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9.1d Clarke, William H. Travels and Explorations in Yorubaland 1854‒1858. Ed. and with an introduction by J. A. Atanda. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1972. Transcript contains descriptions of visits to Ilorin, including information on two elite slaves in Ilorin, on a slave eunuch there, and on an Ilorin “slave hunt” in Efon.

Transcriber’s Note: “Nasama” (Nasamu, Nasamo) and “Dongari” (Sarkin Dongari, Dogari, Dungari, Dangarri) were two major figures in Ilorin in the middle of the nineteenth century. Both were elite slaves of the emir.

81.[First visit to Ilorin, 1855] I was in the first instance conducted to the house of Dongari, the king’s prime slave, who, not wishing to see me at that unseasonable hour, ordered the messengers to take me to the house of Nasama, to whom has been given the honour, according to appointment, of taking care of the king’s white guests. It was at this house and under the auspices of this same host and hostess, that my friend Bowen, a few months previous, was so hospitably and kindly entertained, and who was so highly appreciated as not to be allowed to go beyond the boundaries of the courtyard. Nasama appeared highly delighted at my arrival and gave indications of my being well received in high places.

. . . .

82. It was on the third day that the readiness of the king was announced . . .

I had first to be conducted to Dongari . . . and then under his wing he [be] marched to the royal palace . . . The court language, through which all official business is carried on, is Fulani, but not infrequently the king, who can speak four or five languages, uses the Kaninke or Hausa, which are immediately translated into Yoruba by Dongari, the interpreter . . . /

83. Soon after reaching my compound I received a present from the king, a large ram and several heads of cowries, brought in by a slave of two hundred pounds weight, said to be a eunuch, and who seemed to disdain the very ground on which he trod.

I was now visited by numbers of people, mostly of a select kind, whom the kindness and partiality of Nasama allowed to enter the gate, and to some of whom Nasama himself and his wife, though far their superiors in more respects than one, were compelled to show obeisance, the more unwilling because they well knew the purposes for which some of these visits were made. There is a whole host of little princes . . . who are ready to receive anything that might perchance fall in their way from the hands of a stranger. It was some of these who had now visited me that were so very obnoxious to my host and hostess; for, said they, that is just what they have come after, and if the king knew it they dare not come here . . .

84. In one of my strolls, attended by this Nasama, who is the terror of the populace because of the tremendous weapon attached to his side, I passed through the Gambari market where all the fine goods such as saddles, silk-sash, raw silk, trona and many other articles, brought by interior traders, are deposited . . . As it did not happen to be the right hour, I could form but a very inadequate conception of the energy, enterprise and bustle that at times is found in the market . . .

As I was passing a compound where an old Mohammedan priest was diligently engaged in the study of the Koran, or some scraps of Arabic, I called in at his solicitation to have a moment’s chat, expecting on all such occasions to have controversy . . . The old man received me very kindly and with just as little bigotry and haughty as is to be found in any class of the heathen population . . . This was

. . . astonishing; for I expected to find . . . bigotry, and . . . such extreme intolerance as would scarcely allow a favourable allusion to the Christian religion. But the longer my acquaintance, the more firmly I was convinced, as informed by Nasama, that those who made the most noise and wore the longest and whitest turbans were the vilest of men. He himself had for many years followed the trading business, and of course could speak authoritatively with regard to those who were his daily companions.

. . . .

85. I now began to think of departing homeward . . . I . . . assented to remain two or three days longer under the promise that I was to leave at a certain time . . . It was now a clear understanding between Dongari and Nasama and myself that I was to leave at the time agreed to whether or not I saw the king . . .

103. [Second visit to Ilorin, 1857] I determined to [look at] the practicability of stretching a line of stations from Lagos to the Niger . . . On reaching Ilọrin I made free to go to the compound set apart for the king’s guests . . . After remaining beyond the ordinary time . . . before strangers are entitled to an interview, we began to make serious enquiries as to the reason why we could not see the king . We not only desired the privilege . . . but . . . we were prevented from going fifty yards/

104. beyond the gates of our prison house. . . . we had paid our visit to our keepers—Dongari, quite as sagacious and accomplished in lying as Nasama—before it began to be hinted that the king was sick. . . . [The party] succeeded in visiting nearly every part of the city . . . But there were two places no consideration could induce Nasama to allow us to visit; one the small mountain that overlooked the city, the other the king’s market. Whenever we happened to escape the eye of our old friend who no doubt felt great responsibility . . . he could not rest until he had found us. One evening, we slipped to the outskirts of the king’s market . . . /

105. . . . when Nasama . . . came in considerable haste . . . and met us quietly on our return in a good humour, rejoicing in our success, and not a little amused at his temporary passion.

. . . .

It now became evident . . . that we could not enjoy an interview with the king, and therefore an important question arose as to . . . my visit to the Niger . . . I conversed freely with Nasama to ascertain as far as possible what would be the result if I forced my way, and , if that was impractical, what would be the better plan to adopt. I finally resolved, in as much as I could make a visit at some other time, to be patient and wait the brighter development of providence.

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[Third visit to Ilorin, late 1857]

162. The intelligence was . . . brought me that Dongari, the king’s head slave and executioner was dead . . .

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165. . . . I rode off a short distance to see my old friend Nasama . . .

. . . .

166. . . . I called on Sunmọnu [identified as “the commander-in-chief” on page 161] to give him my parting salutation, knowing I should not be able to see him on my return as his whole time and attention were now engaged in speedy preparations for a slave hunt in the Ẹfọn country . . .