6b Did they go into other kinds of business? Yes. 

 

6c If so, what? General trading; trade in cattle from the north, etc. 

 

Section 4 

 

1 What proportion of slaves in and around Ilorin were women? About one third. 

 

2 What tasks did women slaves perform? Planting of crops; cooking; spinning cotton; pounding yam flour; grinding corn; sweeping; washing of clothes. 

 

3 Were slave women used for domestic tasks so that free wives could go into purdah? Yes. 

 

4 What were women slaves most valued for? Domestic work. 

 

5 Which cost more, a male slave or a female slave? A male slave. 

 

6 Which were more in demand, male slaves or female slaves? Both. 

 

Section 5 

 

1 What was the name for “concubine” in Ilorin? Orẹ (friend). 

 

2 Were concubines always slaves? No. 

5.2d Interview with Anonymous Informant 2 

 

Who was the interviewer: Alhaji Babatunde Ẹlẹsin 

 

Date: 15th November 1988 

 

Where the interview took place: Ile Ojibara, Apata-Olowo in Ọmọda area 

 

Compound of the informant: Ile Ojibara 

 

Approximate age of the informant: 80 years 

 

Any other relevant details about the informant: 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: He was cooperative, on the assurance that he would be rewarded. He was. 

 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld: Yes 

 

Names of any other people present at the interview: Ibrahim Audu 

The 19th Century : Section 1 

 

1 About what proportion of the population of Ilorin and its hinterland were slaves, in the 19th century? Slaves were numerous. 

 

2a Were many slaves used in the army? Answer to a and b—Yes, they were used for carrying loads, for cooking, for putting up tents. 

 

2b What were they used for in the army? 

 

3 Were many slaves used on the farms? Would it be true to say that the majority of slaves were used on the farms? Yes, for the production of necessary food materials for consumption or sale. 

 

4a Did some important people have large plantations worked by slaves? Yes. 

 

4b Can you give any examples? Ojibara, the father of the informant, was one. 

 

5 In the 19th century, did slaves working on the farms generally reside on the farms, or in town? Or both? They lived on the farms where accommodation was provided. Only domestic slaves, mainly female, lived in the town. 

 

6 Is it true to say that there were many large plantations/estates around Ilorin, or were there mostly small scattered holdings? There were large farms, for example, Ballah. 

 

7a Can you estimate how many plantations there were with more than 100 slaves working on them? With more than 30? Ballah, Alapa, Ipaiye were some. 

 

7b About what proportion of farms had a few slaves, but less than 5? A very large proportion. 

 

8 It has been said that the 19th century Emirs tried to restrict the elite members to small scattered land holdings, so that they could not build up a consolidated power base outside the town— 

 

8a Is it true that they tried to do this? No. The Emirs did not prevent the ownership of large farms. At the end of the year, the Emir’s portion of farm produce must be sent to him. So, it was better to have large sources. 

 

8b Did they succeed?  [not applicable] 

 

9a If so, were elite members likely to have several small land holdings? [answer appears to cover all people who had farms, elite or not] There were big farms just as there were very small holdings. 

 

9b Did they move their slaves from one to another? [no response recorded] 

 

10 Did slaves on the farms work in gangs under an overseer?  Yes. 

 

11a Did slaves work half the day for the master, then half the day for themselves? No, but they were free to do what was called abuṣẹ--unauthorised work during a slave’s free time. 

 

11b Could they sell the produce they grew in their own time? Yes, they could. 

 

12a Did slaves always work in gangs under an overseer? Or did they sometimes work on their own, and periodically bring/send in fixed amounts of produce for the master? They worked in gangs under overseers, and not on their own. 

 

12b Which of these was the more common in the 19th century? Working in groups 

 

12c Under what circumstances did they work in gangs, and under what circumstances did they work on their own and send/bring in produce periodically? Slaves could work on their own when freed from slave gangs who then treated them as free. 

 

13 If a farmer had just a few slaves, would he and his family work in the fields alongside the slaves? Yes; it did not affect their status as free people. 

 

14a How much difference was there between slaves working on the farms and small-scale poor free farmers? Slaves knew themselves as such and the free born were looked upon as such. 

 

14b In what ways were they different? Slaves worked for owners; the free born worked for themselves. 

 

14c In what ways were they similar? They all engaged in manual work. 

 

15a Were women slaves also used on the farm? Yes 

 

15b What kinds of work did they do there? General work—cooking, carrying of harvested crops to town. 

 

15c Was it the women slaves who carried the produce into the town? Male slaves did too. 

 

16 In the late 19th century, it was reported that the war-chief Jimba was the owner of the small village Oko Jimba between Ilorin and Offa, where he had settled his slaves. 

 

16a Is this true? Yes. 

 

16b About how many slaves were there? They were many. 

 

16c Was Jimba Oja also in existence at that time? Yes.  

 

16d If so, what was sold there? By whom and to whom? Slaves and farm produce. 

 

17 In the 1850s it was reported that Balogun Gambari Ali had “a village of 26,000 slaves of his own, all working in irons.” 

 

17a Did he have such a village? Yes. 

 

17b Where was it? [no answer recorded] 

 

17c About how many slaves were there? [no answer recorded] 

 

 

Section 2 

 

1 Were slaves taught to be Muslims? Yes, because their owners were Muslims. 

 

2 Did they become good Muslims? Yes. 

 

3a In Ilorin, how many people were members of the bori cult? Only Hausa slaves. Free born Ilorin people did not join. 

 

3b Did many slaves become members? For example, women slaves? It was not a sanctioned cult, so membership was secret. 

 

3c Did many free born women become members?  No, unless they did so in secret. 

Section 3 

 

1 Where did the slaves come from? They were bought or captured in war. 

 

2a Were slaves brought down from the north? Yes, from Hausaland. 

 

2b Were these slaves bought by Ilorin people, or were they bought by traders from the south? Apart from Ilorin people, there were buyers from other areas in the south. 

 

3 In what markets in Ilorin were slaves sold? Isalẹ Gambari was one. 

 

4a In what houses in Ilorin were slaves sold? (1) Ile Ẹlẹru (in Ọmọda; (2) Ile Alowoeru in Isalẹ Gunniyan area 

 

4b Is there a house (or houses) called 

 

Ile Aluweru? 

 

Ile Aroworeru?   Called Alowoeru. 

 

Ile Arowoteru? 

 

4c Where is this house? Isalẹ Gunniyan area. 

 

5 Is it true to say that the trade in slaves in Ilorin was especially important towards the end of the 19th century? Yes it was. 

 

6a What happened to the slave traders in Ilorin after the slave trade ended? Their slaves were no longer their property. So they lost their source of wealth. 

 

6b Did they go into other kinds of business? General trade and farming. 

Section 4 

 

1 What proportion of slaves in and around Ilorin were women?  They were many. 

 

2 What tasks did women slaves perform? House chores; carrying farm produce to town from farms. 

 

3 Were slave women used for domestic tasks so that free wives could go into purdah? Yes. 

 

4 What were women slaves most valued for? Performing household duties, and,  occasionally, becoming wives. 

 

5 Which cost more, a male slave or a female slave? A male slave, but a beautiful female slave could cost a lot of money. 

 

6 Which were more in demand, male slaves or female slaves? Male slaves were more in demand, because of their physical strength. 

 

Section 5 

 

1 What was the name for “concubine” in Ilorin? Ọrẹ (friend). 

 

2 Were concubines always slaves? No. 

 

3 What was the status of a concubine who had borne a child to her master? She became a wife and was treated like a free born. 

 

4 What was the status of a concubine who did not give birth? She either remained a concubine or the friendship was terminated. 

 

5 What was the status of the children of concubines? Such children were treated as free born and therefore accepted. 

 

6 Was there any special name for such children? They should not have distinguishing names. Such could put them at a great disadvantage. 

 

7 What was likely to happen to daughters of concubines? They wee also accepted as free born children. 

 

8 In the 19th century, did concubinage increase or decrease over time? It increased. 

 

9 What happened to concubines in the 20th century? It still thrived. 

 

10 Are there still concubines today? Yes. It has even become the vogue. 

 

11 If so, for what reasons do women become concubines today? Because of greed over money. 

Section 6 

 

1 What was the attitude of a master to his slave?A slave was treated as common property, except when a slave’s god conduct earned him/her special, humane treatment. 

 

2 What was the attitude of a slave to his master? To respect, obey, and give total loyalty to the owner. 

 

3 To whom would a master marry his slave 

 

3a if it was a male slave? Anyone who pleased him/her. 

 

3b if it was a female slave? To a favourite male slave, or to anyone else favoured by the owner. 

 

4 Were household slaves considered as of higher status than farm slaves? No, farm slaves were more important, as the source of wealth and prestige. 

 

5 Did slaves become junior members of the family of their owner? Yes, if such slaves were of impeccable character. Such a slave could have the status of a son or daughter in the family. 

 

6 What was the status of the child of a slave, if that child was born 

6a in the master’s house? Answer to both a and b—Whatever the place, such a child was accepted as part of the family. 

 

6b on the farm?  

 

7 Was there any special name for such children? [answer consists only of an exclamation mark or possibly question mark] 

 

8a In the 19th century, did many slaves gain freedom through murgu? Some of them did. 

 

8b Is murgu a Hausa word? Yes. What word is used in Ilorin for murgu? [no answer recorded] 

 

8c What other ways were there in which a slave could be given or gain his or her freedom? (1) If a master fell in love with a female slave, she could be freed to become his wife. (2) A slave with exceptional behaviour could be freed. 

 

9 Were slaves owned by families, or by individuals, or both? [no answer recorded] 

 

10 Did women as well as men own slaves? Yes. 

 

11a How could people tell the difference between a slave and a free person? A free born was seldom given the sort of off-hand treatment given to a slave. 

 

11b For example, were slaves given any distinguishing marks? Yes, their marks were different from those of free born children. 

 

11c Did they have a different accent from free people? Since they were strangers, their accents reflected those of their homeland. 

 

11d Did they behave in any way differently from free people? Yes. 

 

11e Did they retain their old religion? No, they took to the religion of their owners. 

 

11f Did they retain the customs of their home areas? No. 

 

11g Did they retain the dances of their home areas? Not after some time. They became assimilated into their owners’ culture. 

Section 7: The Colonial Period 

 

When the British arrived, it is said that in many places there was a large slave exodus—that many slaves departed. 

 

1 Was this true of Ilorin? Yes. 

 

2 What proportion of the slaves left Ilorin and its districts? Majority of the slave population. 

 

3 If a large number left, what were the effects of this 

 

3a in the town? Answer to both a and b—A labour vacuum was created in both town and districts. 

 

3b in the districts? 

4 Or, did many of the slaves stay? Still many stayed. 

 

5 If so, why did they stay? They had wives and children; they also felt contentec. 

 

6 What happened to the slaves who stayed?  They made Ilorin their home and were absorbed. 

 

7 In what way did their situation or status change? They were given the recognition and respect given to the free born. 

 

8 It is said that in the 19th century, when elite families kept up large households, they wanted more work/produce out of the slaves, but after the colonial period began, they wanted more the recognition from their slaves. 

 

8a Is this true? Yes. 

 

8b If so, why? Such recognition from former slaves enhanced their present social status. 

 

9 Did the ex-slaves bring/send in less produce after the colonial period had begun? There was very little produce. 

 

10 Did many of the slaves enter into murgu arrangements with their masters after the colonial period had begun? There was no need for it. 

 

11 How did the ex-slaves gain access to farming land? Depending on a cordial relationship, the former owners gave land to their former slaves. 

Section 8: The 1950s 

 

1 For what reasons did people join the Ilorin Talaka Parapo 

 

1a in the town? Answer to both a and b—I.T.P. looked after the interests of the common people, [in contrast to] the earlier parties whose leaders knew only themselves and their kin. 

 

1b in the districts? 

 

2 Do you think it was largely because they were influenced by people in the Action Group, or not? Yes, it was believed that the A.G. looked after the interests of the masses. 

 

3 Why was it that people in the districts had to get permission from the NA before they could open a market? The people were controlled by the N.A., which was itself controlled by the Emir. 

 

4a Who were the leaders of the “Afin Parapo”? Government officials who were mainly from the royalty. 

 

4b Who were the members of the “Okemale” Parapo”? From Idiape to Adeta, to Olojẹ and Pakata. 

 

4c Who were their respective leaders? Sule Maito of Isalẹ Aluko and Alhaji Buraimoh Alatare. 

 

4d Why did they split off from each other? There were divergent interests. 

 

4e What different views did the two groups hold? The Afin Parapo were in power and were only interested in maintaining themselves in power, while Okemale Parapo leaders wanted the interests of the masses to be paramount. 

 

Section 9: Iwofa (iwọfa) 

 

1 Can you explaiin what is meant by iwofa? Iwofa is the system of using a person as security for borrowed money. 

 

2 Why did people become iwofa? Because of money borrowed which needed some sort of security. 

 

3 What special circumstances might lead a person to put his/her child or himself in pawn? Any undertaking that required heavy financial expenses. 

 

4 Were iwofa usually male, or both male and female? They were male. 

 

5 Would a man put his wife in pawn? No. 

 

6 Would a person put his slave in pawn? Yes, but in most cases it would be preferable to sell the slave. 

 

7 Was it usually a child who became iwofa? No, an adult could too, depending on good health and a good physique. 

 

8 Could a child gain any advantages from being iwofa? Learning a trade or how to do business. 

 

9 Was the iwofa a security for the eventual repayment of a debt, or did the iwofa’s service actually repay the debt? A security. 

 

10 Was any interest charged on a debt when the creditor had been given an iwofa? No. The iwofa was only a bonus. 

 

11Apart from the iwofa system, could people also borrow money on interest in the olden days? No; there was nothing like lending on interest. 

 

12 If so, which did they prefer, to borrow money on interest, or to make an iwofa agreement? To make an iwofa agreement. 

 

13 Why did they prefer this [whichever] one? Rhw original sum lent out would still be paid back, whatever services the iwofa performed. 

 

14 In other parts of Yorubaland it is said that in the olden days people were put in pawn to obtain money for the redemption of th eir relatives from slavery. Was this true in Ilorin? Yes. 

 

15 In the olden days, did a scarcity of cowries lead to more people being put in pawn? Yes. 

 

16 Why would a creditor want an iwofa? What were the advantages of this system for the creditor? The services performed by the iwofa were free, however invaluable such services were. 

 

17 When the slaves were freed at the beginning of the colonial period, did this lead to more people becoming iwofa? Yes. 

 

18 If so, why was this? Money became scarce, and many lost their source of wealth. 

 

19 Is there any iwofa system nowadays? No. 

 

20 If not, then when did the system die out? With the coming of colonial masters who legislated against all forms of forced service. 

 

21 Why did the system die out? Apart from governmental legislation against it, the society was becoming more and more civilised and no-one wanted the stigma of an iwofa for his/her family. 

Section 10

 

1 I have heard that there was a slave in Ilorin called Dada (or Omo Dada?) who became a great warrior. 

 

1a Is this true? Yes. 

 

1b If so, where did he live? Okekere area. 

 

1c Did he serve under one of the major chiefs? Yes, under Balogun Ajikobi. 

 

1d Can you tell me anything about his career, for example:  

 

What wars did he fight in? He fought in the Offa War. 

 

Why is he remembered as a great warrior? He distinguished himself in the wars. 

5.2e Interview with Anonymous Informant 3 

 

 

Who was the interviewer: Alhaji Tunde Ẹlẹsin 

 

Date: 11th December 1988 

 

Where the interview took place: Ile Olodo 

 

Compound of the informant: Ile Olodo, Okelele, Ilorin 

 

Approximate age of the informant: c. 72 years 

 

Any other relevant details about the informant: 

 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: He was, after a tip (of money). 

 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld: Yes 

 

Names of any other people present at the interview: a relative of the informant 

 

The 19th Century : Section 1 

 

1 About what proportion of the population of Ilorin and its hinterland were slaves, in the 19th century? There was a large population of slaves. The proportion to free born inhabitants cannot be ascertained. 

 

2a Were many slaves used in the army? Soldiers themselves were responsible for capturing slaves. [doesn’t answer the question] 

 

2b What were they used for  in the army? The slaves were not used for fighting wars. 

 

3 Were many slaves used on the farms? Would it be true to say that the majority of slaves were used on the farms? Yes. Most slaves were used for farm work and threading at the weaving looms. 

 

4a Did some important people have large plantations worked by slaves? The period of wars did not encourage large-scale faming. Everything was unsettled. But Balogun Gambari, for example, had a substantial farm and slave-holding. 

 

4b See 4a 

 

5 In the 19th century, did slaves working on the farms generally reside on the farms, or in town? Or both? They lived in the areas reserved for them in the compounds of their owners (security perhaps, since independent living could lead to revolt). 

 

6 Is it true to say that there were many large plantations/estates around Ilorin, or were there mostly small scattered holdings? Most of the farms were small holdings. Large farms could only thrive in a stable atmosphere, which was absent. 

 

7a Can you estimate how many plantations there were with more than 100 slaves working on them? With more than 30? I do not know if there were farms with such numbers of slaves.  

 

7b About what proportion of farms had a few slaves, but less than 5? Most farms had small groups of slaves only. 

 

8 It has been said that the 19th century Emirs tried to restrict the elite members to small scattered land holdings, so that they could not build up a consolidated power base outside the town— 

 

8a Is it true that they tried to do this? Since there was farming only on a small scale, the Emir did not need to pressurise the elite members. Also, the Emir’s household was supplied with food fom the barns of his chiefs and leading citizens. 

 

8b Did they succeed? 

 

9a If so, were elite members likely to have several small land holdings? Only enough farms for subsistence only. 

 

9b Did they move their slaves from one to another? Since most slave-owners had mere housefuls, they moved such slaves from place to place when necessary. 

 

10 Did slaves on the farms work in gangs under an overseer? Yes 

 

11a Did slaves work half the day for the master, then half the day for themselves? The slaves were fully engaged by their owners and had no time to do independent farming 

 

11b Could they sell the produce they grew in their own time? [not applicable here, given the answer to 11a] 

 

12a Did slaves always work in gangs under an overseer? Or did they sometimes work on their own, and periodically bring/send in fixed amounts of produce for the master? They worked under prescribed authority and did not work unsupervised. 

 

12b Which of these was the more common in the 19th century? [see above] 

 

12c Under what circumstances did they work in gangs, and under what circumstances did they work on their own and send/bring in produce periodically? [see above] 

 

13 If a farmer had just a few slaves, would he and his family work in the fields alongside the slaves? No, slaves and free born did not work together. 

 

14a How much difference was there between slaves working on the farms and small-scale poor free farmers? A slave is a slave, and a free born remains so. 

 

14b In what ways were they different? Free born farmers worked on their own. They could occasionally borrow slaves from owners for a fee 

 

14c In what ways were they similar? [no answer recorded] 

 

15a Were women slaves also used on the farm? No, or very sparingly. 

 

15b What kinds of work did they do there? To harvest cotton. 

 

15c Was it the women slaves who carried the produce into the town? No. But occaionally, women slaves could be so used if it was established that long stay had killed any desire to run awayl 

 

16 In the late 19th century, it was reported that the war-chief Jimba was the owner of the small village Oko Jimba between Ilorin and Offa, where he had settled his slaves. 

 

16a Is this true? Yes. 

 

16b About how many slaves were there? Very many. 

 

16c Was Jimba Oja also in existence at that time? Yes. 

 

16d If so, what was sold there? By whom and to whom? Nothing was sold there. [It was a market (ọja). See responses of other informants] 

 

17 In the 1850s it was reported that Balogun Gambari Ali had “a village of 26,000 slaves of his own, all working in irons.” 

 

17a Did he have such a village? Yes. 

 

17b Where was it? On the right-hand side of the road to Igbona Compound. 

 

17c About how many slaves were there? Many, but [to give] a particular number would be a mere guess. 

 

Section 2 

 

1 Were slaves taught to be Muslims? They were not given formal induction into any religious teaching. 

 

2 Did they become good Muslims? No. 

 

3a In Ilorin, how many people were members of the bori cult? Very few. 

 

3b Did many slaves become members? For example, women slaves? No, they did not join the cult. 

 

3c Did many free born women become members? Yes, especially women of Hausa origin. 

 

Section 3 

 

1 Where did the slaves come from? Slaves were brought mainly from Omu Aran and Offa areas. 

 

2a Were slaves brought down from the north? Except Jebba, I do not know of anywhere else in the north. 

 

2b Were these slaves bought by Ilorin people, or were they bought by traders from the south? They were bought by Ilorin

people. 

3 In what markets in Ilorin were slaves sold? Ode Balogun Gambari (in the front of Balogun Gambari’s Compound). 

 

4a In what houses in Ilorin were slaves sold? (1) Ile Seriki Gobir (2) Ile Balogun Gambari 

 

4b Is there a house (or houses) called 

 

Ile Aluweru? 

 

Ile Aroworeru? Yes 

 

Ile Arowoteru? 

 

4c Where is this house? In Agbaji (Abayawo area of Ilorin town). 

 

5 Is it true to say that the trade in slaves in Ilorin was especially important towards the end of the 19th century? Yes. 

 

6a What happened to the slave traders in Ilorin after the slave trade ended? Slave traders were (obviously) not happy about the ending of the slave trade. 

 

6b Did they go into other kinds of business? Yes. 

 

6c If so, what? Trade in clothes and cattle. 

 

Section 4 

 

1 What proportion of slaves in and around Ilorin were women? A high proportion—in fact, majority of the slaves were women. 

 

2 What tasks did women slaves perform? Yarning (owu riran) and weaving. [owu riran translates as “spun thread” so presumably “yarning” = spinning] 

 

3 Were slave women used for domestic tasks so that free wives could go into purdah? Very many female slaves were used for domestic tasks. 

 

*4 What were women slaves most valued for? They were very serviceable indeed. In fact, those who owned them enjoyed them more than housewives. 

 

5 Which cost more, a male slave or a female slave? Male slaves were more costly. 

 

6 Which were more in demand, male slaves or female slaves? Male slaves were more in demand. 

 

Note on section 4, number 4, by Dr. E.B. Bolaji 

The answer here is an example of how an ordinary question is ignored, and an unexpected answer/information given. If women slaves were more submissive, is this a natural conditioning arising from their helpless situation? Or were housewives so complacent as tolose the submissive nature that their religion (Islam) enjoins in all their dealings with their husbands? 

 

Section 5 

 

1 What was the name for “concubine” in Ilorin? Female friend, male friend, or “onitiju” (one who reacts to one [me?] with respect, consideration and affection). 

 

2 Were concubines always slaves? No. Free born women could be also. 

 

3 What was the status of a concubine who had borne a child to her master? She became a wife, or was looked upon as one. 

 

4 What ws the status of a concubine who did not give birth? She was still a slave. She became a wife when formal intention of marriage was given by the owner. 

 

5 What was the status of the children of concubines? They were accepted if publicly acknowledged. Even then they were

referred to as Ọmọ Ẹru (children of slaves). 

 

6 Was there any special name for such children? No, other than the derogatory (malicious) name Ọmọ Ẹru. 

 

7 What was likely to happen to daughters of concubines? Nothing. They were fully accepted if their behaviour was creditable. 

 

8 In the 19th century, did concubinage increase or decrease over time? There was little evidence of concubinage. People could buy slaves and turn them into women. 

 

9 What happened to concubines in the 20th century? Bonded women became many. 

 

10 Are there still concubines today? Yes. 

 

11 If so, for what reasons do women become concubines today? To satisfy need for materialism; for greed; to satisfy certain physical emotions that are long denied. 

 

Section 6 

 

1 What was the attitude of a master to his slave? Provision of sustenance—food, secondhand clothes, accommodation, etc. There were varying degrees of kindness and attention. 

 

2 What was the attitude of a slave to his master? To obey the master implicitly; to be faithful to the master in all things. 

 

3 To whom would a master marry his slave 

 

3a if it was a male slave? To relations. 

 

3b if it was a female slave? To his offspring or relations. 

 

4 Were household slaves considered as of higher status than farm slaves? Not really, though house slaves were in most casaes more in number—for effective control. 

 

5 Did slaves become junior members of the family of their owner?No, unti the advent of white men. 

 

6 What was the status of the child of a slave, if that child was born 

 

6a in the master’s house? Answer to a and b—In each case, he/she became a child of the household and had a claim over property of the father/owner. 

 

6b on the farm?  

 

7 Was there any special name for such children? No, they were given only family names. 

 

8a In the 19th century, did many slaves gain freedom through murgu? Yes. 

 

8b Is murgu a Hausa word? What word is used in Ilorin for murgu? [no answer recorded] 

 

8c What other ways were there in which a slave could be given or gain his or her freedom? Good behaviour could earn freedom. 

 

9 Were slaves owned by families, or by individuals, or both? Mainly by individuals who had enough money to buy them. 

 

10 Did women as well as men own slaves? Yes. 

 

11a How could people tell the difference between a slave and a free person? Behaviour, manner of dressing were ways of distinguishing them. 

 

11b For example, were slaves given any distinguishing marks? Yes, facial marks, whatever the owner thought fit. 

 

11c Did they have a different accent from free people? Yes, because they came from areas different from Ilorin. 

 

11d Did they behave in any way differently from free people? Very much so. 

 

11e Did they retain their old religion? No. They were guided by the preference(s) of their owners. 

 

11f Did they retain the customs of their home areas? No. 

 

11g *Did they retain the dances of their home areas? Not really, since they did not live in large groups from within the same culture. 

 

Note on section 6, number 11g, by Dr. E.B. Bolaji 

 

I wonder if, initially, slaves would not be dominated by their native culture. This may, of course, gradually give room to the culture ofarea of sojourn or enslavement. 

 

Section 7: The Colonial Period 

 

When the British arrived, it is said that in many places there was a large slave exodus—that many slaves departed. 

 

1 Was this true of Ilorin? Yes. 

 

2 What proportion of the slaves left Ilorin and its districts? Majority of them. 

 

3 If a large number left, what were the effects of this 

 

3a in the town? Answer to a and b—A lot of social disorganisation occurred. Slave owners, having lost their means of sustenance, were at a loose end. 

 

3b in the districts? 

 

4 Or, did many of the slaves stay? Yes, many still stayed behind, though not as many as those who left. 

 

5 If so, why did they stay? Many could no longer locate their home areas; many others, especially women, already had children and new lives. 

 

6 What happened to the slaves who stayed? They lived as best they could, depending on individual enterprise. 

 

7 In what way did their situation or status change? They became free citizens like the free born. 

 

8 It is said that in the 19th century, when elite families kept up large households, they wanted more work/produce out of the slaves, but after the colonial period began, they wanted more the recognition from their slaves. 

 

8a Is this true? Yes. 

 

8b If so, why? Mainly to remind the world of their former status as slave owners. 

 

9 Did the ex-slaves bring/send in less produce after the colonial period had begun? Yes. 

 

10 Did many of the slaves enter into murgu arrangements with their masters after the colonial period had begun? [no answer recorded] 

 

11 How did the ex-slaves gain access to farming land? Depending on the good conduct of each, former owners gave ex-slaves land for farming. Some owners employed the ex-slaves on wages. 

 

Section 8: The 1950s

1 For what reasons did people join the Ilorin Talaka Parapo 

1a in the town? Answer to a and b—People were subjected to a lot of hardship and thought established politicians did not serve their interests. They saw the T.P. as a way out. 

 

1b in the districts? 

 

2 Do you think it was largely because they were influenced by people in the Action Group, or not? Yes. They thought that members of the A.G. were closer to them and were more sincere. 

 

3 Why was it that people in the districts had to get permission from the NA before they could open a market? The native law required it. 

 

4a Who were the leaders of the “Afin Parapo”? Late Buari Ẹdun. 

 

4b Who were the members of the “Okemale” Parapo”? Late Alhaji Sule Maito. 

Note on 4a and 4b: Questions not directly answered, despite prompting. 

 

4c Who were their respective leaders? Buari Ẹdun and Sule Maito respectively. 

 

4d Why did they split off from each other? They were dominated by love of money. 

 

4e What different views did the two groups hold? Though they professed to work for the interest of the common people, they , in reality, sought personal power and material (monetary) benefit. 

 

Section 9: Iwofa (iwọfa) 

 

1 Can you explain what is meant by iwofa? Iwofa is a person given out in service (usually for a specified period) in exchange for a loan of money. 

 

2 Why did people become iwofa? Because of pecuniary/financial difficulties. 

 

3 What special circumstances might lead a person to put his/her child or himself in pawn? If a father was in great want, especially when there was very pressing need for money, e.g., burial, building a house, etc. 

 

4 Were iwofa usually male, or both male and female? Both male and female. 

 

5 Would a man put his wife in pawn? No. That would be socially abhorrent. 

 

6 Would a person put his slave in pawn? Yes. 

 

7 Was it usually a child who became iwofa? Not necessarily; adaults too could be iwofa. 

 

8 Could a child gain any advantages from being iwofa? Not really. 

 

9 Was the iwofa a security for the eventual repayment of a debt, or did the iwofa’s service actually repay the debt? The iwofa was usually a security for payment of a loan. 

 

10 Was any interest charged on a debt when the creditor had been given an iwofa? No. Borrowing with interest started only after the institution of iwofa was abolished. 

 

11Apart from the iwofa system, could people also borrow money on interest in the olden days? No. Rich people always preferred iwofa. 

 

12 If so, which did they prefer, to borrow money on interest, or to make an iwofa agreement? Iwofa agreement was preferred. 

 

13 Why did they prefer this [whichever] one? Iwofa could be used for whatever the master desired. 

 

14 In other parts of Yorubaland it is said that in the olden days people were put in pawn to obtain money for the redemption of th eir relatives from slavery. Was this true in Ilorin? Yes. 

 

15 In the olden days, did a scarcity of cowries lead to more people being put in pawn? [the only response is a question mark] 

 

16 Why would a creditor want an iwofa? What were the advantages of this system for the creditor? The services performed by the iwofa could not be quantified. This was a major advantage. 

 

17 When the slaves were freed at the beginning of the colonial period, did this lead to more people becoming iwofa? Pawning came with slavery. 

 

Note 17, by Dr. E.B. Bolaji: A discordant note; conflicts with 18. 

 

18 If so, why was this? Pawning started when there were no more slaves who were a source of wealth. 

 

19 Is there any iwofa system nowadays? No. 

 

20 If not, then when did the system die out? Cannot be certain. 

 

21 Why did the system die out? It became irrelevant in a society where people could serve as houseboys, housegirls, etc. for direct cash. 

 

Section 10 

 

1 I have heard that there was a slave in Ilorin called Dada (or Omo Dada?) who became a great warrior. 

 

1a Is this true? Yes. 

 

1b If so, where did he live? In Ita Merin area of Ilorin. 

 

1c Did he serve under one of the major chiefs? Yes, under Balogun Ajikobi. 

 

1d Can you tell me anything about his career, for example:  

 

What wars did he fight in? He fought in Ogun Oremope (Oremope War). 

 

Why is he remembered as a great warrior? He fought bravely in a war which was specifically against him and Balogun Ajikobi.

5.2f Vocabulary definitions; Proverbs with translations 

 

Vocabulary

Yoruba words provided by Ann O’Hear; translations provided by Dr. E.B. Bolaji. 

 

Are or were these words or expressions used in Ilorin? If so, what are their meanings?  

irulocust bean 

isinrushortened form of “isin-eru,” the act of engaging in slavery 

asinrua slave; he who is brought into servitude 

ọmọ ọdọservant 

oko ẹruslavery 

amu nilẹruhe who enslaves another 

ẹru kẹrubad slave (in terms of behaviours); usage—whatever slave 

ẹlẹruslave owner 

iṣakọlẹland payment to a landowner by user 

asingbabondsman or bondswoman 

ọlọfaone who receives the services of an iwọfa 

olowoa wealthy/rich person 

oko gbingbinplanted/cultivated farm 

oko ti a ṣẹṣẹnewly cultivated farm 

igi-ọbaKing’s tree; tree that must not be felled without official sanction 

wogi-wogia person who inspects trees in official forests, either to ensure 

their presence, or to give sanction to cut down 

ẹru-ibilean indigenous slave (usage obscure) 

*olori okohead of a farm; owner of a piece of land given out for cultivation 

gba-m-o-ra-mi“Take, I buy myself out” (of slavery?) Not common usage 

ọmọ ale /ọmaalebastard; child born outside matrimony 

 

*Now has a euphemistic usage, meaning head of an establishment; Head of State; head of a government, etc. A man in overriding authority 

 

Proverbs

The questions/requests below and the Yoruba proverbs/sayings were provided by Ann O’Hear (the proverbs were collected from a variety of published sources); the translations were made by Dr. E.B. Bolaji, probably in consultation with his assistants. 

 

Notes: (1) The translator notes on the handwritten copy that the spellings have been made to conform with standard Yoruba; (2) The handwritten copy also includes a note saying that from Number 5 ff, figurative meanings are on an attached sheet; this sheet was not found when computer copies were made in 2020. 

 

 

Are the proverbs or sayings given below in Yoruba known in Ilorin?  

If so, what do they mean?  

Please give both the literal and the figurative meaning.  

Please correct the pronunciation marks where necessary.  

 

1. 

Asotẹlẹ ko jẹ ki a pe iwọfa li ẹru. 

Literal—Having the fore knowledge does not allow us to call an iwofa a slave. 

Figurative—One does not make the mistake of making adverse comments about something one has previous knowledge of. 

 

2. 

Ẹru ku , iya ko gbọ: ọmọ ku ariwo ta. 

Literal—Nobody cares when a slave dies, but there is a lot of wailing when a freeborn son/daughter dies. 

Figurative—Nobody cares about whatever happens to a nobody, but whatever affects an important person is the concern of all. 

 

3. 

Baa ba rọn: ni niṣẹ ti ẹru, a fi ti ọmọ jẹẹ. 

Literal—If we are sent on an errand like a slave, we should deliver the message like a free born. 

Figurative—In the execution of a difficult and perhaps degrading assignment, we should use intelligence to make the task as easy as possible. 

 

4. 

Ibi ko ya tọ si ibi; baa ti bi ẹru la bi ọmọ. 

Literal—The birth of a slave is no different from that of a free born. 

Figurative—Human beings are basically the same, their stations notwithstanding. 

 

5. 

Imado i ba jẹ ẹlẹdẹ, a ba ilu jẹ: ẹru i ba jọba, eniọ ki ba ti ku kan. 

Literal—Should a bush pig act like a domestic pig, it will spoil a town; if a slave is made king he will decimate the town. 

 

6. 

A ko i pẹru Ọba bẹẹ ri. 

Literal—The Oba’s slave is never so addressed. 

Figurative? (nothing different from the above) 

 

7. 

Oun to ba wuni ni i pọ lọ la ẹni: ologun ẹru ku, aṣọọrẹẹ jẹ ọkọn ṣo-ṣo. 

Literal—It is what we cherish that we acquire most; the owner of twenty slaves died and had only one dress. 

 

8. 

Baa ba logun ẹru, baa lọgbọn iwọfa, ọmọ ẹni lere ẹni. 

Literal—Though we may have twenty slaves or thirty iwofa (human security, pawns), our children are our gain. 

 

9. 

Ara ko ni iwọfa bii oniigbọwọ abanikowo ni ara n ni. 

Literal—The iwofa (servant in usage) feels much less uncomfortable than an intermediary through whom money is borrowed. 

 

10. 

Ojo owu rọ tibi olowo ninu: olowo gẹlẹtẹ, iwọfa gẹlẹtẹ. 

Literal—It’s the morning rain that makes the rich man angry; the rich man is idle, his servants are also idle. 

 

11. 

Ojo joo n ṣe iwọfa, wọn ni o ko iṣeerẹ de: bo ba ṣọmọ wọn, wọn a maa nawo, wọn a maa nọnra. 

Literal—when an iwofa is sick, he/she is accused of shirking duties, but if it were a son/daughter, no amount would be spared to restore him/her to good health. 

 

12. 

Niitori ka maa ba ijiya la ṣe n ya Maa jija lọ fa. 

Literal—it is so that we may not suffer, that we make provisions against suffering. 

 

13. Ẹni ṣo pe ki araale oun maa la, ara ode ni i yaa lọfa. 

Literal—those who say that their relations should not prosper end up being servants to outsiders. 

 

​  

Request with list of subjects came from Ann O’Hear; the proverbs in Yoruba and in translation were provided by Dr. E.B. Bolaji. 

 

Please provide any Ilorin proverbs referring to the following: 

1 slaves 

2 iwọfa 

3 concubines (ale?) 

4 farmers 

5. rural dwellers 

 

As numbered above: 

 

1a  Imado iba se bi ẹlẹdẹ, a ba’lu jẹ; ẹru iba jọba enia iba ti ku ’kan. 

1b  Ẹru ni i-pe ara rẹ lẹru; iwọfa ni i pe ara rẹ ni iwọfa, ọmọ onilẹ ni i pe ara rẹ l’ọba. 

 

2  Olowo ki I jẹ orogan ki iwọfa pe ara rẹ  ni agunmọtẹ. 

 

3a  A ki i mọ ọkọ ọmọ ki a tun mọ ale ọmọ. 

3b  Bi a o dọkọ, ẹni laa ka; bi a o sowo ogun aja ni a a ra. 

 

4a  Agbe ko ni ohun ti yio ta ni ko m‘ [?] owolọwọ; Orilowo ta oka o si fi ra ẹṣin. 

4b  Agbe ti njẹ buredi jẹ egun mọ iyan, sẹbi iṣu ni baba wọn njẹ loko. 

4c Aṣẹṣẹ kọ ọja na, Agbẹ ru odo iyan wo’lu lọsan gangan[?]. 

 

5. (rural dweller: ara oko) 

 Atoko wa balẹ jẹ, sebi o wale wajẹ ’ifun ẹran ni. 

 

Translation: 

 

1a  If a hippopotamus behaves like a pig, it will lay waste a town; if a slave becomes king, not a single soul will remain. 

1b  It is a slave who calls himself a slave, wh ile an iwọfa calls himself  an iwọfa; it is the son of the owner of the land who calls himself king. (It is a person’s behaviour that shows who he is.) 

 

2  A rich man is never addressed as a common person while an iwọfa calls himself a man of substance. 

(“agunmọtẹ” means tall, unbent, and stately looking. It is a nickname for wealthy men who also have a tall, commanding appearance.) 

 

3a  It is improper to know the husband of one’s offspring, and know her [his?] concubine as well. 

3b  A person who wants to be promiscuous must have a mat (for sleeping on), just as a devotee of Ogun (god of thunder) must trade in dogs (dogs are used as sacrifice to Ogun). 

 

4a  It is only a farmer who has no produce to sell who is impecunious; Orilowo sold guinea corn and bought a house. 

4b  A farmer who eats bread is cursed (“eats a curse with pounded yam”), after all it’s yams their fathers eat on the farm. (Proverb relates to people who live above their station in life, who become pretentious so that people may think they are getting on in life.) 

4c  It’s only when one is coming to the market for the first time that one carries a pounded-yam-filled mortar into the market in the broad daylight. (A novice behaves in very absurd ways.) 

 

5. When a person comes from the rural area to misbehave in the town/city, he/she only comes to eat intestines of animals. (During festivities, when animals are slaughtered, intestines could be cooked and served to people. When a person becomes noticeable due to embarrassing behaviour, it is felt that such a person only appears for the entertainment—and rural dwellers are known for lack of protocol.) 

5.2g Excerpt from letter from Dr. E.B. Bolaji, 15 March 1989. Sent from Ilorin 

 

Transcribed by Ann O’Hear from Dr. Bolaji’s handwritten letter in April 2020 

 

“My problems were many, including (1) Unsatisfactory information from a lot of old people who were expected to have some knowledge of Ilorin oral history. (2) The problem of finding people old enough to be able to discuss the slave trade in Ilorin with an appreciable degree of accuracy. (3) Discarding a lot of material after conducting interviews on conviction that very little information was contained in them, etc, etc. 

          As at now, I still have one or two items not fully completed. One deals with women and family oriki, the other is on proverbs relating to slaves etc in Ilorin. It is amazing how very little one may learn from modern Ilorin on proverbs relating to slavery, ará oko etc, but I hope I will finally succeed in getting a few that will be worth all the effort. Most of the time, it is the same proverb repeated from person to person. As soon as I feel some personal satisfaction over the materials collected, I will send them to you. In the meantime, I hope you will get some useful information from the main questionnaires which are enclosed. 

         One of the problems you will have to solve is reconciling answers that are miles apart on the same question. There were times when I felt that glib, assertive answers would need to be taken with a pinch of salt. I expect you will separate the grains from the chaff.” 

5.3a Notes on questions for Series II, sent to Dr. E.B. Bolaji in July 1989 

 

I have transcribed here the substantive portions of the notes on questions for Series II, which I sent to Dr. Bolaji in July 1989, together with the questions themselves. The notes on questions represent the state of my research as of July 1989, before Dr. Bolaji and his assistants conducted their follow-up interviews on plantations and their interviews on elite slavery. The notes guided my construction of the interview questions. 

 

Follow-up questions for last year’s informants (or, if they are unavailable, for elderly members of the same families) [see Series I] 

 

I am still looking for information on size of plantations, and I thought more information might possibly be obtained by asking them specifically about the plantation-owning families they named. Please thank them for me for their cooperation last year. And don’t worry if you don’t get numerical  answers—I will be happy with whatever you get, including “don’t know”! 

 

Elite Slaves: [I sent the following] 

(a)Notes on ajias, to give you some idea of the material I have at present, and on which I am trying to base my questions:

and

Questions on ajias. If you can improve on or add to these questions, please do! I’d like if possible to have responses to each of these questions from 2 informants. 

(b)Notes on some other slave titles, and on a couple of titles which have been alleged to have had some slave connection;  

and 

(c)Questions on these titles. Again, if you can add to these questions,  I’d be grateful. 2 responses to each would be useful. 

 

Notes on Ajias. 

 

Peter Lloyd says [in The Political Development of Yoruba Kingdoms in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (London, 1971)] that 

1. ajia in Ilorin was a title given to slaves who had distinguished themselves in war,  

and 

2. most of the more famous 19th century ajias were slaves of the emir. 

 

 This seems to be true in some cases, e.g. 

(a)Ajia Ijesha, who together with Balogun Alanamu, drove away the Ogbomosho men from Owode area, and re-settled it, was a slave of one of the emirs. 

and 

(b)Ajia Atikekere, who controlled Shao, was also an emir’s slave. 

But it doesn’t seem that ajias were always slaves., e.g. 

Ajia Bonde  (Ogbonde? Ogunde?). The holders of this title were Fulanis, followers of Balogun Fulani. One holder of the Ajia Bonde title actually became a Balogun Fulani (the 7th B. Fulani). An Ajia Bonde in the early 20th  century was Waziri of Ilorin. The title appears in an early-colonial list of free titles. So it doesn’t look as if these people were slaves. 

 

And certainly not all the major ajias were attached to emirs: 

Balogun Gambari also had ajias—Apparently one ajia (or succession of them) of particular importance: 

 

In the reign of Abdusalami, a certain Ajia Gaju accompanied Balogun Gambari Ali to Igbomina and they brought that area under Ilorin rule. Ajia Gaju is said to have been a Fulani. According to one report, when he died he was succeeded by Ajia Ameda, who was no relation to him (though another report suggests that Ajia Gaju had descendants), and was a Fulani from Lafiagi. When Ajia Ameda in turn died (about 1850?), having no heir he chose his Nupe follower (not his slave, it is said), Mohomma Opele as Ajia. When Mohomma Opele died, he was succeeded by his son  Abdulahi. He in turn was succeeded by his brother Aliu, who died in 1904. Members of the Opele family became District Heads of Omu-Isanlu.  

 

           Abdulahi Omo Opele is referred to as a chief of staff of Balogun Gambari. In the Ta’lif  [for which, see, e.g. H.O. Danmole, “The ‘Ta′līf akhbār al-Qurūn min umarā′ bilad Ilūrin’: A Critique,” History in Africa, vol. 11 (1984): 57-67], an Ajia is listed as one of the “wazirs” (chiefs) under Gambari. In 1916 the District Head of Omu-Isanlu, Abdulkadir Opele, was referred to as a follower of Balogun Gambari. In 1917 the Ajia Opele was also listed as a follower. 

 

           So certainly the Ajias Opele were under Balogun Gambari. And from the foregoing, it doesn’t sound as though they were slaves. Yet, the title Ajia Opele doesn’t appear in the early-colonial list of free titles referred to earlier. 

 

Even though these particular titleholders were under Balogun Gambari, they could be commissioned as warriors by the emir: e.g. 

(a)In 1878 [?] Emir Aliu sent Abdulahi Omo Opele to command the army in the Jalumi War (in which he was defeated at Ikirun by Ogboriefon). 

(b)In 1896 the Ilorin army attacking the Lagos detachment at Odo Otin is said to have had as one of its commanders a certain Ajia Ali—perhaps Aliu, successor of Abdulahi? 

 

There are some references to ajias in 20th century Ilorin politics:

 

1.In 1907, 3 powerful chiefs orchestrated an uprising. They were Balogun Ajikobi, Magaji Gari and Ajia (sometimes referred to as Ajayi) Ogidiolu, who was said to have been a slave of the emir. He is also said to have been fiefholder of Offa and Ajasse. I wonder if he was a member of any of the Ajia families already mentioned, or another? 

 

2.In 1936, the “Idiape Crisis” or “Are-Olufadi Dispute” took place. This was a major confrontation between the Magaji Are family and the Balogun Fulani family. Each one was egged on by two powerful “aides” of the emir. On the Olufadi side were Umaru Sanda and Olokoba Ita-Ajia; on the Are side were Ibrahim Jagun and Alhaji Office (the Chief Scribe). It seems likely that all of these 4 were from elite slave baba kekere families attached to the emir; and specifically that Olokoba was from one of the Ajia families. 

 

Notes on Some [Other] Slave Titles. 

 

Sarkin Dogari (Dongari). A high ranking slave official of the emir’s household. Described by 19th century visitors as “prime minister,” “most important personage of the kingdom,” etc. He may also have been the jailer and chief executioner, though some sources name another important slave as the executioner. Did he have military functions? 

 

Balogun Afin (also known as Adinimale). Described as the head of the emir’s slaves. Any military functions? 

 

Sarkin Baraje (Baraye, Barade). Described as “thief catcher,” chief bodyguard to the emir, head of the emir’s security. It is said that he led the emir’s section of the  army and controlled 250-300 horsemen. Now the head of the palace swordbearers? 

 

Are Ogele. A slave of the emir, who  helped Ajia Ijesha and Balogun Alanamu drive out the Ogomosho people from what is now Owode and part of Afon District. He was given land (as owner or caretaker?) around Ogele. 

 

 

Other titles which it is alleged to have been in some way connected with slave status: 

 

Magaji Gari

1.A thesis by Mustain [Ivan B. Mustain, “A Political History of Ilorin in the Nineteenth Century,” M.Phil thesis, University of Ibadan, 1978] states that in an interview the emir said his ward was administered by 2 slaves, the Magaji Gari and a subordinate, the Galadima. Is there any other evidence of this? 

2.A student’s dissertation tells of 2 groups associated with the Magaji Gari title. One is the Kuranga lineage, the other is the lineage of the present Magaji Gari. Two or three members of the Kuranga lineage held the title in the past. The lineage of the present Magaji states that Kuranga was a slave, not a son, of Wawu the first Magaji. Is this just an attempt to discredit the other lineage? 

 

2.Galadima Gari. According to the Mustain interview cited above, this was a slave title. But it is on the early-colonial list of free titles, where, it is said, it was originally of importance, as numbers of slaves, presents, etc. were connected with the title. What is the truth of the matter? 

5.3b Follow-up interviews from Series I (plantations).  For details of the informants, see 5.2 a-e. 

 

 

Follow up Questions:1 

Alhaji Mustapha Magaji Adeyi, Adeyi’s Compound, Okelele, Ilorin 

 

1  Is it correct to say that Awolarogun of Okelele had large plantations worked by slaves? He had large farms but no slaves. His children worked for him. 

 

2  How many plantations did he have? About seven. 

 

3 Where were these plantations? In and around their settlements (unnamed, though specifically requested). 

 

4. About how many slaves did Awolarogun have altogether, on his plantations? He had no slaves. 

 

5. About how many slaves were there on each plantation of his? Only his children worked on his farms. 

Follow up Questions: 2

Alhaji Yusuf Olore, the Baba  Sale Oloogun Enia Dudu, Ile Olore, Okelele, Ilorin

 

1 Is it correct to say that Ladeyo, Akanji Larokun, and Karibuje had large plantations worked by slaves? No! They were prominent men who had many children who did the work in their farms. 

 

Ladeyo 

 

1 How many plantations did Ladeyo have? He had many; wherever he had land, he had a farm. 

 

2 Where were these plantations? In their settlements (unnamed). 

 

3  About how many slaves did Ladeyo have altogether, on his plantations? He had no slaves. 

 

4  About how many slaves were there on each plantation of his? He had no slaves. 

 

Akanji Larokun 

 

1  How many plantations did Akanji Larokun have? About five. 

 

2  Where were these plantations? In the various places where his people settled (unnamed). 

 

3  About how many slaves did Akanji Larokun have altogether, on his plantations? He had no slaves to work his farms. He used his children. 

 

4  About how many slaves were there on each plantation of his? He had no slaves. 

 

Karibuje

1  How many plantations did Karibuje have? Just one, but very big. 

 

2 Where were these plantations? In his settlements (unnamed). 

 

3  About how many slaves did Karibuje have altogether, on his plantations? None. 

 

4  About how many slaves were there on each plantation of his? None. 

Follow up Questions: 3 

Informant in Ile Agbogi Apata-Olowo Area, Omoda, Ilorin

 

1  Is it correct to say that Jamurogo, the Balogun Ajikobi, had large plantations worked by slaves? Yes. 

 

2  If so, how many plantations did he have? They were many (informant did not give a particular number). 

 

3  Where were these plantations? The Balogun established farms whenever [wherever?] he emerged victorious in a battle. The captives worked such farms. 

 

4  About how many slaves did Jamurogo have altogether, on his plantations? They were too numerous to be certain about a number. 

 

5  About how many slaves were there on each plantation of his? He had at least 25 slaves working on each farm, alongside his own children. 

Follow up Questions: 4 

Informant in Ile Ojibara, Apata-Olowo, Omoda, Ilorin 

 

1  Is it correct to say th at your father was named Ojibara? Yes. 

 

2  What can you tell me about him? (e.g., was he a warrior? what was his work? etc.) He was well known in his life time. He was a famous warrior, as well as a very successful farmer. 

 

3  Is it true to say that your father Ojibara had large plantations worked by slaves? Yes. 

 

4  If so, how many plantations die he have? About four. 

 

5  Where were these plantations? The farms were in their settlements, as well as wherever they emerged victorious in war. 

 

6  About how many slaves did Ojibara have altogether, on his plantations? The number of slaves on a farm depended on the number of captives in a particular war. Those captives worked on farms established in the area. 

 

7 About how many slaves were there on each plantation of his? Not less than ten slaves worked on each farm.

 

 

Follow up Questions: 5 

Informant in Ile Olodo, Okelele, Ilorin 

 

1  Is it correct to say that Balogun Gambari had large plantations worked by slaves? Yes. 

 

2  If so, how many plantations did he have? They were many (did not give specific number). 

 

3  Where were these plantations? The plantations extended from Ilorin to Osi (in present Irepọdun Local Govt Area). 

 

4  About how many slaves did Balogun Gambari have altogether, on his plantations? They were many. One cannot be specific on a number. 

 

5  The Balogun fought in several wars. The number of slaves on each farm depended on the number of war captives who were put to work on a farm established in the area. 

5.3c Interview on Agbeyangi 

 

Who was the interviewer? Dr. E.B. Bolaji 

 

Date: 29th March 1990 

 

Where the interview took place? In Mr. Ayọku’s office 

 

Compound of the informant: Ile Arin-Ile, Agbeyangi 

 

Approximate age of the informant? 46 years. 

 

Any other relevant details about the informant: Mr. Ayọku is literate. He is at present Assistant Chief Technologist in the

 

Chemistry Dept. of the Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin. 

 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative: Yes. 

 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld or not: Does not mind his name being mentioned. 

 

Name of the informant: Mr. Moyosorẹ Alao Ayọku. 

 

Names of any other people present at the interview. – 

 

1  Is it correct to say that the village of Agbeyangi (in Igporin District) has a favoured position? Not really. Despite connections with the Emir, Agbeyangi has to compete with others. For example, as at now, political forces in Osin are dominated by Agbeyangi people, only because of their dynamism. 

 

2. What are these connections? Agbeyangi is the maternal home of the present Emir. 

 

Note—the former Chief Judge of Kwara State, Justice Saidu Kawu, is of Agbeyangi stock. His father is a native of Agbeyangi who migrated to Ilorin. 

Note. Before the present Emir was enthroned in 1959, Agbeyangi had been prominent. The first government primary school in Osin area was built at Agbeyangi in 1950. So also the first government dispensary. 

 

          It was erroneously said that the Emir influenced the location of the former Osin Local Government Headquarters at Agbeyangi. This is not true. Agbeyangi became headquarters because of the intense lobbying of Agbeyangi citizens in the State House of Assembly. Agbeyangi indigenes are still in the forefront of politics in Osin today, and they always want achievements to be credited to them, and not any distant influence.

5.3d(i) Re slave status: Definition of ajia 

 

Report by Dr. E.B. Bolaji, probably October 1989 

 

What is the meaning of the word ajia

1  Response from Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulrahman,  Ajia Seriki Ogbonde  (the Ajia Ogbonde, a titled chief, head of the compound), Ile Ajia Ogbonde, Agaka Isale, Ilorin:  

“Ajia means Asoju Ọba (the ‘eyes’ of the Emir). It also means someone put in a position of authority over a certain area and who reports to the Emir regularly. It is not a slave title.”  Ajia Ogbonde asserted that some ajias were slaves who got the title in order to show that they were privileged. 

 

2  Response from Alhaji Abdurahoofi (Imam Ajia, Ile Ajia Sakasaka, Agaka, Ilorin: 

“Ajia is a Hausa name, meaning something or someone that is kept in safe keeping or in a position of safety and privilege, so that (if a person) his knowledge or prowess can be called [upon] for utilisation at any time.” Imam-Ajia explained further that in Islamic culture, all the subjects of an Emir refer to themselves as Ẹru Ọba (slaves of the king) as an indication that the Emir has the authority of life and death over them, and not because they are actually slaves. As subjects they must do his bidding always. 

5.3d(ii) Interviews on Ajia Ijesha 

 

Two interviews on the Ajia Ijesha family were conducted by Dr. E.B. Bolaji on the same day in late 1989, with two separate informants. These two interviews, transcribed below, include any personal details given by the informant concerned, the questions (provided by Ann O’Hear) that the informants were asked, and the replies they gave. The interviews were recorded in writing at the time by Dr. Bolaji, and they were transcribed by Ann O’Hear in April 2020 from Dr. Bolaji’s handwritten report (part of which was in somewhat fragile condition). Comments/clarification added by Dr O’Hear in 2020 are given in square brackets. 

 

First interview

Who was the interviewer: Dr. E.B. Bolaji 

Date: 7 November 1989 

Where the interview took place: Ile Ajia Ijesha 

Comppound of the informant: Ile Ajia Ijesha, Ita Kure, Ilorin 

Approximate age of the informant: about 70 years 

Any other relevant details about the informant: The historian of the family 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not, and if not, why: He was cooperative, after the usual “present” of cash to the family 

Whether the  informant wishes his/her name to be withheld or not [crossed out]: Yes. 

Names of any other people present at the interview: 

1.Pa Abu Abdullahi 

2.Pa Ahmadu Ismaila 

3.Pa Abdulkadir Atanda 

4.Mr. Isa Aremu 

5.Mr. Toyin Abubakar 

6.Mr. Saka Abubakir 

7.Dr. S.A. Ajia 

 

Questions and responses: 

 

1.Have you ever heard of the Ajia Ijesha? Yes. 

 

2.Is there still an Ajia Ijesha today? Yes. 

 

3.If so, what is the name of his compound, and where is it? Ile Ajia Ijesha, Ita Kure, Ilorin. 

 

4.Where did the first Ajia Ijesha come from? From Ilesha. 

 

5.In the 19th century, was the Ajia Ijesha a warrior? Yes. 

 

6. If so, what can you tell me about his military exploits? Ajia Aliyu, the 1st Ajia Ijesha fought in the Offa war (called Ogun mugba mugba, around 1833). He also fought in the Orimope war. 

 

7.Under whom did he fight? He was a war leader himself. He represented the Emir who did not go to war. 

 

8.Was Ajia Ijesha originally a slave title? Not it was never a slave title (See below) 

 

9.If so, whose slave was the Ajia? He was not a slave. 

 

10.If not, whom did the Ajia follow? The Emir. 

 

11.Did holders of the Ajia Ijesha title become District Heads in the colonial period? Yes. 

 

12.If so, where? In Asa, especially Owode and Ọttẹ. His domain extended to Ballah. 

 

13.Did the Ajias Ijesha own any land outside Ilorin? Yes. 

14.If so, where?At Ita Ajia (now at Ero Ọmọ, present site of the offices of Kwara Express transport service); also at Airport Road, and in Owode area. 

15.Do they still own that land today? Yes, the lands are now inhabited by their own people. 

 

No. 8 – Additional notes [written down by Dr. Bolaji].The first Ajia Aliyu had a senior sister who was a wife to late Emir Abdulsalam. She was instrumental to Aliyu’s coming to Ilorin from Ilesha where the Ilesha/Ibadan war was raging. Her fear for her brother prompted her to seek permission from the then Emir to bring her brother to Ilorin (Abdulsalam had not yet become Emir then). When Aliyu arrived at Ilorin, he attended Quranic School with Abdulsalam. So, when Abdulsalam became Emir, he made Aliyu an Ajia. 

            Part of the Oriki of Ajia Ijesha says “Bawa n bako” meaning “one who called himself slave, but was never captured in war.” 

After he was made Ajia by Emir Abdulsalam, all visitors to the Emir must first see Ajia Ijesha. The position is still the same today as the Ajia Ijesha is the one who ushers visitors into the Emir’s presence. 

 

Personal Note [by Dr. Bolaji] 

Ann, please note the asterisked testimony [see below], given by a man who did not want any information about him[self] recorded. He asserted that the Ajia Ijesha was a slave title and that the Ajia was a slave to the Emir. His testimony to questions 5 to 9 is at variance with the other testimony recorded on 7th Nov. 1989. He would not provide answers to questions 11-15 [he did provide some answers, but they were not very informative]. I have attached his testimony for only one reason—that there may be the possibility that any of the Ajias could be slaves originally, but that in line with oral traditional patterns in non-literate societies, no family now wants to be identified with any but a very illustrious past. Reluctance to give true identity may have all sorts of interpretations too—fear, personal vindictiveness, a desire not to rock any family boat by giving any contradictory story to any usually given by any family etc. You have quite a choice. 

 

 

Second interview: questions and responses

1.Have you ever heard of the Ajia Ijesha? Yes. 

 

2.Is there still an Ajia Ijesha today? Yes, at Ita Kure. 

 

3.If so, what is the name of his compound, and where is it? Ita Ajia Ijesha, Ita Kure. 

 

4.Where did the first Ajia Ijesha come from? Ijeshaland. 

 

5.In the 19th century, was the Ajia Ijesha a warrior? Emir’s slave. 

 

6. If so, what can you tell me about his military exploits? As Emir’s slave, he stood as emissary to particular noblemen. The Emir could send him to these. His main duty was to attend to the Emir. 

 

7.Under whom did he fight? Did not fight wars. 

 

8.Was Ajia Ijesha originally a slave title? Yes. 

 

9.If so, whose slave was the Ajia? The Emir’s. 

 

10.If not, whom did the Ajia follow? --- 

 

11.Did holders of the Ajia Ijesha title become District Heads in the colonial period? No. 

 

12. If so, where? --- 

 

13.Did the Ajias Ijesha own any land outside Ilorin? Yes. 

 

14.If so, where? Not known. 

 

15.Do they still own that land today? Yes, as is typical of many notable Ilorin families. 

 

[for further information on the informant involved in the second interview, and the circumstances of the interview, please see 5.4a Follow-up questions on concubines and Ajia Ijesha, in this collection] 

5.3d(iii) Interview on Ajia Atikekere 

 

Who was the interviewer: Mallam A.B. Adua 

Date: 17th February 1990 

Where the interview took place: Ajia Atikekere’s Compound, Idiaro, Ilorin 

Compound of the informant: Ajia Atikekere’s Compound, Idiaro, Ilorin 

Approximate age of the informant: 60 years 

Any other relevant details about the informant: He is head of Ajia Atikekere’s family. He has been nominated as the new Ajia Atikekere, but the Emir’s sanction is being awaited. 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: He was cooperative. 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld or not:[crossed out].Yes. 

Names of any other people present at the interview: Mallam Adamu Abdullahi [?] of Apalado Compound, Ilorin 

 

1  Have you ever heard of the Ajia Atikekere? Yes. 

 

2  Is there still an Ajia Atikekere family today? Yes. 

 

3  If so, what is the name of their compound, and where is it? Ajia Atikekere’s Compound, Idiaro, Ilorin. 

 

4  Where did the first Ajia Atikekere come from? From Sokoto. The first Ajia Atikekere was Mallam Haruna. 

 

5  In the 19th century, was the Ajia Atikekere a warrior? No. 

 

6  If so, what can you tell me about his military exploits? He was only an interpreter between Alfa Alimi and Afonja and the Yorubas. 

 

7  Under whom did he fight? — 

 

8 Was Ajia Atikekere originally a slave title? It was not. 

 

9  If so, whose slave was the Ajia?  

 

10  If not, whom did he follow? He followed Alfa Alimi as a friend. 

 

11  Did the Ajia Atikekere become a District or Village Head in the colonial period? Yes, he did. 

 

12  If so, where? Shao. His name was Ajia Sule. 

 

13  Did the Ajias Atikekere own any land outside Ilorin? Yes. 

 

14  If so, where? At Sobi and Shao. 

 

15  Do they still own that land today? Yes.

5.3d(iv) interview on Ajia Ogbonde (Bonde) 

 

Who was the interviewer: Dr. E.B. Bolaji 

Date: 2nd October 1989 

Where the interview took place: Ajia Ogbonde’s Compound at Agaka Isalẹ, Ilorin. 

Compound of the informant: Ajia Ogbonde’s Compound 

Approximate age of the informant: 64 years 

Any other relevant details about the informant: He is a titled chief in Ilorin and leader of the compound. 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: He was cooperative. 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld: [no response recorded] 

If not, what is the name of the informant: Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulrahman—Ajia Seriki Ogbonde 

Names of any other people present at the interview: 

Alh. Abubakar  Ọladimeji 

Alh. Saliu Abdulrahman 

Mr. Mahmud Jimoh Ọlayinka 

Mall. Folorunshọ Ajia-Ogbonde 

Dr. Saliu Bọla Ajia 

 

1  Have you ever heard of the Ajia Bonde Ogbonde? Yes. 

 

2  Is there still an Ajia Ogbonde today? Yes. 

 

3  If so, what is the name of his compound, and where is it? Ajia Ogbonde’s Compound, Agaka Isalẹ, Ilorin. 

 

4  Where did the first Ajia Bonde come from? Futa Jallo. 

 

5  In the 19th century, were the holders of the Ajia Ogbonde title warriors? Yes. 

 

6  If so, what can you tell me about their military exploits? They were courageous in war. The family was so famous that one of them, Aliyu, became a Balogun, and fought during Offa, Erimope, Aiyede Ekiti wars. 

 

7  Under whom did they fight? Did not serve under anyone. 

 

8  Can you name any other titles or positions which have been held by various Ajias Bonde? As stated, one of them, Aliyu, became a Balogun. Before him, there were no Baloguns in Ilorin. 

 

9  Was Ajia Ogbonde originally a slave title? No. 

 

10 If so, whose slave was the Ajia? Was not a slave.* 

11 If not, whom did he follow? Ajia Ogbonde was responsible only to the Emir. 

 

*Note by Dr. Bolaji: The informant (as well as those in attendance) asserted that unlike theirs, there are Ajias which were slave titles. Despite pressure they did not name any. A case of “we are more illustrious than they are”? 

 

Additional information from the interview 

 

The first Ajia Ogbonde was Sadiq who came to Ilorin (from Futa Jallo) around 1830. He came in quest of Sheu Alimi who was then sojourning in Ilorin and had a wide reputation as a famous Islamic scholar. Sadiq’s sons in Ilorin were Ajia Aliyu, and Barde-Garaje. Aliyu’s heir was Umar who became Ajia after his father was made Balogun. Aliyu’s second son, Abdulkadir Ijaodọla, also became Ajia after his older brother Umar. On the death of Abdulkadir, Umar’s son Abdulrahman became Ajia, and after him came Ajia Abdulrahman the son of Umar [here the text seems to give the same information twice]. After him came Ajia Jimoh, the son of Ijaodọla. Next is the present Ajia who is the son of Abdulrahman. 

Settlement: The family was first settled at Foomọ (c. 1830) with hundreds of cattle. During the reign of Emir Abdulsalam, the family was urged to move closer, leading to settlement at the present Agaka Isalẹ site which was supposed to accommodate more cattle. Agaka Isalẹ is now in the heart of Ilorin. 

Title: Ajia Ogbonde was an honoured title, and the name of Ogbonde was given because the first Ajia had an Onde (amulet) which he used to make himself invisible in war. He became Ogbonde (wearer-of-amulet). 

5.3d(v) Ajia Opele, Ajia Gaju, and Ajia Ogidiolu 

 

Ajia Ọpẹlẹ 

Who was the interviewer: Mallam A.B. Adua 

Date: 16 December 1989 

Where the interview took place: At Ajia Ọpẹlẹ’s Compound, Ita Ajia, Ilorin 

Compound of the informant: Ajia Ọpẹlẹ’s Compound 

Approximate age of the informant: 55 years 

Any other relevant details about the informant: He is the present Ajia Ọpẹlẹ. 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: Yes, he was cooperative. 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld or not: [crossed out]Yes 

Names of any other people present at the interview: Mallam Ayinla 

 

Ajia Ọpẹlẹ

 

1  Have you ever heard of the Ajia Ọpẹlẹ? Yes. 

 

2  Is there still an Ajia Ọpẹlẹ today? Yes. 

 

3  If so, what is the name of his compound, and where is it? Ajia Ọpẹlẹ’s Compound, Ita Ajia, Ilorin. 

 

4  Where did the first Ajia Ọpẹlẹ come from? He came from Ilesha. 

 

5  In the 19th century, were the holders of this title warriors? Yes. 

 

6  If so, can you name any of these warriors? The first Ajia, Abdullahi; the second Ajia, Abdulkadir; and Ajia Katto. 

 

7  What can you tell me about their military exploits? They fought in the Jalumi and Orimapo wars. They were said to have distinguished themselves in these wars. 

 

8 Under whom did they fight? They fought with Balogun Gambari. 

 

9  Was Ajia Ọpẹlẹ originally a slave title? Never at any time. 

 

10 If so, whose slave was the Ajia? He was nobody’s slave. 

 

11 If not, whom did the Ajia Ọpẹlẹ follow? He followed the Emir. 

 

12 Did the holders of the Ajia Ọpẹlẹ title or members of their family become District Heads in the colonial period? Yes. 

 

13 If so, where? Oke Onigbin and Isanlu Isin. 

 

14 Did the Ajia Ọpẹlẹ own any land outside Ilorin? Yes. 

 

15 If so, where? Idiẹmi; Odo- ọmọ; Olofe and Dugbe. 

 

16 Do they still own that land today? Yes. 

 

Ajia Gaju (Gajọ) 

Ajia Gajọ did not belong to a separate Ajia family. He was a member of the Ọpẹlẹ family when he became an Ajia. 

 

Ajia Ogidiolu 

[The first two questions in the list sent to Dr. Bolaji are informed by colonial records, which mention this person] 

 

1  Have you ever heard of Ajia Ogidiolu, who (together with Balogun Ajikobi and Magaji Gari) organised riots in Ilorin in the early colonial period? 

 

2 If so, was he called “Ajia” or “Ajayi” or both?] 

 

The information gleaned was the following: There is no Ajia Ogidiolu family in Ilorin.  It could be speculated that he belonged to one or the other of the Ajia families—like Gaju belonged to Ọpẹlẹ. It was not possible to obtain evidence either way. 

5.3d(vi) Interview on Ajia Sakasaka 

 

 

Who was the interviewer: Dr. E.B. Bolaji 

Date: 23 September 1989 

Where the interview took place: Ile Ajia Sákasàka, Agaka, Ilorin  

Compound of the informant: Ile Ajia Sákasàka, Agaka, Ilorin 

Approximate age of the informant: Born 1919 (70 years) 

Any other relevant details about the informant: Chief Imam, a bit literate 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not: Yes 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld or not: [no response recorded; 

If not, what is the name of the informant: Alhaji Abdurahoofi Imam-Ajia 

Names of any other people present at the interview: Dr. S. Bola Ajia 

 

Information from the informant: 

          Ajia Sákasàka came from Igbon in the Old Oyo province. Igbon got sacked and burnt in a war (period, name, not given) and many people left the place. Those who remained were either killed or captured. 

Ajia Saliu escaped from Igbon and went north, with his elder sister later searching for him. Saliu came to Ilorin from the north (exact place unnamed; presumed unknown) and was introduced to Emir Abdulsalam who then instructed that Saliu be provided with suitable accommodation. Saliu was housed by Magaji Dauda Adifa. During the Erimope War, Saliu fought side by side with Magaji Dauda Adifa. They won the war. 

          Saliu distinguished himself in the war, and on giving account to the Emir, Magaji Dauda said that Saliu was beheading left, right and centre. This led to his being given the nick-name Sákasàka (literally meaning that he cut without aiming at a particular spot, but each blow was devastating). Magaji Dauda pleaded that Saliu be given his own land for settlement. The Emir authorised this, and this led to the settlement of the family at Agaka which is now the heart of the city. 

          Saliu met his elder sister, who had been searching for him, at Origun Nda. He asked her to bring her children to join him and his own family. She did, and her descendants now live side by side in the Ajia Compound. 

          Ajia Sákasàka was not a slave family, and today, they still remember Ajia Saliu, the first Ajia, with a lot of pride, because it was his heroism in war, his nobility of carriage, that made him a favourite of the Emir, and which earned him his title. 

           Dr. Saliu Bola Ajia, a former University Lecturer with a PhD in Library Science, is a descendant of Ajia Saliu, and his own father is the immediate past Ajia. The informant is an uncle to Dr. Ajia. 

5.3d(vii) Interview and information on the Idiape Crisis of 1936 Ajia connection? Elite slaves’ involvement as baba kekere

 

Who was the interviewer: Mallam A.B. Adua  

 

Date: 10th January 1990 

 

Where the interview took place: Ori Okoh Compound, Ilorin 

 

Compound of the informant: Ori Okoh Compound, Ilorin 

 

Approximate age of the informant: 53 years 

 

Any other relevant details about the informant: He seems quite informed about the socio-political history of Ilorin. 

 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: He was cooperative. 

 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld: Not averse to name being used or published. 

 

Name of the informant: Mallam Amuda Yusuf 

 

Names of any other people present at the interview: Mallam Salihu Fagba 

 

The Idiape Crisis 

 

1  Have you ever heard of the “Idiape Crisis” or “Are-Olufadi Dispute” of 1936? Yes. 

 

2  One of the baba kekere supporting the Olufadi side was Olokoba Ita-Ajia. Have you ever heard of him? Yes. 

 

Of what compound or family was he a member? Same Ita Ajia, though not of Ajia family. 

 

What can you tell me about him? He was a favourite of Emir Abdulkadir. 

 

3  The other baba kekere supporting the Olufadi side was Umaru Sanda. Have you ever heard of him? Yes. 

 

Of what compound or family was he a member? Ile Sanda, Adifa, Ilorin. 

 

What can you tell me about him? He was liked by the Emir and had very free access into the Emir’s palace. In fact he was

 

considered as a personal friend to the Emir. 

 

4  One of the baba kekere supporting the Are family was Ibrahim Jagun. Have you ever heard of him? Yes. 

 

Of what compound or family was he a member? Ile Jagun, Oke-Ita, Ilorin. 

 

What can you tell me about him? He was also a favourite of the Emir. He worked hand in hand with Umar Sanda. A lot of people  saw him as a link with the Emir. 

 

5  The other baba kekere supporting the Are family was “Alhaji Office.” Have you ever heard of him? Yes. 

 

Of what compound or family was he a member? Ile Alhaji Office, Ita-Ajia, Ilorin. 

 

What can you tell me about him? Like the other two he was a friend to the Emir, and worked hand in hand

with Sanda and Jagun. 

 

The Crisis 

 

Umar Sanda, a baba kekere, was a great friend and confidant of the Emir, Abdulkadir. He caused the Idiape Crisis. 

 

           The Emir, Abdulkadir, went to Kaduna on official business and sent word to the Baloguns about the date he would arrive back at Ilorin. The Baloguns sent word round the town so that the people would be around to give their Emir a rousing welcome. On this day, people went to the railway station to await the arrival of the Emir. Drummers began praising Sanda, and at a stage Balogun Morogo was so annoyed that he stopped the drummers from singing the praise of Sanda. They all welcomed the Emir back to Ilorin. 

 

           Later in the day, Balogun Morogo sent for all Baloguns and Mogaji Arẹ and instructed that none of them should pay a visit to the Emir. They agreed and stopped courtesy visits to the Emir. Even when he sent for them, they refused. Mogaji Arẹ and Babasale sent for traditional hunters and instructed them to get ready to fight the Emir. The hunters began singing “Ọmọ onilẹ fẹ lo ilẹ  . . .” (“the son of the soil/land wants to use the land; so, strangers should leave . . .”  

 

           The Emir found the situation so embarrassing and the atmosphere so charged that he sent to Kaduna for protection. The Regional Government sent a detachment of policemen to Ilorin. When people saw scores of policemen with guns, they ran away, but Balogun Morogo went to the policemen and asked them to drop their guns. They did; he ordered them to sleep: they did. Balogun Morogo then went to the Emir and asked him to prepare himself for war. The Emir then sent a message to Alfa Agba (Alfa Agaka) to appeal to the people on his behalf, and to find out what his mistakes were, so that he could make amends. 

           When the Baloguns received the message sent by Alfa Agba, they calmed down and went to him. In answer to his question as to the cause of the crisis, they said all they wanted was to know the position(s) of Umar Sanda, Olokoba Ita-Ajia, Ibrahim Jagun, and Alhaji Office in Ilorin. The Emir said that the people mentioned were nothing but servants. The Baloguns then said that if this was so, the Emir should send them out of Ilorin. The Emir sent them out of Ilorin to different places (unnamed). That was the Idiape Crisis. 

 

[signed off by Dr. E.B. Bolaji] 

5.3e(i) Interview on Sarkin Dogari (Dongari) 

 

Who was the interviewer: Mallam A.B. Adua 

Date: 10th December 1989 

Where the interview took place: Ile Dogari, Ọja Ọba, Ilorin 

Compound of the informant: Ile Dogari, Ọja Ọba, Ilorin 

Approximate age of the informant: 54 years 

Any other relevant details about the informant: He is the present Seriki Dogari. 

Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: He was cooperative. 

Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld or not: He was not opposed to his name being given. 

If not, what is the name of the informant? Alhaji Akanni, Seriki Dogari 

Names of any other people present at the interview: 

Mallam Mejidadi Dogari 

Mallam Salahu Dogari 

Mallam Salami Dogari 

 

1  Have you ever heard of the Sarkin Dogari? Yes. 

 

2  Is there still a Sarkin Dogari today? Yes, in Ilorin. 

 

3  If so, what is the name of his compound, and where is it? Ile Dogari, Ọja Ọba, Ilorin. 

 

4  Where did the first Sarkin Dogari come from? Bornu. 

 

5a In the 19th century, what were the functions of the Sarkin Dogari? The Sarkin Dogari was Chief Warder in charge of prisoners. He was also in charge of war captives. 

 

5b Did he have any military functions? Yes. 

 

5c If so, what were they? He handed war captives to the Emir, who in turn asked him to look after them. 

 

6  Was Sarkin Dogari originally a slave title? No. 

 

7  If so, whose slave was the Sarkin Dogari? He was never a slave. 

 

8  If not, whom did the Sarkin Dogari follow? The first Seriki Dogari was Ahmadu Baba Kanike who came from Bornu. In fact, he was in Alfa Alimi’s company from Bornu but he was not a slave. He was Alfa Alimi’s friend, and this was why he came with him. 

 

9  Did the Sarkin Dogari own any land outside Ilorin? Yes. 

 

10 If so, where? From Fomo to Ikoyi boundary. 

 

11 Does the Sarkin Dogari still own that land today? Yes. 

 

12 What are the functions of the Sarkin Dogari today? Today the Seriki Dogari is the palace police. He is also in charge of announcements to the public (he serves as the Emir’s information officer). The Dogari supervises the palace in the absence of the Emir. 

5.3e(ii) Interview on Balogun A