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4.2f(ii) Interviews in Ago Oja Village, near Ilorin, 1985; discussion with the Baba Isale of Ilorin: Text

Text transcribed from notes Ann O’Hear took at the time

Interview in Ago Oja 30? July 1985

Arranged by Alh. Baba Isale with Magaji Ago. Interviewers: Ann O’Hear and Suleiman Ajao

Went to Ago Oja from the Baba’s compound with the Magaji. He said Ago Oja was founded by the Baba Isale’s forefathers. The Magaji’s name is Raji Akanbi.

The Magaji called together a number of old farmers. Much of the answering was done by the Magaji himself, and by the father of Muhamadu Yusuf, both in about their 60s. Then most of the answering was taken over by Alh. Isiaka, when he was called in by the Magaji.

The interview was held in what is apparently Magaji Ago’s new house—well built, plastered, good ceilings, heavy wooden doors. In room with slightly raised platform at one corner—topped with a mattress. Here the Magaji sat. The other old men ranged themselves on large mats around the walls.

We explained we were interested in changes in agriculture over time. They said the only change is they are now using fertiliser. They have been using fertiliser for about 10 years. Started using it after the whites had gone. Cost when they started was 2 naira 10 kobo. That was a good price. Later went up to 3 naira. Now much more expensive. Some farmers buy 3 bags each, or 4, or 5—differs according to the farm.

What were they using before fertilisers? Nothing. They didn’t use animal fertiliser.

Did the whites encourage tobacco? The farmers have never planted it here.

When the whites were here—did they bring improved seed eg maize? No.

Since then, have they been given any such advice? Nothing like that, they only use fertiliser.

Did they ever have people from the colonial government or the NA (Native Authority) advise about farming? No.

How did they learn about fertiliser? People farming in Ilorin advised them to buy it.

The Methodist missionaries who used to be at Afon—man and woman (doctor)—do they remember these people? They used to hear of them, but have not seen them.

Main crops in Ago—1st yam, 2nd maize, 3rd guinea corn. Since they were children, have they always been planting the same crops? Yes.

Do they use different fertiliser for different crops? No, they use the same for all crops.

What they are using now is urea. They used to use 26:12.

Is urea better than 26:12? Urea is what they are using now. 26:12: “they never brought it out again.” Suleiman Ajao’s gloss on this is that urea doesn’t sell as well as 26:12, so therefore the sellers are trying to make the Ago farmers buy urea.

Where do they buy their fertiliser? Ogbondoko or Afon. Sule thinks from a cooperative.

Is there any cooperative in Ago Oja? No.

Where do they sell their crops? Yam, part to market and they eat part.

Do they send any by railway to the south? If they sell to Ilorin people, some will take them south.

Gama railway station—any use to them? Long ago they used to join the railway from there to Ibadan and Lagos, but the train doesn’t stop there any more.

Anyone rearing “agric” chickens? No.

Asked about Community Hospital—about 5 years old. Built themselves, then taken over by government.

No school in Ago Oja—primary school in Laduba.

Do all the children go to this school from Ago? Yes.

Asked about Development Association—there is one.

Then the Magaji sent for someone who could tell us about all these.

Meanwhile, we asked the farmers what improvements in farming would they like to see? They never knew anything but fertiliser.

Is there any son of the village who has been educated and has come back to make a big farm? Nobody has ever done it.

One of the farmers said he the only one who has a son in “university”—will pass out this year. The “university” turns out to be Kwara State College of Technology, not a university. The father said the institution was “higher than secondary school ... at Oke Oyi.” The name of the student is Muhamadu Yusuf.

They have no light yet. Government has recently sent someone to look, and has promised.

They have borehole (from Govt) water – no tap water yet. Before, they had a well.

Arrival of Alh. Isiaka, Secretary of the Community Association. Perhaps in his late 30s—early 40s.

The Magaji told us that Alh. Isiaka is son of the Magaji’s senior brother. Had Primary 6 (Standard 5?) education.

Alh. Isiaka said the Community Association is working on light and improvement of water. The Community has developed the hospital (actually a dispensary and maternity – 1n 1973) from its own pocket, even the school.

The mosque—also Community—is 20 years old.

They rent tractors (several families together) by themselves for ridging.

Often when they go to buy fertiliser, they don’t see the seller. They use any available fertiliser.

Conversation with the Magaji on the way back to Ilorin (the Magaji was going back to report to the Baba Isale):

“trotros” etc – go between Afon and Ilorin. Ago people catch them on the way. They are not based in Ago-Oja.

Are there any potters in the village? None. They buy pots from Ilorin.

Discussion with the Baba Isale of Ilorin, 1 August 1985

Present: Ann O’Hear, Hugh O’Hear

Mentioned that these villages in Afon area seemu to have “woken up” to development around the same time, 25 to 30 years ago. The Baba pointed out the reasons—Ilorin Talaka Parapo/1959 elections/proximity to the West. Also proximity to Igbomina, Offa.

Lack of success/penetration of extension work—he mentioned one reason, e.g., people in charge have some differences with the recipients [see eg 1950s—ITP people regarded NA workers with suspicion].

Accessibility of Ago—even years ago? Yes, the (now) tarred roads are the old ones.

The Baba Isale saw the Emir the day after I went to Ago—the Emir said he had heard the Baba Isale had sent a “white lady” to Ago.

Interview in Ago Oja village 12 August 1985.

Present: Ann O’Hear, interpreter Suleiman Ajao, also the Magaji, Alh. Isiaka, Kadiri Kuranga (farmer in early middle age), Isiaka Amole Salami (also early middle age) plus others, including a number of women and old men.

[numbers indicate responses to questions we had prepared]

3 and 4. Any male or female weavers in Ago Oja? No women weavers. One man present, Isiaka Amole Salami, used to weave cloth, but stopped because of no sales. When he was learning, there were up to four who came to learn. His father taught them. His father was the only one.

5. Any lantana beadmakers? Never any lantana beadmakers in the village.

6 and 7. We saw calabashes (halved) drying last time—any further processing?

They sell the calabashes, when they are dried, to whoever is interested. People come to buy.

8. Do many people from Ago go to the south? If people do go, when did people from Ago first start doing this?

Many people from Ago go to the West. Eg bricklayer, carpenter, barber. The first to go (answer from Kadiri Kuranga) was Amao Ololu, whose trade was pressing aso-ofi cloth by beating. He is now dead. His children are in Ibadan. When did he go? He went before Awolowo and Adelabu introduced politics in Ibadan.

9-26 mostly answered by Alhaji Isiaka.

9. Have any extension workers ever come to village to advise re fertiliser or anything else?

Extension workers have been coming (1st in 1972) but haven’t done anything yet. “They only take our water.”

10. Have they ever taken soil samples? They did, but no feedback. [later questioning in Ago Oja by Suleiman Ajao (October 1995) elicited the response that the people who had come to take soil samples were from the Ministry of Agriculture; they came two years after Nigerian independence. They came to take the samples because Ago had “no water by then”]

11. How long have the village farmers (In Ago) been using fertilisers?

Ago farmers have been using fertilisers for about 5 years. The first time they tried them, they misused them – they were killing the crops, so they abandoned them. Then about 5 years ago they came to realise how to use them.

12. Same fertiliser for all crops? no answer recorded

13. Are they using urea now? Just started last year.

14. Did they use 26:12 before? They mostly use[d?] this.

15. Why have they started using urea? They couldn’t get 26:12.

Does urea give same result as 26:12? Alh. Isiaka says it is not strong as 26:12. Kuranga said it kills crops if no rain – gave example of his own maize – he fertilised it with urea, then there was no rain for 3 days, and the maize was burnt.

16. Where do they buy fertiliser? Afon mostly, at the IADP [Ilorin Agricultural Development Project] station there. The Ogbondoko IADP just started last year. NO IADP at Laduba. Till this year, they could only by 2 bags each from IADP. Now, they allow them to buy as many as they want.

17. Any advice from Afon IADP about best fertiliser? They explain that 26:12 or 15:15 is best – but they can only sell them urea.

18-21. How many farmers use tractors (catacata)? About 100 want to use, but can’t get. Many have paid but have not yet got. They are mostly disappointed if they go to IADP to book for catacata. It may come as late as the dry season.

Where do they get the tractors from? They book from Afon IADP or Ogbondoko.

Afon IADP has about 6 tractors, but they are distributed to far away places.

The tractor at Ogbondoko is one of the 6.

The Local Govt at Afon has 2 tractors, but one is spoiled – since March of this year.

How did they first learn that tractors are useful? First saw from IADP Afon – saw that it does harrowing and ridges. Plant improves more than if done by hand.

Both young and old farmers in the village interested in tractors? Yes.

How many have actually succeeded in getting a tractor this summer? About 25 – including Alhaji himself.

22. When built or founded/started?

Primary School Laduba – first said c 20 years – then checked up – 1971.

“Hospital” at Ago – 1979.

Borehole Ago – March this year.

Mosque Ago (present building) 15 years.

Community Association Ago – 20 years.

There is a bank at Afon now.

Police Station – at Ogbondoko.

Post Office at Laduba but it is not functioning.

23. Community Association –who founded it? 3 people?? When community improving ----- They had to contribute 3d every Sunday. When the amount was growing, it would be taken to the Bank in Ilorin – the “DCO bank –now Union bank – it was the only bank in Ilorin by then.

24 When Alhaji Isiaka went to school? He went to Adult School in Laduba – in 1972. At that time, many children from the village were going to school.

25. Muhamadu Yusuf – is the only one from this village yet to go to Tech [Kwara State College of Technology]. From here, and Laduba and other villages around, there are about 50 who have finished secondary education.

From Ago specifically (answers provided by discussion among whole group).

1. Rasaki Nureni

2. 2. Baba Bello

3. Muritala Suberu

4. Wosila Saadu

5. Rasaki Akanbi

6. Musili Akanbi

7. Sururat Momodu

8. Toyin Aremu

There are many yet to finish secondary school. All the village children are now in primary school.

26. “Agric” chicken – they want to start, but no money.

Does IADP help – they haven’t done so.

27. Were the old roads motorable even when Alh. Isiaka was a child? He answered that people drove, but they were not tarred.

[later questioning in Ago Oja (October 1985) by Suleiman Ajao elicited the response that Ago Oja is 4 kilometres by tarred road from Gama, which is on the main road to Ilorin]

We met Iyabo Olatinwo. She came to join the others at the Magaji’s house. She is at CMS Secondary School Yaba Lagos. She is a native of Ago Oja. Going to form 5. About 18-19 years old. Left Ago 1976 and hasn’t been back since. Was brought back this holiday by her father who has since returned to Lagos. Very good English. Somewhat sophisticated.

Tax collectors arrived. The Magaji, Alh. Isiaka and others were called out to discuss. Chief tax collector – very well dressed, in turban – the roomfull of people greeted him in unison responses. Sule thought he was from Osin Aremu. A bit of a palaver developed outside for some time, but seems to have ended OK. The Magaji is collector for his own village. Then has to hand over to this one?

Ago Oja, August 1985

[Note added later: I believe this was a report I prepared for Alh. Baba Isale, maybe  with input from Suleiman Ajao]

Extension Workers

Until 1972, the farmers in Ago had no visits from extension workers. The extension workers started to come in 1972, but so far the farmers report they have done nothing useful.

Soil samples have been taken but the farmers have received no feedback.


They learned about fertilisers through the recommendation of farmers elsewhere. When they first tried fertilisers they did not know how to use them properly. Instead of helping, the fertilisers were killing the crops, and so the farmers abandoned their use. About five years ago, they began to use them again. They now use fertilisers extensively.

When they started, fertilisers cost just over 2 naira per bag. Now a bag costs 9.00 – 9.50.

They use the same fertiliser for all crops – any available fertiliser. Until recently, they were using 26:12, but are now using urea, because it is the only one readily available. They buy fertilisers mostly at the IADP station at Afon. There is also an IADP station at Olobondoroko, opened last year.

The IADP people at Afon tell the farmers that the best fertilisers are 26:12 or 15:15:15; but the only one they have for sale at present is urea.

[urea is really only for soil maintenance? Should be used together with other fertilisers?]


The farmers at Ago learned about the usefulness of tractors by seeing what the IADP had been doing at Afon. They learned that a tractor does a number of jobs, and tills the soil thoroughly so that an improved result is achieved.

Some people in Ago have managed to hire a tractor this year. Many others want to, but cannot get one. Many have paid for the hire of a tractor, but have not yet got it. The farmers complain that they may not see the tractor (which they have already paid for) until the dry season.

Afon IADP has 6 tractors, but they are scattered over a wide area. Only one of them is stationed at Olobondoroko. Afon Local Government has two tractors – but one has been broken down since March this year.

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