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5.4b(viii) Follow-up questions (sent to Dr. Bolaji November 1991) and responses (including pawnage); questions provided by Ann O’Hear; questions and responses transcribed by Ann O’Hear in 2020, with an added introduction. No precise dates for the follow-up interviews were provided, but they were probably conducted soon after November 1991


The questions relate to two interviews which had been conducted earlier. These interviews were:

  • 5.4b(ii)Extended interview with Alhaji Salman Akanbi, Ile Alagbede, 3 August 1991; interviewer Dr. E.B. Bolaji

  • 5.4b(iii)Extended interview with Alhaji Saadu Manla, Magaji of Asileke Compound, 5 August 1991; interviewer Mr. Ibrahim Bolaji; Dr. E.B. Bolaji was present at the interview

The first question  relates to the precise identity of Mallam Sanusi, “the Alangwa (Bale) of Okelele,” who was present at the original extended interview with Alhaji Salman Akanbi. The question, which was directed to Dr. Bolaji, is given on page 2, followed by a detailed response, written by Dr. Bolaji.

The second question, which was directed toward Dr. Bolaji in discussion with Alhaji Salman Akanbi and Alhaji Saadu Manla, is related to pawnage and loans on monetary interest, specifically referring to Parts 6 and 7 of the original extended interview, in which there appear to be problems with their testimony.

The problems, the question, and the responses are detailed on page 3.

First question, directed to Dr. Bolaji

In the previous interview [with Alhaji Salman Akanbi] you mention that Mallam Sanusi, “the Alangwa (Bale) of Okelele” was present.

Is he the Bale Ibagun, or the Magaji Ojuekun, or someone else entirely?

Response by Dr.Bolaji

Mallam Sanusi is the Balẹ Ibagun. His official designation, really, is Alangwa. He is the present Balẹ Ibagun, a position that is officially recognised by the Emir, and a position which also makes him the Head of Ibagun Ward in Okelele and therefore the Emir’s representative in the area. He collects taxes and performs other administrative functions assigned to him by the Emir.

Balẹis a Yoruba title for settlement/village heads, but in a place like Ilorin with an official Hausa/Fulani outlook, the title Alangwa is more official.

There is, however, a peculiarity to this title, Alangwa. Note,

1.Alá – ngwa (ungwar)

2. Alá – is Yoruba, meaning “Owner of” or “Head of,” or “Leader of”

3.Ungwar – is Hausa for settlement; village

This Yoruba-Hausa combination for the title of a village/settlement/section Head perhaps reflects the peculiar inter-marriage of cultures in Ilorin

Second question

Problems These are related to inconsistencies within the testimonies given in the extended interviews.

In the case of Alhaji Salman Akanbi, in Part 6 of the extended interview, he states that in the nineteenth century the practice of obtaining loans on monetary interest was widespread, though pawning was better for the lender. He states that in the colonial period, obtaining loans on monetary interest was not very common, and that pawning was the better arrangement, “more profitable and therefore very popular.” However, in Part 7, he states that in the colonial period, interest-borrowing was the commonest way to obtain a loan.

In the case of Alhaji Saadu Manla, in Part 6 of the extended interview, he states that in the nineteenth century, obtaining loans on monetary interest was widespread, although pawning was preferable. He also states that in the colonial period, obtaining loans on monetary interest was still widespread, but not as popular as in the pre-colonial period. Yet, in his answer to the next question he says that in the colonial period, paying interest was better, being “the new system in the colonial period.” In Part 7, he reiterates that obtaining a loan with interest payment was the commonest way to obtain a loan.

I asked Dr. Bolaji to follow up with the two interviewees, to clarify the apparently contradictory statements in their responses. Specifically, I put the following question to him: Do you think they may have actually meant that pawning (not loans on interest) was less widespread in the colonial period?

His report after discussion with Alhaji Akanbi was as follows: I asked Alhaji Akanbi to clarify the apparent contradiction. He stated that loans with interest were more common in the colonial period, unlike the pre-colonial period when pawning was more popular because it enabled a prosperous man to ‘eat his cake and still have it’ by getting his original loan back, and free service into the bargain.

His report after discussion with Alhaji  Manla (Magaji of Asileke Compound) was as follows: Like Alhaji Akanbi, the Magaji meant that lending/borrowing with interest was more widespread in the colonial period. Pawning was not immediately eradicated during the colonial era: it had a gradual death. Just as pawning became gradually unpopular during the colonial period because of its legal or legislative implications, so was borrowing/lending with interest not very common in the pre-colonial period because it lacked the advantages of pawning.

Dr. Bolaji also provided the following brief Note on the Answers from the Interviewees: Sometimes one has to give leading questions to get less-vague answers from people who most of the time want to prove that they know “everything.” Suggestibility at times provides a clearer answer, but sometimes contradictory or vague answers have to be accepted.

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