4.3f(i) Interview with Baba Elesin, Ile Agba, Okelele, Ilorin, 13 September 1988: Background information
In the past, members of a number of compounds in Ilorin were engaged in making the red stone beads called lantana, for which Ilorin was famous and which were exported, for example, to Benin City and Ekiti. The beadmaking was labour intensive, and the beads were very expensive up to about the 1920s. Major beadmakers had been wealthy, even able to afford to buy horses. The original Baba Elesin, grandfather of the man I knew, had been one of them.
The Baba Elesin I met had been a beadmaker himself, but when I knew him he was an elderly man trying to make some money from buying old beads and repairing and reselling them.
I had previously visited him on a number of occasions to collect information on beadmaking. On this occasion, I was interested in collecting further information on beadmaking, but I added a few questions on the use of slaves and iwọfa(debt pawns). Baba Elesin gave only brief answers on slaves but gave a little more detail on iwọfa. Extracts from the interview are provided here.