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5.1 Background Information on O’Hear/Bolaji interviews 1988-1991, Series I, II, and III

Interviews and information gathering conducted on my behalf by Dr. E.B. Bolaji, a native of Ilorin, a former colleague and a scholar of Yoruba oral literature, and his assistants. The questions, words to be defined, etc., were provided by myself, in English. Dr. Bolaji then translated the questions into Yoruba. He chose the informants and recruited assistants to help him with the interviews. Dr. Bolaji and his assistants transcribed the informants’ responses, and Dr. Bolaji rendered these into English, with explanatory annotations and comments. Given problems regarding the fragility and legibility of the paper copies, I transcribed them on to computer files in 2020.

See also 2.4c(i) Ann O’Hear with E. B. Bolaji. “Slavery in Ilorin, Nigeria.” Unpublished paper: extended interview with Ilorin informant (Anonymous Informant 1), with background and commentary.


Series I, 1988‒1989, contains five extended interviews with Ilorin informants, covering various aspects of slavery and related topics. Also included are the following: definitions of Yoruba words and translations/explanations of proverbs; and an excerpt from a letter from Dr. Bolaji discussing the difficulties he encountered. For follow-up interviews on plantations, see Series II.


Series II, 1989‒1990. The first item here  features a set of notes that I sent to Dr. Bolaji in July 1989, regarding the questions for Series II (including the follow-up questions on Series I but in particular the numerous questions on elite slaves, this topic being the main focus of Series II). The next group of items consists of the follow-up interviews from Series I (on plantations). But the bulk of Series II is provided by the transcripts of the numerous interviews conducted on elite slaves; plus an excerpt from a letter from Dr. Bolaji, providing further information/background on the interviews. For follow-up on the Ajia Ijesha family, see Series III.


Series III, 1991. This includes a short file of follow-up questions regarding previous series. However, the focus in Series III is on human pawnage. The material on this topic consists of four extended interviews, plus two shorter interviews (with Dr. Bolaji’s parents); follow-up questions and interviews; and an excerpt from a letter from Dr. Bolaji.