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2.4b(v) Tubman Seminar on Slavery, York University, Toronto, 31 March 1997. Some references have been updated (December 2020) in square brackets in the endnotes. These include some items which now appear in the Dr. Ann O’Hear Archive, DigITall African History Archive. Readers should check for other such items.


Ann O’Hear

Niagara University


The city of Ilorin, in northernmost Yorubaland, came to prominence in the early nineteenth century as the headquarters of Afonja, the rebel Old Oyo general. Afonja invited a Fulani religious leader, Alimi, to assist him, but later the Fulani in Ilorin, supported by Hausa and Yoruba Muslims, overthrew Afonja and established Ilorin as an emirate within the Sokoto Caliphate (actually immediately under Gwandu). Two sons of Alimi, Abdusalami and Shita, became emirs in turn, and their descendants then reigned in rotation. Below the emirs were four balogun, major war and ward chiefs. Balogun Fulani led the Fulani settlers, Balogun Gambari led the Hausa and other northerners, and Alanamu and Ajikobi headed the Yoruba, who were probably a very large majority of the population.[2]

An expansionist period began with Afonja and continued under the early emirs. The aim was to destroy the Oyo Empire, and carry the jihad to the south. The destruction of Oyo power was completed by the mid-1830s, but soon afterwards the Ilorin advance south into Yorubaland was checked by the rising power of Ibadan, and by inhospitable terrain for cavalry. Ilorin continued to pursue its Islamic aim by a flanking movement through Igbomina and Ekiti, then by allying with one or another of the Yoruba powers, in the hope of eventually weakening them all. On occasion, Ilorin acted in cooperation with Ibadan, but essentially the two were enemies for the rest of the century. As the century wore on, Ilorin’s warfare became, essentially, a reasonably successful effort to defend its sphere of influence in the savanna, rather than trying to expand to the south.[3]

Within Ilorin itself, the emirs were unable to consolidate their power against the major chiefs. They were weakened by rebellions in the 1860s and 1870s.[4] At the end of the 1870s, Emir Aliu, who wanted better relations with Ibadan, was overruled in the matter of the siege of Offa by Karara, his Balogun Gambari.[5] Aliu’s successor, Moma, was also anxious to come to terms with Ibadan, and with the British in Lagos. But in the 1890s, Moma lost his power struggle with the baloguns so definitively that he was forced into suicide, and replaced by the puppet ruler, Suleiman, in whose reign the British took over the city.

Economically speaking, Ilorin took over, in part, Old Oyo’s role as a slave supplier, both by capture[6] and as re-exporter of slaves from the north. Ilorin was in a good position to develop as an entrepôt, and its government encouraged its mediatory role.[7] It earned a reputation as a major slave dealing center.[8] The slave trade from Ilorin flowed overwhelmingly from north to south, as was reported consistently by observers from the early 1850s to the end of the century.[9] Many of the slaves taken south eventually joined the Atlantic trade,[10] but many others went only as far as southern Yorubaland, where warrior-entrepreneurs were engaging in large-scale production, both to support their followers and to profit from “legitimate” trade, all of which relied on slave labor.[11]

Ilorin’s initial expansion had been considerably aided by the revolt of the Hausa (and other northern) slaves of the Old Oyo Empire, incited by Afonja and Alimi. These slaves fled in large numbers to freedom in Ilorin, joined its armies, and were a major factor in the eventual overthrow of Afonja and the establishment of the emirate.[12] While slaves never again played such a spectacular role in Ilorin’s political history, they and their activities continued to be significant, both politically and economically, for the rest of the century. It is my intention in this paper, therefore, to examine some of their roles, passive and active, collective and individual, in and around the city from about 1820 to the arrival of the British and consolidation of British rule. Since Ilorin was both a largely Yoruba-populated city and also an emirate on the Caliphate frontier, one ancillary theme I attempt to introduce, where possible, is a comparison of slaves’ roles in Ilorin with those in the rest of Yorubaland and in other parts of the Caliphate.

Slave Acquisition and Trade: Chiefly Power

Slaves were acquired by the chiefs and people of Ilorin in a variety of ways. Some came through payments from tributary towns, though this may not actually have been a major source.[13] It is likely that the single most important method of slave acquisition was capture.[14] Slaves were an important product of the early expansionist wars, begun by Afonja, who captured various towns and resettled them around Ilorin so as to make it into what it has become. The able-bodied men he enrolled among his soldiers and several [sic] women and children he sold into slavery, in order to have wherewith to maintain and supply arms to his war boys.[15]

In the reign of Abdusalami, “many slaves were taken during campaigns to the south of Omu, in Igbomina country.”[16] Others were captured during raids on Ekiti towns such as Osi and Obo in the 1840s. The town of Eruku was overrun by Ilorin forces and “large numbers of the population were taken away and sold as slaves.”[17] In 1858, while visiting Ejeba, a Yagba (?) town under Nupe control, Daniel May reported an Ilorin raid on a nearby town, in which “a party of people” was attacked and carried off.”[18]

As time went on, Ilorin found itself faced more and more with the power of Ibadan to the southeast and Nupe to the northeast. But while this meant that Ilorin’s access to slaving areas “thenceforward depended upon either the weakness of the complicity” of these powers,[19] both cooperation and competition with them could still provide opportunities for slave acquisition. The expeditions in which Ilorin joined forces with Ibadan and/or Nupe netted it some gains; and when Ilorin allied with Ijaye against Ibadan it occupied itself in “kidnapping in the Oyo farms.”[20]

In the later years of the nineteenth century, Ilorin’s long periods of encampment in the Offa area provided opportunities for slave seizures. Ilorin forces were reported to be “in the habit of kidnapping the caravans between Offa and Erin,” “despatching [kidnapping] expeditions into the Ijesha country,” and conducting “kidnapping expeditions in the Ogbomosho farms.”[21] In 1889, Ibadan authorities complained of Ilorin army activities around the Ibadan camp at Ikirun:

We . . . distrust [them] on account of their treacherous acts . . . we shall be ready against their surprises within our boundary, as five days ago they surprised Otau, a town near us, and took away 31 persons, and today they took away two persons near the walls of Ikirun.[22]

Even with their concentration of forces in the Offa area, and with the internal disruptions of the 1890s, Ilorin forces were still, apparently, able to raid far afield on occasion. The city was able to maintain ajele, or resident representatives, in varying numbers of towns on the routes to the east, which must have assisted those Ilorin forces who were reported in 1894 to have “started on a kidnapping expedition” as far away as “the Akoko country, distant about twenty days travel from Ilorin.”[23]

The emirs of Ilorin, from the time of Shita, did not go to war themselves,[24] and thus took no personal part in slave capture. Instead, they received the captives from the war leaders, through whose hands slaves from tributary towns also passed. By law, the emirs were supposed to take one-fifth of the captives themselves, and return the rest to the baloguns for distribution. But since the emirs were absent from the warfront, it is likely that the baloguns and their subordinates had already helped themselves liberally before the captives ever reached the emirs.[25] In addition, although the slave tribute to Gwandu was apparently raised in most emirates by a levy made by emirs on their chiefs,[26] in Ilorin it was very probably paid largely from the emirs’ own share of the captives, especially in later years as the emirs’ control slipped away. Tribute to Gwandu siphoned off between 50 and 200 slaves a year, depending, it is said, on the numbers captured. It could also be demanded, probably irregularly, by Sokoto: the missionary A.C. Mann, visiting Ilorin in 1855, was introduced to “a messenger of Sokotu, an Alufa of a friendly face: he was sent with a demand for 200 slaves!”[27] Thus, while incoming tribute in slaves may have been negligible, outgoing tribute consumed large numbers.

In Ilorin, therefore, the emirs almost certainly gained less than their baloguns and others from captured slaves. The baloguns and other chiefs are remembered in Ilorin tradition for their slave-capturing activities, and both local and external informants single out successive Baloguns Gambari as the greatest slave catchers and owners of them all.[28] The

chiefs could also profit from the slaves they had acquired, by selling them, either locally, or into the lucrative trade to the south. The prestige, military strength, and economic profit gained from the acquisition, use, and sale of slaves were instrumental in further cementing the power of the baloguns against the emirs.

Roles of Privileged Slaves

In nineteenth-century Ilorin, palace slaves were used in many of the same roles, and for the same reasons, as they were in other emirates, in Oyo, and in many other kingdoms. Such slaves were expected to display complete loyalty to their ruler/master, on whom they depended for everything.[29] In Ilorin, however, while the anticipated loyalty was indeed forthcoming in some cases, it was by no means so in all.

The Jimba family of Ilorin was founded by a major warrior slave of Emir Abdusalami, who is credited, among other things, with having plundered the city of Old Oyo.[30] Jimba is also said to have been trusted to be in charge of “a vast portion of Ilorin’s great arsenal, gun powder and heavy weaponry,” though this may in fact be a reference to a later head of the family.[31] The head of this family is also said to have been the emir’s champion during the revolt of Balogun Usman Olufadi in the 1870s.[32]

The Jimbas had a number of incentives to remain loyal to the emirs. Their daughters, for example, were allowed to marry into the royal family.[33] The hereditary title, “Daodu Abdulsalami,” is said to have been bestowed on them, as well as the right to create their own titles.[34] They were given a compound in the city, and farmland outside, which also became hereditarily theirs.[35] They were able to amass slaves of their own, whom they settled on this land.[36]

Other palace slaves profited similarly from the incentives on offer. The Balogun Afin, Sarkin Dongari, and Ajia Ijesha also received titles and rights to land which became hereditary in their families.[37] Many slaves had the opportunity to acquire their own slaves, including the emir’s ajias during military campaigns.[38] Nasama, an important court slave in mid-century, and “sheriff or public executioner,” was “master of a large number of slaves.”[39] Emirs’ slaves also seized the opportunity of profiting from the role of baba kekere (intermediary). In the Afon area, near the city, for example, settlers

followed a big chief of slave of the Emir . . . and, when they took up land, asked them to get the sanction of the Emir for so doing. This was done, and a yearly gift was given to these men for protection’s sake, and to further their interest in the Court, should they have occasion to bring in some case for settlement.[40]

When the slave warrior Adenlolu was settled by the emir in Lanwa, to the north, “many men came from Ilorin and obtained farm lands from [him] following him as their Baba Kekere . . . [he] was a man of great influence.”[41]

Clearly, considerable influence and prestige could be gained in the service of the emir. In the mid-century, the slave official Sarkin Dongari was described as

prime minister . . . daily [sitting] in the market place to receive the homage of the populace intended for the king . . . [he is] really the most important personage of the kingdom, and in rank even above the king’s own sons.[42]

Even in 1893, Emir Moma’s slave, Ogunkojole, was “perhaps the most powerful man in the kingdom,” having “very great influence with the Emir,” and being “treated with great respect wherever he went.”[43]

Ogunkojole (also called Alihu) was useful to Moma in a variety of ways. In 1893 he was given the care of Governor Carter of Lagos, who was conducting peace negotiations between Ilorin and Ibadan, and took a “leading part” in the evacuation of the Ilorin war camp, in the interests of peace. He was willing to stand up to the powerful Balogun Gambari in the emir’s name: “He had some trouble with Adamu [successor to Karara], but soon brought him to his senses by threatening to behead him.”[44] In 1895, when Moma had finally lost his power struggle with Baloguns Alanamu and Gambari, Ogunkojole, his fate inextricably linked with his master’s, provided the ultimate in loyalty:

a faithful slave named Alihu . . . who led the Emir’s party, returned to the palace and with his Master proceeded to the powder magazine when Alihu deliberately set a match to the powder, and this was the end.[45]

Slaves in Agriculture

Slaves who were granted land, or became agents for or caretakers of land, were members of a small and privileged group. In contrast, the majority of slaves (at least males) were engaged on the land in actual agricultural labor. Informants agree that Ilorin owners “preferred the slaves on the farm than elsewhere.”[64] Agriculture, therefore, was the most important occupation of the slaves who were settled in and around Ilorin.

It is evident from the available information that slave plantations around Ilorin varied in size, but data are limited on specifics. Informants frequently aver that small-scale holdings were common, either because “most slave-holders had mere handfuls” of slaves, or because a master might divide his slaves among several scattered pieces of land.[65] A warrior, Ojibara, said to have had “about four” plantations with “not less than ten slaves” working on each, perhaps represents the middle-rank Ilorin owner.[66] On a larger scale, “Jamurogo,” Balogun Ajikobi, is said to have had “many “ plantations, with “at least twenty-five slaves working on each . . . alongside his own children.”[67]

As already mentioned, successive Baloguns Gambari may well have been the largest slave owners in Ilorin. David Hinderer, a missionary in Ibadan, even referred, in 1851, to the late Ali, Balogun Gambari, as having had “a village of 26,000 slaves of his own, all working in irons.”[68] While another account from the same period is said to have described this particular balogun as very rich and owning numerous slaves,[69] the number given by Hinderer is clearly wildly exaggerated, obtained by hearsay, and influenced by Ibadan’s and the missionaries’ hostility to Ilorin. Nevertheless, it helps to confirm the reputation of the Baloguns Gambari as slave owners. Information collected in present-day Ilorin suggests, more plausibly, that they had numerous plantations in different locations.[70]

Only one detailed account of a really large plantation anywhere near Ilorin has survived, and it looks as if this was actually outside the Ilorin lands.[71] On present information, it seems likely that plantations around Ilorin, and numbers of slaves owned by individuals and families, were generally smaller than in the highly developed plantation areas of the central Caliphate, or among the export-cropping titled entrepreneurs of southern Yorubaland. As in these other areas, however, the slaves of Ilorin were used by major chiefs and small-scale owners alike.[72]

Around Ilorin, as further north, agricultural slaves seem often to have worked in gangs, supervised by overseers (alakoso) chosen for their loyalty to the master.[73] Two accounts of the work of male farm slaves around Ilorin are to be found in the literature, although both date from the turn of the twentieth century and are therefore not necessarily representative of the entire nineteenth century. Both are by British officials.

The first British Resident, David Carnegie, was of the opinion in 1900 that slavery in Ilorin was “mild enough”:

A slave on a farm works half a day for his master, and half for himself, and gets one full day to himself in every week. He can free himself by paying about £4 to his master, which sum a strong willing man can put by in say four years; but as a rule they are quite content to remain slaves . . .[74]

In 1904, Resident P.M. Dwyer reported on the

large number of domestic or farm slaves in the Province, who are both happy and contented . . . [t]he domestic slave almost in every case works on the farms; he is obliged to make 200 heaps of earth as a days [sic] work, which is absurdly light considering an ordinary hard-working farmer can complete anything up to 1,000 heaps. As soon as the slave has completed his allotted amount he has the rest of the day to himself.

He can till a portion of the farm for his own use, seed and spade [sic] being freely supplied by his master, and sell the produce in the markets, the proceeds of which belong absolutely to himself.[75]

Carnegie and Dwyer agree that the Ilorin agricultural slave worked only part of the day for his master, and in the rest of the time he could work on his own account and keep the proceeds. If we assume that Dwyer is exaggerating the number of heaps a farmer will normally make in a day, and accept a recent estimate of 400,[76] then both accounts agree that the slave worked half a day for the master. Some such arrangements are reported, for example by Clapperton and Schoen, to have obtained elsewhere in the Caliphate.[77] A similar report comes from southern Yorubaland.[78] Paul Lovejoy has warned, however, that such accounts may give an idealized, ideological rather than actual, picture of slave treatment, and that slavery in the Caliphate was “complex and sometimes contradictory.”[79]

A number of accounts are available on the subject from present-day Ilorin informants:

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

Could they sell the produce they grew in their own time? Yes.[80]

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 abuse—unauthorized work during a slave’s free time.

Could they sell the produce they grew in their own time? Yes they could.[81]

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 [debt pawns] could do that.

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. . . .

In what ways were [poor free farmers and slaves] different? A freeborn could sell the proceeds of his farm, a slave had no farm of his own.[82]

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.[83]

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

Could they sell the produce they grew in their own time? They had no personal farms.[84]

A number of points may be made with regard to these various accounts, by turn-of-the-century outsiders and by modern informants. Carnegie’s and Dwyer’s reports may well be idealized, as the two officials undoubtedly received their information from members of the slave-owning elite, who would naturally be anxious to emphasize the milder side of slavery.[85] It seems that these reports represent the idealized norms that Caliphate elites were prepared to accept, or at least to present to outsiders, as do those of Clapperton and Schoen. The report from southern Yorubaland, also mentioned above, describes similar norms. What is evident from Ilorin informants’ responses is that, as Lovejoy has pointed out, the situation was not that simple. In addition, informants’ responses reveal that not only were Caliphate and Yoruba norms not necessarily followed in practice, but also that Ilorin people did not even always pay lip service to them. There is no evidence, incidentally, to suggest that “pagan” owners in Ilorin were any less hard as taskmasters than Muslims or Christians, as Oroge suggests for southern Yorubaland.[86]

The various accounts of slaves’ roles in farm work can be taken to refer largely to males. In general, women in Yorubaland, including Ilorin, are said to have been involved only in certain specified agricultural tasks. In the mid-nineteenth century, W.H. Clarke reported that in Yorubaland

[t]he males are the only class on whom [the] duty [of cultivation] devolves though the females vary frequently aid in harvesting, and may be seen daily bringing in loads of provisions from the farm. So strong is the aversion of the native mind to this kind of female servitude that I have yet to see the first instance of a woman engaged, hoe in hand, in cultivating the earth.[87]

In 1929, Sylvia Leith-Ross reported from Ilorin:

The man does all the farm work; the woman only helps with the light work such as the picking of beans or cotton. . . . She strips and ties the cut guinea corn and carries the bundles, but does not cut it herself. . . . She helps to plant the yams. . . . Onion growing is entirely managed by women but I think that is the only purely feminine agricultural or horticultural employment, and, in this neighbourhood, is only practised on a small scale. Medicinal herbs and flavourings for sauces are usually gathered by the women but they are not specially grown . . . It can be definitely stated that the bulk of the farm work is done by the men . . .[88]

The situation appears to have been similar for nineteenth-century female slaves. In some cases, they are said to have done no actual farmwork at all. In general, they appear to have been used on the farms in locally-customary female pursuits, taking part in planting and harvesting (especially of cotton), carrying crops, doing housework and preparing and cooking food.[89] (Incidentally, slaves were not always used for cooking: in at least one city compound they were forbidden to cook for the members of the family, presumably for fear of poisoning. Slaves were, however, used in preparing and cooking food for the armies on campaign.)[90] Female slaves engaged in other non-agricultural rural occupations as in the case of a woman taken to Oloru in the 1890s, and employed there in plucking reeds for mat making.[91]

One might very reasonably ask whether the accounts of Ilorin informants on the limited role of female slaves in agriculture may not reflect norms rather than actuality, like the accounts of male slaves’ work arrangements discussed above. There are, however, other indications from informants’ reports that tend to confirm that it was indeed males who did the bulk of the cultivation. For one thing, informants generally say that male slaves were more in demand than females (and more costly, except for those females destined for concubinage), and that what they were valued for was their physical strength. Females on the other hand were more valued for housework, for instance taking over such duties so that free wives could be placed in purdah.[92] There is some difference in emphasis here from the analysis of the Caliphate as a whole given by Paul Lovejoy. While Lovejoy agrees that male slaves were valued for their labor power, he argues that women were more in demand than men, and more expensive, because they offered a variety of advantages, combining the roles of concubines, child bearers, and servants.[93] In Ilorin, the physical strength of male slaves for use in agriculture seems to have been more emphasized and in demand, rather than the possible multiple uses of females.

Although there was no development of important export crops, such as those which helped to encourage the growth of plantations further south, the work of slaves in agriculture around Ilorin provided essential infrastructural support for the inhabitants of the city. They were widely employed in the cultivation of food crops, which fed the large city households (including retainers and slaves), provided tribute to be paid to agents, landholders and the emir, and were offered for local sale.[94] Both males and females were also used in the production and processing of crops used in the important cloth-related industries of the city, as will be further examined later.

Slaves in Horsekeeping and the Military

The roles of some elite or relatively privileged slaves in the military have been discussed above. Less favored slaves in Ilorin were also employed in military-related duties, including horsekeeping. As in other parts of the Caliphate, horses were important, for status as well as war.[95] But their mortality rates in northern Yorubaland were high, and they had to be imported from the north, so they do not seem to have been kept in numbers comparable to those in, say, Sokoto or Kano. They were, nevertheless, kept in fairly large numbers. In 1889 at Offa, the Ilorin force was said to have about 800–1000 mounted men.[96] The emir and his slave military official, the Sarkin Baraje, are said to have kept some 350 horses between them.[97] If other major chiefs kept stables of a similar size, then Ilorin as a whole should have been able to field a considerable cavalry force.[98]

When not being used on campaign, horses were kept largely within city compounds, which meant that much of their fodder had to be brought in to them, involving a great deal of labor.[99] Informants stress the work involved in their feeding and care. One mentions that, out of the captured slaves, the emir “might give one of the strongest . . . to a chief, then that slave would provide food for the chief’s horse,”[100] another echo of the emphasis placed by Ilorin owners on the desirability of physically strong male slaves. Another reports that

It took 5 to 6 people to look after a horse: one to collect the grass; one to chop the grass into short pieces, for easy digestion; one to clean the horse; one to wash it; one to exercise it. Those looking after horses were mostly slaves, caught at the war front.[101]

Clearly, this would be an exaggeration if taken as the labor needed to care for a single horse; equally, it is no exaggeration, in Ilorin conditions, if taken as the labor needed for even a small stable of them.

Not all of those who looked after the horses were slaves. Some were family members, others were hired help.[102] But many were indeed slaves. These included, for example, the Bariba captives who took care of the emir’s horses.[103] In some cases, the job was given to slaves as a punishment, as a Fulani resident explains:

Pagans were captured and converted to Islam. Those who refused to become Muslims were regarded as slaves looking after Fulani wives and horses.[104]

During military campaigns, slaves not only looked after the horses, but performed a variety of other menial tasks: acted as carriers, set up camps, prepared and cooked food, and washed clothes.[105] But there were also slaves among the fighting troops.[106] Some were themselves responsible for capturing further slaves, for which they were rewarded. A slave who had captured a Hausa woman in 1896 was given “a present of money in cowries” by Balogun Alanamu.[107] A slave who caught slaves for his master “was still a slave, but was given different treatment” thereafter.[108] Some slave soldiers became famous warriors, and were rewarded with titles and lands.

Slave Use in Industry and Trade

Economically speaking, nineteenth-century Ilorin is usually remembered for its prominence as a middleman city, channelling much of the trade between north and south.[109] It was also, however, a significant center of industrial production, with cloth and lantana beads as major export items.[110] The most important and large-scale men’s industries were narrow-loom weaving and lantana beadmaking (though there was some hidden female participation in the latter),[111] and a variety of other industrial occupations, including leatherworking, were also carried on by men. Notable among women’s industries were pottery-making, dyeing, and broad-loom weaving, which, again, were involved in production on a significant scale. Much of the industrial activity was carried on within the Yoruba tradition, or the “southern system”[112] of production: dyeing, for example, was a women’s occupation, not involving large dye-pits; women as well as men were weavers; and lantana beadmaking had been brought from Old Oyo.

Slaves were involved in various industrial or industry-related activities, though there were some limits to their participation. They were frequently engaged in cultivating cotton for the weaving industries,[113] and females were useful as spinners.[114] Slaves were also utilized in the cultivation (in so far as it was cultivated, not simply gathered) of the leaf called elu, used in the production of blue dye.[115] One informant, however, an elderly dyer herself, asserts that slaves were not used in harvesting and processing the leaf, “because it is secret,” having magical connotations. In contradiction to others, she also declares that slaves were not taught to dye.[116] In fact, they may have been used in some parts of the processes but not in those with arcane connotations. Female slaves might be weavers.[117] Male slaves could also become weavers (the head weaver of Olabintan Compound, who was also a warrior, took slaves to the warfront where he made them weave, no doubt in the periods of inactivity that characterized the siege warfare around Offa), though there is some evidence that their numbers were limited.[118] This is perhaps only to be expected, as slaves might naturally tend to be concentrated in the more laborious (and less highly-skilled) stages of production.[119]

Slaves were also bought by the leatherworkers, and used to help them in their work.[120] They were used by clay site owners to dig clay for use by the potters.[121] Lantana beadmakers procured them by capture and purchase, and it is said that there was no beadmaking compound that did not have its slaves,[122] who were used in the craft (especially in the more tedious procedures?) and given out in marriage (or concubinage) to important customers.[123]

Slaves played a major, if passive, role as commodities for sale. They were also involved more actively in trade. Traders in Ilorin cloth employed them to carry the cloth to distant markets, especially in the south, to carry cowries back to Ilorin, and also to count the cowries.[124] These employments provide further examples of slave use in physically taxing, laborious, or tedious occupations. But it was not only slaves who were long-distance carriers, as traders’ children, junior relatives, apprentices, iwofa, and professional carriers were also involved.[125]

Slaves were also involved directly in trade. They carried agricultural produce to the market and sold it there, both on their masters’ behalf and on their own.[126] Trusted male slaves might be employed in long-distance trade for the master.[127] Slaves involved in local or long-distance trade were following a time-honoured Yoruba custom.[128] Members of the slave elite, of course, might engage in large-scale trade on their own account, like Nasama, the mid-century “sheriff or public executioner,” who “had for many years followed the trading business.” He was himself “master of a large number of slaves,” some of whom, no doubt, were his assistants in trade.[129]

Conclusion: Significance of Slave Roles; Change and Continuity as the British Consolidated Their Rule

In Ilorin, elite or relatively privileged slaves were active in the political life of the emirate, and were instrumental in the loss of power of the emirs. Other slaves also played political roles, but collectively: their acquisition, use and sale strengthened the power and prestige of the baloguns and other chiefs, as did their activities at the warfront. The acquisition, processing, and sale of slaves was important to the economy of the city; and their employment in food, raw material, and industrial production added to its wealth. The significance of the slaves is underlined by a letter written by Emir Suleiman to the Royal Niger Company commander, George Goldie, in 1897, immediately after the exodus of large numbers of slaves following the Niger Company’s attack:

I wish you to know that all the slaves in the town, belonging to me and my people, ran away with your men, and I am afraid they will not come back again to their masters. I therefore beseech you, in the name of God to send back these people to me if you please . . .[130]

Goldie had no choice but to refuse.[131] And this response, plus other British activities,[132] must have aroused well-founded fears among the city’s elite that their days of slave collection and sale were numbered. At least, therefore, they must have been concerned to replace the slaves who had left in 1897, before it was too late for further slave acquisition. Thus between 1897 and 1900, they underlined the importance of the slaves by escalated seizures. In 1904, British Resident Dwyer recalled that on his arrival in 1900 he had found a

woeful condition . . . No road was safe for woman or child to travel on as they were more than likely to be seized and sold as slaves. The senior Chiefs of the town held their own Courts and, seizing people, made them pay a heavy sum for their release.[133]

In 1905 he reflected that only a few years earlier Ilorin had been “a truculent slave dealing tribe who spent time harrying Caravans and small villages.”[134]

In subsequent years, as the British consolidated their hold, some slave roles began to change. The colonial government was concerned to resuscitate the power of the emir, in the interests of indirect rule, and those elite slaves who resisted openly (Eji and Ogidiolu) were removed.[135] Others, remaining in the emir’s service, or in that of one of the major chiefs, continued to find opportunities for manipulation and profit.[136] Slave raiding was halted, and the slave trade was driven underground and gradually declined.[137] This considerably reduced the power and incomes of the major chiefs and others, as well as being a major factor removing the need for the chiefs to keep large military followings. But slaves remained important to them. Members of the elite had to feed themselves and their households, and felt it necessary to keep up certain standards of hospitality and prestige. In order to fulfil these expectations, they still required the services and (perhaps equally important, in their reduced circumstances) the deference of slaves. Other owners continued to want slaves for agricultural, industrial and domestic work, as before. All owners feared the uncompensated loss of their slave assets. Since many slaves had already departed, especially in 1897, owners were anxious to hold on to those who remained. Whatever they had lost, they had the agreement of the British on the importance of the role played by their slaves. Long-term Resident Dwyer of Ilorin feared that if the slaves went free,[the] farmers could not pay for sufficient hired labour to keep the Province in its present flourishing condition and the markets would suffer severely.[138]


[1] The information in this paper is largely taken from my monograph, Power Relations in Nigeria: Ilorin Slaves and Their Successors [Rochester, NY, 1997: forthcoming at time of writing this paper] and also from two of my papers: an unpublished paper on elite slaves in Ilorin, and “Ilorin in the Atlantic and Internal Slave Trades, c. 1820 to the Early 20th Century,” presented at the ASA meeting, San Francisco, November 1996.

[2] C.S. Whitaker has estimated that the Yoruba have always made up at least 90 percent of the Ilorin population. The Politics of Tradition: Continuity and Change in Northern Nigeria, 1946-1966 (Princeton, 1970), 123.

[3] For the argument that Ilorin’s warfare had become basically defensive, see e.g. quotation in Samuel Johnson, The History of the Yorubas (Lagos, 1921; reprint, 1976), 517.

[4] On these rebellions, see Power Relations, chapter 3.

[5] Johnson, History, 437; J. Milum, “Notes of a Journey from Lagos to Bida, etc. (1879-80),” Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, n.s. 3 (1881), 35.

[6] See e.g. Robin Law, The Oyo Empire c.1600–c.1836 (Oxford, 1977), 281.

[7] R.J. Gavin, “The Impact of Colonial Rule on the Ilorin Economy, 1897-1930,” Centrepoint (University of Ilorin) 1, no. 1 (1977).

[8] Though this may have been exaggerated by disapproving Christian visitors, who compared this Muslim and anti-missionary  city unfavorably with southern Yorubaland, where missions were allowed to operate. Robert Campbell, A Pilgrimage to My Motherland. An Account of a Journey among the Egbas and Yorubas of Central Africa in 1859-60 (London, 1861), 62; M.R. Delany, Official Report of the Niger Valley Exploring Party (New York, 1861), 40; Rev. S.S. Farrow, “A Visit to Ilorin,” Part I, Niger and Yoruba Notes 1 (1894), 30; Rev. R.H. Stone, In Afric’s Forest and Jungle, or Six Years among the Yorubas (Edinburgh, 1900), 156.

[9] See e.g. Church Missionary Society Archive, University of Birmingham, (CMS), CA 2/049/104, Rev. David Hinderer, Account of Ibadan, 23 October 1851; “Exploratory Tours in Yoruba,” Church Missionary Intelligencer 7 (January 1856), 21, 22; Public Record Office, London (PRO) [held in the National Archives, Kew] FO 84/1061, B. Campbell, Consul, to Earl of Clarendon, 6 March 1858, transmitting extract from letter by Francis H. Davis, Medical member of Dr. Baikie’s Niger Expedition, camp near Jeba, 31 January 1858; CMS CA 2/085/265, Journal of Rev. Henry Townsend, 25 September 1859; CMS CA 2/069/13, Oyo Station, Journal Extracts of Geo. Meakin, 31 October 1859; CMS CA 2/056/51, Rev. James Johnson, From Ibadan to Oyo and Ogbomoso, 18 May 1877; interview conducted on the present author’s behalf by Toyin Hassan with Alfa Raji, Singini Quarter,  Ilorin, July/August 1981; [Commonwealth and African Collections, formerly] held in Rhodes House Library, Oxford [now in Weston Library, formerly known as New Bodleian, Oxford; RH numbers retained], RH Mss. Afr. s.958, Dwyer (P.M.) Extracts from Reports Ilorin 1902-1908, Annual Report 1904.

[10] Paul E. Lovejoy, “The Central Sudan and the Atlantic Slave Trade,” in Robert W. Harms, et al., eds., Paths toward the Past: African Historical Essays in Honor of Jan Vansina (Atlanta, 1994), 345.

[11] Toyin Falola, “Slavery and Pawnship in the Yoruba Economy of the Nineteenth Century,” paper for Conference on Unfree Labour in the Development of the Atlantic World, York University, Toronto, April 1993; E. Adeniyi Oroge, “The Institution of Slavery in Yorubaland with Particular Reference to the Nineteenth Century” (Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham, 1971), 158-61, 185-86; Robin Law, “‘Legitimate’ Trade and Gender Relations in Yorubaland and Dahomey,” in Robin Law, ed., From Slave Trade to “Legitimate” Commerce (Cambridge, 1995), 197-98.

[12] Law, Oyo Empire, 245-46, 256-59; Johnson, History, 193-94, 197-200.

[13] The extent of this source of supply is called into question by a report that the (sizeable) Ekiti town of Osi, once it had become tributary to Ilorin, supplied only two slaves a year. Other towns may not have supplied any: the bale of Eruku stated that his town paid tribute in cowries. H.O.A. Danmole, “The Frontier Emirate: A History of Islam in Ilorin” (Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham, 1980), 100, citing Nigerian National Archives, Kaduna (NNAK), Ilorinprof no. 6338, Notes on the History of Igbominas, Ekitis, Ajasse, Otun, Obo and Osi; Nigeria Gazette (Extraordinary), Decision of H.E. the Governor on the Claim for a Revision of the Inter-Regional Boundary between the Northern and Western Regions, no. 46, vol. 39, Lagos, 3 September 1952, Appendix 3, 1004, para. 5.

[14] Oral evidence corroborates other data with respect to the areas of Ilorin raids, but gives no chronological detail.

[15] Johnson, History, 200.

[16] NNAK SNP 7/13 4703/1912, Omu District—Offa Division—Assessment Report, Omu report June 1912 (by C.S. Burnett , para. 9); see same file for Omu-Isanlu District Assessment Report by V.F. Biscoe 1912, para. 6.

[17] RH Mss. Afr. s.1210, C.W. Michie, Political Situation Northern Provinces and History of Ilorin, Report on Local Government Reform in the Bala and Afon Districts of Ilorin Emirate: 1954, para. 11; NNAK SNP 10/4 304p/1916, District Assessment Report Osi by G.O. Whitely, paras. 6, 7, 10.

[18] Daniel J. May, “Journey in the Yoruba and Nupe Countries in 1858,” Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 30 (1860), 226.

[19] Gavin, “Impact,” 14-15.

[20] Johnson, History, 404, 338; J.F. Ade Ajayi and Robert Smith, Yoruba Warfare in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1964), 88-89.

[21] Johnson, History, 564, 605; A.F. Mockler-Ferryman, Up the Niger (London, 1892), 196.

[22] PRO CO 879/33, African (West), no. 399 (Printed), Lagos, Correspondence Respecting Native Affairs and Mr. Alvan Millson’s Mission, Colonial Office, August 1891, no. 14, Ag. Gov. G.C. Denton to Lord Knutsford, Lagos, 28 January 1890, encl.: Ajayi Balogun and other authorities of Ibadan to Ag. Gov., Ikirun, 24 December 1889, 51.

[23] Nigeria Gazette (Extraordinary), Decision of H.E. the Governor, An Examination of the Claims for a Revision of the Boundary between the Northern and Western Regions, 989, para. 19; 922, para. 28; Appendix 3,  1004, para. 5; Lagos Weekly Record, 29 September 1894.

[24] Ivan B. Mustain, “A Political History of Ilorin in the Nineteenth Century” (M.Phil. thesis, University of Ibadan, 1978), 96, says that by the reign of Shita, the most senior balogun commanded the army, and the emir remained in Ilorin, “like the traditional secluded Yoruba monarch.” The main army leaders in Shita’s reign are said to have been Ajia Gaju and Ali, Balogun Gambari. At the battle of Oshogbo, in about 1838 (for this date, see Law, Oyo Empire, 296), the Ilorin army was led by the Balogun Gambari. K.V. Elphinstone, Gazetteer of Ilorin Province (London, 1921), 16-17.

[25] Mustain, “Political History,” 116; Danmole, “Frontier Emirate,” 92-93. Compare David Tambo, “The Sokoto Caliphate Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century” (M.A. thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1974), 15.

[26] Colonial Reports Annual: Northern Nigeria 1900-1913 (London, 1900-1914), bound volume 1900-1911, 1904, 220, para. 22, Ancient System of Taxation.

[27] S.A. Balogun, “Gwandu Emirates in the Nineteenth Century with Special Reference to Political Relations: 1817-1903” (Ph.D. thesis, University of Ibadan, 1971), 391-92; CMS CA 2/066/88, Rev. A.C. Mann, Journal for the Quarter ending September 25 1855, 6 August.

[28] Interview with Nafisatu, Ile Eleke, Ilorin, 7 September 1988; interview conducted by O. Adesiyun with Alh. Yahaya Kalu Olabintan, Olabintan  Compound, 15 July 1975, translation of tape 11, and interview by Adesiyun with Alfa Salimonu, Pakata Isale Oja, 14 July 1975, translation of tape 10; interview by B. Elesin (organized by E.B. Bolaji) with anonymous informant 3, 11 December 1988; interview by Suleiman Ajao with Yunusa Hamada Gufari, Ile Alawo, 27 January 1990; for outsiders’ reports, see below, also Gilbert T. Carter, Despatch from Sir Gilbert T. Carter, Furnishing a General Report of the Lagos Interior Expedition, 1893 (London, 1893), 27.

The series of interviews conducted by O. Adesiyun in Ilorin in 1975 was organized by Paul E. Lovejoy, and the results deposited in the Lovejoy Collection, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, and also deposited in  the Lovejoy Collection in the Harriet Tubman Institute at York University, Toronto, Canada. I am grateful to Paul Lovejoy for copies of the tapes and transcripts, and to Busayo J. Simeon and Suleiman Ajao for providing translations of some of the tapes. I am also grateful to E.B. Bolaji for organizing several series of interviews on my behalf; and to E.B. Bolaji, B. Elesin, S.T. Salami, A.B. Adua, Suleiman Ajao, and K.A. Ibrahim for conducting interviews.

[29] See e.g. comments by Frederick Cooper, Plantation Slavery on the East Coast of Africa (New Haven, CT, 1977), 18, and “Review Article: The Problem of Slavery in African Studies,” Journal of African History 20 (1979), 122-23.

[30] It would seem from Johnson’s accounts (History, 217-218, 259) that he did this on two occasions.

[31] Alh. Safi Jimba, A Short History of Ilorin (Ilorin 1981), 5. The author appears to be referring to the first Jimba, but the reference to munitions suggests a later period in the nineteenth century. The author appears here and elsewhere (see reference in note 32) to attribute to the first Jimba activities which were or may have been carried out by later heads of the family.

[32] Safi Jimba, “Safi Jimba’s Notes and Comments on Omo Ikokoro’s History of Ilorin,” typescript. I am grateful to Stefan Reichmuth for providing me with a copy of this work.

[33] Though not the other way round. Information from a member of a branch of the Ilorin royal family [see 4.2g in the Dr. Ann O’Hear Archive].

[34] Jimba, History, 5, 6.

[35] See e.g. ibid., 5; also Mockler-Ferryman, Up the Niger, 194; PRO FO 84/1940, Confidential Print December 1889, Report by Major Macdonald of Expedition to Ilorin, encl. 3: Journal of a Visit to the Ilorin Camp at Ofa by the Rev. C. Paul, CMS.

[36] Bolaji/Salami/Elesin interviews, 1988; Igbomina S.W. Area Court Grade 1, Ajasse Po, suit no. 455/73, case no. 229/75.

[37] NNAK SNP 10 693 p/1913, Ilorin Province: Re-settlement of the Oke Moro Districts, Report on Oke Moro Districts and District of Owode—Administration and Village Grouping by A/R Lethem, 16 September 1913, paras 27-30; Report on Bekodo District, 26 September 1913, para.2; Report on Owode District by A/R Lethem, 26 September 1913, paras. 4-5.

[38] According to P.C. Lloyd, in Ilorin the “title of ajia was bestowed upon slaves who, by their own prowess in war, had acquired their own slaves and thus controlled military battalions. Most of the more famous ajia of the 19th century seem to have been slaves of the Emirs, though it is said that the Baloguns could create their own ajia.” The Political Development of Yoruba Kingdoms in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (London, 1971), 42. However, not all ajia titleholders in Ilorin were necessarily slaves. For example, Ajia Ogbonde is included in a list of free titles. NNAK Ilorinprof 4/1 829A/1917, Ilorin Emirate Reorganisation of Districts, Unsalaried Owners of Titles in Ilorin (1) Freemen.

For slaves capturing slaves in war, see also interviews with Salumanu, Magaji Yaba, 29 & 30 September 1988. On slaves owning slaves in Ilorin, see also Milum, “Notes of a Journey,” 36; and Rev. S.S. Farrow, “A Visit to Ilorin,” Part I, Niger and Yoruba Notes 1 (1894), 29.

The title ajia is used outside Ilorin in a variety of ways. In Oyo (?) it seems to have referred to freemen (Johnson, History, 134), in Daura, to slaves (M.G. Smith, The Affairs of Daura (Berkeley, 1978), 142.

[39] On Nasama (Nasamu, Nasamo), see W.H. Clarke, Travels and Explorations in Yorubaland, 1854-1858, ed. J.A. Atanda (Ibadan, 1972), 81, 84; Campbell, Pilgrimage, 62-63, 101-102; T.J. Bowen, Adventures and Missionary Labours in Several Countries in the Interior of Africa from 1849 to 1856, 2nd ed., with a new introduction by E.A. Ayandele (London, 1968), 191-92; CMS CA 2/066/88, Mann Journal, 1-4 August 1855.

[40] H.B. Hermon-Hodge, Gazetteer of Ilorin Province (London, 1929), 169, citing NNAK Ilorinprof 4 814/1912, Land Tenure in Afon District, Report by Captain Burnett 1912. For baba kekere in Ilorin, see Ann O’Hear, “Political and Commercial Clientage in Nineteenth-Century Ilorin,” African Economic History 15 (1986).

[41] NNAK Ilorinprof 5/1 3766, Lanwa District Assessment Report, Lanwa Lands by C.S. Burnett July 1913, para. 1.

[42] Campbell, Pilgrimage, 61.

In 1893, the Sarkin Dongari was described as “the jailer and chief executioner.” G.B. Haddon-Smith, Interior Mission to Yorubaland 1893, Extracts from the Diary of G.B. Haddon-Smith, Political Officer, Notes on Ilorin [formerly in Foreign and Commonwealth Office Library; now in the Foyle Special Collections Library, King’s College London; copy also available in University of Birmingham library, UK. See also 8.2a and 8.2b in the Dr. Ann O’Hear Archive].  In the middle of the century, however, it was the Sarkin Dongari’s subordinate, Nasama, who was generally identified as the executioner (see references in endnote 39). Only one traveller around that time refers to the Sarkin himself as the executioner (Clarke, Travels, 162).

[43]       In Nupe, Abuja, Zaria and Daura, the Sarkin Dongari was a slave police official (S.F. Nadel, A Black Byzantium (London, 1942), 108; M.G. Smith, Government in Zazzau, 1800-1950 (London, 1960), table facing 36, table facing 100; Smith, Daura, 140. In Fulani Daura, he also became the executioner (281).

[44]       The Sarkin Dongari (as of 1989) in Ilorin denies previous slave status, but says that his nineteenth-century ancestor was chief warder in charge of prisoners, also in charge of war captives. Today, he says, he is “the palace police,” is in charge of announcements to the public,

Haddon-Smith, Interior Mission, No. 5, 12 March 1893.

[45] PRO CO 147/104, G.T. Carter to Chamberlain, Odo Otin 9 January 1896; see also Hermon-Hodge, Gazetteer, 73; Lagos Weekly Record, 28 September 1895.

[46] NNAK SNP 10 693 p/1913, Ilorin Province: Re-settlement of the Oke Moro Districts, Owode District 26 September 1913, paras. 2-4.

[47] Other emirs’ slaves, including the Balogun Afin and Sarkin Dongari, were given lands in the same area, maybe for the same purpose. NNAK Ilorinprof 5 2115A, Ilorin Emirate Notes (1937), Owode.

[48] NNAK Ilorinprof 5 2267, Lanwa District Gazetteer by B.A. Roberts 1933, Historical, paras. 8ff.

[49] See above; also Lloyd, Political Development, 45.

[50] For the Sarkin Gambari (or his slave?) surrendering his rights in Igporin to Emir Shita, who wanted the lands for his own slave, Magaji Akiali, see NNAK Ilorinprof 4/1 829A/1917, Ilorin Emirate Reorganisation of Districts; for the resumption of Balogun Alanamu’s lands in what became Owode District by the emir, when the balogun was exiled in 1902, see Elphinstone, Gazetteer, 20; NNAK SNP 10 693 p/1913, Ilorin Province: Re-settlement of the Oke Moro Districts, Owode District 26 September 1913, paras. 6-7; and Report on Oke Moro Districts and District of Owode—Administration and Village Grouping 16 September 1913, para. 30.

[51] NNAK Ilorinprof 4/1 829A/1917, Ilorin Emirate Reorganisation of Districts. For an indication of how far this may be a simplified account, compare with NNAK Ilorinprof 4 814/1912, Land Tenure in Afon District, Report by Captain Burnett, 1912.

[52] According to Mustain, the emirs’ “ability to grant newly conquered land in return for loyal service” was important, and when the emirate ceased expanding, the emirs lost this “significant source of patronage.” “Political History,” 120.

[53] Lloyd, Political Development, 45.

[54] Interview with Lawani Akano and Mamudu Alau, Magaji Village, Oloru District, 13 September 1988; NNAK Ilorinprof 4/1 829A/1917, Ilorin Emirate Reorganisation of Districts, Oloru District; NNAK Ilorinprof 5 2197, Oloru District Gazetteer by G.M. Patterson 1935, revised by F. de F. Daniel 1937, Succession and Genealogies of Oloru District Village Head Men.

[55] NNAK SNP 10 693 p/1913, Ilorin Province: Resettlement of the Oke Moro Districts, Report on Paiye District by A/R Lethem, 26 September 1913, para. 6; NNAK Ilorinprof 19/4 PLT 40, Paiye District General, 21, para. 2.

[56] Interview by E.B. Bolaji and B. Elesin with anonymous informant 1, 2 November 1988; Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant 3. The slave warrior Dada was important enough to have his own oriki, remembered until today.

[57] NNAK SNP 15/1 ACC No. 119, Ilorin Province Annual Report 1906, Report for July-September 1906 by P.M. Dwyer, para. 14; NNAK Ilorinprof 4/1 829A/1917, Ilorin Emirate Reorganisation of Districts, Fiefholds District by District.

[58] Ann O’Hear, ed., Letters from Nigeria, 1899-1900: David Wynford Carnegie (Madison, 1992), 29, 41, 48; NNAK SNP 15 ACC No. 11, Ilorin 1900, D. Carnegie to High Commissioner, 10 July 1900, and Carnegie to High Commissioner (no date, but after 17 July; p. 39 of file).

[59] NNAK SNP 15/1 ACC No. 119, Ilorin Province Annual Report 1906, Report for Quarter ending 31 March 1906, by P.M. Dwyer, para. 5.

[60] Lloyd, Political Development, 42; Mustain, “Political History,” 116.

[61] Joseph P. Smaldone, Warfare in the Sokoto Caliphate  (Cambridge, 1977), 110, 115, 133, 134.

[62] For slaves in military-related occupations, see below. For munitions in the palace, see above (death of Emir Momo).

[63] It appears that few Ilorin soldiers were trained in the use of the available weaponry. Seymour Vandeleur, who was with the Royal Niger Company expedition against Ilorin in 1897, commented that “it is difficult to understand why the Ilorins did not make better use of the numbers of breech-loading rifles, amongst which there were even some curious magazine rifles, or of the quantity of ammunition which they possessed, and which was afterwards captured in the town.” Campaigning on the Upper Nile and Niger (London, 1898), 276.

[64] Adesiyun interviews with Amuda Yusuf, Pakata, July 1975, transcript of tape 9; with Jimoh Isowo, Ode Isowo, 15 July 1975, transcript of tape 12; and with Alfa Abdul Lasisi, Pakata, 14 July 1975, translation of tape 8; Bolaji/Salami/Elesin interviews, 1988.

[65] Interview with Magaji Yaba, 29 September 1988; Bolaji/Salami/Elesin interviews, 1988.

[66] Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant 3, and follow-up interview with same.

[67] Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant 1, and follow-up interview with same.

[68] CMS CA 2/049/104, Hinderer Account of Ibadan 1851.

[69] Mahdi Adamu, The Hausa Factor in West African History (Zaria, 1978), 104 and n. 40, citing T.J. Bowen.

[70] Bolaji /Salami/Elesin interviews, 1988, and follow-up interview with anonymous informant 3. See also NNAK Ilorinprof 5 2197, Oloru Gazetteer 1935, revised 1937, Succession and Genealogies.

[71] Power Relations, chapter 2.

[72] Paul E. Lovejoy, “Plantations in the Economy of the Sokoto Caliphate,” Journal of African History 19 (1978), 359-60: Law, “‘Legitimate’ Trade,” 197-98; Oroge, “Institution of Slavery,” 180.

[73] Bolaji/Salami/Elesin interviews, 1988; Lovejoy, “Plantations,” 344.

[74] O’Hear, ed.,

Carnegie Letters, 53.

[75] RH Mss. Afr. s.958, Dwyer Extracts, Annual Report 1904.

[76] Information from H.J. O’Hear, 21 March 1983, following his interview with two farmers of Alara Village Area, Oloru District.

[77] See Paul E. Lovejoy, “Slavery in the Sokoto Caliphate,” in Paul E. Lovejoy, ed., The Ideology of Slavery (Beverly Hills, 1981), 216-218.

[78] PRO FO 84/1031, Campbell to Clarendon, 14 March 1857, cited by Oroge, in “Institution of Slavery,” 199.

[79] “Slavery in the Sokoto Caliphate,” 215.

[80] Interview by S.T. Salami (organized by E.B. Bolaji) with Magaji Adeyi, 20 October 1988.

[81] Interview by B. Elesin (organized by E.B.  Bolaji) with anonymous informant 2, 15 November 1988.

In 1991, inhabitants of a small hamlet in Igporin District said it had been the practice for a slave to have a small, separate farm called abuse on his own. The proceeds from this farm would be his, and could also be “shared with his master.” Information from anonymous research assistant [see 6.1, Anonymous research assistant, 1990-1994, in the Dr. Ann O’Hear Archive].

[82] Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant 1.

[83] Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant 3.

[84] Interview

by E.B. Bolaji and S.T. Salami with Alh. Yusuf Olore, 28 October 1988.

[85] Carnegie’s account of slavery and its “mildness” appears to have been derived from his interview with “a gentleman who deals in slaves.” O’Hear, ed., Carnegie Letters, 53.

[86] Oroge, “Institution of Slavery,” 200, 201.

[87] Clarke, Travels, 260.

[88] RH Mss. Afr. s.1520, Sylvia Leith-Ross, Report on Women’s Education Ilorin Province, 30 April 1929, 11.

[89] Adesiyun interview with Mustapha Mesuna, Adana Compound, 10 July 1975, translation of tape 2; Bolaji/Salami/Elesin interviews, 1988.

[90] Interview by Suleiman Ajao with Hassan Iyanda, Ile Ila Akodudu, 11 March 1990; see below on slaves cooking in the army.

[91] PRO CO 147/105, Rohrweger to Chamberlain, 6 July 1896 encl.: Odo Otin, 29 May 1896 (statement by a Gambari woman who recently escaped from the Ilorin country).

[92] Bolaji /Salami/Elesin interviews, 1988. Informants assert that males fetched higher prices than females, except in the case of a “beautiful female slave.”

A few other reports of slave prices in Ilorin are available; these tend to confirm the oral information. In 1897 a Hausa female was reported to have been bought for £10; in 1896 a woman and child were sold for less than £6; in 1893 an old woman was likely to fetch only about £2, but prices in general were said to vary from £5 to £8, with “boys and young men fetching the highest price.” PRO CO 147/121, McCallum to Chamberlain, 8 December 1897, encl.: Fuller, 3 December 1897; CO 147/105, Rohrweger to Chamberlain, 6 July 1895, encl.: Odo Otin, 29 May 1896 (statement by a Gambari woman); Carter, Despatch, 23; Haddon-Smith, Interior Mission 1893, Notes on Ilorin.

[93] Paul E. Lovejoy, “Concubinage in the Sokoto Caliphate (1804-1903),” Slavery and Abolition 11 (1990), 162-65, 174-75.

[94] Adesiyun interviews with Abdul Kareem, Singini Quarter, 9 July 1975, transcript of tape 1; and with Alfa Salimonu; Bolaji/Elesin interviews with anonymous informants 2 and 3. On tribute, see e.g. Ann O’Hear, “The Economic History of Ilorin in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: The Rise and Decline of a Middleman Society” (Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham, 1983), 237, including notes.

[95] M uch of the information on horsekeeping in Ilorin included here is taken from Ann O’Hear, “Notes on Leatherworking in Ilorin,” in Toyin Falola and Robin Law, eds., Warfare and Diplomacy in Precolonial Nigeria: Essays in Honor of Robert Smith (Madison, 1992). On the importance of horses elsewhere, see Robin Law, The Horse in West African History (Oxford, 1980).

[96] PRO FO 84/1940, Confidential Print December 1889, Report by Major Macdonald of Expedition to Ilorin, encl. 3: Journal of a Visit to the Ilorin Camp at Ofa by the Rev. C. Paul, CMS.

[97] Interview with His Highness Alhaji Sulu Gambari, Emir of Ilorin, 8 December 1982. He told another researcher, however, that the emirs kept up to 200 horses in the palace, while the Sarkin Baraje kept 300. Mustain, “Political History,” 95.

[98] Ilorin could only muster some 1000 horsemen all told against the Royal Niger Company in 1897, when it was fighting for its very independence, but internal political quarrels may well have reduced the numbers available to fight; and before the attack Ilorin had been engaged in a disastrous campaign, in which it was said to have “lost hundreds of riderless horses.” Smaldone, Warfare, 60, citing Vandeleur, Campaigning, 244; Johnson, History, 650.

[99] Mustain, “Political History,” 91, 94-95; O’Hear, ed., Carnegie Letters, 38; interview with Alh. Yusuf Aremu, Ile Baba Isale, 9 December 1984. This was similar to Old Oyo. See Law, Oyo Empire, 186, 201.

[100] Interview with Magaji Yaba, 30 September 1988.

[101] Interview with Alh. Imam Idiaro, Ile Ongaari, 8 September 1988. On the labor required in dealing with horses, see also interview with Alh. Yusuf Aremu, Ile Baba Isale; and information from A.I. Aleshinloye, Ile Baba Isale, 29 September 1982.

[102] Interview with Alh. Yusuf Aremu, Ile Baba Isale; information from A.I. Aleshinloye.

[103] Ajoke Azumi Yusuf, “Diplomacy and Warfare: The Strategies and Military Exploits of Ilorin in the Nineteenth Century” (B.A. diss., History, University of Ilorin, 1988), 38-39.

[104] Kehinde Abolarin Jimoh, “A Social History of Balogun Fulani Ward since 1823” (B.A. diss., History, University of Ilorin, 1984), Appendix 1, Sample of Oral Sources.

The slaves looking after wives were also said to have “protected the wives of their masters against assault . . . they were like bodyguards . . .” (Ibid., 28). There is no information as to whether the slaves referred to here were eunuchs. But sometimes at least it was eunuchs who looked after wives of prominent individuals. The wife of Rev. Henry Townsend was introduced to wives of “the Balogun” who were “confined in a part of his premises he has an Eunuch to look after them” (CMS CA 2/085/265, Townsend Journal, 21 August 1859). There were also eunuchs connected with the emir’s court, as recorded by Campbell (Pilgrimage, 104). These might become people of some importance: W.H. Clarke reported that he “received a present from the king, a large ram and several heads of cowries, brought in by a slave of two hundred pounds weight, said to be a eunuch, and who seemed to disdain the very ground on which he trod” (Travels, 83). But I have found very few references to eunuchs in Ilorin. Indeed, Campbell noted that a certain slave official, Nasama (on whom see above and below), was “the first important personage we met without a single wife,” and he was not a eunuch but a widower with children (Pilgrimage, 101). This suggests that eunuchs were relatively few in Ilorin, at least in important and publicly visible positions.

Emir Abdusalami of Ilorin wrote to Gwandu to ask if it was permitted for a Muslim to castrate. In his reply (1829), Abdullahi of Gwandu replied that it was not: see Abdullahi Smith, “A Little New Light on the Collapse of the Alafinate of Yoruba,” in G.O. Olusanya, ed., Studies in Yoruba History and Culture (Ibadan, 1983), 65, Appendix A. It was, of course, possible to obtain eunuchs from elsewhere. Yet, rulings such as that of Abdullahi of Gwandu, and the generally purificatory intentions of the early Caliphate leaders, seem to have affected other emirates as well as Ilorin. In Kano, eunuchs are said to have been eliminated as titled functionaries at emirate level: Adamu Mohammed Fika, The Kano Civil War and British Over-rule, 1882-1940 (Ibadan, 1978), 34. In Fulani Zaria, eunuchs came to occupy few important offices, the old Habe posts for eunuchs being reallocated to free men (Smith, Zazzau, 87). In Nupe, posts which in pre-Fulani days had been held by eunuchs were given to other slaves (Nadel, Byzantium), 107 and note 1). These cases are in contrast to nineteenth-century Habe Zaria, outside the Caliphate and relocated to Abuja, in which eunuchs continued to play important official roles (Smith, Zazzau, 53-54).

[105] Bolaji/Salami interview with Alh. Yusuf Olore; Bolaji/Elesin interviews with anonymous informants 1 and 2.

[106] Adesiyun interviews with Alfa Sheu, Alowa (Alawaye) Compound, 12 July 1975, transcript of tape 6; and Alh. Yahaya Kalu Olabintan; interview with Magaji Yaba, 29 September 1988; Bolaji/Salami interview with Alh. Yusuf Olore; Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant 1.

[107] PRO CO 147/105, Rohrweger to Chamberlain, 6 July 1896, encl.: Odo Otin, 20 May 1896 (statement by a Gambari woman).

[108] Interviews with Magaji Yaba, 29 & 30 September 1988. On slaves capturing slaves, see also Adesiyun interview with Alh. Yahaya Kalu Olabintan.

[109] See Gavin, “Impact”; and O’Hear, “Economic History,” chapter 1.

[110] On Ilorin industries, see “Economic History,” chapters 2-4; also the following articles by O’Hear: “Ilorin Lantana Beads,” African Arts 19 (1986); “Pottery Making in Ilorin: A Study of the Decorated Water Cooler,” Africa 56 (1986); “Craft Industries in Ilorin: Dependency or Independence?” African Affairs 86 (1987); and “Notes on Leatherworking.”

[111] See Ann O’Hear, “Lantana Beads: Gender Issues in Their Production and Use,” in Lidia D. Sciama and Joanne B. Eicher, eds., Beads and Bead Makers: Gender, Material Culture, and Meaning [Oxford: Berg, 1998, 117-128].

[112] For the “northern” and “southern” systems of textile production, see Colleen Kriger, “Textile Production and Gender in the Sokoto Caliphate,” Journal of African History 34 (1993), 368ff.

[113] Adesiyun interviews with Mustapha Mesuna, Alfa Salimonu, and Alfa Abdul Lasisi; with Baba Onimangoro, Alosinrin, 16 July 1975, transcript of tape 14 (also Toyin Hassan interview with same, 1981); Alfa Adelodun, Idi Igba Compound, 17 July 1975, transcript of tape 16; Alfa Ahinla, Idi Igba, 17 July 1975, transcript of tape 17; Alh. Abdul Gambari, Oke Agodi, 19 July 1975, transcript of tape 19; and Alfa Sheu, 10 July 1975, transcript of tape 21.

[114] Adesiyun interviews with Mustapha Mesuna, Alfa Abdul Lasisi, Amuda Yusuf, and Alfa Ahinla: with Aminu Sinhaba, Sayodun Compound, July 1975 (exact date not given), transcript of tape 7; and Alfa Baba Dan Alhaji, Idi Igba, 18 July 1975, transcript of tape 18. Also Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant 1; and Agbabiaka Jimoh Bakare, “The Life and Times of Emir Shitta, The Second Emir of Ilorin, 1836-1861” (B.A. diss., History, University of Ilorin, 1987), 58.

[115] Adesiyun interviews with Alfa Salimonu, Alfa Adelodun; and with Alfa Nafi, Idi Igba, 16 July 1975, transcript of tape 15.

[116] Interview with Mariama Ajibade (dyer), Ile Gaindo, 10 September 1988; interview with Nafisatu; interview with Lawani Akano and Mamudu Alao.

[117] Bolaji/Salami interview with Alh. Yusuf Olore; Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant 3.

[118] Adesiyun interviews with Alh. Yahaya Kalu Olabintan, Mustapha Mesuna, Alfa Sheu Alowa, Alfa Abdul Lasisi, and Jimoh Isowo.

[119] But see Kriger,  “Textile Production and Gender,” 378, 392, on slave weavers in Kano Emirate.

[120] Interviews by Suleiman Ajao with Yunusa Gufari and Hassan Iyanda.

[121] Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant, and follow-up interview with same; interview by Suleiman Ajao with Baba Ibeji, Ile Oba Olodo, 1988.

[122] Interviews in Ile Ashileke, 29 May and 1 June 1980; information from Kayode Abubakar Ibrahim, Ile Magaji Are, 18 September 1982 (collected from informants in beadmaking families).

[123] Information from K.A. Ibrahim. For a Kano example of female slaves given out as gifts, see Lovejoy, “Concubinage in the Sokoto Caliphate,” 167.

[124] Adesiyun interviews with Mustapha Mesuna, Abdul Kareem, Alfa Abdul Lasisi, Alfa Nafi, Alfa Adelodun and Alfa Ahinla; Bakare, “Emir Shitta,” 58.

[125] Adesiyun interviews with Alfa Sheu Alowa and Alhaji Yahaya Kalu Olabintan (translations) and with Aminu Sinhaba; information from Abdulraufu Ajao.

[126] Adesiyun interview with Abdul Kareem; Bolaji/Elesin interview with anonymous informant 1; also see above on slaves selling produce from their own farms.

[127] O’Hear, ed., Carnegie Letters, 53.

[128] Oroge, “Institution of Slavery,” 204-209; Law, Oyo Empire, 232.

[129] On Nasama, see above.

[130] Quoted in Vandeleur, Campaigning, 294.

[131] PRO CO 147/124, Niger Sudan Campaign of Royal Niger Company, 14 May 1897, encl.: Report by Sir George Goldie on the Niger Sudan Campaign (1897) (London), G.T. Goldie to Earl of Scarborough, 6 March 1897; Richard H. Dusgate, The Conquest of Northern Nigeria (London, 1985), 92.

[132] O’Hear, Power Relations in Nigeria, chapter 4.

[133] RH Mss. Afr. s.958, Dwyer Extracts, Annual Report 1904.

[134] Ibid., Annual Report 1905.

[135] O’Hear, unpublished paper on elite slaves in Ilorin.

[136] Ibid.; also O’Hear, Power Relations in Nigeria, chapter 4.

[137] Power Relations in Nigeria, chapter 4.

[138] RH. Mss. Afr. s.95 8, Dwyer Extracts, Annual Report 1904.

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