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7.5 Shao Community. “Memorandum to the Chieftaincy Panel by the People of Shao: Case for the Grading of the Ohoro of Shao.”
I am indebted to Dr. Susan J. Watts for a photocopy of this document, which was typed but also included handwritten corrections and additions. It has been transcribed by me (Ann O’Hear) from the photocopy. It is not formatted as a letter. No date is given, but the final draft of the memorandum would have been submitted to the chieftaincy panel by mid-1978.
In the transcription, I have removed crossed-out words and inserted the corrections which had been handwritten on the original typescript. In the cases where the handwritten corrections were more substantial than just a single word, I have identified them by underlining them.
In the photocopy, there are two pages numbered as page 5; there is no page numbered as 12, with page 11 being immediately followed by page 13. This document is likely to have been a fairly early draft, judging by the number of misspellings, typographical errors, inconsistent capitalisation, pagination problems and the like.
I have utilised square brackets to identify words etc. that were not in the original (whether typed or handwritten thereon). I have inserted an appropriate word/letter/punctuation mark in square brackets, where such an item is missing and its insertion is necessary/useful for readability. Where a word is otherwise misspelled or mis-typed, and there is any possibility that confusion may result from this, I have placed the correct spelling/version immediately after the original version, also in square brackets. In addition, I have used square brackets to identify my own comments.
While certain supporting materials are said in the text to be “attached” or “enclosed”, they were not attached to/enclosed with the photocopy.
MEMORANDUM TO THE CHIEFTAINCY PANEL—BY THE PEOPLE OF SHAO: A CASE FOR THE GRADING OF THE OHORO OF SHAO:
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF SHAO ORIGIN
The first settlers in the ancient town known as Shao were four hunters. The names of thesee four hunters were:- Ajankii, Boo, Ajakitipa and Papala. The four hunters came from Old Oyo on hunting expedition. They left Oyo separately, each not knowing of the hunting expedition of the other. They however arrived and pitched their camps at different locations within the area now known as Shao. The exact year of this historic hunting expedition was not known but oral history pointed out that the settlement was founded in the 17th Century when the Old Oyo Empire was on the decline as a result of the internecine wars within the Empire, a situation which forced people to leave Old Oyo to look for settlement elsewhere far from the war-stricken territory of the Empire. Not quite long after each of these hunters had settled in his various location, each discovered the presence of the others through the smoke arising from the camp of each hunter. Consequently they sought intimacy with one another and agreed among themselves to come nearer together so as to be able to chat with one another rather than living in isolation, hence the devivation [derivation] of the name of the town SHAO (E je ki a SA ara wa jo ki a jumo ma HO Po) meaning let us gather nearer together and be chatting together. As time passed by, the hunters did not only find the area fertile for game hunting but also fertile for farming, not only that, they found the place a quiet place which was far removed from the wars that was ravaging the Old Oyo Kingdom of that time. Consequently, they decided to settle permanently in the new area.
Withing [within] a short time, the small settlement began to expand with waves of new immigrants. As the town grew in size and population, there arose the need to have a leader in the town. The four hunters who were the first settlers naturally assumed the joint leadership of the settlement. They found it difficult to concede leadership to one another. The issue was however resolved through mutual agreement that they should go back to Oyo their original home, to request the then Alafin to provide someone as a ruler over the new settlement. The Alafin eventually provided one of his many sons, Prince Olanibo after the four hunters had made repeated trips to Oyo. The Alafin of that time gave the son, Olanibo, one of the sixteen “ODU IFA”, (Odu Eji Ogbe) of the Ifa Oracle to be planted at the “navel”, that is, the centre, of the new settlement[.] The “Odu” was to serve as a powerful Juju that will draw other people to the town and also to serve as a protective fort for the people. The “Odu”, today, remains the most important historical landmark in Shao. In addition to the ‘Odu’ the Alafin gave Prince Olanibo an inju[n]ction that he should rule without prejudice and partiality. He should dig deep into matters before delivering judgement and when he delivered any judgement he should express his mind to the fullest without mincing words. It was from this injunction that the ruler took his title of OHORO (OHO ORO). (Eniti o ma NHO ORO le enia lowo laisi Ojusaju tabi iberu) meaning one who does not mince matters. The first Ohoro of Shao was thus Olanibo. It should be noted that, although it was the four hunters that is, Ajanki, Boo, Ajakitipa and Papala, who were known to have first settled in the area, it was prince Olanibo, brought by the hunters from Oyo as the ruler of the new settlement, who actually planted the “Odu” as instructed by his father, the Alafin. It is the general belief that a town had not been founded in the olden days until an Odu of the Ifa oracle had been installed. In effect therefore it was Prince Olanibo who was the actual founder of the town since he was the one who planted the Odu Ifa, while it has always been acknowledged that Ajanki, Boo, Ajakitipa and Papala were the first settlers in the area.
With a ruler already provided and with peace reigning in the new town, no war and no cries of wars (infact the town enjoyed a lasting peace as it was free from external attack, it was never involved in any war until the Fulanis’ attempted invasion of the 19th century), the Ohoro began an expansionist programme, an urge to move outside, beyond his immediate surroundings. By this programme the Ohoro was able to carve out a large area of land for himself, having suzerainty over a vast area of land, which was in fact not inhabited at that time.
Like other old Yoruba towns, Shao has its Own (transcriber’s note: handwritten amendment to this word is not entirely clear] totem (Oriki) by which people sings its praise or make reference to it, in form of poem. It is a common feature of Yoruba towns like Oyo, Ibadan, Ede, Ogbomosho etc., it is a way of paying tributes to the town either by reference to certain feats or achievement by the town in the past or by certain physical or abstract features peculiar to such a town. Shao is thus refer[r]ed to as:-
“Shao Awon ga Omọ onibu eja, Shao Awon wówè, aribusola, ajọda,
apotubu ẹrin, akọgun Oya, Ọlọmọ Winkinwinkin ab’ile gbangba
ni Basa, ab’ọdẹdẹ pirimupirimu ni Wede Shao Olohun meje,
Okesiniga ab’ohun mẹfa, idi ọpọtọ ab’ohun merindinlogun.
A papọ o di mokandinlogbon. Shao ki gbe onilẹ bi o se ajeji.
Shao, Omo b’Ogun oje ara Shao gbe”.
NB Awon, Basa, Wede and Oya mentioned above are rivers, the first three are in Shao while Ọya is a Yoruba name for river Niger, to which river Awon from Shao is a tributary. Shao is popular for its many rivers harbouring many fishes. “Ọpọtọ” is the name of a tree. Shao is known for saying one thing in many ways, hence the terms “Olohun meje” (7) “Abohun mefa” (6) Olohun “Merindinlogun” (16) giving a total of 29. Shao is also known for its power of “Juju” which is expressed in the last Stanza above.
TERRITORY CONTROLLED BY THE OHORO
Shao did not have to fight any neighbouring towns to acquire their land, because then, there were no neighbouring towns around Shao against which [Shao] could have waged wars for the purpose of invading them and acquiring the land. All that there were around were jungles inhabited by animals. In the expansionist programme, it was the Chiefs—Ajanki, Boo, Ajakitipa that were mostly instrumental. As hunters, they were able to go far beyond the bounds of the town, they knew much of the jungles and the land. Whatever distance they covered in any direction in their hunting expeditions, the area of land within such distance was considered to have become the possessions of the Ohoro. The distances covered in all directions through this process were considerable and this was how Ohoro was able to acquire for himself a large area of land.
The closest settlement to the south-East of Shao at that time was Ajasse-po. It was, as a matter of fact, with the Olupo of Ajassepo—at that time that the Ohoro shared a common boundary along the banks of the river Asa which runs across what [has] now become Ilorin (the banks of river Asa were the meeting points of the hunters from Ajasse and Shao). At that time Ilorin had not been founded. From available historical account, Ilorin was founded by Ojo Isekuse upwards of fifty year after Shao had been founded. The land on which Ojo Sekuse founded the settkement [settlement] belonged to the Ohoro of Shao. To the North, Shao shared boundary with the Barubas. The authority of the Ohoro covered the area now called Oloru district and a large porition [portion] of Malete and Ejidongari districts within what is now refered to as Moro Local Government Area.
Later, other settlements like Ilorin, (as mentioned above), Safari, Okuta-Ala, Oloru and Oke Oyi were founded within the vicinity of Shao, some of these towns and villages were indeed founded by people from Shao. For instance, Oloru, one of major towns in Oloru district was founded by members of the Owodo family from Shao.
Other villages that were founded directly by migrants from Shao include:- Abeya, OOre, Lumo: Alufa is one such other Villages founded by Im[m]igrants from Shao; its founders being members of Boo’s Hoose [House] in Shao. In the same way, Olanpata and Abilude Villages were founded by members of the Ajanki’s family in Shao. Onirokuro and Ogbekun were founded by members of Papala house from Shao. Even in what is now known as Iporin district, there are villages founded by people from Shao, for instance:- Aregun, a fairly large Village near Agbeyangi was founded by emigrants from Shao, it is the family of the founder of the village that up till today produces the Bale of the Village.
In effect, from the above account, one thing would have been clear and that is, before the advent of european administration in Nigeria, the Suzerainty of the Ohoro covered a Very Vast area which in terms of present day population estimation is being inhabited by about 65,000 people though at that early period, it was spersely [sparsely] inhabited. The area marked in red on the attached map shows the relative size of the area under the control of the Ohoro at that time.
It is however worthy of note that with the advent of european administration, the Ohoro was deprived of most of his area of influence, not through military conquest, but through the white man’s desire for administrative Convenience. The colonialists did not place premium on the status quo but more on what they considered best suitable and most convinient to their administration. It was as a result of this high premium on colonial administrative convinience, which adminstration was in fact limited to collection of taxes, that large single territory was divided into smaller units which they called districts which in turn were subdivided into much smaller holdings called fiefs (See paragraph 2 page 164 of the Gazette[er] of Ilorin province” published in 1929 by the Hon. H.B. Hermon Hodge). A large holding which had been in the hand of an individual traditional ruler was carved into smaller units and put under the control of numerous Chiefs who were in fact supposed to be subjects to a superior ruler. This was exactly what happened to the large territory formerly controlled by the Ohoro but were consequently parcelled out and distributed among lesser chiefs. In essence the whole area (excluding the land on which Ilorin is now situated) which had been under the authority of the Ohoro before the advent of european administration, was broken unto [into] what remain till today as Oloru, Ejidongari and Malete districts. Despite this distruption of the status quo, the Ohoro continous [continues] to receive till today tributes, token gifts and traditional homage from some of these villages around and far away from Shao. The tributes usually take the form of farm crops given to the Ohoro as compensation for the land being used by the people. The disruption of the status quo notwithstanding, the Ohoro still controls a large area thickly populated, the estimated population of which can be put at about 25,000 people.
WARS IN WHICH SHAO PARTICIPATED:
It has been mentioned earlier that Shao had a long period of peace and tranquility until the 19th Century when the Fulanis who later occupied Ilorin, attempted to invade Shao. This attempt led to the only War in which Shao was directly engaged. The leaders of the army of invasion sent to invade Shao from Ilorin included: Bube, Asaju, Serikin Gobir, LokoObi, Mogaji Balogun in Ilorin. The war against the Fulani invaders from Ilorin was intermittent and raged for eleven years but remained undecisive. One things is clear; the Fulanis did not succeed in their attempt. Although the Fulanis had the military superiority, the people of Shao found their defence in the power of “Juju” which they (the people of Shao) buried about a mile from Shao on the only road leading from Ilorin to Shao (there was no other road as Shao is surrounded by hills and a big river Awon). By this Juju the Fulani warriors were always rendered blinded. Any time they intended to invade Shao their way became dark and impenetrable on getting close to where the Juju was buried. (It is believed that this Juju even has an adverse effect on Shao itself till today as it is believed that as much as the Juju can ward off evil, it also wards off good things[;] one tends to hold this belief because as close as Shao is to Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital, only ten kilometres, such derivable benefits such as light, water and other social amen[i]ties which could easily be extended to Shao, considered to be a Satel[l]ite town to Ilorin, are lacking even when these amen[i]ties are only about one mile from the town, whereas places far off fronm Ilorin get these things. (Anyway, this is the People’s belief). The Fulani warriors pitched their camps for a long time at the spot where the Army Barracks of the 22nd Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army are now built along Ilorin – Shao road (it remains the same road till today though at that time it was just a footpath). The military position of Ilorin at that time was compounded by the attack by the Nupes and the Military attacks mounted against Ilorin by Awtun, Igbomina and people of Offa. The Fulani warriors were therefore forced to abandon their attempt to invade Shao and face the more serious attacks from both the North and the South. Having failed in invading Shao, Ilorin had to make a truce[;] it was the then Balogun Gambari, Mallam Shuaibu otherwise known as Balogun Jamurogo from Ilorin Army and Ajakitipa who was the War Commander from Shao who made and sealed the truce. Ilorin later requested the Military Services of the Shao army as reinforcement buffers to Ilorin forces against Offa and the Igbominas. For instance, Shao was most instrumental in the Capture of Offa by Ilorin. Ilorin, failing to capture Offa after several years of military engagement against Offa, invited Shao. It wasn’t that Shao was particularly strong in terms of military personnel or weaponry, but there was something extra which Shao possessed, that thing was the power of Juju. It was this power that was used against Offa. The Ilorin army came under the joint command of Balogun Kaara from Ilorin and Ajakitipa Asan from Shao. It was the power of Juju—the power of invisibility provided by Shao that aided the two war leaders i.e. Balogun Kaara and Ajakitipa Asan—to be able to cut off the Offa army form [from] the rear and enabled them (Kaara and Ajakitipa Asan) [to] penetrate into Offa town and afforded them the oppor[t]unity of setting the town ablaze. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Offa army had no alternative but to surrender. The Offa army could not have surrendered had their town not been set abalazed [ablaze]. The setting ablaze of the town could not also have been possible if not for the ability of the two war leaders from Ilorin army to enter Offa without beeing seen or noticed. This power of invisibility, as mentioned earlier, was provided by Shao.
One conclusion worth drawing from the above account of wars fought with Shao [and] in which Shao participated is that Shao was never subjected to any military conquest and the Ohoro was thus never a vassal to any traditional authority.
The Administration of Shao:
The administration of the town is like that one finds in other Yoruba towns. The Palace of the Ohoro is the centre of administration with the Ohoro at the head of the town’s administration and under him are other Chiefs and traditional title holders, who lend him helping hands in the administration of the Ohoro’s domain. There are eight senior titled traditional chiefs whose titles are hereditarry. These are: the Ajanki, The Ajakitipa, the Boo, the Papala, the Elemosho Boo, and the Elemosho Papala, Iya Lode and Otun Iyalode. Apart from these chiefs there are other traditional titled chiefs such as the Oluode, Ekerin, Mogaji Banja, Alagba, Baba Alawon, Baba Moja. One thing about these later [latter] traditional chiefs is that they are associated more with certain traditional religions or traditional festivals in the town, they are strictly speaking not connected with the day to day administration of the town. They represent religious or traditional and other cultural interests in the palace when occasions call for their presence.
The senior Chiefs gather everyday at the palace of Ohoro to discuss matters affecting the administration of the town. They are put in charge of various wards in the town. It might be pertinent to mention here that there are eight wards in the town; viz: Afin, (Ohoro Residence), Oke Siniga, OkeLade, Ode Are, Oke Boo, Ode Alawon, Isale Oja and Ogidii. For instance the Ajanki who is infact next to the Ohoro is from and is in charge of Oke Sinniga ward. Boo next to Ajanki is from and is in charge of Oke Boo while Ajakitipa and Papala are in charge of Isale Oja and Ogidi respectively. It is necessary to note that Elemosho Boo and Elemosho Papala are by tradition, messengers of the Boo and the papala respectively and are not in charge of any ward. The Elemoshos live within the wards of their respective masters i.e. Boo and Papala. Each ward is subdivided [in]to compounds with each compound in charge of a Magaji usually the most elderly Male member of the compound.
In all cases; the Chiefs and the Mogajis perform identical functions though at different levels. The most important functions performed by the Chiefs within their wards is settlement of minor disputes—matrimonial, land, inter-compound or inter family rifts etc. Matters of great importance are referred to the Ohoro palace. The Chiefs apart from assisting the Ohoro in the administration of the town, also check the excesses of an erring Ohoro. The[y] can depose an erring Ohoro as was the case of Ohoro Abodunde the fifth Ohoro who was found to be overreaching himself.
It must be mentioned that at the early period there was a group whose members were not necessarily title holders but wielded a great influence in the administration of the town. This was the Egbe Ogboni (a secret cult) though nowadays their influence has dwindled drastically.
The administration of the town is based on maintainance of peace, law and order and observance of customs and tradition. The administration also emphasizes morality; it is still today a taboo in the town for a native to commit adultery with another man’s wife or entice such a wife out of her husband’s house, if he is living in the same ward withor in an adjacent to the ward to the woman’s husband. [transcriber’s note: the last part of the sentence should probably read as follows, for clarity of meaning: “if he is living in the same ward as the woman’s husband or in an adjacent ward”]
ARTS AND CRAFTS AND THE OCCUPATION OF PEOPLE OF SHAO:
The major occupation of the people of Shao is farming. In the early period, pottery was the major (infact the only known) industry of the women. Shao was at that time renowned for its pottery artistry, an art which originated from Shao and was taught to the people from other places. These facts are well documented as in the “Gazetteer of Ilorin Province” Page 281 paragraph 2, published in 1929 by Hon.H.B. Hermon Hodge.
CULTURAL HERITAGE OF SHAO:
Shao is very rich in culture and tradition. Prominent among her Cultural endowments is the traditional Awon Wedding Festival. The Awon wedding Festival is an annual event of Mass Wedding at Shao during which all marriageable girls are given in marriage to their fiances on the same day of the year. (Awon is also the name of a River at Shao, the River forms [?] [a] tributary to River Niger). The festival takes place usually during the month of October or occasionally early in Novermber as it was in 1968). The number of girls married on the day could be as many as sixty, it could be less or more; the actual number is determined b[y] the number of girls that are ripe enough for marriage. The Awon Festival was an inju[n]ction handed down to the Ohoro by a woman visitor to to the town, Awon goddess, a one-breasted nymph who visited the town at the early period when Olanibo was the Ohoro. It was this goddess who enjoined that the town should not be called Shao alone but [was] to be called “Shao Awonga[”]. The Awon goddess is today represented by carvings erected in a house of the Awon Priest in the town. (See P.3 of the publication by Kwara Council for Arts and Culture attached). The Awon Wedding Festival is a unique Cultural Festival which is peculiar to Shao, it is not found in anybother [any other] Yoruba town. The Orisa Oko (god of farm) is another significant Festival in Shao. The festival is what is regarded as the New Yam Festival in some places. Not until recently, nobody in Shao could taste new yarm [yam] in a year until the Orisa Oko Festival has been celebrated. Nowadays how-ever, such traditional prohibition is restricted to only worshippers of the Orisa Oko; Christians and Moslems in the town need not wait for the clelebration of the Festival before they taste new yams [transcriber’s note: the photocopy includes only the topmost part of the words constituting the rest of this sentence]. This does not [in] any way prevent them (Christians and Moslems) from participating in the Festival during the period in which it is celebrated which is during the month of August each year. The Egungun (Musquaerade [Masquerade]) festival is another important festival. This is a festival celebrated in remembrance of the dead, it is believed that it is during this period the dead visit the living. The festival is celebrated during the month of April each year. The Egungun Ikosin is the most important cult of the Egungun Festival[;] while Egungun Festival generally is celebrated annually, the Egungun Ikosin is celebrated bi-ennially. The Ikosin Masquarades [Masquerades] appear once in every two years to the people in their long, over flowing, monstrous sack-like costume. (See pages 16-18 of the attached publication by Kwara Council for Arts and Culture). The Ikosin masquarade [masquerade] was brought to Shao from Sere in Old Oyo Kingdom. There are other Cultural festivals such as Sango (god of thunder): Ogun (god of Iron), Oro, Orisala (called Obatala in some Yoruba towns), Osun, Oya (the female Counterpart or wife of Sango)[,] Oranyan, Obalokun, Yemaja and Ifa. All these were brought directly to Shao from Old Oyo. Every month of the year is taken up in the celebration of one festival or the other.
Shao also has a number of historical and cultural monuments such as the “Odu” shrine as described above. The Odu remains the most important historical landmark in Shao today (See enclosed photograph of the “Odu”). The Odu is a distinct characteristic feature in the founding of Yoruba towns in the olden days. For instance, Ibadan was founded on “Odu Ose Meji”, Shao was founded on “Odu Eji Ogbe”[;] other monuments are the Awon Image; the Orisa Oke Staff, the Ile Isanin etc. Infact Shao is the melting pot of all that characterizes a typical traditional ancient Yoruba town. Infact this was remark[ed on] by Harold Fuller in his book “Run While the Sun is hot”, page 51 paragraph 3 that “In Shao I saw that Charm of age-old traditions” (a copy of the book is herewith enclosed). [transcriber’s note: page numbered 11 in the original ends here; page 13 begins] Religion is never a barrier for anybody to fully participating in any of the traditional festivals or ceremonies. For instance both Moslems and Christians have no other time for their marriage apart from the Awon Festival period, though after the traditional Awon Wedding, Moslems and Christian[s] can go back to the Mosque or Church respectively for blessings. Among the literates however, there is now a drift towards the modern mode of marriage. This is the exception and even this notwithstanding, in a case where one is a moslem or christian, one has to take active part in the festivals where one’s house is heavily involved in a particular traditional festival.
The attached publication by the Kwara State Council for Arts and Culture titled ‘A Cultural and of Mass Wedding “Shao” ’[transcriber’s comment: this title appears to be incomplete] is more revealing and elucidatory on the Cultural
heritage of Shao. Neither the Islamic nor the Christian Religion has in any way had any adverse influence on the observance of these traditional festivals.
CHIEFTAINCY AFFAIRS IN SHAO:
As mentioned above, the traditional title of the traditional ruler of Shao is OHORO. This title was brought from Old Oyo as explained above (Please See Paragraph 2 above under “Historical background of Shao”). The first Ohoro was Olanibo who established the dynasty. There are now three Ruling Houses in Shao. During his life Olanibo had only one Male Child, Idowu. At the death of Ohoro Olanibo, Idowu (who was his only Son) succeeded him as the Ohoro [.] Ohoro Idowu had three Male Children who eventually established the three Ruling Houses now at Shao, Viz:-
(1) the Oyerinde Ruling House;
(2) the Ayanwola Ruling House;
(3) the Olarogun Ruling House;
Since the establishment of these Ruling Houses, there has been no serious succession struggle in the town.
So far eight Ohoro had reigned in Shao and the ninth one who is now on the throne, Oba Yusuf Afolabi Alabi is from the Oyerinde Ruling House. Of all the Ruling Houses, only the Olarogun Ruling House had not provided an Ohoro for the town. (this is not because there is no qualified candidate from the House but because providence has not destined it so[,] as will be shown below under (“Selection of an Ohoro”)
The past eight Ohoros were:-
(1) Ohoro Olanibo – The founder of the dynasity [dynasty]
(2) Ohoro Idowu – The only Male Child of Ohoro Olanibo
(3) Ohoro Oyerinde – Son of Ohoro Idowu
(4) Ohoro Ayanwola – also son of Ohoro Idowu
(5) Ohoro Abodunde – he was a usurper[;] he did not belong to any of the ruling houses. He seized power by treachery and breach of trust in a “palace Coup”. He usurped the throne from Ayanwola who, infact was his very close friend. It was Ayanwola who brought Abodunde from Kishi as a wood carver to Ohoro Oyerinde, Ayanwola’s brother who was on the throne at that time. It was after the death of Ohoro Oyerinde that Ayanwola succeeded to the throne; then the [transcriber’s note: the rest of this sentence, which is the the last line of the page of the typescript, does not appear on the photocopy; the text begins again with the first line of the next page of the photocopy:] external assistance from Ilorin. However Abodunde was not to last on the throne because he did not enjoy the support of the people who frowned at his treachery. Ayanwole [Ayanwola] later resumed his rightful position as the Ohoro.
(6) Ohoro Abilude – from Ayanwola Ruling House
(7) Ohoro Ebo – from Ayanwola Ruling House
(8) Ohoro Ooto-Ola – He was an impositor, Son of Abodunde, who tried to justify his right to the throne on the claim that his father had once been the Ohoro. His father, Abodunde was the usurper mentioned above. Ooto-Ola did not stay long on the throne.
The period during which each of the past eight Ohoros reigned was not known as there was no written record of their reign. However it is known through oral tradition that Ohoro Oyerinde had the longest period of reign, a period spanning over one hundred years. He was reputed to be very powerful and possessed a power of rejuvenation. This claim could be considered to be authentic, taking into account the life expectancy of people generally in those days and particularly considering what obtained among some other Yoruba traditional rulers of that time.
The present Ohoro of Shao who is the ninth Ohoro is Mallam Yusuf Afolabi Alabi who ascended the throne in 1947. His reign has been very peaceful and since he came to the throne the town has witnessed a lot of development in all facets of life. It was he who initiated and encouraged Self-help development programme in the town. For instance, in 1951 he initiated the construction of Shao – Ilorin road including the culvert and bridges[,] a distance of about eleven kilometres through communual effrots [communal efforts]: In 1962 he initiated the building of a Primary School in the town. Similarly a Town Hall was built in 1973 by the people of Shao and a Postal Agency has just been built by the people. Ohoro Afolabi enjoys the co-operation and support of the people of the town, very much loved and respected by all.
Some pertinent questions that one may like to pose are:- who is a potential candidate for the throne of Ohoro, in other words who is qualified to be an Ohoro? How is an Ohoro selected from among the number of candidates that are qualified for the throne, and is there any formality to be performed in installing someone as the Ohoro? These questions are relevant and therefore require treatment under the following headings:- Qualification for the throne of Ohoro; Selection of an Ohoro; Installation of an Ohoro-elect.
QUALIFICATION FOR THE THRONE OF OHORO:
The claim to the throne of Ohoro is hereditary. Only the Male Children born into the three Ruling Houses mentioned earlier on have rights to the throne. Apart from this qualifications of birth there is no other laid down qualification. It is however obvious that a physically or mentally defective member of the Ruling Houses can not aspire to the throne. Similarly there has never been a case in which a minor has ever contested for the throne, so there has never [been] a case of disqualification of an aspirant because of age.
Selection of an Ohoro:- The selection of an Ohoro is the sole responsibility of the “Omo Osu” (that is, the free born female members of the three Ruling Houses).
In the pre-european administration, once an Ohoro died, the Alafin of Oyo had to be informed. The Alafin was also expected to give the go a head in the s[e]lection of a successor. The Alafin did not in anyway influence the selection, and neither did he interfere with the mode of selecting a new Ohoro. All the same he had to be informed of the situation. This was the position of things up to the time of Ohoro Abilude during whose time european administration set into [in to] interfere with the status quo. The advent of this foreign administration brought in its trail the division of Nigeria into territories, an exercise which resulted in cutting off kiths and kins and merging together of historically and culturally incompatible groups. Since then, procedures had changed, when a traditional ruler dies, the government is informed and it is the government that even approves the candidate selected before he is installed. This however does not disturb the traditional method of selecting a successor to the vacant stool of Ohoro. In Shao, when an Ohoro dies, the “Omo Osu” from the three Ruling House[s] meet to select another candidate to fill the vacant stool of Ohoro. As mentioned above, the male members from the three Ruling Houses vie for the stool. In selecting a candidate for the throne however, only three candidates are presented to the “Omo Osu”, one from each of the Rulign Houses. It is one of these three candidates that the “Omo Osu” delibrate [deliberate] [on] to choose a suitable candidate for the throne.
The selection is not left to the whims and caprices of the “Omo Osu”. In fact no single individual or a group of individuals among the “Omo Osu” can influence the choice of the candidate for the throne. The selection is in fact practically made by the Ifa oracle. The Omo Osu Consult the oracle, presenting the candidate to Ifa. The consultation with Ifa oracle is done three times and whoever the oracle[transcriber’s note: the text underlined here was added in handwritten form to the original typescript] divines to be the Ohoro in the three or in two out of the three consultations is also the unanimous choice of the Omo Osu. Since the founding of the town, there has been no controversy over the decision of the Ifa Oracle. It has not been experienced that the three candidates normally presented had a tie, one is always having the upper hand over the other two. Once a candidate is selected, he is then presented to the kingmakers by the Omo Osu. The whole town is then informed of the choice. Having been selected the Ohoro-elect does not just walk into the palace to take his seat. He is not yet considered an Ohoro until he has undergone the vigours [rigours] of all the traditional rites which Culminate in his installation.
THE KINGMAKERS:- The Kingmakers in the town are the Ajankii, Boo, Ajakitipa and Papala. It will be recalled that these were the four hunters who first settled in the town and who went to Oyo to ask for a ruler. The names of these four hunters have now become hereditary traditional chieftaincy titles in the town. Because it was these people who brought the first Ohoro to Shao, it has thus become an established tradition that the four Chiefs should constitute the body of Kingmakers. Once the “Omo Osu” have made their selection as expalined [explained] above, it is to the kingmakers that the candidate is therefore first presented and it is the Kingmakers who inform the whole town of the selction of the Ohoro-elect.
Installation of an Ohoro:
Once declared the Ohoro-elect, the person is not expected to step into the palace untill all the traditional rites are completed. There is usually a time lag, very short though, between the selection and installation. In commencement of the performance of the installation rites, the Ohoro-elect will choose a house in the town where he is expected to be secluded throughout the duration of eight days within when the rites are completed. The house chosen and in which the Ohoro elect lives is called “Ile Ajewo”. It is said that it is from this house that he puts on the robe of Ohoro. The Ohoro-elect does not leave the “Ile Ajewo”, he does not see the outside throughout the seclusion period. It is worth mentioning and noting at this period that at the end of the seclusion for the eight days when the Ohoro leaves the “Ile Ajewo”, it is forbidden that he ever sees the inside, let alone enter the “Ile Ajewo” again until he dies.He is expected to turn his eyes to the other side to avoid seeing the inside of the house whenever he passes by. [transcriber’s note: the text underlined above was added in handwritten form to the original typescript] No Ohoro has ever violated this custom. An Ohoro who defies the custom will die instantly.
The Ohoro elect is not alone in the “Ile Ajewo”[:] the Chiefs keep him comapny [company], tutoring him and giving details of what the situation in the town was at the death of the last Ohoro. The period of seclusion is a period of intensive consulations [consultations] bewteen [between] the Ohoro and the Chiefs. During the peiod of seclusion too, the Ohoro has in attendance two women who are regarded as his confidants for life, one of the women is his wife and the other one is a choice which he is allowed to make from amongst the women in the town. Such a choice is however within the wives of his relations. The two women are held in high esteem by the Ohoro and they can wieled [wield] tremendous influence on the Ohoro. Throughout the seclusion period the Ohoro is expected to feed and fete all his Chiefs.
The period of seclusion witnesses many sacrifices, a period during which the Ohoro tastes, eats and drinks all sorts of preparations. [? transcriber’s note: the word has been written over and is almost illegible] The eve of the eighth day (that is the seventh night in “Ile Ajewo”) marks the climax of the installation ceremony. On that night the Ohoro has his head shaven in order to complete the installation rites. His head is tied round with black and white threads, mounted at the centre with already prepared paste of all type of herbs and roots and on top of this is mounted the “Ewe Oye” which is the “Akoko” leaf. The “Ewe Oye” should remain on his head throughout the night and untill the following day when he leaves the “Ile Ajewo”. In fact everything put on his head that night should remain there untill he has entered the “Laganju” (Ohoro’s official residence that is, the Palace).
On the eight[h] day, the Ohoro leaves “Ile Ajewo” to round off the installation rites and ceremonies. The Ohoro leaves the “Ile Ajewo” amidst drums, songs, and dancing and makes directely for the “Odu”. At the “Odu Shrine” he is expected to talk to the “Odu”. What he says is not audible to others but in essence he takes oath of allegiance and loyalty to the people. He recognises the Odu as the rock on which the town was founded. He asks for continuous protection for the town and a long peaceful reign. From the “Odu”, the Ohoro procedes to the Obatala where he offers a sacrifice of two lobes of kolanut. From the Obatala he moves to the “Special market” which is a market created for the Ohoro and the Chiefs. Every Ohoro and every senior Chief is expected to go to this market on their installation. The Ohoro, on getting to the market is expected to buy a bit of everything that is on Sale in the market such as pepper, onion, melon, locust bean etc. This special market is called “Paka” market. It is very occassional and only comes up at the installation of an Ohoro or a senior chief like Ajanki, Boo, Ajakitipa, Papala, Elemosho Boo, Eleso Papala, IyaLode and Otun Iyalode. From the “Paka” Market the Ohoro moves to the “Banja” House which houses sixteen gods and goddesses like oranyan, Obalokun, Bayanrin etc.
Having made all these rounds, the Ohoro has thus completed all traditional rites worth performing before he moves into the “Laganju” that is the official residence of all Ohoros to occupy the stool of his forefathers.
The Relationship of the Ohoro with neighbouring Chiefs:
From the historical accounts given above two things are obvious. The first is that the historical and cultural connections between old Oyo and Shao are indisputable. It is also obvious that the Ohoro dynasty at Shao was founded by a direct descendant of the Alafin of Oyo as recounted above. At the time Shao was founded, Old Oyo was the closest human settlement to the north-West of Shao. To the South-east of Shao however lay another settlement founded by another immigrant from Oyo. That settlement is till today known as Ajasse-po.
As related earlier on, the Ohoro of Shao shared a common boundary with the Olupo of Ajasse-po along the River Asa which flows across what is now known as Ilorin. Although there was no direct communocation between the Ohoro and the Olupo at that time hunters from the two towns were always meeting along the banks of the river. Each of the rulers was well aware of the presence of the other and respected the territorial right of one another on the other side of the river. The two rulers had certain traits in common. Each of the two towns was founded by immigrants from Old Oyo; the two rulers were both from Old Oyo and more than that each of them had strong blood relationship with an Alafin of Oyo. One obvious conclusion one can make from this is that both Shao and Ajasse-po were founded at about the same time and each of the rulers of the two towns had sovereignty over his territory as there was never an account that one was a subject of the other. In sum, there is an historical cord which binds the Olupo of Ajasse-po and the Ohoro of Shao together.
Although Shao is very close to Ilorin in terms of physical distance there is no connection whatsoever historical/or cultural, between the Ohoro of Shao and the Emir of Ilorin. It should be recognized that Ilorin was a late comer, founded long after Shao had been founded. The land on which Ilorin now situates on the Western bank of River Asa once belonged to Shao. Since Ilorin was occupied by the Fulanis, the Emir of Ilorin remains the ruler of his people just as much as the Ohoro remains the traditional ruler of his own people. However with the advent of European administration, history was turned upside down and Shao like other towns and villages in the Ilorin province of that time, was brought under Ilorin and the Emir as the officially recognised overall ruler of the whole province. Thus the recognition, status and influence which history had once confer[r]ed on the Ohoro of Shao was overshadowed.
It is to be recognised that by virtue of history and culture alone; the Ohoro ranks among the top traditional chiefs in Kwara State.
Conclusion:- For quite a long time past, the people of Shao have been requesting the Kwara State Government since the inception of the State in 1968, (either through petitions direct to State Government or through appeals in the Newspapers. Also attached are samples of our earlier Petitions on the issue), for the grading of their Oba, the Ohoro of Shao in view of the people’s historical and cultural background. In 1976 the people of Shao again presented their case for the grading of the Ohoro to the Kwara State Administrative Boundary Panel, popularly referred to as “Dantoro Panel” set up by the State Government to advise the Government on the desirability or otherwise of creating more administrative divisions in the State and the investigation of chiefta[i]ncy issues in the State. The Dantoro panel remarked in its report that “So far the emir of Ilorin is still the paramount Chief of Ilorin Division. This position may, however change judging from the strong agitation both in writing and by personal representation for creation of Oke Moro division as wel as THE DEMAND BY THE PEOPLE OF SHAO THAT THE OHORO OF SHAO IS THE RIGHTFUL TRADITIONAL RULER TO BE RECOGNISED, GRADED, AND CHOSEN TO REPRESENT THE PROPOSED NEW DIVISION IN THE STATE COUNCIL OF CHIEFS”. It has however remained an enigma to us that despite all the historical evidences that we have adduced the Ohoro remains an ungraded chief whereas [h]is counterparts in other parts of the state were graded as far back as 1970.
It is our view that if historial, cultural, population or territory controlled by a traditional ruler were enough criteria for the grading of a chief, the Ohoro of Shao deserves being ranked among the highest graded chief[s] in the state.
We are again presenting to your august panel our request for the grading of the Ohoro of Shao believing that your panel will give our request the consideration it deserves. We are praying your panel to recommend the Ohoro of Shao for a grade considered appropriate to the value of the history, Culture, tradition and other factors which the panel might wish to use in its recommendations.