5.4b(v) Extended interview on pawnage, Ile Alawo, ti Ile Onilu, Okelele, Ilorin
Who was the interviewer: Mr. Ibrahim Bolaji
Date: 11th August 1991
Where the interview took place: Ile Alawo ti Ile Onilu (Okelele)
Compound of the informant (if a woman, give both her natal and her married compound): Agbo ile Larokun, Okelele, Ilorin [her natal compound?]
Approximate age of the informant: 133 years (“aadoje ọdun, o le mẹta”)
In whose reign the informant was born: She said in the reign of the “terrible” Emir. People said Emir Mamma was “terrible.”
Any other relevant details about the informant: The informant is thought to be the oldest woman in her compound.
Whether the informant was completely cooperative or not, and if not, why: She was reluctant until given full explanations as to the reasons for this research.
Whether the informant wishes his/her name to be withheld or not: Yes, if it would not bring her any trouble. [“if it would not bring her any trouble” would seem to indicate that her “Yes” signifies agreement to her name being used]
The name of the informant: Alhaja Amọkẹ Opa Aiye.
Names of any other people present at the interview:
Mallam Fọlọrunshọ K. Oseni
Alhaji Karimu Onikahun
Mallam Ibrahim Mohammed
Alfa Ahmed Fọlọrunshọ
Pawning (iwọfa) in Ilorin Part 1
1 What were male pawns used for? They were used for the occupation or trade of the one who lent the money—or to perform any function that he required of them.
2 What were female pawns used for? House work; trading etc. Female pawns could be given to male lenders who were business men. Such female pawns would be used in the business.
3 In the 19th century, were there more male than female pawns, or more females than males? There were more male pawns.
4a In the 19th century, which were actually more desired by creditors, males or females? Depending on who people borrowed from.
4b Why? If money was borrowed from a male, he would be given male pawns; with females, female pawns would be given.
5 In the colonial period, were there more male than female pawns, or more females than males? Males were more.
6a In the colonial period, which were actually more desired by creditors, males or females? Males were more desired.
6b Why? Males were considered to have more energy for work than females.
7a Did men ever pawn their wives? No, never.
7b If no, why not? A wife is a wife for ever. Her parents would not accept such a situation.
7c If yes, for what reasons did they do this? —
8a Did married women ever pawn themselves? No!
8b If no, why not? They were not supposed to do anything behind their husbands [behind their husbands’ backs]. However hard the situation, no woman could pawn herself.
8c If yes, for what reasons did they do this? —
9a Did widowed women ever pawn themselves? No.
9b If no, why not? She was either given out to a relation or allowed to remarry.
9c If yes, for what reasons did they do this? —
10a In the 19th century, were there more adult pawns than child pawns, or more child pawns than adults? Child pawns were more.
10b Why? Adult pawns could be a liability in terms of physical health. [Presumably she is thinking of older adults, who would not be as strong as youths.]
11a In the colonial period, were there more adult pawns than child pawns, or more child pawns than adults? Child pawns were more.
11b Why? (Same as 10b).
1a In the old days, were people put into pawn in order to meet religious expenses? No.
1b If yes, can you give any examples? —
2a Were people put into pawn to meet judicial expenses? It was possible.
2b If yes, can you give any examples? If a person had a case in court and needed money to meet expenses. Also if a person had to pay a fine.
3 During the colonial period, were people put into pawn in order to raise the money to pay government tax? No. The assessment was a mere token and did not warrant pawning.
1 Were slaves given out as pawns? No. Slaves were slaves and pawns were pawns.
1b If no, why not? It was more profitable to keep slaves than use them as pawns.
1c If yes, how common was it to give out slaves as pawns, and why? —
1a Was a guarantor involved in pawning agreements? No. [This conflicts with later responses—perhaps the informant misunderstood this question.]
1b Was this guarantor called onigbowo? Yes.
1c If not, what name was given to the guarantor? Onigbọwọ or Onigbọọ.
2 Was it possible to obtain a loan solelyon the word of a guarantor? (that is, without putting oneself or one’s child in pawn) No; a pawn was needed, unless one borrowed from friends.
3 Was the work of a pawn regarded as interest on the loan? Yes. [This conflicts with later responses—perhaps the informant misunderstood this question.]
4 Was the work of a pawn regarded as repayment for some or all of the principal? No. The principal would still be paid back, time of service notwithstanding.
5 Or was the pawn simply a security? Yes.
6a Do you remember any pawning arrangements in which the pawns were given out for a specified period only? No.
6b If yes, what was the reason for this? —
6c Can you give any specific examples of this? —
1a In the 19th century, did pawning of goods occur? Yes.
1b If no, why not? —
1c If yes, how common was this practice? Not very common.
1d And what types of goods were pawned? Valuable properties.
2a In the colonial period, did pawning of goods occur? Yes.
2b If no, why not? —
2c If yes, how common was this practice? Not very common.
2d And what types of goods were pawned? Valuables.
1a In the nineteenth century, could loans be obtained on monetary interest? Whatever was borrowed from friends had no interest. But whatever was borrowed from wealthy people attracted interest.
1b If no, why not? —
1c If yes, how common was this practice? It was widespread—and continues till now.
1d Which was the better arrangement, pawning or loans on monetary interest, and why? Lenders preferred pawning—because it provided them free service while there was every likelihood that the money given out would be repaid in full.
2a In the colonial period, could loans be obtained on monetary interest? Yes, the longer the period of repayment, the more the interest.
2b If no, why not? —
2c If yes, how common was this practice? It was very widespread.
2d Which was the better arrangement, pawning or loans on monetary interest, and why? Both were profitable, but for the lender, it was still better to have pawns.
1 In the 19th century, which was the commonest way to obtain a loan? Through pawning.
2 In the colonial period, which was the commonest way to obtain a loan? Through interest borrowing, because of government displeasure at pawning, as well as dawning civilisation.
1 Did pawning increase after slavery was abolished? No.
2a Were there any changes in pawning arrangements later in the colonial period? Pawning was out of fashion.
2b If yes, can you describe them? People were getting civilised and began to frown at certain practices.
3a Did pawning increase during the depression (1930s)? No.
3b If yes, why? —
4a Do you remember people being in pawn during your own lifetime? Yes.
4b If yes, can you give any specific examples? When my father was going to marry his second wife, my younger brother was pawned for the sum of “ọkẹ mewa” (5 naira) which was needed.
4c With respect to these examples, about how old were you at the time? I was about 14 years old.
5 About when did pawning decline? When people were becoming more able to manage their resources. This was during the period f the “terrible” Emir (Mamma).
6 Why did it decline? Spreading of civilisation everywhere made pawning obsolete as a system.
Part 9 Pawns used in craft compounds
1a Did the lantana beadmakers use pawns? Yes.
1b If yes, can you name any particular beadmaking compounds in which pawns were used? Ile Asileke.
1c And what type or types of work did pawns do in these beadmaking compounds? All aspects of the beadmaking process.
2a Did the leatherworkers use pawns? Yes.
2b If yes, can you name any particular leatherworking compounds in which pawns were used? Ile Alawọ Nla; Ile Alawọ Kekee (kekere); Ile Gbogun. All in Okelele.
2c And what type or types of work did pawns do in these leatherworking compounds? Treating; stretching of leather etc.
3a Did the butchers use pawns? Yes they did.
3b If yes, can you name any particular butchers’ compounds in which pawns were used? Ile Jenle (Dada area, Ilorin); Ile Alhaji Danganna Ita-adu (Balogun Gambari area).
3c And what type or types of work did pawns do in these butchers’ compounds? All aspects of the butcher’s trade.
4a Did the male weavers use pawns? No.
4b If yes, can you name any particular weaving compounds in which pawns were used? —
4c And what type or types of work did pawns do in these weaving compounds? —
5a Did the asude workers use pawns? Yes, the rich ones among them.
5b If yes, can you name any particular asude compounds in which pawns were used? Ile Asude Aremo, Okelele; Ile Alagbede [extra spaces left between “Alagbede” and “Dudu”] Dudu, Okelele [not clear whether the text represents two places, or possibly more].
5c And what type or types of work did pawns do in these asude compounds? Whatever work was related to smithing in the compound.
6a Did the potters use pawns? Yes, if [they were] that prosperous.
6b If yes, can you name any particular potters’ compounds in which pawns were used? Ebu Dada; Ile Alamo.
6c Were pawns used at Ebu Dada? Yes, if prosperous. [See 6a above.]
7 Can you name any other crafts (apart from those mentioned above) in which pawns were used? Yes, for example “oọlu” work—cloth beating with a mortar for smoothing before use. (This is the oldest form of ironing in Ilorin. It is still in practice, though rare.)
8 Why did people put their children as pawns into craft compounds? So that there would be the opportunity to learn a trade. But, pawns were not put into the crafts families only. Only stubborn children were pawned into crafts families. At that time there were no juvenile remand schools or correction centres.
9a Are there any craft compounds in which pawns are used nowadays? No, not any more.
9b If yes, can you name these compounds? —
9c In these compounds, what are the pawns used for nowadays? —
9d Why do people put themselves in pawn nowadays? There are no more pawns.
Part 10 (The informant’s own compound)
1a Were pawns ever used in your own compound? Yes.
1b If yes, what for? Farm work; any other work in the family.
1c Did the number of pawns used in your compound increase after slavery was abolished? No. Pawning stopped also.
1d Do you remember pawns being used in your compound in your own lifetime? Yes.
1e If yes, about how old were you at the time? (She can’t remember, but says her father had about 30 pawns on his farms).
1f About when did they stop using pawns in your compound? When civilisation came.
1g Why did they stop using them? Civilisation had come; colonial rulers were not pleased with pawning.
Part 11 (The informant’s own compound nowadays)
1 Are pawns being used in your compound nowadays? No.
If the informant answers yes, there are pawns nowadays in his/her compound:
2 What are these pawns used for? —
3 How many pawns are there in your compound nowadays? None.
4 Why do people put themselves in pawn nowadays? There is no more pawning.
5 Please explain the details of the present-day pawning contract/agreement. —
If the informant says no, there are no pawns in his/her compound today:
6 Please explain who does the various types of work that need to be done in your compound. The wives and the children.
7 For example, who does the house work and the cooking? Wives, helped by the children.
8 If it is a craft compound, do you have apprentices? Yes.
Note: since there are no more pawns in this compound, the following questions are not applicable.
If the informant says yes, there are pawns nowadays in his/her compound, can you ask at least one of the people in pawn:
9 Are you a pawn?
10 What kind of work are you doing in this compound?
11 Why did you become a pawn?
12 Please explain the details of the pawning contract/agreement.
Name (if the pawn wishes to give it):