2.2c(i) Short notes on Ann O’Hear, “The History of the Okun Yorùbá: Research Directions,” in Yoruba Identity and Power Politics, ed. Toyin Falola and Ann Genova, 111‒126. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2006. And short notes on 2.4c(ii), “The [Okun] Yoruba and the Peoples of the Niger-Benue Confluence” (unpublished). Both contain slavery-related material.
“The History of the Okun Yorùbá: Research Directions” was written with the idea of stimulating discussion on directions for future study of the neglected Okun Yoruba people. It notes that the history of the confluence peoples, including the Okun Yoruba, includes a good deal of “cultural circulation” (113) which should be studied to improve our understanding of economic and cultural contact and sharing. Even enslavement, it is pointed out, could lead to such “circulation,” as in the case of enslaved Bunu women weavers in the nineteenth century, who are likely to have been taken to Nupe, where they taught their craft to Nupe women (113).
In the nineteenth century, the Nupe-Fulani contact with the Okun Yoruba took the form of slave raiding, enslavement, and the collection of tribute in slaves. Others also carried out slave raids. It is noted that the study of these brutal events can help us to improve our understanding of the concepts of “resistance” and “accommodation” to the depredations. The chapter discusses varied forms of resistance and accommodation that were displayed by the Okun Yoruba, and argues that it is necessary to document these as thoroughly as possible.
The exact effects of the nineteenth-century depredations on population size and distribution are hard to assess. Although there is evidence to suggest a large loss of population, it is clear that many slaves returned to their homes after the arrival of the British at the end of the nineteenth century. It is possible, however, to “make tentative suggestions as to the economic effects of raids, tribute collection, and enslavement, and further research may well provide us with a fuller picture” (117). Femi Kolapo points out that “normal economic activity continued” (117). This included trade. Okun Yoruba traders even took part in the slave trade down the river. And “industrial innovation” has been documented (117). More research may prove fruitful in all these areas.
“The History of the Okun Yorùbá: Research Directions” was based on an earlier work, which is reproduced as section 2.4c(ii) of this Archive, “The [Okun] Yoruba and the Peoples of the Niger-Benue Confluence.” The chapter discussed above should be read in conjunction with this earlier work, which discusses slavery-related topics in more detail than the “Research Directions” chapter.
In my “Author’s Note” to the earlier work, I note that its focus is on contacts between the Okun Yoruba and other groups over a broad time frame. “It was written in 2003, [it] was intended to be a chapter in an edited volume . . . , and it reflects my longstanding interest in the Confluence area (broadly defined) as an area of considerable cultural and economic contact and circulation. However, the work for which [it] was written has never been published. . . . [It] contains a great deal of information on the period covering the nineteenth century and the turn of the twentieth century, in which slavery, slave raiding, the extraction of slaves as tribute, the slave trade, and the escape/return of slaves are prominent features of the narrative.”