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5.4a Follow-up questions on concubines (from Series I) and Ajia Ijesha (from Series II)

Questions sent by Ann O’Hear, responses by Dr. Bolaji; no date given, but may be mid-1991.

1.With regard to the questions on concubines. I got the impression that informants tend to get two things mixed up—(1) concubines in the traditional Muslim sense;

and (2) “girl friends.”

Do informants use the same term for both?

A concubine, even in traditional Yoruba, is a friend of the opposite sex to any married person, male or female. Even an unmarried girl or boy is still a concubine. “Girl friend” is a modern term.

2. With regard to the unidentified informant [ see 5.3d(ii)] Interviews on Ajia Ijesha] who said the Ajia Ijesha family isdescended from slaves. Do you remember how you happened to meet this informant? For example, was he present at your “official” interview with the Ajia Ijesha family?

He was present at the official interview, but followed me outside. Though I pressed him hard, he refused to give his name. What he said was that there could be serious trouble for him if his identity was known, since it would be like contradicting family history. He took the monetary inducement, though.

The impression is that under the desire to make one’s family “illustrious,” people are re-writing history (or refashioning oral evidence) so that their children might not live under a stigma of inferiority or slavery. It is generally believed that Ajias were slaves to the Emirs. BUT, whatever oral history is obtained from Ilorin must be treated with extreme caution. Everything, including family history, is coloured with Islamic perspectives, so that “ẹru” (slave) is often used instead of “iranṣe” (servant). Also, whatever family closely ministered unto the Emirs or served as errands [sic] to the royal family were called “ẹru.” Perhaps the Ajias could be put in this category since they vehemently oppose the slavery ta