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4.3e Interview with Mariama Ajibade, Dyer, Okelele, Ilorin, 10 September 1988: Background information and extracts from/notes on the interview

Mariama was previously interviewed by archaeologist Philip Allsworth-Jones, who introduced her to me. She was married into Ile Alaro, in which I also had other informants. She was interviewed on dyeing and connections between dyeing and slaves.

Were women slaves used to help in the dyeing? Slaves were not asked to do it. They only taught their daughters.

Elu is a[n item used in?] witchcraft which alhajis use for black medicine. They have to take permission first. They have to come and buy it from alhaja (Mariama). If they take without permission—i.e., stealing—the juju won’t work.

Were slaves among those plucking and crushing the elu? They asked slaves to do other types of work, not this type. They didn’t do this type of work because it is secret.

Slave males farmed, females did housework.

Chiefs took female slaves for wives—“wọn ama fi wọn se aya”

The only problem was that of a quarrel between children of slaves and the other children (“those the slaves met at home”), then the other children would say,

“you are children of slaves, you are slaves yourselves, your mother was caught as a slave, our mother was married legally”—“wọn gbe iya awọn ni.”

Asked her about the curse if a slave wife is maltreated as a slave wife, she said: if you behave cruelly, the slave will say whatever you do to me, the same will happen to you.