4.2c(ii) Information from Kayode Abubakar Ibrahim, of Ile Magaji, Ilorin, 1982: Text
Excerpted from the original, to protect an informant who wishes to remain anonymous
4. Questions given to researcher 13/9/1982, to be asked of members of beadmaking compounds:
4. Did the family employ any slaves to help with beadmaking? If so, how many? Were these slaves given a full apprenticeship? Did they help the family to farm? Were they given any beads to sell? What happened to these slaves.
Oral response from researcher 13/9/1982:
4. The beadmaking art was hereditary--a “cult.” The master of the day would also take people from outside--but the skill--usually--continues within the family.
Written response received 18/9/1982:
4. In tre[a]ding on the subject of slaves care should be taken to distinguish the category concerned in this respect among the people. Note should be taken of the fact that there are both the war captives and those either used as deposit or for payment of goods and services they are called Iwofa. These are people who become servants in the household of another person because his own family are either indebted to him or that he is used to secure loan or even as compensation for a crime. He stays in this household and help in the acts of beads making by his overlord. In this way he is acculturated in the craft and becomes an expert in it. He stays with the overlord for as long as the loan has not been paid, for as long as his punishment has not ended. And if used to offset a loan he stays for the number of y ears stipulated. After which he regains his freedom and go back to his home. Having become expert in the act [art?] of beads he could as well start his own industry. In some places they are given certain amount to sell. This they take to the market and return to the house of their overlord. In farming they could help if the overlord is also a farmer. This is also the general trend in all the houses visited in Ilorin.
[At the end of the answers to the various questions on beadmaking, the reporter lists various informants from beadmaking compounds. He then goes on:]
The only male informant is from Ile . . . . . . . . . . . He wants to remain anonymous because of the nature of his information. This has to do with real captured slaves.
I am not suppose to tell you what I am going to tell you. [here, the reporter seems to be writing down a direct translation of what his informant is saying] This is partly because it is a very sensitive issue to deal with. As you must have known slaves, real slaves, that is those who are either bought or captured from war, are regarded as sort of outcast. So in order to give them their freedom, it has been deemed fit to keep their past strictly secret from the generations of today. Also this is to make sure that there is no barrier between their children and those of other people.
The first fact is that there is no house engaged in beads making that do not have slaves either purchased or captured in war in their midst today.
For those who are bought we have beads makers who are usually rich to buy these people from their lords so that they could help him in the process of beads making. It is not uncommon to find both male and female owned by the same person. Also within the same family another person could also own slaves. And these slaves are usually engaged both in beads as well as in the farming. While the female are also engaged in house chore pari pasu their beads making. When these people gain their freedom the common thing is for two house to intermarry these people. In this way they start a new life.
For the war captives warriors from a beads making family being captured slaves home to help them in both beads and farming. And when they are to regain their freedom their masters arrange for them to also take wife and start their own life.
Because of the difficulties encountered by the children of these two categories of slaves in terms of mixing with the whole society in the past. Because they are set up in the household of their masters as they could not go back to their original homes, it has been deemed fit to keep their history secret from the public.
In this way we have members of various tribes becoming parts and parcel of a different society other than they one in which they were born. It is not uncommon for a bead maker to give in marriage to his important customers slaves to marry and also accept into his household children of such customers. This is done mostly to cement their friendship.
One significant trend has also developed that has prompted the sealing of lips about these category of slaves. And this has to do with the fact that in almost all the houses in which they are found, these people has always been known to be prosperous. And their children today occupy exalted position in all fields of human endeavour.
Having settled down, the slaves go into all fields of human endeavour with enthusiasm and vigour. So that in business, education etc., we have them producing people. Even in the politics of the town, they have produced leaders, ministers, lawyers, doctors, etc before the children of the so called free citizens.
[At the end, I noted the amounts that the reporter paid to his informants: 20 naira for his anonymous informant, 20 naira for one female informant, and 10 naira for each of three more female informants.]