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4.3h Interviews with Magaji Yaba, Ile Magaji Yaba, Balogun Fulani Ward, Ilorin, 29 September 1988 and 30 September 1988: Background information and notes on the interviews

Background Information

Magaji Yaba was a titleholder in Balogun Fulani Ward of the city of Ilorin. I was recommended to him by Alh. Saka Aleshinloye, Baba Isale of Ilorin (for whom, see other references in this catalogue.


Both questions and answers are included in these notes on the interviews.


Interview with Magaji Yaba, 28 September 1988

Name of compound: Ile Magaji Yaba.

Origin of the name “Yaba”? From the emir.

Their forefathers came from Kawoje, in the north.

Their compound is under Balogun Fulani. The boundary with Balogun Gambari is close by.


Did owners give slaves any special facial marks? Anyone could become a slave, whether they had facial marks or not.

Did the owners teach their slaves to be Muslims? Those who refused to become Muslims would be captured by force as slaves.

Did they use many slaves on the farm? Those that refused to be Muslims would be working on the farm. The owner of the land would put them on the farm.

Did they also use slaves as soldiers? Yes. If a slave saw that his master was very strong in war, he could help him in war – so slaves also caught slaves for the master. A slave who did this was still a slave, but was given different treatment.

When a man put his slaves on the farm, did he put them all together on one big farm, or did he put them in small groups in different places? He put them in different locations – on lands bearing different names but belonging to the same master. – because the master might have many pieces of land.


Did the slaves normally live on the farm, or did they live in the town, and go out daily to the farm? They lived on the farm—because they were accustomed to the farm – the farm had become their home.

What happened to the slaves when the whites arrived? This is the 4th emir since the whites arrived. The slaves were no longer serving the master, instead the masters of the slaves became slaves to the whites.

Did many slaves leave after the whites arrived? – everything scattered – all the ,chiefs were caught by the whites, and the chiefs were taken away – so people could scatter.


Interview with Magaji Yaba, 30 September 1988

Magaji Salumanu Yaba


Is it correct to say slaves that refused to be Muslims would be put on the farm? Yes.

If a slave caught slaves for his master in war, would that slave be given different treatment? Yes.

When slaves were caught, if it was a male and a female, if the male agreed to be Muslim, they would give him the female to marry.

If a warrior went to war and caught many slaves, he had to report to the Emir (i.e., hand over the slaves to the Emir). The Emir would reward the warrior with slaves. He would also give some to the chiefs. He might give one of the strongest slaves to a chief, then that slave would provide food for the chief’s horse.

The Emir would send slaves to dillali to sell them. The slaves would sit down with bakati (shackles).

The slave’s people would pay 5 pounds 10 shillings to ransom them. Sometimes a slave said he was satisfied with the master, he wanted to become a Muslim.

5 pounds 10 shillings -- 22 people carried it (in cowries). Five shillings in cowries was a heavy basket, difficult to carry far.


Is it true that when slavery ended, people took to the iwofa system? Yes. If someone wanted to borrow money, he had to take one of his children. The child would work on the farm. If the child wanted to be freed quickly, he would also farm on his own account – plant something to be sold.

Iwofa – both males and females.

Iwofa – was to teach a child to be hard working.

They would teach an iwofa crafts e.g., blacksmith, butcher.

Iwofa system ended when Muslims felt that such was bad, was against their religion. (i.e. – I gather – the work done by an iwofa is a form of interest.)

Asingba = iwofa.

If a person took a child to be iwofa, he wouldn’t have to pay interest on the debt. If he didn’t take a child, then he would have to pay interest.


The other man [present] said that taking a housegirl/boy is an example of iwofa. The iwofa will learn from the master.