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4.3g(ii) Interview with Baba Magaji [Mogaji], Magaji Village, behind Kwara State College of Technology compound, 13 September 1988, and Mamudu Alau of the same village: Text
(this includes prepared questions and translation by Suleiman Ajao from the tape recording with a brief follow-up interview)
Questions prepared for Baba Magaji
When you go into Ilorin Town, do you go to the Balogun Gambari Compound?
When do you go there?
Have you ever heard of one Omodare, who was given land by Balogun Alli, the second Balogun Gambari?
Is this part of that land?
Who was Omodare? What can you tell me about him?
What happened to the family of Omodare?
You are the head of Magaji Village?
Have your forefathers also been heads of Magaji Village?
Were your forefathers asked by Balolgun Gambari to come here and look after the land and the slaves and dependents, and collect tribute?
Did your forefathers follow Balogun Gambari to war?
Tell me about it . . .
In the olden days, did slaves on the farms work half a day for the master and the rest of the day for themselves? Or, did the slaves send in a certain amount of produce to the master every so often?
What happened to the slaves when the British arrived?
Translation from the tape recording, plus brief follow up interview
This translation was typed from the original handwritten version for legibility (plus the present tenses were changed to past in the typescript when this was obviously the intended meaning) and annotated in square brackets by Ann O’Hear.
Q Do you often go to Balogun Gambari [a major titleholder in the Ilorin Town hierarchy]?
A No, I don’t go.
Q Why don’t you go there?
A Balogun Gambari owns this land but I don’t use to go to him. If Balogun Gambari has a ceremony we do go there.
Q I am interested in the history of this village and Ilorin Town. Have you ever heard of somebody named Omodare, [whom] Balogun Ali gave the land to?
A I have heard about him.
The other name of Omodare is Opopo. [in the handwritten version, Omodare is spelled consistently with diacritical marks under both letter “o”s, and Opopo is spelled with diacritical marks under all the “o”s]
Q What do you know about him?
A Opoopo [spelling different from first reference; spelled with diacritical marks under all the “o”s consistently through the handwritten version] was a great warrior behind Balogun Gambari. This Opoopo if he arrived from the warfront he settled here.
This village is one of the important villages to Balogun, and also one of the lands known to Balogun Gambari.
There is no mate of Oba [here=Emir] could underrate him, Opoopo Omodare.
Q What is happening to the family of Omodare? Where are they now?
A Omodare’s family are in Ilorin.
Q Which area?
A At Balogun Gambari.
Q Are you the head of this village?
A I am the head of this village.
Alangua title was donated by Magaji Village to Ara Village.
Omodare gave the title (Alangua) to Ara people because he had no time for problem.
Q We heard that your forefathers have been holding the title Magaji.
A The Magaji title is a rotation among the villagers in Magaji area.
Q Did Balogun Gambari put his people there to look after the village?
A Yes, including the slaves.
Q Do you still take tribute?
A Yes, we still take the tribute.
Our land is extended [extended? extends?] to Akuro Village. It is also extend [extends? extended?] to Ara Village Primary School.
Q Did they use the slaves to work for them in the farm by then?
A But the slaves later freed themselves by paying some amount to their masters.
Q Did they work for their master in the farm?
A [No answer recorded]
Q How did they treat the slaves?
A I don’t know.
Q. Did your forefathers follow Balogun Gambari to the warfront?
A They were asked to look after the house.
[Baba Magaji said with respect to some of the questions, there was a man older than himself who could answer them better. He took us to this man, whose name was Mamudu Alau; this is the point at which Mamudu Alau started to answer the questions]
A The Tapas [Nupe] were driven from Magaji Village across River Niger.
After Opopo drove the Tapa from Magaji, he stopped at Gata.
He left Gata and came to Oke Ose. He left Oke Ose and decided to settle at Magaji.
The name is Magaji Opoopo.
The Balogun Gambari owns the village right from generation to generation.
Q When were the Tapas driven from the village?
A We were very young, we can’t remember.
A Why he came about this name Opoopo was because whenever he went to the warfront and came home late, when his people asked him why he was late, he would answer them opo opo nahi [spelling?] meaning it is many, after he might have come across many enemies.
After he came back they didn’t call him other name than Opoopo. He can’t remember his real name.
Q Where did Ara people come from?
A The Ara people came from Oyo. The Ara people had a quarrel over Ara Village, they had to carry this case to the Balogun Gambari, and Balogun told them that no one of them has land. The late Balogun (3) [sic] to the present one witnessed the quarrel.
A Anywhere Balogun captured he would put one person there to look after the place.
A There is a village called Ariori and it was the first village to be known.
The conspiracy of the white people destabilized this village [that is, Magaji Village?] by passing through their village with the army to Ariori Village. The villagers ran away when they saw them.
The army had their barracks at Ariori. It is more than ten miles to [from] Magaji.
Ariori was under the Government by then.
The Ariori left Ariori Village later and settled at Oloru.
In those days the army would be parading here and there, and the [?] were not selfish [?].
But immediately the white man came to inspect them on the parade ground they became bios to [biased toward?] the people and stabilized them.
If you hear any village called Aru they are from this village or if you hear any other village called Magaji around here they are from this village.
The village (Aru) was found[ed] by through [sic] a stream nearby here.
If the elder women from Ariori wanted to come to Magaji Village there was no way for them to come through.
When they had been enduring it for long, the people stood up and said that they would use Oloru as their headquarters.
So Oloru was given the headquarters.
They removed the headquarter again and took it to Elemere because they were endangered by Oloru people.
One of the sons of Balogun Gambari [has] settled there now.
The name of that son of Balogun is [names crossed out, but should read Oladimeji--see later answer].
Okandeji was not entitled to the chieftaincy [that is, the Balogun Gambari title]; it was Balogun Laro [dot under final “o”; later spelled Laaro] who was entitled, but now they have agreed for him.
Q Did they collect slaves by then?
A But if anybody came here for slaves by then or to take anybody as slave, Opoopo would go there and bring back his people.
If you go [to] the Balogun Gambari and ask of Magaji they bring you to the [this] village.
Balogun Murogo [also spelled Morogo in the handwritten version] was formerly living at Okelele before coming to Gambari to hold the title of Balogun Gambari, because the son of Balogun Gambari was [too] small to hold the title by then.
So the title was given back to the son when they [sic] grew up.
Balogun Murogo was a greater warrior than Balogun Kaara. But everything that Balogun Murogo did they think it is Balogun Kaara.
Q Are the Balogun on the throne now the relative of Balogun Murogo or his sons?
A They are his sons. [a confusing exchange in this translation--referring to one Balogun or more?]
One of Balogun Murogo’s sons is called Oladimeji, he is the one that settled at Elemere.
When Balogun Morogo died the [present?] owner of the throne came to power.
Q What is the name of the real [apparently meaning the actual present] Balogun who owns the throne?
A. Buhari Baba Oloko [diacritical marks under the “o”s] Ile [diacritical mark under the “e”].
One of Balogun Murogo’s sons is called Daniyau.
The name of [an]other son is Adeleke.
The name of the senior son is Haruna (Daudu, senior son).
Jimoh Baba Eleku followed Haruna.
All the sons of Murogo mentioned have been the Magaji of this village before their death.
After the death of Olaniyan, Baba Oloko Ile did not come here to take over the throne. He was trading in cows.
Although the title was given to him, he was busy selling cattle.
Baba Oloko Ile’s real name (that is, his title name) is Balogun Buhari.
Balogun Buhari is the father of Balogun Laaro.
Balogun Laaro will soon be given the title [of] Balogun Gambari.
Q In the olden days did the slaves work till “down” or did they only work till afternoon?
A In those days they did take the slaves to the market to sell. But if the slave happened to be a woman or girl they [would] buy them and marry them as wives.
By the time they buy them they are freed from slavery.
Q Did the slaves work for their masters in the farm on commercial basis?
A They just worked for their master and their master fed them accordingly.
Since the slaves have been paid for or have been bought there was no more slavery. The iwofa [diacritical mark under the “o”] came to exist.
Iwofa were used in borrowing money. After the money was repaid he or she was freed.
They have stopped iwofa because some people didn’t have money to pay back, they [the iwofa] remained there and might not remember their home again.
Q What about the slaves that were before iwofa came in?
A Nobody should ask about that anymore, the Government has stopped it.
Q Do you remember when there was iwofa?
A Yes I remember, I had married by then, when I went to my inlaws village I used to meet one iwofa.
[a new page begins here. It is not always clear from the pronouns in the handwritten translation as to which of the two interviewees was speaking]
A man who had 9 iwofas was the same mother and father with his [Mamudu Alau’s?] mother. The name of the man is Sule Ajala.
Q What is the name of the 9 iwofas?
A I can’t remember the name of the iwofas.
Q What is Baba Magaji’s brother’s [actually friend’s?] own name?
A His name is Mamudu Alau.
Q Baba Magaji, what is your own name? We only know you as Baba Magaji.
A My name is Lawani Akano.
Q What happened to the slaves when the whites came?
A When the British came they didn’t want the whites to come to Ilorin.
The whites had to throw or spread gas on to them to allow them gain entrance.
It wasn’t in their [the informants’] presence, but the story was told by their father.
The smoke of the gas covered the whole place [so] that nobody could see.
They formerly thought the whites would bring some difficulties to them, but later on they discovered it was for their own good.
The whites hated cheating.
When the whites left everything suffered.
Q Did the iwofas use to be male and female?
A Both male and female participated in iwofa.
The iwofas participated in any job their master had to do.
Brief follow-up interview
Brief interview by Suleiman Ajao with Baba Magaji and Mamudu Alau: Follow-up questions from interview of 13 September 1988. No date given, but probably soon after that interview. Questions provided by Ann O’Hear.
Q They said the Tapas were driven away--Was this during Baba Magaji’s lifetime, or before he was born?
A Before he was born.
Q How much isakole do they pay nowadays?
A They don’t pay anymore.
Q Is it in form of money, or in form of farm produce?
But they pay through economic trees, such as mango tree and locust bean tree.[present or past tense intended by the informant?]
Q How much isakole did they pay when Baba Magaji was a boy?
A 10 shillings.
Q Is it true to say that when slavery was stopped, then people took to the iwofa system?