5.2d Interview with Anonymous Informant 2
Who was the interviewer: Alhaji Babatunde Ẹlẹsin
Date: 15th November 1988
Where the interview took place: Ile Ojibara, Apata-Olowo in Ọmọda area
Compound of the informant: Ile Ojibara
Approximate age of the informant: 80 years
Any other relevant details about the informant:
Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not; and if not, why: He was cooperative, on the assurance that he would be rewarded. He was.
Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld: Yes
Names of any other people present at the interview: Ibrahim Audu
The 19th Century : Section 1
1 About what proportion of the population of Ilorin and its hinterland were slaves, in the 19th century? Slaves were numerous.
2a Were many slaves used in the army? Answer to a and b—Yes, they were used for carrying loads, for cooking, for putting up tents.
2b What were they used for in the army?
3 Were many slaves used on the farms? Would it be true to say that the majority of slaves were used on the farms? Yes, for the production of necessary food materials for consumption or sale.
4a Did some important people have large plantations worked by slaves? Yes.
4b Can you give any examples? Ojibara, the father of the informant, was one.
5 In the 19th century, did slaves working on the farms generally reside on the farms, or in town? Or both? They lived on the farms where accommodation was provided. Only domestic slaves, mainly female, lived in the town.
6 Is it true to say that there were many large plantations/estates around Ilorin, or were there mostly small scattered holdings? There were large farms, for example, Ballah.
7a Can you estimate how many plantations there were with more than 100 slaves working on them? With more than 30? Ballah, Alapa, Ipaiye were some.
7b About what proportion of farms had a few slaves, but less than 5? A very large proportion.
8 It has been said that the 19th century Emirs tried to restrict the elite members to small scattered land holdings, so that they could not build up a consolidated power base outside the town—
8a Is it true that they tried to do this? No. The Emirs did not prevent the ownership of large farms. At the end of the year, the Emir’s portion of farm produce must be sent to him. So, it was better to have large sources.
8b Did they succeed? [not applicable]
If so, were elite members likely to have several small land holdings? [answer appears to cover all people who had farms, elite or not] There were big farms just as there were very small holdings.
9b Did they move their slaves from one to another? [no response recorded]
10 Did slaves on the farms work in gangs under an overseer? Yes.
11a Did slaves work half the day for the master, then half the day for themselves? No, but they were free to do what was called abuṣẹ--unauthorised work during a slave’s free time.
11b Could they sell the produce they grew in their own time? Yes, they could.
12a Did slaves always work in gangs under an overseer? Or did they sometimes work on their own, and periodically bring/send in fixed amounts of produce for the master? They worked in gangs under overseers, and not on their own.
12b Which of these was the more common in the 19th century? Working in groups
12c Under what circumstances did they work in gangs, and under what circumstances did they work on their own and send/bring in produce periodically? Slaves could work on their own when freed from slave gangs who then treated them as free.
13 If a farmer had just a few slaves, would he and his family work in the fields alongside the slaves? Yes; it did not affect their status as free people.
14a How much difference was there between slaves working on the farms and small-scale poor free farmers? Slaves knew themselves as such and the free born were looked upon as such.
14b In what ways were they different? Slaves worked for owners; the free born worked for themselves.
14c In what ways were they similar? They all engaged in manual work.
15a Were women slaves also used on the farm? Yes
15b What kinds of work did they do there? General work—cooking, carrying of harvested crops to town.
15c Was it the women slaves who carried the produce into the town? Male slaves did too.
16 In the late 19th century, it was reported that the war-chief Jimba was the owner of the small village Oko Jimba between Ilorin and Offa, where he had settled his slaves.
16a Is this true? Yes.
16b About how many slaves were there? They were many.
16c Was Jimba Oja also in existence at that time? Yes.
16d If so, what was sold there? By whom and to whom? Slaves and farm produce.
17 In the 1850s it was reported that Balogun Gambari Ali had “a village of 26,000 slaves of his own, all working in irons.”
17a Did he have such a village? Yes.
17b Where was it? [no answer recorded]
17c About how many slaves were there? [no answer recorded]
1 Were slaves taught to be Muslims? Yes, because their owners were Muslims.
2 Did they become good Muslims? Yes.
3a In Ilorin, how many people were members of the bori cult? Only Hausa slaves. Free born Ilorin people did not join.
3b Did many slaves become members? For example, women slaves? It was not a sanctioned cult, so membership was secret.
3c Did many free born women become members? No, unless they did so in secret.
1 Where did the slaves come from? They were bought or captured in war.
2a Were slaves brought down from the north? Yes, from Hausaland.
2b Were these slaves bought by Ilorin people, or were they bought by traders from the south? Apart from Ilorin people, there were buyers from other areas in the south.
3 In what markets in Ilorin were slaves sold? Isalẹ Gambari was one.
4a In what houses in Ilorin were slaves sold? (1) Ile Ẹlẹru (in Ọmọda; (2) Ile Alowoeru in Isalẹ Gunniyan area
4b Is there a house (or houses) called
Ile Aroworeru? Called Alowoeru.
4c Where is this house? Isalẹ Gunniyan area.
5 Is it true to say that the trade in slaves in Ilorin was especially important towards the end of the 19th century? Yes it was.
6a What happened to the slave traders in Ilorin after the slave trade ended? Their slaves were no longer their property. So they lost their source of wealth.
6b Did they go into other kinds of business? General trade and farming.
1 What proportion of slaves in and around Ilorin were women? They were many.
2 What tasks did women slaves perform? House chores; carrying farm produce to town from farms.
3 Were slave women used for domestic tasks so that free wives could go into purdah? Yes.
4 What were women slaves most valued for? Performing household duties, and, occasionally, becoming wives.
5 Which cost more, a male slave or a female slave? A male slave, but a beautiful female slave could cost a lot of money.
6 Which were more in demand, male slaves or female slaves? Male slaves were more in demand, because of their physical strength.
1 What was the name for “concubine” in Ilorin? Ọrẹ (friend).
2 Were concubines always slaves? No.
3 What was the status of a concubine who had borne a child to her master? She became a wife and was treated like a free born.
4 What was the status of a concubine who did not give birth? She either remained a concubine or the friendship was terminated.
5 What was the status of the children of concubines? Such children were treated as free born and therefore accepted.
6 Was there any special name for such children? They should not have distinguishing names. Such could put them at a great disadvantage.
7 What was likely to happen to daughters of concubines? They wee also accepted as free born children.
8 In the 19th century, did concubinage increase or decrease over time? It increased.
9 What happened to concubines in the 20th century? It still thrived.
10 Are there still concubines today? Yes. It has even become the vogue.
11 If so, for what reasons do women become concubines today? Because of greed over money.
1 What was the attitude of a master to his slave?A slave was treated as common property, except when a slave’s god conduct earned him/her special, humane treatment.
2 What was the attitude of a slave to his master? To respect, obey, and give total loyalty to the owner.
3 To whom would a master marry his slave
3a if it was a male slave? Anyone who pleased him/her.
3b if it was a female slave? To a favourite male slave, or to anyone else favoured by the owner.
4 Were household slaves considered as of higher status than farm slaves? No, farm slaves were more important, as the source of wealth and prestige.
5 Did slaves become junior members of the family of their owner? Yes, if such slaves were of impeccable character. Such a slave could have the status of a son or daughter in the family.
6 What was the status of the child of a slave, if that child was born
6a in the master’s house? Answer to both a and b—Whatever the place, such a child was accepted as part of the family.
6b on the farm?
7 Was there any special name for such children? [answer consists only of an exclamation mark or possibly question mark]
8a In the 19th century, did many slaves gain freedom through murgu? Some of them did.
8b Is murgu a Hausa word? Yes. What word is used in Ilorin for murgu? [no answer recorded]
8c What other ways were there in which a slave could be given or gain his or her freedom? (1) If a master fell in love with a female slave, she could be freed to become his wife. (2) A slave with exceptional behaviour could be freed.
9 Were slaves owned by families, or by individuals, or both? [no answer recorded]
10 Did women as well as men own slaves? Yes.
11a How could people tell the difference between a slave and a free person? A free born was seldom given the sort of off-hand treatment given to a slave.
11b For example, were slaves given any distinguishing marks? Yes, their marks were different from those of free born children.
11c Did they have a different accent from free people? Since they were strangers, their accents reflected those of their homeland.
11d Did they behave in any way differently from free people? Yes.
11e Did they retain their old religion? No, they took to the religion of their owners.
11f Did they retain the customs of their home areas? No.
11g Did they retain the dances of their home areas? Not after some time. They became assimilated into their owners’ culture.
Section 7: The Colonial Period
When the British arrived, it is said that in many places there was a large slave exodus—that many slaves departed.
1 Was this true of Ilorin? Yes.
2 What proportion of the slaves left Ilorin and its districts? Majority of the slave population.
3 If a large number left, what were the effects of this
3a in the town? Answer to both a and b—A labour vacuum was created in both town and districts.
3b in the districts?
4 Or, did many of the slaves stay? Still many stayed.
5 If so, why did they stay? They had wives and children; they also felt contentec.
6 What happened to the slaves who stayed? They made Ilorin their home and were absorbed.
7 In what way did their situation or status change? They were given the recognition and respect given to the free born.
8 It is said that in the 19th century, when elite families kept up large households, they wanted more work/produce out of the slaves, but after the colonial period began, they wanted more the recognition from their slaves.
8a Is this true? Yes.
8b If so, why? Such recognition from former slaves enhanced their present social status.
9 Did the ex-slaves bring/send in less produce after the colonial period had begun? There was very little produce.
10 Did many of the slaves enter into murgu arrangements with their masters after the colonial period had begun? There was no need for it.
11 How did the ex-slaves gain access to farming land? Depending on a cordial relationship, the former owners gave land to their former slaves.
Section 8: The 1950s
1 For what reasons did people join the Ilorin Talaka Parapo
1a in the town? Answer to both a and b—I.T.P. looked after the interests of the common people, [in contrast to] the earlier parties whose leaders knew only themselves and their kin.
1b in the districts?
2 Do you think it was largely because they were influenced by people in the Action Group, or not? Yes, it was believed that the A.G. looked after the interests of the masses.
3 Why was it that people in the districts had to get permission from the NA before they could open a market? The people were controlled by the N.A., which was itself controlled by the Emir.
4a Who were the leaders of the “Afin Parapo”? Government officials who were mainly from the royalty.
4b Who were the members of the “Okemale” Parapo”? From Idiape to Adeta, to Olojẹ and Pakata.
4c Who were their respective leaders? Sule Maito of Isalẹ Aluko and Alhaji Buraimoh Alatare.
4d Why did they split off from each other? There were divergent interests.
4e What different views did the two groups hold? The Afin Parapo were in power and were only interested in maintaining themselves in power, while Okemale Parapo leaders wanted the interests of the masses to be paramount.
Section 9: Iwofa (iwọfa)
1 Can you explaiin what is meant by iwofa? Iwofa is the system of using a person as security for borrowed money.
2 Why did people become iwofa? Because of money borrowed which needed some sort of security.
3 What special circumstances might lead a person to put his/her child or himself in pawn? Any undertaking that required heavy financial expenses.
4 Were iwofa usually male, or both male and female? They were male.
5 Would a man put his wife in pawn? No.
6 Would a person put his slave in pawn? Yes, but in most cases it would be preferable to sell the slave.
7 Was it usually a child who became iwofa? No, an adult could too, depending on good health and a good physique.
8 Could a child gain any advantages from being iwofa? Learning a trade or how to do business.
9 Was the iwofa a security for the eventual repayment of a debt, or did the iwofa’s service actually repay the debt? A security.
10 Was any interest charged on a debt when the creditor had been given an iwofa? No. The iwofa was only a bonus.
11Apart from the iwofa system, could people also borrow money on interest in the olden days? No; there was nothing like lending on interest.
12 If so, which did they prefer, to borrow money on interest, or to make an iwofaagreement? To make an iwofa agreement.
13 Why did they prefer this [whichever] one? Rhw original sum lent out would still be paid back, whatever services the iwofa performed.
14 In other parts of Yorubaland it is said that in the olden days people were put in pawn to obtain money for the redemption of th eir relatives from slavery. Was this true in Ilorin? Yes.
15 In the olden days, did a scarcity of cowries lead to more people being put in pawn? Yes.
16 Why would a creditor want an iwofa? What were the advantages of this system for the creditor? The services performed by the iwofa were free, however invaluable such services were.
17 When the slaves were freed at the beginning of the colonial period, did this lead to more people becoming iwofa? Yes.
18 If so, why was this? Money became scarce, and many lost their source of wealth.
19 Is there any iwofa system nowadays? No.
20 If not, then when did the system die out? With the coming of colonial masters who legislated against all forms of forced service.
21 Why did the system die out? Apart from governmental legislation against it, the society was becoming more and more civilised and no-one wanted the stigma of an iwofa for his/her family.
1 I have heard that there was a slave in Ilorin called Dada (or Omo Dada?) who became a great warrior.
1a Is this true? Yes.
1b If so, where did he live? Okekere area.
1c Did he serve under one of the major chiefs? Yes, under Balogun Ajikobi.
1d Can you tell me anything about his career, for example:
What wars did he fight in? He fought in the Offa War.
Why is he remembered as a great warrior? He distinguished himself in the wars.