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5.3d(i) Re slave status: Definition of ajia

Report by Dr. E.B. Bolaji, probably October 1989

What is the meaning of the word ajia?

1 Response from Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulrahman, Ajia Seriki Ogbonde (the Ajia Ogbonde, a titled chief, head of the compound), Ile Ajia Ogbonde, Agaka Isale, Ilorin:

“Ajia means Asoju Ọba (the ‘eyes’ of the Emir). It also means someone put in a position of authority over a certain area and who reports to the Emir regularly. It is not a slave title.” Ajia Ogbonde asserted that some ajias were slaves who got the title in order to show that they were privileged.

2 Response from Alhaji Abdurahoofi (Imam Ajia, Ile Ajia Sakasaka, Agaka, Ilorin:

“Ajia is a Hausa name, meaning something or someone that is kept in safe keeping or in a position of safety and privilege, so that (if a person) his knowledge or prowess can be called [upon] for utilisation at any time.” Imam-Ajia explained further that in Islamic culture, all the subjects of an Emir refer to themselves as Ẹru Ọba (slaves of the king) as an indication that the Emir has the authority of life and death over them, and not because they are actually slaves. As subjects they must do his bidding always.

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