1.2  Brief Description of the Contents of the Archive, Note on Tape Recording of Interviews, and Acknowledgements (July 2020)

[1.1 Introduction]     [1.2  Brief Description of the Contents]   [1.3 Autobiographical Memoir]   [Catalogue: Published and Unpublished Works >>>


The Dr. Ann O’Hear Archive is a digital archive put together by myself, with encouragement and assistance from a number of others. The files in this archive are in the process of being transferred to the DigITal African History Archives (please see the web site). It focuses on the city and region of Ilorin, Nigeria. The area is mostly Yoruba speaking, but it came under Fulani rule within the Sokoto Caliphate in the early nineteenth century. The O’Hear Archive features a long history of exploitation of slaves and others in conditions of dependency.


Section 1 of the O’Hear Archive is introductory. It introduces The O’Hear Archive and its placement in the DigITal African History Archives. It presents this Brief Description of the Contents of the Archive and a brief Autobiographical Memoir.


Section 2 focuses on my published and unpublished writings on slavery. My 1997 monograph, Power Relations in Nigeria: Ilorin Slaves and Their Successors, gathers together much of my slavery research up to that point, but other areas which I have studied and written on since that date include the important topic of elite slaves and the varied sources of information on slavery and other forms of dependency, sources such as oriki (Yoruba praise songs/poems).


Sections 3-6 deal with various series of interviews, research reports, and notes that contributed to my writings. In the 1970s, Professor Paul E. Lovejoy generously provided me with interview notes produced by his research assistant as a result of a major project he organised in northern Nigeria in 1975, and with copies of interview tapes. These enabled my research assistants to produce full translations of a number of the interviews. These and copies of the shorter notes made by Professor Lovejoy’s interviewer make up section 3. Section 4 deals with interviews I conducted and information I gathered in Ilorin in the first half of the 1980s and during a research trip to Ilorin in 1988. This research trip in turn laid the foundations for further projects of information gathering which I was able to organise in the years up to 1996. These included, notably, an invaluable, large-scale research project carried out on my behalf by Dr. E.B. Bolaji (now, sadly, deceased) and his assistants (section 5); and a corpus of information on the dependent districts around Ilorin in the twentieth century, meticulously gathered for me by Mr. Yakubu Adeyemi Jimoh (lead researcher) and Rev. Dr. James F. Adetunji (section 6).


Section 7 deals with correspondence and other unpublished materials related to slavery in the Ilorin area, its aftermath, and related topics. Apart from correspondence, the materials include notes on court records and copies of community memoranda.


Section 8 features archival and related material on slavery in the Ilorin area, its aftermath, and related topics, from a variety of sources.


Section 9 focuses on published works containing material on, or relevant to, Ilorin slavery and its aftermath. It provides selected text and summarised material on Ilorin from hard-to-find works, plus bibliographies related to the topic.


Section 10 contains two specific sets of unpublished authored works: the complete text of several papers on Ilorin and its surrounding area by Dr. Susan J. Watts; and notes on a number of undergraduate research dissertations on Ilorin.


Section 11 consists of an appendix providing a general bibliography of my published and unpublished works, not confined to slavery and related topics.



A Note on Tape Recording of Interviews


In most cases, the formal interviews that I conducted or that were conducted by my associates on my behalf were not tape recorded. My associates and I took these decisions for several reasons. First, there were practical difficulties. Second, many informants were unfamiliar with technological gadgets, and therefore nervous of them. Third was the fact that slavery and associated topics have been a matter of great sensitivity in Ilorin. For this sensitivity, see, for example, O’Hear, “Elite Slaves in Ilorin in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” International Journal of African Historical Studies, vol. 39, no. 2 (2006), page 269 onwards. Careful note taking  and observation during interviews plus follow-up discussions were methods used to ensure that transcripts were as clear and accurate as possible.




I would like to express my gratitude to a number of people who have encouraged me or assisted me in various ways. Professor Paul E. Lovejoy encouraged me to look at slavery, and provided me with material from Ilorin which was obtained as a result of the major interview project which he organised in northern Nigeria in 1975. Professors Toyin Falola and David Richardson provided early encouragement and advice. Professor John Oldfield gave me long-term support. Archivists Simon Wilson and Sarah Pymer provided curatorial assistance. I am greatly indebted to all of my research associates in Nigeria, including the late Dr. E. B. Bolaji, Mr. Yakubu Adeyemi Jimoh, and Rev. Dr. James F. Adetunji; my research assistants and translators Suleiman Ajao and Busayo Simeon; plus others who remain anonymous. I owe a special debt of thanks to Professor Michael Turner for his patience, good humour, and skill in guiding me through the mysteries of cataloguing. I thank my husband, Hugh J. O’Hear, for supporting me over many years and for his finely honed proofreading skills. Above all, I am indebted to Professor Femi Kolapo, University of Guelph, Ontario, for welcoming my collection into his DigITal African History Archives.