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■  ^'■.■^■ 

■:5i;-:  vV^^:?>';^-: 

'•;.>,t'rt  1  ,.^  >^.  •'■ 

Wet(Vl  Sdrf^f>p<-^ 

Dr.  O.  Johnson. 



From  the  Earliest  Times  to  the  Beginning  of  the 
British   Protectorate 



Pastor  of  Oyo 


DR.   O.   JOHNSON,   Lagos 


First  published  1921 
Reprinted  1937 
Reprinted  1956 
Reprinted  1957 
Reprinted  1960 



What  led  to  this  production  was  not  a  burning  desire  of  the  author 
to  appear  in  print — as  all  who  are  well  acquainted  with  him  will 
readily  admit — but  a  purely  patriotic  motive,  that  the  history  of 
our  fatherland  might  not  be  lost  in  oblivion,  especially  as  our  old 
sires  are  fast  dying  out. 

Educated  natives  of  Yoruba  are  well  acquainted  with  the 
history  of  England  and  with  that  of  Rome  and  Greece,  but  of  the 
history  of  their  own  country  they  know  nothing  whatever  !  This 
reproach  it  is  one  of  the  author's  objects  to  remove. 

Whilst  the  author  cotild  claim  to  be  a  pioneer  in  an  untrodden 
field,  he  can  by  no  means  pretend  to  have  exhausted  the  subject  ; 
but  he  hopes  by  this  to  stimulate  among  his  more  favoured  brethren 
the  spirit  of  patriotism  and  enquiry  into  the  histories  of  the  less 
known  parts  of  the  country.  It  may  be  that  oral  records  are 
preserved  in  them  which  are  handed  down  from  father  to  son, 
as  in  the  case  of  the  better  known  Royal  bards  in  the  Metropolis, 
such  records  though  imperfect  should  surely  not  be  under-rated. 

In  the  perusal  of  this  feeble  attempt,  the  author  craves  the 
forbearance  of  his  readers  ;  he  deprecates  the  spirit  of  tribal 
feelings  and  petty  jealousies  now  rife  among  us.  In  recording 
events  of  what  transpired,  good  or  bad,  failures  and  successes, 
among  the  various  tribes,  he  has  endeavoured  to  avoid  whatever 
would  cause  needless  offence  to  anyone,  or  irritate  the  feelings  of 
those  specially  interested  in  the  narratives,  provided  only  that  the 
cause  of  truth,  and  of  public  benefit  be  faithfully  served. 

With  respect  to  the  ancient  and  mythological  period  he  has 
stated  the  facts  as  they  are  given  by  the  bards,  and  with  respect 
to  the  History  of  comparatively  recent  dates,  viz.,  from  the  time 
of  King  Abiodun  downwards,  from  eye-witnesses  of  the  events 
which  they  narrate,  or  from  those  who  have  actually  taken  part 
in  them.  He  has  thus  endeavoured  to  present  a  reliable  record  of 

He  is  greatly  indebted  especially  to  the  honoured  David  Kukomi, 
the  patriarch  of  the  Ibadan  Church,  (the  now  sainted  father  of 
the  Rev.  R.  S.  Oyebode).  Kukomi  was  a  young  man  in  the  days 
of  King  Abiodun,  and  it  was  his  fortune  (or  misfortune)  to  take 
part  in  the  wars  and  other  national  movements  of  the  period  as 
a  common  soldier,  and  was  thus  able  to  give  a  clear  and  reliable 
account  of  the  sajdngs,  persons,  and  events  of  those  stirring  times, 
being  a  cool  man  of  judgment,  observant,  and  remarkably 


Also  to  Josiah  Oni,  an  intrepid  trader  in  those  days,  an  active 
and  intelligent  observer  who  was  well  acquainted  with  almost 
every  part  of  the  country,  and  took  part  in  some  of  the  most  stirring 
events  of  a  later  period. 

And  last  though  not  least  to  his  highness  the  venerable  Lagunju, 
the  renowned  Timi  of  Ede,  so  well  known  all  over  the  country  as  a 
gifted  and  trusty  historian  of  the  Yoruba  Country. 

And  to  others  also  who  are  not  here  mentioned  by  name. 

The  histories  of  all  nations  present  many  phases  and  divers 
features,  which  are  brought  out  by  various  writers  in  the  lines  in 
which  each  is  interested  ;  the  same  method  we  hope  will  be  pursued 
by  writers  in  this  country  until  we  become  possessed  of  a  fuller 
History  ot  the  Yorubas. 

Oyo,  1897.  Aiila  Ogun. 


A  SINGULAR  .  misfortune,  which  happily  is  not  of  everyday 
occurrence,  befel  the  original  manuscripts  of  this  history,  in 
consequence  of  which  the  author  never  lived  to  see  in  print  his 
more  than  20  years  of  labour. 

The  manuscripts  were  forwarded  to  a  well-known  English 
publisher  through  one  of  the  great  Missionary  Societies  in  1899  and 
— mirabile  dictu — nothing  more  was  heard  of  them  ! 

The  editor  who  was  all  along  in  collaboration  with  the  author 
had  occasion  to  visit  England  in  1900,  and  called  on  the 
publisher,  but  could  get  nothing  more  from  him  than  that  the 
manuscripts  had  been  misplaced,  that  they  could  not  be  found, 
and  that  he  was  prepared  to  pay  for  them  !  This  seemed  to  the 
editor  and  all  his  friends  who  heard  of  it  so  strange  that  one  could 
not  help  thinking  that  there  was  more  in  it  than  appeared  on  the 
surface,  especially  because  of  other  circumstances  connected  with 
the  so-called  loss  of  the  manuscripts.  However,  we  let  the  subject 
rest  there.  The  author  himself  died  in  the  following  year  (1901), 
and  it  hcis  now  fallen  to  the  lot  of  the  editor  to  rewrite  the  whole 
history  anew,  from  the  copious  notes  and  rough  copies  left  behind 
by  the  author. 

But  for  many  years  after  his  death,  partly  from  discouragements 
by  the  events,  and  partly  from  being  appalled  by  the  magnitude 
of  the  task,  the  editor  shrank  from  the  undertaking,  but  circum- 
stances now  and  again  cropped  up  showing  the  need  of  the  work, 
and  the  necessity  for  undertaking  it  ;  besides  the  almost  criminal 
disgrace  of  allowing  the  outcome  of  his  brother's  many  years  of 
labour  to  be  altogether  lost.  No  one,  who  has  never  made  the 
attempt,  can  have  the  faintest  idea  of  the  great  difficulties  that 
attend  the  efforts  to  elicit  facts  and  accuracy  of  statements  from 
an  illiterate  people  :  they  are  bewildering  with  repetitions,  prolix 
in  matters  irrelevant,  while  facts  germane  to  the  subject  in  hand 
are  more  often  than  not  passed  over  :  they  have  to  be  drawn  out 
by  degrees  patiently,  and  the  chaff  has  to  be  constantly  sifted  from 
the  wheat.  In  no  sphere  of  labour  is  patience  and  perseverance 
more  required  than  in  this.  It  shows  strongly  the  magnitude  of 
the  labours  of  the  original  author,  labours  undertaken  along  with 
the  unremitting  performance  of  his  substantive  duties. 

When  all  this  had  to  be  done  with  the  daily  exactions  of  a  busy 
profession,  and  other  demands  on  his  time,  friends  will  judge  the 
editor  leniently  for  having  taken  such  a  long  time  to  repair  the  loss 
sustained  many  years  ago.     Some  chapters  had  to  be  rewritten, 

X  editor's  preface 

some  curtailed,  others  amplified,  and  new  ones  added  where 

But  this  history  has  a  history  of  its  own,  for  apart  from  the 
mishap  that  befel  the  original  manuscripts  as  above  detailed,  its 
vicissitudes  were  not  yet  over.  When  at  last  the  task  of  re-writing 
it  was  completed,  jt  was  forwarded  to  England  by  the  "  Appam," 
which  left  Lagos  on  the  2nd  of  January,  19 16.  The  Appam  was 
at  first  supposed  to  be  lost,  but  was  afterwards  found  in  America, 
having  been  captured  by  the  raider  Moewe.  Nothing  was  heard 
of  the  manuscripts  again  for  nearly  two  years,  when  they  were  at 
last  delivered  to  the  printers  !  By  that  time,  paper  haci  become 
so  dear  in  England  that  it  was  deemed  advisable  to  wait  till  after 
the  War  before  printing.  The  manuscripts  were  next  sent  back  by 
request  to  the  editor,  wl^o  in  order  to  obviate  a  future  loss,  under- 
took to  have  it  typewritten,  but  in  the  meantime  even  j;ypewriting 
paper  became  difficult  to  obtain.  All  these  drawbacks  were  success- 
fully overcome  in  the  end,  as  well  as  the  difficulties  in  passing  the 
work  through  the  press. 

He  now  lets  the  book  go  forth  to  the  public,  in  the  hope  that  it 
will  fulfil  the  earnest  desire  of  the  original  author. 


Ajagbe  Ogun. 




§1.    Introduction xix 

§2.    The  Yoruba  Language xxiii 

§3.    A  Sketch  of  Yoruba  Grammar      .         .        .  xxxiii 


Origin  and  Early  History i 


The  Origin  of  the  Tribes 15 


Religion 26 


Government 40 


Yoruba  Names 79 


Yoruba  Towns  and  Villages 90 


The  Principles  of  Land  Law 95 


Manners  and  Customs 98 

§(a)     Social  polity     .......  98 

§(6)     Facial  marks    .......  104 

§{c)     Diet 109 

§{i)     Dress no 

§{e)     Marriage 113 

§(/)     Trades  and  professions      .         .         .         .         •  "7 

l{g)     Learning 125 

§(A)     Wealthy  Personages           .....  126 

§(»)     The  Iwofa  system     ......  126 

§(;■)     Distraining  for  debt 130 

§(*)     War 131 

§(/)     Funerals 137 









CHAPTER  I. — The  Founders  of  the  Yoruba  Nation 
Oduduwa          ........     143 

Oranyan           ........     143 

Ajuan  alias  Ajaka     .......     148 

Sango  alias  Olufiran           .          .          .         .          .          .149 

Ajaka's  second  reign          ......     152 



CHAPTER  II.— Historical  Kings 

§1.    Aganju  155 

§2.     Kori 155 

§3.     Oluaso 158 

§4.     Onigbogi 158 

§5.     Ofinran 159 

§1.     Eguguoju 
§2.     Orompoto 
§3.     Ajiboyede 
§4.     Abipa  or  Oba  m'oro 

-The  Kings  of  Oyo  Igboho 


CHi^I'TER  IV. — A  Succession  of  Despotic  Kings 

§1.     Oba  lokun  Agana  Erin       ......  168 

§2.     Ajagbo    .........  168 

§3.     Odarawu           ........  169 

§4.     Karan 170 

§5.     Jayin       .         .         . 170 

§6.     Ayibi 172 

§7.     Osinyago 173 

§8.     Ojigi 174 

§9.     Gberu 175 

§10.  Amuniwaiye     ........  175 

§11.  Onisile 176 

CHAPTER  V. — Basorun  GahA  and  his  Atrocities  and 
Abiodun's  Peaceful  Reign 

§1.     Labisi 178 

§2.     Awonbioju  alias  Oduboye           .....  178 

§3.     Agboluaje         ........  178 

§4.     Alaje  ogbe        ........  180 

§5.     Abigdun  alias  Adegolu       ......  182 

§6.     Abiodun's  peaceful  reign   ......  186 


CHAPTER  VI.— The  Revolution 

§1.  Aole  surnamed  Arogangan 

§2.  The  King's  enemies  . 

§3.  The  rebellion  of  the  Oyo  Chiefs 

§4.  The  rising  of  Ojo  Agunbambaru 

§5.  Maku 



CHAPTER  VII  —The  Rise  of  the  Fulanis  to  Power 

§1.  The  spread  of  anarchy  and  fall  of  Afonja     .         .         .  197 

§2.  The  first  attempt  to  recover  Ilorin.    Battle  of  Ogele     .  200 

§3.  The  second  attempt  :    The  Mugba  mugba  War    .         .  201 

§4.  TheBattleof  Pamo 202 

CHAPTER  VIII.— Consequences  of  the  Revolution 

§r.     The  Owu  War 206 

§2.     The  Lasinmi  War     .......     210 

§3.     State  of  the  Capital  at  this  period       ....     212 

CHAPTER   IX, — Further   Development   of  the     Anarchy 

§r.  Evil  days  for  the  Capital  ......     217 

§2.  The  third  attempt  to  recover  Ilorin.      The  Kanla  war       218 

§3.  The  vicissitudes  of  Iko3d    .  .  .  .  .  .219 

§4.  The  Gbogun  War      .......     220 

§5.  The  Pole  War  and  death  of  Abudusalami    .  .  .     222 

CHAPTER  X. — Spread  of  the  Anarchy 

§1.  Devastation  of  Egba  towns  and  villages       .         .         .  223 

§2.  Foundation  of  Abeokuta    ......  225 

§3.  The  Egbado  Tribes  .......  226 

§4.  The  founding  of  Modakeke         .....  230 

CHAPTER  XL— The  Revolution  in  the  Epo  Districts 

§1.     The  destruction  of  the  Epos,  and  death  of  Ojo  Amepo   .  234 

§2.     The  occupation  of  Ijaye  and  end  of  Dado              .          .  236 
§3.     How  Ibadan  became  a  Yoruba  town.  The  Gbanamu  and 

Erumu  Wars           .......  238 

§4.     The  Settlement  of  Ibadan           .....  244 

CHAPTER  XII. — Wars  for  the  Consolidation  and  Balance 
of  Power 

§1.     The  evacuation  of  Opomu  and  Owiwi  War  .         .         .     247 
§2.     The  fall  of  Ilaro  and  Ijana 248 


CHAPTER  XII.— (coniinued) 

§3.    The  Orayefun  War    .......  250 

§4.    The  Arakanga  or  Jabara  War     .         .         .         .         .251 

§5.     The  Onidesg  and  Oke  I§ero  Wars        ....  252 

§6,    The  Iperu  War          .......  253 

§7.     The  faU  of  Ota 255 

CHAPTER  XIII.— The  Last  of  Katunga 

§1.     Final  efforts  to  throw  off  Fulani  yoke          .         .         .  258 

§2.    The  Eleduwg  War              263 

CHAPTER  XIV.— The  Interregnum 

§1.     Civil  war  at  Abemo  .......  269 

§2.    The  destruction  of  Abemo 271 




CHAPTER  XV.— The  New  City,  New  Government,  Ilorin 


§1.     Prince  Atiba,  early  life  and  history     ....  274 

§2.     Atiba's  accession       .......  279 

§3.     Conferring  of  titles    .......  280 

§4.    The  Osogbo  War 285 

§5.    The  expulsion  of  ElSpo  from  Ibadan            .         .         .  289 

CHAPTER  XVI.— Fratricidal  Wars 

§1.  The  Osu  War,  Aaye  and  Otun    . 

§2.  The  Egbas  and  Egbados    .... 

§3.  Ibadan  and  I jkye.    TheBatgdoWar 

§4.  Abeokuta  and  Abiki         .... 

§5.  The  He  Bioku  expedition  and  the  end  of  ElSpo 

§6.  Sagaun  and  Igbo  Ork         .... 




-Subjugation  of  the  IjesAS  and  Ekiti's 
Social  Reforms 

§1.  The  Opin  War  .... 

§2.  Subjugation  of  the  Ijesas 

§3.  The  first  Dahomian  invasion  of  Abeokuta 

§4.  The  Aii  War  and  relief  of  Otun 

§5,  Raids  by  minor  chiefs  of  Ibadan 

§6.  Social  reforms  .... 








-A  Glorious  End  and  a  Gory  Dawn  of 
Two  Reigns 

§1.  The  death  of  King  Atiba  . 

§2.  Circumstances  that  led  to  the  Ijaye  War 

§3.  When  Greek  meets  Greek 

§4.  Famine  and  the  sword 



CHAPTER  XIX.— Sequels  to  the  Ijaye  War 

The  Awayfe  War        ..... 
The  Iperu  War  ..... 

The  Ikorodu  War 

The  second  Dahomian  invasion  of  Abeokuta 
The  atonement  ..... 


CHAPTER  XX.— The  Close  and  the  Opening  Careers  of 

Two  Heroes 

§1.  Ogunmola's  administration 

§2.  The  Igbajo  campaign 

§3.  The  late  Ogunmola  Basorun  of  Ibadan 

§4.  Ogedemgbe  and  the  fall  of  Ilega 




CHAPTER  XXL— Two  Administrations  of  Opposite  Policies 

§1.     Orowusi's  administration  .....     383 

Ibadan  under  a  Kakanf  6  . 
An  unprovoked  war.     Ado 


The  Are's  administration 
The  Emure  War 


CHAPTER  XXII.— A  New  Reign  and  Evil  Prognostication 

§1.  The  end  of  Adelu  the  AlAfin  of  Ovo         .         .         .  396 

§2.  The  Wokuti  expedition      ......  403 

§3.  The  new  policy  .......  405 

§4.  The  civil  murder  of  Aijenku  the  Fghoko      .         .         .  407 

§5.  Plot  against  the  Seriki  lyap^     .....  410 

CHAPTER  XXIII. — The  Commencement  of  the  16  Years'  War 

§1.  The  Bokofi  expedition       ......     413 

§2.  The  first  act  of  war  ......     414 

§3.  Insurrection  against  the  Ar§  and  the  death  of  Seriki  lyapo  417 

§4.  Further  raiding  expedition  on  ggba  farms  .         .         .     420 

§5.  The  revolt  of  the  Ekiti  tribes 423 

CHAPTER  XXIV.— Conflicts  in  the  North 

§1.  The  celebrated  battle  of  Ikirun  or  the  Jalumi  War 

§2.  The  results  of  the  Jalumi  War    .... 

§3.  The  Ekiti  parapos     ...... 

§4.  The  beginning  of  the  actual  conflict     . 

§5.  The  Ar§  to  the  front 






CHAPTER  XXV. — Ibadan  at  its  Extremity 

§1.     Home  defences                    ......  450 

§2.     Closure  of  roads  and  the  results           ....  452 

§3.     Distressing  episodes  .......  454 

§4.     New  developments,  clouds  and  sunshine      .         .         .  457 

CHAPTER  XXVI.— Failures  at  Reconciliation 

§1.     The  Alafin's  efforts  for  peace      .          .          .          .          .  462 

§2.     The  Alafin's  messenger       ......  464 

§3.    The  Governor's  delegates            .....  467 

§4.    The  lion  at  bay 473 

CHAPTER  XXVn.— A  Rift  in  the  Cloud 

§1.     A  turning  point         .......  479 

§2.     Rambling  talks  of  peace    ......  480 

§3.     Desperate  movements        ......  490 

CHAPTER  XXVIII.— The  Rev.  J.  B.  Wood  and  the 

§1.     The  visits  of  the  Rev.  J.  B.  Wood  to  the  camps  .         .  494 

§2.     The  death  of  Latosisa  the  A.O.K 500 

§3.     The  vicissitudes  of  war      .          .          .          .          .          .  503 

CHAPTER  XXIX.— The   Intervention  of  the  British 


§1.     Measures  by  Governor  Moloney           .          .          .          .  508 

§2.     The  Ilgrins  and  peace  proposals .          ....  515 
§3.     The  messengers  and  preliminary  arrangements     .          .521 

§4.     The  treaty  of  peace 527 

§5.    The  reception  of  the  treaty  by  the  Kings  and  Chiefs     .  532 

CHAPTER  XXX.— Dispersal  of  the  Combatants  by  Special 


§1.    Special  Commissioners  sent  up            ....  53^ 

§2.     The  Commissioners  at  Kiriji       .....  543 

§3.     The  Proclamation  of  Peace  and  firing  of  the  camps         .  547 

§4.     The  Commissioners  at  Modakeke.     Failure            .          .  552 

CHAPTER  XXXI.— Disturbance  in  every  part  of  the 


§1.     Ilorin  intrigues  and  the  fall  of  Of  a       .          .          .          •  5^1 

§2.     Revolutionary  movements  at  Ijebu     ....  5^7 

§3.     "  A  mild  treaty  " 57^ 

§4.     The  exploits  of  Esan  and  the  controversy  thereupon     .  576 




-Abortive  Measures  to  Terminate  the 

§1.  The  mission  of  Alvan  Millson 

§2.  Subsidiary  efforts  of  the  Rev.  S.  Johnson    . 

§3.  The  AlAfin's  diplomacy 

§4.  Correspondence  and  a  treaty 

§5.  The  AlAfin's  measures  for  peace  and  the  issues 

§6.  The  Ilorins  at  Ilobu  .... 

§7.  The  conduct  of  the  chiefs  at  Ikirun     . 

CHAPTER  XXXIII.— The  Dark  before  the  Dawn 

§1.  Liberation  of  the  Egbados 

§2.  Troubles  at  Ijebu      .... 

§3.  Strained  relations  with  the  Ibadans    . 

§4.  Death  of  Aliku  the  Emir  of  Ilorin 

§5.  Ijebu  excesses  and  infatuation 

§6.  Causes  that  led  to  the  Ijebu  War 

§7.  Further  causes  that  led  to  the  Ij  ebu  War 

§8.  The  Ijebu  campaign 

§9.  Effecte  of  the  Campeiign    . 

CHAPTER  XXXIV.— The  End  -of  the  War 

§1.  Governor  Carter  s  progress  up  country 

§2.  The  return  home  of  the  Ibadans 

§3.  The  return  of  Governor  Carter  to  Lagos 

§4.  Local  opinions  about  the  war 

§5.  Constitution  of  the  Ibadan  Town  Council 

CHAPTER  XXXV.— The  Establishment  of  the  British 
Protectorate.    The  Sequel 

Abeokuta 643 


Ibadan    . 


The  Ekitis 

If  e  and  Modakeke 



Treaties  and  Agreements 

§1.  Abeokuta 

§2.  Oyo 

§3.  Ibadan  (an  agreement) 

§4.  Egba  (boundaries)     . 

§5.  Abeokuta  (railway) 

§6.  Ibadan  (railway) 


Appendix  A — [continued) 

§7.     Ijs§a  (human  sacrifices)      ......  663 

§8.     Ekiti     „        „ 664 

§9.     If§        „        „           .......  665 

§10.  Between  England  and  France  for  the  West  Coast          .  666 

§11.  Porto  Novo      .         .    ,      .         .         .         .         .         .  667 

§12.  Proclamation   ........  668 


§1.     Yoruba  Kings,  Basoruns,  etc.     .....  669 

§2.     Ibadan  chief  rulers   .......  670 

§3.     Ab§okuta  leading  chiefs     ......  670 

§4.     Emirs  of  Ilorin          .......  671 

Index 673 

Map  of  the  Yoruba  Country       .....  at  en<i 


The  Yoruba  country  lies  to  the  immediate  West  of  the  River 
Niger  (below  the  confluence)  and  South  of  the  Quorra  {i.e.,  the 
Western  branch  of  the  same  River  above  the  confluence),  having 
Dahomey  on  the  West,  and  the  Bight  of  Benin  to  the  South.  It 
is  roughly  speaking  between  latitude  6°  and  9°  North,  and  longi- 
tude 2°  30'  and  6°  30'  East. 

The  country  was  probably  first  known  to  Europe  from  the 
North,  through  the  explorers  of  Northern  and  Central  Africa,  for 
in  old  records  the  Hausa  and  Fulani  names  are  used  for  the  country 
and  its  capital  ;  thus  we  see  in  Webster's  Gazetteer  "  Yarriba," 
West  Africa,  East  of  Dahomey,  area  70,000  sq.  miles,  population  two 
millions,  capital  Katunga.  These  are  the  Hausa  terms  for 
Yoruba  and  for  Oyo. 

The  entire  south  of  the  country  is  a  network  of  lagoons  connect- 
ing the  deltas  of  the  great  River  Niger  with  that  of  the  Volta,  and 
into  this  lagoon  which  is  belted  with  a  more  or  less  dense  mangrove 
swamp,  most  of  the  rivers  which  flow  through  the  country  North 
to  South  pour  their  waters. 

It  will  thus  be  seen  that  the  country  is  for  the  most  part  a  table- 
land :  it  has  been  compared  to  half  of  a  pie  dish  turned  upside 
down.  Rising  from  the  coast  in  the  South  gradually  to  a  height 
of  some  5-600  ft.  in  more  or  less  dense  forest,  into  a  plain  diversified 
by  a  few  mountain  ranges,  continuing  its  gentle  rise  in  some  parts 
to  about  1,000  ft.  above  sea  level,  it  then  slopes  down  again  to  the 
banks  of  the  Niger,  which  encloses  it  in  the  North  and  East. 

In  a  valuable  letter  by  the  Rev.  S.  A.  Crowther  (afterwards 
Bishop)  to  Thomas  J.  Hutchinson,  Esq.,  Her  Britannic  Majesty's 
consul  for  the  Bight  of  Biafra  and  the  Island  of  Fernando  Po, 
published  as  Appendix  A  to  the  book  entitled  "  Impressions  of 
Western  Africa,"^  we  find  the  following  graphic  description  of 
the  country : — 

.  .  .  "  This  part  of  the  country  of  which  Lagos  in  the  Bight 
of  Benin  is  the  seaport,  is  generally  known  as  the  Yoruba  country, 
extending  from  the  Bight  to  within  two  or  three  days'  journey  to 
the  banks  of  the  Niger.^  This  country  comprises  many  tribes 
governed  by  their  own  chiefs  and  having  their  own  laws.  At  one 
time  they  were  all  tributaries  to  one  Sovereign,  the  King  of  Yoruba, 
including  Benin  on  the  East,  and  Dahomey  on  the  West,  but  are 
now  independent. 

'  Longmans,  Green  &  Co.,  1858. 
"^  i.e.  At  the  time  of  writing. — Ed. 


The  principal  tribes  into  which  this  kingdom  is  divided  are  as 
follows  : — 

The  Egbados  :  This  division  includes  Otta  and  Lagos  near  the 
sea  coast,  forming  a  belt  of  country  on  the  banks  of  the  lagoon  in 
the  forest,  to  Ketu  on  the  border  of  Dahomey  on  the  West  ;  then 
the  Jebu  on  the  East  on  the  border  of  Benin ;  then  the  Egbas  of  the 
forest  now  known  as  the  Egbas  of  Abeokuta. 

Then  comes  Yoruba  proper  northwards  in  the  plain  ;  Ife,  Ijesha, 
Ijamo,  EfoH,  Ondo,  Idoko,  Igbomina,  and  Ado  near  the  banks  of 
the  Niger,  from  which  a  creek  or  stream  a  little  below  Iddah  is 
called  Do  or  Iddo  River." 

.  .  .  "  The  chief  produce  of  this  country  is  the  red  palm  oil, 
oil  made  from  the  kernel,  shea  butter  from  nuts  of  the  shea  trees, 
ground  nuts,  beniseed,  and  cotton  in  abundance,  and  ivory — all 
these  are  readily  procured  for  European  markets. 

.  .  .  The  present  seat  of  the  King  of  Yoruba  is  Ago  other- 
wise called  Oyo  after  the  name  of  the  old  capital  visited  by  Clap- 
perton  and  Lander. 

A  King  is  acknowledged  and  his  person  is  held  sacred,  his  wives 
and  children  are  highly  respected.  Any  attempt  of  violence 
against  a  King's  person  or  of  the  Royal  family,  or  any  act  of 
wantonness  with  the  wives  of  the  King,  is  punished  with  death. 
There  are  no  written  laws,  but  such  laws  and  customs  that  have 
been  handed  down  from  their  ancestors,  especially  those  respecting 
relative  duties,  have  become  established  laws. 

The  right  to  the  throne  is  hereditary,  but  exclusively  in  the  male 
line  or  the  male  issue  of  the  King's  daughters. 

The  Government  is  absolute,  but  it  has  been  much  modified 
since  the  kingdom  has  been  divided  into  many  independent  states 
by  slave  wars,  into  what  may  be  called  a  limited  monarchy   ..." 

Physical  features. — ^The  country  presents  generally  two  distinct 
features,  the  forest  and  the  plain  ;  the  former  comprising  the 
southern  and  eastern  portions,  the  latter  the  northern,  central  and 
western.  Yoruba  Proper  lies  chiefly  in  the  plain,  and  has  a 
small  portion  of  forest  land.  The  country  is  fairly  well  watered, 
but  the  rivers  and  streams  are  dependent  upon  the  annual  rains  ; 
an  impassable  river  in  the  rains  may  become  but  a  dry  water-course 
in  the  dry  season. 

There  are  a  few  high  mountains  in  the  north  and  west,  but  in 
the  east  the  prevailing  aspect  is  high  ranges  of  mountains  from 
which  that  part  of  the  country  derives  its  name,  Ekiti — a  mound 
— being  covered  as  it  were  with  Nature's  Mound. 

The  soil  is  particularly  rich,  and  most  suitable  for  agriculture, 
in  which  every  man  is  more  or  less  engaged.  The  plain  is  almost 
entirely  pasture  land.  Minerals  apparently  do  not  exist  to  any 
appreciable  extent,  expect  iron  ores  which  the  people  work  them- 
selves, and  from  which  they  formerly  manufactured  all  their 
implements  of  husbandry  and  war  and  articles  for  domestic  use. 


Flora. — The  forests  teem  with  economic  and  medicinal  plants 
of  tropical  varieties,  as  well  as  timber,  of  which  mahogany,  cedar, 
brimstone,  counter,  and  iroko  are  the  principal. 

There  are  also  to  be  found  the  Abura,  useful  for  carving  purposes, 
ebony,  Ata  2i  hard  wood  used  for  facing  carpenters'  tools,  the  Iki, 
a  hard  wood  which  when  dry  is  very  difficult  to  work,  as  it  speedily 
blunts  edged  tools.  The  Ori,  another  hard  wood  useful  for  making 
piers  on  the  coast,  and  the  Ahayan,  a  very  hard  wood,  unaffected 
by  ordinary  fires,  dry  rot,  or  termites. 

All  these  are  indigenous,  but  recently  "  Indian  teak  "  has  been 
introduced,  and  it  flourishes  widely,  as  well  as  the  beef  wood  tree 
on  the  coast. 

Although  a  large  variety  of  fruits  can  be  grown,  yet  the  people 
do  not  take  to  horticulture  ;  what  there  are  grow  almost  wild, 
very  little  attention  being  paid  to  them.  Papaw,  bananas  of 
several  varieties,  plantcdn,  oranges,  pineapples,  the  Oro,  plums 
(3'ellow  and  black),  the  rough  skin  plum,  the  butt  lime,  are  to  be 
found  everywhere.  Some  fruit  trees  have  been  introduced,  which 
have  become  indigenous,  e.g.,  the  sweet  and  sour  sop,  the  avocado 
(or  alligator)  pear,  guavas  of  two  kinds,  pink  apples,  rose  apple, 
mangoes,  the  bread  truit  and  bread  nut  trees,  the  golden  plum, 
etc.     All  these  are  cultivated,  but  not  widely. 

Vegetables,  of  which  there  are  several  kinds,  are  largely  culti- 
vated. Yam,  koko,  cassada,  sweet  potatoes,  are  the  principal 
"  roots  "  used  as  diet,  also  beans  (white  and  brown),  small  and 
large,  and  the  ground  nut  are  largely  grown  for  food.  The  guinea 
corn  grows  in  the  north,  and  maize  in  the  south.  The  calabash 
gourd  and  the  Egusi  from  the  seeds  of  which  Egusi  oil  is  pressed, 
grow  everywhere. 

Fauna. — ^Big  game  abound,  especially  in  the  north,  where  the 
lion  is  not  far  to  seek,  also  the  elephant,  buffalo,  leopard,  wolf, 
foxes,  jackals,  monkeys  of  various  species,  deer,  porcupine,  etc. 
The  hippopotamus  is  found  in  large  rivers,  and  alligators  in  the 
swamps  and  lagoons  in  the  south. 

The  usual  domestic  animals  and  poultry  are  carefully  reared. 

Of  birds,  we  have  the  wild  and  tame  parrots,  green  pigeons,  stork, 
crown  birds,  and  others  of  the  tropical  feathered  tribe. 

The  country  was  at  one  time  very  prosperous,  and  powerful, 
but  there  is  probably  no  other  country  on  this  earth  more  torn  and 
wasted  by  internal  dissensions,  tribal  jealousies,  and  fratricidal 
feuds,  a  state  of  things  which  unhappily  continues  up  to  the  present 

When  the  central  authority  which  was  once  all-powerful  and  far 
too  despotic  grew  weak  by  driving  the  powerful  chiefs  into  rebellion 
and  internecine  wars,  the  entire  kingdom  became  broken  up  into 
petty  states  and  independent  factions  as  we  now  know  them. 

As  far  as  it  is  possible  for  one  race  to  be  characteristically  like 
another,  from  which  it  differs  in  every  physical  aspect,  the  Yorubas 


— it  has  been  noted — are  not  unlike  the  English  in  many  of  their 
traits  and  characteristics.  It  would  appear  that  what  the  one  is 
among  the  whites  the  other  is  among  the  blacks.  Love  of  inde- 
pendence, a  feeling  of  superiority  over  all  others,  a  keen  commercial 
spirit,  and  of  indefatigable  enterprise,  that  quality  of  being  never 
able  to  admit  or  consent  to  a  defeat  as  finally  settling  a  question 
upon  which  their  mind  is  bent,  are  some  of  those  qualities  peculiar 
to  them,  and  no  matter  under  what  circumstances  they  are  placed, 
Yorubas  will  display  them.  We  have  even  learnt  that  those  of 
them  who  had  the  misfortune  of  being  carried  away  to  foreign 
climes  so  displayed  these  characteristics  there,  and  assumed  such 
airs  of  superiority  and  leadership  over  the  men  of  their  race  they 
met  there,  in  such  a  matter  of  fact  way  that  the  attention  of  their 
masters  was  perforce  drawn  to  this  type  of  new  arrivals  !  And 
from  them  they  selected  overseers.  These  traits  will  be  clearly 
discerned  in  the  narratives  given  in  this  history.  But  apart  from 
the  general,  each  of  the  leading  tribes  has  special  characteristics 
of  its  own  ;  thus  dogged  perseverance  and  determination  character- 
ise the  Ijebus,  love  of  ease  and  a  quickness  to  adapt  new  ideas  the 
Egbas,  the  Ijesas  and  Ekitis  are  possessed  of  a  marvellous  amount 
of  physical  strength,  remarkable  docility  and  simplicity  of  manners, 
and  love  of  home. 

Among  the  various  families  of  Yorubas  Proper,  the  Ibarapas 
are  laborious  farmers,  the  Ibolos  are  rather  docile  and  weak  in 
comparison  with  others,  but  the  Epos  are  hardy,  brave,  and  rather 
turbulent  ;  whilst  the  Oyos  of  the  Metropolitan  province  are 
remarkably  shrewd,  intelligent,  very  diplomatic,  cautious  almost 
to  timidity,  provokingly  conservative,  and  withal  very  masterful. 

The  whole  people  are  imbued  with  a  deep  religious  spirit, 
reverential  in  manners,  showing  deference  to  superiors  and  respect 
to  age,  where  they  have  not  been  corrupted  by  foreign  intercourse  ; 
ingrained  politeness  is  part  and  parcel  of  their  nature. 

The  early  history  of  the  Yoruba  country  is  almost  exclusively 
that  of  the  Oyo  division,  the  others  being  then  too  small  and  too 
insignificant  to  be  of  any  import  ;  but  in  later  years  this  state  of 
things  has  been  somewhat  reversed,  the  centre  of  interest  and  sphere 
of  importance  having  moved  southwards,  especially  since  the 
arrival  of  Europeans  on  the  coast. 

Such  is  the  country,  and  such  are  the  people  whose  history, 
religion,  social  polity,  manners  and  customs,  etc.,  are  briefly  given 
in  the  following  pages. 


The  Yoruba  language  has  been  classed  among  the  unwritten 
African  languages.  The  earliest  attempt  to  reduce  this  language 
into  writing  was  in  the  early  forties  of  the  last  century,  when  the 
Church  Missionary  Society,  with  the  immortal  Rev.  Henry  Venn 
as  Secretary,  organized  a  mission  to  the  Yoruba  country  under 
the  leadership  of  one  of  their  agents,  the  Rev.  Henry  Townsend,. 
an  English  Clergyman  then  at  work  at  Sierra  Leone,  and  the 
Rev.  Samuel  Ajayi  Crowther,  the  first  African  Clergyman  of  the 
C.M.S.,  also  at  work  in  the  same  place. 

After  several  fruitless  efforts  had  been  made  either  to  invent 
new  characters,  or  adapt  the  Arabic,  which  was  already  known  to 
Moslem  Yorubas,  the  Roman  character  was  naturally  adopted,  not 
only  because  it  is  the  one  best  acquainted  with,  but  also  because  it 
would  obviate  the  difficulties  that  must  necessarily  arise  if 
missionaries  were  first  to  learn  strange  characters  before  they  could 
undertake  scholastic  and  evangehstic  work.  With  this  as  basis, 
specizd  adaptation  had  to  be  made  for  pronouncing  some 
words  not  to  be  found  in  the  English  or  any  other  European 

The  system,  or  rather  want  of  system,  existing  among  various 
missionary  bodies  in  Africa  and  elsewhere  emphasized  the  need  of 
a  fixed  system  of  orthography.  It  was  evidently  essential  for  the 
various  bodies  to  agree  upon  certain  rules  for  reducing  iUiterate 
languages  into  writing  in  Roman  characters,  not  only  because  this 
would  facilitate  co-operation,  but  also  because  it  would  render 
books  much  cheaper  than  when  separate  founts  of  type  must  needs 
be  cast  for  every  separate  system  (scientific  or  otherwise)  that  each 
body  may  choose  to  adapt  for  one  and  the  same  purpose. 

In  this  effort,  the  Committee  of  the  C.M.S.  were  ably  assisted 
by  certain  philological  doctors,  as  Professor  Lee  of  Cambridge, 
Mr.  Norris  of  London,  and  notably  by  Professor  Lepsius  of  BerUn, 
to  whom  was  entrusted  the  task  of  establishing  a  complete  form 
of  alphabetic  system  to  which  all  hitherto  unwritten  languages 
could  be  adapted. 

The  following  remarks  are  largely  derived  from  the  second  edition 
of  Prof.  Lepsius'  work. 

The  Professor  consulted  earher  efforts  that  had  been  made  in 
India  and  elsewhere  to  transliterate  foreign  (Eastern)  characters 
into  the  Roman,  and  out  of  the  chaos  then  existing  he  estabUshed 


on  a  firm  scientific  basis  the  Standard  Alphabet  in  which  the 
Yoruba  language  is  now  written.  This  was  adopted  by  the 
C.M.S.  in  1856.  By  this  system  therefore  former  translations  had 
to  be  transliterated  under  certain  fixed  rules. 

The  number  of  letters  in  the  Standard  Alphabet  is  necessarily 
very  large,  as  it  was  designed  to  meet  the  requirements  of  all 
nations  ;  but  with  diacritic  marks  on  cognate  sounds  and  accents, 
and  the  introduction  of  three  characters  from  the  Greek,  the 
Roman  characters  furnish  all  that  is  necessary  from  which  every 
unwritten  language  can  draw. 

It  is  very  unfortunate  indeed  that  the  system  has  not  been 
faithfully  followed  by  all,  for  reasons  we  regard  as  inadequate  and 
inconclusive.  This  has  provoked  the  caustic  remark  of  the  distin- 
guished philologist.  Dr.  R.  N.  Cust,  that  ..."  no  class  of  man- 
kind is  so  narrowminded  and  opinionated  as  the  missionary  except 
the  linguist."  For  even  in  the  Yoruba  which  professed  to  have 
adopted  Lepsius'  Standard,  certain  particulars  (as  we  shall  see) 
have  been  departed  from,  by  no  means  for  the  better.  Keen  was 
the  controversy  on  these  points  between  the  English  and  German 
missionaries  of  the  Yoruba  Mission  in  its  early  days.  In  the 
following' pages  the  style  commonly  used  in  the  familiar  Yoruba 
translations  is  departed  from  in  some  important  particulars,  as 
they  present  some  peculiar  defects  which  ought  to  be  rectified. 
We  shall  endeavour  to  follow  Professor  Lepsius'  Standard  Alphabet 
as  closely  as  possible. 

The  Professor  himself  has  conceded  that  shades  of  sound  can 
be  adapted  therefrom  to  meet  special  requirements  without  depart- 
ing from  the  principles  laid  down.  Says  he  in  his  second  edition: 
"  The  exposition  of  the  scientific  and  practical  principles 
according  to  which  a  suitable  alphabet  for  universal  adoption  in 
foreign  languages  might  be  constructed  has  (with  few  exceptions 
above  mentioned)  remained  unaltered.  These  rules  are  founded 
in  the  nature  of  the  subject,  and  therefore  though  they  may  admit 
of  certain  carefully  hmited  exceptions,  they  can  undergo  no  change 
in  themselves  :  they  serve  as  a  defence  against  arbitrary  proposals 
which  do  not  depend  upon  universal  laws  ;  they  will  explain  and 
recommend  the  application  which  has  been  made  of  them  already 
to  a  series  of  languages  and  will  serve  as  a  guide  in  their  application 
to  new  ones. 

"But  we  have  not  concealed  from  the  very  beginning  that  it 
is  not  in  every  person's  power  to  apprehend  with  physiological 
and  hnguistic  accuracy  the  sounds  in  a  foreign  language  or  even 
those  of  his  own,  so  as  to  apply  with  some  degree  of  certainty  the 
principles  of  our  alphabet  to  a  new  system  of  sounds  containing 


its  own  peculiarities.  A  few  only  of  our  most  distinguished 
grammarians  are  possessed  of  a  penetrating  insight  into  the  living 
organisms  of  sounds  in  those  very  languages  they  have  discussed  ; 
much  less  can  it  be  expected  of  missionaries,  who  are  often  obliged 
without  previous  preparation  to  address  themselves  to  the  reduction 
and  representation  of  a  foreign  language,  that  everything  which 
belongs  to  a  correct  adjudication  of  particular  sounds  (frequently 
apprehended  only  with  great  difficulty  even  by  the  ear)  or  to 
their  connection  with  one  another  and  with  other  systems  of 
sounds,  should  present  itself  spontaneously  to  their  minds." 

Certain  rules  of  transcription  are  imperative  for  a  correct 
scientific  method  of  procedure.  Whatever  may  have  been  the 
difficulties  encountered  in  the  ancient  written  languages,  so  far  as 
the  Yoruba  and  other  unwritten  languages  are  concerned,  the 
field  hes  clear. 

The  Enghsh  mode  of  pronouncing  the  vowels  had  to  be  rejected 
in  favour  of  the  Italian  or  continental  mode. 

The  following  rules  or  principles  have  been  laid  down : — 

1.  The  power  of  each  letter  as  representing  certain  sounds  as 
handed  down  from  antiquity  should  be  retained. 

2.  The  orthography  of  any  language  should  never  use  (a)  the 
same  letter  for  different  sounds,  nor  (b)  different  letters  for  the 
same  sound. 

In  violation  of  (a)  note  the  force  of  the  letter  g  in  the  Enghsh 
words  give,  gin  ;  of  a  in  man,  name,  what  ;  of  ea  in  treat,  tread  ; 
of  ei  in  weight,  height  ;  of  the  consonants  ch  in  archbishop,  arch- 
angel ;  of  augh  in  slaughter,  laughter ;  also  the  sound  of  ch  in 
chamber,  champagne,  chameleon  where  the  same  letters  are  used 
for  different  sounds. 

In  violation  of  (b)  note  the  last  syllables  in  the  words  atten/fow, 
omission,  fsLshion,  where  different  letters  are  used  for  the  same 

3.  Every  simple  sound  is  to  be  represented  by  a  single  sign. 
This  is  violated  by  writing  sh  to  represent  the  "  rushing  sound  " 
of  s.  This,  as  we  shall  see  below,  is  quite  unnecessary  in  the 
Yoruba  language.  Here  we  find  an  application  of  the  principle 
that  where  a  new  sound  is  not  found  in  the  Roman  alphabetic 
system  a  diacritical  mark  on  the  nearest  graphic  sign  should  be 
used.  A  diacritical  mark  therefore  over  s  will  more  fitly  represent 
the  English  sound  of  sh.  ^  This  is  also  in  accordance  with  the 
sin  and  shin  in  the  Hebrew  and  Arabic,  where  the  difference 

1  Publishers'  Note.  It  must  be  noted,  however,  that  in  printing 
this  work  s  has  been  used  throughout  to  represent  the  sh  sound. 


between  the  soft  and  the  rushing  sound  is  indicated  by  diacritical 
points,  e.g., 

Heb.     to    tD        Arab.     -    ^ 

Again  the  letter  A  is  a  sign  of  aspiration  (as  the  spiritus  asper 
in  the  Greek)  as  in  it,  hit  ;  at,  hat  ;  owl,  howl,  etc.  It  would 
therefore  be  unscientific  to  accord  it  a  new  meaning  altogether 
by  such  a  use  of  it  in  violation  of  rule  i. 

Apart  from  this  is  the  fact  that  the  letter  s  with  a  diacritical 
mark  over  it  has  been  employed  about  twenty  years  previously 
by  oriental  scholars  transcribing  Indian  letters  into  the  Roman. 

4.  Explosive  letters  are  not  to  be  used  to  express  fricative 
sounds  and  vice  versa,  e.g.,  the  use  oi  ph  as  f  where  p  is  clearly 
an  explosive  letter. 

5.  The  last  rule  is  that  a  long  vowel  should  never  be  represented 
by  doubling  the  short.  This  method  seems  to  have  found  favour 
with  some  transcribers,  there  being  no  fixed  system  of  transcription. 


In  a  purely  scientific  alphabetic  system,  it  would  seem  more 
correct  that  the  alphabets  be  arranged  according  to  the  organ 
most  concerned  in  the  pronunciation  of  the  letters,  e.g.,  all  sounds 
proceed  from  the  fauces,  and  are  modified  either  at  the  throat, 
by  the  teeth,  or  by  the  lips  ;  hence  they  may  be  classified  as 
guttural,  dental,  or  labial.  But  nothing  is  gained  by  altering 
the  order  which  came  down  to  us  from  remote  antiquity  as  the 
Romans  received  it  from  the  Greek,  and  these  from  the 
Phoenicians,  etc. 

The  Vowels. 

The  vowels  in  Yoruba  may 
be  built  upon  the  three  funda- 
mental vowels,  a,  i,  u,  with  the 
two  subsidiary  ones,  e  formed 
by  the  coalescence  of  the  first 
two  a  and  i,  and  o  by  the  coal- 
escence of  a  and  u  from  which 

we  have  a,  e,  i,  o  and  u.  These  are  the  recognised  principal 
vowels  and  are  pronounced  after  the  Italian  method  (ah, 
aye,  ee,  o,  00),  but  whereas  in  the  Enghsh  language  the 
short  soimd  of  e  is  written  eh  and  that  of  o  as  aw.  these  sounds, 
according  to  the  standard  system  in  accordance  with  rule  3,  are 
represented  by  a  dot  or  dash  under  the  cognate  sounds,  hence  we 


have  e  and  o.  A  complete  representation  of  the  vowels  in  Yoruba 
therefore  is  as  follows : — a,  e,  e,  i,  o,  g,  a  (prpnounced  ah,  aye, 
eh,  ee,  oh,  aw,  oo),  the  original  taking  precedence  of  the  diacritic. 
Note  that  u  is  not  to  be  pronounced  as  "  you  "  but  as  oo  in  food. 

Nasalization. — The  clear  vowels  are  capable  of  a  peculiar 
alteration  which  is  produced  by  uttering  the  vowel  through  the 
nasal  canal.  There  is  no  consonantal  element  brought  into 
play,  but  it  is  an  alteration  entirely  within  the  vowel.  Nasalization 
is  very  largely  used  in  the  Yoruba,  and  consequently  its  ortho- 
graphy should  be  free  from  any  ambiguity.  In  the  Standard  Alpha- 
bet the  circumflex  (~)  is  placed  over  the  nasalized  vowel  to  indicate 
such  a  sound.  Unfortunately  the  Yoruba  as  written  by  mission- 
aries substitute  the  letter  n  for  this  sign,  a  cause  of  some  ambiguity 
in  writing  certain  words  as  Akano,  Akinola,  Morinatu,  Obimeko, 
where  the  letter  n  stands  between  two  vowels,  and  is  liable  to  be 
pronounced  with  the  latter,  e.g.,  A-ka-no,  A-ld-no-la,  MQ-ri-na-tu, 
0-bu-ne-ko  ;  but  following  the  Standard  Alphabet,  the  words 
should  be  written  Akao,  Obueko,  just  as  the  Portuguese 
names  are  written  Semao,  Adao,  JoSo,  etc.  Indeed  certain 
sections  of  the  Yoruba  tribes  that  use  nasalization  very 
sparingly  do  pronounce  these  words  as  written  without  any  sign 
of  nasalization.  The  n  therefore  is  not  only  unnecessary  but  it 
is  also  misleading. 

In  the  following  pages,  the  Standard  System  will  be  adhered  to, 
where  such  ambiguities  are  liable  to  occur :  but  for  the  sake  of 
simplicity  and  to  avoid  the  unnecessary  use  of  diacritical  marks, 
n  as  a  nasal  sign  may  be  used  where  it  cannot  cause  any  ambiguity, 


1.  When  it  precedes  a  consonant  as  nje,  ndao,  nk6. 

2.  When  it  closes  a  word,  as  Awon,  Basorun,  Ibadan,  Iseyin. 
As  nasahzation  is  said  to  be  caused  by  the  dropping  of  a  nasal 

consonant,  such  a  Umited  use  of  «  as  a  nasal  soimd  may  be  justified. 
No  pure,  uneducated  Yoruba  man  can  pronounce  a  word  ending 
in  a  consonant,  he  will  instinctively  add  an  i  or  u  to  it.  There  is 
therefore  no  closed  syllable  in  Yoruba,  n  at  the  end  of  a  word  is 
purely  nasal. 

The  System  of  Consonants 

There  are  sixteen  distinct  consonantal  sounds  in  the  Yoruba 
language,  each  having  the  same  force  and  power  as  in  the  English 
alphabet ;  they  are  :  b,  d,  f,  g,  h,  j,  k,  1,  m,  n,  p,  r,  s,  t,  w,  y. 
No  consonants  are  used  to  represent  a  vowel  by  perverting  them 
from  their  legitimate  consonantal  sounds  as  h,  w,  and  y  are  some- 
times used  in  English. 


Besides  the  above,  there  are  two  other  sounds  not  represented 
in  the  Roman  or  in  any  other  European  system  ;  they  are  ex- 
plosive sounds  peculiar  to  the  Yoruba  and  alhed  tribes  formed  by 
the  lip  and  jaw,  viz.,  gb  and  kp.  They  are  regarded  as  guttural 
modifications  of  b  and  p,  and  as  they  appear  to  result  from  a 
combination  of  two  organs  concerned  in  speech,  but  the  com- 
ponent parts  of  which  are  so  intimately  connected  they  are  rightly 
represented  by  two  letters,  though  not  contravening  rule  3. 

As  to  kp,  since  usage  makes  it  evident  that  the  Yorubas  never 
pronounce  the  letter  p  but  as  kp,  it  is  therefore  not  considered 
necessary  to  include  kp  in  the  Yoruba  alphabet  as  is  done  in  the 
Ibo  ;  the  simple  p  does  perform  its  duty  satisfactorily. 

Here  we  find  a  fit  application  of  Professor  Lepsius'  remarks 
that  "  The  general  alphabet,  when  applied  to  particular  languages, 
must  be  capable  of  simplification  as  well  as  of  enlargement.  All 
particular  diacritical  marks  are  unnecessary  in  those  languages 
where  none  of  the  bases  have  a  double  value  ;  we  then  write  the 
simple  base  without  a  diacritical  mark.  Where  two  sounds 
belong  to  the  same  base,  one  only  of  the  signs  will  be  wanted.  ..." 
This  is  well  exemplified  here.  We  therefore  write  p  and  not  kp 
in  Yoruba. 

The  same  may  be  said  of  the  letter  s  and  the  sound  sh,  referred 
to  above.  The  difference  is  indicated  in  the  Standard  Alphabet 
by  a  diacritical  mark,  e.g.,  s,  s  (for  sh).  The  Yorubas  can  safely 
dispense  with  the  latter,  and  for  the  sake  of  simplicity  this  ought 
to  have  been  done,  as  no  difference  as  to  the  meaning  of  a  word 
is  suggested  by  the  same  word  being  pronounced  soft  or  harsh. 
And  more  also  because  in  some  parts  of  the  country,  notably  the 
Ekun  Osi  district  (the  most  northerly),  the  harsh  sound  is  un- 
pronounceable, whatever  may  be  written  ;  e.g.,  shall,  shop,  will 
be  pronounced  sail,  sop.  In  the  Epo  district,  on  the  other  hand, 
it  is  just  the  reverse  ;  the  harsh  sound  will  be  pronounced  instead 
of  the  soft,  thus  same,  son  will  be  pronounced  shame,  shon. 

But  all  over  the  country  women  and  children  invariably  use 
the  softer  sound  for  the  same  word,  which,  if  thus  used  by  men  is 
considered  affectations,  except  in  the  Ekun  Osi  district,  where  the 
purest  and  most  elegant  Yoruba  is  spoken. 

S  (for  sh)  therefore  might  have  been  dropped  from  the  Yoruba 
alphabet  with  no  harm  resulting  ;  it  is,  however,  retained  because 
over  a  great  part  of  the  country  a  distinction  is  made  between 
the  two  sounds  ;  apart  from  the  fact  that  it  would  often  be 
required  in  representing  the  sounds  of  some  words  of  foreign  origin. 

From  the  above  modifications  therefore  we  have  the  Yoruba 
alphabet  as  now  used : — 

abdeefggbhijklmnooprsstuwy  . 


Accents  or   Tones 

An  accent  in  the  accepted  sense  of  the  term  denotes  the  stress 
laid  upon  a  particular  syllable,  be  it  the  ultimate,  penultimate 
or  antepenultimate  syllable  of  a  word.  In  Yoruba  it  is  used 
differently.  What  are  called  accents,  and  for  which  the  usual 
symbols  are  used  are  really  tones,  of  which  there  are  three :  the 
elevated,  the  middle  and  the  depressed  ;  for  the  first  and  the 
last  the  acute  and  the  grave  accents  are  used  respectively,  the 
middle  tone  in  its  simplest  form  requires  no  accent  sign. 

In  Yoruba,  vowels  are  of  greater  importance  than  consonants, 
and  tones  than  vowels  ;  hence  the  peculiarity  of  this  language, 
that  musical  sounds  can  be  employed  to  convey  a  correct  idea 
of  words  in  speech. 

Another  error  into  which  those  responsible  for  the  present  mode 
of  writing  Yoruba  have  fallen,  by  departing  from  the  Standard 
System,  is  the  introduction  of  the  circumflex  (~)  and  its  indiscrimi- 
nate use  as  a  sign  of  a  so-called  long  vowel. 

There  are  really  no  long  or  short  vowels  in  Yoruba  as  under- 
stood in  the  English  language  ;  what  appears  to  be  long  is  the 
coalescence  of  two  or  more  vowels  with  an  elision  of  the  inter- 
vening consonants,  e.g.,  Bale  is  a  contraction  of  Baba-ile,  i.e. 
father  (or  master)  of  the  house.  Here  the  second  h  is  dropped,  the 
two  a's  coalesce,  and  the  i  is  absorbed  in  them,  being  represented 
by  a  prolongation  of  the  tone.  The  vowels  are  therefore  simple 
and  compound. 

The  meaning  of  a  word  varies  as  the  tone,  e.g.,  we  may  say  : — 
ba  ba,  bk,  the  voice  being  raised,  even  or  depressed  respectively. 
The  first  ba  means  to  meet,  the  second  ba  to  he  in  ambush,  and 
the  third  hk  to  ahght  upon. 

So  we  may  have  be,  be,  b^  :  b§  means  to  split  open,  be  to  be 
officious,  and  b^  to  beg. 

Also  bu,  bu,  bu :  bu  means  to  abuse,  bu  to  be  mouldy,  and 
bu  to  cut  open. 

In  this  way  each  vowel  with  each  tone  accent  may  be  combined 
with  each  of  the  consonants  to  form  words  of  different  meanings  ; 
or  in  other  words,  thus  may  every  consonant  be  used  with  each 
of  the  vowels  in  turn,  forming  different  words  by  varying  the 

The  Use  of  the  Accents 

To  this  method  of  using  the  accents  over  the  vowels  Professor 
Lepsius  made  the  strongest  objections,  as  by  such  a  use  the  accents 
have  been  diverted  from  their  proper  uses  to  serve  another  purpose. 


He  therefore  proposed  to  place  the  tone  accents  to  the  right-hand 
side  of  the  vowel  instead  of  over  it,  so  as  to  distinguish  a  word 
accent  from  a  tone  accent,  as  is  done  in  the  Chinese  and  other 
cognate  languages:  e.g.,  word  accent  would  be  written  ba,  bk; 
tone  accent,  ba ,  ba\ 

In  this  proposal  the  professor  agrees  with  the  Rev.  T.  J.  Bowen 
an  American  Baptist  Missionary  in  his  Yoruba  Grammar  and 
Dictionary  published  in  1858  by  the  Smithsonian  Institution. 
But  Crowther — a  Yoruba  man — did  not  in  his  grammar  make  any 
such  distinction.  He  thinks  the  existing  accents  will  do  well 
enough,  and  for  the  best  of  reasons,  there  is  no  word  accent  in 
Yoruba,  the  tone  governs  everything,  and  Europeans  cannot  speak 
without  a  word  accent. 

The  language  moreover  abounds  in  contractions  and  elisions, 
a  whole  syllable  may  be  dropped  but  the  tone  remains.  This  is 
the  crux  of  difficulty  with  foreigners  trying  to  speak  the  language, 
and  to  what  extent  they  are  able  to  overcome  this,  to  that  extent 
their  Yoruba  is  said  to  be  perfect. 

Combination  of  the  Accents 

As  remarked  above,  there  are  no  closed  syllables  in  the  Yoruba 
language,  every  syllable  must  end  in  a  vowel  and  every  vowel 
must  be  one  of  the  three  tones  represented  by  the  accents.  Words 
of  three  or  four  syllables  are  often  contracted  into  two,  the 
coalescence  of  the  tones  forming  the  compound  vowels. 

The  entire  scheme  of  the  accents  or  tones  may  be  thus  repre- 

I.  Simple  vowels  with  the  varied  tones. 

a,  in  which  the  tone  is  raised :    as  ka,  to  pick  ;    ba,  to  meet ; 

la,  to  lick, 
a,  in  which  the  tone  is  even  :    as  pa,  to  kill ;    ba,  to  ambush  ; 

ta,  to  kick. 
a,  in  which  the  tone  is  depressed  :   as  rk,  to  buy  ;  ki,  to  count ; 

fa,  to  draw. 

II.  Compound  vowels  in  which  a  single  vowel  bears  more 

than  one  tone  :— 

A.  Compounds  of  the  raised  tone, 
a,  in  which  the  raised  tone  is  doubled,  e.g.,  A'yan,  contracted 

from  Arfyan,  i.e.,  cares,  worries. 
4-,  in  which  the  raised  tone  is  combined  with  the  middle,  e.g., 

Ki-nla  from  Kinila — a  form  of  exclamation. 
&  in  which  the  raised  tone  is  combined  with  the  depressed, 

e.g.,  beni  from  b^h^ni,  so  it  is. 



B.  Compounds  of  the  middle  tone. 

a'  in  which  the  middle  tone  is  combined  with  the  raised  ;    e.g. 

A'yan  from  a-hayan,  a  cockroach  ;   O'ri  from  Oriri,  a  tomb, 
a"  in  which   the   middle  tone  is  combined  with  itself,  e.g.,  Ta'ni 

from  Ta-ha-ni — who  is  it  ? 
a'  in  which  the  middle  tone  is  combined  with  the  depressed, 

e.g.,  E "ru  from  eriru,  spice  ;     kere  from  keh^rg,  a  screen. 

C  Compounds  of  the  depressed  tone. 
k'  in  which  the  depressed  tone  is  combined  with  the  raised, 

e.g.,  a'nu  from  cini-inu,  mercy ;    6'to  from  6tit6,  truth. 
k-  in  which  the  depressed  tone  is  combined  with  the  middle, 

e.g.,  ko"'^^  from  kdriko,  a  wolf. 
i'  in  which  the  depressed  tone  is  combined   with  itself,  e.g., 

Ori  contracted  from  Oriri,  black  plum. 

In  this  way  words  of  four  or  five  syllables  may,  by  elision  and 
absorption,  be  contracted  into  two  or  three  ;  e.g.,  «ifin  from 
aw6fin,  the  palace  ;  hence  Alafin  from  Ani-k-w^-fin,  Lord  of  the 
royal  palace. 

0-oni  fromOw6ni,  which  is  itself  a  contraction  of  Omo  oliiw^ni, 
son  of  a  sacrificial  victim. 

The  consonants  may  be  dropped,  the  vowels  absorbed,  but  the 
tones  are  always  preserved  ;  the  first  and  last  syllables  only  are 
essential,  the  voice  can  gUde  over  all  the  intervening  tones  for 
the  sake  of  shortness. 

This  is  at  once  the  chief  characteristic  and — to  foreigners — the 
main  difficulty  of  the  Yoruba  language.  In  order  to  avoid  such 
complicated  tone  accents  it  would  be  preferable  to  write  out  the 
words  in  full,  although  the  contracted  form  may  be  used  in 
speaking  or  reading,  e.g.,  otito  for  6'to  ;   korik6  for  k6"'"'' 

Words  similar  in  form,  distinguished  only  by  their  tones. 
Words  of  two  syllables : — 


.     the  arm 


. .     fire,  louse 


.     a  prodigal 


. .     flogging 


.     a  scar 


. .     a  tattoo  mark 


.     a  riddle 


. .     the  eagle 


.     something  ground 


. .     the  seat 


•     going 


. .     bunch  of  fruit 


.     a  dish 


. .     a  town 


.     a  crash 


. .     a  drum 


. .     a  fishing  net 


. .     a  gimlet 


.     a  guinea-fowl 


. .     a  secret 



Agba      . .  a  rope  lya 

Agba      . .  an  elder  lya 

Agba      . .  a  cannon  lya 

A'yan     . .  anxiety,  care  Ik6 

A'yan     . .  a  cockroach  Ik6 

A'yan     . .  a  hardwood  Ikd 

Baba      . .  father  Ori 

Baba  (adv.)  quite  full  Ori 

Bkbk      . .  guinea  corn  6ri 

Epo        . .  palm  oil  0p6 

Epo        . .  bark  Op6 

Ep6        . .  weeds  Opd 

E'ri         . .  corn  chaff  Oko 

E 'ri         . .  dirt  Okg 

Eri  (for  Ori)  the  head  6k6 

Words  of   three  syllables  similarly 

Apata     . .  a  rock  korfko 

Apata     . .  a  shield  k6rik6 

Apatk     . .  a  butcher 

a  mother 
a  separation 
a  cough 

a  state  messenger 
a  hook  or  hanging 
the  head 
shea  butter 
black  plum 
a  post 
a  widow 
to  be  busy 
a  husband 
a  hoe 
a  spear 
distinguished : — 

Words  of  four  syllables. 

Koldkdlo  . .  stealthily 

Kolgkolo  . .  circuitously 

K^16kolo  . .  muddy,  miry 

K616k^l6  . .  the  fox 


The  efforts  we  have  seen  made  to  produce  a  Yoruba  Grammar  on 
the  exact  lines  of  an  EngHsh  or  Latin  Grammar  represent  in  our 
opinion  an  honest  labour,  highly  commendable  indeed  it  may  be, 
but  totally  in  the  wrong  direction,  and  little  calculated  to  elucidate 
the  genius  of  the  language.  On  the  contrary,  they  go  a  long  way 
to  obscure  it. 

The  Yoruba  belongs  to  the  agglutinated  order  of  speech,  not  to 
the  inflectional.  When  therefore  particles  are  used  to  form  cases, 
etc.,  it  is  mere  pedantry  to  talk  of  declensions. 

It  is  a  notorious  fact  that  educated  Yorubas  find  it  much  easier 
to  read  an  Enghsh  book  than  a  Yoruba  production — which  until 
recently  are  mostly  translations.  With  an  effort  they  may  plod 
through  it,  but  they  do  not  enjoy  reading  it,  and  sometimes  do 
not  even  understand  it.     The  main  reasons  for  this  are  : — 

1.  The  orthography  of  the  language  is  still  very  defective. 

2.  The  style  in  which  the  books  are  written.  This  may  simply 
be  described  as  English  ideas  in  Yoruba  words  :  the  result  is  often 
obscurity  and  confusion  of  thought. 

In  the  "  Church  Missionary  Intelligencer  "  for  March,  1880,  a 
missionary  to  Japan,  who  had  experienced  a  similar  difificulty, 
wrote  thus  : — 

"  There  is  great  danger,  in  all  use  of  this  language,  of  thinking 
that  when  we  have  rendered  various  English  words  into  Japanese 
we  have  of  necessity  expressed  the  thoughts  which  the  English 
words  convey.  Language  may  correspond  to  language,  but  the 
thoughts  to  which  the  language  is  the  vehicle  may  be  as  distant 
as  the  poles.  Our  language  must  be  idiomatic  or  the  natives  will 
fail  to  see  the  points  on  which  we  are  endeavouring  to  lay  so  much 

The  writer  has  on  several  occasions-  read  portions  of  Yoruba 
translations  to  intelligent  but  purely  uneducated  Yoruba  men. 
They  would  show  that  they  comprehended  (not  without  an  effort) 
what  was  read  to  them  by  putting  pertinent  questions,  but  then 
they  would  add,  "  We  can  understand  what  you  mean  to  say,  but 
what  you  read  there  is  not  Yoruba  ;  it  may  be  hook  language 
(£de  I  we)."  The  rock  of  stumbling  is  the  desire  of  translators  to 
reproduce  every  word  and  particle  of  the  English  in  its  exact 
equivalent  in  Yoruba,  regardless  of  idiom,  and  thereby  obscuring 
the  sense  of  the  latter. 


In  taking  up  a  Yoruba  book  one  is  forcibly  struck  by  the 
difference  in  style  between  quotations  of  pure  Yoruba  stories, 
phrases,  or  proverbs,  and  the  notes  and  observations  of  the  writer. 
The  former  runs  smooth  and  clear,  the  latter  appears  stiff  and 
obscure,  because  the  writer,  with  his  knowledge  of  the  English 
grammar  and  language,  wrote  English  ideas  and  idioms  in  Yoruba 
words,  illustrating  what  is  said  above. 

When  such  systems  are  employed  in  writing  a  Yoruba  Grammar, 
such  a  grammar  may  be  usefiil  in  teaching  English  to  Yoruba 
boys,  but  that  is  not  a  Yoruba  grammar. 

We  deem  these  observations  necessary  because  in  the  following 
pages  we  shall  have  occasion  to  render  Yoruba  words  into  English 
and  vice  versa  ;  a  very  literal  translation  will  not  be  adhered  to 
when,  by  so  doing,  the  sense  and  force  of  the  language  will  be 
obscured  and  weakened. 

The  Formation  of  Words 

The  formation  of  words  in  Yoruba  appears  to  be  a  very  simple 
process  ;  any  consonant  with  a  vowel  attached  will  form  a  word 
(or  three  words,  according  to  the  variation  of  the  tone  or  accent). 
That  word  will  probably  be  a  verb  ;  it  will  certainly  possess  the 
form  of  one,  either  current  or  obsolete.  This  word  will,  moreover, 
be  the  root  of  a  whole  class  of  words.  By  prefixing  a  vowel  to  it 
a  noun  may  be  formed  ;  with  other  prefixes  also  some  other 
words  may  be  formed  from  the  same  root,  e.g.,  da  to  make,  gda, 
a  creature  ;  from  which  we  have  eleda,  creator.  Lk,  to  spUt ; 
ilk,  a  cut ;  elk,  halves  of  a  whole  ;  kla,  a  boundary.  Rii,  to  carry  ; 
eru,  a  load  ;  alarij,  a  carrier ;  elerii,  owner  of  a  load.  Fe,  to 
love  ;    Ife,  love  ;    Ifeni,  brotherly  love,  charity. 

Thus  verbs  are  mostly  monosyllables,  formed  by  one  consonant 
and  a  vowel,  and  nouns  disyllables  in  which  the  first  syllable  is 
a  vowel,  and  the  second  a  verbal  root.  The  penultimate  vowel  is 
sometimes  strengthened  by  a  consonant. 

Adjectives  are  mostly  formed  from  nouns  (or  as  nouns)  by  pre- 
fixing the  consonant  of  the  verbal  root  ;  e.g.,  dida,  made  or  created  ; 
hlk,  fissured  ;  so  also  from  m6,  to  know  ;  im^,  knowledge,  mim^, 

Adverbs  are  generally  dupUcation  of  the  adjective,  e.g.,  didun, 
sweet ;  didun-didun,  very  sweet ;  dara,  good ;  dara-dara,  very 

What  is  here  called  a  verbal  root  may  be  an  obsolete  word  or 
one  not  generally  in  use,  but  other  words  can  be  formed  from  it 
all  the  same. 

There  are  some  primitive  words  the  origin  of  whose  roots  has 


been  lost,  e.g.,  omi,  water  ;  ina,  fire  ;  igi,  wood  ;  aso,  clothes  ; 

With  rare  exceptions,  nouns  not  beginning  with  a  vowel  are 
either  of  foreign  origin,  or  onomatopoetic  :  this  latter  being  very 

There  are,  of  course,  exceptions  to  the  above  rules,  but  these 
will  be  found  to  be  the  fundamental  methods  of  forming  Yoruba 

We  cannot  within  the  compass  of  an  introduction,  give  a 
complete  sketch  of  a  Yoruba  Grammar,  but  we  may  state  that 
the  Unes  laid  down  in  Crowther's  Vocabulary  of  the  Yoruba 
language  and  in  Notes  on  the  Formation  of  Words  by  the  Rt.  Rev. 
O.  E.  Vidal,  the  first  Bishop  of  Sierra  Leone,  if  properly  developed 
and  fully  worked  out,  will  prove  both  very  useful  and  instructive. 

The  Parts  of  Speech 

There  are  eight  parts  of  speech.  They  are  as  in  the  English 
Grammar,  the  "  Article  "  being  excepted. 

The  Yoruba  language  has  no  article,  but  when  definiteness  is 
required  the  numeral  kan  (contracted  from  Okan,  one)  is  used  for 
a  or  an,  and  the  demonstrative  na  or  ni  (that,  the  said  one)  is 
used  for  the  definite  article  the. 

The  use  of  the  numeral  one  in  place  of  the  article  is  not  unknown 
even  in  English.  "  The  numeral  one  is  an  indefinite  demonstrative 
when  used  as  the  article  an  " — Mason, 

The  word  kan  therefore  cannot  be  correctly  called  an  article 
simply  because  it  is  made  to  do  duty  for  it. 

In  Yoruba  books  translated  from  the  Enghsh,  where  the 
translator  endeavours  to  render  every  word  and  particle  into  its 
Yoruba  equivalent,  we  often  find  these  particles  used  where  a 
pure  Yoruba,  speaking,  would  not  use  an  article.  Hence  the 
Yoruba  of  translations  often  sounds  rather  quaint. 

Literal  translations  regardless  of  differences  of  idiom,  often 
result  in  ambiguity  or  nonsense. 

In  the  British  colonies  of  Sierra  Leone  and  Lagos,  where  the 
Yoruba  element  predominates,  and  where  the  English  language  is 
often  heard  spoken  with  local  accents  and  local  idioms,  the  articles 
are  frequently  left  out  where  an  Englishman  would  use  them, 
e.g.,  I  see  snake,  for  I  saw  a  snake.  Water  full,  for  the  river  is  full. 
Here  the  local  English  sounds  rather  quaint,  because  the  speaker 
simply  expresses  his  Yoruba  ideas  in  EngUsh  words  without  the 
article.  Again,  we  may  say  in  Yoruba,  O  joko  lori  aga  "  (He  is 
sitting  on  a  chair)  "  0  nmu  koko  taba  "  (he  is  smoking  a  pipe) 
No  one  would  ever  think  of  adding  the  particle  kan  after  aga  or 


koko  taha  by  way  of  expressing  the  article  a.  So  also  we  may  say 
"  Mo  pade  Yesufu  ni  Odo  Osun  "  (I  met  Joseph  at  the  River 
Osun),  or  "  Mo  iilo  sf  gja  "  (I  am  going  to  the  market).  No  one 
would  use  the  particle  nd  after  Osun  or  oja  to  indicate  the  article 
the  as  its  English  equivalent.  But  we  can  say  "  Okonrin  na  ti  de  " 
(the  man  is  come).  "  Mo  pade  Okonrin  na  "  (I  met  the  man). 
"  Omode  kan  nduro  de  g  "  (a  child  is  waiting  for  you).  "  Mo  pa 
ejo  kan  "  (I  have  killed  a  snake).  In  which  cases  definiteness  is 
required  and  consequently  the  particles  representing  the  articles 
a,  an  and  the  are  used. 

These  examples  are  sufficient  to  show  that  the  articles  do  not 
exist  in  the  Yoruba  language,  but  where  definiteness  is  required, 
equivalents  can  be  found. 

We  deem  these  illustrations  necessary  as  in  books  on  Yoruba 
Grammar  the  "  article  "  forms  one  of  the  Parts  of  Speech. 


Nouns  generally  in  their  simplest  form  are  formed  by  prefixing 
a  vowel  to  a  verbal  root  ;  as  b§,  to  shear  ;  abe,  razor  ;  de,  to  cover 
(the  head)  ;  ade,  crown  ;  da,  to  cease  ;  oda,  drought  ;  s^,  to 
offend  ;  ese,  sin.  So  also  the  verbals  alo,  going  ;  abg,  coming  from, 
Ig,  to  go  ;  and  bg,  to  come. 

But  the  prefixes  have  certain  peculiarities  of  their  own.  Thus  : 
a  prefixed  indicates  an  agent,  one  who  does  a  thing,  e.g.,  ke,  to  cut  ; 
ake,  an  axe — an  agent  for  cutting  wood.  Da  to  break  ;  ida, 
a  cutlass  ;  yun,  to  file,  ayun,  a  file  or  a  saw. 

o  or  0,  the  same  as  a  but  restricted  in  their  use,  e.g.,  lu,  to  bore  ,* 
olu,  a  gimlet  ;  16,  to  grind  ;  ol6,  a  grinder  ;  we,  to  swim  ;  ow^, 
a  swimmer  ;   de,  to  hunt  ;   gde,  a  hunter. 

e  prefixed  indicates  a  noun  in  the  concrete,  e.g.,  ru,  to  carry  ; 
eru,  a  load  ;   mi;  to  breathe  ;   emi,  the  breath,  spirit. 

i  prefixed  denotes  a  noun  in  the  abstract,  e.g.,  m6,  to  know  ; 
im5,  knowledge  ;   ri,  to  see  ;   iriri,  experience. 

The  vowels  e  and  u  are  rarely  used. 

Gender. — The  Yoruba  language  being  non-inflective,  genders 
cannot  be  distinguished  by  their  terminal  syllables,  but  by  pre- 
fixing the  words  ako,  male,  and  aho,  female,  to  the  common  term  ; 
and  sometimes  okonrin,  a  man  and  obirin,  a  woman  ;  e.g.,  akg- 
esin,  a  horse,  stallion  abo-esin,  a  mare  ;  akg-malu,  a  bull ;  abo- 
malu,  a  cow.  Omc  okonrin,  a  boy,  i.e.,  a  man  child  ;  gmg-birin, 
a  girl. 

In  one  case  the  masculine  seems  to  be  formed  from  the  feminine, 
e.g.,  lyawo,  a  bride,  gkg-iyawo,  a  bridegroom. 


XXX  vu 


. .     father 


.     mother 


.     man 


.     woman 


.     husband 


.     wife 


a  bachelor 


.     a  spinster 


.     a  widower 


a  widow 

)ruba  langu 

age  in  which  different 

female  of  the  objects,  e.g. : — 


. .     a  male  captive 


.     a  female  captive 


.     a  wizard 


.     a  witch 


a  ram 


.     a  sheep,  a  ewe 


.     a  he-goat 


.     a  goat 


.     a  cock 


.     a  hen 

No  other  distinction  of  genders  is  known. 

The  words  arakgnrin  and  arabirin,  used  in  translations  for  brother 
and  sister,  are  purely  coined  words,  not  known  to  the  illiterate 
Yoruba  man  not  in  touch  with  missionaries.  To  him  they  are 
"  book-language  "  and  must  be  explained. 

The  English  words  brother  and  sister  show  th«  relations  as  to 
sex  only  without  indicating  the  relative  age  ;  but  the  Yorubas, 
with  whom  distinction  in  age  and  seniority  of  birth  are  of  primary 
importance,  generally  use  the  words  egbgn  and  aburo,  i.e.,  the  elder 
and  the  younger  relative,  words  which  show  the  relative  age  only, 
without  indicating  the  sex  and  are  equally  applicable  to  uncles, 
aunts,  nephews,  nieces  and  cousins  however  far  removed,  as  well 
as  to  brothers  and  sisters. 

Our  translators,  in  their  desire  to  find  a  word  expressing  the 
Enghsh  idea  of  sex  rather  than  of  age,  coined  the  above  words 
"  arakonrin,"  i.e.,  the  male  relative ;  "  arabirin,"  the  female 
relative  ;  these  words  have  always  to  be  explained  to  the  pure 
but  ilUterate  Yoruba  man. 

But  the  words  egbon  okonrin  or  obirin  and  aburo  gkonrin  or 
obirin  would  be  more  intelligible  to  them  and  should  be  preferred, 
especially  as  it  is  always  easy  enough  to  find  out  the  relative  ages 
of  the  said  brother  or  sister. 

We  would  recommend  this  to  our  translators. 

Proper  names  rarely  show  any  distinction  of  sex,  the  great 
majority  of  them  apply  equally  well  to  males  as  to  females.  See 
under  "  Yoruba  Names,"  page  79- 

Number. — The  plural  of  nouns  cannot  be  formed  from  the 
singular,  either  by  addition  or  by  a  change  of  form  ;  only  from  the 
context  can  it  be  known  whether  we  are  speaking  of  one  or  more 
than  one :  but  when  specification  is  desired  the  demonstrative 
pronoun  awQti  (they)  or  won  (them)  is  used  with  the  words,  e.g., 


Aw  on  okonrin  na  ti  lo  (the  men  have  gone  away).  The  bells  are 
ringing — Awon  agogo  na  nlu.  Awon,  however,  is  rarely  used  with 
things  without  life.  When  the  plural  nouns  are  indefinite,  that  is 
to  say,  without  the  definite  article,  the  demonstrative  awon  is 
omitted,  e.g.,  Walaha  okuta  meji — two  tables  of  stone. 

Case. — There  are  three  cases,  the  nominative,  objective  and 
possessive,  as  in  the  English  language  ;  but  in  none  of  them  is 
there  a  change  of  form.  The  nominative  precedes  and  the  objective 
follows  after  the  transitive  verb  and  preposition  as  usual,  but  in 
the  case  of  the  possessive,  the  thing  possessed  stands  before  the 
possessor  with  the  particle  ti  expressed  or  understood  between 
them,  e.g.,  Moses'  book,  Iwe  ti  Musa,  in  which  the  particle  ti 
is  expressed.  Iru  esin,  the  horse's  tail,  in  which  the  particle  ti 
is  understood.  But  although  the  particle  ti  is  not  expressed,  yet 
its  middle  tone  is  preserved  by  lengthening  the  tone  of  the  final 
vowel  of  the  thing  possessed.  Thus  we  may  say  :  Iwe  (e)  Musa, 
the  book  of  Moses,  Iru(u)  e§in,  the  tail  of  the  horse.  Qro(g) 
Olorun,  the  word  of  God.  Agbala(a)  Oba,  the  court  of  the  King. 
Oko  Ore(e)  mi.  My  friend's  farm. 

The  sound  of  the  added  tone  is  sometimes  so  slight  as  to  be 
almost  imperceptible,  but  it  is  always  there,  and  is  one  of  those 
fine  points  which  are  so  difficult  for  the  ear  of  foreigners  to  catch, 
and  the  absence  of  which  marks  out  their  defective  accents. 

But  when  the  noun  in  the  possessive  case  stands  alone,  the 
particle  ti  must  be  expressed,  e.g.,  David's,  Ti  Dauda.  Moses's, 
Ti  Musa.     It  is  Joseph's,  Ti  Yesufu  ni. 


Adjectives  are  generally  placed  after  the  nouns  they  qualify, 
as  Esin  dudu,  a  black  horse  ;  omo  rere,  a  good  child.  They  are 
placed  before  the  nouns  when  some  special  attribute  of  that  noun 
is  to  be  emphasized,  e.g.,  agidi  omo,  a  stubborn  child  ;  apa  omo, 
a  slovenly  child  ;  alagbara  okonrin,  a  brave  fellow  ;  akg  okuta, 
a  very  hard  stone. 

These  are  really  substantives  used  attributively.  They  may 
more  correctly  be  regarded  as  nouns  in  the  construct  state,  and 
not  pure  adjectives,  e.g.,  "  a  brute  of  a  man  "  is  a  more  emphatic 
expression  than  "  a  brutish  man."  This  view  of  showing  the 
identity  of  a  substantive  with  an  adjective  is  clearly  shown  by 
Mason : — 

"  The  adjective  was  originally  identical  with  the  noun  which,  in 
the  infancy  of  language,  named  objects  by  naming  some  attributes 
by  which  they  were  known. 

"  In  course  of  time  the  adjective  was  developed  into  a  separate 


part  of  speech;  the  function  of  which  was  to  attach  itself  to  the 
noun  ;  even  now  it  is  sometimes  difficult  to  draw  the  line  between 
them,  as  nouns  are  sometimes  used  attributively  and  adjectives 
pass  by  various  stages  into  nouns." 

Comparison  of  Adjectives 

Degrees  of  comparison  cannot  be  formed  from  Yoruba  adjectives. 
The  words  ju  and  juld  which  are  generally  used  in  Yoruba  books 
and  translations,  and  even  stated  in  some  grammars  as  forming 
the  comparative  and  superlative  degrees,  are  really  adverbs 
signifying  a  greater  or  less  degree  than  and  as  such  may  give 
a  comparative  sense  only  to  the  adjectives  to  which  they  are 
attached.  The  superlative  is  really  non-existing ;  it  can  only  be 
gathered  from  the  context.  The  wordy«  is  only  used  in  an  elhptical 
sense  iox  julo  when  a  comparison  is  being  made,  and  it  often  appears 
in  the  form  of  tmesis  ;  e.g.,  He  re  tobi  ju  ti  emi  lo — Your  house  is 
larger  than  mine  ;  where  lo  is  separated  from  ju  by  the  words  ti 
emi,  and  may  be  omitted  without  affecting  the  sense.  When  used 
otherwise,  i.e.,  without  any  idea  of  comparison,  ju  is  purely  an 
adverb  signifying  too,  too  much  or  too  little,  e.g.,  0  ga  ju,  it  is 
too  high  ;  O  kere  ju,  it  is  too  small.  But  a  comparative  idea 
can  be  gathered  only  from  the  context,  and  also  whether  the 
comparison  is  between  two  or  many,  and  it  is  in  that  way  alone 
a  comparative  and  a  superlative  degree  can  be  made  out.  "  If 
we  say,  '  John  is  taller  than  all  the  other  boys  in  the  class,'  we 
express  the  same  relation  as  to  height  between  John  and  the  rest 
as  if  we  should  say,  '  John  is  the  tallest  boy  in  the  class.'  But  in 
the  former  case  John  is  considered  apart  from  the  other  boys  of 
the  class,  so  that  the  two  objects  which  we  have  in  mind  are  John 
and  the  other  boys  in  the  class.  When  the  superlative  degree  is 
used  John  is  considered  as  one  of  the  group  of  boys  compared 
with  each  other." — Mason. 

This  latter  sense  is  what  cannot  be  expressed  in  Yoruba  and 
therefore  the  language  cannot  be  said  to  possess  a  superlative 
degree.  The  superlative  idea  can  only  be  gathered  from  the  context. 

It  would  be  absurd  to  thus  compare  the  adjective  tall : — 
Positive,  ga  (tall)  comparative,  ga  ju  (too  tall)  ;  superlative, 
ga  ju  lo  (more  tall  than)  which  are  not  adjectives  in  the  compara- 
tive and  superlative  sense  at  aU. 

To  use  words  like  these  :  Oga  ogo  julo,  for  the  Most  High  ;  or, 
Owu  mi  behe  pup6  julo  for  I  am  most  pleased  at  it,  is  to  speak 
vile  Yoruba.  No  pure  Yoruba  man  uncontaminated  with  Enghsh 
ideas  would  speak  in  that  way  at  all. 

As  the  genius  of  the  Yoruba  language,  the  working  of  the 


Yoruba  mind,  its  ideas  and  idiosyncracies  do  not  run  in  an  Anglo- 
Saxon  channel,  it  is  not  to  be  expected  that  the  mode  of  expression 
will  agree  in  every  particular.  Some  teachers  of  the  Yoruba 
language  often  fall  into  this  error  in  their  endeavours  to  find  the 
exact  equivalent  in  both  languages. 

The  Forms  and  Uses  of  Adjectives 

Every  adjective  has  two  forms,  the  attributive  and  the  predica- 
tive, each  depending  upon  the  use  thereof,  e.g. : — 
A  high  mountain  (attributive),  Oke  giga. 
The  mountain  is  high  (predicative),  Oke  na  ga. 

In  Yoruba,  the  attributive  is  formed  from  the  predicative  by 
reduplicating  the  initial  consonant  with  the  vowel  i,  e.g.,  strong 
pred.,  le,  attrih.,  lile  ;  sweet,  pred.,  dun,  attrib.,  didun  ;  hot  pred, 
gbona,  attrih.,  gbigbona  ;  good,  pred.,  dara  ;  attrib.,  didara,  etc. 
Disyllables  with  the  vowel  m  as  a  rule  undergo  no  change,  e.g., 
tutu,  cold  ;  dudu,  black  ;  funfun,  white,  etc.  (the  n  being  purely 
nasal).  Although  not  in  use,  the  same  rule  even  here  may  also 
be  applied. 


Pronouns  are  used  in  the  same  sense  as  in  EngUsh.  They  are: 
I  Personal,  II  Relative,  and  III  Adjective  ;  there  is  no  distinction 
in  genders  in  any  of  the  forms. 

The  Personal  includes  the  Reflexive. 

I.  Personal  Pronouns, 
(a)  Nominative  Case. 

Singular  Plural 

ist  Pers. :  I  Emi,  mo  (mo,  mi)  n  We     Awa,  a 

2nd    ,,      thou  Iwo,  o,  (g)  you    eyin,  e 

3rd     „      he,  she  it  On,  6,  (6)  they  Awon,  won 

The  full  forms  (sing.)  emi,  iwg,  oii,  (plural)  awa,  eyin,  awon, 
are  used  when  emphasis  is  to  be  laid  on  the  person,  but  ordinarily 
the  second  forms  (sing.)  mo,  o,  6,  (plural)  a,  e,  won,  are  used. 
Those  in  brackets  (mo,  mi,  o,  6)  are  mere  provincialisms  for  the 

5J  in  the  ist  person  is  used  only  with  the  incomplete  and  future 
tenses,  e.g.,  iilQ  for  emi  yio  lo,  or  Mo  iilo,  I  am  going,  5Jo  lo  for 
Emi  yio  lo,  I  shall  go. 

He,  when  used  in  an  indefinite  sense,  is  eni,  as  :  Eni  ti  o  ba  se  e. 
He  that  doeth  it.     Eni  ti  o  ba  wa  si  ihin.  He  who  comes  here. 


(b)  Possessive  Case. 

Singular  Plural 

1st  Pers.  :      Mine  Ti  emi  Ours  ti  awa 

2nd    „  Thine  Ti  iwg  or  ti  ire  yours  ti  ^yin 

3rd     ,,  his,  hers,  its  Ti  on  or  ti  irg  theirs  ti  awon 

It  will  be  observed  that  the  possessive  forms,  are  simply  the 
nominatives  with  the  particle  ti  (meaning  of)  prefixed  ;  so  that 
hterally  they  are  of  me,  of  you,  of  him,  etc.  In  ordinary  speech, 
however,  the  vowel  of  the  particle  always  suffers  elision  in  the 
singular  number,  but  in  the  plural  it  is  the  initial  vowel  of  the 
pronoun  that  is  elided.     Thus  we  have : — 

Sing.  :    t'emi,  t'iwo  or  fire,  t'ofi  or  fire 
Plural :    ti'wa,  ti'yin,  ti'wgn. 

The  apostrophe  mark  of  elision  is  generally  dispensed  with  in 
writing,  e.g.,  we  write  temi,  tiwa,  tiwon,  etc. 

Special  notice  should  be  taken  of  the  forms  tire  and  tir^  ;  in 
the  2nd  and  3rd  pers.  singular  the  difference  lies  only  in  the  tone 
(or  accent)  ;  in  the  2nd  pers.  the  tone  of  the  first  syllable  is  de- 
pressed, the  second  is  middle,  it  is  vice  versa  in  the  3rd  person. 

(c)  Objective  Case. 



ist  Pers. 

:  me                mi 

us       wa 

2nd    „ 

thee               0 

you    yin 

3rd     .. 

him,  her,  it    a,  e,  e,  i,  0,  g,  u 

them  wgn 

The  objective  case  as  may  be  seen,  consists  of  fragments  of 
the  nominative.  It  is  really  the  terminal  syllables  of  the  first 
second  and  third  persons,  singular  and  plural.  The  third  person 
singular  calls  for  special  rernarks :  — 

It  consists  of  the  whole  of  the  vowels,  but  the  particular  vowel 
made  use  of  in  each  case  is  that  of  the  transitive  verb  which  pre- 
cedes the  pronoun  and  governs  the  case,  e.g.,  0  pa  a  (he  killed  it), 
Mo  pe  e  (I  called  him),  Wgn  te  e  (they  bent  it),  A  bo  o  (we  covered 
it),  etc.  Where  the  verb  ends  in  a  nasal  sound  the  vowel  is  also 
nasal,  e.g.,  O  kan  a  (he  nailed  it),  A  fun  u  (we  gave  him),  etc. 

The  tone  of  the  pronoun  in  the  objective  case  is  influenced  by 
that  of  the  verb  which  governs  it  ;  when  that  of  the  verb  is  raised 
the  objective  maintains  the  middle  tone,  e.g.,  O  16  g  (he  twisted 
it).  Mo  ka  a  (I  picked  it)  ;  and  vice  versa  when  that  of  the  verb  is 
middle,  that  of  the  objective  is  raised,  e.g.,  O  se  ^  (he  did  it), 
O  pa  a  (he  killed  it),  0  kan  mi  (it  aches  me).  Again,  when  the 
tone  of  the  verb   is   depressed,  that  of  the  pronoun  is  raised, 


e.g.,  0  kkn  mi  (it  touched  me),  Mo  k^  a  (I  counted  it),  A  pe  won 
(we  called  them). 

The  Reflexive 

The  word  tikara,  incorporated  wih  the  personal  forms,  is  used 
to  indicate  the  Reflexive.  It  is  placed  between  the  nominative 
and  possessive  cases,  e.g., 

Singular  Plural 

1st  Pers. :    Emi  tikara  mi  Awa  tikara  wa 

2nd    ,,        Iwo  tikara  re  Eyin  tikara  yin 

3rd     ,,         Ofi  tikara  r§  Aw  on  tikara  won 

The  harsh  r  is  generally  softened  into  /  so  that  instead  of  tikara 
we  say  tikala  ;  but  in  a  flowing  speech  the  /  is  dropped  off  altogether 
and  the  two  a's  blended  and  lengthened  ;  so  we  often  hear 
Emi  tik5  mi,  Oil  tika  r^,  Awa  tika  wa. 

II  Relative  Pronouns 

The  Relative  pronoun  who,  whose,  whom,  which,  what,  or  that 
in  Yoruba,  is  the  simplest  in  any  language.  It  consists  solely 
of  the  particle  ti  and  is  used  for  every  number,  gender,  person  or 
case,  e.g.,  I  who  called  thee,  Emi  ti  o  pe  o.  The  man  whom  I 
saw,  Okgnrin  ti  mo  ri.     The  birds  which  flew,  Awgn  eiye  ti  won  fo. 

III.  Adjective  Pronouns 

These  are  : — (a)  Possessive  ;  (b)  Demonstrative  ;  (c)  Distribu- 
tive ;    (d)  Indefinite  ;    and  (e)  Interrogative. 

(a)  Possessive  : —      Singular  Plural 

My  mi  Our       wa 

thy  re  your      jan 

his,  her,  its  rfe  their      won 

Note. — Like  adjectives,  they  come  after  the  nouns  they  qualify, 
e.g..  My  king,  gba  mi ;  your  children,  awon  omo  jdn  ;  their  cattle, 
awon  eran-osin  won. 

(b)  Demonstratives  : — Singular  Plural 

this      yi,  eyi,  eyiyi       these    wonyi,  iwonyi 
that     ni,  eyini,na        those   wonni,iwgnni 

Note. — The  simple  forms  yi,  ni,  wgnyi,  wgnni,  are  used  with  the 
nouns  tbey  quahfy,  e.g.,  This  man,  gkgnrin  yi ;  that  book,  iwe  ni ; 
these  children,  awgn  gmgde  wgnyi ;  those  houses,  ile  wgnni. 
But  when  the  nouns  are  not  expressed,  the  forms  with  a  vowel 
prefixed  are  used,  e.g.,  This  is  not  good,  eyi  ko  dara  ;  this  very  one, 
eyiyi ;  these  are  not  ripe,  iwgnyi  ko  pgn  ;  those  are  very  good, 
i wgnni  dara  jgjg.     Na  refers  to  something  spoken  of  or  understood. 



[c)  Distributive  : — 


olukuluku,  enikankan 


enikan,  or  gbogbo 




ko  si  enikan 

Note. — The  Yoruba  use  of  the  distributives  is  rather  idiomatic. 
"  Each  "  is  olukuluku,  but  when  used  in  the  sense  of  "  one  by  one  " 
it  is  enikankan.  For  "  every  one  "  the  Yoruba  is  gbogbo,  i.e., 
all,  e.g.,  it  touches  every  one  of  us.  (In  Yoruba)  It  touches  all  of 
us,  Gbogbo  wa  li  o  kan.  "Either  of  them,"  is  "one  of  them." 
Either  of  us  may  go,  Okan  ninu  wa  le  lo. 
(d)  Indefinite  : — 




. .     Gbogbo 
. .     eyikeyi 
. .     mejeji 




•  • 

kan,  §nikan 




. .     (eni)  kan 

One  another 
Each  other 


ara  won 



. .     die 

opolgpo,  pupQ 
. .     pup6,  opo 
. .     ko  si  enikain 




die  (a  few) 


ototg,  gbogbo 

The  Yoruba  language  s  very  defective  in  distinctive  terms 
expressive  of  the  indefinite  pronouns.  One  word  must  do  service 
for  different  terms  in  which  there  is  a  shade  of  difference  of 
meaning,  e.g., 

Gbogbo  is  used  for  all,  whole. 

PuPq  or  bpo  for  many,  much,  several. 

Enikan  for  certain,  one. 

None  is  expressed  by  "  there  is  no  one." 

(e)  Interrogative : — 

Who  ?         Tahani  ?  contracted  to  tani  ? 
Whose  ?     Titahani  ?  contracted  to  titani  ? 
Which  ?      Ewo  ?  wo  ? 
Whom  ?     Tani  ?  eniti  ? 
What  ?        Kini  ?  ' 

Note. — -The  n  in  kini  is  often  converted  or  rather  softened  into 
/  in  speech.  What  shall  we  do  ?  Kini  awa  yio  se  ?  is  softened 
into  Ki  r  a  o  se  ? 


Verbs  are  transitives  and  intransitives.  There  are  no  auxiliary 
verbs  as  known  in  the  EngHsh  and  other  languages  ;  certain 
particles  are  used  to  mark  out  the  moods,  tenses  and  other  forms. 


for  which  auxiliary  verbs  are  used,  consequently  the  verb  "  to  be  " 
as  an  auxiliary  is  wanting. 

In.  the  English  language  there  are  six  auxiliary  verbs,  viz., 
be,  have,  shall,  will,  may,  do  ;  each  of  them  may  be  used  as  the 
principal  verb,  and  also  as  an  auxiUary  to  other  verbs  when  they 
help  to  form  the  moods  and  tenses  ;  but  the  particles  that  are 
used  in  Yoruba  for  such  purposes  are  not  verbs,  and  cannot  be 
used  as  such,  and  therefore  cannot  be  correctly  termed  auxiUary 
verbs  as  some  compilers  of  Yoruba  grammars  have  tried  to  make 
out.  For  example,  the  particle  ti  placed  before  a  verb  denotes  a 
completed  action,  e.g.,  Ajayi  ti  lo,  Ajayi  has  or  had  gone.  The 
particle  jyj'o  in  the  same  way  points  out  a  future  tense, ^.^.,  Ajayi 
yio  lo,  Ajayi  will  go.  The  nasal  n  prefixed  to  any  verb  shows  an 
incomplete  action  as  Ajayi  rilo,  Aja)^  is  going. 

There  being  no  auxiliary  verbs  as  such,  the  Passive  Voice 
cannot  be  formed  in  the  usual  way,  the  first  or  third  person  plural 
of  the  verb  transitive  is  used  for  the  passive  voice,  e.g.,  "  A  snake  is 
killed  "  will  be  A  pa  ejo  kan,  or  Won  pa  ejo  kan.  Or  if  we  say 
"  The  snake  was  killed  by  Joseph  "  the  Yoruba  will  be  "  A  ti  owo 
Yesufu  pa  ejo  na,  which  is  literally,  "  We  by  the  hand  of  Joseph 
killed  the  snake,"  but  usually  the  active  transitive  is  preferred, 
viz.,  Yesuf u  U  o  pa  ejo  na,  "  It  is  Joseph  that  killed  the  snake." 
As  was  observed  above,  the  majority  of  Yoruba  verbs  in  their 
simplest  form  consist  of  monosyllables — a  consonant  and  a  vowel, 
e.g.,  ka,  to  pick,  kd.  to  count,  rd  to  buy,  lo  to  go,  wa  to  come, 
sun  to  sleep,  etc.  They  are  non-inflective  and  do  not  show  any 
distinction  in  number  or  person. 

Disyllabic  verbs  are  almost  invariably  compound  words 
resolvable  into  their  component  parts  ;  they  may  be  a  verbal 
root  compounded  with  a  preposition,  a  noun  or  an  adverb  (some 
roots,  however,  have  become  obsolete),  e.g.,  Bawi,  to  scold,  from 
ba,  with,  and  wi,  talk.  Dahun,  to  answer,  from  da,  to  utter, 
ohun,  a  voice.  Dapo,  to  mingle,  from  da,  to  pour  or  mix,  and 
Pq,  together.  Sunkun,  to  weep,  from  sun,  to  spring,  and  ekun, 

Some  are  transitives,  others  intransitives. 

The  noun  or  pronoun  governed  by  the  transitive  verb  is  in- 
variably placed  between  the  component  parts,  e.g.,  Bawi,  to  scold. 
O  ba  mi  wi,  He  scolded  me. 

Pade,  to  close.     O  pa  ilekun  de.  He  closed  the  door 

Here  the  mi  is  placed  between  the  ha  and  the  wi.  It. is  not 
O  bawi  mi  for  He  scolded  me,  but  0  ha  mi  wi. 

So  also  ilekun  is  placed  between  pa  and  de,  not  O  pade  ilekun, 
but  0  pa  ilekun  de  for  He  closed  the  door. 


Verbs  compounded  with  a  Preposition  : — 

Bawi,   to  scold.     O  ba  mi  wi,  He  scolded  me. 

Pade;  to  shut.     Pa  ilekun  de,  Close  the  door. 

Dimu,  to  take  hold  of.     Di  mi  mu,  Take  hold  of  me. 

Dasi,  to  spare.     Da  won  si,  Spare  them. 

Verbs  compounded  with  an  Adverb : — 

Baje,  to  spoil.    Ba  inu  je,  Grieve,  "  Spoil  the  mind." 

Dapo,  to  mingle.     Da  won  po.  Mix  them  together. 

Tuka,  to  scatter.     Tu  won  ka,  Scatter  them. 

Daru,  to  confound.     Da  won  ru,  Confound  them. 

Pamo,  to  keep.     Pa  mi  mo,  Keep  or  preserve  me. 

In  verbs  compounded  with  a  noun,  the  noun  always  has  the 
preposition  ni  (softened  into  li)  before  it,  e.g., 

Daju,  evident,  from  da,  clear,  and  oju,  the  eyes — clear  to  the 

eyes.     0  da  mi  I' oju.  It  is  evident  to  me 
Tiju,  to  be  ashamed,  from  ti  to  cover,  oju,  the  eyes — covering 

the  eyes.     0  ti  mi  I' oju.    It  shames  me. 
Dahun,  to  answer,  from  da,  to  utter,  ohun,  a  voice.     Da  mi 

I'ohun,  Answer  me. 
Jiya,  to  suffer,  from  je,  to  eat,  iyk,  punishment,     0  je  mi  ni  iyd, 

He  punished  me. 
Gbowg,   shake  hands,   from  gba,   take,  owo,  hand.     0  gbd  mi 

I'owQ,  He  shook  hands  with  me. 
Ranse,  to  send  a  message,  from  ran,  send,  ise,  a  message.     Mo 

ran  a  ni  i§e,  I  have  sent  him. 

The  Intransitive  verbs  of  this  class  are  usually  neuter  verbs 
compounded  with  nouns  of  similar  import  and  therefore  do  not 
admit  of  any  nouns  or  pronouns  being  inserted  into  their  com- 
ponent parts,  e.g., 

Sunkun,  to  cry,  from  sun,  to  spring,  shed,  ekun,  tears. 

Sorg,  to  talk,  from  so,  to  utter,  org,  a  word. 

Kunle,  to  kneel,  from  kun,  to  fill.  He,  the  ground. 

P^de,  to  meet,  from  pa,  to  keep,  ade,  a  coming. 

Duro,  to  stand,  Irom  da,  to  keep,  iro,  upright. 

Moods  and  Tenses 

In  the  formation  of  Moods  and  Tenses  certain  particles  are 
made  use  of.  They  may  have  been  the  roots  of  obsolete  verbs, 
but  they  cannot  now  be  used  as  verbs  but  as  particles  ;  we  there- 
fore refrain  from  applying  the  terms  "  defective  "  or  "  auxiliary 
verbs  "  to  them.     Such  are  the  following : — 

Bi,  ha  or  iha,  implying  if,  should,  or  would,  e.g.  Bi  o  ba  lo, 
if  he  should  go.     Oia  iba  lo,  should  he  go 


Je  or  ki,  or  j ski,  implying  permission,  e.g.,  Je  ki  o  \q  or  ki  o  lo, 

let  him  go. 
Lb,  implying  permission.     O  le  lo,  he  may  go. 
Md  or  Mase,  implying  prohibition  (authoritative). 
Maha,  impljdng  permission  (authoritative),  e.g.,  Maha  lo,  be  going 
Yio,  often  contracted  to  o,  sign  of  the  future,  e.g.,  Yio  lo,  he 

will  go.     Emi  o  \o,  I  will  go. 
Ati  or  ni  ati,  softened  into  lati,  implying  an  intention,  e.g., 

Ati  lo,  to  go,     Lati  jeun,  to  eat  (intending  to). 
N  or  ng,  sign  of  incomplete  action,  e.g.,  Emi  filo,  I  am  going. 

Ojo  fir6,  it  is  raining. 
Ti,  a  sign  of  the  past  tense,  e.g.,  0  ti  lo,  he  has  gone. 
From  these  particles  the  Moods  and  Tenses  are  formed. 


The  Indicative,  Subjunctive,  Potential,  Imperative,  Infinitive 
and  the  Participal  Moods  can  be  well  expressed  in  Yoruba,  and 
all  but  the  first  can  be  formed  by  the  use  of  one  or  other  of  the 
above  particles. 

The  Indicative  is  the  verb  in  its  simplest  form,  e.g.  lo,  to  go. 
Emi  Ig,  I  went.     Ojo  sare,  Ojo  ran. 

The  Subjunctive  is  formed  by  prefixing  the  conjunction  hi  (if) 
before  the  subject  of  the  verb,  with  or  without  the  particle 
ha,  e.g.,  Bi  emi  lo  or  Bi  emi  ba  Ig,  If  I  were  to  go.  Bi  emi  ba 
fe  Ig,  If  I  wish  to  go. 

The  Potential  is  formed  by  adding  the  particle  le  before  the 
verb,  e.g.,  Emi  \h  Ig,  I  may  go  (lit.  I  am  able  to  go). 

The  Imperative  is  formed  by  the  permissive  sign  J§  ki,  e.g., 
Jg  ki  emi  Ig,  Let  me  go.  [Besides  the  direct  forms  Ig  (go  thou)  ; 

The  Infinitive  is  formed  by  adding  the  particles  ati  or  lati  before 
the  verb,  e.g.,  Ati  lo,  to  go.     Lati  mo,  to  know. 

The  Participle  is  formed  by  prefixing  the  particle  ii  (or  ng)  to 
the  verb,  e.g.  nlo,  going.;    nbQ,  coming. 


There  are  only  three  tenses  in  Yoruba,  properly  speaking,  the 
preterite,  the  incomplete,  and  the  future. 

An  action  just  done  is  a  completed  action  and  is  therefore  past ; 
one  doing  is  incomplete,  consequently  what  may  be  considered 
present  may  be  merged  in  the  completed  action,  and  is  therefore 
taken  as  preterite,  or  in  the  incomplete,  as  the  sense  may  require. 

The  simple  verb  is  always  expressed  in  the  past  indefinite  or 


preterite  tense,  e.g.,  Mo  lo,  I  went ;  Mo  we,  I  washed.  O  rerin, 
he  laughed  or  laughs  ;   0  joko,  he  sat  or  sits. 

The  complete  tenses,  past  or  present,  are  expressed  by  prefixing 
the  particle  ti  before  the  preterite,  e.g.,  Mo  ti  we,  I  have,  or  had 
washed.     O  ti  lo,  he  has  or  had  gone. 

The  incomplete  tense  is  formed  by  prefixing  the  particle  ii  (orng)  to 
the  verb,  e.g.,  Emi  nwe,  I  am  washing.     Emi  iirerin,  I  am  laughing. 

The  future  tense  is  formed  by  placing  the  particle  jyj'o  (contracted 
to  o)  before  the  verb,  e.g.,  Emi  yio  we,  I  shall  wash.  Emi  o  lo, 
I  shall  go.     Awa  o  maha  yo.  We  shall  be  rejoicing. 

The  future  complete  (or  second  future)  tense  is  formed  by 
adding  the  particles  indicating  the  future  and  the  complete  tenses 
to  the  verb  e.g.,  Emijyw  ti  we,  I  shall  have  washed.  Emi  o  ti  lo, 
I  shall  have  gone. 


Adverbs  are  used  in  the  same  way  as  in  the  English,  to  modify 
or  hmit  the  meaning  of  a  verb,  an  adjective,  or  another  adverb, 
and  are  generally  placed  after  the  words  they  qualify,  e.g.,  0  sorg 
daradara.  He  spoke  well.  0  soro  jojg.  It  is  very  difficult.  After 
an  intransitive  verb,  they  come  directly  after  the  verb,  as  0  sun 
fanfan.  He  slept  soimdly.  O  sure  tete.  He  ran  swiftly.  But 
after  a  transitive  verb  they  come  after  the  noun  or  pronoun 
in  the  objective  case,  e.g..  Mo  mo  Yesufu  daju-daju,  I  know 
Joseph  well.     O  le  won  sehin-sehin.  He  drove  them  far  back. 

Adverbs  of  manner,  quahty  and  degree  are  mostly  formed  by  a 
reduplication  of  the  word  (especially  an  adverb  or  a  verb),  e.g., 
O  sorg  daradara.  He  spoke  very  well,  O  duro  sinsin.  He  stood 
firmly.    Dajudaju,  evidently.    Mo  feran  r^  gidigidi,  I  love  him  well. 

Adverbs  of  time,  place  and  quantity  are  used  in  the  same  way 
as  in  the  EngHsh,  and  call  for  no  special  remarks.  We  may  note, 
however,  that  in  these,  words  of  more  than  one  syllable  not 
onomatopoetic  in  origin  are  capable  of  being  resolved  into  their 
elementary  parts — usually  into  a  particle  (a  preposition)  and  a 
noun,  e.g., 

Nigbagbogbo,  always,  can  be  resolved  into  ni  (at),  igba  (time), 
gbogbo  (all),  i.e.,  at  all  times. 

Kigbose,  when,  can  be  resolved  into  ni  (at  or  in),  igba  (time), 
ti  (which),  0  se  (it  happened),  i.e.,  at  the  time  when  it  happened, 
i.e.,  when. 

Nihiyi,  here,  ni  (at),  ihin  (here),  yi  (this),  at  this  place. 

Loke,  upwards,  ni  or  li  (at),  oke  (the  top). 

Nibomiran,  elsewhere,  ni  (at),  ihi  (place),  omiran  (another),  at 
another  place. 


But  there  is  also  a  use  of  adverbs  peculiar  to  the  Yoruba  lan- 
guage, an  onomatopoetic  idea  is  often  connected  with  it,  and 
consequently  it  is  always  formed  to  suit  the  word  it  qualifies,  and 
thus  intensify  the  idea  conveyed  by  the  word.  A  form  that  is 
applicable  to  one  verb  or  adjective  may  not  be  appHcable  to 
another,  and  therefore  adverbs  of  degree  or  quality  cannot  be 
enumerated.     For  instance  : 

The  adverb  gogoro  can  only  apply  to  height,  as  o  ga  g6g6rd, 
It  is  very  high.  A  reduplication  of  the  word  can  further  intensify 
the  idea,  O  ga  gogoro  gogoro.  It  is  very,  very  high.  In  the  same 
way  the  word  gbagada  can  only  apply  to  something  of  a  huge 
size,  and  a  redupHcation  of  it,  gbagada  gbagada,  intensifies  the 
idea.  Also  the  word  repete  or  rapcita-rapata  implies  not  only  a 
large  size,  but  also  a  massive  one,  one  in  which  the  space  covered 
is  much  more  than  the  height. 

Apart  from  intensifying  the  ideas,  other  quaUties  can  also  be 
expressed  by  the  character  of  the  adverb  made  use  of ;  in  other 
words,  the  adverbs  often  suggest  some  other  ideas  inherent  in  the 
qualities  they  describe  although  they  cannot  be  so  expressed  in 
Enghsh,  e.g.,  we  may  say,  0  pon  fo  6,  It  is  bright  red.  Here  the 
adverb  fo  6,  besides  being  aptly  applying  to  what  is  red,  also 
suggests  the  warmth  of  the  colouring.  So  also  O  pon  roro.  It  is 
deep  red  ;  O  p6n  rokiroki,  i.e.,  It  is  bright  red,  almost  yellow. 
In  the  last  two  examples  roro  and  rokiroki  refer  simply  to  the 
depth  of  the  colouring.^ 

One  or  two  more  illustrations  will  develop  the  above  ideas 
fully.  In  the  matter  of  length,  we  may  say  O  gim  tunu  tunu. 
It  is  very  long.  This  can  only  apply  to  a  long  road,  the  idea  of 
distance  being  imphed.  O  gvm  gboro-gbgro.  It  is  very  long.  This 
conveys  an  idea  of  a  long  pole,  or  a  rope,  or  a  serpent  or  the  like. 
So  also  with  respect  to  height,  we  may  say,  O  ga.fio  fio,  It  is  very 
high.  This  can  only  apply  to  something  on  the  top  of  a  great 
height,  or  the  top  of  a  high  object — as  a  tree,  standing  on  the 
ground.  O  ga  tian-tian,  It  is  very  high.  This  can  only  apply  to 
an  object  at  a  great  height,  not  connected  with  the  ground,  as  a 
bird  flying  at  a  great  height. 

In  all  these  examples,  the  adverb  very  is  used  to  qualify  the 
adjectives  in  English,  no  other  ideas  being  conveyed  ;  in  this 
respect  the  Yoruba  is  more  expressive. 


Prepositions  are  particles  placed  before  nouns  or  pronouns  to 

show  their  relation  to  other  words  in  the  sentence. 

^  See  Vidal's  Notes  to  Crowther's  Yoruba  Grammar. 


In  Yoruba  they  are  mostly  monosyllables,  e.g.,  si,  ni,  fun,  de, 
etc.,  as  :  O  lo  si  ile.  He  goes  into  the  house.  O  wa  ni  oko.  He  is 
in  the  farm.  O  ko  ile  fun  Baba,  He  has  built  a  house  for  the 
father.     Duro  d^  mi,  Wait  for  me. 

Words  of  more  than  one  syllable  when  used  as  prepositions  are 
capable  of  being  resolved  into  their  component  parts,  e.g.,  O  nbo 
lehin  mi,  He  is  coming  behind  me.  Here,  the  preposition  lehin  is 
resolvable  into  li  (at)  and  ehin  (the  back).  O  wa  leti  ile.  He  is 
near  the  house  ;  leti  is  resolvable  into  li  (at)  and  eti,  the  ear,  or 
the  edge  that  is  within  the  hearing  or  at  the  edge  of  the  house. 

Under  Verbs  we  have  already  considered  those  pecuhar  forms 
compounded  with  prepositions. 


Conjunctions  are  particles  which  serve  to  connect  words  or 
sentences  ;    they  are  copulative  and  disjunctive. 

Ati,  and  or  both.    Ati  Baba  ati  omo,  Both  father  and  son.    The 

initial  a  may  be  omitted,  e.g.,  Tiwo  tir^  for  ati  iwo  ati    ixh 

(you  and  he). 
On,  and  or  both.     O  lo  t'ofi  ti  omo.  He  left  both  himself  and 

child.     It  may  be  noted  that  on  is  never  used  to  copulate 

pronouns  of  the  ist  and  2nd  persons. 
Bi,  if.    Bi  o  je  se  omo.  If  he  would  be  a  child.    (This  is  used 

for  an  obedient  child). 
Nitori,  because.     Nitori  t'emi.  Because  of  me. 
Nje,  then.     Nje  o  yio  lo  ?    Then  will  you  go  ? 

Sugbgn,  but.     O  de  ile  sugbon  ko  ba  mi.  He  called  but  did  not 

meet  me  at  home. 
Tabi,  or.     Emi  tabi  iwg,  I  or  you. 
Bikose,  unless.    Bikose  pe  o  juba  re,  Unless  he  pays  regard  to 

Adi.  although.     Adi  o  ngbo  gbogbo  rh,  Although  he  hears  it  all. 
Amgpe,  idiomatic  for  be  it  known. 


Interjections  are  any  form  of  exclamation  or  ejaculation  ex- 
pressing some  emotions  of  the  mind.  Any  words  may  be  used 
for  the  purpose,  but  very  few  convey  any  meaning  apart  from 
the  tone  in  which  they  are  expressed. 

Exclamations  of  surprise  :    Ye  !    O  !    pa  !    emo  !    hepk  ! 

Exclamations  of  disgust :    S6  !    Siyo  ! 



It  is  rather  curious  that  tribal  peculiarities  are  marked  in  some 
forms  of  exclamations. 

Favourite  expressions  of  Oyos  :  Ha  !  Kinla  !  Em  ode  !  Gbaga- 
dari  ! 

Favourite  expressions  of  Egbas  and  Ijebus  :  Here  or  herek^  1 
heparipk  !    payentiwk  ! 

The  usual  exclamation  in  law  courts  for  "  silence  "  is  :  Atoto  ! 
lit,  enough  of  your  noise  ! 

Kagbohun  !  lit,  let  us  hear  the  sound  of  a  (single)  voice. 

The  tone  of  voice  thrown  into  the  exclamation  in  particular 
marks  the  expressions  of  grief,  surprise,  admiration  or  contempt. 

We  close  this  portion  with  the  exclamation  usually  addressed 
to  kings — Kabiyesi  !     May  long  life  be  added  ! 


Numerals  in  Yoruba,  although  formed  on  a  definite  plan,  yet 
are  more  or  less  compUcated  ;  the  tone  (or  accent)  plays  an  im- 
portant part  in  them. 

All  numerals  refer  to  some  noun  (person  or  thing)  expressed  or 
understood.     They  are  Cardinal  and  Ordinal  or  Serial. . 

The  Cardinal  has  three  forms,  viz. :  (i)  simple  enumeration  ; 
(2)  numeral  adjectives  ;  and  (3)  numismatics.  To  these  may  be 
added  adverbs  of  number  and  of  time. 

1.  Simple  Enumeration 

I    . 


22    . 

...   Ejilelogun 

2     . 


23    . 

...   £talelogun 

3    . 


24    . 

...  ferinlelogun 

4  • 

5  • 



25  . 

26  . 

...  Edogbgn 
...  Jlrindilggbgn 

6    . 


27    • 

...  Stadilogbgn 

7    ■ 


28    . 

...  Ejidilggbgn 

8    . 


29    . 

...  Okandilggbgn 

9    • 

...   Esan 

30    . 

...  Ogbgn 

10    . 


35    • 

...  Arundilogoji 

II    . 

...  Okanla 

40    . 


12    . 


45    . 

...  Arundiladgta 

13    • 


50    . 

...  Adgta 

14    . 

...   Erinla 

55    . 

...  Arundilgggta 

15    • 


60    . 

...  Oggta 

16    . 

...   £rindilogun 

65    . 

...  Arundiladgrin 

17    • 

...   fetadilogun 

70    . 

...  Adgrin 

18    . 

...   ]^jidilogun 

75    . 

...  Arundilgggrin 

19    . 

...  Okandilogun 

80    . 

...  Oggrin 

20    . 


85    . 

...  Arundiladgrun 

21    .. 

...  Okanlelogun 

90    . 

...  Adorun 


Simple  Enumeration — Continued. 

95    -. 

...  Arundilogorun 

4,000    ... 

..  Egbaji 

100    ... 

...  Oggrun 

5,000    ... 

..  Edegbata 

200     ... 

...  Igba 

6,000    ... 

..  Egbata 

300     ... 

...  Odunrun 

7,000    ... 

..  Edegbarin 

400     ... 

...  Irinwo 

8,000    ... 

..  Egbarin 

500     ... 

...  Edegbeta 

9,000    ... 

..  Edegbarun 

600     . . . 

...  Egbeta 

ro,ooo    ... 

..  Egbarun 

700     . . . 

...  Edegberin 

20,000    ... 

.,  Egbawa   or 

800     ... 

...  Egberin 

Oke    kan    i.e 

'.     one    bag    (of 

900     ... 

...  Edegberun 

cowries) . 

1,000     ... 

...  Egberun 

Higher    num 

bers     as    40,000, 

2,000     ... 

...  Egb^wa 

60,000,  etc.   being  so  many  bags. 

3,000    ... 

...  Egbedogun 


Quantitative   or 

Numeral   Adjectives 



Twenty -nine     . 

..  Mgkandilggbgn 



Thirty    ... 


Three     ... 



..     Marun  dilogoji 



Forty     ... 





..    Marundiladgta 



Fifty      ... 


Seven     ... 



.    Marundilogota 

Eight     ... 

Mej  g 


'  Ota 




,  Marundiladgrin 


Mewa  " 


...     Adgrin 

Eleven  ... 


Seventy- five 

..  Marundilgggrin 

Twelve  ... 


Eighty  ... 

...   Oggrin 




, .  Marundiladgrun 


...    Merinla 

Ninety  ... 


Fifteen  ... 




Sixteen  ... 


One  hundred    . 




One  hundred  an 

d  ten  ...       Adgla 



>>         i>         i> 

twenty     Qggfa 


...    Mgkandilogun 

II         1)         >> 

thirty       Adoje 



II         ..         II 

forty         Ogoje 


...     Mekanlelogun 

II         II         .. 

fifty          Adgjo 



>>         II         II 

sixty         Qggjg 



II         II         II 

seventy  Adgsan 

Twenty -four 


II         II         II 

eighty  Oggsan 

Twenty -five 


II         II         II 



...    Merindilggbgn 



...     RIetadilggbgn 

Two  hundred   . 




etc.,  etc. 

3.  Numis 


One  cowry 


Three  cowries  .. 


Two  cowries 



E  erin 

1  Lit.,  one  money,  two  monies ;  cowry  shells  being  used  for  money. 



N  UMI SM  ATics — Continued 

Five  cowries  ...         ...     A  arun 

Six  ,,       E  eik 

Seven        ,,  ...         ...       E  eje 

Eight         ,,       E  ejo 

Nine          ,,  ...         ...      Eesan 

Ten  , Eewa 

Eleven       ,,  ...         ...0-6kanla 

Twelve      ,,  ...         ...     E-ejila 

Thirteen    ,,  ...         ...      Eetala 

Fourteen  ,,  ...         ...    Eerinla 

Fifteen      ,,       Eedogun 

Sixteen  ,,  ...  Eerindilogun 
Seventeen  cowries      Egtadilogun 

Eighteen  ,,         Eejidilogun 

Nineteen  ,,    Ookandilogun 

Twenty  ,,         ...     Ok6wo 

Twenty-five  ,,           Eedogbon 

Thirty  ,,            Ogbonwo 

Forty  ,,         ...        Ogoji 

Fifty  ,,         ...  A-adota 

Sixty  ,,        ...      Qgota 

Seventy  ,,             A-adorin 

Eighty  ,,         ...     Qgorin 

Ninety  ,,            A-adgrun 

One  hundred  ,,         ...    Ogorun 

no  cowries  ...         ...  A-adofa 

120       ,,        Qgofa 

130       ,,  ...         ...   A-adoje 

140       ,,  ...         ...       Ogoje 

150       ,,  ...         ...  A-adojo 

160       ,,        Qg6jg 

170       ,,  ...             A-adosan 

180       ,,  ...         ...    Ogosan 

190       ,,  ...        Ewadinigba 

200       ,,  ...         ...     Igbiwo 

210       ,,  ...        Ewalerugba 

220       ,,  ...          Ogunlugba 

230       ,,  Ogbonwolerugba 

240       ,,  ...          -  Ojulugba 

250       ,,  A-adotalerugba 

260       ,,  ...             Otalugba 

270       ,,  A-adorinlerugba 

280       ,,  ...            Orinlugba 

290       ,,  A-adorunlerugba 

300       ,,  ...             Odunrun 

400      ,,  ...         ...     Irinwo 

500  cowries  . . .         E-edegbfeta 


, Egb^ta 


















...     Egb^jg 






,,           Egbadin-gggrun 


,,        Egbkwa 




„        Eg'b^jila 


,,     Egb^taladin-gggrun 








...   Egbejidilogun- 



...  Egbejidinlogun 




...  Egbetalelogun- 
























Egbawa  (Oke  kan) 










,,        ...       Ok&ndilogun 


,,    Egbagun  (Oke  meji) 



The  Ordinal 

The  first 

,,  second 

„  third 

,,  fourth 

„  fifth 

,,  sixth 

,,  seventh 

,,  eighth 

„  ninth 

,,  tenth 

,,  eleventh 

,,  twelfth 

,,  thirteenth 

,,  fourteenth 

,,  fifteenth    .., 

,,  sixteenth  ... 

,,  seventeenth 

,,  eighteenth 

,,  nineteenth 

,,  twentieth  .. 

,,  twenty-first 

,,  twenty-fifth 























The  thirtieth    Qgbon 

,,    thirty-fifth       Ikarundilogoji 
,,    fortieth      ...         ...  Oji 

,,   forty-fifth  ...  Ikarundiladota 

,,    fiftieth       Adota 

,,   fifty-fifth  ...  Ikarundilogota 
,,   sixtieth      ...         ...       Qgota 

,,   sixty-fifth      Ikarundiladorin 
,,   seventieth  ...     Adorin 

,,   seventy-fifth  Ikarundilogorin 
,,   eightieth    ...         ...     Ogorin 

„   eighty-fifth  Ikarundiladorun 
,,   ninetieth   ...         ...    Adorun 

,,  ninety-fifth  Ikarundilggorun 
,,   hundredth  ...    Ogorun 

,,  hundred  and  first...  Ikokan- 
From  the  first  to  the  ninth — 

Ikokanle      to      Ikokandin — the 

tenths  merge  into  those  of  simple 


Adverbs  of  Number 

One  by  one   ... 
Two  by  two  ... 
Three  by  three 
Four  by  four 
Five  by  five  . . . 
Six  by  six 
Seven  by  seven 
Eight  by  eight 
Nine  by  nine 
Ten  by  ten    ... 
Continue    to 
numerals     up 
nineteen  then — 
Twenty  by  twenty 
Thirty  by  thirty 
Forty  by  forty 
Fifty  by  fifty 





...     Meji-meji 




...  Mefa-mefa 

...   Meje-meje 

...  Mejo-mejg 



reduplicate    the 

to    nineteen    by 

"  Ogogoji 



Erin  me ji 
Erin-m  §ta 

Sixty  by  sixty  ...       Oggggta 

Seventy  by  seventy...  Aradgrin 
Eighty  by  eighty  ...  Oggggrin 
Ninety  by  ninety  ...  Aradgrun 
Hundred  by  hundred  Oggggrun 
Thus  from  one  to  nineteen  the 
numbers  are  reduplicated,  also 
from  21-29  '<  31-39  ;  41-49  J  ^iid 
so  on,  but  for  20,  30,  40,  60,  80, 
100  only  the  reduplication  of  the 
first  two  letters  takes  place,  e.g., 
Ogogun,  Ogbggbgn  ;  for  50,  70, 
90,  the  same  occurs  only  the 
euphonic  "  r  "  takes  the  place  of 
"  d  "  e.g.,  Aradgta  for  Adgdgta  ; 
Aradorun  for  Adodorun. 

OF  Time 

Four  times 



.  Erin-m  erin 
.   grin-mefa 


Adverbs  of  Time — Continued 

Seven  times  ... 


Seventy  times 


Eight     ..      ... 


Eighty     „ 


Nine      ,, 


Ninety      „ 




Hundred  ,, 


The  same  to  nineteen  times. 

Thus  "  Erin  "  is 

prefixed  to  all 

Twenty  times 


the  numerals,  but 

the  multiples 



of  ten  take  "  Igba 

"  before  them. 

Forty         „ 


Note.—'   Erin  " 

is      usually 



softened  to  ee,  e.g., 

^|kan,  ^gmeji 



and  so  forth. 

Analysis  of  the  Numerals 

From  one  to  ten,  different  terms  are  used,  then  for  20,  30,  200  and 
400  ;  the  rest  are  multiples  and  compounds.  Thus  11,  12,  13 
and  14  are  reckoned  as  ten  plus  one,  plus  two,  plus  three  and 
plus  four  ;  15  to  20  are  reckoned  as  20  less  five,  less  four,  less 
three,  less  two,  less  one,  and  then  20. 

In  the  same  way  we  continue  20  and  one,  to  20  and  four,  and 
then  30  less  five  (25),  less  four,  and  so  on  to  30,  and  so  for  all 
figures  reckoned  by  tens. 

There  is  no  doubt  that  the  digits  form  the  basis  of  enumeration 
to  a  large  extent,  if  not  entirely  so.  Five,  ten,  twenty,  i.e.,  the 
digits  of  one  hand,  of  two,  and  the  toes  included,  and  their 
multiples  form  the  different  stages  of  enumeration. 

Beginning  from  the  first  multiple  of  20  we  have  ogoji,  a  contrac- 
tion of  ogun  meji,  i.e.  two  twenties  (40),  Ogota,  three  twenties  (60), 
Ogorin,  four  twenties  (80),  Ogorun,  five  twenties  (100),  and  so  on 
to  ten  twenties  (200),  when  the  new  word  Igba  is  used. 

The  intermediate  numbers  (30  having  a  distinct  terminology), 
50,  70,  90,  no,  130  to  190  are  reckoned  as  :  60  less  ten  (50),  80 
less  ten  (70),  a  hundred  less  ten  (90),  and  so  on  to  200. 

The  figures  from  200  to  2,000  are  reckoned  as  multiples  of  200 
(400,  however,  which  is  20  X  20,  the  square  of  all  the  digits,  has  a 
distinct  terminology,  Irinwo  or  Erinwo,  i.e.,  the  elephant  of 
figures — meaning  the  highest  coined  word  in  calculation,  the  rest 
being  multiples). 

Thus  we  have  Egbeta,  a  contraction  of  Igba-meta,  i.e.,  three 
two-hundreds  (600),  Egberin,  from  Igba-merin,  four  two-hundreds 
(800),  Egberin,  five  two-hundreds  (1,000),  and  so  on  to  Egbiwa, 
ten  two-hundreds  (2,000),  which  in  its  turn  forms  the  basis  of 
still  higher  calculations. 

The  intermediate  figmres  6i  300,  500,  700,  900,  1,100  to  1,900 
are  reckoned  as  100  less  the  multiple  above  them,  viz.,  Odunrun, 


contracted  from  Orun-din-ni-irinwo,  i.e.,  loo  less  than  400  (300), 
Orun-din-ni-egbeta,  100  less  than  600  (500),  Orun-din-ni-egberin, 
100  less  than  800  (700)  ;    and  so  on  to  2,000. 

By  a  system  of  contraction,  ehsion,  and  euphonic  assimilation, 
for  which  the  Yoruba  language  is  characteristic,  the  long  term 
Oriin-din-ni  (Egbeta  or  Egberin  and  so  on)  is  contracted  to  Ed^ 
or  Od6,  e.g.,  Edegbeta  (500),  Edegberin  (700),  Edegberun  (900) 
and  so  on. 

But  the  multiples  of  200  do  not  end  with  ten  times,  although 
that  figure  is  the  basis  of  the  higher  calculations,  it  goes  on  to 
the  perfection  (or  multiple)  of  the  digits,  viz.  :  twenty  times  (two 
hundred)  ;  thus  we  have  Egbgk^nla,  that  is,  Igba  mokinla, 
II  two-hundreds  (2,200)  ;  Egbejila,  twelve  two-hundreds  (2,400), 
and  so  on  to  twenty  two-hundreds  or  Egbaji,  that  is,  twice  two 
thousand  (4,000). 

With  this  ends  the  multiples  of  200.  The  intermediate  figures 
of  2,300,  2,500,  2,700,  2,900  are  reckoned  the  same  way  as  before, 
viz.  :    100  less  than  the  next  higher  multiple. 

As  already  mentioned,  Egbawa  (or  Egba),  2,000,  forms  the  basis 
of  still  higher  calculations  ;  the  multiples  of  Egba  are  Egbaji, 
two  two-thousands  (4,000)  ;  Egbata,  three  two-thousands  (6,000)  ; 
Egbarin,  four  two-thousands  (8,000)  on  to  Egbawa,  ten  two- 
thousands  (20,000),  which  in  its  turn  forms  the  basis  of  the  highest 

The  intermediate  figures  of  3,000,  5,000,  7,000,  9,000,  11,000 
onwards  are  reckoned  as  1,000  less  than  the  multiple  above  them. 
The  more  familiar  terms  for  3,000  and  5,000,  however,  are  Egbe 
dogun,  or  fifteen  two-hundreds,  and  Egbedogbon,  25  two-hundreds. 

For  those  figures  beyond  20,000  the  contracted  forms  which  are 
generally  used  are  :  Okanla  (for  Egbamgkanla)  11  two-thousands  ; 
£jila,  Etkla  on  to  Egbagim,  i.e.,  20  two-thousands,  i.e.,  forty 

Summary. — Thus  we  see  that  with  numbers  that  go  by  tens 
five  is  used  as  the  intermediate  figure — five  less  than  the  next 
higher  stage.  In  those  by  20,  ten  is  used  as  the  intermediate. 
In  those  by  200,  100  is  used,  and  in  those  of  2,000,  1,000  is  used. 

The  figure  that  is  made  use  of  for  calculating  indefinite  numbers 
is  20,000  Egbawa,  and  in  money  calculation  especially  it  is  termed 
Oke  kan,  i.e.,  one  bag  (of  cowries).  Large  numbers  to  an  indefinite 
amount  are  so  many  "  bags  "  or  rather  "  bags  "  in  so  many  places. 


PART    I 

Chapter  I 

The  origin  of  the  Yoruba  nation  is  involved  in  obscurity.  Like 
the  early  history  of  most  nations  the  commonly  received  accounts 
are  for  the  most  part  purely  legendary.  The  people  being  un- 
lettered, and  the  language  unwritten  all  that  is  known  is  from 
traditions  carefully  handed  down. 

The  National  Historians  are  certain  families  retained  by  the 
King  at  Oyg  whose  office  is  hereditary,  they  also  act  as  the  King's 
bards,  drummers,  and  cymbalists  ;  it  is  on  them  we  depend  as 
far  as  possible  for  any  reliable  information  we  now  possess  ; 
but,  as  may  be  expected  their  accounts  often  vary  in  several 
important  particulars.  We  can  do  no  more  than  relate  the 
traditions  which  have  been  universally  accepted. 

The  Yorubas  are  said  to  have  sprung  from  Lamurudu  one  of 
the  kings  of  Mecca  whose  offspring  were  : — Oduduwa,  the  ancestor 
of  the  Yorubas,  the  Kings  of  Gogobiri  and  of  the  Kukawa,  two 
tribes  in  the  Hausa  country.  It  is  worthy  of  remark  that  these 
two  nations,  notwithstanding  the  lapse  of  time  since  their  separa- 
tion and  in  spite  of  the  distance  from  each  other  of  their  respective 
localities,  still  have  the  same  distinctive  tribal  marks  on  their 
faces,  and  Yoruba  travellers  are  free  amongst  them  and  vice  versa 
each  recognising  each  other  as  of  one  blood. 

At  what  period  of  time  Lamurudu  reigned  is  unknown  but 
from  the  accounts  given  of  the  revolution  among  his  descendants 
and  their  dispersion,  it  appears  to  have  been  a  considerable  time 
after  Mahomet. 

We  give  the  accounts  as  they  are  related  : — 

The  Crown  Prince  Oduduwa  relapsed  into  idolatry  during  his 
father's  reign,  and  as  he  was  possessed  of  great  influence,  he  drew 
many  after  him.  His  purpose  was  to  transform  the  state  religion 
into  paganism,  and  hence  he  converted  the  great  mosque  of  the 
city  into  an  idol  temple,  and  this  Asara,  his  priest,  who  was  himself 
an  image  maker,  studded  with  idols. 



Asara  had  a  son  called  Braima  who  was  brought  up  a  Moham- 
medan. During  his  minority  he  was  a  seller  of  his  father's  idols, 
an  occupation  which  he  thoroughly  abhorred,  but  which  he  was 
obliged  to  engage  in.  But  in  offering  for  sale  his  father's  handi- 
work, he  usually  invited  buyers  by  calling  out :  "  Who  would 
purchase  falsehood  ?  "  A  premonition  this  of  what  the  boy  will 
afterwards  become. 

By  the  influence  of  the  Crown  Prince  a  royal  mandate  was  issued 
ordering  all  the  men  'to  go  out  hunting  for  three  days  before  the 
annual  celebration  of  the  festivals  held  in  honour  of  these  gods. 

When  Braima  was  old  enough  he  seized  the  opportunity  of  one 
of  such  absences  from  the  town  of  those  who  might  have  opposed 
him  to  destroy  the  gods  whose  presence  had  caused  the  sacred 
mosque  to  become  desecrated.  The  axe  with  which  the  idols 
were  hewed  in  pieces  was  left  hanging  on  the  neck  of  the  chief  idol, 
a  huge  thing  in  human  shape.  Enquiry  being  made,  it  was  soon 
discovered  who  the  iconoclast  was,  and  when  accosted,  he  gave 
replies  which  were  not  unUke  those  which  Joash  gave  to  the 
Abiezrites  who  had  accused  his  son  Gideon  of  having  performed 
a  similar  act  {see  Judges  vi,  28-33).  Said  Braima,  "  Ask  that  huge 
idol  who  did  it."  The  men  replied,  "  Can  he  speak?  "  "  Then," 
said  Braima  "  Why  do  you  worship  things  which  cannot  speak  ?  " 
He  was  immediately  ordered  to  be  burnt  aUve  for  this  act  of  gross 
impiety.  A  thousand  loads  of  wood  were  collected  for  a  stake,  and 
several  pots  of  oil  were  brought  for  the  purpose  of  firing  the  pile. 
This  was  signal  for  a  civil  war.  Each  of  the  two  parties  had 
powerful  followers,  but  the  Mohammedan  party  which  was  hitherto 
suppressed  had  the  upper  hand,  and  vanquished  their  opponents. 
Lamurudu  the  King  was  slain,  and  all  his  children  with  those  who 
sympathized  with  them  were  expelled  from  the  town.  The  Princes 
who  became  Kings  of  Gogobiri  and  of  the  Kukawa  went  westwards 
and  Oduduwa  eastwards.  The  latter  travelled  90  days  from 
Mecca,  and  after  wandering  about  finally  settled  down  at  He 
Ifg  where  he  met  with  Agb^-niregun  (or  Setilu)  the  founder  of  the 
Ifa  worship. 

Oduduwa  and  his  children  had  escaped  with  two  idols  to  He 
He.  Sahibu  being  sent  with  an  army  to  destroy  or  reduce  them 
to  submission  was  defeated,  and  amongst  the  booty  secured  by 
the  victors  was  a  copy  of  the  Koran.  This  was  afterwards  pre- 
served in  a  temple  and  was  not  only  venerated  by  succeeding 
generations  as  a  sacred  reUc,  but  is  even  worshipped  to  this  day 
under  the  name  of  Idi,  signifying  Something  tied  up. 

Such  is  the  commonly  received  account  among  this  intelligent 
although  unlettered  people.    But  traces  of  error  are  very  apparent 


on  the  face  of  this  tradition.  The  Yorubas  are  certainly  not  of  the 
Arabian  family,  and  could  not  have  come  from  Mecca — that  is 
to  say  the  Mecca  universally  known  in  history,  and  no  such 
accounts  as  the  above  are  to  be  found  in  the  records  of  Arabian 
writers  of  any  kings  of  Mecca  ;  an  event  of  such  importance 
could  hardly  have  passed  unnoticed  by  their  historians.  But 
then  it  may  be  taken  for  granted  that  all  such  accounts  and 
traditions  have  in  them  some  basis  in  actual  facts,  nor  is  the  subject 
under  review  exempted  from  the  general  rule,  and  this  will  become 
apparent  on  a  closer  study  of  the  accounts. 

That  the  Yorubas  came  originally  from  the  East  there  cannot 
be  the  slightest  doubt,  as  their  habits,  manners  and  customs,  etc., 
all  go  to  prove.  With  them  the  East  is  Mecca  and  Mecca  is  the 
East.  Having  strong  affinities  with  the  East,  and  Mecca  in  the 
East  looming  so  largely  in  their  imagination,  everything  that  comes 
from  the  East,  with  them,  comes  from  Mecca,  and  hence  it  is 
natural  to  represent  themselves  as  having  hailed  originally  from 
that  city. 

The  only  written  record  we  have  on  this  subject  is  that  of  the 
Sultan  Belo  of  Sokoto,  the  founder  of  that  city,  the  most  learned 
if  not  the  most  powerful  of  the  Fulani  sovereigns  that  ever  bore 
rule  in  the  Soudan. 

Capt.  Clapperton  {Travels  and  Discoveries  in  Northern  and  Central 
Africa,  1822 — 1824)  made  the  acquaintance  of  this  monarch. 
From  a  large  geographical  and  historical  work  by  him,  Capt. 
Clapperton  made  a  copious  extract,  from  which  the  following  is 
taken  : — "  Yarba  is  an  extensive  province  containing  rivers, 
forests,  sands  and  mountains,  as  also  a  great  many  wonderful 
and  extraordinary  things.  In  it,  the  talking  green  bird  called 
babaga  (parrot)  is  found." 

"  By  the  side  of  this  province  there  is  an  anchorage  or  harbour 
for  the  ships  of  the  Christians,  who  used  to  go  there  and  purchase 
slaves.  These  slaves  were  exported  from  our  country  and  sold 
to  the  people  of  Yarba,  who  resold  them  to  the  Christians." 

"  The  inhabitants  of  this  province  (Yarba)  it  is  supposed 
originated  from  the  remnant  of  the  children  of  Canaan,  who  were 
of  the  tribe  of  Nimrod.  The  cause  of  their  establishment  in  the 
West  of  Africa  was,  as  it  is  stated,  in  consequence  of  their  being 
driven  by  Yar-rooba,  son  of  Kahtan,  out  of  Arabia  to  the  Western 
Coast  between  Egypt  and  Abyssinia.  From  that  spot  they 
advanced  into  the  interior  of  Africa,  till  they  reach  Yarba  where 
they  fixed  their  residence.  On  their  way  they  left  in  every  place 
they  stopped  at,  a  tribe  of  their  own  people.  Thus  it  is  supposed 
that  all  the  tribes  of  the  Soudan  who  inhabit  the  mountains  are 


originated  from  them  as  also  are  the  inhabitants  of  Ya-ory.  Upon 
the  whole,  the  people  of  Yarba  are  nearly  of  the  same  description 
as  those  of  Noofee  (Nupe)^" 

In  the  name  Lamurudu  (or  Namurudu)  we  can  easily  recognize 
a  dialectic  modification  of  the  name  Nimrod.  Who  this  Nimrod 
was,  whether  Nimrod  surnamed  "  the  strong,"  the  son  of  Hasoiil, 
or  Nimrod  the  "  mighty  hunter  "  of  the  Bible,  or  whether  both 
descriptions  belong  to  one  and  the  same  person,  we  cannot  tell, 
but  this  extract  not  only  confirms  the  tradition  of  their  origin  but 
also  casts  a  side  light  on  the  legend.  Arabia  is  probably  the 
"  Mecca  "  of  our  tradition.  It  is  known  that  the  descendants  of 
Nimrod  (Phoenicians)  were  led  in  war  to  Arabia,  that  they  settled 
there,  and  from  thence  they  were  driven  by  a  rehgious  persecution 
to  Africa.  We  have  here  also  the  origin  of  the  term  Yoruba, 
from  Yarba,  their  first  permanent  settlement  in  Africa.  Yarba 
is  the  same  as  the  Hausa  term  Yarriba  for  Yoruba. 

It  is  very  curious  that  in  the  history  of  Mahomet  we  read  of 
a  similar  flight  of  his  first  converts  from  Mecca  to  the  East  Coast 
of  Africa  (the  first  Hegira),  due  also  to  a  religious  persecution; 
this  fact  will  serve  to  show  that  there  is  nothing  improbable  in 
the  accounts  as  received  by  tradition.  Again,  that  they  emigrated 
from  Upper  Egypt  to  He  Ife  may  also  be  proved  by  those  sculptures 
commonly  known  as  the  "  Ife  Marbles,"  several  of  which  may  be 
seen  at  He  Ife  to  this  day,  said  to  be  the  handiwork  of  the  early 
ancestor  of  the  race.  They  are  altogether  Egyptian  in  form. 
The  most  notable  of  them  is  what  is  known  as  the  "  Opa  Orafiyan," 
(Orafiyan's  staff)  an  obelisk  standing  on  the  site  of  Oraiiyan's 
supposed  grave,  having  characters  cut  in  it  which  suggest  a  Phoeni- 
cian origin.  Three  or  four  of  these  sculptures  may  now  be  seen 
in  the  Egyptian  Court  of  the  British  Museum,  showing  at  a  glance 
that  they  are  among  kindred  works  of  art. 

From  these  statements  and  traditions,  whether  authentic  or 
mythologic,  the  only  safe  deductions  we  can  make  as  to  the  mosit 
probable  origin  of  the  Yorubas  are  : — 

1.  That  they  sprang  from  Upper  Egypt,  or  Nubia. 

2.  That  they  were  subjects  of  the  Egyptian  conqueror  Nimrod, 
who  was  of  Phoenician  origin,  and  that  they  followed  him  in  his 
wars  of  conquest  as  far  as  Arabia,  where  they  settled  for  a  time. 
How  subjects  term  themselves  "  children  "  or  offspring  of  their 

^  Vide  Narratives  of  Travels  and  Discoveries,  by  Major  Denham 
and  Capt.  Clapperton,  1826.     Appendix  XII.,  Sec.  IV. 

A' Tropical  Dependency,  by  Flora  L.Shaw  (Lady  Lugard),  1905, 
pp.  227 — 228. 


sovereigns  is  too  well-known  in  this  country,  as  we  shall  see  in  the 
course  of  this  history. 

3.  That  from  Arabia  they  were  driven,  on  account  of  their 
practising  there  their  own  form  of  worship,  which  was  either 
paganism  or  more  likely  a  corrupt  form  of  Eastern  Christianity 
(which  allowed  of  image  worship — so  distasteful  to  Moslems). 

Again,  the  name  of  the  priest  "  Asara  "  is  also  a  peculiar  one  ; 
it  is  so  much  like  "  Anasara  "  a  term  which  Moslems  generally 
applied  to  Christians  (which  signifies  '  followers  of  the  Nazarene ') 
as  to  make  it  probable  that  the  revolution  spoken  of  was  in  con- 
nection rather  with  Mohammedanism,  and  the  corrupt  form  of 
Christianity  of  those  days. 

Lastly,  the  sacred  rehc  called  Idi  from  its  being  bound  up  and 
preserved,  and  which  is  supposed  to  have  been  a  copy  of  the 
Koran,  is  probably  another  error.  Copies  of  the  Koran  abound 
in  this  country,  and  they  are  not  venerated  thus,  and  why  should 
this  have  become  an  object  of  worship  ?  The  sacred  book  of  the 
party  opposed  to  them  !  One  can  hardly  resist  coming  to  the 
conclusion  that  the  book  was  not  the  Koran  at  all,  but  a  copy  of 
the  Holy  Scriptures  in  rolls,  the  form  in  which  ancient  manuscripts 
were  preserved.  The  Koran  being  the  only  sacred  book  known  to 
later  generations  which  have  lost  all  contact  with  Christianity 
for  centuries  after  the  great  emigration  into  the  heart  of  Africa, 
it  is  natural  that  their  historians  should  at  once  jump  to  the 
conclusion  that  the  thing  bound  up  was  the  Koran.  It  might 
probably  then  be  shown  that  the  ancestors  of  the  Yorubas,  hailing 
from  Upper  Egypt,  were  either  Coptic  Christians,  or  at  any  rate 
that  they  had  some  knowledge  of  Christianity.  If  so,  it  might  offer 
a  solution  of  the  problem  of  how  it  came  about  that  traditional 
stories  of  the  creation,  the  deluge,  of  Elijah,  and  other  scriptural 
characters  are  current  amongst  them,  and  indirect  stories  of  our 
Lord,  termed  "  son  of  Moremi." 

But  let  us  continue  the  story  as  given  by  tradition.  Oduduwa 
and  his  sons  swore  a  mortal  hatred  of  the  Moslems  of  their  country, 
and  were  determined  to  avenge  themselves  of  them  ;  but  the  former 
died  at  He  Ife  before  he  was  powerful  enough  to  march  against 
them.  His  eldest  son  Okcinbi,  commonly  called  Idekoseroake, 
also  died  there,  leaving  behind  him  seven  princes  and  princesses 
who  afterwards  became  renowned.  From  them  sprang  the  various 
tribes  of  the  Yoruba  nation.  His  first-born  was  a  princess  who 
was  married  to  a  priest,  and  became  the  mother  of  the  famous 
Olowu,  the  ancestor  of  the  Owns.  The  second  child  was  also  a 
princess  who  became  the  mother  of  the  Alaketu,  the  progenitor 
of  the  Ketu  people.     The  third,  a  prince,  became  king  of  the 


Benin  people.  The  fourth,  the  Orangun,  became  king  of  Ila ;  the 
fifth,  the  Onisabe,  or  king  of  the  Sabes  ;  the  sixth,  01up6po,  or  king 
of  the  Popos  ;  the  seventh  and  last  born,  Orafiyan,  who  was  the  pro- 
genitor of  the  Yorubas  proper,  or  as  they  are  better  distinguished 

All  these  princes  became  kings  who  wore  crowns  as  distinguished 
from  those  who  were  vassals  who  did  not  dare  to  wear  crowns, 
but  coronets  called  Akoro,  a  high-crowned  head-gear,  embroidered 
with  silver. 

But  it  may  be  remarked  that  the  Olowu's  father  was  a  commoner, 
and  not  a  prince  of  the  blood,  and  yet  he  became  one  of  the  crowned 
heads.  The  following  anecdote  will  explain  how  this  came  about. 
The  Yoruba  princesses  had  (and  still  have)  the  Hberty  of 
choosing  husbands  according  to  their  fancy  from  any  rank  in  life  ; 
the  King's  eldest  daughter  chose  to  marry  her  father's  priest,  for 
whom  she  had  the  Olowu. 

This  young  prince  was  one  day  playing  on  his  grandfather's 
knees,  and  he  pulled  at  the  crown  on  his  head  ;  the  indulgent 
parent  thereupon  placed  it  on  the  child's  head,  but  Hke  some  spoiled 
children,  he  refused  to  give  it  up  when  required,  and  so  it  was  left 
with  him,  the  grandfather  putting  on  another.  The  child  had  the 
crown  on  his  head  until  he  fell  asleep  in  his  mother's  arms,  when 
she  took  it  off  and  returned  it  to  her  father,  but  the  latter  told  her 
to  keep  it  for  her  son,  as  he  seemed  so  anxious  to  have  it.  Hence  the 
right  of  the  Olowu  to  wear  the  crown  like  his  uncles.  The  same 
right  was  subsequently  accorded  to  the  Alaketu,  i.e.,  the  progenitor 
of  the  Ketu  people. 

It  was  stated  above  that  Orafiyan  was  the  youngest  of  Oduduwa's 
grandchildren,  but  eventually  he  became  the  richest  and  most 
renowned  of  them  all.  How  this  came  about  is  thus  told  by 
tradition  : — 

On  the  death  of  the  King,  their  grandfather,  his  property  was 
unequally  divided  among  his  children  as  follows  : — 

The  King  of  Benin  inherited  his  money  (consisting  of  cowry 
shells),  the  Orangun  of  Ila  his  wives,  the  King  of  Sabe  his  cattle, 
the  Olupopo  the  beads  the  Olowu  the  garments,  and  the  Alaketu 
the  crowns,  and  nothing  was  left  for  Orafiyan  but  the  land.  Some 
assert  that  he  was  absent  on  a  warlike  expedition  when  the  partition 
was  made,  and  so  he  was  shut  out  of  all  movable  properties. 
Oranyan  was,  however,  satisfied  with  his  portion,  which  he  pro- 
ceeded forthwith  to  turn  to  good  account  with  the  utmost  skill. 
He  held  his  brothers  as  tenants  living  on  the  land  which  was  his  ; 
for  rents  he  received  money,  women,  cattle,  beads,  garments,  and 
crowns,  which  were  his  brothers'  portions,  as  all  these  were  more 


or  less  dependent  on  the  soil,  and  were  deriving  sustenance  from 
it.  And  he  was  the  one  selected  to  succeed  the  father  as  King  in 
the  direct  line  of  succession. ^  To  his  brothers  were  assigned  the 
various  provinces  over  which  they  ruled  more  or  less  independently, 
Oranyan  himself  being  placed  on  the  throne  as  the  AlAfin  or  Lord 
of  the  Royal  Palace  at  He  Ife. 

According  to  another  account,  Oranyan  had  only  a  bit  of  rag 
left  him,  containing  earth,  21  pieces  of  iron,  and  a  cock.  The  whole 
surface  of  the  earth  was  then  covered  with  water.  Oraiiyan  laid 
his  portion  on  the  surface  of  the  water,  and  placed  on  it  the  cock, 
which  scattered  the  earth  with  his  feet ;  the  wide  expanse  of  water 
became  filled  up,  and  the  dry  land  appeared  everywhere.  His 
brothers  preferring  to  live  on  dry  land  rather  than  on  the  surface 
of  the  water  were  permitted  to  do  so  on  their  paying  an  annual 
tribute  for  sharing  with  their  younger  brother  his  own  portion. 

It  will  be  noticed  that  both  traditions  attribute  the  land  to 
Oraiiyan  ;  hence  the  common  saying  "  Alafin  I'oni  ile  "  (the  Alafin 
is  the  lord  of  the  land)  :  the  pieces  of  iron  representing  underground 
treasures,  and  the  cock  such  as  subsist  on  the  land. 

The  former  account  seems  more  probable,  the  latter  being  httle 
else  but  a  travesty  of  the  story  of  the  creation  or  the  flood.  But 
it  is  fair  to  mention  that  the  more  generally  received  opinion  is, 
that  Oranyan  became  more  prosperous  than  his  brothers  owing  to 
the  fact  of  his  living  virtuously,  they  bemg  given  up  to  a  life  of 
unrestrained  licentiousness  ;  and  being  also  by  far  the  bravest  of 
them  all,  he  was  preferred  above  them  and  was  seated  on  the 
ancestral  throne  at  Ile  Ife  which  was  then  the  capital  of  the  Yoruba 

The  Alake  and  the  Owa  of  Ilesa  are  said  to  be  nearly  related  to 
the  Alafin  ;  the  former  was  said  to  be  of  the  same  mother  with 
one  of  the  earliest  Alafins.  This  woman  was  called  Ejo  who  after- 
wards took  up  her  abode  with  her  youngest  son  until  her  death : 
hence  the  common  saying  "  Ejo  ku  Ake  "  Ejg*  died  at  Ake. 

The  Owa  of  the  Ijesas  claimed  to  be  one  of  the  younger  brothers, 
but  his  pedigree  cannot  now  be  traced;  the  term  "brother" 
being  a  very  elastic  one  in  Yoruba  and  may  be  applied  to  any 
relative  far  or  near,  and  even  to  a  trusty  servant  or  to  one  adopted 

1  The  reason  assigned  for  this  was  that  he  was  "born  in  the 
purple,"  that  is  to  say  born  after  the  father  had  become  King. 
This  was  at  one  time  the  prevailing  custom  for  the  "  Aremo  Ovh," 
i.e.,  the  first  born  from  the  throne,  to  succeed  the  father. 

2  Ejo  means  a  palaver.  The  phrase  then  means  a  case  decided 
at  Ake  is  final. 


into  the  family. ^  In  olden  times  when  there  was  universal  peace 
throughout  the  country,  before  the  commencement  of  the  destruc- 
tive intertribal  wars  which  broke  up  the  unity  of  the  kingdom 
and  created  the  tribal  independence,  this  relationship  was 
acknowledged  by  the  Owa  paying  a  yearly  tribute  of  a  few  heads 
of  cowries,  mats  and  some  products  of  his  forests  to  the  AlAfin, 
while  the  latter  sent  him  presents  of  tobes  and  vests,  and  other 
superior  articles  well  worthy  of  him  as  an  elder  brother. 

That  the  AlAfin,  the  Alake,  and  the  Owa  were  children  or 
grandchildren  of  Oraiiyan  seems  probable  from  the  fact  that  to 
this  day  none  of  them  is  considered  properly  installed  until  the 
sword  of  state  brought  from  He  Ife  where  Oraiiyan  was  buried  is 
placed  in  his  hands. 

Oraiiyan  was  a  nickname  of  the  prince  his  proper  name  being 
Odede.  He  was  a  man  of  great  physical  powers.  He  first 
obtained  renown  as  a  mighty  hunter  ;  and  in  process  of  time  he 
also  became,  like  Nimrod,  a  mighty  conqueror. 

The  expedition  against  Mecca. — When  Oraiiyan  was  sufficiently 
strong,  he  set  off  for  an  expedition  against  "  Mecca  "  to  which  he 
summoned  his  brothers,  to  avenge  the  death  of  their  great-grand- 
father, and  the  expulsion  of  his  party  from  that  city.  He  left 
Adimu  one  of  his  father's  trusty  servants  in  charge  of  the  royal 
treasures  and  the  charms,  with  a  strict  injunction  to  observe  the 
customary  worship  of  the  national  gods  Idi  and  Orisa  Osi. 

This  is  an  office  of  the  greatest  importance  pertaining  to  the 
King  himself  •  but  how  slaves  or  high  servants  are  often  entrusted 
with  the  duties  of  the  master  himself  is  well-known  in  this  country 
as  we  shall  see  in  the  course  of  this  history. 

It  is  said  that  the  route  by  which  they  came  from  "  Mecca  " 
and  which  occupied  90  days,  was  by  this  time  rendered  impassable 
owing  to  an  army  of  black  ants  blocking  up  the  path,  and  hence, 
Oraiiyan  was  obliged  to  take  another  route  which  led  through  the 
Nupe  or  Tapa  Country.  All  his  brothers  but  the  eldest  joined 
him,  but  at  Igangan  they  quarrelled  over  a  pot  of  beer  and  dispersed 
refusing  to  follow  his  lead.  The  eldest  brother  calculating  the 
distance  through  the  Tapa  country  lost  courage  and  went  eastward 
promising  to  make  his  attack  from  that  quarter  should  his  brother 
Oraiiyan  be  successful  in  the  West.*  .  Orafiyan  pushed  on  until 
he  found  himself  on  the  banks  of  the  River  Niger. 

The  Tapas  are  said  to  have  opposed  his  crossing  the  river,  and 
as  he  could  not  force  his  way  through,  he  was  obhged  to  remain 
for  a  while  near  the  banks,  and  afterwards  resolved  to  retrace  his 

^  A  fuller  account  will  be  found  under  "The  origin  of  the  Ijesas." 
"^  The  geography  of  our  historians  may  be  excused. — Ed, 


steps.  To  return,  however,  to  He  Ife  was  too  humiliating  to  be 
thought  of,  and  hence  he  consulted  the  King  of  Ibariba  near  whose 
territory  he  was  then  encamping  as  to  where  he  should  make  his 
residence.  Tradition  has  it,  that  the  King  of  Ibariba  made  a 
charm  and  fixed  it  on  a  boa  constrictor  and  advised  Orafiyan  to 
follow  the  track  of  the  boa  and  wherever  it  remained  for  7  days 
and  then  disappeared,  there  he  was  to  build  a  town.  Orariyan 
and  his  army  followed  his  directions  and  went  after  the  boa  up  to 
the  foot  of  a  hill  called  Ajaka  where  the  reptile  remained  7  days, 
and  then  disappeared.  According  to  instructions  Oranyan  halted 
there,  and  built  a  town  called  Oyo  Ajaka.  This  was  the 
ancient  city  of  Oyo  marked  in  ancient  maps  as  Eyeo  or  Katunga 
(the  latter  being  the  Hausa  term  for  Oyo)  capital  of  Yarriba  (see 
Webster's  pronouncing  Gazetteer).  This  was  the  Eyeo  visited 
by  the  EngHsh  explorers  Clapperton  and  the  Landers. 

Orafiyan  remained  and  prospered  in  the  new  home,  his  decendants 
spread  East,  West,  and  South-west  ;  they  had  a  free  communica- 
tion with  He  Ife,  and  the  King  often  sent  to  Adimu  for  whatever 
was  required  by  him  out  of  the  royal  treasures  for  the  new  city. 

In  process  of  time  Adimu  made  himself  great  because  he  was 
not  only  the  worshipper  of  the  national  deities,  but  also  the 
custodian  and  dispenser  of  the  King's  treasures,  and  he  was 
commonly  designated  "  Adimu  Ola  "  i.e.  Adimu  of  the  treasures, 
or  Adimu  1^  i.e.  Adimu  is  become  wealthy. 

But  this  Adimu  who  became  of  so  much  consequence  from  his 
performing  royal  functions  was  originally  the  son  of  a  woman 
condemned  to  death,  but  being  found  at  the  time  of  execution 
to  be  in  the  way  of  becoming  a  mother  she  was  temporarily 
reprieved,  until  the  child  was  born.  This  child  at  its  birth  was 
dedicated  to  the  perpetual  service  of  the  gods,  especially  the 
god  Obatala,  to  which  his  mother  was  to  have  been  sacrificed. 
He  was  said  to  be  honest,  faithful  and  devoted  to  the  King  as  to 
his  own  father,  and  therefore  he  was  loved  and  trusted. 

When  Adimu  was  announced  to  the  Kings  and  Princes  all 
around  as  the  person  appointed  by  the  King  to  take  charge  of 
the  treasures,  and  to  worship  the  national  deities  during  his 
absence,  it  was  generally  asked  "  And  who  is  this  Adimu  ?  The 
answer  comes  "  Omo  Oluwo  ni  "  the  son  of  a  sacrificial  victim : 
this  is  contracted  to  Ow6ni  (Oluwo  being  the  term  for  a  sacrificial 
victim).  So  in  subsequent  years  when  the  seat  of  government 
was  removed  permanently  to  Oyo  but  not  the  National  Deities, 
Adimu  became  supreme  at  He  Ife  and  his  successors  to  this  day 
have  been  termed  the  Olorisas  i.e.  high  priests  or  fetish  worshippers 
to  the  King,  and  people  of  the  whole  Yoruba  nation.     The  name 


Adimu  has  since  been  adopted  as  the  agnomen,  and  the  term  Owoni 
as  the  title  of  the  "  Kings  "  or  more  properly  the  high  priests  of 
Ife  to  this  day,  the  duties  of  the  office  being  not  local  or  tribal, 
but  national. 

According  to  another  account,  after  the  death  of  Okknbi, 
Oraiiyan  having  succeeded  and  assumed  the  command  emigrated 
to  Oko  where  he  reigned  and  where  he  died,  and  the  seat  of 
government  was  removed  thence  in  the  reign  of  Sango  to  Oyokoro, 
i.e.,  the  aforesaid  ancient  City  of  Oyo. 

Oraiiyan  may  have  actually  died  at  Oko,  but  his  grave  with  an 
obelisk  over  it  is  certainly  shown  at  He  Ife  to  this  day.  It  is  a 
custom  among  the  Yorubas — a  custom  observed  to  this  day — to 
pare  the  nails  and  shave  the  head  of  any  one  who  dies  at  a  con- 
siderable distance  from  the  place  where  they  would  have  him 
buried.  These  relics  are  taken  to  the  place  of  interment,  and  there 
decently  buried,  the  funeral  obsequies  being  scrupulously  observed 
as  if  the  corpse  itself  were  buried  there.  Hence  although  (as  we  have 
on  probable  grounds  assumed)  Oraiiyan  may  have  died  at  Oko,  and 
the  art  of  embalming  lost  or  unknown,  his  relics  could  thus  have 
been  taken  to  He  Ife  where  to  this  day  he  is  supposed  to  have  been 
buried.  A  more  romantic  account  of  his  death,  however,  will  be 
given  in  Part  II  of  this  history. 

As  the  Yorubas  worship  the  dead,  and  have  the  belief  that 
prayers  offered  at  the  grave  of  deceased  ancestors  are  potent  to 
procure  temporal  blessings,  all  succeeding  Yoruba  Kings  on  their 
accession  and  before  coronation  are  expected  to  send  to  perform 
acts  of  worship  at  the  grave  of  Oduduwa  and  to  receive  the  benedic- 
tion of  the  priest.  The  sword  of  justice  known  as  Ida  Oranyan 
(Oranyan's  sword)  is  to  be  brought  from  He  Ife  and  ceremoniously 
placed  in  their  hands  ;  without  this  being  done,  the  King  has  no 
authority  whatever  to  order  an  execution.  Orafi5^an's  descendants 
in  process  of  time  were  divided  into  four  distinct  famihes,  known 
by  their  distinctive  dialects,  and  forming  the  four  provinces  of 
Yoruba  proper  viz.  the  Ekun  Otun,  Ekun  Osi,  Ibolo  and  Epo 
provinces.  The  Ekun  Otun  and  Ekun  Osi  or  right  and  left,  i.e., 
Eastern  and  Western  provinces  are  the  towns  lying  to  the  East 
and  West  of  the  City  of  Oyo. 

I.  The  Ekun  Otun  or  Western  province  included  all  the  towns 
along  the  right  bank  of  the  River  Ogun  down  to  Ibere  kodo,  Igana 
being  the  chief  town.  The  other  important  towns  are  : — Skki, 
Oke'ho,  Ise5nn,  Iwawun,  Eruwa,  Iberekodo,  etc.  In  this  province 
two  distinct  dialects  are  spoken  ;  the  people  inhabiting  the  outer- 
most borders  are  known  as  Ibai^apas  and  are  distinguished  by  a 
nasal  twang  in  their  speech. 


2.  The  Ekun  Osi  or  Metropolitan  province  comprised  all  the 
towns  east  of  Oyo,  including  Kihisi  and  Igboho  in  the  north, 
Ikoyi  being  the  chief  town.  Other  important  towns  are,  Ilorin 
Irawo,  Iwere,  Ogbomoso  etc.  including  the  Igbonas  in  the  utmost 
limit  eastwards,  and  the  Igbon-nas  as  far  as  Or6. 

The  Igbdnas  are  distinguished  by  a  peculiar  dialect  of  their  own. 
The  Ekun  Osi  Oyos  are  regarded  as  speaking  the  purest  Yoruba. 
The  ancient  cit}'  of  Oyo  alsp  lies  in  this  province. 

3.  The  Ibolo  province  lies  to  the  south-east  of  the  Ekun  Osi 
towns  as  far  down  as  Ede,  Iresa  being  the  chief  town.  The 
other  important  towns  are  Ofa  (?)  Oyan,  Okuku,  Ikirun,  Osogbo, 
Ido,  Ilobu,  Ejigbo,  Ede. 

4.  The  Epos  are  the  towns  lying  to  the  South  and  South-west  of 
Oyo  the  chief  town  of  which  is  Idode.  Other  important  towns 
in  this  division  are :  Masifa,  Ife  odan,  Ara.  Iwo,  Ilora,  Akinmoirin 
Fiditi,  Awe,  Ago  Oja. 

They  are  called  Epos  (i.e.  weeds)  because  they  were  then  in  the 
remotest  part  of  the  kingdom,  rude  and  uncouth  in  manners,  very 
deceitful,  and  far  from  being  as  loyal  as  the  other  tribes.  The 
Owns  were  usually  reckoned  amongst  them,  but  they  are  rather 
a  distinct  tribe  of  Yoruba  although  now  domiciled  amongst  the 

Great  changes  have  been  effected  in  these  divisions  by  means 
of  the  revolutionary  wars  that  altered  the  face  of  the  country 
about  the  early  part  of  the  XlXth  century. 

In  the  Ekun  Otun  district  Igana  has  lost  its  importance  and  its 
place  taken  by  Iseyin. 

In 'the  Ekun  Osi,  Ikoyi  the  chief  town  has  been  destroyed  by 
Ilorin,  and  Ilorin  itself  brought  under  foreign  allegiance  by  the 
Fulanis.  The  city  of  Oyo  now  lies  in  ruins,  its  name  and  position 
being  transferred  to  Ago  Oja  in  the  Epo  district.  In  the  Ibglg  district 
Iresa  has  ceased  to  exist  being  absorbed  by  Ilorin  and  its  place  taken 
by  Ofa,  which  in  its  turn  was  partially  destroyed  by  the  Ilorins  in 
1887  with  several  other  towns  in  this  district.  Modakeke  a  large 
and  growing  town,  peopled  by  Oygs  of  the  Ekun  Osi,  has  sprung 
up  in  the  Ife  district  just  beyond  the  borders  of  the  Ibolgs. 

Owu  has  been  destroyed  never  more  to  be  rebuilt. 

The  Epo  district  now  includes  Ibadan,  Ijaye  and  other  towns 
formerly  belonging  to  the  Gbaguras.  Idode  has  ceased  to  be  the 
dhief  town,  that  position  now  properly  belongs  to  Iwo,  being  a 
royal  city.  But  Ibadan  which  was  originally  an  Egba  village 
then  the  military  station  of  the  confederate  army  which  destroyed 
the  city  of  Owu  and  the  Egba  villages,  and  afterwards  a  settled  Oyg 
town,  has  by  means  of  its  mihtary  force  assumed  the  lead  not  only 


over  the  Epo  district,  but  also  over  a  large  area  of  the  country  as 
well.  It  has  a  mixed  population  including  every  tribe  of  the 

Ijaye  formerly  an  Egba  town  became  peopled  by  Qyos  chiefly 
from  the  5kun  Osi  (Ikoyi)  districts. 

All  these  including  hundreds  of  important  towns  within  the 
area  are  peopled  by  Yorubas  proper  or  Oyos  as  they  are  generally 
called,  and  constitute  the  more  important  portion  of  Yoruba  proper. 

The  Egbas,  who  were  for  the  most  part  off-shoots  of  these,  and 
formerly  Uving  in  hamlets  and  villages  independently  of  one  another 
have  through  the  exigencies  of  these  wars  collected  themselves 
from  153  hamlets  or  "  townships  "  to  form  one  town,  Abeokuta. 
A  further  account  of  this  will  be  given  in  its  place.  All  these 
are  reckoned  as  descendants  of  Orariyan. 

By  the  advent  also  of  the  white  men  from  the  coast,  the  centre 
of  light  and  civilization  has  removed  to  the  south,  so  that  the 
Epos  may  soon  cease  to  be  the  "  weeds  "  of  the  country,  as  they 
may  receive  the  inspiration  of  civilization  from  the  south  instead 
of  from  the  north  as  hitherto. 

Chapter  II 

All  the  various  tribes  of  the  Yoruba  nation  trace  their  origin 
from  Oduduwa  and  the  city  He  If§.  In  fact  He  Ife  is  fabled  as 
the  spot  where  God  created  man,  white  and  black,  and  from 
whence  they  dispersed  all  over  the  earth.  We  have  seen  in  the 
previous  chapter  which  are  the  principal  tribes  that  sprang  from 
Oduduwa's  seven  grandchildren,  viz.  :  The  Yorubas  proper  from 
Orafiyan,  the  Benins,  Has,  Owns,  Ketus,  Sabes,  and  the  Popos. 
Some  of  the  other  tribes  were  offshoots  of  one  or  other  of  these,  as 
we  shall  see  further  on.  Some  authentic  tradition  will  be  given 
relative  to  the  formation  of  some  of  them. 

An  important  fact  which  must  also  be  borne  in  mind  is,  that  the 
country  was  not  altogether  unpeopled  when  Oduduwa  and  his 
party  entered  it  from  the  East ;  the  probabiUty  is,  that  the  abori- 
ginal inhabitants  were  conquered  and  absorbed,  at  least  at  the 
central  if  not  at  the  remote  provinces  of  the  Yoruba  kingdom. 

In  ancient  patriarchal  times,  the  king  of  a  country  was 
regarded  as  the  father  or  progenitor  of  his  people.  This  view  will 
to  some  extent  explain  what  would  otherwise  appear  to  be  a 
marvellous  (if  not  impossible)  instance  of  fecundity  in  any  one 
king,  e.g.,  Orafiyan  peopling  so  vast  a  region  as  that  attributed 
to  him,  in  so  short  a  time — the  more  warlike  the  king,  the  more 
extensive  his  dominion,  and  the  more  numerous,  it  would  seem,  his 

In  fact  we  may  almost  take  it  as  proved  that  as  Orafiyan  and 
his  army,  as  well  as  his  brothers',  pushed  on  their  conquests  in 
every  direction,  the  princes  and  the  war-lords  were  stationed  in 
various  parts  to  hold  the  country,  and  from  them  sprang  the  many 
provincial  kings  of  various  ranks  and  grades  now  existing. 

This  also  accounts  for  the  tradition  that  the  Yoruba  sway  once 
extended  as  far  as  Ashanti  and  included  the  Gas  of  Accra,  for  the 
Gas  say  that  their  ancestors  came  from  He  Ife ;  and  the  constitution 
of  the  Ga  language  is  said  to  be  more  like  Yoruba  than  hke  Fanti, 
the  language  of  the  Gold  Coast,  and  the  area  in  which  that  language 
is  spoken  is  strictly  hmited.  And,  certainly,  until  comparatively 
recent  times  the  Popos  and  Dahomians  paid  tribute  regularly  to 
Oyo  as  their  feudal  head  ;  it  is  certain,  therefore,  that  the  generals 
and  war-lords  of  Orafiyan  pushed  on  far  beyond  the  Umits  of  the 
Yoruba  country  as  now  known,  and  although  in  places  remote  from 



the  centre,  as  the  Benins  and  Sekiris  in  the  east  and  the  Popos, 
Dahomians  and  Gas  in  the  west,  the  Yoruba  language  is  not 
spoken,  yet  the  knowledge  of  it  exists  among  the  ruling  chiefs 
and  the  priestly  caste  who  still  maintain  their  connection  with  He 
Ife,  the  place  of  their  common  origin.  This  view  will  also  to  some 
extent  explain  the  mutual  understanding  and  bond  of  sympathy 
existing  between  the  Ifes,  Ekitis,  and  allied  families  as  remnants 
of  the  largely  diluted  aboriginal  elements  still  having  many  things 
in  common,  and  their  natural  antipathy — more  or  less — to  the 
Oyos  or  Yorubas  Proper. 

It  is  also  worthy  of  remark  that  all  the  principal  rulers  of  the 
country,  to  show  the  validity  of  their  claims,  must  trace  their 
relationship  by  one  way  or  another  to  the  AlAfin  of  Oyo,  who  is  the 
direct  descendant  of  Orafiyan,  son  and  successor  of  Oduduwa,  the 
founder ;  which  simply  impHes  that  the  children  and  offspring  of 
the  conqueror  are  the  chief  rulers  over  the  different  parts  of  the 
conquered  territories. 

Yoruba  Proper 

Oranyan  was  already  distinguished  as  a  brave  and  war-like 
prince  during  his  father's  lifetime,  and  he  probably  owed  his 
succession  to  this  fact,  as  was  usual  in  those  stormy  times.  On 
his  accession  to  the  throne,  when  he  set  out  from  lie  Ife  on  his 
famous  expedition  to  "  Mecca  "  to  avenge  the  death  of  his  great 
grandfather,  he  was  certainly  accompanied  by  his  conquering 
hordes  ;  and  if  we  trace  his  route  from  He  Ife  northwards  to  the 
banks  of  the  Niger,  whence  he  turned  westward  to  the  borders  of 
the  Baribas,  and  then  to  the  ancient  Oyo  (Eyeo)  which  he  founded, 
and  where  he  settled,  and  from  whence  he  spread  southwards 
towards  the  coast,  we  shall  see  that  the  people  embraced  in  this 
vast  region,  viz.,  with  the  Ifes  in  the  east,  the  Niger  on  the  north, 
the  Baribas  on  the  west  as  well  as  the  Dahomians,  and  the 
Egbados  on  the  south,  are  those  known  as  the  Yorubas  Proper, 
or  as  they  are  generally  termed  by  the  other  tribes  the  Oyqs, 
and  are  the  so-called  descendants  of  Orafiyan,  and  the  cream  of 
his  conquering  army.     These  then  constitute  Yorubas  Proper. 

We  have  stated  in  a  previous  chapter  how  they  are  divided 
into  four  distinct  provinces,  but  there  has  always  been  among  them 
a  bond  of  sympathy  and  union,  apart  from  what  they  have  in 
common  with  the  other  tribes.  They  have  always  retained 
their  loyalty — more  or  less — to  the  successors  of  Orafiyan,  their 
common  father,  even  when  the  revolutionary  wars  left  the  country 
no  longer  united  under  one  head  as  in  the  days  of  Sango  down  to 
those  of  Abiodun 


The  Egbas 

The  Egbas  are  a  small  offshoot  of  the  Yorubas  Proper,  who 
occupy  the  south-eastern  districts  of  that  province.  They  origin- 
ally occupied  the  area  bounded  by  certain  imaginary  lines  drawn, 
say,  from  Ijaye  to  meet  the  Ogun  River  at  Olokemeji,  and  along 
it  to  its  mouth,  and  another  from  the  same  point  via  Ibadan  to 
the  west  of  Jebu  Remo  down  to  the  coast.  They  lived  in  hamlets 
and  villages  for  the  most,  part  independently  of  one  another,  and 
never  under  one  rule.  All  the  principal  families  of  the  Egbas  trace 
their  origin  from  Oyo,  hence  the  common  saying  "  Egbas  who  have 
not  their  root  in  Oyo  are  slaves,"  i.e.,  belong  to  the  conquered 
aboriginal  population.  Most  of  the  chiefs  sprang  from  the  Esos 
of  Oyo.  It  would  seem  then  that  during  the  wars  of  conquest,  a 
number  of  these  warhke  Esgs,  under  the  leadership  of  the  King's 
half-brother,  was  detached  from  the  main  army,  carrying  their 
arms  to  those  regions  where  they  subsequently  settled,  in  the 
immediate  neighbourhood  of  the  Owns.  Abeokuta,  as  we  now  know 
it,  of  course  had  no  existence  then.  Each  of  what  is  now  called 
the  "  townships  "  was  a  separate  village  or  hamlet  with  its  own 
chief  ;  they  were  loosely  grouped  into  three  divisions,  but  rather 
independent  of  one  another,  but  all  acknowledging  the  King's 
brother  (the  Alake)  as  their  Primus.     They  were  : 

1.  Egba  Agbeyin.  These  were  the  Egbas  proper,  and  nearest 
the  I  jebu  Remos.  The  principal  towns  were  :  Ake,  the  chief  town, 
Ijeun,  Kemta,  Iporo,  Igbore,  etc. 

2.  Egba  Oke  Ona,  i.e.,  those  situated  near  the  banks  of  the 
River  Odo  Ona.  Oko  the  chief  town,  Ikereku,  Ikija,  Idomapa, 
Odo,  Podo,  etc.     Their  chief  is  called  the  Osile. 

3.  Egba  Agura  or  Gbagura  :  these  were  situated  near  the  Oyo 
districts,  and  indeed  they  contain  genuine  Oyos  in  large  numbers, 
and  generall}'^  they  partake  of  their  characteristics  largely,  hence 
they  are  nick-named  "  Oyos  among  Egbas."  The  principal  towns 
were  :  Agura  the  chief,  Ilugun,  Ibadan,  Ifaye,  Ika,  Ojo,  Ilawo, 

The  Egbas  were  on  the  whole  few  in  number,  and  occupied  a 
limited  territory  ;  this  can  very  well  be  proved  by  the  fact,  that 
after  a  period  of  more  than  half  a  century,  they  have  been 
compelled  by  stress  of  circumstances  to  live  together  within  one 
wall,  and  in  spite  of  large  accessions  from  other  tribes,  they  still 
form  but  a  single  large  town.  Situated,  as  they  were  then,  far  from 
the  centre  of  life  and  activity,  they  were  little  thought  of.  They 
had  no  separate  king  because  all  the  principal  chiefs  and 
distinguished  personages  were  office  bearers  of  the  AlAfin,  hence 


the  common  saying,  "  Egba  ko  I'olu,  gbogbo  nwon  ni  nse  hi  Oba  " 
(Egbas  have  no  King,  they  are  all  of  them  like  masters)  "  Olu  wa' 
rOyo  "  (The  King  is  at  Oyo).  It  may  be  noted,  that  every  child 
born  to  a  reigning  Alake  must  have  an  Oyo  facial  mark  ;  and  that 
is  so  to  this  day.  In  early  times  the  Alake  ranks  among  the 
junior  members  of  the  Royal  Family  ;  for  that  reason  there  has 
never  been  a  distinct  royal  family  arnong  the  Egbas.  The  chief 
rulers  in  each  division  were  usually  elected  (by  divination)  from 
any  one  of  the  153  townships  ;  an  Ikija  man  for  instance  has  been 
"  king  "  of  Itesi,  an  Ijeun  man  an  Alake,  etc.,  as  we  shall  see  in  the 
Appendix.  In  this  respect  also  the  Gbaguras  differ  from  the 

In  later  times,  at  Abeokuta,  one  Jibode,  a  wealthy  trader  and 
traveller,  who  vainly  endeavoured  to  obtain  the  Primacy  of  Ake, 
left  children  and  grandchildren  who  eventually  attained  the 
coveted  position,  which  was  a  singular  instance  of  more  than  one 
member  of  a  family  becoming  an  Alake,  ^  but  then  they  were 
all  born  in  different  townships. 

The  Osile  is  said  to  be  an  unfortunate  title  because,  more  than 
any  of  the  other  divisions,  the  Oke  Ona  people  were  more  ptone  to 
slaughter  human  victims  ;  everytime  the  Osile  entered  the  Ogboni 
house,  he  must  walk  on  the  blood  of  a  male  victim,  and  when  he 
comes  out  on  that  of  a  female  !  Also  that  Osiles  never  die  a  natural 
death  ;  when  their  excesses  became  unbearable  they  were  usually 
stoned  to  death  ;  hence  the  appellation  of  their  chief  town,  "  Oko  " 
— i.e.,  a  pelting  stone.  For  that  reason  the  Egbas  were  reluctant 
to  resuscitate  the  title  at  Abeokuta  until  Governor  McCallum 
of  Lagos  in  1897  on  the  occasion  of  the  Queen's  Diamond  Jubilee 
ordered  the  Egbas  and  others  to  reorganise  their  government,  and 
fill  up  vacant  titles. 

Since  the  destruction  of  the  City  of  Owu  (as  we  shall  see  below) 
and  the  unification  of  the  Egba  villages,  the  Owus  have  domiciled 
amongst  them.  Hence  the  so-called  Four  United  Kings  of  the 
Egbas  :    although  Owu  is  not  Egba. 

The  Ijebus 

The  origin  of  the  Ijebus  has  been  variously  given  ;  one  account 
makes  them  spring  from  the  victims  offered  in  sacrifice  by  the 
King  of  Benin  to  the  god  of  the  ocean,  hence  the  term  Ijebu 
from  Ije-ibu,  i.e.,  the  food  of  the  deep.     The  Ijebus  themselves 

'The  case  of  Gbadebo,  son  of  Okukenu,  occurred  subsequently  to 
the  estabhshment  of  the  British  Protectorate. 


claim  to  have  descended  from  Oba-nita,  as  they  say  of  themselves, 
"  Ogetiele,  eru  Obanita,"  i.e.,  Ogetiele/  servants  of  Obanita. 

But  who  was  this  Oba-nita  ?  Tradition  says  he  also  was  a  victim 
of  sacrifice  by  the  Olowu  or  King  of  Owu.  It  was  said  that  the 
Olowu  offered  in  sacrifice  a  human  being  where  two  roads  cross  ; 
this  was  termed  "  Ebo-ni-ita,"  a  sacrifice  on  the  highway,  the 
victim  being  mangled  and  left  for  dead  ;  he,  however,  revived  at 
night,  and  crawled  away  into  the  forest,  where  he  subsequently 
recovered  and  survived.  He  lived  on  fruits,  on  the  chase,  and 
then  did  a  bit  of  farming.  With  an  access  of  population,  being 
the  oldest  man  met  in  those  parts,  he  was  regarded  as  the  father, 
and  subsequent  generations  call  him  their  ancestor,  and  so  the 
Ijebu  tribe  was  formed,  and  the  term  "  Ebonita  "  (a  sacrifice  on 
the  highway)  was  converted  to  "  Obanita  "  (a  king  on  the  high- 
way). There  was  really  nobody  of  that  name.  A  forest  is  still 
shown  near  the  village  of  Aha  where  he  is  annually  worshipped, 
from  whence  he  was  supposed  to  have  ascended  into  heaven. 

It  is  rather  curious  that  both  accounts  should  have  made  them 
descended  from  victims  of  human  sacrifices.  This  latter  account 
is  reconcilable  with  the  former,  which  says  they  are  "  the  food  of 
the  deep,"  for  the  population  of  which  Ebonita  was  the  head  may 
have  been  largely  augmented  by  the  victims  of  the  ocean  so  as  to 
give  the  name  Ije-ibu  to  the  whole  of  them. 

There  are  also  other  important  facts  and  curious  coincidences 
connected  with  the  Ijebus  which  have  strong  bearings  on  this 
tradition  of  their  origin. 

1.  Of  all  the  Yoruba  tribes,  with  the  exception  of  the  Ifes 
they  were  the  most  addicted  to  human  sacrifices,  which  they 
practised  up  to  1892  when  the  country  was  conquered  by  the 
Enghsh.  The  \'ictim  also  usually  offered  to  "  Obanita  "  annually 
was  always  a  human  being,  but  this  was  never  killed ;  he  was, 
however,  always  acted  upon  in  some  way  or  other  unknown  (by 
magic  arts)  that  he  always  became  demented,  and  left  to  wander 
about  sheepishly  in  the  Aha  Forest,  until  he  perished  there.  This 
is,  no  doubt,  due  to  the  fact  that  the  ancestor  "  Ebonita  "  himself, 
when  a  victim,  was  not  killed  outright. 

2.  They  were,  before  the  conquest,  the  most  exclusive  and 
inhospitable  of  the  whole  of  the  tribes.  Very  few,  if  any,  out- 
siders were  ever  known  to  have  walked  through  the  country  with 
impunity  under  any  circumstance  whatever ;  not  a  few  of  those 
who  attempted  to  do  so  were  never  seen  nor  heard  of  any  more  ! 

^An    untranslatable    word,    an   onomatopoeic    expression    for 
whatever  is  immense  and  magnificent. 


Commercial  transactions  with  outsiders  were  carried  on  in  the 
frontier  or  in  the  borders  of  neighbouring  towns. 

3.  And  if  the  latter  account  of  their  origin  from  the  Owu 
victim  be  the  correct  one,  it  is  very  singular  indeed  that  it  was 
mainly  due  to  the  Ijebus  with  their  firearms  that  the  Owns  owed 
their  fall  and  complete  annihilation  as  an  independent  state  to 
this  day.     A  full  account  of  this  will  be  given  in  due  course. 

The  King  of  the  Ijebus  is  known  as  the  Awujale.  His  origin 
was  thus  given  by  authentic  tradition,  the  event  with  which  it  is 
connected  having  occurred  within  authentic  history  : 

There  were  formerly  two  important  towns  called  Owu  Ipole 
and  Iseyin  Odo  in  a  district  between  the  Owns  and  If §s  ;  they  were 
settlements  from  the  city  of  Owu  and  Iseyin  respectively.  A 
quarrel  once  arose  between  them  on  the  matter  of  boundaries, 
and  the  dispute  having  been  carried  on  for  many  years,  developed 
into  an  open  fight,  and  both  the  Olowu  and  the  Owoni  of  Ife 
(both  being  interested  parties)  were  unable  to  put  an  end  to  the 
strife.  Messengers  were  now  sent  to  the  King  at  Oyo  who  sent  out 
a  special  Ilari  and  a  large  number  of  attendants  to  put  an  end  to 
the  strife.  The  person  of  an  Ilari  being  inviolable,  he  came  and 
settled  down  between  the  two  contending  parties,  in  the  midst  of 
the  disputed  plot,  and  thus  compelled  them  to  keep,  the  peace. 
The  Ilari  was  named  "  Agbejaile  or  Alajaile  "  (an  arbiter  of  landed 
dispute).  This  term  was  subsequently  sof termed,  down  to  Awujale.^ 
This  event  occurred  during  the  reign  of  King  Jayin. 

As  it  was  customary  to  pay  royal  honours  to  the  King's  mes- 
sengers out  of  courtesy,  this  Ilari  was  accorded  royal  honours 
in  due  form,  and  he  remained  there  permanently  and  became  the 
King  of  that  region  over  the  Ijebus  who  up  to  that  time  had 
no  tribal  "  king  "  of  their  own  and  rather  held  themselves  aloof 
from  their  neighbours.  Subsequently  he  removed  to  Ode. 
The  Awujale  ranks  after  the  Oyo  provincial  kings  such  as  the 
Onikoyi,  Olafa,  Aresa,  Aseyin. 

Origin  of  the  Ijesas  and  Ekitis 

Two  accounts  are  given  of  the  origin  of  the  Ijesas  ;  both  may 
practically  be  regarded  as  in  the  main  correct,  so  far  as  they  are  not 
really  contradictory  ;  for  it  would  appear  that  the  Ijesas  of  the 
present  day  are  not  the  same  people  or,  rather,  not  the  descendants 
of  the  aboriginal  inhabitants  of  that  province. 

The  first  account  relates  to  the  earUest  period  when  the  Yorubas 
have  just  entered  into,  and  subdued,  the  country,  and  the  AlAfins 

^An  Ilari  title  at  Oyo  to  this  day. 


then  resided  at  He  lie,  i.e.,  prior  to  the  reign  of  Sango.  Human 
sacrifices  were  common  in  those  days,  and  in  order  to  have  victims 
ready  to  hand,  it  is  said  that  a  number  of  slaves  were  purchased 
and  located  in  the  district  of  Ibokun ;  there  they  were  tended  as 
cattle,  under  the  care  of  Owaju,  and  from  them  selections  were 
made  from  time  to  time  for  sacrificial  purposes ;  hence  the  term 
Ijesa  from  Ije  Orisa  (the  food  of  the  gods).  They  are  described  as 
stumpy,  muscular,  and  sheepish-looking,  with  a  marked  want 
of  intelhgence  :  they  never  cJffered  any  resistance  to  this  system, 
hence  the  saying  "Ijesa  Omo  Owaju  ti  ife  opo  iyk  "  (Ijesas  children 
of  Owaju,  subject  to  much  sufferings).  There  is  also  a  legend 
that  when  the  nations  began  to  disperse  from  He  Ife  and  members  of 
the  Royal  Family  were  appointed  kings  and  rulers  in  divers  places, 
a  young  and  brave  scion  of  the  house  was  appointed  the  first 
Owa  or  king  over  the  Ijesas,  but  that  he  returned  to  the  AlAfin 
and  complained  that  his  territory  was  tocv  small,  and  his  subjects 
few,  the  sire  thereupon  ordered  a  large  bundle  of  sticks  to  be 
brought  to  him,  and  these  sticks  he  converted  into  human  beings 
for  the  Owa,  in  order  to  increase  the  number  of  his  subjects.  Hence 
to  this  day  the  Ijesas  are  often  termed  by  their  neighbours  "  Qmo 
igi  "  (offspring  of  sticks  !) 

This,  of  course,  is  a  pure  myth  invented  by  their  more  wily 
neighbours  to  account  for  the  notorious  characteristics  of  the  Ijesas 
generally,  who  are  as  proverbially  deficient  in  wit  as  they  are 
remarkably  distinguished  for  brute  strength. 

But  one  fact  holds  good  down  even  to  our  days,  viz.,  that  up 
to  the  recent  total  abohtion  of  human  sacrifice  by  the  British 
Government  (1893)  the  Ifes,  who,  far  more  than  any  other,  were 
addicted  to  the  practice,  always  preferred  for  the  purpose  to  have 
an  Ijesa  victim  to  any  other  ;  such  sacrifices  were  considered  more 
acceptable,  the  victims  being  the  "  food  of  the  gods." 

This  preference  was  the  cause  of  more  than  one  threatened  rupture 
between  the  Ifes  and  their  Ijesa  aUies  during  the  recent  16  years' 
war,  and  would  certainly  have  developed  into  open  fights,  but 
for  the  Ibadan  army  vis-d-vis  threatening  them  both. 

The  other  account  relates  chiefly  to  the  present  day  Ijesas  of 
Ilesa  (the  home  of  the  gods)  the  chief  town.  According  to  this 
account,  they  hailed  from  the  Ekitis  ;  or  as  some  would  more 
correctly  have  it,  they  were  the  Ijesas  from  the  neighbourhood  of 
Ibokun  who  first  migrated  to  Ipole  near  Ondo,  and  thence  back 
to  Ilesa.  It  appears  that  a  custom  then  prevailed  of  going  out 
hunting  for  their  king  three  months  in  the  year,  and  on  one  such 
occasion  they  found  game  so  plentiful  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
Ilesa,  the  chmate  very  agreeable,  the  country  well-watered,  and 


the  Ijesas  there  extremely  simple,  peaceful,  and  unwarhke  (probably 
the  remnants  and  descendants  of  the  old  sacrificial  victims)  whilst 
at  home  they  endured  much  oppression  from  their  Owa,  that 
they  there  and  then  conceived  and  carried  out  the  idea  of  settling 
on  the  spot  at  once,  making  it  their  home,  and  of  reducing  into 
subjection  the  aboriginal  inhabitants. 

These  objects  were  easily  enough  accompHshed  ;  but  they  spared 
the  principal  chief,  a  kindly  old  gentleman  who  had  an  extensive 
garden  plantation.  He  was  called  "  Oba  Ila,"  i.e.,  Okra  king, 
from  his  Okra  plantation,  and  he  was  placed  next  in  rank  to  the 
chief  of  the  marauders.  That  nickname  is  continued  to  the  present 
time  as  a  title  Oba'la^  and  is  conferred  on  the  most  distinguished 
chief  after  the  Owa  of  Ilesa.  It  would  appear  then  that  although 
the  term  Ijesa  is  retained  by  the  people  of  that  district,  and  those 
who  are  ignorant  of  the  origin  of  the  term  take  some  pride  in  it, 
yet  it  is  evident  that  the  present  inhabitants  are  not  all  of  them 
the  descendants  of  the  aboriginal  settlers,  the  "  food  of  the  gods," 
but  are  largely  from  the  Ekitis  by  admixture  ;  the  pure  type 
Ijesas  are  now  and  again  met  with  at  Ilesa  and  neighbourhood. 

This  fact  is  fuither  shown  by  the  want  of  homogeneity  amongst 
the  principal  chiefs  of  Ilesa  at  the  present  day,  for  when  the  town 
was  growing,  the  settlers  did  cast  about  for  help  ;  they  sought  for 
wiser  heads  to  assist  them  in  the  building  up  and  the  management 
of  their  country,  e.g.,  from  the  Oyos  or  Yorubas  Proper  they  had 
the  Odgle  from  Irehe,  the  Esawe  from  Ora,  the  Saloro  from  Oyo 
(the  ancient  city),  and  the  Sorundi  also  from  the  same  city — all 
these  came  with  a  large  number  of  followers  ;  from  the  Ondos,  the 
'Loro,  and  the  Salosi  from  I  jama  in  the  Ondo  district  ;  from  the 
Ekitis,  the  Arapate  from  Ara,  the  Lejoka  from  Itaje ;  and 
lastly,  the  Ogboni  from  the  white  cap  chiefs  of  Lagos,  the 
only  one  privileged  to  have  on  his  headgear  in  the  presence  of  the 
Owa.  The  Owa  himself  is  as  we  have  seen,  a  junior  member  of 
the  royal  house  of  Oyo. 

It  is  also  said  that  when  the  town  of  Ilesa  was  to  be  laid  out  a 
special  messenger  was  sent  to  the  AlAfin  to  ask  for  the  help  of 
one  of  the  princes  to  lay  out  the  town  on  the  same  plan  as  the 
ancient  city  of  Oyo.     That  prince  ruled  for  some  years  at  Ilesa. 

The  Ekitis 

The  Ekitis  are  among  the  aboriginal  elements  of  the  country 
absorbed  by  the  invaders  from  the  East.  The  term  Ekiti  denotes 
a  Mound,  and  is  derived  from  the  rugged  mountainous  feature  of 

^Often  miscalled  Obanla  by  young  Ije§as  outside  Ilesa. 

THE    ORIGIN    OF   THE    TRIBES  23 

the  country.  It  is  an  extensive  province  and  well  watered,  includ- 
ing several  tribes  and  families  right  on  to  the  border  of  the  Niger, 
eastward.  They  hold  themselves  quite  distinct  from  the  Ijesas, 
especially  in  pohtical  affairs.  The  Ekiti  country  is  divided  into 
i6  districts,  each  with  its  own  Owa  or  King  (Owa  being  a  generic 
term  amongst  them)  of  which  four  are  supreme,  viz.  : — 

1.  The  6w6re  of  Otun  3.     The  Elewi  of  Ado 

2.  The  Ajero  of  Ijero  4.     The  Elekole  of  Ikole 

The  following  are  the  minor  Ekiti  kings  : — 

5.  Alara  of  Ara  it.  Qlgja  Oke  of  Igbo  Odo 

6.  Alaye  of  Efon  Ahaye  12.  Oloye  of  Oye 

7.  Ajanpanda  of  Akure  13.  Olomuwo  of  Omuwo 

8.  Alagotun  of  Ogotun  14.  Onire  of  Ire 

9.  Olojudo  of  Ido  15.  Arinjale  of  Ise 
10.  Ata  of  Aiyede  16.  Onitaji  of  Itaji 

The  Orangun  of  Ila  is  sometimes  classed  among  them,  but  he  is 
only  Ekiti  in  sympathy,  being  of  a  different  family. 

An  Ijesa  account  of  the  Owa  ot  Ilesa  and  some  of  the  principal 
Ekiti  kings  : 

The  Olofin  (?  Alafin)  king  of  Ife  had  several  children,  grand- 
children, and  great  grandchildren ;  amongst  them  were,  the  king 
of  Ado  or  Benin,  the  King  of  Oyg,  the  Osomowe  of  Ondo  (from  a 
daughter),  the  Alara  of  Ara,  the  Ajero  of  Ijero,  the  Alaye  of  Efon, 
the  Owore  of  Otun,  the  Orangun  of  Ila,  the  Aregbajo  of  Igbajo, 
the  Owa  Ajaka  of  Ilesa.  When  the  Olofin  became  bhnd  from  old 
age  he  was  much  depressed  in  mind  from  this  cause  ;  efforts  were 
put  forth  to  effect  his  cure,  all  of  which  proved  fruitless,  when  a 
certain  man  came  forward  and  prescribed  for  him  a  sure  remedy 
which  among  other  ingredients  contained  salt  water.  He  put  the 
case  before  his  children,  but  none  made  any  effort  to  procure  some 
for  him  save  his  youngest  grandson.  This  was  a  very  brave  and 
warlike  prince  who  bore  the  title  of  Esinkin  amongst  the  King's 
household  warriors,  a  title  much  alHed  to  that  of  the  Kakanfo, 
He  was  surnamed  Ajaka,  i.e.,  one  who  fights  everywhere,  (on 
account  of  his  procHvities)  being  fond  of  adventures.  He  volun- 
teered to  go  and  fetch  some  wherever  procurable. 

Having  been  away  for  many  years  and  not  heard  of,  the  aged 
sire  and  every  one  else  despaired  of  his  ever  coming  back  ;  so  the 
King  divided  his  property  amongst  the  remaining  grown-up 
children.  Although  the  Alado  (king  of  Benin)  was  the  eldest  yet 
the  Oloyg  was  the  most  beloved,  and  to  him  he  gave  the  land,  and 
told  him  to  scour  it  all  over,  and  settle  nowhere  till  he  came  to  a 


slippery  place,  and  there  make  his  abode  ;  hence  the  term  Oyg 
(shppery)  and  hence  Oyos  are  such  shppery  customers  ! 

After  they  had  all  gone  and  settled  in  their  respective  locaHties, 
all  unexpectedly,  the  young  adventurer  turned  up  with  water  from 
the  sea  !  The  monarch  made  use  of  it  as  per  prescription  and 
regained  his  sight  !  Hence  the  Ijesas  who  subsequently  became  his 
subjects  are  sometimes  termed  "  Omg  Obokun,"  children  of  the 
brine  procurer. 

Having  distributed  all  his  property  he  had  nothing  left  for  Ajaka 
he  therefore  gave  him  a  sword  lying  by  his  side  with  leave  to  attack 
any  of  his  brothers,  especially  the  Alara  or  Alado,  and  possess 
himself  of  their  wealth,  but  should  he  fail,  to  retire  back  to  him ; 
hence  the  appellation  "  Owa  Ajaka  Onida  raharaha  "  (Owa  the 
ubiquitous  fighter,  a  man  with  a  devastating  sword). 

The  Owa  Ajaka  settled  a  Uttle  way  from  his  grandfather,  and  on 
one  occasion  he  paid  him  a  visit,  and  found  him  sitting  alone 
with  his  crown  on  his  head  and — out  of  sheer  wantonness — he  cut 
off  some  of  the  fringes  with  his  sword.  The  old  man  was  enraged 
by  this  act,  and  swore  that  he  would  never  wear  a  crown  with 
fringes  on.^ 

The  Aregbajo  was  one  of  those  who  had  a  crown  given  to  him, 
but  the  Owa  Ajaka,  paying  him  a  visit  on  one  occasion,  saw  it, 
and  took  it  away,  and  never  returned  it  :  hence  the  kings  of  Igbajo 
never  wear  a  crown  to  this  day. 

The  Owa  also  attacked  the  Olojudo  and  defeated  him,  and  took 
possession  of  his  crown  ;  but  he  never  put  it  on.  On  every  public 
occasion  however,  it  used  to  be  carried  before  him.  This  continued 
to  be  the  case  until  all  the  tribes  became  independent. 

The  Owa's  mother,  when  married  as  a  young  bride,  was  placed 
under  the  care  of  the  mother  of  the  Qloyo,  hence  the  AlAfin  of 
Oyo  often  regarded  the  Owa  as  his  own  son. 

The  Orangun  of  Ila,  and  the  Alara  of  Ara  were  his  brothers  of 
the  same  mother. 

The  Ow6ni  of  Ife  was  not  a  son  of  the  Ololin,  but  the  son  of  a 
female  slave  of  his  whom  he  offered  in  sacrifice.  The  Olefin  kept 
the  boy  always  by  him,  and  when  he  sent  away  his  sons,  this  httle 
boy  took  great  care  of  him  and  managed  his  household  affairs  well 
until  his  death :  hence  the  Oloyo  on  succeeding  the  father  authorised 
the  boy  to  have  charge  of  the  palace  and  the  city,  and  he  sent  to 
notify  his  brothers  of  this  appointment.  So  whenever  it  was 
asked  who  was  in  charge  of  the  house  the  answer  invariably  was 

^Only  those  with  fringes  on  are  really  crowns. 


"  Omo  Oluwo  ni  "  (It  is  the  son  of  the  sacrificial  victim).  This 
has  been  contracted  to  the  term  Ow6ni. 

The  Owa  and  his  brothers  used  to  pay  the  AlAfin  annual  visits, 
with  presents  of  firewood,  fine  locally-made  mats,  kola  nuts  and 
bitter  kolas  ;  the  Ow6re  of  Otun  with  sweet  water  from  a  cool 
spring  at  Otun — this  water  the  AlAfin  first  spills  on  the  ground 
as  a  Ubation  before  performing  any  ceremonies.  The  other  Ekiti 
Kings  used  also  to  take  with  them  suitable  presents  as  each  could 
afford,  and  bring  away  lavish  presents  from  their  elder  brother. 

This  Ajaka  subsequently  became  the  Owa  of  the  Ijesas. 

The  Ondos 

The  custom  of  killing  twins  prevailed  all  over  the  country  in 
early  times  ;  it  has  died  out  all  over  the  greater  part  ot  it  so  long 
ago,  that  no  one  can  say  precisely  when  or  by  whom  a  stop  was  put 
to  it.  But  it  happened  once  upon  a  time  when  the  practice  still 
prevailed  that  one  of  the  wives  of  the  AlAfin  (King  Ajaka)  gave 
birth  to  twins,  and  the  King  was  loth  to  destroy  them,  he  thereupon 
gave  orders  that  they  should  be  removed — with  the  mother — to  a 
remote  part  of  the  kingdom  and  there  to  remain  and  be  regarded 
as  dead. 

So  she  left  with  a  large  number  of  friends  and  retinue  to  the  site 
of  the  present  Ode  Ondo,  then  sparsely  peopled  by  a  tribe  named 
Idoko,  and  there  settled,  hence  the  term  "  Ondo,"  signifying  the 
"  Settlers."  The  people  of  the  district  knowing  who  the  strangers 
were,  yielded  them  ready  obedience,  and  the  strangers  became  rulers 
of  the  district. 

Probably  it  was  from  this  time  infanticide  received  its  death 
blow — in  Yoruba  Proper  at  least.  It  is  said  to  hnger  still  at  Akure 
and  the  adjacent  regions,  but  as  a  rule,  in  ancient  times,  whatever 
the  custom  set  or  discountenanced  at  the  Metropohs,  the  effect 
thereof  was  rapidly  felt  all  over  the  country. 

The  Ondos  are  sometimes  classed  among  the  Ekitis  but  that  is 
hardly  correct ;  although  lying  at  the  border  of  the  Ekitis,  they 
are  really  a  mixture  of  Qyos  and  Idokos,  and  their  sympathy  is 
with  all. 

Chapter  III 

The  Yorubas  originally  were  entirely  pagans.  Mohammedanism 
which  many  now  profess  was  introduced  only  since  the  close  of 
the  eighteenth  century.  They,  however,  believe  in  the  existence 
of  an  Almighty  God,  him  they  term  Olorun,  i.e.,  Lord  of  Heaven. 

They  acknowledge  Him,  Maker  of  heaven  and  earth,  but  too 
exalted  to  concern  Himself  directly  with  men  and  their  affairs, 
hence  they  admit  the  existence  of  many  gods  as  intermediaries, 
and  these  they  term  Orisas. 

We  may  note  here  that  the  term  Olorun  is  appUed  to  God  alone 
and  is  never  used  in  the  plural  to  denote  Orisas.  Kings  and  the 
great  ones  on  earth  may  sometimes  be  termed  Orisas  (gods) 
by  way  of  eulogy,  we  are  also  familiar  with  the  common  expression, 
"  Oyinbo  ekeji  Orisa  "  i.e.,  white  men  are  next  to  the  -gods  (i.e 
in  their  powers) ;  but  the  term  Olorun  is  reserved  for  the  Great  God 

They  also  beheve  in  a  future  state,  hence  the  worship  of  the  dead, 
and  invocation  of  spirits  as  observed  in  the  Egugun  festival,  a 
festival  in  which  masked  individuals  personate  dead  relatives. 

They  have  a  belief  also  in  a  future  judgment  as  may  be  inferred 
from  the  tollowing  adage,  "  Ohungbogbo  ti  a  se  I'aiye,  li  a  o 
de  idena  Orun  ka  "  (Whatever  we  do  on  earth  we  shall  give  an 
account  thereof  at  the  portals  of  heaven). 

They  also  believe  in  the  doctrine  of  metempsychosis,  or  trans- 
migration of  souls,  hence  they  affirm  that  after  a  period  of  time, 
deceased  parents  are  born  again  into  the  family  of  their  surviving 
children.  It  is  from  this  notion  that  some  children  are  named 
"  Babatunde,"  i.e.,  father  comes  again.  "  Yetunde,"  i.e.,  mother 
comes  again. 

Objects  of  Worship 

I,  TheKori. — Originally,  the  Kori  was  the  only  object  of  worship. 
It  consists  of  the  hard  shells  of  the  palm  nut  strung  into  beads, 
and  made  to  hang  from  the  neck  to  the  knees.  In  modern  times 
it  is  no  longer  regarded  as  an  object  of  worship  by  adults,  but  little 
children  go  about  with  it  to  the  market  places  begging  for  alms. 
The  object  of  worship  is  then  worn  by  one  of  their  number,  who 
goes  before,  his  companions  following  behind  him,  shouting  the 



praises  of  the  ancient  god  Kori.  In  this  way  they  parade  the 
market  places,  and  sellers  before  whom  they  halt  to  sing,  make 
them  presents  of  money  (cowries)  or  whatever  they  may  happen  to 
be  seUing,  usually  articles  of  food.  Thus  the  httle  children 
perpetuate  the  memory  and  worship  of  this  deity,  hence  the  ditty  : 

Iba  ma  si  ewe,  Kori  a  ku  o." 
(But  for  Httle  children  Kori  had  perished). 

In  later  times  heroes  are  venerated  and  deified,  of  these  Sango, 
Oya,  Orisa  Oko,  may  be  mentioned  as  the  chief.  The  origin  of 
their  worship  will  be  noted  hereafter. 

2.  Orisala. — To  Orisala  are  ascribed  creative  powers.  He  is 
regarded  as  a  co-worker  with  Olorun.  Man  is  supposed  to  have 
been  made  by  God  in  a  lump,  and  shaped  as  he  is  by  Orisala.  Its 
votaries  are  distinguished  by  white  beads  worn  round  the  neck, 
and  by  their  using  only  white  dresses.  They  are  forbidden  the 
use  of  palm  wine.  Sacrifices  offered  by  them  are  not  to  be  salted. 
Albinoes,  dwarfs,  the  lame,  hunchbacks,  and  all  deformed  persons 
generally  are  regarded  as  sacred  to  this  god  ;  hence  they  are 
designated  "  Eni  Orisa"  (belonging  to  the  god),  being  regarded  as 
specially  made  so  by  him. 

Orisala  is  the  common  name  of  the  god  known  and  worshipped 
by  different  townships  under  different  appellations,  e.g.,  it  is 
called  Orisa  Oluofin  at  Iwofin ;  Orisako  at  Oko  ;  Orisakire  at  Ikire  ; 
Orisagiyan  at  Ejigbo  ;  Orisaeguin  at  Eguin  ;  Orisarowu  at  Owu 
Orisajaye  at  Ijaye  ;   and  Obatala  at  Oba. 

3.  Ori. — The  Ori  (head)  is  the  universal  household  deity 
worshipped  by  both  sexes  as  the  god  of  fate.  It  is  believed  that 
good  or  ill  fortune  attends  one,  according  to  the  will  or  decree  of 
this  god  ;  and  hence  it  is  propitiated  in  order  that  good  luck  might 
be  the  share  of  its  votary.  The  representing  image  is  41  cowries 
strung  together  in  the  shape  of  a  crown.  This  is  secreted  in  a 
large  coffer,  the  Hd  of  which  is  of  the  same  form  and  material. 
It  is  called  "He  Ori"  (Ori's  house),  and  in  size  is  as  large  as  the  owner 
can  afford  to  make  it.  Some  usually  contain  as  much  as  6  heads 
(12,000)  of  cowries,  and  the  manufacturer  who  is  generally  a  worker 
in  leather  receives  as  his  pay  the  same  amount  of  cowries  as  is 
used  in  the  article  manufactured. 

As  the  Kori  is  the  children's  god  so  the  Ori  is  exclusively 
worshipped  by  the  adults.  After  the  death  of  its  owner,  the  image 
of  Ori  with  the  coffer  is  destroyed,  and  the  cowries  spent. 

4.  Ogun. — This  is  the  god  of  war,  and  all  instruments  made  of 
iron  are  consecrated  to  it,  hence  Ogun  is  the  blacksmiths'  god. 
The  representing  image  is  the  silk  cotton  tree  specially  planted, 


beneath  which  is  placed  a  piece  of  granite  on  which  palm  oil  is 
poured  and  the  blood  of  slain  animals — generally  a  dog. 

5.  Esu  or  Eleghara. — Satan,  the  Evil  One,  the  author  of  all 
evil  is  often  and  specially  propitiated.  Offerings  are  made  to  it. 
The  representing  image  is  a  rough  lateritic  stone  upon  which 
libations  of  palm  oil  are  poured.  It  is  superstitiously  believed  that 
the  vengeance  of  this  god  could  be  successfully  invoked  upon  an 
offender  by  the  name  of  the  person  being  called  before  the  image 
while  nut  oil  is  being  poured  on  it.  The  image  of  a  man,  with  a 
horn  on  its  head  curving  backwards,  carved  in  wood  and  orna- 
mented with  cowries,  is  often  carried  by  its  devotees  to  beg  with 
on  pubUc  highways.  Passers-by  who  are  so  disposed  may  give 
each  a  cowry  or  two,  or  handfuls  of  corn,  beans,  or  any  product 
of  the  field  at  hand,  as  he  or  she  may  choose.  This  curved  headed 
figure  is  called  "  Ogo  Eliggbara  "—the  devil's  club. 

6.  Sgpona  or  the  small  pox  is  generally  believed  to  be  one  of 
the  demons  by  which  this  lower  world  is  infested,  and  has  its  special 
devotees.  The  representing  image  is  a  broom-  made  from  the 
branches  of  the  bamboo  palm,  stripped  of  its  leaves,  and  besmeared 
with  camwood.  To  invoke  its  vengeance  parched  corn  or  beniseed 
is  usually  thrown  hot  upon  the  image,  and  then  it  is  beUeved  the 
epidemic  will  spread,.  But  they  certainly  have  a  more  direct 
means  of  spreading  the  disease. 

Persons  dying  of  this  plague  are  buried  only  by  the  devotees  of 
this  god,  who  account  it  as  their  special  right  to  bury  such  corpses, 
being  victims  of  the  vengeance  of  their  god.  For  a  propitiation, 
they  often  demand  from  the  relatives  of  the  victims  5  head  {i.e., 
10,000)  of  cowries,  a  tortoise,  a  snail,  a  fowl,  a  pigeon,  a  goat,  an 
armadillo,  a  ground  pig,  camwood,  shea  butter,  a  quantity  of 
palm  oil,  two  kinds  of  beads,  green  and  yellow,  called  respectively 
Otutu  and  Opon,  together  with  all  the  effects  of  the  deceased, 
which  are  regarded  as  theirs  by  legitimate  right.  The  corpse  is 
buried  either  in  the  bush,  or  by  the  side  of  a  river. 

The  following  anecdote  was  related  by  a  devotee.  He  was 
confirmed — said  he — in  his  belief  in  the  existence  of  the  gods  and  as 
helpers  in  the  government  of  the  world  from  the  following  incident. 
Said  he,  "  A  young  man  once  fell  into  a  swoon,  and  having  revived, 
he  related  the  vision  which  he  had  seen.  He  said  he  saw  the  Great 
God  sitting  on  a  throne,  covered  with  a  flowing  garment,  attended 
on  His  right  and  left  by  Orisala  and  Ifa  his  counsellors  :  behind 
him  was  a  pit  into  which  the  condemned  were  cast.  Ogun  and 
Sopona  were  ministers  of  his  vengeance  to  execute  justice  upon 
offenders.  Ogun  armed  with  4,000  swords  (or  daggers)  went  out 
daily  to  slay  victims,  his  food  being  the  blood  of  the  slain.    Sopona 



also  had  4,000  viols  hung  about  his  body.  His  also  was  the  work 
of  destruction  as  he  disappeared  immediately  for  another  victim 
after  presenting  one.  Sango  also  appeared,  a  mighty  destroyer 
who,  when  about  to  set  forth  on  his  journey  to  earth,  used  to  be 
cautioned  by  both  Orisala  and  If  a  to  deal  gently  with  their 
respective  worshippers." 

It  is  with  such  stories  as  this  that  the  credulity  of  the  simple  folk 
is  usually  wrought  upon  with  a  view  to  strengthen  their  behef  in 
the  so-called  gods. 

7.  Egugnn.  The  period  when  the  worship  of  spirits  or  the 
souls  of  departed  relatives  was  introduced  into  the  Yoruba  country 
will  be  noted  in  a  future  chapter.  The  representing  forms  are 
human  beings  of  the  exact  height  and  figure  of  the  deceased,  covered 
from  head  to  foot  with  cloths  similar  to  those  in  which  the  said 
deceased  was  known  to  have  been  buried,  completely  masked  and 
speaking  with  an  unnatural  tone  of  voice.  This  feigned  voice  is 
said  to  be  in  imitation  of  that  of  a  species  of  monkey  called  Ijimere. 
That  animal  is  regarded  with  superstitious  reverence,  the  power 
of  walking  erect  and  talking  being  ascribed  to  it  and  is  esteemed 
a  clever  physician.  Some  professed  "  medicine  men  "  usually 
tame  and  keep  one  of  these  creatures,  and  pretend  to  receive 
instructions  and  inspirations  from  it. 

In  these  later  times,  the  Egiigun  worship  has  become  a  national 
religious  institution,  and  its  anniversaries  are  celebrated  with 
grand  festivities.  The  mysteries  connected  with  it  are  held 
sacred  and  inviolable,  and  although  little  boys  of  5  or  6  years  of 
age  are  often  initiated,  yet  no  woman  may  know  these  mysteries 
on  pain  of  death. 

The  dress  of  the  Egugun  consists  of  cloths  of  various  colours 
or  the  feathers  of-  different  kinds  of  birds,  or  the  skins  of  different 
animals.  The  whole  body  from  head  to  foot  is  concealed  from  view  ; 
the  Egugun  seeing  only  from  the  meshes  of  a  species  of  network 
covering  the  face,  and  speaking  in  a  sepulchral  tone  ot  voice.  The 
women  believe  (or  rather  feign  to  believe)  that  the  Eguguns  came 
from  the  spirit  world.  An  Egiigun  (the  Agan)  is  the  executor  of 
women  accused  of  witchcraft,  and  of  those  who  are  proved  guilty 
ot  such  crimes  as  murder,  incendiarism,  etc. 

The  high  priest  of  the  Egiigun  is  called  the  Alagb&,  and  next 
to  him  is  the  Alaran,  and  after  this  the  Esorun,  and  then  the 
Akere  whose  insignia  of  office  are  a  bundle  of  Atori  whips.  These 
officials  are  higher  in  rank  than  all  the  Eguguns  under  the  mask, 
and  hence  the  common  saying  : — "  Egugun  baba  Alagba,  Alagba 
baba  Egiigun  "  (The  Egiigun  is  the  father  of  the  Alagba,  the 
Alagba  the  father  of  the  Egugun). 


It  is  considered  a  crime  to  touch  an  Egugun  dress  in  public, 
and  disrespectful  to  pass  him  by  with  the  head  uncovered.  Even 
a  boy  Egugun  is  considered  worthy  of  being  honoured  by  his 
(supposed)  surviving  parents,  he  salutes  them  as  elderly  people 
would  do,  and  promises  the  bestowal  of  gifts  on  the  family. 

In  every  town  there  are  several  Alagbas  or  head  priests  of  Egiigun 
out  of  them  a  president  is  elected,  at  whose  house  all  the  others 
meet  on  special  occasions. 

The  individual  who  fills  the  highest  rank  in  the  Egugun  worship 
is  the  Alapini,  one  of  the  seven  great  noble  men  of  Oyo  (the  Oyo 
Mesi).  He  resides  always  in  the  royal  city  of  Oyo.  There  can 
be  but  one  Alapini  at  a  time,  and  by  virtue  of  his  office  he  must  be 
a  monorchis.  Thus  qualified,  he  shares  with  the  eunuchs  in  all 
their  privileges,  and  at  the  same  time  enjoys  the  lion's  share  in  the 
Egugun  department. 

In  a  large  town,  every  quarter  has  its  own  Alagba  in  whose 
house  a  special  apartment  is  dedicated  to  the  Egugun  worship, 
where  all  the  Egugun  dress  in  that  part  of  the  town  are  kept  until 
required  for  use  on  special  occasions  or  at  the  annual  festivals. 

Eguguns  are  generally  worshipped  with  a  kind  of  cake  made 
of  beans  and  palm  oil  (Olele)  in  the  month  of  February,  after  the 
beans  harvest  in  January  ;  and  the  Egugun  anniversary  is  usually 
held  in  the  month  of  May  or  Jane.  These  festivals  are  lucky 
times  for  the  men,  for  on  these  occasions,  the  women  are  made  to 
spend  largely  to  feast  "  deceased  relatives,"  while  the  food  is 
consumed  by  the  men  in  the  Alagba' s  department.  The  number 
of  fowls  and  goats  killed  and  devoured  at  such  times  is  simply 
prodigious.  Such  is  the  force  of  habit  engendered  by  blind 
superstition,  that  although  in  reality  the  women  are  no  longer 
deceived,  as  regards  these  alleged  visits  of  their  dear  departed, 
yet  they  make  their  offerings  with  cheerfulness,  and  with  a  sure 
expectation  of  blessings. 

It  has  already  been  noted  above  that  the  Yorubas  believe  in  a 
future  state.  It  cannot  be  considered  too  far  fetched  to  say  that 
this  periodical  re-appearance  of  the  dead  as  symbohzed  in  the 
Egugun  "  mystery  "  is  an  embodiment  of  the  idea  of  the  Resur- 
rection, although  that  doctrine  as  taught  by  Christianity  cannot 
be  said  to  be  identical  with  what  they  hold  and  practise  ;  but  this 
festival  is  usually  observed  with  all  the  zeal  and  fervour  with  which 
Christians  celebrate  the  Christmas  and  Paschal  festivals. 

This  anniversary  is  the  time  of  reunion  among  absent  friends 
and  relatives.  The  town  then  puts  on  its  best  appearance,  the 
streets  are  everywhere  cleaned  and  put  under  repairs,  and  the 
citizens  appear  abroad  in  their  holiday  dress. 


The  celebration  is  usually  preceded  on  the  eve  of  the  festival  by  a 
vigil  termed  in  Yoruba  "  Ikunle  "  or  the  kneeling,  because  the 
whole  night  is  spent  in  kneeHng  and  praying  in  the  grove  set  apart 
for  Egugun  worship,  invoking  the  blessings  and  the  aid  of  the 
departed  parent.  The  blood  of  fowls  and  animals  offered  in 
sacrifice  is  also  poured  on  the  graves  of  the  ancestors. 

On  the  morning  of  the  festival  the  whole  of  the  Eguguns, 
including  all  the  principal  forms  accompanied  by  the  Alagbas 
and  minor  priests  form  a  procession  to  the  residence  of  the  chief 
ruler  of  the  town  ;  they  there  receive  the  homage  of  the  chief, 
and  in  turn  give  him  and  the  other  chiefs  and  the  whole  town  their 
blessings  ;  they  then  spend  about  three  hours  doing  honours 
to  the  chief,  playing  and  dancing  to  theii*  peculiar  music  ;  and  after 
receiving  presents  they  disperse  to  continue  the  play  all  over  the 
town,  each  confining  himself  more  or  less  to  his  own  quarter  of  the 

The  festival  is  continued  for  seven  days,  and  on  the  eighth  day, 
there  is  another  gathering  at  the  Chief  Alagba's  and  the  festivities 
are  brought  to  a  close  with  games,  sports,  and  a  display  of  magic 

For  three  weeks  to  a  month,  lesser  Eguguns  may  still  be  seen 
making  their  appearance  ;  these  as  a  rule,  belong  to  poorer  districts 
which  weie  backward  in  their  preparations  for  the  annual  feast. 
Everyone,  however,  still  keeps  to  the  same  rule  of  seven  days' 
appearance  and  disappearing  likewise  on  the  eighth  day  after  a 
grand  display. 

The  Adamuorisa  and  the  Gelede. 

In  imitation  of  the  Eguguns,  some  littoral  tribes  adopt  similar 
forms  of  representation  of  their  departed  dead  ;  such  are  the 
Adamuorisa  among  the  Aworis,  and  the  Gelede  among  the  Egbado 

The  Adamuorisa  is  sometimes  called  Eyg  ;  the  former  term 
signifies  the  god  with  the  nasal  twang — on  account  of  the  arti- 
ficial voice  they  affect,  and  the  latter,  Eyg,  simply  means  Oyg 
being  an  imitation  or  parody  of  the  Oyg  system  of  Egugun  worship. 

But  whereas  the  Egiiguns  appear  annually,  at  a  fixed  period  of 
the  year,  viz.  at  the  feast  of  the  first  fruits  in  June,  these  are  used 
as  a  part  of  the  funeral  obsequies  of  a  chieftain,  or  well-to-do  citizen 
who  can  afford  a  carnival  in  connection  with  his  funeral  rites.  The 
effigy  of  the  departed  is  set  up  in  state  in  the  house,  the  immediate 
relatives  are  dressed  in  their  very  best,  and  all  hold  horse-tails  in 
their  hands  to  dance  with.  The  play  lasts  for  one  day  only  and 
generally  ends  with  a  big  feast. 


The  Geledg  is  also  a  human  being  in  a  mask  the  head  of  which 
is  exquisitely  carved  in  wood,  and  made  to  represent  that  of  a 
man  or  woman  with  all  their  tribal  marks  and  sometimes  any  of 
the  lower  animals  such  as  the  alligator.  They  are  more  generally 
of  a  female  form,  with  carvings  of  plaited  haii,  and  magnificent 
busts  ;  they  are  elaborately  or  fantasticall}^  dressed,  bedecked 
with  a  wealth  of  female  ornaments  of  native  manufacture,  such  as 
ear-rings,  bangles,  beads,  etc.,  with  jingles  on  their  ankles  ;  they 
dance  and  move  majestically,  treading  heavily  to  the  rhythmic 
sound  of  drums  and  other  musical  instruments. 

They  are  much  besmired  with  chalk  and  camwood,  presenting 
rather  a  frightful  (if  harmless)  appearance. 

8.  Orb.  The  Oro  system  is  also  said  by  some  to  have  been 
borrowed  from  the  red  monkey  called  tjimerh.  It  consists  of  a 
fiat  piece  of  iron  or  stick,  with  a  long  string,  attached  to  a  pole. 
This  when  whirled  swiftly  in  the  air  produces  a  shrill  sound  which 
is  called  "  Aja  Oro"  (Oro's  dog).  A  larger  kind  whirled  with 
the  hand  gives  a  deep  bass  tone.  This  is  the  voice  of  the  Oro 
himself.  Amongst  the  Ijebus  and  the  Egbas,  Oro  is  much  more 
sacred  and  important  than  the  Egiigun,  and  is  the  executor  of 
criminals.  The  Egbas  pay  homage  also  to  another  god  called 
Ologboijeun,  who  is  personated  by  a  man  under  a  mask  with  a 
drawn  sword  in  his  hand. 

Other  gods  of  the  same  class  are  the  Igis  (trees)  also  personified 
by  human  beings,  masked  and  carrying  an  image  on  the  head. 
Some  of  these  are  male  figures  with  branching  horns,  on  which 
are  carved  figures  of  monkeys,  snakes  and  other  animals.  Others 
are  female  figures  which  are  called  Efun-gba-roku. 

Amongst  the  Oyos  (Yorubas  Proper)  the  people  of  Iseyin 
and  Jabata  are  the  principal  Oro  worshippers.  Seven  days  are 
set  apart  annually  for  its  worship.  Except  for  a  few  hours  during 
which  they  are  permitted  to  procure  provisions,  women  are  kept 
indoors  throughout  the  day.  On  the  seventh  day  even  this  small 
indulgence  is  not  allowed,  but  they  are  rigidly  shut  up  the  entire 
day.  It  is  certain  death  for  any  one  of  them  to  be  found  without 
and  this  penalty  is  exacted  whatever  may  be  the  title,  or  wealth, 
or  position  of  respectability  of  any  woman  who  ventures  to  have 
a  peep  at  the  Oro. 

9.  tfa. — This  is  the  great  consulting  oracle  in  the  Yoruba  country 
and  was  introduced  at  a  late  period  by  King  Onigbogi,  who  was 
said  to  have  been  dethroned  for  having  done  so. 

Another  tradition  says  it  was  introduced  into  the  Yoruba  country 

by  one  Setilu,  native  of  the  Nupe  country,  who  was  born  blind. 

This  was   about   the   period  of   the   Mohammedan  invasion. 


Setilu's  parents  regretting  their  misfortune  in  having  a  Wind  son, 
were  at  first  of  doubtful  mind  as  to  what  course  they  should 
pursue,  whether  to  kill  the  child,  or  spare  its  life  to  become  a  burden 
on  the  family.  Parental  feehngs  decided  them  to  spare  the  child. 
It  grew  up  a  peculiar  child,  and  the  parents  were  astonished  at  his 
extraordinary  powers  of  divination.  At  the  early  age  of  5,  he 
began  to  excite  their  wonder  and  curiosity  by  foretelling  who 
would  pay  them  a  visit  in  the  course  of  the  day  and  with  what 
object.  As  he  advanced  in  age,  he  began  to  practise  sorcery  and 
medicine.  At  the  commencement  of  his  practice,  he  used  16  small 
pebbles  and  imposed  successfully  upon  the  credulity  of  those  who 
flocked  to  him  in  their  distress  and  anguish  for  consultation.  From 
this  source,  he  earned  a  comfortable  liveUhood.  Finding  that  the 
adherents  were  fast  becoming  Setilu's  followers,  and  that  even 
respectable  priests  did  not  escape  the  general  contagion,  the 
Mohammedans  resolved  to  expel  Setilu  out  of  the  country.  This 
being  effected,  Setilu  crossed  the  river  Niger  and  went  to  Benin, 
staying  for  a  while  at  a  place  called  OwQ,  thence  to  Ado.  Subse- 
quently he  migrated  to  He  Ife,  and  finding  that  place  more  suitable 
for  practising  his  art,  he  resolved  to  make  it  his  permanent  residence. 
He  soon  became  famous  there  also,  and  his  performances  so 
impressed  the  people,  and  the  reliance  placed  in  him  was  so 
absolute,  that  he  had  little  difficulty  in  persuading  them  to  abolish 
the  tribal  marks  on  their  faces,  such  marks  of  distinction  not  being 
practised  in  Nupe,  Setilu's  own  country. 

In  process  of  time  palm  nuts,  pieces  of  iron  and  ivory  balls 
were  successively  used  instead  of  pebbles.  At  the  present  day, 
palm  nuts  only  are  used  as  they  are  considered  more  easily  pro- 
pitiated, the  others  reqairing  costly  sacrifices  and  even  human 

Setilu  initiated  several  of  his  followers  in  the  mysteries  of 
Ifa  worship,  and  it  has  gradually  become  the  consulting  oracle 
of  the  whole  Yoruba  nation.  In  order  to  become  an  Ifa  priest, 
a  long  course  of  serious  study  is  necessary.  To  consult  Ifa,  in  the 
more  common  and  ordinary  way,  16  palm  nuts  are  to  be  shaken 
together  in  the  hollow  of  both  hands,  whilst  certain  marks  are 
traced  with  the  index  linger  on  a  flat  bowl  dusted  with  yam  flour, 
or  powdered  camwood.  Each  mark  suggests  to  the  consulting 
priest  the  heroic  deeds  of  some  fabulous  heroes,  which  he  duly 
recounts,  and  so  he  goes  on  with  the  marks  in  order,  until  he  hits 
upon  certain  words  or  phrases  which  appear  to  bear  upon  the  matter 
of  the  applicant  before  him.  Very  often  answers  are  given  much 
after  the  rnanner  of  the  ancient  oracle  at  Delphi. 

Ifa  was  really  met  in  this  country  by  the  Yorubas,  for  Oduduwa 


met  Setilu  at  He  Ife,  but  the  worship  of  it  was  officially  recog- 
nized by  King  Ofiran  son  of  Onigbogi. 

10.  Sango. — Sango  was  the  fourth  King  of  the  Yorubas,  and 
was  deified  by  his  friends  after  his  death.  Sango  ruled  over  all  the 
Yorubas  including  Benin,  the  Popos  and  Dahomey,  for  the  worship 
of  him  has  continued  in  all  these  countries  to  this  day. 

It  is  related  of  him,  that  being  a  tyrant  he  was  dethroned  by  his 
people,  and  expelled  the  country.  Finding  himself  deserted  not 
only  by  his  friends,  but  also  by  his  beloved  wife  Oya,  he  committed 
suicide  at  a  place  called  Koso.  His  tragic  end  became  a  proverb 
and  a  by-word,  and  his  faithless  friends  were  ashamed  on  account 
of  the  taunts  cast  upon  the  name  and  fame  of  the  unfortunate 
King.  To  atone  for  their  base  action  in  deserting  him,  as  well  as 
to  avenge  the  insults  on  his  memory  they  went  to  the  Bariba 
country  to  study  the  art  of  charm-making,  and  also  the  process 
of  attracting  lightning  upon  their  enemies'  houses. 

On  their  return  home  they  put  to  practice  with  a  vengeance  the 
lessons  they  had  learnt.  From  the  too  frequent  conflagrations 
which  were  taking  place,  as  well  as  deaths  from  lightning  strokes, 
suspicions  were  aroused,  and  enquiries  were  set  on  foot.  Then 
Sango's  friends  said  that  the  catastrophe  was  attributable  to  the 
late  King  taking  vengeance  on  his  enemies  on  account  of  the 
indignities  they  had  heaped  upon  his  memory.  Being  appealed 
to,  to  propitiate  the  offended  King  in  order  that  he  may  stay  his 
vengeance  upon  the  land,  his  friends  offered  sacrifices  to  him  as 
god,  and  hence  these  intercessors  became  the  "  Mogba  "  (advocate) 
and  priests  of  Sango  ;  and  to  this  day  their  descendants  hold  the 
same  office. 

The  emblems  of  worship  representing  Sango  are  certain  smooth 
stones  shaped  like  an  axe  head  commonly  taken  for  thunder  bolts. 

They  are  supposed  to  be  hurled  down  from  the  heavens  when  the 
god  would  kill  any  one  who  has  incurred  his  displeasure. 

The  following  is  the  process  to  be  gone  through  at  the  initiation 
of  any  one  into  the  mysteries  of  Sango  worship  : — The  priests 
demand  a  ram,  a  water  bird  called  Osin,  a  tortoise,  a  snail,  an 
armadillo,  a  large  rat  called  Okete,  a  toad,  a  tadpole,  the  Otutu 
and  Opon  beads,  the  red  tail  of  a  parrot,  a  guinea  fowl,  shea  butter, 
salt,  palm  oil,  the  flesh  of  an  elephant,  venison,  the  ihih  (greens) 
the  leaves  of  the  evergreens  called  Etiponola,  Odudun,  and  iperegun 
tree  ;  a  small  knife  called  "  abe-esu  "  (the  devil's  razor)  a  white 
country  cloth  of  lo  breadths,  a  mat  called  fafa  (mats  made  of  the 
pith  of  bamboo  palm  branches)  together  with  7  heads  of  cowries 
(14,000  cowry  shells)  as  carriage  fee. 
The  leaves  are  bruised  in  a  bowl  of  water,  and  with  the  infusion 


the  candidate  is  to  purify  himself.  He  is  then  seated  on  a  mortar 
and  shaved.  The  birds  and  tortoise  are  killed  and  their  hearts 
taken  out,  and  these  with  slices  of  the  flesh  of  all  the  animals 
above-mentioned  are  pounded  together  with  the  evergreens, 
and  a  ball  is  made  of  the  compound.  The  candidate  now  submits 
to  incisions  on  his  shaven  head  and  the  ball  of  pounded  articles 
is  rubbed  into  the  wounds.  The  neophyte  now  becomes  a  recog- 
nised devotee  of  Sango. 

Important  ceremonies  are  performed  when  a  house  is  struck 
by  lightning.  The  inmates  are  not  allowed  to  sleep  in  any  house,, 
but  in  booths  or  blacksmith's  shops,  until  the  so-called  thunder- 
bolt is  dug  up  and  removed  from  the  premises.  A  garland  of  palm 
leaves  is  generally  hung  up  at  the  entrance  of  the  devoted  house  to 
forbid  any  but  Sango  priests  to  enter.  A  watchman  is  kept  on 
the  premises  at  the  expense  of  the  sufferers  from  the  divine  visita- 
tion, and  it  is  the  duty  of  this  man  to  ward  off  trespassers  from 
what  is  now  regarded  as  sacred  ground,  till  the  ceremonies  shall 
have  been  performed,  and  the  offended  god  appeased.  With  the 
sole  exception  of  the  great  King,  the  AlAfin  of  Ovo,  all  the  pro- 
vincial kings  and  ruling  chiefs  in  whose  town  the  catastrophe 
happens  to  take  place,  are  bound  to  repair  to  the  spot  to  do 
homage  to  Sango,  who  is  said  to  pay  a  visit  to  earth. 

Such  occasions  are  greatly  prized  by  the  worshippers  who  swarm 
to  the  place  in  numbers  with  their  Bayani,  a  sort  of  crown  made  of 
cowries,  and  they  are  all  to  be  entertained  at  the  expense  of  the 
sufferers  and  also  by  the  neighbours. 

The  king  or  chief  coming  to  pay  his  respects  to  Sango  is  to 
receive  ii  heads  of  cowries,  a  goat,  and  a  slave  in  three  payments. 

In  the  case  of  a  poor  house,  a  member  of  the  family  is  seized 
if  not  quietly  given  up,  and  has  to  be  ransomed  at  a  considerable 
sum,  which  must  be  paid  and  the  above  mentioned  articles  pro- 
cured, before  the  ceremony  can  be  performed.  Then  all  being  ready 
the  priests  having  now  assembled,  the  tete  (greens)  etipgnQla, 
together  with  the  evergreens  Odudun  and  peregun  are  bruised  in 
a  bowl  of  water,  and  with  this  they  purify  themselves  before 
entering  the  house.  They  are  preceded  by  one  holding  an  iron 
instrument  (the  divining  rod)  with  which  a  search  is  made  for  the 
spot  where  the  bolt  is  believed  to  have  entered  the  ground.  After 
some  pretence  they  arrive  at  a  spot  in  which  one  of  their  number 
had  previously  buried  one  of  these  sharp  stones.  Here  the  ground 
is  ordered  to  be  dug,  with  a  show  of  solemnity,  and,  of  course,  the 
thunder-bolt  is  found  and  exhumed  with  well-sustained  marks  of 
piety  and  reverence. 

Thus  the  common  people  are  deceived  and  imposed  upon,  and 


very  few  besides  the  priests  are  aware  of  the  tricks  systematically 
played  upon  their  credulity. 

The  concluding  ceremony  stiU  bears  hardly  on  the  poor  sufferers. 
They  are  required  to  give  over  a  son  to  the  priests  to  be  initiated 
in  the  mysteries  of  the  cult,  and  further  they  are  to  pay  something 
in  order  to  obtain  permission  to  rebuild  their  houses.  Hence  an 
accident  of  this  kind  means  great  calamity  to  any  one,  and  heavy 
debts  are  incurred.  The  unfortunate  sufferers  already  deprived 
of  their  all  (much  or  little)  by  this  sudden  stroke  of  ill-fortune  are 
often  obliged  to  put  their  children  to  service  in  order  to  raise 
money  sufficient  to  meet  the  demands  of  the  greedy  worshippers 
of  this  heartless  god.  The  fines  obtained  are  shared  between  the 
king  or  head  chief,  and  the  town  authorities  ;  but  the  articles 
purchased  for  the  performance  of  the  ceremonies  are  perquisites 
which  are  appropriated  by  the  priests  alone. 

This  "  descent  of  Sango  "  on  earth  is  never  done  but  with  a  view 
to  show  his  displeasure  on  persons  who  are  guilty  of  perjury 
and  lies.  The  town  for  a  while  is  as  it  were  placed  under  an 
interdict,  and  during  that  brief  period  the  worshippers  of  the  god 
are  allowed  to  seize  with  impunity  whatever  they  can  come  at  in 
the  public  streets  in  the  vicinity  of  the  catastrophe,  such  as 
sheep,  goats,  poultry  and  things  of  greater  oi  less  value. 

Sango  worshippers  are  forbidden  to  touch  the  large  white  beans 
called  Sese,  because  it  is  used  for  counteracting  the  evil  effects 
of  the  agencies  employed  in  attracting  lightning  on  people's 

II.  Qya.  This  was  the  name  of  Sango's  faithful  and  beloved 
wife.  She  alone  of  all  his  wives  accompanied  him  in  his  flight 
towards  the  Tapa  (Nupe)  country  his  maternal  home.  But  courage 
failed  her  at  a  place  called  Ira,  her  native  town  which  she  was 
never  to  see  any  more  should  love  for  her  husband  prevail  to 
make  her  resolve  to  share  with  him  in  his  destiny.  B  ut  the  prospect 
of  making  her  home  among  entire  strangers  in  a  strange  land  among 
a  people  speaking  a  strange  tongue,  and  of  leaving  parents  and 
home  for  ever,  so  overpowered  her  that  she  hesitated  to  proceed. 

As  she  could  not  for  very  shame  return  to  Oyq  she  remained  at 
Ira  ;  and  hearing  that  her  husband  had  committed  suicide, 
she  summed  up  sufficient  courage  to  follow  his  example. 

She  also  was  deified.  The  river  Niger  is  sacred  to  her,  and 
hence  that  river  is  called  all  over  Yoruba  land  Odo  Oya  after 
her  name.  As  thunder  and  lightning  are  attributed  to  Sango 
so  tornado  and  violent  thunderstorms,  rending  trees  and  levelling 
high  towers  and  houses  are  attributed  to  Oya.  They  signify  her 


Deified  heroes  and  heroines  are  never  spoken  of  as  dead,  but  as 
having  disappeared.     Thus  the  saying  : — 

"  Oya  wole  ni  ile  Ira 
Sango  wgle  ni  Koso." 
(Oya  disappeared  in  the  town  of  Ira 
Sango  disappeared  at  Koso). 

Two  naked  swords  and  the  horns  of  a  buffalo  are  the  representa- 
tive image  of  Oya.  Her  followers  are  forbidden  to  touch  mutton, 
they  are  distinguished  by  a  particular  kind  of  red  beads  which  are 
always  tied  round  their  necks. 

12.  Erinle.  Erinle  was  originally  a  hunter,  native  of  Ajagbusi. 
He  was  poor  and  unmarried.  Having  no  home,  he  dwelt  in  a  booth 
erected  under  a  large  gbinghin  tree  by  the  river  side,  whence  he 
made  his  expeditions  to  shoot  monkeys  for  sale  by  which  he  earned 
his  livelihood.  He  is  said  to  have  been  accidentally  swept  down 
the  river  by  a  strong  current  and  was  drowned.  A  river  flowing 
by  the  present  town  of  Ilobu,  which  empties  itself  into  the  Osun 
river  was  named  after  him.  The  representing  image  consists  of 
black  smooth  stones  from  that  river,  and  an  image  of  iron  sm- 
mounted  by  the  figure  of  a  bird.  The  followers  are  distinguished 
by  wearing  a  chain  of  iron  or  brass  round  their  necks,  and  bracelets 
of  the  same  material. 

13.  Orisa  Oko.  Orisa  Oko  was  also  a  hunter,  a  native  of 
Irawo.  He  used  to  entrap  guinea  fowls  in  nets  set  in  the  farm  of 
one  Ogunjeiisowe,  a  wealthy  farmer,  and  bj^  this  means  he  gained 
his  livelihood.  He  kept  a  dog  and  a  fife,  and  on  several  occasions 
when  lost  in  the  bush  his  whereabouts  were  discovered  by  his  dog 
at  the  sound  of  the  fife.  He  lived  to  a  good  old  age,  and  when 
infirm  and  unable  to  pursue  his  calling  as  a  hunter,  he  practised 
soothsaying  and  numbers  flocked  to  him. 

It  may  be  observed  that  in  countries  where  letters  are  not  known 
and  the  language  not  reduced  to  writing  the  aged  are  the  reposi- 
tories of  wisdom  and  knowledge,  hence  the  younger  generation 
regard  their  seniors  as  guides  and  prophets,  and  their  vast  stores 
of  experience  serve  as  keys  to  unlock  many  a  doubtful  point  in 
the  affairs  of  the  young.  The  latter  used  to  regard  the  foresight 
displayed  by  the  elders  as  a  marvel  ;  it  is  easy,  therefore  to  under- 
stand how  it  came  about  that  extraordinary  powers  are  attributed 
to  them.  It  is  only  thus  that  one  can  account  in  a  way  for  the 
success  of  those  who  are  often  styled  "  medicine  men  "  "  sorcerers  " 
"  soothsayers,"  etc. 

As  witchcraft  was  punished  with  death,  persons  accused  of  it 
were  taken  to  Orisa  Oko  for  trial.     He  was  accustomed  to  lead 


the  accused  to  a  cave  supposed  to  be  inhabited  by  a  demon  called 
Polo.  In  this  cave  Orisa  Oko  practised  his  sorcery.  In  cases 
where  an  accused  was  innocent,  he  would  return  with  him  ;  if 
otherwise,  then  his  head  is  thrown  out  to  those  awaiting  a  decision. 
Polo  the  demon  executed  the  guilty.  The  fame  of  Orisa  Oko 
spread  and  numbers  resorted  to  him  in  taking  oaths.  His  oracle 
was  regarded  as  infaUible,  and  appeals  to  him  were  final. 

After  his  death,  his  followers  practised  his  methods  taking 
the  precaution  to  secrete  a  strong  man  in  the  cave  to  act  the  part 
of  the  supposed  Polo. 

But  a  striking  exposure  soon  brought  the  practice  into  disrepute, 
and  it  was  aboHshed.  It  happened  thus.  A  man  was  accused 
and  as  usual,  was  taken  to  the  cave  ;  but  he  proved  to  be  a  far 
stronger  man  than  the  supposed  Polo,  and  the  result  was  that  he 
killed  the  counterfeit  demon,  and  threw  his  head  out  of  the  cave 
to  those  who  were  eagerly  waiting  for  the  decision  of  the  god. 

The  representing  image  is  a  fife  made  of  ivory  or  a  flat  piece  of 
iron  5  or  6ft.  in  length  similar  to  what  is  given  as  a  sign  of 
acquittal  to  those  in  whose  favour  the  god  had  decided. 

The  Erugun  mystery  is  of  a  kind  similar  to  that  of  the  Orisa  Oko 
worship.  It  also  was  practised  in  a  cave  by  the  side  of  a  mount 
called  the  Erugun  mount. 

The  above  are  the  principal  gods  worshipped  by  the  Yorubas. 
There  are  besides  many  inferior  divinities  to  whom  offerings 
are  made.  In  fact  the  whole  number  of  gods  and  goddesses 
acknowledged  is  reckoned  at  401.  Propitiatory  sacrifices  are 
also  offered  to  whatever  in  nature  is  awe  inspiring  or  magnificent 
such  as  the  Ocean,  huge  rocks,  tall  trees,  and  high  mountains.  To 
the  last  named  especially  offerings  are  made  for  the  procreation 
of  children. 

Mohammedanism  as  was  observed  above,  was  introduced 
towards  the  close  of  the  eighteenth  century  ;  it  numbered  very 
few  adherents  up  to  the  time  when  the  Fulanis  by  stratagem, 
seized  Ilgrin  and  overran  the  northern  provinces,  as  we  shall 
find  related  in  the  second  part  of  this  history.  The  towns  in 
the  plain  were  swept  with  fire  and  the  sword,  with  the  alternative 
of  the  acceptance  of  the  Koran,  and  submission  to  the  Fulanis  ; 
the  southward  progress  of  the  conquerors,  however,  was  stopped 
at  Osogbo,  where  the  Ibadans  met  and  crushed  them,  and  in  the 
direction  of  the  Ijesa  and  Ekiti  provinces,  the  forests  and  mountain 
fastnesses  offered  insurmountable  obstacles  to  these  intrepid 
horsemen,  who  could  neither  fight  on  foot  nor  engage  in  a  bush 
warfare  ;  hence  Mohammedanism  prevailed  chiefly  in  the  north, 
but  latterly  it  spread  southwards  by  peaceful  means,  chiefly  by 


traders  and  itinerant  mendicant  preachers.  It  is  now  embraced 
by  thousands,  as  it  appears  to  be  a  superior  form  of  rehgion  to  the 
paganism  of  their  ancestors. 

Christianity.  Christianity  was  introduced  by  the  Church 
Missionary  Society  in  1843,  first  into  Abeokuta  via  Badagry, 
and  from  thence  to  Ibadan  in  May  1851,  and  also  to  Ijaye.  On 
January  10,  1852,  the  C. M.S.  removed  their  base  from  Badagry 
to  Lagos.  From  Abeokuta,  mission  stations  were  planted  at  the 
Oke  Ogun  and  Egbado  districts,  from  Ibadan  missions  were  planted 
at  Iwo,  Modakeke,  Ife,  Osogbo  and  Ilesa.  Missions  were  established 
also  at  Oyo  and  Ogbomoso  before  the  Ijaye  war  broke  out  in  i860, 
which  put  a  stop  to  the  progress  of  missions  all  over  the  country. 
The  intertribal  wars  which  followed  and  which  convulsed  the 
greater  part  of  the  country,  and  devastated  large  areas,  prevented 
its  growth  northwards,  but  at  Abeokuta  where  it  was  first  planted, 
it  grew  so  rapidly  that  at  the  time  of  the  British  occupation, 
Christian  adherents  could  be  numbered  by  thousands  ;  schools 
had  been  established,  and  evangelistic  work  among  the  surrounding 
kindred  tribes  systematically  undertaken  and  was  being  vigorously 
carried  on. 

The  Bible  in  the  vernacular  was  the  most  potent  factor  in  the 
spread  of  the  religion.  The  sincerity  of  the  converts,  and  the 
firm  hold  the  religion  has  attained,  have  been  fully  tested  by 
several  bloody  persecutions  endured  for  the  faith,  through  which 
they  came  out  triumphant. 

The  forces  organized  for  home  defence  chiefly  against  the 
Dahomian  attacks  contained  a  compact  body  of  Christians  under 
their  own  captain,  the  esprit  de  corps  existing  among  them,  and  the 
invariable  success  which  always  attended  their  arms,  won  for  them 
the  respect  and  admiration,  of  their  pagan  rulers  and  countrymen. 
This  contributed  not  a  little  to  the  cessation  of  persecutions  and  the 
increase  of  their  number. 

The  establishment  of  the  British  protectorate  saw  the  mission, 
established  at  Ijebu,  where  it  has  since  been  spreading  phenomenally 
and  also  in  the  Ijesa  and  Ekiti  provinces.  It  is  self  propagating 
by  means  of  the  people  learning  to  read  the  Bible  in  their  own 
tongue.     To  God  be  the  praise. 

Chapter  IV 


The  entire  Yoruba  country  has  never  been  thoroughly  organized 
into  one  complete  government  in  a  modern  sense.  The  sj^stem  that 
prevails  is  that  known  as  the  Feudal,  the  remoter  portions  have 
always  lived  more  or  less  in  a  state  of  semi-independence,  whilst 
loosely  acknowledging  an  over -lord.  The  king  of  Benin  was  one 
of  the  first  to  be  indepei  dent  of  the  central  government,  and  was 
even  better  known  to  foreigners  who  frequented  his  ports  in  early 
times,  and  who  knew  nothing  of  his  over-lord  in  the  then  unexplored 
and  unknown  interior. 

Yoruba  Proper,  however,  was  completely  organized,  and  the 
descriptions  here  given  refer  chiefly  to  it.  With  some  variations 
most  of  the  smaller  governments  were  generally  modelled  after  it, 
but  in  a  much  simpler  form,  and  solely  in  their  domestic  affairs ; 
foreign  relations  so  far  as  then  obtained,  before  the  period  of  the 
revolution  were  entirely  in  the  hands  of  the  central  government 
at  Oyo  (Eyeo  or  Katunga).  It  should  be  remembered  that  the 
coast  tribes  were  of  much  less  importance  then  than  now,  both 
in  population  and  in  intelhgence  ;  light  and  civilization  with  the 
Yorubas  came  from  the  north  with  which  they  have  always 
retained  connection  through  the  Arabs  and  Fulanis.  The  centre  of 
Hfe  and  activity,  of  large  populations  and  industry  was  therefore 
in  the  interior,  whilst  the  coast  tribes  were  scanty  in  number, 
ignorant  and  degraded  not  only  from  their  distance  from  the 
centre  of  light,  but  also  through  their  demoralizing  intercourse 
with  Europeans,  and  the  transactions  connected  with  the  oversea 
slave  trade. 

This  state  of  things  has  been  somewhat  reversed  since  the  latter 
half  of  the  XlXth  century,  by  the  suppression  of  the  slave-trade, 
and  the  substitution  therefor  of  legitimate  trade  and  commerce : 
and  more  especially  through  the  labours  of  the  missionaries  who 
entered  the  country  about  the  same  time  as  the  springing  up  into 
being  of  the  modern  towns  of  Lagos,  Abeokuta,  and  Ibadan, 
through  which  western  light  and  civiUzation  beam  into  the  interior. 

The  government  of  Yoruba  Proper  is  an  absolute  monarchy  ; 
the  King  is  more  dreaded  than  even  the  gods.  The  office  is 
hereditary  in  the  same  family,  but  not  necessarily  from  father  to 
son-.  The  King  is  usually  elected  by  a  body  of  noblemen  known 
as  Qyo  Mesi,  the  seven  principal  councillors  of  state. 



The  vassal  or  provincial  kings  and  ruling  princes  were  1060 
at  the  time  of  the  greatest  prosperity  of  the  empire  which  then 
included  the  Popos,  Dahomey,  and  parts  of  Ashanti,  with  portions 
of  the  Tap^s  and  Baribas. 

The  word  "  king  "  as  generally  used  in  this  country  includes 
all  more  or  less  distinguished  chiefs,  who  stand  at  the  head  of  a 
clan,  or  one  who  is  the  ruler  of  an  important  district  or  province, 
especially  those  who  can  trace  their  descent  from  the  founder, 
or  from  one  of  the  great  leaders  or  heroes  who  settled  with  him  in 
this  country.  They  are  of  different  grades,  corresponding  some- 
what to  the  different  orders  of  the  English  peerage  (dukes, 
marquises,  eails,  viscounts  and  barons),  and  their  order  of  rank  is 
well-known  among  themselves.  The  Onikoyi  as  head  of  the 
Ekicn  Osi  01  metropohtan  province  was  the  first  of  these  "  kings  " 
and  he  it  was  who  used  to  head  them  all  to  Oyo  once  a  j'ear  to  pay 
homage  to  the  AlAfin  or  King  of  the  Yorubas. 

The  AlAfin 

The  AlAfin  is  the  supreme  head  of  all  the  kings  and  princes 
of  the  Yoruba  nation,  as  he  is  the  direct  lineal  descendant  and 
successor  of  the  reputed  founder  of  the  nation.  The  succession  as 
above  said  is  by  election  from  amongst  the  members  of  the  royal 
family,  of  the  one  considered  as  the  most  worthy,  age  and  nearness 
to  the  throne  being  taken  into  consideration.  It  might  be 
mentioned  also  in  passing  that  the  feelings  and  acceptance  of 
the  denizens  of  the  harem  towards  the  king-elect  are  often 
privately  ascertained  and  assured  of  previously. 

In  the  earliest  days,  the  eldest  son  naturally  succeeded  the  father, 
and  in  order  to  be  educated  in  all  the  duties  of  the  kingship  which 
must  one  day  devolve  upon  him,  he  was  often  associated  more  or 
less  with  the  father  in  performing  important  duties  and  thereby 
he  often  performedroyal  functions,  and  thus  gradually  he  practically 
reigned  with  his  father  under  the  title  of  Aremo  (the  heir  appaient) 
having  his  own  official  residence  near  the  palace  ;  but  as  the  age 
grew  corrupt,  the  Aremo  often  exercised  sway  quite  as  much  as  or 
more  than  the  King  himself,  especially  in  the  course  of  a  long  reign, 
when  age  has  rendered  the  monarch  feeble.  They  had  equal  powers 
of  life  and  death  over  the  King's  subjects,  and  there  are  some 
cases  on  record  of  the  Aremo  being  strongly  suspected  of  termin- 
ating the  father's  Hfe,  in  order  to  attain  full  powers  at  once.  It 
was  therefore  made  a  law  and  part  of  the  constitution  that  as  the 
Aremo  reigned  with  his  father,  he  must  also  die  with  him. 
This  law  had  the  effect  at  any  rate  of  checking  parricide.  It 
continued  to  take  effect  up  to  the  last  century  when  (in  1858) 


it  was  repealed  by  Atiba  one  of  the  later  Kings  in  favour  of  his 
Aremq  Adelu.  The  Aremo  may  now  succeed  if  found  worthy, 
but  he  must  be  elected  in  the  usual  way  ;  but  if  passed  over  or 
rejected  by  the  king-makers  he  must  leave  the  city  and  resort 
to  a  private  retirement  in  the  provinces.  This  however,  is  not 
really  obhgatory,  but  as  he  must  be  superseded  in  his  office, 
such  a  course  is  inevitable,  unless  he  chooses  of  his  own  accord 
to  die  with  the  father. 

The  choice  may  sometimes  fall  upon  one  of  the  poorer  princes, 
in  the  quiet  pursuit  of  his  trade,  with  no  aspiration  after  the 
throne  ;  such  a  one  is  sent  for,  and  unnecessarily  ill-used  for  the 
last  time  to  his  own  surprise  ;  this  was  done  probably  for  the 
purpose  of  testing  his  temper  and  spirit.  He  may  not  be  aware 
of  the  intentions  of  the  Oyo  Mesi  until  he  is  being  admonished 
by  them  as  to  the  duties  and  responsibilities  of  the  exalted  position 
he  is  soon  to  fill. 

The  nominators  are  three  titled  members  of  the  royal  family, 
viz.,  the  Ona-Isokun,  the  Ona-Aka,  and  the  Omo-Ola,  uncles 
or  cousins  of  the  King,  but  generally  entitled  the  "  King's  fathers." 
These  have  to  submit  or  suggest  the  names  to  the  noblemen  for 
election,  but  the  Basorun's  voice  is  paramount  to  accept  or  to 

Curious  and  elaborate  ceremonies  precede  the  actual  accession 
to  the  throne.  After  all  arrangements  have  been  made,  the 
ceremonies  begin  by  a  sacrifice  brought  from  the  house  of  the 
Ona-Isokun  by  a  body  of  men  called  Omg-ninari  ;  these  belong 
to  a  family  specially  concerned  in  carrying  out  all  menial  duties 
connected  with  the  offering  of  sacrifices  and  in  waiting  upon  the 
King  and  the  priests.  As  soon  as  they  enter  the  house  where 
the  King-elect  is,  he  is  called  out,  and  he  has  to  stand  up  with  an 
attendant  by  his  side.  He  is  touched  on  the  chest,  and  on  the 
right  and  left  shoulders  with  the  bowl  of  sacrifice,  the  attendant 
in  the  mean  time  uttering  some  form  of  words.  This  is  the  signal 
that  he  has  been  called  to  the  throne.  On  the  evening  of  the  same 
day,  he  is  conducted  quietly  into  the  house  of  the  Ona-Isokun 
where  he  spends  the  first  night.  In  order  to  avoid  the  crowd,  the 
attention  of  the  populace  is  usually  diverted  by  a  procession  of  the 
Kings'  slaves  and  others  with  much  noise  and  ado,  as  if  escorting 
him,  whilst  the  king-elect  accompanied  by  the  Aregbe'di,  a  titled 
eunuch,  and  a  few  of  the  Omo-ni-nari  come  up  quietly  a  long  way 

At  the  Ona-Isokun' s  house,  he  is  attended  solely  by  the  Omo- 
ni-nari.  He  is  admonished  and  advised  by  those  who  stand  to 
him  in  place  of  a  father.     Some  ceremonies  of  purification  are  gone 


through,  propitiatory  sacrifices  are  again  offered  which  are  carried 
to  various  quarters  of  the  city  by  the  Onto-ni-nari. 

The  next  night  he  passes  at  the  house*  of  the  Otun-Iwefa  (the 
next  in  rank  to  the  chief  of  the  eunuchs).  This  official  being  a 
priest  of  Sango,  it  is  probable  that  the  king-elect  spends  the  night 
with  him  in  order  to  be  initiated  into  the  sacerdotal  part  of  his 
office,  the  Alafin  having  as  much  spiritual  as  well  as  secular 
work  to  perform,  being  at  once  King  and  Priest  to  his  people ; 
and  probably'  he  learns  there  also  the  usages  and  doings  of  the 
huge  population  in  the  inner  precincts  of  the  palace  with  which 
the  eunuchs  are  quite  conversant.  After  this,  he  is  conducted 
into  one  of  the  chambers  in  the  Outer  Court  of  the  palace  (Omo  ile) 
where  he  resides  for  three  months,  the  period  of  mourning,  until 
his  coronation. 

The  main  gateway  to  the  palace  being  closed  at  the  demise  of 
the  King,  a  private  opening  is  made  for  him  in  the  outer  wall 
through  which  he  goes  in  and  out  of  his  temporary  residence. 
During  this  time  he  remains  strictly  in  private,  learning  and 
practising  the  style  and  deportment  of  a  King,  and  the  details  of 
the  important  duties  and  functions  of  his  office.  During  this  period 
he  is  dressed  in  black,  and  is  entitled  to  use  a  "  cap  of  state" 
called  "  Ori-k6-gbe-ofo."     (The  head  may  not  remain  uncovered). 

The  affairs  of  state  are  at  this  time    conducted  by  the  Basorun. 

The   Coronation 

The  coronation  takes  place  at  the  end  of  three  months,  really 
at  the  third  appearance  of  the  new  moon  after  the  late  King's 
death.  The  date  is  generally  so  fixed  as  to  have  it  if  possible 
before  the  next  great  festival.  It  is  attended  with  a  great  public 
demonstration.  It  is  a  gala  day  in  which  the  whole  city  appears 
in  holiday  dress.  Visitors  from  the  provinces  and  representatives 
of  neighbouring  states  also  flock  into  the  city  in  numbers. 

This  day  is  generally  known  as  "  The  King's  visit  to  the  BarA." 
It  is  the  first  but  most  important  act  of  the  ceremonies. 

The  Bara  or  royal  mausoleum  is  a  consecrated  building  in 
the  outskirts  of  the  city,  under  the  care  of  a  high-priestess  named 
Iyamode  ;  there  the  Kings  were  formally  crowned,  and  there 
buried.     The  King  enters  it  but  once  in  his  lifetime,  and  that  is 

^  Tradition  says  that  in  the  early  times  while  the  King  -elect 
is  in  the  Otun'efa's  house  among  other  dishes  brought  to 
him  to  partake  of  is  one  prepared  from  the  heart  of  the  late  King 
which  has  been  extracted  and  preserved.  After  partaking  of 
this  he  is  told  he  has  "  eaten  the  King."  Hence  the  origin  of  the 
word  Je  Oba,  to  become  a  King  (ht.  to  eat  a  King). 


at  the  coronation  with  marked  pomp  and  ceremony.  The 
actual  crowning  does  not  now  take  place  in  the  Bar  A  as  it  seems 
to  have  been,  but  at  Koso  the  shrine  of  Sango,  but  the  visit  to 
the  Bara  is  so  important  and  indispensable  a  preliminary  that  it 
has  become  more  closely  identified  with  the  coronation  than  that 
to  the  other  shrines  visited  on  that  occasion. 

Leaving  the  Ipadi — his  temporary  chambers — there  are  two 
stations  at  which  the  King  elect  has  to  halt  before  reaching  the 
sacred  building  ;  the'  first  is  the  Ahdtd  or  area  in  front  of  the  palace 
where  a  tent  of  beautiful  cloths  has  been  erected  tor  him.  Here 
he  has  to  change  his  mourning  dress  for  a  princely  robe.  He  then 
proceeds  to  the  second  station  at  the  Alapini's  midway  on  his 
route  where  a  large  tent  and  an  enclosure  have  been  erected  for 
his  reception.  Here  he  is  awaited  by  a  vast  concourse  of  people 
and  welcomed  with  ringing  cheers.  Here  he  receives  the  congratu- 
lations and  homage  of  the  princes,  the  nobles,  the  chiefs  and  the 
people  and  is  hailed  as  the  King.  Some  ceremonies  are  here  gone 
through  also  which  include  distribution  of  kola  nuts,  etc.,  to 
the  princes  and  chiefs  without. 

After  this  he  proceeds  to  the  Bara  accompanied  by  the  whole 
concourse  of  people  who  have  to  remain  outside.  He  enters  the 
sacred  precincts  attended  by  the  Magaji  lyajin  (his  official  elder 
brother)  the  princesses,  the  Ona-Onse-awo  (an  official) ,  the  Otun- 
wefa  (the  next  to  the  chief  of  the  eunuchs)  who  is  a  priest  and 
the  Omo-ni-nari,  a  set  of  servants.  These  last  are  to  slaughter 
and  skin  the  animals  to  be  offered  in  sacrifice. 

At  the  Bara  he  worships  at  the  tombs  of  his  fathers,  a  horse, 
a  cow,  and  a  ram  being  offered  at  each  tomb  ;  portions  are  sent 
out  to  each  of  the  noblemen,  princes,  and  chiefs  waiting  outside,  the 
Basorun  receiving  the  first  and  the  lion's  share  oi  the  whole. 
He  invokes  the  blessings  of  his  deceased  fathers  and  is  hereby  said 
to  receive  authority  to  wear  the  crown.  The  visit  to  the  BarA 
then  is  for  the  purpose  of  receiving  authority  or  permission  from 
his  deceased  ancestors  to  wear  the  crown,  hence  it  is  spoken  of  as 
the  coronation.  It  is  a  fixed  rule  that  the  whole  of  the  meat  is 
to  be  totally  consumed  at  the  BarA  ;  under  no  circumstance  should 
any  be  taken  home. 

This  over,  the  King  returns  hence  with  great  pomp  and  show 
to  his  temporary  chambers,  amid  the  firing  of  feu  de  joie,  the 
bleating  of  the  Kakaki  trumpet,  drumming,  etc. 

On  the  fifth  day  after  this  he  proceeds  to  Koso,  the  shrine  of 
Sango,  for  the  actual  crowning.  Here  he  is  attended  by  the 
Otun-wefa  who  has  the  charge  of  the  shrine,  the  Bale  (mayor) 
of  Koso  a  suburban  village,  the  Omo-ni-naris,  and  the  Isonas. 


[The  Isgnas  are  a  body  of  men  whose  sole  employment  is  to  do 
all  needle  and  embroidered  work  for  royalty.  They  are  also  the 
umbrella-makers.  The  crown,  staff,  robes,  and  all  ornamental 
beadworks,  and  workings  in  cotton,  silk,  or  leather  are  executed 
by  them]. 

Surrounded  by  the  principal  eunuchs  and  princes  the  great 
crown  is  placed  on  his  head  with  much  ceremony  by  the  lykkere. 
Who  the  ly^kere  is,  for  whom  is  reserved  this  most  important 
function  will  be  seen  below.  The  royal  robes  are  put  on  him, 
the  Ejigba*  round  his  neck,  the  staff  and  the  Sword  of  Mercy 
are  placed  in  his  hands. 

On  the  fifth  day  after  this,  he  proceeds  to  the  shrine  of  Orafiyan, 
here  the  Great  Sword  or  Sword  of  Justice  brought  from  Ile  Ife 
is  placed  in  his  hands,  without  which  he  can  huve  no  authority  to 
order  an  execution. 

After  another  interval  of  five  days,  he  proceeds  to  the  shrine 
of  Ogun  the  god  of  war,  and  there  offers  a  propitiatory  sacrifice 
for  a  peaceful  reign.  The  offerings  consist  of  a  cow,  a  ram,  and 
a  dog  ;  this  last  being  indispensable  in  any  sacrifice  to  the  god  of 

From  the  shrine  of  Ogun,  the  procession  goes  straight  on  to  the 
palace,  entering  now  for  the  first  time  by  the  main  gate  opened  for 
him,  the  former  opening  through  the  outer  wall  to  the  temporary 
chambers  being  quickly  walled  up.  Thus  he  enters  the  palace 
proper  as  The  King. 

But  a  new  opening  is  made  for  him  at  the  Kohi  Aganju  through 
which  he  enters  the  inner  precincts  of  the  palace.  This  entrance  is 
tor  his  exclusive  use  in  and  out  of  the  Kgbi  during  his  reign  :  at 
his  death  it  is  closed  up.  At  this  entrance  they  offer  in  sacrifice  a 
snail,  a  tortoise,  an  armadillo,  a  field  mouse  (emo)  a  large  rat  (okete) 
a  toad,  a  tadpole,  a  pigeon,  a  fowl,  a  ram,  a  cow,  a  horse,  a  man  and 
a  woman,  the  last  two  being  buried  at  the  threshhold  of  the 
opening  ;  on  the  blood  of  the  victims  and  over  the  grave  of  the 
two  last,  he  has  to  walk  to  the  inner  court. 

Human  saciifices  however  (now  totally  abolished)  were  not 
commonly  practised  amongst  the  Oygs,  but  such  immolation 
was  always  performed  at  the  coionation  and  at  the  burial  of  the 
sovereign.    By  these  sacrifices  he  is  not  only  crowned  King  with 

^  The  Ejigba  is  a  string  of   costly  beads  reaching  down  to  the 
knees.    Beads  are  used  for  precious  stones.     This  represents  the 
chain  of  office.     Chains — they  say — are  for  captives,  hence  they  use 
beads  instead. 


power  over  all,  man  and  beast,  but  he  is  also  consecrated  a  priest 
to  the  nation.     His  person,  therefore,  becomes  sacred. 

All  this  having  been  performed,  it  is  now  formally  announced 
to  the  assembled  pubUc,  that  King  "  A  "  is  dead  (or  rather  has 
entered  into  the  vault  of  the  skies — O  wo  Aja)  and  King  "B  " 
now  reigns  in  his  stead. 

During  the  interval  of  the  late  King's  illness,  up  to  the  time  of 
his  death,  the  business  of  state  is  carried  on  normally  by  the  palace 
ofl&cers,  the  Osi-'wefa  personating  the  King,  even  to  the  extent  of 
putting  on  his  robes  and  crown,  and  sitting  on  the  throne  when 
such  is  required  ;  but  as  soon  as  it  is  known  that  he  is  dead  the 
Basgrun  at  once  assumes  the  chief  authority,  and  nothing  can 
be  done  without  him. 

The  King  having  been  crowned,  he  is  henceforth  forbidden  to 
appear  in  public  streets  by  day,  except  on  very  special  and  extra- 
ordinary occasions  ;  he  is,  however,  allowed  evening  strolls  on 
moonhght  nights  when  he  may  walk  about  incognito. 

This  seclusion  not  only  enhances  the  awe  and  majesty  due  to 
a  sovereign,  but  also  lends  power  and  authority  to  his  commands, 
and  is  the  best  safe-guard  for  public  order  at  their  present 
stage  of  civiUzation.  Besides,  it  would  be  very  inconvenient 
to  the  citizens  it  the  King  were  always  coming  out,  for  according 
to  the  universal  custom  of  the  country,  whenever  a  chief  is  out, 
all  his  subordinates  must  go  out  with  him.  It  is  an  inviolable 
law  and  custom  of  the  country,  and  is  appHcable  to  all,  whatever 
their  rank  :  thus,  if  the  Basorun  is  out,  all  the  Oyo  Mesi  must  be 
out  also.  If  the  Bale  of  any  town  is  out,  all  the  chiefs  of  the  town 
must  be  out  also,  and  if  the  King  is  out,  the  whole  city  must  be 
astir  and  on  the  move,  all  business  suspended,  until  he  returns 
into  the  palace. 

Igba  Iwa 

At  the  commencement  of  every  reign,  the  Igba  Iwa  or  Calabashes 
of  divination  are  brought  from  Ile  Ife  to  the  new  King  to  divine 
what  sort  of  reign  his  will  be. 

Two  covered  calabashes,  of  similar  shape  and  size  but  with 
quite  different  contents  are  brought,  one  containing  money, 
small  pieces  of  cloth  and  other  articles  of  merchandize,  denoting 
peace  and  prosperity  ;  the  other  containing  miniature  swords  and 
spears,  arrows,  powder,  bullet,  razor,  knives,  etc.,  denoting  wars 
and  trouble  for  the  country.  The  King  is  to  choose  one  of  them 
before  seeing  the  contents,  and  according  as  he  chooses  so  will  be 
the  fate  of  the  Yoruba  country  during  his  reign. 


The  Aremo 

The  very  first  official  act  of  the  new  King  after  his  coronation 
is  to  create  an  Aremg,  and  a  Princess  Royal  or  an  eqmvalent. 
The  Aremo  is  the  Crown  Prince.  The  term  simply  denotes  an 
heir,  but  it  is  used  as  the  title  of  the  Crown  Prince  of  Oyo. 

The  title  is  conferred  upon  the  eldest  son  of  the  sovereign  in  a 
formal  manner,  the  ceremony  being  termed  the  "christening" 
as  of  a  newly  born  child,  hence  he  is  often  termed  "  Qmo  "  (child) 
by  way  of  distinction  The  title  of  Princess  Royal  is  at  the  same 
time  and  in  the  same  manner  conferred  upon  the  eldest  daughter 
of  the  sovereign  as  well ;  this,  however,  is  of  much  less  importance 
than  the  other.  When  the  King  is  too  young  to  have  a  son,  or  his 
son  is  a  minor,  the  title  is  temporarily  conferred  upon  a  younger 
brother,  or  next  of  kin  that  stands  to  him  in  place  of  a  son,  but 
as  soon  as  the  son  is  of  age,  he  must  assume  his  title  and  begin  to 
act  under  the  guardianship  of  the  eunuchs  who  are  his  guardians. 

The  method  is  as  follows  : — Both  of  them  must  have  a  Sponsor, 
or  "  father  "  as  he  is  called,  chosen  by  divination  from  among  the 
titled  eunuchs  ;  this  done,  the  Aremo  repairs  to  the  house  of  the 
Ona-Isokun  to  worship  at  the  graves  of  the  deceased  Aremos,  who 
were  all  buried  there,  and  the  princess  to  that  of  her  deceased  pre- 
decessor in  her  mother's  house  ;  the  King  supplying  them  with  a 
bullock  each.  The  whole  day  is  thus  spent  in  festivities.  On  their 
return  in  the  evening  they  both  proceed  direct  to  their  sponsor's 
house  where  they  must  reside  four  days,  each  day  being  marked 
with  festi\'ities,  the  king  supplying  two  bullocks  every  day,  and 
this  is  further  supplemented  by  the  Aremo  himself.  The  feasts 
are  open  to  the  general  public,  whoever  Hkes  to  repair  to  the  house 
is  a  welcome  guest,  portions  are  also  sent  out  to  the  princes,  the 
noblemen,  and  other  distinguished  personages.  At  the  end  of  the 
fourth  day  the  Aremg,  invested  with  the  robes  of  his  office  and 
with  a  coronet,  is  conducted  to  his  official  residence  where  he  takes 
up  his  permanent  abode,  and  the  princess  suitably  clad  hkewise 
repairs  to  her  own  home. 

Public  Appearances  of  the   King 

The  King  generally  appears  in  public  on  the  three  great  annual 
festivals  of  Ifa,  Orun,  and  the  Bere.  In  two  at  least  of  these 
festivals  (that  of  the  Orun  and  the  Bere),  the  Basorun  is  equally 
concerned  with  him. 

These  festivals  have  certain  features  in  common,  although  each 
has  its  own  marked  characteristics.     They  are  all  preceded  by  the 


worship  of  Ogun  (the  god  of  war)  and  on  the  third  day  after,  the 
firing  of  a  royal  salute,  and  the  sound  of  the  ivory  trumpet  announce 
to  the  public,  that  the  King  may  now  be  seen  in  state,  sitting  on 
his  throne,  and  all  loyal  subjects  who  wish  to  have  a  glimpse  of 
his  majesty  now  may  repair  to  the  palace. 

The  festival  of  I  fa  or  Mole  takes  place  in  the  month  of  July, 
nine  days  after  the  festival  of  Sango.  The  Ifa  is  the  god  of  divin- 
ation. One  day  in  the  week  is  generally  given  to  the  consultation 
or  the  service  of  Ifa,  but  an  annual  festival  is  celebrated  in  its 
honour  at  Oyq. 

The  Orun  festival  takes  place  in  September.  At  this  festival 
the  King  and  the  Basorun  worship  together  the  Ori  or  god  of  fate. 
The  Orun  from  which  it  appears  the  Basorun  derives  his  name 
and  title  is  a  curious  if  not  rather  a  mystical  rite.  The  word 
"  Orun  "  signifies  heaven.  The  title  in  lull  is  Iba  Osorun  i.e. 
the  lord  who  performs  the  Orun  or  heavenly  mysteries. 

The  King  and  his  Osorun  are  often  spoken  of  as  "  Oba  aiye  " 
and  "  Qba  Orun  "  i.e..  King  terrestrial  and  King  celestial.  In 
what  way  His  Supernal  Highness  performs  the  Orun,  or  what 
position  he  assumes  towards  the  sovereign  in  this  ceremony,  is 
not  generally  known,  because  it  is  always  done  in  private.  But  the 
rite  seems  to  deal  with  affairs  connected  ■s\'ith  the  King's  life.  It 
is  to  him  a  periodic  reminder  of  his  coming  apotheosis,  and  the 
emblem  of  worship  is  said  to  be  a  coffin  made  of  or  paved  with 
clay  in  which  he  is  to  be  buried.  It  is  kept  in  charge  of  the  "  lya 
Oba  "  (the  King's  official  mother)  in  a  room  in  her  apartments, 
visited  by  no  one,  and  the  ceremonies  are  performed  in  private 
once  a  year  by  the  King  himself,  his  "  mother  "  and  his  Osorun, 
the  latter  taking  the  chief  part  ;  consequently  very  little  is  actually 
known  of  the  doings  of  these  three  august  personages.  But  this 
much  is  allowed  to  be  known,  that  the  Basorun  is  to  divine  with 
kola  nuts,  to  see  whether  the  King's  sacrifices  are  acceptable  to 
the  celestials  or  not,  if  the  omen  be  favourable  the  Alafin  is 
to  give  the  Basorun  presents  of  a  horse  and  other  valuables  ;  if 
unfavourable,  he  is  to  die,  he  has  forfeited  his  right  to  further 
existence.  But  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  under  such  circum- 
stances, it  can  always  be  managed  between  them  that  the  omens 
be  always  favourable. 

From  this  and  other  circumstances,  it  would  appear  that  the 
King  on  this  occasion  occupies  a  humiliating  position  as  one  whose 
conduct  is  under  review,  hence  the  great  privacy  observed,  for 
it  is  a  cardinal  principle  with  Yorubas  that  the  Alafin,  as  the 
representative  of  the  founder  of  the  race,  is  to  humble  himself 
before  no  mortal ;  if  such  a  contingency  were  to  occur,  he  is  to  die. 



Hence,  no  doubt,  that  his  natural  mother  (if  then  living)  is  to  make 
way  for  her  son  ascending  the  throne,  so  there  will  be  no  occasion 
to  violate  any  filial  duty  imperative  on  a  son  who  is  at  the  same 
time  the  King.  His  majesty  must  be  supreme.  Even  in  per- 
forming reverential  duties  before  the  priests  of  Sango,  when  such 
are  required,  some  privacy  must  be  observed. 

The  Bere  festival  takes  place  in  January,  towards  the  end  of 
the  year,  the  new  year  commencing  in  March.  It  is  the  most 
important  and  the  grandest  of  the  three.  It  is  primarily  the  harvest 
home  festival,  symboUzed  by  ceremoniously  setting  the  fields 
on  fire  to  indicate  that  it  has  been  cleared  of  the  fruits  of  the  earth. 

It  is  an  important  one  at  Oyo,  not  only  because  it  closes  the 
civil  year,  but  also  because  by  it  the  King  numbers  the  years  of 
his  reign. 

The  Bere  itself  which  seems  to  be  the  symbol  of  so  many  cere- 
monies, is  a  common  grass  which  grows  only  in  the  plain  country 
and  is  used  mainly  for  thatching  houses.  It  is  considered  the  most 
sumptuous  of  all  other  materials  used  for  covering  houses  :  it  is 
the  coolest,  the  neatest,  the  most  durable,  and  lends  itself  best 
for  ornamental  purposes  ;   consequently  it  is  highly  thought  of. 

The  festival  proper  is  always  preceded  by  two  important 
ceremonies,  the  Pakudirin  indicating  the  beginning,  and  the 
Jelepa  the  end  of  the  ingatherings. 

The  Pakudirin  is  performed  by  the  Ona-'wefa  or  chief  of  the 
eunuchs,  by  the  Basorun  or  his  representative  and  the  Ab'obaku 
or  master  of  the  horse. 

The  King  in  semi-state  appears  in  the  Kobi  Aganju  to  witness 
the  same,  with  several  of  the  ladies  of  the  palace  around  him, 
and  at  the  entrance  of  the  Aganju,  the  musicians  making  the 
occasion  very  lively. 

The  King  is  supposed  not  to  have  seen  the  new  Bere  grass  of  the 
year,  the  Ona-'wefa  first  steps  forwards  before  him  with  a  scythe 
made  of  brass  or  copper,  performing  in  the  air  a  mimic  act  of 
mo\ving  the  grass,  and  one  of  the  ladies  of  the  palace  deputed  for 
the  purpose,  extending  her  wrap  as  it  were  to  receive  the  same, 
hugging  it  as  something  precious.  This  is  done  two  or  three 
times,  the  Basorun  then  follows  and  goes  through  the  same  forms, 
and  then  the  master  of  the  horse.  Each  of  these  chiefs  now  makes 
a  short  speech  congratulating  the  King  on  the  advent  of  a  new 
year,  wishing  him  a  long  life  and  prosperous  reign. 

After  this,  about  half-a-dozen  men  with  small  bundles  of  the 
Bere  grass,  neatly  done  up,  enter  the  palace,  with  measured  steps 
to  the  sound  of  music,  and  come  dancing  before  the  King  in  front 
of  the  Aganju.     His  Majesty  is  supposed  to  see  the  grass  now  for 


the  first  time  that  year.  This  ceremony  is  brought  to  a  close 
by  presents  given  to  the  men,  and  then  all  spectators  disperse. 
From  nine  to  seventeen  days  are  now  allowed  for  harvesting 
before  the  fields  are  set  on  fire. 

The  Jelepa  is  the  ceremony  of  setting  the  fields  on  fire.  This 
is  performed  by  the  Basorun  outside  the  city  walls.  Booths  and 
enclosures  of  palm  leaves  having  been  erected  for  the  purpose, 
the  Basorun  with  a  princely  train  repairs  thither  on  the  day 
appointed.  He  is  met  there  by  a  number  of  women  from  the 
palace  bringing  a  large  calabash  draped  with  a  white  cloth  and 
containing  01^1^  (a  sort  of  pudding  made  of  white  beans  and 
palm  oil)  and  Eko  (a  kind  of  blanc -mange  made  of  soaked  corn 
flour),  corn  and  beans  being  taken  as  the  staples  of  Hfe,  the 
principal  products  of  the  field. 

His  Supernal  Highness  first  offers  a  morsel  of  these  in  sacrifice 
as  a  harvest  thank-offering  for  the  Yoruba  nation,  after  which 
both  himself  and  those  with  him  partake  of  the  rest  accompanied 
with  palm  wine  or  beer  made  from  guinea  corn,  thanking  God  for 
the  blessings  of  the  field.  This  over  he  orders  the  fields  to  be 
set  on  fire  :  but  if  by  an  accident  the  fields  have  already  been  fired, 
a  bundle  of  dry  grass  brought  from  home  is  used  instead,  for  the 
purpose  of  the  ceremony. 

The  firing  of  a  feu  de  joie  now  serves  to  show  that  the  ceremony 
is  over  and  the  parties  are  returning  to  the  city.  This  is  done 
in  state.  The  Basorun  robes  in  one  of  the  enclosures :  he  is 
attended  by  hundreds  of  horsemen  and  footmen,  horsemen  gallop- 
ing backwards  and  forwards  before  him,  the  firing  and  the  fifing 
and  drumming  are  quite  deafening.  With  such  a  right  royal  pro- 
cession His  Supernal  Highness  re-enters  the  city.  On  the  evening 
of  the  same  day,  the  King  worships  the  Ogun  which  is  a  prehminary 
to  every  annual  festival. 

The  following  day  is  a  very  busy  one  at  Oyq.  It  is  a  day  of 
paying  tributes  of  Bere  grass.  The  whole  of  the  Oyo  Mesi  first 
send  theirs  to  the  King,  the  Basorun  alone  would  send  about 
200  bundles,  the  subordinate  chiefs  send  to  the  senior  chiefs,  every 
one  to  his  feudal  lord  or  chief,  each  man  according  to  his  rank 
and  position  and  so  on  to  the  lowest  grades,  the  young  men  to  the 
heads  of  compounds,  so  that  it  is  usual  to  see  loads  of  Bere  passing 
to  and  fro  all  over  the  town  the  whole  day.  From  the  provinces 
also  tributes  of  Bere  come  to  Oyo  later  on  ;  e.g.  from  the  Aseyin 
of  Iseyin,  the  Oluiwo  of  Iwo,  the  Bale  of  Ogbomoso  and  other 
cities  of  the  plain  where  the  Bere  grows. 

This  being  the  recognized  principal  festival  of  the  AlAfin  other 
towns  in  lieu  of  Bere  send  congratulatory  messages  with  presents, 


or  tributes  ;  the  Ibadans  in  their  marauding  days  used  to  send 
slaves  ;  from  the  Ij§sas  and  Ekiti  countries  come  kola  nuts,  alligator 
pepper,  firewood  and  other  forest  products.  Towns  nearer  the 
coast  send  articles  of  European  manufacture,  and  so  on  during  this 

The  day  after,  being  the  third  day  of  the  ceremony  of  Jglepa  and 
the  worship  of  Ogun,  the  public  festival  takes  place. 

The  King  in  State 

The  King  generally  appears  in  state  on  these  three  festive 

Facing  the  large  quadrangle  of  the  outer  court  are  the  six 
principal  Kobis,  that  in  the  centre  is  what  is  known  as  the  Kqbi 
Aganju  or  throne  room  where  the  AlAfin  always  appears  on 
state  occasions.  It  is  always  kept  closed,  and  never  used  for  any 
other  purpose  but  this. 

On  such  occasions,  the  floor  is  spread  all  over  with  mats,  and  the 
front .  of  the  throne  overspread  with  scarlet  cloths  ;  the  posts 
all  around  are  decorated  with  velvet  cloths,  and  the  walls  with 
various  hangings. 

The  throne  or  chair  of  state  was  made  of  wood  at  a  time  when 
the  knowledge  of  carpentry  was  not  common  in  this  country ; 
it  cannot  boast  of  any  artistic  merit,  but  it  is  highly  valued  for 
its  solidity,  hoary  age,  and  tr?.dition.  It  is  of  a  large  size  and 
covered  over  with  velvet. 

The  crown  is  made  of  costly  beads  such  as  coral,  agra,  and  the 
like,  which  in  this  poor  country  stand  to  the  people  instead  of 
precious  stones.  It  is  artisticsdly  done  up  by  experts,  with  fringes 
of  small  multi-coloured  beads  depending  from  the  rim,  which  serve 
to  veil  the  face. 

The  robes  are  usually  silks  or  velvets,  of  European  manufacture, 
which  were  of  much  greater  value  in  earlier  days  when  inter- 
course with  the  coast  was  not  so  common  or  easy  as  it  now  is. 

The  Ejigha  is  the  "  chaiYi  of  office."  This  is  made  of  a  string  of 
costly  beads  going  round  the  neck  and  reaching  as  far  down  as 
the  knees. 

The  Opa  Ileke  is  the  staff  or  sceptre  artistically  covered  all  over 
with  small  multi-coloured  beads. 

The  Iru  here  is  a  specially  prepared  cow's  tail  of  spotless  white 
which  the  King  generally  holds  in  front  of  his  mouth  when  speaking 
for  it  is  considered  bad  form  to  see  him  open  his  mouth  in  public. 
He  makes  his  speech  sotto  voce,  and  it  is  repeated  to  the  assembly  in 
a  loud  voice  by  the  chief  of  the  Eunuchs.  The  white  tail  is  more- 
over an  emblem  of  peace  and  grace. 


The  State  Umbrellas.  Umbrellas  in  this  country  are  part  and 
parcel  of  state  paraphernalia.  In  fact  there  was  a  time  when 
private  individuals  dared  not  use  an  umbrella ;  that  was  in  the 
days  before  cheap  foreign  ones  were  obtainable.  The  prohibition 
was  first  done  away  with  at  Ibadan,  where  the  war  boys  were 
allowed  to  enjoy  themselves  in  any  way  they  liked,  and  use  any 
materials  of  clothing  and  ornament  they  could  afford,  as  it  might 
be  for  only  a  few  days  before  they  laid  down  their  lives  on  a 

However,  those  of  a  chief  are  easily  distinguished  now  by  their 
size  and  quality.  They  are  almost  always  of  bright  colouring 
usually  of  damasks.  The  size  and  number  are  in  proportion  to 
the  rank  of  the  chief,  usually  of  European  manufacture  now, 
though  there  is  a  distinct  family  of  royal  umbrella  makers  kept  at 
Oyo  who  make  those  of  the  largest  size.  Most  of  the  umbrellas 
foreign  or  locally  made  are  decorated  with  certain  emblems  indica- 
tive of  rank.  About  two  dozen  or  more  are  used  on  these  festive 

Music.  The  Kobi,  third  or  fourth  to  the  Agahju  is  occupied 
by  the  musicians.  The  musical  instruments  consist  of  almost 
every  description  of  fifes,  trumpets  and  drums,  of  which  the  ivory 
and  Kakaki  trumpets  and  Ogidigbo  drum  are  peculiar  to  the 

The  King  enthroned  is  surrounded  by  his  favourite  wives,  one 
of  whom,  the  Are-ori-ite,  holds  a  small  silk  parasol  over  his  head 
from  behind  as  a  canopy. 

About  30  or  40  female  Ilaris  with  costly  dress  and  velvet  caps 
on,  are  seated  on  the  scarlet  cloth  on  the  right  and  on  the  left  in 
front  of  the  throne,  but  in  the  open  air,  under  two  large  umbrellas, 
one  on  either  side,  a  wide  space  being  left  between  them. 

Then  there  is  a  row  of  about  ten  large  umbrellas  each  on  the 
right  and  the  left,  both  rows  facing  each  other,  leaving  a  wide 
avenue  between  from  the  throne  to  the  main  entrance  gate  ;  under 
those  on  the  right  are  seated  the  Crown  Prince  supported  by  all 
the  princes  and  the  principal  eunuchs  :  under  those  on  the  left 
are  the  younger  eunuchs,  the  Ilaris,  the  Tetus,  and  other  palace 
officials.  Behind  these  on  either  side  are  the  crowds  of 

At  a  considerable  distance  in  front  of  the  throne,  in  the  avenue 
left  between  the  two  groups,  stand  the  Basorun  and  the  rest 
of  the  Oyo  Mesi  to  do  homage.  This  is  done  by  taking  off  their 
robes,  wrapping  their  cloths  round  their  waists,  leaving  the  body 
bare  ;  three  times  they  have  to  run  to  the  main  entrance  gate, 
sprinkle  earth  on  their  heads  and  on  their  naked  bodies,  and  run 


back  half  way  towards  the  throne,  prostrating  themselves   on  the 
bare  ground,  on  the  stomach  and  on  the  back  ! 

Then  follows  the  customary  oration  from  the  throne,  the  King 
speaking  in  an  undertone  with  the  iru  kere  in  front  of  his  mouth, 
and  the  chief  of  the  eunuchs,  who  with  his  lieutenants  the  Otun  and 
the  Osi'wefa  is  standing  midway  between  the  throne  and  the 
noblemen  in  the  avenue  between  the  spectators,  acts  as  his  spokes- 
man, repeating  his  message  in  a  loud  voice  to  the  Basorun  and  his 
colleagues.  The  Basorun  replies  first,  congratulating  His  Majesty, 
wishing  him  long  life  and  prosperity,  the  other  noblemen  follow 
in  regular  order,  the  Asipa  being  the  last.  The  chief  of  the  eunuchs 
in  like  manner  repeats  the  congratulatory  address  to  their  lord. 

That  over,  the  sacrificial  feast  is  now  brought  forward  for 
distribution.  About  40  dishes  of  stewed  meat,  40  baskets  of 
eko,  15  pots  of  beer,  a  bowl  or  two  of  boiled  yam,  a  large  quantity 
of  boiled  corn  (maize)  to  these  is  added  in  later  years  a  demijohn 
of  rum. 

The  Add-hd  or  king's  taster  now  steps  forward  with  a  rod  in 
his  right  hand,  and  a  shield  on  his  left,  accompanied  by  his  drummer. 
He  first  dances  before  the  King  and  then  retreats  taking  with  him 
his  own  portion,  a  basket  of  eko,  a  plate  of  meat,  a  pot  of  beer,  one 
yam,  a  head  of  corn  ;  he  is  to  have  a  taste  of  each  of  these  in  the 
presence  of  the  king,  and  the  concourse  of  spectators  present,  after 
which  his  followers  make  away  with  the  rest  of  his  portion. 

Next  comes  the  Olosa  or  king's  robber,  plajang  the  clown. 
He  is  dressed  in  a  flowing  garment,  creeps  about  on  all  fours, 
performing  mimic  acts  of  robbery  for  the  amusement  of  the 
spectators.  After  a  few  more  amusements,  the  curtain  drops. 
The  rest  of  the  dishes  are  cleared  away  into  the  dining  hall  where 
the  Asipa  by  virtue  of  his  office  subsequently  distributes  them 
among  the  noblemen  and  their  followers  according  to  their 
rank,  that  of  the  Basorun  being  one  half  of  the  whole.  When 
the  curtain  rises  again,  the  King  appears  in  a  more  gorgeous 
robe,  with  another  crown  on  his  head.  His  Majesty  now  steps 
out  of  the  Kobi  with  his  staff  in  hand,  and  walks  towards 
the  Ogidigbo  drum,  stately  and  majestic,  and  the  Basorun  comes 
dancing  to  meet  him  ;  all  at  once  the  drums,  fifes,  and  trumpets 
strike  up  in  concert,  the  two  rows  of  umbrellas  move  forward 
meeting  in  the  centre  to  form  a  shady  avenue  for  the  two  august 
personages,  the  King  stepping  forward  with  measured  treads 
to  the  sound  of  the  music,  and  the  Basorun,  dancing,  and  meeting 
him,  receives  from  him  one  head  of  stringed  cowries.  This  however 
is  expected  to  be  returned  the  next  day,  the  apparent  gift  being 
merely  a  part  of  the  ceremony. 


This  usually  ends  the  show,  but  on  the  B§re  festival  the  King 
continues  his  walk  right  on  to  the  great  entrance  gate,  then  half 
round  the  quadrangle  giving  the  spectators  a  full  view  of  himself, 
then  by  a  side  door  disappears  into  the  inner  precincts  of  the  palace. 
The  spectators  thereupon  disperse. 

These  three  festivals  are  concluded  by  a  few  male  Ilaris  carrying 
sacrifices  to  certain  quarters  in  the  outskirts  of  the  city  in  a  state  of 
perfect  nudity,  which  is  rather  a  trying  time  for  them  ;  there  is 
always  a  rush  of  the  women  clearing  out  of  their  way,  on  the 
approach  of  them  ;  the  performance  being  symbolic  of  some 
religious  rite.  If  it  is  violated  by  any  show  of  natural  excite- 
ment, it  must  be  atoned  for,  and  there  is  but  one  penalty, 
viz.,  decapitation  !  But  there  is  no  record  of  any  such  case 
occurring  within  living  memory.  Their  reward  for  this  trying  ordeal 
is,  that  after  their  return,  being  properly  dressed,  they  are  admitted 
into  the  King's  presence,  who,  sitting  in  state,  receives  them  with 
marks  of  honour. 

This  ends  the  ceremonies  of  the  festivals. 

But  at  the  Bere  season,  one  more  ceremony  remains,  that  known 
as  the  ceremony  of  "  Touching  the  grass."  About  5.30  p.m.  on 
a  day  appointed,  the  King  issuing  from  the  palace  is  accompanied 
by  his  slaves  who  have  been  engaged  in  piling  into  two  or  three 
heaps  the  bundles  of  bere  grass  scattered  about  in  the  area  in  front 
of  the  palace,  including  those  brought  from  the  provinces.  The 
piles  are  done  up  in  an  artistic  manner,  8  or  loft.  high  in  an  open 
space  away  from  any  risk  of  fire.  His  Majesty  now  steps  forward, 
and  lays  both  hands  upon  each  of  the  heaps,  making  a  short  speech, 
invoking  blessings  on  the  Yoruba  nation,  congratulating  himself 
for  being  spared  to  see  another  year.  This  brings  the  Bere  festival 
to  a  close. 

The  Funeral  of  the  King 

Although  the  funeral  of  the  King  cannot  properly  he  said  to  be 
one  of  his  public  appearances,  yet  it  is  considered  more  convenient 
to  describe  it  in  this  place  along  with  other  public  ceremonies  of 
which  he  is  the  centre. 

The  Kings  are  buried  in  the  Bard.  The  funeral  usually  takes 
place  at  night.  It  is  notified  to  the  public  by  the  sounding  of  the 
Okinkin  (a  musical  instrument  Uke  the  bugle),  the  ivory  trumpet, 
and  the  Koso  drum,  a  drum  which  is  usually  beaten  every  morning 
at  4  a.m.  as  a  signal  for  him  to  rise  from  his  bed  ;  to  beat  it  at  night 
therefore,  is  to  indicate  that  he  is  retiring  to  his  final  resting  place. 

The  body  is  removed  to  the  Bard  on  the  back  of  those  whose 
office  it  is  to  bury  the  Kings  the  chief  of  whom  is  a  titled  personage 


known  as  the  Ona-onse-awo,  and  his  lieutenants.  At  certain 
stations  on  the  route  between  the  palace  and  the  Bard,  eleven  in 
all,  they  halt  and  immolate  a  man  and  a  ram,  and  also  at  the  Bard 
itself,  four  women  each  at  the  head  and  at  the  feet,  two  boys  on 
the  right  and  on  the  left,  were  usually  buried  in  the  same  grave 
with  the  dead  monarch  to  be  his  attendants  in  the  other  world, 
and  last  of  all  the  lamp-bearer  in  whose  presence  all  the  ceremonies 
are  performed. 

All  these  practices,  however,  have  long  been  aboUshed,  a  horse 
and  a  bullock  being  used  instead  of  human  beings. 

The  King  is  buried  in  black  and  white  dress  ;  but  the  crown 
on  his  head,  the  gorgeous  robe  with  which  he  was  laid  out  in 
state,  and  with  which  his  corpse  was  decked  to  the  Bard,  and 
the  bracelets  on  his  wrists  and  ankles  are  never  buried  with  him, 
these  become  the  perquisites  of  the  Ona-ofise-awo  and  his 

The  Bard  in  which  the  Kings  are  buried  is  distinguished  by  its 
aloof  situation  from  public  thoroughfares  in  the  outskirts  of  the 
city,  and  having  to  it  as  many  kohis  as  there  are  Kings  lying  there, 
one  being  erected  over  each.  The  present  Bard  enshrines  the  bones 
of  King  Oluewu  the  last  of  ancient  Ovg  with  those  of  the  late 
Kings  of  the  present  city.  It  is  not  open  to  the  pubHc  ;  several 
of  the  late  King's  wives  are  secluded  here  (as  in  a  convent)  and 
charged  with  the  sole  duty  of  taking  care  of  the  graves  of  their 
departed  husbands. 

Their  mother  superintendent  is  the  lyamgde  generally  styled 
"  Baba "  (father).  She  is  thus  styled  because  being  entirely 
devoted  to  the  worship  of  Sango,  one  of  the  earliest  deified  Kings, 
she  is  often  "  inspired  "  or  "  possessed  "  by  the  god,  and  thus  came 
to  be  regarded  as  the  embodiment  of  that  famous  King. 

Additions  are  made  to  their  number  at  every  fresh  burial, 
usually  from  among  the  favourites  of  the  deceased  husband. 
These  women  must  all  be  celibates  for  life,  unfortunately  among 
the  number  are  usually  found  some  who  are  virgins  and  must 
remain  so  for  life  :  any  misbehaviour  is  punished  with  the  death  of 
both  culprits,  the  man  on  the  day  the  crime  is  detected,  and  the 
woman  after  her  confinement. 

Besides  those  who  are  immolated  at  the  death  of  the  sovereign 
there  used  to  be  some  "  honourable  suicides  "  consisting  of  certain 
members  of  the  royal  family,  and  some  of  the  King's  wives,  and 
others  whose  title  implies  that  they  are  to  die  with  the  King  when- 
ever that  event  occurs.  With  the  title  they  received  as  a  badge  a 
cloth  known  as  the  "  death  cloth,"  a  beautiful  silk  damask  wrapper, 
which  they  usually  arrayed  themselves  with  on  special  occasions 


during  the  King's  lifetime.  Although  the  significance  of  this  was 
well-understood  both  by  themselves  and  by  their  relatives,  yet  it 
is  surprising  to  see  how  eager  some  of  them  used  to  be  to  obtain  the 
office  with  the  title  and  the  cloth.  They  enjoyed  great  privileges 
during  the  King's  lifetime.  They  can  commit  any  crime  with 
impunity.  Criminals  condemned  to  death  and  escaping  to  their 
houses  become  free.  These  are  never  immolated,  they  are  to  die 
honourably  and  voluntarily. 

Of  the  members  of  the  royal  family  and  others  to  die  were : — 

1.  The  Aremo  or  Crown  Prince  who  practically  reigned  with  his 
father,  enjoyed  royal  honours,  and  had  equal  power  of  life  and  death. 

2.  Three  princes  with  hereditary  titles  viz.,  the  Magaji  lyajin, 
the  Agunpopo,  and  the  Olusami. 

3.  Two  titled  personages  not  of  royal  blood  viz.,  the  Osi'wefa 
and  the  Olokun-esin  (master  of  the  horse)  who  is  generally  styled 
"  Ab'obaku,"  i.e.  one  who  is  to  die  with  the  King. 

4.  The  female  victims  were  : — 

lya  Oba,  the  king's  official  mother  ;  lya  Naso,  lyalagbon 
(the  Crown  Prince's  mother)  ;  lyale  Mole  (the  If  a  priestess),  the 
Olgrun-ku-mefun,  the  lyamonari,  the  lya'-le-ori  (these  are  all 
priestesses)  and  the  Are-ori-ite  the  chief  favourite. 

It  will  be  observed  that  all  the  above-mentioned  are  those  who 
by  virtue  of  their  office  are  nearest  to  the  King  at  all  times,  and 
have  the  easiest  access  to  his  person  ;  to  make  their  hfe  dependent 
on  his,  therefore,  is  to  ensure  safety  for  him  against  the  risk  of 
poisoning,  or  the  dagger  of  the  assassin. 

The  custom  is  that  each  should  go  and  die  in  his  (or  her)  own 
home,  and  among  his  family.  The  spectacle  is  very  affecting. 
Dressed  in  their  "  death  cloth,"  they  issue  from  the  palace  to  their 
homes  surrounded  by  their  friends,  and  their  drummers  beating 
funeral  dirges,  eager  crowds  of  friends  and  acquaintances  flocking 
around  them,  pressing  near  to  have  a  last  look  at  them  or  to  say 
the  final  farewell  as  they  march  homewards.  The  house  is  full 
of  visitors,  mourners  and  others,  some  in  profuse  tears  ;  mournful 
waitings  and  funeral  odes  are  heard  on  all  sides  enough  to  break 
the  stoutest  heart.  While  the  grave  is  digging,  the  coffin  making, 
a  parting  feast  is  made  for  all  the  friends  and  acquaintances  ;  and 
as  they  must  die  before  sunset,  they  enjoy  themselves  as  best  they 
can  for  that  day  by  partaking  of  the  choicest  and  favourite  dishes, 
appearing  several  times  in  changes  of  apparel,  distributing  presents 
with  a  lavish  hand  around,  and  making  their  last  will  disposing 
of  their  effects.  When  everything  is  ready,  the  grave  and  the 
coffin  approved  of,  they  then  take  poison,  and  pass  off  quietly. 
But  if  it  fails  or  is  too  slow  to  take  effect,  and  the  sun  is  about  to 


set,  thelast  office  is  performed  by  the  nearest  relatives  (by  strangling 
or  otherwise)  to  save  themselves  and  the  memory  of  their  kin 
from  indelible  disgrace.  The  body  is  then  decently  buried  by  the 
relatives  and  the  funeral  obsequies  performed. 

In  many  cases  voluntary  suicides  take  place.  Some  of  the 
King's  favourite  slaves  who  are  not  required  to  die  often 
commit  suicide  in  order  to  attend  their  master  in  the  other  world 
expecting  to  enjoy  equally  the  emoluments  of  royalty  in  the  other 
world  as  in  this. 

But  these  customs  are  now  d5dng  out  with  the  age  especially 
since  King  Atiba  in  1858  abolished  that  of  the  Crown  Prince 
dying  ;  the  loss  of  experienced  princes  like  the  lyajin  around 
the  throne  is  also  felt  irreparable.  With  the  exception  of  the 
women,  all  the  men  now  refuse  to  die  and  they  are  never  forced 
to  do  so,  but  are  superseded  in  their  office  if  the  next  King  wills 
it  ;  they  must  then  retire  quietly  from  the  city  to  reside  in  any 
town  in  the  country  in  order  to  prevent  the  confusion  of  two 
individuals  bearing  the  same  title.  As  for  the  Crown  Prince, 
he  expects  to  succeed  his  father  on  the  throne  but  if  he  is  rejected 
by  the  king-makers,  he  also  has  to  retire  from  the  city. 

Courtiers  and  Household  Officers  of  the  Crown 

The  palace  officials  consist  of : — 
I.  Titled  officers.     II.  The  Eunuchs.     III.  The  Ilaris. 
Some  reside  in  the  palace,  others  attend  at  regular  hours  every 
day  for  duty. 

I.  The  principal  officers  having  duties  in  the  palace  are  : — 

1.  The  Ona-Olokun-esin  or  Ab'Oba-ku  i.e.  the  master  of  the 
horse,  i.e.  one  who  is  to  die  with  the  King.  This  officer  resides 
in  his  own  house  but  repairs  to  the  palace  daily  on  duty.  He  has 
free  access  equally  with  the  Eunuchs  to  all  the  apartments.  The 
title  is  hereditary.  As  his  name  implies  he  is  to  die  with  the 
King  to  be  his  attendant  in  the  other  world,  and  consequently 
he  is  granted  unrestricted  liberty  to  live  as  he  likes,  and  to  do  what- 
ever he  likes,  and,  like  all  other  officials  who  must  die  with  the 
King,  his  house  is  a  sanctuary  of  safety  and  reprieve  for  all 
criminals  condemned  to  death,  if  they  can  escape  thither. 

2.  The  Ona-ile-mole  is  the  Ifa  priest  or  chief  diviner,  a  kind  of 
domestic  chaplain.  He  has  for  his  assistants  the  Are-awo  and 
others.  They  are  to  consult  the  Ifa  oracle  for  the  King  every 
fifth  day  called  Ojo-Awo  i.e.  the  day  of  the  mysteries. 

3.  The  Ona-Onse  Awo.  The  daily  duties  of  this  officer  are  not 
so  well-defined,  but  he  has  to  attend  daily  at  the  palace.     He  has 


his  lieutenants  to  the  sixth  grade.  But  their  chief  duty  is  to  carry 
the  jemains  of  the  deceased  monarch  from  the  palace  to  the 
Bard  for  interment. 

4.  The  Qna-modekh.  This  is  the  civil  counterpart  of  the  mihtary 
title  of  Seriki.  This  officer  is  the  head,  or  leader  of  all  the  youths 
in  the  city  and  country,  capable  of  bearing  arms,  whoever  may  be 
their  father  or  master.  He  forms  a  band  of  them  all,  and  is  sup- 
posed to  train  them  in  manly  sports  and  civic  duties.  It  is  his 
prerogative  to  shield  members  of  his  band  from  the  penalties  of 
the  law  whenever  they  have  become  liable  to  such,  by  any  rash 

5.  The  Isugbins.  These  are  members  of  the  palace  orchestra. 
They  number  about  210  per.sons,  playing  on  fifes,  the  Okinkin 
and  the  Ivory  trumpets,  and  the  special  drums  Koso  and  Gbedu, 

(«)  The  Ahikoso  or  Koso  drummer's  chief  duty  is  to  wake 
up  the  King  every  morning  at  4  a.m.  with  his  drum. 

(b)  The  Aludundun  or  the  Dundun  drummer.  He  has  to 
attend  at  the  palace  every  day  within  certain  hours, 
including  the  \dsiting  or  business  hours.  He  has  one  of 
the  front  Kobis  assigned  to  him,  where  he  sits  discoursing 
events  with  his  drum,  all  during  his  office  hours.  With 
it,  he  pre-announces  the  presence  of  any  visitor  in  the 
palace,  so  that  in  whatever  part  of  the  palace  the  King 
may  be,  he  can  tell  by  the  sound  of  the  drum  who  has 
entered  the  court  yard  before  the  personage  is  actually 
announced.  This  is  one  of  the  peculiarities  of  the  Yoruba 
language,  and  the  art  of  the  drummers.  The  names, 
praises  and  attributes  of  every  family  of  note  are  known 
to  all  drummers,  and  musicians,  and  they  are  experts 
in  eulogizing  and  enlarging  on  the  praises  of  any  one  they 
wish  to  honour,  speaking  it  with  their  drums.  If  for 
instance  a  white  man  enters  the  palace,  the  drummer 
would  strike  up  :  "  Oyinbo,  Oyinbo,  afi  okun  se  gnk  " 
(the  white  man,  the  white  man  who  makes  of  the  ocean  a 
high  way).  In  strains  like  this  he  would  continue  for  a 
while  enlarging  upon  his  praises. 

6.  The  Arokins.  These  are  the  rhapsodists  or  national  historians, 
an  hereditary  title  ;  they  have  an  apartment  to  themselves  where 
they  repeat  daily  in  songs  the  genealogy  of  the  Kings,  the  principal 
events  of  their  lives  and  other  notable  events  in  the  history  of  the 
Yoruba  country. 

7.  The  lie  tndle  is  the  palace  surveyor.     He  has  charge  of  all 


the  buildings  within  that  vast  compound,  especially  of  the  Kgbis. 
He  is  to  see  that  every  part  is  kept  in  good  repair.  He  is  also 
to  attend  to  the  drains  and  the  grounds,  especially  after  a  heavy 
fall  of  rain.  He  is  said  to  be  the  principal  officer  who  is  to  wash 
the  corpse  of  the  King  and  dress  it  before  it  is  placed  in  the  coffin. 

8.  The  Tetus.  These  are  the  sheriffs  or  King's  executioners. 
They  are  about  19  in  number,  each  one  of  them  with  his 
subordinates  has  specified  duties  to  perform  e.g.,  it  is  the  duty 
of  the  15th  with  his  subordinates  to  clear  the  grounds  and  dishes 
after  the  King  has  entertained  the  Oyq  Mesi.  They  number 
about  150  in  all. 

II.  The  Eunuchs.  The  Eunuchs  are  called  Iwefa  or  Iba-afin 
(contracted  to  Baafin)  i.e.  lordlings  of  the  palace.  The  principal 
are  : — The  Ona'efa  or  chief  of  the  Eunuchs,  the  Otun'efa  and  the 
Osi'efa  his  principal  Ueutenants,  and  others  to  the  sixth  grade. 
Besides  these  are  the  untitled  ones,  and  boys. 

The  Ona'efa  is  a  high  legal  personage  ;  he  hears  and  decides 
suits  and  appeals  brought  to  the  King  whenever  His  Majesty 
cannot  sit  in  person,  and  his  decision  is  as  good  as  the  King's 
whose  legal  adviser  he  is.  We  have  seen  above  the  principal  part 
he  plays  in  public  festivals  and  state  ceremonies. 

The  Otun'efa  has  the  charge  of  the  suburban  town  of  Koso, 
built  in  honour  of  the  national  god  Sango.  It  is  his  duty  to  worship 
at  the  shrine  at  stated  periods  on  behalf  of  the  Yoruba  people. 
He  sometimes  helps  to  decide  cases.  He  is  also  one  of  the  chief 
guardians  of  the  King's  children. 

The  Osi'efa  or  Olosi  although  the  least  of  the  three  yet  is  the 
most  honoured.  He  represents  the  King  on  all  occasions  and  in 
all  matters  civil  as  well  as  military.  He  sometimes  acts  as 
commander-in-chief  in  military  expeditions,  he  is  allowed  to  use 
the  crown,  the  state  umbrellas,  and  the  Kakaki  trumpet,  and  to 
have  royal  honours  paid  to  him .  On  such  occasions  he  is  privileged 
also  to  dispense  the  King's  prerogatives.  His  ordinary  duties 
are :  to  be  near  the  King's  person  at  all  times,  having  free  access 
to  every  part  of  the  palace  including  the  harem  ;  to  see  that  the 
King's  bed  is  properly  made,  before  he  retires  every  night ;  to 
visit  him  at  midnight  and  at  cock-crow  to  see  if  he  has  had  a 
restful  night,  and  to  call  him  up  at  4  a.m.  before  the  Koso  drum 
begins  to  sound.  He  is  to  head  those  of  the  King's  wives  who 
are  to  dance  at  the  Akesan  market  once  a  year,  after  the  deity 
presiding  over  markets  has  been  propitiated.  With  Eni-gjk  one 
of  the  titled  ladies  of  the  palace,  he  has  charge  of  the  King's  market 
and  enjoys  in  part  the  emoluments  accruing  therefrom. 

Why  these  exceptional  honours  are  bestowed  upon  the  third 


ih  rank  among  the  Eunuchs,  will  be  told  hereafter  in  the  history 
of  one  of  the  early  kings. 

The  Eunuchs  are  a  grade  higher  than  the  Ilaris  and  must  be 
respected  by  them  ;  however  young  a  Eunuch  may  be,  he  must  be 
addressed  as  "  Baba  "  (father)  by  any  Ilari  even  the  oldest. 

The  custom  of  castrating  a  man  is  said  to  have  originated  from 
the  punishment  inflicted  for  the  crime  of  incest  or  ot  beastiaUty. 

The  Eunuchs  are  distinguished  by  the  manner  they  wear  their 
gowns  gathered  on  the  shoulders,  leaving  their  arms  bare.  They 
are  now  generally  chosen  from  boys  bought  with  money,  and 
employed  first  as  pages  to  the  King,  or  attendants  on  one  of  his 
wives.  The  custom  of  choosing  boys  was  introduced  by  one  of 
the  later  Kings  ;  his  reason  for  it  was,  that  before  the  age  of 
puberty,  boys  will  hardly  be  cognizant  of  their  loss,  and  he  would 
thus  spare  himself  the  remorse  of  conscience  which  would  follow 
the  mutilation  of  an  adult,  and  also  save  his  victim  from  a  Ufe-long 

Emasculation  of  an  adult  is  now  only  resorted  to  instead  of 
capital  punishment  in  cases  of  adultery  with  the  wife  of  a  king  ; 
but  in  order  that  the  system  may  not  be  abused,  provincial  kings 
are  not  allowed  to  resort  to  this  mode  of  punishment,  nor  even  to 
keep  Eunuchs  ;  any  one  really  guilty  must  be  sent  to  the  capital 
where  a  special  surgeon  is  kept  for  the  purpose  who  is  skilful  in 
the  art. 

The  Eunuchs  are  the  guardians  of  the  King's  children,  the 
princes  and  princesses  as  a  rule  are  born  in  the  house  of  one  of  the 
principal  Eunuchs  for  as  soon  as  any  of  the  King's  wives  becomes 
a  mother,  she  is  separated  from  the  other  women,  and  placed 
under  the  guardianship  of  one  of  them,  and  she  is  not  to  return 
to  the  palace  until  the  child  is  weaned. 

The  titled  ones  among  them  are  masters  of  large  compounds, 
and  they  also  keep  their  own  harems  as  well  ;  their  wives  are  called 
"  Awewo,"  i.e.  one  with  hands  tied  ;  because  they  are  doomed  to 
be  for  ever  childless.  In  cases  of  adultery  disclosed  by  pregnancy 
both  the  defaulters  in  early  days  were  to  suffer  capital  punishment ; 
the  man  on  the  day  the  crime  was  proved  against  him,  and  the 
woman  with  the  issue  on  the  day  she  is  delivered.  These  extreme 
measures,  however,  have  been  allowed  to  die  out,  in  favour  of 
fines  or  other  less  severe  punishments. 

The  Eunuchs  have  the  exclusive  right  of  seizing  anything  in 
the  market  with  impunity.  They  have  also  the  unenviable 
privilege  of  mingling  with  the  King's  wives  either  in  the  harem 
or  whenever  they  appear  in  public  on  any  festive  occasion. 

Ill    The  Ilaris.    The  term  Ilari  denotes  parting  of  the  head, 



from  the  peculiar  way  the  hair  of  the  head  is  done.  They  are 
of  both  sexes,  they  number  some  hundreds,  even  as  many  as  the 
King  desires  to  create. 

The  individual  to  be  created  an  Ilari  is  first  shaved  completely, 
then  small  incisions,  are  made  on  the  occiput  (if  a  male)  and  on 
the  left  arm,  into  both  of  which  a  specially  prepared  ingredient  is 
rubbed,  supposed  to  be  a  charm  capable  of  giving  effect  to  whatever 
the  name  given  to  the  individual  at  the  same  time  signifies.  Their 
names  generally  signify  some  attributes  of  the  King,  or  are 
significant  of  his  purpose,  intention  or  will,  or  else  the  preservation 
of  his  life,  e.g.  Oba  I'olu,  the  King  is  supreme  ;  Oba-ko-se-tan, 
the  King  is  not  ready  ;  S'aiye  ro,  the  upholder  of  the  world  (i.e. 
the  kingdom) ;  Oba  gb'ori,  the  King  the  overcomer  ;  Madarikan, 
do  not  oppose  him.  The  following  are  the  names  of  some  of  the 
principal  Ilaris,  all  of  which  will  be  seen  to  be  significant. 

I  Kafiaiye  f '  Oba 


Ote  d'afo 

2  Madarikin 



3  Ikudefun 



4  Ilugbenka 



5  Obajuwonlo 


Kape  laiye 

6  Opaykkata 

35  Agbasa 

7  S'aiyero 

36  Ilugbohun 

8  Mob'oludigbaro 


Oba  gb'aiye 

9  Obagbeiile 

38  Agbelegbiji 

10  Obagbori 


Oba  diji 

II  Ayunbo 



12  Ote  o  lowg 


Olu  orin-kkn 

13  Kotito 



14  Obakosetan 


Enu  f'oba 

15  Ori§a  fetu 


Oba  I'agba 

16  Oba  d'origi 



17  Sunmo-Oba 



18  Olukobinu 


Oba  gbede 

19  Kafilegbgin 


Oba  femi 

20  Obadirere 


Oba  gba-iyo 

21  Makobalap§ 



22  Mab'obadu  u 



23  Temileke 



24  Oba-ni  yio  jilo 



25  Ori-ehin 


Img  kojo 

26  Oba-tun-wa-se 



27  Agbklk 



28  Agbkro 



29  Kutenlo 

58  Agbe  defun 


59  Oba-li-a-isin  64  Madawo  t'gba-lori 

60  Emi-mo  rOba-mi  65  Ma-ni-Oba  lara 

61  Igba-abere  66  Maro-Oba-lohun 

62  Oba  I'olu  67  Oridagogo 

63  Akegbe  68  Apeka 

Every  male  Ilari  has  a  female  counterpart  who  is  called  his 
companion.  The  Ilaris  themselves  by  courtesy  call  them  their 
"  mother."  They  are  both  created  at  one  and  the  same  time  and 
they  are  supposed  to  seek  each  other's  interest,  although  there 
must  be  no  intimacy  between  them  ;  the  female  Ilaris  being 
denizens  of  the  King's  harem  ;  the  only  attention  they  are  allowed 
to  pay  each  other  is  to  make  exchange  of  presents  at  the  yearly 

Each  Ilari  has  a  representative  image  made  of  clay  called 
"  Sugudu,"  having  incisions  on  its  head  and  arm  similar  to  his  own, 
with  the  same  ingredient  rubbed  into  them. 

The  Ilaris  are  to  keep  the  head  shaved,  one  half  being  done 
from  the  middle  line  downwards  alternately  every  fifth  day  except 
the  circular  patch  on  the  occiput  where  the  incisions  were  made  ; 
there  the  hair  is  left  to  grow  as  long  as  possible  being  always  plaited 
and  sometimes  dyed  black  with  indigo. 

The  male  Ilaris  are  the  King's  body  guard  or  "  The  keepers  of 
his  head."  They  are  of  different  grades  including  high-placed 
servants,  messengers,  and  menials.  Some  of  the  favoured  ones 
are  made  masters  of  large  compounds,  the  King  supplying  them 
with  horses  and  grooms,  and  assigning  to  them  certain  gates  where 
they  collect  tolls,  the  proceeds  being  divided  between  their  master 
and  themselves  for  their  maintenance  ;  they  are  also  feudal  lords 
of  some  masters  of  large  compounds  in  different  parts  of  the  city 
who  serve  them  in  various  capacities  in  war  or  in  time  of 

All  the  inmates  of  their  houses  are  for  the  most  part  the  King's 
slaves,  and  every  newly  made  Ilari  is  handed  over  to  the  charge 
of  one  or  other  of  these  highly-placed  ones. 

These  favoured  ones  ride  upon  the  tallest  horses  whenever  the 
King  goes  out  in  public,  forming  his  body  guards  ;  others  are 
servants  to  these  ;  but  their  chief  work  one  and  all  is  that  of  house 
repair  year  by  year. 

On  any  festive  occasion  when  the  King  appears  in  state,  as 
many  of  the  male  Ilaris  as  are  required  to  be  present  must  each 
one  take  his  "  sugudu  "  with  him  to  his  seat.  They  are  on  such 
occasions  to  be  without  a  headgear  or  breeches  with  only  a  cloth 
over  the  body,  passed  under  the  right  aim,  and  knotted  on  the  left 
shoulder,  the  arms  being  left  bare. 


It  is  the  especial  privilege  of  the  Ilaris,  male  or  female,  to  carry 
nothing  on  the  head  save  their  hats  or  caps. 

Ladies  of  the  Palace 

The  ladies  of  the  palace  consist  of  eight  titled  ladies  of  the 
highest  rank,  eight  priestesses,  other  ladies  of  rank,  besides  Ilaris 
and  the  Ayabas  or  King's  wives. 

The  whole  of  them  are  often  spoken  of  loosely  as  "  the  King's 
wives,"  because  they  reside  in  the  palace,  but  strictly  speaking  the 
titled  ladies  and  the  priestesses  at  least  should  not  be  included 
in  the  category.  Again,  all  the  ladies  of  rank  are  often  spoken 
of  as  Ilaris,  but  there  is  a  marked  difference  between  them. 

The  following  are  the  ladies  of  the  highest  rank  in  their  due 
order  : — 

1  lya  Oba  5  lya-fin-Iku 

2  lya  kere  6  lyalagbgn 

3  lya-Naso  7  Orun-kumefun 

4  lya-monari  8  Are-orite 

I.  The  lya  Oba  is  the  King's  (official)  mother.  For  reasons 
stated  above  (vide  p.  48)  the  King  is  not  to  have  a  natural  mother. 
If  his  mother  happens  to  be  living  when  he  is  called  to  the  throne, 
she  is  asked  to  "  go  to  sleep,"  and  is  decently  buried  in  the  house 
of  a  relative  in  the  city.  All  the  inmates  of  that  house  are  accorded 
special  piivileges  and  enjoy  marked  deference  as  "  members 
of  the  household  of  the  King's  mother." 

The  King  sends  to  worship  at  her  grave  once  a  year.  One  of  the 
ladies  of  the  palace  is  then  created  lya-Oba,  and  she  is  supposed 
to  act  the  part  of  a  mother  to  him.  It  is  her  privilege  to  be  the 
third  person  in  the  room  where  the  King  and  the  Basorun  worship 
the  Orun  in  the  month  of  September  every  year. 

She  is  the  feudal  head  of  the  Basorun. 

2  The  lya  kere.  Next  to  the  King's  mother,  the  lya  kere  holds 
the  highest  rank.  Greater  deference  is  paid  to  the  lya  Oba  indeed, 
but  the  lya  kere  wields  the  greatest  power  in  the  palace.  She  has 
the  charge  of  the  King's  treasures.  The  royal  insignia  are  in 
her  keeping,  and  all  the  paraphernalia  used  on  state  occasions, 
she  has  the  power  of  withholding  them,  and  thus  preventing  the 
holding  of  any  state  reception  to  mark  her  displeasure  with  the 
King  when  she  is  offended.  We  have  seen  above  that  she  is  the 
person  entitled  to  place  the  crown  on  the  King's  head  at  the 

She  is  the  "  mother  "  of  all  the  Ilaris  male  and  female,  for  it  is 
in  her  apartment  they  are  usually  created  ;  she  keeps  in  her  custody 


all  the  "  sugudus  "  bearing  the  marks  of  each  Ilari  in  order  to 
ensure  the  safety  of  the  King's  life. 

Great  and  honourable  as  is  the  Olosi,  she  exercises  full  power 
over  even  him,  and  can  have  him  arrested  and  put  in  irons  if  he 
offends.  She  is  the  feudal  head  of  the  Aseyin,  Oluiwo,  and  the 
Bale  of  Ogbomgso.  With  the  assumption  of  this  office,  she  is,  of 
course,  to  be  a  celibate  for  life. 

3.  The  lya-Naso  has  to  do  w^th  the  worship  of  Sango  generally 
and  is  responsible  for  everything  connected  with  it. 

The  King's  private  chapel  for  Sango  worship  is  in  her  apartment, 
and  all  the  emoluments  and  perquisites  arising  therefrom  are 
hers.     She  has  also  to  do  with  the  same  at  Koso. 

4.  The  lya-monari  is  the  first  lieutenant  and  assistant  to  the 
lya-Naso.  It  is  her  office  to  execute  by  strangling  any  Sango 
worshipper  condemned  to  capital  punishment,  as  they  are  not  to 
die  by  the  sword,  and  hence  cannot  be  executed  by  the  T^tus, 

5.  The  lya-fin-Ikii  is  the  second  lieutenant  and  assistant 
to  the  lya-Naso.  She  is  the  King's  "  Adosu  Sango,"  i.e.  the  King's 
devotee  to  the  Sango  mysteries.  As  all  Sango  worshippers  are 
to  devote  one  of  their  children  to  the  worship  of  the  god,  she  stands 
in  place  of  that  to  the  King.  She  has  the  charge  of  the  sacred 
ram  which  is  allowed  to  go  everywhere  and  about  the  market 
unmolested,  and  may  eat  with  impunity  anything  from  the 

6.  The  lyalaghon. — The  mother  of  the  Crown  Prince  is  always 
promoted  to  the  rank  of  lyalaghon.  In  case  she  is  not  living 
whoever  is  promoted  to  that  office  acts  like  a  mother  to  him.  She 
enjoys  great  influence,  and  controls  a  portion  of  the  city. 

7.  The  Orun-kumefun  is  also  connected  with  the  Aremo. 

8.  The  Are-orite.  This  official  is  the  King's  personal  attendant. 
She  is  to  see  that  his  meals  are  properly  prepared,  and  his  bed 
properly  made,  and  also  to  see  him  comfortably  in  bed  before 
retiring  to  her  own  apartment.  She  is  to  hold  the  silken  parasol 
over  his  head  as  a  canopy  when  enthroned,  and  is  constantly 
by  his  side  to  perform  small  services  for  him  on  state  and  other 

These  eight  ladies  holding  responsible  positions  are  each  of 
them  the  head  of  a  small  compound  within  the  palace  walls. 

The   Priestesses 

1.  lya'le  Ori  5.  lya  Olosun 

2.  lyale  Mole  6.  lyafin  Osun 
3:  lya  Orisanla  7.  lyafin  Eri 

4.  lya  Yemaja  8.  lyafin-Orunfumi 


(i)  lya  le  Ori  is  the  priestess  of  the  god  Ori  or  god  of  fate. 
In  her  apartment  is  the  King's  Ori  and  she  is  the  one  to  propitiate 
it  for  him. 

(2)  lya' le  mole  has  in  her  keeping  the  King's  If  a  god,  and  when 
the  If  a  priests  come  every  fifth  day  to  worship  and  to  consult 
it,  she  takes  an  active  part  in  the  ceremonies.  She  is  the  head  of 
all  the  Babalawos  (Ifa  priests)  in  the  city. 

(3) — (S)  ^s  their  names  denote,  are  priestesses  of  the  gods  indicated 
by  the  title. 

Other   Ladies   of  High   Rank 

1.  The  Iyamod§  5.  The  Eni-Oja 

2.  The  lya'le  Oduduwa  6.  The  lya'le-Agbo 
;-].  The  Ode  7.  The  lya-Otun 

4.  The  Obaguntg 

(i)  The  lyamode. — This  high  official  resides  in  one  of  the  out- 
houses of  the  palace,  but  her  duties  are  not  specially  in  the  palace. 
She  is  the  superior  of  those  celibates  living  in  the  Bard  and  is 
styled  by  them  "  Baba  "  i.e.  father. 

Her  office  is  to  worship  the  spirits  of  the  departed  Kings,  calling 
out  their  Eguguns  in  a  room  in  her  apartments  set  aside  for 
that  purpose,  being  screened  off  from  view  with  a  white  cloth. 

The  King  looks  upon  her  as  his  father,  and  addresses  her  as  such, 
being  the  worshipper  of  the  spirits  of  his  ancestors.  He  kneels 
in  saluting  her,  and  she  also  returns  the  salutation  kneeling,  never 
reclining  on  her  elbow  as  is  the  custom  of  the  women  in  saluting 
their  superiors.  The  King  kneels  for  no  one  else  but  her,  and 
prostrates  before  the  god  Sango,  and  before  those  possessed  with 
the  deity,  calling  them  "  father."  These  are  among  those  set 
apart  for  life-long  service  at  the  Bard.  When  any  one  of  them 
is  thus  "  possessed  "  by  the  spirit  of  deceased  monarchs  (it  is  said 
of  them  "  Oba  wa  si  ara  won  ")  and  comes  raving  from  the  Bara 
to  the  palace,  she  is  im.mediately  placed  under  the  charge  of  the 
lyamode  ;  the  possessed  on  such  occasions  prognosticates,  and 
tells  the  people  what  sacrifice  they  are  to  offer  to  avert  impending 
evils.  The  ceremony  on  such  occasions  is  to  pour  some  water 
into  a  mortar,  covering  it  with  a  wide  calabash,  and  this  the  other 
women  in  the  palace  beat  vigorously  as  a  drum  ;  the  possessed 
and  others  infected  with  the  excitement  dancing  to  the  sound  of 
this  drumming. 

The  Akunyungbas  (the  King's  bards)  are  instructed  in  her 
apartments,  their  teacher  comes  there  three  times  daily  for  three 
months  or  more  until  the  learners  are  perfect  in  their  studies. 
Small  corporal  punishments,  twitchings,  of  the  ears,  and  cracks  on 


the  head  are  not  spared  on  these  occasions,  if  they  are  not  quick 
at  catching  the  words  or  if  their  memory  fails  them. 

With  the  assumption  of  this  office,  the  tyamgde  is,  of  course, 
to  be  a  celibate  for  hfe. 

(2)  The  lya'le-Oduduwa  is  the  priestess,  of  Oduduwa  the  supposed 
founder  of  the  Yoruba  nation.  A  special  temple  is  built  in  the 
palace  for  him  where  his  image  is  enshrined  and  worshipped.  She 
is  the  head  of  all  Oduduwa  worshippers  in  the  city.  She  resides 
in  one  of  the  out  houses,  and  does  not  rank  with  the  eight  priestesses 
mentioned  above. 

(3)  The  Ode  is  the  head  of  all  the  worshippers  of  the  god  Os6si. 
On  state  occasions  she  appears  dressed  as  a  hunter  (hence  her  name) 
wearing  on  her  shoulder  a  bow  ornamented  with  strings  of  cowries 
neatly  strung. 

(4)  The  Obagunte  is  not  regarded  as  having  a  very  high  position, 
although  she  represents  the  King  in  the  Ogboni  house  on  ordinary 
occasions,  her  work  being  strictly  connected  with  that  fraternity. 
She  enters  the  Ogboni  chamber  on  all  occasions  and  acts  in  the 
King's  name,  reporting  to  his  majesty  the  events  of  each  day's 
sitting.  Whenever  the  King  wishes  to  entertain  the  Ogbonis, 
she  has  to  undertake  that  duty. 

(5)  The  Eni-ojd  is  at  the  head  of  all  the  devil-worshippers  in  the 
town.  She  also  has  charge  of  the  King's  market,  and  enjoys  all 
the  perquisites  accruing  therefrom.  She  wears  a  gown  like  a 
man,  on  her  arms  the  King  leans  on  the  day  he  goes  to  worship 
at  the  market,  i.e.  to  propitiate  the  deity  that  presides  over 
markets.  She  has  under  her  (i)  the  Olosi  who  has  joint  responsi- 
bility with  her  for  the  market,  and  (2)  the  Aroja  or  market  keeper, 
an  officer  whose  duty  it  is  to  keep  order,  and  arrange  the  manage- 
ment of  the  market,  and  who  actually  resides  there. 

(6)  The  lya'le-agbo  is  a  private  attendant  on  the  King,  having 
charge  of  his  private  pharmacy.  His  agunmu  (powders)  and  agho 
(infusions)  are  all  in  her  care  :  she  is  to  see  that  they  are  in  a 
condition  fit  for  use  when  required. 

All  these  ladies,  except  the  Qhagunte  and  lya'le  niQle  although 
generally  styled  "  Ilaris  "  are  not  really  so,  and  that  is  known  from 
the  manner  their  hair  is  done  up.  They  are  really  above  the 

The  lya-Oba,  and  lya  mode  are  always  shaven,  the  others  plait 
their  hair  in  small  strips  from  the  forehead  to  the  top  of  the  head 
and  gather  the  rest  from  the  back  to  the  top,  tying  all  into  one  knot 
with  a  string.     This  style  is  termed  the  Ikokoro. 

The  Ode,  Eni-ojk,  lyafin-Iku,  lya-Olosun  and  the  lya'le 
Oduduwa  adorn  theirs  with  the  red  feathers  of  the  parrot's  tail. 



The  Ilaris. — The  female  Ilaris  are  somewhat  differently  shaved 
from  the  male,  their  incisions  being  made  from  the  front  to  the 
back  of  the  head  along  the  middle  line  ;  the  hair  is  allowed  to 
grow  along  the  same  line,  and  it  is  plaited  into  two  horns  front  and 
back,  being  twined  with  a  string  or  thread,  and  the  sides  of  the 
head  shaved  alternately  every  fifth  day. 

The  following  are  the  names  of  the  principal  female  Ilaris, 
every  one  of  which  is  significant : — 












Ire  k'aiye 
















Bam  wo  wo 



16  Awoda 

17  Irebe 

18  Agbejo  ^ 

19  Awujale 

20  Ori're 

21  Oju're 

22  Awigba 

23  Alogbo 

24  Oridijo 

25  Tijotayo 

26  Aiye  f'obase 

27  Aji  gbohun 

28  Iwadero 

29  Omuye 

30  Ajigbore 

31  Obadaro 

33  Aronu 

34  Apa-6-ka 

35  Ina-Oba-koku 

36  Agbala 

37  Ota-ko-ri-aye 

38  Ma-dun-mi-de-inu 

39  Oledetu 

40  Madajo-l'Oba 

41  Ajijofe 

42  Olu-f'oba 

43  Iwapgle 

44  Ohungbogbo 

45  Aiyedero 

46  Ehin-wa 

47  Maha-ro-t'oba 

48  Onjuwon 

32  Alanu 

These  female  Ilaris  have  the  exclusive  privilege  of  using  the 
female  head  ties,  or  men's  caps,  the  ordinary  Ayabas  or  King's 
wives  are  distinguished  by  carrying  their  heads  bare,  always 
shaved,  and  their  head  ties  used  as  a  belt  round  the  breasts. 

At  the  demise  of  the  King  the  whole  of  the  Ilaris  male  and  female 
go  into  mourning  by  dropping  their  official  (Ilari)  names,  and 
letting  their  hair  grow.  At  a  new  accession,  the  whole  of  them 
shave  their  heads.  One  of  the  earliest  acts  of  the  new  sovereign 
after  the  coronation  and  the  investiture  of  the  Aremo  (Crown 
Prince)  and  just  before  the  next  great  festival  is  to  create  all 
the  Ilaris  afresh  by  batches  every  5  days,  giving  a  new  name 
to  each  and  adding  a  new  set  of  his  own  ;  only  the  lances  of  the 
head  are  re-done,  not  those  of  the  arm.  Each  batch  is  to  remain 
seven  days  at  the  He  Mol|.  This  "  distribution  of  honours"  is 
eagerly  sought  after. 

Members  of  the  Royal  Family  Occupying  Responsible 


As  a  rule,  distinguished  members  of  the  Royal  Family  except 
those  holding  responsible  positions  do  not  reside  in  the  metropolis,  a 


great  number  of  them  may  be  found  scattered  all  over  the  provinces 
especially  in  the  Ekicn  Osi  or  Metropolitan  province,  where  each 
one  resides  as  a  lord  of  the  town  or  village.  They  may  take  no 
part  in  the  administration  of  affairs  in  the  town,  lest  they  over- 
shadow the  chief  of  the  town  who  is  generally  the  founder  or  his 
descendant,  but  due  deference  is  loyally  accorded  them,  and  certain 
privileges  are  granted  them  as  befitting  their  rank.  One  such  was 
Atiba  the  son  of  King  Abiodun  who  resided  in  the  town  of  Ago 
with  Oja  the  foundet,  after  whose  death  Atiba  became  practically 
the  master  of  the  town  before  he  was  subsequently  elected  King. 

Some  of  the  princes  with  a  large  family  and  a  large  following 
build  their  own  town  and  become  lord  of  the  town.  Such  was 
Ayeijin  who  built  the  town  ot  Surii  near  the  ancient  Oyo  popularly 
known  as  He  Gbager^  from  the  attributive  of  the  founder. 

There  are  those  however,  who  hold  high  positions  in  the  govern- 
ment such  as  the  following : — 

I.  The  OxNA  Isokun.      2,  The  Ona  Aka.      3.  The  Omo-Ola. 

These  are  known  as  thejathers  of  the  King,  hence  the  saying  : — 

"  Ona-Isokun  baba  Oba, 
Ona-Aka,  baba  Isokun."     i.e. 

The  Ona-Isokun  the  King's  father,  the  Ona-Aka,  father  to  the 
Isokun.  That  is  to  say  that  they  stand  in  the  relation  of  a  father 
to  the  King,  who  naturally  cannot  have  a  father  living.  To  them 
it  appertains  to  advise,  admonish,  or  instruct  the  King,  especially 
when  he  comes  to  the  throne  at  a  very  early  age,  and  as  such  lacks 
the  experience  indispensable  for  the  due  performance  of  his  all- 
important  duty.     The  titles  are  hereditary. 

We  have  seen  above  that  the  nomination  to  the  throne  is  in 
their  hands.  The  Ona  I§okun  seems  to  be  the  most  responsible 
of  the  three.  We  have  seen  that  the  King-elect  is  to  sleep  in  his 
house  the  first  night  after  his  election,  as  the  formal  call  to  the 
throne  comes  from  him.  Lustrations,  divinations,  and  propitiations 
for  the  new  King  are  done  in  his  house.  Part  also  of  the  ceremony 
of  creating  the  Aremg  is  periormed  in  his  house ;  there  all  the 
princes  are  entertained  in  festivities,  and  there  also  all  crown  princes 
are  buried  if  they  die  in  that  position. 

Next  to  the  above  are  those  who  are  termed  "  brothers  "  to  the 
King,  they  are  : — 

1.  The  Magaji  lyajin  4.  The  Atingisi 

2.  The  Olusami  5.  The  Agunpopo 

3.  The  Arole  Oba  6.  The  Arole  lya  Oba. 


Officially,  the  Aremg  takes  his  rank  among  these  princes, 
especially  in  public  assemblies  and  is  generally  reckoned  as  the 
last  of  them  in  official  order. 

As  the  king  must  have  official  "  father  "  and  "  mother  "  so  also 
must  he  have  official  "  brothers."  Of  these  the  Magaji  lyajin  is 
the  most  distinguished.  He  is  known  as  the  King's  elder  brother, 
whose  duty  is  to  perform  the  part  of  an  elder  to  a  younger  brother 
by  defending  his  interests. 

The  term  "  Magaji "  is  the  natural  title  of  every  heir  to  a  great 
estate  and  is  usually  borne  by  the  eldest  son  (or  anyone  in  that 
relation)  in  the  family.  In  this  official  royal  circle  the  lyajin 
is  the  eldest  son.  The  term  "  lyajin  "  impUes  the  repelling  of  insults 
and  indignities.  The  title  therefore  means  the  elder  brother, 
who  wards  off  insults  and  indignities. 

This  will  often  be  found  necessary  when  the  King  is  young  and 
inexperienced,  and  too  conscious  of  his  power,  or  sometimes  rash. 
It  is  the  Magaji's  place  to  let  the  consequences  of  his  action  fall 
on  himself  rather  than  on  the  King  who  is  the  embodiment  of 
the  nation. 

The  Ar-ole  Ob.\  is  the  official  in  whose  house  all  the  princes  are 
to  be  buried,  and  in  the  month  of  July  every  year  the  whole  of 
the  princes  and  princesses,  from  the  Ona-Isokun  downwards 
including  the  Ar§mg  repair  to  his  house  to  worship  the  spirits 
of  their  deceased  ancestors.  A  horse  is  usually  offered  in  sacrifice, 
and  all  have  to  feed  on  the  flesh  of  the  same.  The  lyajiu's  portion 
is  the  head. 

The  Aremo  as  we  have  seen  above  is  the  Crown  Prince.  The  term 
signifies  an  heir  apparent,  lit.  Chief  of  the  sons.  How  the  title  is 
formally  conferred  has  been  seen  above. 

The  Aremo  practically  reigns  with  his  father,  having  nearly 
equal  power,   especially  when  the  monarch  is  old  and  feeble. 

From  the  period  of  the  greatest  prosperity  of  the  nation  to  the 
time  of  the  intertribal  wars,  the  Aremgs  v/ere  almost  invariably 
tyrannical,  and  given  to  excess  :  they  contributed  largely  to  the 
disloyal  explosion  that  caused  the  civil  wars  and  the  breaking  up 
of  the  unity  of  the  Yoruba  kingdom  ;  they  were.therefore,  required 
to  die  with  the  father  at  his  demise.  Otherwise  they  expect 
to  succeed  to  the  throne  as  in  earliest  times,  but  they  had  to  be 
elected  thereto  by  the  constitutional  king-makers  who  would 
never  elect  one  who  has  been  infamous. 

Since  King  Atiba  in  1858  disallowed  the  practice  in  favour  of 
his  Ar§mo  Adelu,  the  custom  has  died  out  both  for  the  Aremo 
and  the  other  princes. 

70  the  history  of  the  yorubas 

The  Nobility 

There  are  two  classes  of  noblemen  at  Oyo  ;  in  the  first,  the 
title  is  hereditary ;  the  second  which  is  strictly  military  is  the 
reward  of  merit  alone,  and  not  necessarily  hereditary.  In  both, 
each  member  is  styled  "  Iba  "  which  means  a  lord  being  a  dimuni- 
tive  of  "  Oba  "  a  king. 

A.    The  Oyo  Mesi 

The  first  class  of  noblemen  consists  of  the  most  noble  and  most 
honourable  councillors  of  state,  termed  the  Oyq  Mesi.  They  are 
also  the  king-makers.  They  are  seven  in  number  and  of  the 
following  order  : — 

(i)  The  Osorun,  (2)  Agbakin,  (3)  Samu,  (4)  Alapini,  {5)  Laguna, 
(6)  Akiniku,  (7)  A§ipa. 

The  title  of  each  (as  above  said)  is  hereditary  in  the  same 
family  but  not  necessarily  from  father  to  son  ;  it  is  within  the 
King's  prerogative  to  select  which  member  of  the  family  is  to 
succeed  to  the  title  or  he  may  alter  the  succession  altogether. 

They  represent  the  voice  of  the  nation  ;  on  them  devolves  the 
chief  duty  of  protecting  the  interests  of  the  kingdom.  The  King 
must  take  counsel  with  them  whenever  any  important  matter 
affecting  the  state  occurs.  Each  of  them  has  his  state  duty 
to  perform,  and  a  special  deputy  at  court  every  morning  and 
afternoon  and  whom  they  send  to  the  AlAfin  at  other  times  when 
their  absence  is  unavoidable  ;  they  are,  however,  required  to 
attend  court  in  person  the  first  day  of  the  (Yoruba)  week,  for  the 
Jakuta  (Sango)  worship  and  to  partake  of  the  sacrificial  feast. 

(i)  The  OsQrtm  or  Iba  Osorun  (contr.  to  Basorun  i.e.,  the  lord 
that  performs  the  "  Oran  ")  may  be  regarded  as  the  Prime  Minister 
and  Chancellor  of  the  kingdom  and  something  more.  He  is  not 
only  the  president  of  the  council  but  his  power  and  influence  are 
immeasurably  greater  than  those  of  the  others  put  together.  His 
is  the  chief  voice  in  the  election  of  a  King,  and  although  the  King 
as  supreme  is  vested  with  absolute  power,  yet  that  power  must  be 
exercised  within  the  limit  of  the  unwritten  constitution,  but  if 
he  is  ultra-tyrannical  and  withal  unconstitutional  and  unacceptable 
to  the  nation  it  is  the  Basorun's  prerogative  as  the  mouth-piece 
of  the  people  to  move  his  rejection  as  a  King  in  which  case  His 
Majesty  has  no  alternative  but  to  take  poison  and  die. 

His  Highness  being  a  prince  is  practically  as  absolute  as  a  King 
in  his  own  quarter  of  the  town. 

Next  to  the  AlAfin  in  authority  and  power,  he  often  performs 
the  duties  of  a  King.     He  takes  precedence  of  all  provincial 


kings  and  princes.  There  were  times  in  the  history  of  the  nation 
when  the  Basoruns  were  more  powerful  than  the  Alafin  himself. 

During  the  long  course  of  history  there  have  been  several  alliances 
between  the  two  families  so  that,  in  the  older  line  of  Basoruns 
at  any  rate,  the  blood  of  the  royal  family  runs  also  in  their  veins. 

Several  points  of  similarity  may  be  noted  between  the  AlAfin 
and  his  Basorun  The  AlAfin  is  Oba  (a  king)  he  is  Iba  (a  lord). 
The  AlAfin' s  wives  are  called  Ayaba,  the  Basorun's  Ayinba. 
They  are  similarly  clothed,  carrying  their  heads  bare  and  shaven, 
and  their  head- bands  used  as  belts ;  but  the  Ayinbas  are  not  equally 
avoided  by  men  as  the  Ayabas  are. 

The  Iha  Osorun  has  kgbis  to  his  palace  as  well,  but  a  limited 
number ;  those  of  the  AlAfin  being  unlimited.  He  too  has  a 
number  of  Ilaris  as  a  king,  but  they  must  be  created  for  him  by  the 

The  AlAfin  has  his  crown,  his  throne,  his  Ejigba  round  his 
neck.  The  Osorun  has  a  specially  made  coronet  of  his  own,  a 
specially  ornamented  skin  called  the  Wabi  on  which  he  sits,  and  a 
string  of  beads  round  his  neck  also  like  the  Ejigba. 

We  have  seen  that  at  the  principal  festivals  of  the  AlAfin,  the 
Basorun  also  has  minor  festivals  to  observe  in  conjunction  and 
has  his  part  to  plaj'  at  the  main  observance  also. 

When  the  AlAfin  reigns  long  and  peacefully  enough  to  celebrate 
the  Bebe,  a  festival  akin  to  the  royal  jubilee,  the  Basorun  must 
follow  with  the  Owark. 

But  it  is  a  peculiarity  of  theBasorun's  children  that  the  boys  are 
never  circumcised. 

Although  the  title  is  hereditary  in  the  same  family  yet  it  is 
within  the  King's  power  to  change  the  line  of  succession  when 
necessity  demands  that  course. 

Thus  the  whole  unwritten  constitution  of  the  Yorubas  seems  to 
be  a  system  of  checks  and  counter-checks,  and  it  has  on  the 
whole  worked  well  for  the  country. 

There  have  been  five  different  families  of  the  Basorun  line, 
each  one  with  its  distinctive  cognomen.  The  first  and  oldest 
belonged  to  the  family  totem  of  Ogun  (the  god  of  war)  and  have 
for  appellatives  Moro,  Ma§o,  Mawd,  Maja,  Ogun.  This  was  the 
original  line  contemporary  with  the  earh'est  Kings.  It  covers 
the  reign  of  i8  Kings  and  ended  with  Basorun  Yamba,  in  the  reign 
of  King  OjiGi. 

With  the  long  lease  of  power  and  influence  enjoyed  by  this 
family,  it  became  as  wealthy  and  great  as,  or  even  greater  than  the 
sovereign  himself,  especially  as  some  of  the  Basoruns  out-lived 
two  or  three  successive  Kings.  Therefore  King  Gberu  the  successor 


of  Ojigi  transferred  the  succession  to  his  friend  Jambu  of  another 
line,  whose  appellatives  were  Maja  Maro.  This  hne  embraced 
the  reign  of  seven  Kings  and  ended  with  Asamu  in  Abiodun's 

The  third  began  with  Alobitoki  in  Aole's  reign,  having  the 
appellatives  of  Maja  Majo  of  the  totem  of  Agan. 

This  line  was  not  allowed  to  continue,  it  flourished  during  the 
reign  of  one  King  only,  for  Ojo  Abuiumaku  the  son  of  Onisigun 
and  grandson  of  Basorun  Ga  was  of  the  older  line.  The  fourth 
line  began  with  Akioso  in  King  MaJOTU's  reign,  and  also  ended 
with  himself  in  the  reign  of  Oluewu,  the  last  of  ancient  Oyo. 
This  family  was  rather  insignificant. 

Oluyole  the  first  Basorun  of  the  new  city  was  the  grandson  of 
Basorun  Yamba,  and  therefore  of  the  older  Ogun  Hne. 

The  fifth  and  last  line  commenced  with  Gbenla  in  the  reign  of 
King  Atiba,  the  totem  is  Aye  and  is  the  family  now  in  office 
and  has  already  lasted  through  the  reign  of  three  kings. 

The  Basoruns  of  Ibadan  after  Oluyole  are  only  honorary  with 
no  national  duties  attached  to  the  office. 

A  Synopsis  of  the  Basorun  Family 

Ba§oruns.  Appellatives.           Family  Totems. 

1.  Efufukoferi  to  Yamba  Moro,  Maso,  Maja            Ogun 

2.  Jambu  to  Asamu  Maja  Maro                          (?) 

3.  Alobitoki  Maja  Majo                     Agan 

4.  Akioso  (?)                           Ese 

5.  Gbenla  to  Layode  (?)                           Aye 

(2)  The  Aghakin. — The  duties  of  this  official  are  not  so  well- 
defined,  but  the  present  Agbakin  has  the  charge  of  the  worship  of 

(3)  Satnu.     The  duties  of  the  Samu  are  not  clearly  known. 

(4)  The  A  lapini. — He  is  the  head  of  the  Egugun  mysteries,  and 
as  such  he  is  at  the  head  of  religious  affairs  in  general.  He  has 
the  charge  of  the  famous  Jenju,  who  is  the  head  Egugun  of  the 
country,  and  who  executes  witches  !  He  is  at  once  a  religious 
and  a  secular  personage  ;  he  shares  with  the  priests  all  rehgious 
offerings,  and  in  secular  matters  with  the  noblemen  of  his  class. 
By  virtue  or  his  peculiar  office  he  must  be  a  monorr.his. 

(5)  The  Laguna  is  the  state  ambassador  in  critical  times. 

^6)  The  Akiniku. — The  real  duties  of  this  officer  are  not  known. 

(7)  The  Asipa  as  the  last  of  them  performs  the  duties  of  the 
junior.  He  is  called  the  "  Ojuwa,"  i.e.  the  one  who  distributes 
whatever  presents  are  given  to  the  Oyo  Mesi.    The  Basorun  in 


these  cases  has  always  the  lion's  share  viz.,  one  half  of  the  whole, 
the  other  half  being  equally  divided  between  the  rest  of  them. 

The  Asipa  of  the  present  Oyo  being  the  son  of  Oja  the  founder 
of  the  town,  has  the  chief  voice  in  all  municipal  affairs.  He  is 
thereby  acknowledged  to  be  the  master  of  the  town. 

The  provincial  kings  and  ruhng  princes  rank  also  as  the  noblemen 
of  the  first-class. 

B.    The  E§qs 

Next  in  importance  to  the  Oyo  Mesi  and  of  a  rank  below  them 
are  the  Esos  or  guardians  of  the  kingdom.  These  constitute  the 
noblemen  of  the  second  class.  They  also  are  addressed  as  "  Iba." 
It  is  a  military  title,  not  necessarily  hereditary.  It  is  the  reward  of 
merit  alone,  and  none  but  tried  and  proved  soldiers  are  selected 
for  that  rank. 

First  and  foremost  among  them  and  apart  by  himself  stands  the 
Kakanfo,  an  Esq  of  the  Esos.     Then  the  70  captains  of  the  guard 
ten  of  whom  are  under  each  of  the  seven  councillors.     Each  wears 
an  Akoro  (or  coronet)  and  carries  in  his  hand  no  weapon,  but  a  baton 
or  staff  of  war  known  as  The  Invincible. 
There  is  a  common  saying  which  runs  thus  : — 
"  Ohun  meji  I'o  ye  Eso 
Esg  ja  O  le  ogan 
Esq  ja  O  ku  si  ogun." 
One  of  two  things  befits  an  E§g 
The  5so  mast  fight  and  conquer  (or) 
The  E§o  must  fight  and  peiish  (in  war). 
He  is  never  to  turn  his  back,  he  must  be  victorious  or  die  in  war. 
There  is  another  saying  : — 

"  Esq  ki  igba  Oik  lehin 
Afi  bi  o  ba  gbogbe  niwaju  gangan." 
An  Esq  must  never  be  shot  in  the  back 
His  wounds  must  always  be  right  in  front. 
Also  another  saying  : — 

"  Alakoro  ki  isa  ogun." 
One  who  wears  a  coronet  must  never  flee  in  battle. 
They  are  of  two  ranks  16  superior  and  54  inferior,  70  in  all 
and  they  all  must  reside  in  the  capital. 


The  following 

are  the  titles 

of   the  former, 

all  of  which 

significant : — 


Esq  Qraiiyan 
















So  much  is  this  title  thought  of  by  military  men  and  others 
and  so  great  is  the  enthusiasm  it  inspires,  that  even  the  children 
and  grandchildren  of  an  Esq  hold  themselves  bound  to  maintain 
the  spirit  and  honour  of  their  sires.  The  Eso  is  above  everything 
else  noble  in  act  and  deed. 

"  Emi  omo  Eso  "  (me  born  of  an  Eso)  is  a  proud  phrase  generally 
used  even  to  this  day  by  any  ot  their  descendants  to  show  their 
scorn  for  anything  mean  or  low,  or  their  contempt  tor  any  difficulty, 
danger,  or  even  death  itself. 

Most  of  the  Egba  chiefs  sprang  from  the  Esgs  of  Qyq,  Okukemu 
the  first  "  king  "  of  Ab§okuta  was  a  Sagbua, 

A  special  notice  must  now  be  taken  of  the  Kakanfo  who  stands 
at  the  head  of  the  Esos. 

The  Kakanfo.  The  title  given  in  full  is  Are-Ona-Kakanfo. 
It  is  a  title  akin  to  a  field-marshal,  and  is  conferred  upon  the 
greatest  soldier  and  tactician  ot  the  day. 

This  title  was  introduced  into  the  Yoruba  country  by  King 
AjACBO,  one  of  the  earliest  and  most  renowned  of  Yoruba  Kings. 

Like  the  Ilaris,  at  the  time  of  his  taking  office,  he  is  first  to 
shave  his  head  completely,  and  201  incisions  are  made  on  his 
occiput,  with  201  different  lancets  and  specially  prepared  ingredi- 
ents from  201  viols  are  rubbed  into  the  cuts,  one  lor  each.  This  is 
supposed  to  render  him  fearless  and  courageous.  They  are  always 
shaved,  but  the  hair  on  the  inoculated  part  is  allowed  to  grow 
long,  and  when  plaited,  forms  a  tuft  or  a  sort  of  pigtail. 

Kakanfos  are  generally  very  stubborn  and  obstinate.  They 
have  all  been  more  or  less  troublesome,  due  it  is  supposed  to  the 
effect  of  the  ingredients  they  were  inoculated  with.  In  war,  they 
carry  no  weapon  but  a  baton  known  as  the  "  King's  invincible 
staff."  It  is  generally  understood  that  they  are  to  give  way  to 
no  one  not  even  to  the  King,  their  master.  Hence  Kakanfos  are 
never  created  in  the  capital  but  in  any  other  town  in  the  kingdom. 

There  can  be  but  one  Kakanfo  at  a  time.  By  virtue  of  his  office 
he  is  to  go  to  war  once  in  3  years  to  whatever  place  the  King  named, 
and,  dead  or  aUve,  to  return  home  a  Victor,  or  be  brought  home  a 
corpse  within  three  months. 

The  ensigns  of  office  are  : — 

1.  The  Ojijiko.  This  is  a  cap  made  of  the  red  feathers  of  the 
parrot's  tail,  with  a  projection  behind  reaching  as  far  down  as  the 

2.  An  apron  of  leopard's  skin,  and  a  leopard's  skin  to  sit  on 

3.  The  Asis6  or  pigtail  as  above  described. 

4.  The  Staff  Invincible. 


The  following  are  the  Kakanfos  who  have  ever  borne  office 
in  the  Yoruba  country  : — 

1.  Kokoro  gangan  of  Iw6ye 

2.  Oyatope  ,, 

3.  Oyabi  ,,     Ajase 

4.  Adeta  ,,     Jabata 

5.  Oku  ,,     Jabata 

6.  Aignja  I'aiya  I'ok^      ,,     Ilorin 

7.  Toyeje  ,,     Ogbomoso 

8.  Edun  ,,     Gbogun 

9.  Amep6  ,,     Abem6 

10.  Kurumi  ,,     Ijaye 

11.  Ojo  Aburumaku         „     Ogbomoso  (son  of  Toyej§) 

12.  Latosisa  ,,     Ibadan  the  last  to  hold  office. 

Nearly  the  whole  of  them  were  connected  with  stirring  times  and 
upheavals  in  the  country.  Afonja  of  Ilorin,  Toyeje  of  Ogbomoso 
Kurumi  of  Ijaye,  and  Latosisa  of  Ibadan  being  specially  famous. 
Ojo  Aburumaku  of  fought  no  battles,  there  being  no 
wars  daring  the  period  ;  the  change  that  has  taken  place  in  the 
country  left  the  Ibadans  at  this  time  masters  of  all  warlike  oper- 
ations. But  in  order  to  keep  his  hand  in,  he  fomented  a  civil 
war  at  Ogbomoso  wliich  he  also  repressed  with  vigour. 

Provincial   Governments  and  Titles 

Every  town,  village  or  hamlet  is  under  a  responsible  head, 
either  a  provincial  "  king"  or  a  Bale  (mayor).  In  every  case 
the  title  is  hereditary  (excepting  at  Ibadan)  as  such  heads  are 
invariably  the  founder  or  descendants  ot  the  founder  of  their  town. 

The  provincial  kings  are  styled  the  lords  of  their  town  or  district, 
and  from  it  they  take  their  title,  e.g.  : — 

The  Onikoyi,  lord  of  Ikoyi  ;  Aseyin,  lord  of  Iseyin  ;  Alake, 
lord  or  Ake  ;  Olowu,  lord  of  Owu  ;  Oluiwo,  lord  of  Iwo  ;  Alakija, 
lord  of  Ikija,  etc.  There  are  a  few  exceptions  to  this  rule,  where  the 
first  ruler  had  a  distinctive  name  or  title  before  he  became  the 
head  of  the  town  or  district,  e.g.  : — 

Timi  of  Ede,  Atawoja  of  Osogbo,  Awujadg  of  Ijebu,  Okere  of 
Saki,  Onibode  of  Igboho,  etc.,  in  which  case  the  distinctive  name 
becomes  the  hereditary  title  of  the  chief  ruler. 

A  provincial  king  is,  of  course,  higher  than  a  Bale  as  a  duke  or 
an  earl  is  higher  than  a  mayor.  They  are  privileged  to  build 
kobis  to  their  palaces,  and  to  create  Ilaris  which  Bales  are  not 
entitled  to  do.  They  are  also  allowed  an  Akoro  (coronet)  which 
Bales  are  not  allowed  to  have  ;   but  few  of  them  indulge  in  large 


state  umbrellas.  They  are  invested  originally  with  power  from 
Oyo  whither  they  usually  repair  to  obtain  their  titles,  the  sword 
of  justice  being  given  them  by  the  AlAfin  at  their  installation. 
Every  one  of  them  as  well  as  every  important  Balg  has  an  official 
at  Oyo  through  whom  they  can  communicate  with  the  crown. 

They  are  also  invested  with  an  Qpaga  by  which  they  are  em- 
powered to  make  and  keep  an  Ilari.  The  Qpaga  is  an  iron  instru- 
ment of  the  shape  of  an  Osain,  but  taller  and  is  surmounted  with  the 
figure  of  a  bird.  This  is  the  Qsain  worshipped  b}'  Ilaris.  To  be 
deprived  of  it  is  equivalent  to  being  deprived  oi  one's  rank. 

To  dethrone  a  kingling,  he  is  publicly  divested  of  his  robe 
and  sandals  and  the  announcement  is  made  that  XYZ  having 
forfeited  his  title,  he  is  deprived  of  it  by  AB  his  suzerain  or  teudal 

The  following  are  the  kinglings  in  the  Oyo  provinces. 

1.  In  the  Ekun  Osi  or  Metropohtan  province  : — • 

The  Onikoyi  of  Ikoyi  ;  Olugbon  of  Igbon  ;  Aresa  of  Iresa  ; 
the  Ompetu  of  Ijeru  ;    Olofa  of  Ofa. 

2.  In  the  Ekun  Otun  province : — 

Sabigana  of  Igana  ;  Oniwere  of  Iwere  ;  ^Alasia  of  Asia  ;  Onjo 
of  Oke'ho  ;  Bagijan  of  Igijan  ;  Okere  of  Saki  ;  Alapata  of  Ibode  ; 
Ona  Onibode  of  Igboho  ;  Elerinpo  of  Ipapo  ;  Ikihisi  ol  Kihisi ; 
As§yin  of  Is§yin  ;  Alado  of  Ado  ;  Eleruwa  of  Eruwa  ;  Qloje  of 

3.  In  the  Ibolg  province  : — 

The  Akirun  ot  Ikirun  ;  Olobu  of  Ilobu;  Timi  of  Ede.  the  Ata- 
woja  of  Osogbo  ;   Adimula  of  Ife  Odan. 

4.  In  the  Epo  province  : 

The  Oluiwo  of  Iwo  ;   Ondese  of  Idese. 

Of  these  vassal  kings  the  Onikoyi,  Olugbon,  the  Aresa  and  the 
Timi  are  the  most  ancient. 

Since  the  wave  of  Fulani  invasion  swept  away  the  first 
three,  those  titles  exist  only  in  name.  The  Onikoyi  has  a 
quarter  at  Ibadan,  the  bulk  of  the  Ikoyi  people  being  at  Ogbomoso, 
the  family  is  still  extant  and  the  title  kept  up.*  The  same  may  be 
said  of  the  Aresa  at  Ilorin.  But  wherever  the  representative  head 
of  the  family  may  be,  he  is  completely  subject  to  the  ruler  of  the 
town,  be  he  a  Bale  or  a  king.  Thus  the  Olugbon  at  Ogbomoso 
is  subject  to  the  Balgof  Ogbomoso,  the  Aresa  to  the  king  or  Emir 

^  The  Alasia  is  the  only  man  privileged  not  to  prostrate  before 
the  Alafin  in  salutation  according  to  the  custom  ot  the  country. 
He  sits  on  a  stool  with  his  back  turned  towards  him. 

*  The  town  has  been  rebuilt  and  the  Onikoyi  returned  home  in 


of  Ilorin,  and  similarly  the  Olowu  at  Abeokuta  is  nominally  subject 
to  the  Alake,  the  primus  of  the  Egba  chiefs. 

In  the  Ekun  Osi  and  Ekun  Otun  provinces,  no  special  remarks 
are  called  for  in  the  arrangement  of  the  titles  in  the  government  ; 
they  are  for  the  most  part  a  modified  form  of  the  Oyo  titles. 

IbglQ  titles. — Amongst  the  Ibglgs  the  royal  family  is  called 
Omolaisin.  The  title  next  to  that  of  the  king  which  answers  to  the 
Basorun  is  the  Osa,  next  to  the  Osa  comes  the  Aro,  then  the 
Odofin  and  then  the  Ejemu.  These  are  the  principal  councillors. 
The  other  subordinate  titles  are  chiefly  military  viz.,  the  Jagun 
and  his  heutenants  the  Olukotun  and  Olukosi.  Then  the  Agbakin, 
Gbonka,  Asipa  which  are  Oyo  titles  that  have  been  borrowed. 
Then  the  Saguna,  Sakgtun,  Sakosi,  Asape,  Oladifi  Esinkin,  and 
the  Ar'oguny6. 

The  Elesije  is  the  chief  physician. 

Smaller  towns  are  governed  by  the  Bale,  and  the  Jagun  (or 
Balogun)  is  the  next  to  him.  In  time  of  war,  the  Bale  appoints 
the  Jagun  to  go  with  the  Kakanfo  to  any  expedition  to  which  the 
AlAfin  may  send  the  latter  ;  but  if  it  is  a  great  expedition  to  which 
he  appoints  the  Onikoyi,  all  the  other  vassal  kings,  and  the  Bales 
of  every  town  were  bound  to  go  with  him.  The  affairs  of  the  town 
are  then  left  to  be  administered  by  the  Bale  Agbe,  i.e.  the  chief  of 
the  farmers.  The  duties  of  the  Bale  Agbe  on  ordinary  occasions 
are  to  superintend  the  tax  collectors,  and  to  assist  the  Jagun  who 
superintends  the  cleaning  ot  the  roads. 

The  Iy.\lode,  i.e.  the  queen  of  the  ladies  is  a  title  bestowed 
upon  the  most  distinguished  lady  in  the  town.  She  has  also 
her  lieutenants  Otun,  Osi,  Ekcrin,  etc.,  as  any  of  the  other  principal 
chiefs  of  the  town.  Some  of  these  lyalodes  command  a  force  of 
powerful  warriors,  and  have  a  voice  in  the  council  of  the  chiefs. 
Through  the  lyalode,  the  women  of  the  town  can  make  their 
voices  heard  in  municipal  and  other  affairs. 

The  King's  civil  officers  judge  all  minor  cases,  but  all  important 
matters  are  transferred  to  the  AlAfin  of  Oyo  whose  decision  and 
laws  were  as  unalterable  as  those  of  the  ancient  Medes  and  Persians. 

The   Egba  Province 

"  Egba  k6  I'Olu,  gbogbo  won  ni  nse  bi  Oba  (i.e.  Egbas  have 
no  king  all  of  them  act  like  a  king),  is  a  common  saying.  That 
is  to  say,  they  have  no  king  that  rules.  The  king  is  acknowledged 
as  the  head  of  the  government,  but  only  as  a  figure  head.  More 
marked  was  this  when  they  lived  in  separate  townships  before 
their  concentration  at  Abeokuta.  The  Ogbonis  constitute  the 
town  council,  and  they  are  also  the  executive,  and  even  the 


"  king"  was  subject  to  them.  The  same  rule  holds  good  even 
at  Abeokuta  for  each  township. 

Amongst  the  highest  Ogboni  titles  are  : — 

The  Aro,  Oluwo,  Apena,  Ntowa,  Bala,  Basala  Baki,  Asipa, 
Asalu,  Lajila,  Apesi,  Esinkin  Ola,  Bayimbo,  Odgfin. 

The  warriors  rank  next  after  the  Ogbonis,  the  Balogun  and  the 
Seriki  being  the  most  important. 

The  Ijebu  Province 

Among  the  Ijebus  the  civil  authorities  are  of  three  divisions, 
viz.,  the  Osugbos  or  Ogboni,  2,  the  Ipampa,  and  3  the  Lamurin. 
Without  these  acting  in  concert,  no  law  can  be  enacted  or  repealed. 
Of  these  bodies,  the  Osugbos  are  the  highest  for  even  the  king  him- 
self must  be  of  that  fraternity.     The  Lamurins  are  the  lowest. 

Amongst  the  Egbas  and  Ijebus,  the  Ogbonis  are  the  chief 
executive,  they  have  the  power  of  life  and  death,  and  power  to 
enact  and  to  repeal  laws  :  but  in  the  Oyo  provinces  the  Ogbonis 
have  no  such  power ;  they  are  rather  a  consultative  and  advisory 
body,  the  king  or  Bale  being  supreme,  and  only  matters  involving 
bloodshed  are  handed  over  to  the  Ogbonis  for  judgment  or  for 
execution  as  the  king  sees  fit. 

The  actual  executioners  at  Oyo  are  the  Tetus,  amongst  the 
Ibglos,  the  Jagun,  and  in  the  Epo  districts  the  Akgdas  or  sword 
bearers  of  the  principal  chiefs,  acting  together. 

The    Ijesa   and   Ekiti  Provinces 

In  the  Ijega  and  Ekiti  provinces  the  form  of  government  is 
more  or  less  alike,  with  slight  modifications.  The  tendency  is  to 
adopt  the  Oyo  forms  ;  but  they  have  some  admirable  systems  of 
their  own.  The  municipal  arrangements  of  the  Ijesas  are  quite 

It  has  been  mentioned  above  that  there  are  16  provincial 
kings  recognised  in  the  Ekiti  province  under  four  principal  ones. 
The  title  of  Owa  is  a  generic  term  for  them  all,  including  that  of 
Ilesa.  The  Owa  of  Ilesa  stands  by  himself,  for  the  Ekitis  hold  the 
Ijesas  separate  from  themselves. 

The  Orangun  of  Ila  is  sometimes  reckoned  amongst  the  Ekitis  ; 
but  he  is  not  an  Ekiti  although  his  sympathies  are  with  them. 
He  aims  at  being  the  head  of  the  Igbomina  tribes,  but  Ila  seems 
to  stand  by  itself. 

Titles  in  ancient  times  may  be  obtained  by  competition,  and  it 
was  not  always  the  most  worthy  but  the  highest  bidder  that 
often  obtained  them. 

Chapter  V 

The  naming  of  a  child  is  an  important  affair  amongst  the 
Yorubas  ;  it  is  always  attended  with  some  ceremonies.  These  of 
course  differ  somewhat,  amongst  the  different  tribes. 

The  naming  usually  takes  place  on  the  9th  day  of  birth  if  a 
male,  or  on  the  7th  if  a  female  ;  if  they  happen  to  be  twins  of 
both  sexes,  it  will  be  on  the  8th  day.  Moslem  children  of  either 
sex  are  invariably  named  on  the  8th  day. 

It  is  on  that  day  the  child  is  for  the  first  time  brought  out  of 
the  room,  hence  the  term  applied  to  this  event — Ko  omg  jade 
(bringing  out  the  child).  The  mother  also,  is  supposed  to  be 
in  the  lying-in  room  up  to  that  day. 

The  ceremony  is  thus  performed : — The  principal  members 
of  the  family  and  friends  having  assembled  early  in  the  morning 
of  the  day,  the  child  and  its  mother  being  brought  out  of  the 
chamber,  a  j  ugf  ul  of  water  is  tossed  up  to  the  roof  (all  Yoruba  houses 
being  low-roofed),  and  the  baby  in  the  arms  of  the  nurse  or  an 
elderly  female  member  of  the  family,  is  brought  under  the  eaves 
to  catch  the  spray,  the  baby  yells,  and  the  relatives  shout  for  joy. 
The  child  is  now  named  by  the  parents  and  elderly  members  of 
the  family,  and  festivities  follow ;  with  presents,  however  trifling, 
for  the  baby  from  every  one  interested  in  him. 

This  is  evidently  an  ancient  practice,  a  form  of  baptism  which 
the  ancestors  of  the  Yorubas  must  have  derived  from  the  eastern 
lands,  where  tradition  says  they  had  their  origin,  and  is  another 
proof  of  the  assertion  that  their  ancestors  had  some  knowledge 
of  Christianity. 

In  some  cases  there  is  also  the  offering  of  sacrifice  and 
consultation  of  the  household  oracle  on  the  child's  behalf. 

For  the  sake  of  convenience  we  call  this  the  Christening  of  the 
child.  There  are  three  sets  of  names  a  child  can  possibly  have, 
although  not  every  child  need  have  the  three  ;  one  at  least  will 
be  inapplicable. 

1.  The  Amutorunwa  i.e.  the  name  the  child  is  born  with. 

2.  The  AhisQ  i.e.  the  christening  name. 

3.  The  Oriki  i.e.  the  cognomen  or  attributive  name. 

A  few  remarks  on  each  of  these  sets  of  names  will  serve  to 
elucidate  their  meanings. 



I.  The  Amutqrunwa 

r  A  child  is  said  to  be  "born  with  a  name"  {lit.  brought  from 
heaven)  when  the  peculiar  circumstance  of  its  birth  may  be 
expressed  by  a  name  which  is  apphcable  to  all  children  born  under 
like  circumstances.  The  most  important  of  these  is  twin-births. 
No  condition  is  invested  with  an  air  of  greater  importance,  or  has 
a  halo  of  deeper  mystery  about  it,  than  that  of  twin-births  ; 
the  influence  is  felt  even  upon  children  that  may  be  born  after 
them.  Twins  in  Yoruba  are  almost  credited  with  extra-human 
powers,  although  among  some  barbarous  tribes  they  are  regarded 
as  monsters  to  be  despatched  at  once. 

Taixvo  or  Eho. — The  name  of  the  first  born  of  twins,  applicable 
to  either  sex.  It  is  a  shortened  form  of  To-aiye-w6  (have  the 
first  taste  of  the  world).  The  idea  is  that  the  first  born  was  sent 
forward  to  announce  the  coming  of  the  latter,  and  he  is  considered 
the  younger  of  the  two.  [Compare  the  stories  of  Esau  and  Jacob, 
and  of  Pharez  and  Zarah,in  both  of  which  the  first  born  of  the  twins 
virtually  became  the  younger  of  the  two.] 

Kehinde  "  He  who  lags  behind,"  i.e.  the  second  born. 
tdowu.     The  child  born  after  twins,  male  or  female,  Idowus 
are  cdways  considered  heady  and  stubborn,  hence  their  usual 

appellation  "  J)su  lehiu  ibeji  "  (the  d 1  after  twins).     There  is 

also  a  current  superstition  that  the  mother  who  has  had  twins 
and  fails  to  get  an  Idowu  in  due  course,  may  likely  go  mad  ;  the 
wild  and  stubborn  Idowu  "  flying  into  her  head  "  will  render  her 
insane  !  Hence  all  mothers  of  twins  are  never  at  ease  until  in 
due  course  the  Idowu  is  born. 

Idogbe. — The  child  after  Idowu  if  male. 
Alaba, — The  child  after  Idowu  if  female. 

Thus  we  see  the  influence  of  the  twins  affecting  the  second  and 
third  births  after  themselves. 

Eia  Okd. — The  name  given  to  the  third  of  triplets. 
The  next  to  twins  in  importance  is  the  child  named  Oni  Oni. 
This  name  is  given  to  a  small  neurotic  child  which  at  its  birth 
cries  incessantly  day  and  night.     The  child  after  Oni  is  called 
Ola,  the  next  O^^^nla,  and  so  on. 

These  names  signify  to-day,  to-morrow,  the  day  after  to-morrow, 
etc.  With  a  small  tribe  termed  the  Isih  people,  it  is  carried  on 
as  far  as  Ijgni  i.e.  the  8th  day,  if  the  mother  have  as  many. 

Asa  or  Oroyh  are  names  applied  under  conditions  similar  to 
those  of  Oni  by  some  clans.     The  latter  is  generally  preferred 
by  worshippers  of  the  god  Orisa  Oko. 
Igh  is  a  child  born  with  breech  or  footling  presentation. 


llgri  is  a  child  who  was  conceived  during  absence  of  menstru- 

Qtnope  signfies  "  the  child  is  late  "  that  is,  a  child  born  later 
than  the  normal  period  of  utero-gestation. 

Ojo  or  Aina  is  a  child  born  with  the  cord  twined  round  its  neck. 
The  choice  of  name  is  a  matter  of  preference  partly  clannish  or 
by  the  decision  of  the  family  Oracle.  Ojo,  however,  is  never 
given  to  females,  Aina  may  be  male  or  female. 

Ajayi  is  a  child  born  "with  face  downwards"  it  is  styled 
Adojude,  that  is  to  say,  when  rotation  is  absent  during  the  exit 
of  the  shoulders. 

Oke  is  a  name  given  to  a  child  which  faints  away  on  being  fed 
in  a  horizontal  position  as  is  the  custom  of  the  country. 

Oke  (a  bag)  is  a  child  born  with  membranes  unruptured. 

Salako  (male),  Talabi  (female),  a  child  born  with  the  head  and 
body  covered  with  the  caul,  or  ruptured  membranes. 

Dada  is  a  curly-headed  child  styled  "  Olowo  Ori." 

Olugbodi  is  a  child  born  With  supernumerary  digits. 

Abigna  means  "  born  by  the  way  side."  i.e.  a  child  born  when  the 
mother  is  on  a  journey,  or  away  from  home. 

Abiodun  born  at  the  new  year  or  any  annual  festival. 

Abiose  born  on  a  holy  day. 

Babatunde  means  "  father  comes  again,"  a  name  given  to 
a  male  child  born  soon  after  the  death  of  its  grandfather.  The 
sire  is  supposed  to  re-appear  in  the  newly  born. 

Abiba  is  applied  to  a  female  under  similar  circumstances. 

Yetunde  means  "  mother  comes  again  "  a  name  given  to  a  female 
child  born  soon  after  the  death  of  its  grandmother.  The  granny 
is  supposed  to  re-appear  in  the  newly  born. 

Babarimisa  (father  fled  at  my  approach)  is  the  name  given  to  a 
posthumous  child. 

Jg'hdJQ  a  child  whose  mother  died  at  its  birth  (Ichabodlike) 
or  during  the  puerperium. 

II, — The  Abiso  or  Christening  Name 

All  children  need  not  be  "  born  with  a  name  "  but  all  must 
be  named.  Names  are  not  given  at  random  because  of  their 
euphony  or  merely  because  a  distinguished  member  of  the  family 
or  of  the  community  was  so  named,  but  of  a  set  purpose  from 
circumstances  connected  with  the  child  itself,  or  with  reference 
to  the  family  fortunes  at  the  time  etc.  Hence  the  saying  : — "  He 
la  iw6  kia  to  so  omo  I'oruko  (the  state  of  the  house  must  first  be\ 
considered  before  naming  a  child).     The  names  then  are  always 



significant  of  something,  either  with  reference  to  the  child  itself 
or  to  the  family. 

A  child  may  have  two  or  more  christening  names  given  it 
one  by  each  parent  or  grandparents  if  living  or  by  any  elderly 
member  of  the  family.  Whichever  is  most  expressive  of  the  present 
circumstances  of  the  family  will  be  the  one  to  stick. 

(a)  Names  having  reference  to  the  child  itself  directly  and  indirectly 

to  the  family  : — 
Ayodele  Joy  enters  the  house. 

Onipede  The  consoler  is  come. 

Morenike  I  have  some  one  to  pet. 

Moseb'olatan      Joy  hitherto  despaired  of. 
Omoteji  A  child  big  enough  for  two. 

Akinyele  A  strong  one  befits  the  house. 

Ibiyemi  Good  birth  becomes  me. 

Ibiyinka  Surrounded  by  children. 

Ladipo  Increase  honour  (of  children  born). 

(b)  Names  having  reference  to  the  family  directly  and  indirectly 

to  the  child  itself  :  — 

Ogundalenu        Our  home  has  been  devastated  by  war. 
Otegbeye  Warfare  deprived  us  of  our  honours. 

Ogunmola  The  river  Ogun  took  away  our  honour, 

lyapib  Many  trials. 

Olabisi  Increased  honours. 

Laniyonu  Honour  is  full  of  troubles, 

Kurumi  Death  has  impoverished  me. 

Oyebisi  Increased  titles. 

(c)  Names  compounded  of  Ade,  Ola,  Olu,  Oye  originally  belonged 

to  one  of  high  or  princel}^  birth,  but  are  now  used  more  or 

less  indiscriminately : — 

Adebiyi  The  crown  has  begotten  this. 

Adegbite  The  crown  demands  a  throne. 

Olaleye  Honour  comes  fittingly,  or  is  full  of  dignity. 

Olubiyi  A  chief  has  begotten  this. 

Oyeyemi  Title  becomes  me. 

Oyewole  Title  enters  the  house  i.e.  where  the  parent 

has  a  title. 

N.B. — Ade  does  not  always  signify  a  crown,  it  may  be  taken 

from  the  verb  de  to  arrive,  it  may  then  mean  coming,  e.g., 

Adebisi  or  I        ., 

.  ,  .      t       My  commg  causes  an  increase. 

Adesina  My  coming  opens  the  way. 

Adepeju  My  coming  completes  the  number  (of  births) 

Adepoju  The  coming  has  become  too  much. 


(d)  Some  names  are  compounded  with  fetish  names  showing  the 
deity  worshipped  in  the  family  : — 

Sangobunmi       Sango  (the  god  of  thunder  and  Hghtning) 
gave  me  this. 

Ogundipe  Ogun  (the  god  of  war)  consoles  me  with  this. 

Ogunseye  Ogun  has  done  the  becoming  thing. 

Omi  yale  The  god  of  streams  visits  the  house. 

Oba-bunmi         The  King  (i.e.  god  of  small  pox)  gave  me  this 

Fabunni  Ifa  has  given  me  this. 

Fatosin  Ifa  is  worthy  to  be  worshipped. 

Fafumke  Ifa  gave  me  this  to  pet. 

Osuntoki  Osun  is  worthy  of  praise  or  honour. 

It  msLy  be  noted  that  names  compounded  with  Ifa  are  very 
common  amongst  the  Ijesas  which  shows  that  they  are  devoted 
Ifa  worshippers. 

(<;)  Compounds  of  Ode  shows  that  the  father  is  a  worshipper  of 
Ogun  or  Erinlc  : — 

Odewale  Ode  comes  to  the  house  i.e.  visits  the  family. 

Odemuyiwa        Ode  has  brought  me  this. 
These    names    are     often    confounded    with     Adewale     and 

(/)  Compounds    of    Oso    or    Efun   shows    that    the    family    is   a 
v/orshipper  of  Orisa  Oko  i.e.  the  god  of  the  fields  : — 

Osodipe  Oso  has  granted  a  consolation. 

Osodeke  Oso  has  become  a  roof  i.e.  shield  and  shelter. 

Efunsetan  Efun  has  done  it  (by  granting  the  child). 

Efunlabi  Efun  is  the  one  born. 

(g)  Compounds  of  Oje  are  peculiar  to  the  children  of  Elewi  of  Ado. 
Names  pecuUar  to  the  royal  family  of  Oyo  : — 

Male  :     Afgnja,  Tela,  Ajuan. 

Female  : — Ogboja,  Siye,  Akere. 
Yoruba  names  are  with  few  exceptions  common  to  both  genders. 
Ojo  and  Akerele,  however,  are  never  applied  to  females.  Also 
names  compounded  oi  Akin  which  means  strength  ;  and,  of  course, 
such  names  as  Babatunde,  Babarimisa  can  only  apply  to  males, 
and  Yetunde  to  females. 

Abiku   Names 

There  are  some  peculiar  names  given  to  a  certain  class  of  children 
called  "  Abiku  "  i.e.  born  to  die.  These  are  supposed  to  belong 
to  a  fraternity  of  demons  living  in  the  woods,  especially  about  and 
within  large  Iroko  trees  ;   and  each  one  of  them  coming  into  the 


world  would  have  arranged  beforehand  the  precise  time  he  will 
return  to  his  company. 

Where  a  woman  has  lost  several  children  in  infancy,  especially 
after  a  short  period  of  illness,  the  deaths  are  attributed  to  this 
cause,  and  means  are  adopted  to  thwart  the  plans  of  these  infants 
in  order  that  they  may  stay ;  for  if  they  can  only  tide  over  the 
pre-arranged  date,  they  may  go  no  more,  and  thus  entirely  forget 
their  company. 

Besides  charms  that  are  usually  tied  on  them  and  ugly  marks 

'they  are  branded  with,  in  order  that  their  old  company  may 

refuse  the  association  of  disfigured  comrades  which  must  oblige 

them  to  stay,  certain  significant  names  are  also  given  to  them  in 

order  to  show  that  their  object  has  been  anticipated. 

Such  are  the  following  names  : — 

Malomo  Do  not  go  again. 

Kosokg  There  is  no  hoe  (to  dig  a  grave  with). 

Banjoko  Sit  down  (or  stay)  with  me. 

Durosinmi  Wait  and  bury  me. 

Jekiniyin  Let  me  have  a  bit  of  respect. 

Akisatan  No  more  rags  (to  bury  you  with). 

Apara  One  who  comes  and  goes. 

Oku  The  dead. 

Igbek6yi  Even  the  bush  wont  have  this. 

Enu-kun-onipe  The  consoler  is  tired. 

Akuji  Dead  and  awake. 

Tiju-iku  Be  ashamed  to  die. 

Duro-ori-ike  Wait  and  see  how  you  will  be  petted. 

Periodical  feasts  are  usually  made  for  these  children  of  which 
beans  and  a  liberal  quantity  of  palm  oil  must  form  a  principal 
dish.  To  this  children  of  their  age  and  others  are  invited,  and  their 
company  of  demons,  although  unseen  are  supposed  to  be  present 
and  partake  of  these  viands.  This  is  supposed  to  appease  them 
and  reconcile  them  to  the  permanent  stay  of  their  comrade,  so 
that  they  may  always  have  such  to  feed  upon. 

This  superstition  accounts  for  a  rather  high  rate  of  infant 
mortality,  for  parents  are  thereby  led  away  from  the  proper  treat- 
ment of  their  ailments,  while  occupying  themselves  in  making 
charms  to  defeat  the  purpose  of  imaginary  demons  ! 

It  is  fair,  however  to  add  that  thoughtful  men  have  begun  to 
perceive  the  absurdity  of  this  superstition,  for  many  have  been 
heard  to  say  "  There  is  really  no  such  thing  as  Abiku  ;  disease  and 
hereditary  taints  are  the  true  causes  of  infantile  mortahty." 


III. — The  Oriki  or  Cognomen  or  Pet  Names 

This  is  an  attributive  name,  expressing  what  the  child  is,  or 
what  he  or  she  is  hoped  to  become.  If  a  male  it  is  always  expressive 
of  something  heroic,  brave,  or  strong ;  if  a  female,  it  is  a  term  of 
endearment  or  of  praise.  In  either  case  it  is  intended  to  have  a 
stimulating  effect  on  the  individual. 

Yorubas    are   always   particular   to    distinguish   between   the 
Oruko  (name)  and  the  Oriki  (cognomen  or  attributive). 
Male  attributive  names  :-=— 

Ajamu  One  who  seizes  after  a  fight. 

Ajagbe  One  who  carries  off  after  a  contest. 

Akunyun         One  who  buzzes  to  and  fro 
Ajani  One  who  possesses  after  a  struggle. 

Alawo  One  who  divides  and  smashes  up. 

Ak     h'        I    ^"^  conceived  after  a  single  touch. 

Alabi  or      )    Is   a   male  that  comes  after  several  female 

Alade  )        births. 

Female  attributive  names  : — 

Amoke  Whom  to  know  is  to  pet. 

Aygka  One  who  causes  joy  all  around. 

Abebi  One  born  after  a  supplication. 

Apinke  To  be  petted  from  hand  to  hand. 

Akanke  To  meet  whom  is  to  pet. 

Asabi  One  of  select  birth. 

Aw^ro  One  to  be  washed  and  dressed  up. 

Alake  One  to  be  petted  if  she  survives. 

The  use  of  the  attributive  name  is  so  common  that  many  children  \ 
are  better  known  by  it  than  by  their  real  names.  Some  do  not  ^^ 
even  know  their  own  real  names  when  the  attributive  is  popular. 
But  there  is  a  method  in  the  use  of  it  ;  as  a  rule,  only  children 
are  addressed  by  their  Oriki  by  their  elders,  especially  when  they 
wish  to  express  a  feeling  of  endearment  for  the  child.  It  is  con- 
sidered impertinent  for  a  younger  person  to  call  an  elder  by  his 
Oriki  or  pet  name. 

Certain  names  carry  their  own  attributive  with  them  e.g. 
Adeniji  (the  crown  has  a  shadow),  the  attributive  to  this  is  Apata 
.(a  rock).  Hence  Adeniji  Apata,  Apata  ni  iji  i.e.  Adeniji  is  a  rock,  a 
rock  that  casts  out  its  shadow. 

IV. — The  Orile  or  Totem 

This  is  about  the  best  place  to  take  note  of  this  singular  system. 
The  term  Orile  denotes  the  foundation  or  origin  ;  and  is  of  an 
immense  importance  in  the  tracing  of  a  pedigree.     Each  one 


denotes  a  parent  stock.  The  Orile  is  not  a  name,  it  denotes  the 
family  origin  or  Totem.  The  real  meaning  of  this  is  lost  in  obscurity. 
Some  say  they  were  descended  from  the  object  named,  which  must 
be  a  myth;  others  that  the  object  was  the  ancient  god  of  the 
family,  the  giver  of  the  children  and  other  earthly  blessings, 
or  that  the  family  is  in  some  way  connected  with  it. 

The  Totem  represents  every  conceivable  object  e.g.  Erin  (the 
elephant),  Ogun  (the  god  of  war),  Opo  (post),  Agbo  (a  ram), 
etc.  The  number  of  totems  of  course  is  large,  representing  as 
each  does  a  distinct  family.  Some  families,  however,  have  become 
extinct,  and  some  obscure  ones  there  are  who  have  lost  their  totems. 
A  married  woman  cannot  adopt  her  husband's  totem,  much 
less  his  name.  Intermarriages  within  the  same  totem  was 
originally  not  allowed,  as  coming  within  the  degree  of  consanguinity 
but  now  the  rule  is  not  rigidly  observed.  The  children  both  boys 
and  girls  take  their  father's  totem,  except  in  rare  cases,  where  the 
father  has  lost  his,  or  more  usually  when  the  mother's  indicates 
a  higher  or  nobler  rank.  Some  girls  of  noble  birth  will  marry 
below  their  rank,  but  would  have  their  children  brought  up  in 
their  own  home,  and  among  their  father's  children,  and  adopt 
his  totem.  An  illegitimate  child  if  not  acknowledged  by  the 
supposed  father  cannot  adopt  his  totem  but  the  mother's, 
especially  if  a  female. 

The  following  are  some  distinguished  Totems  : — 

Erin,  the  elephant,  the  totem  of  the  original  line  of  the  Kings. 

Ogun,  the  god  of  war,  the  totem  of  the  original  line  of  the 

Both  were  merged  in  King  Abiodun,  who  chose  to  adopt 
his  mother's  totem,  the  Basoruns  being  pre-eminent  in 
those  days.    Hence  the  present  line  of  Alafins'  is  Ogun. 

Opo  (a  post).      The  totem  of  a  noble  Oyg  family. 

Okin  (the  love  bird)  Totem  of  the  Olofa  and  the  Oloro. 

Iko  ,,  Onigusun. 

Agan  ,,  Elese. 

Edu  ,,  Onigbayi. 

Ojo  (rain)  ,,  Ologbin. 

Agbe  or  Ade  ,,  Olukoyi. 

Agbo  (a  ram)  ,,  Ajagusi  father  of  Erinle. 

Oge  ,,  Enira  and  the  Onipe. 

Ekan  ,,  Olufan 

Elo  ,,  Elerin. 

Eri  ,,  Oloyan 

Tji  ,,  Onigbeti. 

Ogo  ,,  Ijesa  families. 



WTien  the  Orukg  (name)  the  Oriki  (attributive)  and  the  Orile 
(totem)  are  given,  the  individual  becomes  distinctive,  the  family 
is  known,  and  he  can  at  any  time  be  traced. 

Two  men  may  be  found  with  the  same  name,  but  rarely  with 
the  same  cognomen  together,  and  more  rarely  still  with  the  same 
totem  as  well.  The  man  is  universally  known  by  his  Oruko 
(name)  familiarly  by  his  Oriki  (attributive).  The  Oriki  is  always 
used  in  conjunction  with  his  Orile  (the  family  stock  or  totem) 
expressed  or  understood :  always  expressed  when  endearment  or 
admiration  is  intended.  The  Orile  of  course  is  nevef  used  by  itself 
as  it  would  be  meaningless. 

A  name  given  in  full  will  appear  thus  : — 












Ibiyemi  , 


































children  although  n 

amed  trom 

the  Arabic 

:  calendar 

yet  must  have  their  Oriki  and  ( 

Drile  ;    thus 

: — 




1    Fatumg 




Irregularities  Introduced 

The  introduction  of  Christianity  and  the  spread  of  British 
influence  over  the  country  have  been  the  causes  of  great  irregulari- 
ties in  names  which  one  meets  with  now  in  the  Yoruba  country. 

The  early  missionaries,  notably  those  of  Sierra  Leone,  abolished 
native  names  wholesale,  considering  them  "  heathenish,"  and 
substituted  European  names  instead  :  such  names  are  naturally 
transmitted  to  their  children  anglice,  hence  the  incongruities 
of  names  that  puzzle  a  foreigner  on  his  first  landing  in  West  Africa. 

But  with  more  enlightenment  and  better  knowledge,  a  gradual 
change  is  coming  over  this  ;  educated  Yorubas  cannot  see  why 
Philip  Jones  or  Geoffrey  Williams  should  be  more  Christian  than 
Adewale  or  Ibiyemi  ;  he  knows  what  these  mean,  the  former  to 
him  are  but  mere  sounds,  nor  are  their  meanings — even  wh(  n 
known — an  improvement  on  his  own. 

But  nothing  sticks  so  fast  as  a  name,  and  nothing  more  difficult 
to  eradicate  ;  for  even  in  spite  of  the  better  knowledge  Christians 
still  give  to  their  children  foreign  names  although  in  conjunction 
with  a  Yoruba  name.     That  an  English  name  should  be  given  at 


all  can  hardly  be  contended  to  be  necessary,  but  the  practice  is 
defended  by  many  who  plead  for  it  a  universal  custom,  e.g.  that 
a  convert  to  Mohammedanism  adopts  a  Moslem  or  Arabic 
name  ;  analogously  therefore  only  Biblical  names  ought  to  be 
given,  but  in  the  British  West  African  colonies,  Yoruba  and  other 
tribes  with  Christian  names  include  English,  Scotch,  Irish,  Welsh, 
German  and  Dutch  names  ! 

But  there  is  another  consideration  that  helps  to  rivet  the  yoke. 
It  invariably  appears  that  most  of  those  who  have  EngHsh  or  other 
foreign  names,  are  in  some  way  connected  with  English  education 
and  with  Christianity,  and  are  certainly  in  a  way  more  enlightened 
than  their  pagan  brethren,  or  considered  to  be  so ;  hence  it  comes 
to  pass,  that  many  who  originally  were  free  from  the  brand  of  a 
foreign  name,  nevertheless  still  regard  it  as  a  mark  of  enhghten- 
ment,  and  would  voluntarily  adopt  one  or  more  with  their  own 
real  names  in  order  to  be  considered  "  up-to-date !  "  Nothing 
but  a  thoroughly  sound  education  all  round  (and  not  limited  to 
individuals  here  and  there)  can  remedy  this  evil :  but  in  the  mean- 
time educated  Yorubas  are  losing  the  knowledge  and  the  genius 
of  the  method  of  Yorubas  in  naming  their  children.  Thus  according 
to  the  system  now  prevailing,  where  one  English  name  is  given 
or  adopted,  it  is  used  as  the  first  name,  and  the  Yoruba  name  as 
the  second  or  surname,  e.g.  James  Adesina.  Where  two  Enghsh 
names  are  given  the  Yoruba  is  placed  either  in  the  middle  as  James 
Adesina  Williams,  or  at  the  end,  as  James  Williams  Adesina. 
The  reason  for  this  want  of  system  is  due  to  the  introduction  of 
another  element  unknown  to  Yorubas  and  is,  therefore,  a  compli- 
cation, viz.,  the  prefix  of  Mr.  to  the  names.  This  is  foreign  to  Yoruba 
genius  arid  language  and  makes  a  hybrid  mixture,  as  it  would 
appear  if  attached  to  any  historic  Biblical  name  !  The  essence  of 
the  incongruity  in  this  matter  lies  in  the  conversion  of  Yoruba 
names  into  a  surname  or  family  name  and  it  is  in  this  particular 
that  the  most  appalling  absurdity  occurs.  Thus  some  retain 
their  own  Yoruba  name  as  a  family  name  to  the  exclusion  of  their 
father's.  Others  use  their  father's  name  as  a  surname  and  suppress 
their  own  native  name  or  use  it  as  a  middle  name.  Some  adopt 
a  brother's  name  as  a  family  name  if  he  is  considered  more  eminent, 
thus  excluding  the  father's  name  and  suppressing  their  own. 
Some  use  the  father's  "  Amutorunwa"  as  Taiwo,  Idowu,  Ige. 
Some  use  the  father's  "  Abiso  "  as  Adejumo  Layode,  etc.  Some 
use  the  father's  Oriki  as  Akawo,  Alade,  Ajasa,  some  use  the 
father's  title  as  Apena,  Dawodu,  Mogaji,  etc.  All  this  in  order — 
as  is  alleged — to  make  the  individual  distinctive  but  as  a  matter 
of  fact  to  make  the  Yoruba  conform  to  the  English  method, 


because  that  is  considered  more  civilized !  Some  ridiculous  results 
have  thereby  been  obtained  e.g.  a  woman  is  called  Mrs.  Taiwo, 
who  was  not  twin-born,  and  probably  her  husband  was  not  either, 
but  it  may  be  his  father  or  his  uncle !  One  fails  to  see  how  that 
system  makes  her  distinctive  among  thousands  of  Taiwos  in  the 
land  whilst  it  is  so  inappropriate. 

A  man  was  called  Babarimisa  because  he  was  a  posthumous 
child  ;  on  his  becoming  "  civilized  "  his  children  according  to  the 
English  system  of  transmitting  names  became  so  many  masters 
and  misses  "  Babarimisas  "  with  himself  alive  I  And  yet  these 
absurdities  are  supposed  to  be  necessary  to  Christianity  and 
civilization  !  But  when  we  remember  that  the  fathers  of  western 
civilization,  as  also  the  founders  of  Christianity  with  the  early 
Christians  and  martyrs  have  transmitted  their  names  down  to 
history  in  a  simple  form  as  Yoruba  names,  it  becomes  evident 
that  the  present  method  is  not  essential  to  Christianity  or 

And  even  now,  we  know  that  the  familiar  English  method 
does  not  prevail  all  over  Europe,  not  even  all  over  Britain,  for 
in  the  north  of  Scotland,  it  is  usual  for  married  women  to  retain 
their  maiden  names,  and  children  take  their  father's  Christian  names 
for  their  own  surnames,  and  yet,  not  only  are  the  Scotch  a  highly 
civilized  people,  they  are  also  intensely  Christian.  From  all  this 
we  may  learn  that  it  is  not  necessary  to  do  violence  to  an  original 
language  as  the  Yoruba  in  order  to  be  considered  civilized  or 
Christian.  Whatever  incongruities  may  have  been  perpetrated 
in  the  past,  it  behoves  those  who  are  responsible  for  the  keeping 
of  the  language  in  its  purity  to  cease  from  inflicting  these  anomalies 
on  those  brought  under  their  influence,  especially  among  converts 
to  Christianity. 

Neither  Christianity  nor  civilization  requires  a  man's  name  to  be 
given  to  his  wife  or  children,  considering  the  purpose  for  which 
children  are  named  amongst  the  Yorubas. 

On  the  coast,  the  corruption  of  the  Yoruba  language  is  pro- 
ceeding at  a  rapid  pace.  What  began  with  the  names  is  now  extend- 
ing to  phrases  and  expressions  which  are  idiomatic  English  in 
Yoruba  words.  The  writer  thinks  it  will  require  a  strong  effort 
to  preserve  the  Yoruba  language  in  its  purity. 

Chapter  VI 


All  Yoruba  towns  with  very  few  exceptions  are  built  on  one 
uniform  plan,  and  the  origin  of  most  of  them  is  more  or  less  the 
same,  and  all  have  certain  identical  features.  A  cluster  of  huts 
around  the  farmstead  of  an  enterprising  farmer  may  be  the  starting 
point  :  perhaps  a  halting  place  for  refreshments  in  a  long  line 
of  march  between  two  towns.  In  any  case  it  is  one  individual 
that  first  attracts  others  to  the  spot ;  if  the  site  be  on  the  highway 
to  a  large  town,  or  in  a  caravan  route,  so  much  the  better  ;  the 
wives  of  the  farmers  ever  ready  to  cater  refreshments  for  wearied 
travellers  render  the  spot  in  time  a  recognised  halting  place  :  the 
more  distant  from  a  town,  the  more  essential  it  necessarily 
must  be  as  a  resting  place  ;  if  a  popular  resort,  a  market  soon 
springs  up  in  the  place,  into  which  neighbouring  farmers  bring 
their  wares  for  sale,  and  weekly  fairs  held  :  market  sheds  are  built 
all  over  the  place  and  it  becomes  a  sort  of  caravanserai  or  sleeping 
place  for  travellers. 

As  soon  as  houses  begin  to  spring  up  and  a  village  or  hamlet 
formed,  the  necessity  for  order  and  control  becomes  apparent. 
The  men  would  thereupon  assemble  at  the  gate  of  the  principal 
man  who  has  attracted  people  to  the  place  and  formally  recognise 
him  as  the  Bale  or  Mayor  of  the  village  (Ht.  father  of  the  land) 
and  thenceforth  the  mayoralty  becomes  perpetuated  in  his  family, 
with  a  member  of  the  family  either  the  son  or  the  brother  or  a 
cousin,  succeeding  in  perpetuity.  This  however  is  the  only 
hereditary  title  in  the  village.  The  house  of  the  Bale  becomes  the 
official  residence,  and  is  thenceforth  kept  in  good  repairs  by  the 
men  of  the  town,  and  the  frontage  of  his  house  becomes  the 
principal  market  of  the  town. 

The  Bale  having  been  elected,  he  in  turn  appoints  his  Otun 
(or  right  hand  man),  Osi  (the  left)  and  other  civil  officers  of  a  town. 
Even  in  this  early  stage,  the  necessity  for  defence  is  felt  ;  the 
bravest  man  among  them  will  be  chosen  as  the  Jagun  or  Balogun 
and  he  in  turn  picks  out  his  heutenants,  so  that  in  any  matter 
that  may  spring  up,  either  civil  or  mihtary  everybody  knows  his 
duty  and  whom  to  look  up  to. 

The  village  must  necessarily  be  answerable  to  the  nearest  town 
from  which  it  sprang  and  thus  an  embryo  town  is  formed.     There 



are  cases  in  which  an  influential  personage  with  a  large  following 
deliberately  built  a  town,  and  is  from  the  beginning  the  recognised 
head  of  the  same. 

In  fact  if  there  are  but  half  a  dozen  huts  in  the  place,  that  of 
the  headman  or  embryo  Bale  would  be  recognised. 

From  this  we  see  how  it  is  that  the  principal  market  of  the  town 
is  always  in  the  centre  of  the  town  and  in  the  front  of  the  house  of 
the  chief  ruler.     This  rule  is  without  an  exception  and  hence  the 
term  Oloja  (one  having  a  market)  is  used  as  a  generic  term  or  title/ 
of  all  chief  rulers  of  a  town  be  he  a  King  or  a  Bale. 

Minor  chiefs  also  have  smaller  markets  in  front  of  their  houses. 
Market  squares  as  a  rule  mark  out  the  frontage  of  a  chief  or  a 
distinguished  man,  and  the  principal  entrance  to  his  compound 
is  marked  out  by  its  having  a  street  verandah  added  to  it  right 
and  left,  and  if  a  King  two  or  more  kobis  are  added  to  the  street 
verandah.  The  larger  the  town,  the  larger  the  principal  market 
to  which  everyone  resorts  for  morning  and  evening  marketings 
and  is  the  general  rendezvous  of  the  town  on  every  national  or 
municipal  occasion.  It  is  planted  all  over  with  shady  trees  for 
sellers  and  loungers  of  an  evening.  The  central  market  also 
contains  the  principal  mosque  of  the  town,  and  the  fetish  temple 
of  the  chief  ruler,  if  he  be  a  pagan. 

Every  town  is  walled,  deep  trenches  are  dug  all  round  it  outside, 
the  more  exposed  to  attack  the  more  substantial  the  wall  and 
for  the  greater  security  of  smaller  towns  a  bush  or  thicket  called 
Igbo  He  (home  forest)  is  kept,  about  half  to  one  mile  from  the 
walls  right  round  the  town.  This  forms  a  security  against  a  sudden 
cavalry  attack,  and  a  safe  ambush  for  defence,  as  well  as  hiding 
places  in  a  defeat  or  sudden  hostile  irruption.  The  tall  trees  in 
them  are  sometimes  used  as  a  watch  tower  to  observe  the  move- 
ments of  the  enemy  :  except  in  of  profound  peace,  it  is  penal 
to  cut  trees  in  the  home  forest.  Highways  are  made  through  them 
straight  to  the  town  gate,  and  are  always  kept  in  excellent  repair. 

Towns  in  the  plain  that  are  greatly  exposed  to  sudden  attacks,  or 
those  that  have  had  to  stand  long  sieges  have  a  second  or  outer  wall 
enclosing  a  large  area  which  is  used  for  farming  during  a  siege. 
This  wall  is  called  "  Odi  Amola  "  (wall  of  safety),  sometimes  it 
is  called  "  Odi  Amonu  "  (wall  of  ruin)  as  the  wall  has  been  to  them 
the  means  of  safety,  or  has  been  unavailing  for  its  purpose. 

The  town  gates  are  always  massive  and  a  gateman  lives  in  a 
house  adjoining  the  town  wall,  he  collects  the  tolls  from  passers  by. 
Market  people  have  a  fixed  amount  to  pay,  varying  from  40  to 
200  cowries,  and  farm  people  contribute  a  trifle  from  whatever 
they  are  bringing  home,  a  head  or  two  of  corn,  a  handful  of  beans, 


a  yam  or  two,  a  few  dry  sticks  and  so  forth,  for  his  sustenance, 
r'  The  gates  are  named  after  the  most  important  town  they  lead  to. 
^  Each  of  these  gates  is  in  charge  of  a  chief  who  is  responsible  to  the 
town  for  whatever  may  occur  there  or  along  the  route  to  which  it 
leads  right  on  to  the  frontier,  also  for  keeping  the  walls  of  that 
part  in  good  repairs,  as  well  as  the  highway  leading  out  of  the  town. 
This  chief  it  is  who  is  to  put  his  servant  there  for  collecting  tolls, 
the  amount  to  be  collected  from  each  person  being  fixed  by  the  Town 
Council.  This  servant  is  expected  to  pay  to  his  master  a  certain 
sum  every  9  or  18  days,  being  the  average  of  what  the  gate  yields. 
Whatever  surplus  there  may  be  in  a  brisk  season,  he  appropriates 
to  himself  or  if  there  is  a  deficit,  he  is  expected  to  make  it  good. 

In  Yoruba  Proper  (including  the  Egbas)  streets  are  not  properly 
made  or  named  except  large  thoroughfares  leading  to  town  gates, 
and  the  squares  and  markets  of  chiefs. 

It  does  not  appear  that  any  care  is  ever  taken  to  choose  the  site 
of  a  town,  as  the  neighbourhood  of  large  streams :  wells  are 
sunk  by  individuals  to  supply  drinking  water.  The  streams  that 
may  be  flowing  through  the  town  are  fouled  beyond  degree,  and 
are  by  no  means  fit  for  drinking  purposes.  For  keeping  the  town 
clean  every  compound  looks  after  its  own  frontage  and  surround- 
ings, in  the  market  place  every  seller  sweeps  the  space  around  her 

The  system  of  sanitary  arrangements  is  the  most  primitive 
imaginable  ;  near  every  large  thoroughfare  or  a  market  place  is 
a  spot  selected  as  a  dust  heap  for  the  disposal  of  all  sorts  of  refuse 
and  sweepings  of  the  neighbourhood,  and  at  intervals,  fire  is  set 
to  the  pile  of  rubbish. 

Here  and  there  about  the  town  are  found  leafy  groves,  usually 
clumps  of  fignut  trees,  the  neighbourhood  of  which  is  unsavoury 
from  the  disposal  of  sewage.  These  sites  are  always  infested  by 
crowds  of  those  keen-scented  scavengers  of  nature,  the  hungry - 
looking  vultures.  Important  chiefs  have  a  large  area  of  land 
enclosed  within  their  compounds  within  which  spots  are  selected 
for  sanitary  purposes. 

Every  chief  is  responsible  to  the  town  council  for  the  quarter  of 
the  town  in  which  he  resides. 

When  a  town  has  grown  up  to  the  town  wall,  the  town  council 
has  to  determine  the  amount  of  area  to  be  taken  in,  and  a  new  wall 
is  built  enclosing  such  area.  The  whole  of  the  town  participates 
in  the  work,  even  women  and  children  also  are  engaged  in  fetching 
water  to  mix  the  swish  and  in  providing  refreshments  for  the  men- 
folk ;  the  streets  of  the  area  simply  follow  the  old  line  of  the 
foot  paths  to  the  farms  now  enclosed  within  the  town. 


It  must  strike  the  most  casual  observer  who  has  travelled  over 
the  Yoruba  country  that  those  portions  of  the  country  which  are 
supposed  to  be  more  backward  in  intelligence  viz.  the  Ijesa,  Ekiti,  If  e 
andother  provinceshave  betterstreets  than  themoreintelhgentones. 
Old  men  attribute  this  fact  to  the  effect  of  the  intertribal  wars.  E.g. 
in  the  case  of  Abeokuta,  however  well  laid  may  have  been  the 
streets  of  the  original  farm  villas,  when  the  refugees  began  to  flock 
in,  attention  could  scarcely  be  paid  to  the  ahgnment  of  the  houses 
each  one  simply  tried  to  find  out  the  whereabouts  of  the  members 
of  his  township,  and  thus  they  grouped  themselves  by  their  famihes 
in  every  available  space  around  the  chief  of  their  town. 

The  same  may  be  said  of  all  the  towns  of  Yoruba  proper  which 
have  suffered  from  the  vicissitudes  of  war.  In  later  years  the 
.people  seem  to  have  lost  altogether  the  art  of  laying  out  and  naming 
streets  as  is  the  case  in  Ijesa  and  Ekiti  towns. 

Roads. — ^Before  the  period  of  the  revolutionary  and  intertribal 
wars,  the  bulk  of  the  Yoruba  people  Hved  in  the  towns  of  the  plain, 
the  towns  in  forest  lands  were  small  and  unimportant,  except  the 
city  of  Owu,  all  below  this  being  regarded  as  in  the  outskirts. 
Roads  at  that  time  were  comparatively  good.  The  country  being 
flat  was  interspersed  with  hundreds  of  towns  and  villages,  the 
inhabitants  of  which  enjoyed  the  blessings  of  peace,  and  the 
fruits  of  their  industry.  Good  roads  were  then  made  from  one 
town  to  another,  and  were  annually  repaired  at  the  time  of  the 
drummers'  and  Egugun  festivals.  They  were  wide  enough  for  the 
easy  progress  of  the  company  of  dancers  at  these  festivals  and  also 
for  nuptial  processions. 

But  they  are  now  neglected  not  only  that  they  may  impede  the 
easy  advance  of  invaders,  but  also  to  aid  the  concealment  of  the 
panic-stricken  inhabitants,  who  at  the  first  alarm  disappear  at 
once  in  the  bushes  surrounding  their  towns  and  villages. 

§  2   Peculiar  Yoruba  Towns 

There  are  some  important  towns  which  form  exceptions  to  some 
of  the  rules  above  given  ;  in  their  case  the  cause  is  due  to  intertribal 
and  the  revolutionary  wars  as  we  shall  find  in  detail  in  the  second 
part  of  this  book. 

I.  Abeokuta. — This  large  town  is  a  conglomeration  of  villages, 
to  the  number  of  153  with  Ake  as  the  chief.  Each  township  (as  they 
are  called)  has  its  own  organization.  Ake  can  scarcely  be  said 
to  have  any  authority  over  them  in  their  own  local  affairs,  except 
such  authority  as  is  granted  by  the  Principal  Chiefs  or  "  Ogbonis  " 
who  form  the  chief  political  organization.  Hence  we  see  that  there 
is  not  one  central  market  for  the  town  as  such,  in  the  frontage  of 


the  chief  ruler.  There  may  be  several  Baloguns  or  Serikis,  there 
are  at  least  four  kinglings,  and  several  Ogboni  houses,  each  section 
being  jealous  of  its  liberty  and  tenacious  of  its  rights.  Abeokuta 
in  short  was  never  organized  as  a  single  town  :  its  pecuhar  pohtical 
organization  should  be  the  subject  of  another  chapter. 

Ibadan. — This  town  was  originally  a  small  Egba  village  around 
the  site  of  the  central  market,  but  occupied  by  a  portion  of  the 
army  that  destroyed  the  city  of  Owu  and  devastated  the  Egba 
villages.  After  the  withdrawal  of  the  Egbas  into  Abeokuta,  the 
motley  crowd  forming  the  army  settled  at  Ibadan.  Ibadan  has 
since  been  the  mihtary  encampment  of  Yoruba;  the  titles,  order  of 
precedence,  etc.  are  chiefly  military.  For  that  reason  there  is 
not  one  family  in  which  the  title  of  Bale  is  hereditary  and  no  official 
residence  for  the  Bale.  The  Bale  is  always  chosen  from  old 
retired  war-chiefs,  always  by  sufferance  of  the  Balogun,  who  has 
equal  authority  and  more  real  power.  But  when  the  Balogun  has 
become  old  and  has  already  won  his  laurels,  he  is  expected  to  be  the 
next  Bale.  A  young  Balogun  with  his  future  to  make  yields  the 
mayoralty  to  an  older  chief,  usually  the  Otun  Bale.  This  is  the 
only  town  where  such  arrangement  exists.  Ibadan  has  no  hom.e 
forests.  Attempts  were  made  from  time  to  time  to  form  one,  but 
always  without  success  through  the  habit  of  firing  the  fields  year 
by  year  at  the  dry  season.  They  are  in  no  fear  of  invasion.  To  be 
in  Ibadan  is  to  be  in  a  place  of  safety.  Hence  the  Ibadans  style  their 
town  "  Idi  Ibon  "  i.e.  the  butt  end  of  the  gun  ;  for  the  same  reason 
also  the  town  walls  are  very  indifferently  kept. 

Ilorin. — Ilorin  is  in  one  respect  different  from  the  other  Yoruba 
towns,  in  that  the  ruhng  powers  are  aliens  to  the  place.  How  it 
came  about  that  Ilorin  a  pure  Yoruba  town,  and  one  time  the  third 
city  in  the  kingdom  fell  into  the  hands  of  ahens  and  to  this  day 
owns  allegiance  to  other  than  its  rightful  sovereign,  will  be  told  in 
its  place  ;  but  to  this  day  the  principal  market  and  the  chief  mosque 
of  the  town  remain  still  in  front  of  the  house  of  the  founder  and 
rightful  owner  of  Ilorin. 

These  three  towns,  Abeokuta,  Ibadan,  and  Ilorin  are  the  largest 
towns  in  the  Yoruba  country,  and  probably  in  West  Africa,  and  the 
three  are  the  outcome  of  the  revolutionary  and  intertribal  wars. 

Chapter  VII 


The  Land  laws  of  the  Yoruba  country  are  simple  and  effective, 
there  being  no  need  of  any  complicated  or  elaborate  laws,  as  there 
is  enough  land  for  all  the  members  of  the  various  tribes.  Whatever 
land  is  not  effectively  occupied  is  for  the  common  benefit  of  all  ; 
no  one  need  own  any  land  which  he  cannot  utihze,  except  farm  land 
left  fallow  for  a  short  period. 

Theoretically  and  traditionally  we  have  seen  above  that 
Yoruba  land  belongs  to  the  AlAfin  of  Oyo  as  the  supreme  head  of 
the  race.  "  The  land  belongs  to  the  King  "  has  passed  into  a 
proverb.  But  it  must  be  understood,  that  it  is  not  meant  that  the 
land  is  the  private  property  of  the  King,  it  is  only  his  as  representing 
the  race,  in  other  words,  Yoruba  land  belongs  to  the  Yoruba  people 
and  to  no  other,  hence  as  the  Yorubas  are  split  into  so  many  tribes, 
the  head  of  each  tribe,  as  representing  the  Alafin  is  the  King  for 
that  tribe,  and  he  holds  the  land  or  division  of  the.  country  for  the 
benefit  of  the  tribe,  and  even  he  has  no  power  to  alienate  it  perma- 
nently of  his  own  accord,  to  an  ahen.  All  lands,  therefore,  includ- 
ing forests  and  the  plain  are  owned  by  some  tribe  or  other,  and  no 
one  belonging  to  another  race  or  another  tribe  can  make  use  of 
the  land  without  the  permission  of  the  king  and  chiefs  who  hold  / 
the  land  for  their  tribe.  Members  of  the  tribe  have  no  difficulty 
at  present  in  obtaining  as  much  land  as  each  requires  for  agricultural 
purposes  in  which  every  one  is  supposed  to  be  engaged  ;  with  the 
increase  of  population  however,  it  is  felt  that  some  difficulties 
will  arise  in  future,  but  the  chiefs  can  cope  with  such  cases. 

Lands  are  never  sold,  but  may  be  granted  to  outsiders  for  life,  and  ^ 
to  their  heirs  in  perpetuity  ;  but  where  the  land  so  granted  had 
been  under  cultivation,  it  is  understood  in  every  case  that  the  fruit- 
bearing  trees,  especially  the  palm  trees,  and  kola-nut  trees,  etc.,  on 
the  land  are  not  included  in  the  grant  ;  hence  the  common 
expression  "  The  grantee  is  to  look  down  not  up,"  i.e.  he  is  to 
confine  his  attention  to  plants  he  has  cultivated  and  not  on  fruit- 
bearing  trees  he  met  on  the  spot. 

Land  once  given  is  never  taken  back  except  under  special 
circumstances  as  treason  to  the  state  which  renders  the  grantee 
an  outlaw,  and  he  is  driven  altogether  from  that  state  or  tribe, 
and  his  land  confiscated.     Even  when  left  unutilized,  if  there 



are  marks  of  occupation  on  it,  such  as  trees  planted,  or  a  wall 
built,  etc.,  it  cannot  be  taken  back  without  the  consent  of  the 

There  is  no  subject  in  which  the  Yoruba  man  is  more  sensitive 
than  in  that  of  land.  This  normally  quiet  and  submissive  people 
can  be  roused  into  violent  action  of  desperation  if  once  they  per- 
ceive that  it  is  intended  to  deprive  them  of  their  land. 

We  shall  see  in  the  course  of  this  history  that  the  non-ahenation 
of  their  land  forms  one  of  the  main  conditions  of  their  admitting 
a  European  officer  among  them  by  the  Ibadans  at  the  beginning 
of  the  British  Protectorate. 

The  forests  are  under  the  direct  guardianship  of  the  hunters 
who  form  among  themselves  a  fraternity  recognized  all  over  the 
land,  subject  of  course  to  the  town  authonties.  Any  laws,  rules, 
or  regulations  relating  to  forests  that  are  to  be  made,  must  recognize 
the  rights,  privileges  and  services  of  the  hunters,  especially,  as 
it  is  by  them  effect  can  be  given  to  those  laws.  It  is  their  duty  to 
apprize  the  chiefs  of  any  town,  of  any  spies,  expeditions,  or  raids 
that  have  that  town  or  its  farms  for  their  objective.  Crimes 
committed  in  the  forests  must  be  traced,  and  the  authors  tracked 
and  unearthed  by  them.  Any  animal  bearing  traces  or  marks  of 
their  bullets  or  arrow-wounds  must  be  restored  to  them.  All 
information  relating  to  forests  must  be  given  by  the  hunters  to  the 
chiefs  of  the  town. 

The  forests  are  free  to  every  member  of  the  tribe  for  procuring 
building  materials,  medicinal  herbs,  firewood,  etc. 

Inlieritance. — When  a  man  dies,  his  farms  are  inherited  by  his 
children,  and  so  from  father  to  son  in  perpetuity,  and,  Hke  the  house 
are  not  subject  to  sale.  If  his  children  are  females,  they  will 
pass  on  to  the  male  relatives,  unless  the  daughters  are  capable  of 
seeing  the  farm  kept  up  for  their  own  benefit.  If  minors,  they  may 
be  worked  by  their  male  relatives  until  the  boys  are  of  age  to  take 
up  the  keep  of  the  farms. 

No  portion  of  such  farms  can  be  ahenated  from  the  family  without 
the  unanimous  consent  of  all  the  members  thereof. 

These  are  the  simple,  fundamental  and  universal  laws  appUcable 
to  all  the  tribes  in  general,  but  subject  to  modifications  and 
development  according  to  the  local  exigencies  of  each  place. 
These  exigencies  may  be  due  to  the  proximity  of  large  populations, 
and  consequently  higher  value  of  land,  the  nature  of  the  land, 
whether  forests  with  economic  plants  in  them  or  pasture  land,  and 
the  locality  whether  near  the  coast  where  foreign  intercourse  affects 
local  habits,  or  far  inland  where  the  tribes  remain  in  their  sim- 
plicity.   But  in  every  case  the  ruling  of  the  local  chiefs,  and  their 


councillors  must  necessarily  be  the  law  for  that  tribe  since  the 
fundamental  laws  are  not  violated. 

None  but  citizens  born  or  naturalized  can  own  land  permanently 
in  this  country.  Land  granted  to  foreigners  for  a  specific  purpose 
reverts  to  the  owner  or  the  state  on  the  grantee  leaving  the  country. 

These  are  the  general  laws,  to  be  observed  rather  in  the  spirit 
than  in  the  letter. 

Chapter  VIII 


§  {a)  Social  Polity 

The  ancient  Yorubas  were  very  simple  in  their  manners,  their 
tastes,  and  habits.  Their  houses  all  on  the  ground  floor  are  built 
in  compounds  called  Agbo  He  (lit.  a  flock  of  houses),  that  is  to  say 
in  the  form  of  a  hollow  square,  horse  shoe  or  a  circle,  enclosing 
a  large  central  area,  with  one  principal  gateway  the  house  being 
divided  into  compartments  to  hold  several  families,  all  more  or  less 
related  or  united  by  ties  of  kinship,  or  friendship.  One  piazza 
runs  right  round  the  whole,  and  is  used  for  all  ordinary  purposes 
by  day,  and  for  the  reception  of  visitors.  The  central  area  is 
used  in  common  by  all  the  inmates  for  general  purposes  ;  usually 
horses,  sheep  and  goats  are  found  tethered  in  it. 

The  compartment  of  the  head  of  the  house  is  usually  opposite 

the  main  gateway  or  a  httle  to  the  right.     It  is  larger,  the  roof 

1    loftier  and  the  piazza  more  spacious  than  the  rest.     Here  the  master 

\  is  expected  to  be  found  at  all  times  (during  visiting  hours)  by  a 

1  doorway  which  leads  to  his  harem  at  the  back  of  the  house.     This 

J  particular  doorway  is  known  as  where  the  master  "  shows  his  face  " 

\    (for  the  reception  of  visitors)  ;    it  is  an  essential  adjunct  to  the 

/    houses  of  chiefs  or  important  personages,  being  used  for  no  other 

Vvpurpose,  for  at  all  other  times  it  is  kept  closed.     A  high  wall  often 

encloses  a  garden  attached  to  the  back  of  the  building,  the  space 

enclosed  is  always  in  proportion  to  the  size  of  the  house,  the  rank, 

and  the  means  of  the  owner.     The  houses  of  great  men  contain 

smaller  compounds  at  the  back  attached  to  the  main  compound, 

these  are  called  Kara  or  retiring  quarters,  each  devoted  to  some 

purpose  from  a  harem  to  stables  for  horses. 

The  houses  of  chiefs  are  distinguished  by  a  "  street  verandah  " 
(as  it  is  called)  on  either  side  the  main  gateway  on  the  outside, 
varying  in  length  according  to  the  taste  and  capacity  of  the  owner  ; 
the  roof  of  which  is  an  extension  or  projection  of  that  of  the  main 
building.  It  is  used  for  lounging  in  the  afternoons,  at  the  cool 
of  the  day.  A  small  market  is  almost  always  to  be  found  at  the 
frontage  of  such  houses.  The  walls  of  the  houses  rising  from  7  to 
8  feet  in  height  are  built  of  mud,  the  roof  consequently  is  low,  and 
is  covered  with  a  tall  grass  called  Bere  or  with  Sege  or  Ekan.  In 
forest  lands  where  these  are  not  obtainable,  a  kind  of  broad  leaf 



called  Gb6d6gi  is  used  instead.  The  houses  are  without  any  decor- 
ations ;  the  walls  are  plastered  and  polished  with  black  and 
sometimes  red  earth  by  the  women  whose  work  it  generally  is. 
The  houses  of  Kings  and  Princes  are  embellished  with  a  sort  of 
wash  which  is  a  decoction  made  from  the  skin  of  the  locust 

Now  and  then  attempts  are  found  at  artistic  decorations,  by 
figures  traced  on  the  wall ;  but  more  commonly  the  front  posts  of 
the  verandah  consist  of  carved  figures  of  various  kinds,  equestrians 
swordsmen,  hawkers,  etc.  The  floor  is  generally  rubbed  and 
polished  once  a  week. 

The  household  furniture  consists  chiefly  of  cooking  utensils, 
waterpots,  and  a  mortar  with  pestles,  all  of  which  are  deposited  in 
the  front  and  back  piazzas  of  the  house. 

The  use  of  bedsteads,  tables  and  chairs  being  unknown,  they 
squat  or  lie  on  mats  instead.  In  modern  times  those  who  can 
afford  it  keep  a  few  chairs  for  the  accommodation  of  visitors  in 
European  garb,  who  find  it  difficult  or  are  unaccustomed  to  squat 
on  the  ground.  It  is  not  unusual  to  find  skins  of  buffaloes,  leopard,"") 
lion,  or  a  large  bullock  hung  up  on  the  walls  of  the  front  piazza  t 
which  are  taken  down  for  distinguished  visitors  to  sit  on.  ^ 

All  their  valuables  are  kept  in  pots  or  bags  made  of  bamboo 
fibres,  and  placed  in  one  corner  of  the  sleeping  room,  so  that  in  all 
cases  of  alarm,  whether  of  fire,  or  night  attack  by  robbers  or  slave- 
hunters,  everything  of  value  is  soon  taken  away  to  a  place  of 
safety  whenever  possible. 

As  all  the  houses  are  invariably  built  with  mud  ceilings  which 
are  themselves  fire-proof,  the  losses  in  cases  of  fire  are  small,  and 
of  hardly  any  account,  especially  if  the  doors  are  kept  rigidly 
closed.  The  property  of  the  women  consists  chiefly  of  cloths, 
beads,  with  goats,  sheep  and  poultry,  these  usually  form  a  sub- 
stantial part  of  their  "  dowry." 

The  head  of  the  compound's  principal  wife  is  the  mistress  of  1 
the  compound,  as  himself  is  the  master,  and  all  heads  of  the  / 
several  families  within  the  compound  are  bound  to  pay  their  \_ 
respects  to  them  the  first  thing  every  morning,  the  men  prostrating 
on  the  ground,  and  the  women  sitting  on  the  ground  and  reclining 
on  their  left  elbow. 

[This  is  the  ordinary  mode  of  saluting  a  superior  in  this  country;  ") 
but  when  greater  respect  is  to  be  shown,  or  pardon  asked  for  some 
offence  committed,  the  men  while  prostrating  lay  the  right  and 
left  cheek  alternately  on  the  ground,  and  the  women  wrap  their 
cloth  lower  down,  loose  their  head  tie,  and  recline  alternately  on 
the  right  as  well  as  on  the  left  elbow. 




r~  Before  Kings  and  great  rulers,  for  a  show  of  homage,  they  run 
y  to  the  porch  of  the  house  and  back  three  times,  throwing  dust  on 
/their  head  or  roll  on  the  ground]. 

They  are  chiefs  in  their  respective  domains,  where  they  transact 
all  business  affecting  the  welfare  or  interest  of  the  people  in  their 
respective  households.  All  important  cases  are  judged  and 
decided  in  the  master's  piazza,  and  he  is  responsible  to  the  town 
authorities  for  the  conduct  of  the  inmates  of  his  compound  ;  hence 
the  saying: — "Bale  ni  gloran  awo  "  (the  master  of  the  house 
must  be  privy  to  all  secrets).  His  word  is  law,  and  his  authority 
indisputable  within  his  compound,  hence  also  another  saying, 
"  Ob^  ti  Bale  ile  ki  ij§  lyale  ile  ki  ise  e  "  (the  sauce  which  the 
master  of  the  house  cannot  eat  or  which  is  unpalatable  to  him, 
the  mistress  of  the  house  must  not  cook),  which  when  applied 
simply  means  that  no  one  should  go  contrary  to  the  wishes  of  the 
master  of  the  house. 

To  this  high  authority  belongs  a  leg  of  whatever  is  slaughtered 
in  the  compound,  from  a  chicken  to  a  bullock  ;  whether  killed  for 
sacrifice,  or  for  a  festival,  or  for  any  other  purpose  of  whatever  kind. 

At  the  death  of  the  master  of  the  house,  when  the  period  of 
mourning  is  over,  his  successor  be  it  his  son,  or  his  brother  or 
cousin  as  the  case  may  be,  removes  from  his  own  compartment 
into  that  of  the  master.  He  is  installed  into  his  place  by  his  feudal 
lord,  or  in  case  the  deceased  be  a  public  man,  by  the  Town  Council, 
with  a  title  that  attaches  him  to  one  of  the  senior  chiefs.  But 
before  the  ceremony  can  take  place,  the  roof  over  the  late  master's 
compartment  (be  it  old  or  recent)  is  taken  down  and  rebuilt  afresh  ; 
hence  the  term  for  a  successor,  Arole  i.e.  one  who  roofs  the  house. 

Personal  Appearance. — In  early  times  very  little  regard  was 
paid  to  personal  appearance.  Boys  and  girls  up  to  the  age  of  8 
years  walked  about  in  puris  naturalihus  ;  from  that  period  up  to 
the  age  of  puberty  they  were  allowed  the  use  of  aprons,  the  cut  and 
shape  for  either  sex  being  different,  the  one  from  the  other,  that 
for  boys  being  called  hante,  that  for  girls  tdhi.  The  whole  period 
was  regarded  as  one  of  unencumbered  freedom  which  ceases  with 
the  act  of  marriage.  It  was  not  an  uncommon  thing  to  find  girls 
of  the  age  of  15  when  engaged  in  hard  work  whether  at  home  or 
in  the  farm  with  absolutely  nothing  on,' and  even  their  mothers 
on  such  occasions  were  but  scantily  clothed.  This  custom,  how- 
ever, excepting  among  some  tribes  as  Ijgsa  and  Efon  has  completely 
died  out.  The  extreme  poverty  of  the  people  in  those  early  times 
was  probably  the  chief  cause  of  such  disregard  of  personal  attire. 
In  modem  times  better  attention  is  paid  to  their  outward  appear- 
ance, and  although  from  the  standpoint  of  an  enlightened  civiliz- 


ation  there  may  be  much  to  be  desired  still  among  the  ordinary 
class  of  people,  yet  on  the  whole,  especially  amongst  the  well-to-do, 
the  Yorubas  dress  very  decently  and  becomingly  as  compared  with 
former  generations  of  the  same  people. 

Great  regard,  however,  has  always  been  paid  to  personal 
cleanliness,  and  for  this  the  tribe  is  specially  remarkable.  The 
word  Qbitn  (filthy)  as  applied  to  a  person  carries  with  it  such  a 
feeling  of  disgust  which  beggars  description.  The  men  are  always 
shaved  and  hence,  when  one  appears  unshaven,  unwashed,  and  with 
filthy  garments  on,  you  may  safely  conclude  that  he  is  mourning, 
for  these  are  the  signs  of  it.  Children  and  youths  are  either 
entirely  shaved  or  a  strip  of  hair  running  from  the  forehead  to  the 
occiput  along  the  top  of  the  head  is  left  which  is  sometimes  made 
into  circular  patches.  As  it  is  considered  decent  and  cleanly 
for  men  to  carry  their  heads  bald  so  on  the  contrary  "  the  hair  is 
the  glory  of  the  woman,"  and  much  attention  is  paid  to  it.  Wom.en 
have  their  hair  done  up  in  all  sorts  of  ways  dictated  by  their  usual 
vanity;  the  unmarried  ones  are  distinguished  by  their  hair  being 
plaited  into  small  strips  (from  8  to  14)  from  the  right  to  the  left 
ear,  the  smaller  and  more  numerous  the  plaited  strips  the  more 
admired.  Married  women  on  the  other  hand  adopt  other  forms  of 
plaiting  ;  usually  they  commence  on  both  sides  and  finish  up  in 
the  middle  in  a  sort  of  net-work  running  from  the  forehead  to  the 
occiput  ;  ornamental  forms  are  adopted  by  some,  such  as  stuffing 
the  hair  in  the  middle  of  the  head  after  being  gathered  from  all 
sides  ;  and  others  again  as  the  Ijebus  finish  up  theirs  in  the  shape 
of  a  pair  of  horns. 

Character. — As  regards  the  social  virtues,  the  ancient  Oygs  or 
Yorubas  proper  were  very  virtuous,  loving  and  kind.  Theft  was 
rare  as  also  fornication  in  spite  of  the  scantiness  or  often  times 
complete  absence  of  clothing  to  which  they  were  accustomed. 
Friendship  was  more  sincere.  Children  were  more  dutiful  to  their 
parents,  and  inferiors  respectful  to  their  superiors  in  age  or  position. 
Liars  were  formerly  punished  by  exclusion  from  society  and  from 
the  clubs  ;  but  as  the  whole  people  took  dehght  in  ambiguous 
forms  of  speech  which  were  not  understood  by  those  unaccustomed 
to  their  habits  they  were  regarded  and  spoken  of  as  prevaricators. 
Now,  as  formerly  they  are  remarkably  patient  of  injuries,  and 
would  never  resist  or  retaliate  except  in  extreme  cases  when 
provocation  became  insupportable.  They  are  characteristically 
unassuming  in  their  manners  and  submissive  to  their  superiors. 
They  are  very  shrewd  in  driving  bargains,  and  hence  foreigners 
speak  of  them  as  "  African  Jews  "  in  reference  to  their  commercial 


No  nation  is  more  remarkable  for  cautiousness  and  for  putting 
themselves  generally  on  the  safe  side.  When  powerless  they  would 
submit  to  oppression  and  wrong  to  any  extent  so  long  as  they  find 
resistance  useless  ;  but  when  an  opportunity  offers  for  asserting 
their  rights  and  overthrowing  their  oppressors,  they  are  never 
slow  to  embrace  it.  The  common  proverb  embodies  this  trait 
in  their  character  : — "  Bi  owo  eni  ko  te  ekii  ida  a  ki  ibere  iku  ti  o 
pa  baba  eni,"  i.e.,  if  one  has  not  grasped  the  handle  of  his  sword 
he  should  not  attempt  to  avenge  the  death  of  his  father. 

Intercourse  with  other  nations  has  caused  various  forms  of 
vice  to  creep  in  among  modern  Yorubas  or  Oyos  ;  their  natural 
timidity  and  submissive  spirit  have  produced  a  degeneracy  of 
manners  so  as  to  be  considered  essentially  lacking  in  straightfor- 
wardness ;  they  can  effect  by  diplomacy  what  they  cannot 
accompHsh  by  force,  in  which  proceeding  the  Oygs  differ  widely 
from  the  other  tribes,  some  of  whom  are  characterised  by  a  proud 
and  intractable  spirit,  but  they  are  no  less  determined  in  carrying 
out  their  object  although  the  means  used  to  effect  their  purpose 
is  essentially  different. 

Yorubas  as  a  whole  are  social,  polite,  and  proverbially  hospit- 
able. Licentiousness  is  abhorred.  There  are  well  attested  cases 
where  a  member  of  a  family  would  be  condemned  to  slavery  by  a 
unanimous  vote  of  all  the  relatives  when  he  has  brought  disgrace 
on  the  family.  Sometimes  forcible  emasculation  is  resorted  to  as 
a  punishment  (as  in  cases  of  incest)  or  total  banishment  from  the 
town  and  neighbourhood  to  where  the  offender  is  not  likely  to 
be  known. 

A  peculiar  custom  was  prevalent  amongst  the  ancient  Oyos. 
Young  men  were  permitted  to  have  intimate  friends  among  the 
fair  sex,  and  they  were  often  the  guests  of  each  other.  At  the 
annual  festivals  the  young  man  and  his  female  friend  would  meet 
and  take  an  active  part  in  the  ceremonies,  and  render  pecuniary 
services  or  manual  assistance  to  each  other.  At  the  time  of  harvest 
the  female  friend  with  the  full  consent  of  her  parents  would  go 
for  about  a  week  or  a  fortnight  to  assist  her  male  friend  in  bringing 
home  his  harvest  while  he  himself  may  be  engaged  on  his  father's 
farm.  Yet  notwithstanding  so  much  mutual  intercourse  strict 
chastity  was  the  rule  not  the  exception.  The  practice,  however, 
has  long  been  discontinued,  owing  to  the  degeneracy  of  the  present 

Filial  Duties. — It  was  the  duty  of  every  male  child  to  serve 
his  father  although  he  might  be  married  and  have  a  family  of  his 
own  unless  he  was  exonerated  from  the  obhgation  by  the  father 
himself.     As  a  general  thing  a  small  portion  of  farm  work  was 


allotted  to  him  as  his  day's  work  after  attending  to  which  he  may  go 
and  see  after  his  own  business.  So  while  serving  his  father,  every 
son  had  his  own  private  farm  also  to  manage  ;  and  it  was  on  his 
own  portion  of  land  that  the  female  friend  used  to  render  assistance 
in  time  of  harvest. 

All  married  women  were  also  engaged  in  their  husband's  farm 
and  the  harmony  that  usually  prevailed  between  them  and  the 
young  people  was  very  remarkable. 

Young  men  were  not  allowed  to  marry  until  they  could  give 
their  father  10  heads  of  cowries,  equal  in  those  days  to  ;^io  sterling. 
They  were  seldom  married  before  the  age  of  30  and  the  young 
women,  not  before  20.  Promiscuous  rnarriages  were  not  allowed, 
freeborn  must  be  married  to  freeborn,  slaves  to  slaves,  and 
foreigners  to  foreigners.  Except  amongst  the  Igbonas  consan- 
guineous affinity  however  remote  was  not  allowed. 

Privileges  of  the  Great. — Kings  and  nobles  who  kept  harems 
were  exempted  from  this  rule  of  affinity  ;  they  were  at  liberty  to 
multiply  wives  from  any  tribe,  and  these  wives  might  be  of  any 
condition  of  life.  It  was  the  pride  of  Kings  to  fill  their  harems 
with  women  of  every  description,  such  as  foreign  women,  slaves, 
hostages,  daughters  of  criminals  given  as  the  price  of  redemption, 
or  seized  in  confiscations  ;  dwarfs,  albinoes,  hunch-backs,  and  any 
other  in  whose  persons  there  should  appear  any  signs  of  lustis 
naturcB.  Such  beings,  being  considered  unnatural,  were  the  King's 
peculiar  property.  Hence  the  saying  "  Oba  ni  ije  ^rg"  (it  is  Kings 
who  are  to  feed  on  the  uncommon). 




/idq/a  //?  je^  ^//?ree 

/ii?q/<7//7se/j  gf/oi/r 

/ar/affb/7j  ^fAe/\dq/a 

Ae/re  or  Gp/rpdg     Ae/re  orOo/??^ 




Ada/a  O/otve/ 

Ae/re  O/om/ 




JEBU        MARKS 



)   'I  \  'I 




§  {b)   Facial  Marks. 

The  facial   marks   are  for  the   purpose  of   distinguishing  the 

various   Yoruba  families.     Of  these,  only  those  of  the  principal 

ones  can  be  indicated.     They  are  designated  : — (a)   Abaja,    (b) 

Keke  or  Gombo,  (c)  Ture,  (d)  Pele,  {e)  Mande  and  (/)  Jamgbadi. 

I.     The    Oyo   marks    are : — The    Abaja,    Keke  or    Gombo, 


{a)  The  Abaja  are  sets  of  three  or  four  parallel  and  horizontal 

lines  on  each  cheek  ;    they  may  be  single  or  double,  each  line 

being  from  half-an-inch  to  one  inch  long. 

Lines  in  sets  of  three  : — 

~  ~    or  ~ 

The  double  sets  are  those  of  the  Royal    Family'  of  Oyo  the 
single  that  of  the  older  line  of  Basoruns. 
Lines  in  sets  of  four  : — 

^11    or  = 

These  marks  distinguish  some  noble  families  of  Oyo. 
Variations  of  these  marks  are  made  by  adding  three  perpendi- 
cular lines  to  them  as  a  family  distinction  thus  : — 

iU  _     or  LU 

The  latter  of  these  is  common  amongst  the  Ibolos  and  Epos. 
{b)  The  Kek^  or  Gombo  consists  of  four  or  five  perpendicular 
and  horizontal  lines  placed  angularly  on  each  cheek  ;  they 
occupy  the  whole  space  between  the  auricle  and  the  cheek  bone ; 
three  small  perpendiculars  are  also  placed  on  the  horizontal 
lines  on  both  cheeks  thus  : — 

1  Besides  the  above,  broad  ribbon  marks  termed  Eyo  drawn 
along  the  whole  length  of  the  arms  and  legs  are  distinctive  of  the 
Royal  Family  of  Oyo.  For  whereas  homeborn  slaves  and  others 
closely  related  to  Royalty  may  have  the  facial  marks  distinctive 
of  the  house  to  which  they  belong,  the  Eyo  marks  are  reserved 
strictly  for  those  actually  of  Royal  blood. 



A  variation  of  this  is  sometimes  made  by  adding  on  the  left 
cheek  the  Ibamu  i.e.  a  line  running  aslant  from  the  bridge  of  the 
nose  to  the  horizontal  lines.  This  also  is  for  the  purpose  of  distin- 
guishing a  family. 


When  the  lines  are  rather  bold,  the  mark  is  termed  Keke, 
when  fine  and  faint  it  is  termed  Gombo.  The  K^ke  or  Ggmbg 
is  a  common  mark  of  all  Qyos  and  of  the  Egbado  tribe. 

(c)  The  Ture  consists  of  four  perpendicular  lines  somewhat  like 
the  Gombo,  but  longer,  with  the  three  small  perpendiculars 
but  without  the  horizontals. 

,.,l  ! 

{d)  The  Pele  are  three  short  perpendicular  lines  over  the  cheek 
bones,  each  about  an  inch  long.  They  are  not  distinctive 
of  any  particular  family,  but  are  used  generally  by  some  men 
who  disapprove  of  tribal  distinctions,  usually  Moslems,  but  are 
loth  to  remain  plain-faced,  e.g. 

{e)  (/)  The  Mande  and  Jamgbadi  are  no  longer  in  use  ;  the 
latter  is  said  to  be  distinctive  of  aliens  naturalized  amongst 

These  are  the  principal  facial  marks.  The  other  principal 
Yoruba  families  are  distinguished  by  a  slight  variation  of  these 
marks  : — 

II.  Egba  marks: — The  Abaja  dr6  i.e.  the  upright  Abaja 
is  distinctive  of  the  Egbas.  They  consist  of  three  perpendicular 
lines  each  about  3  inches  long  on  each  cheek.  The  younger 
generations,  however,  have  their  lines  rather  faint  or  of  shorter 
lengths  undistinguishable  from  the  Pele. 

III.  The  Egbado  marks  are  the  same  as  the  Oyo  marks 
generally  as  this  family  remained  in  close  connection  with  Oyo 
and  in  their  allegiance  to  the  Alafiin  long  after  the  break-up  of  the 
kingdom,  and  the  establishment  of  tribal  independence. 



IV.     Owu   marks.     These    are    of    two    kinds,    both    being 
variations  of  Oyo  marks.     They  are: — (a)  Ahaja  Olowu  and 

{b)  Keke  Olowu. 

(a)  The  Abaja  Olowu  are  three  horizontal  lines  surmounted 

by  three  perpendiculars  each  about  one  and  a-half  inches  long. 

(b)  The  Keke  Olowu  is  like  the  Keke  or  Gombo  with  the  lines 
discrete  or  interrupted. 

V.  Ijgbu  marks  are  also  of  two  kinds  (a)  the  first  is  much  like 
the  A  baja  Olowu  (the  tribe  from  which  they  are  partly  descended) 
but  with  the  horizontals  curved. 

(b)  The  other  is  the  Abaja  Oro  of  the  Egbas.     The  former  is 
more  distinctive  of  Ij§bus. 

VI.  If§  marks  are  three  horizontal  lines  like  those  of  the 
original  Basgrun's  marks,  each  being  shorter,  about  half-inch 
long.     Otherwise  Ifes  are  usually  plain  faced. 

VII.  The  Ondos  and  Idokos  have  only  one  bold  line  or 
rather  a  gash  about  one  and  a  half  inches  to  two  inches  long  over 
each  malar  bone. 

VIlI.  The  Ijesas  as  a  rule  have  no  distinctive  marks  ;  they 
are  mostly  plain-faced  ;  some  families,  however,  are  dis- 
tinguished by  having  on  each  cheek  5  or  6  horizontal  lines. 
They  are  closely  drawn,  and  much  longer  than  any  Oyo  mark, 

Amongst  the  Efons  an  Ekiti  family,  the  lines  are  so  many 


and  so  closely  drawn  that  the  whole  together  form  a  dark  patch 
on  each  cheek,  e.g. 

IX.  The  Yagbas  are  the  most  north-easterly  tribes  of 
Yoruba  ;  they  are  distinguished  by  three  long  lines  on  each 
cheek,  far  apart  behind,  but  converging  to  a  point  at  the  angle 
of  the  mouth,  e.g. 

X.  The  Igbominas  are  by  some  classed  with  Qyos,  and  by 
others  with  Ekitis.  It  will,  perhaps,  be  more  correct  to  say  they 
are  Oyos  with  Ekiti  sympathies.  They  occupy  a  midway 
position  between  the  two  ;  and  so  their  facial  marks  are  parallel 
like  those  of  Qyos,  but  long  and  far  apart  like  those  of  Yagbas, 
yet  not  convergent  in  front  e.g. 

On  the  whole,  speaking  generally,  the  finer  and  more  closely 
drawn  lines,  are  more  elegant  than  the  same  drawn  bold,  and 
too  far  apart. 

We  may  note  how  each  of  the  principal  marks  is  indicated 
by  a  different  verb  signifying  "to  mark": — 
To  be  marked  with  the  Pele        is  O  kQ     Pele 

„        „        „  Abaja    ,,  O  hu    Abaja 

Keke      ,,  O  ja     Kekg 

,,         ,,         ,,  Gombo  ,,  O  iva    Gombo 

§(c)   Diet 

The  diet  of  the  common  people  is  plain  but  substantial.  The 
morning  meal  is  a  kind  of  gruel  made  from  corn  flour  (maize  or 
guinea  corn)  and  taken  between  7  and  8  a.m.  with  Akara  an  oily 
cake  made  of  beans,  ground  and  fried.  There  are  no  fixed  hours 
for  meals.  After  midday,  dinner  is  served,  each  family  consulting 
its  own  convenience  as  to  the  precise  time  of  eating.  Supper  is 
taken  in  the  evening  generally  between  7  and  9  p.m. 

In  ancient  times  pounded  yam  is  served  out  in  a  large  bowl 
or  earthenware  vessel,  and  both  the  father  and  his  children  and 
grandchildren  sit  around  it  to  partake  of  the  food.  Each  one  dips 
his  hand  into  the  dish  and  takes  a  morsel  in  strict  order  of  seniority. 



the  youngest  present  acts  the  part  of  a  servant  and  waits  on  his 
seniors  ;  and  whether  the  food  be  sufficient  or  not  care  was  usually 
taken  to  leave  some  portion  for  him. 

The  staple  articles  of  diet  are  yam  and  yam  flour,  corn  and 
corn  flour,  beans  of  various  kinds,  cassava,  sweet  potatoes,  etc. 
Only  the  well-to-do  can  afford  to  indulge  in  flesh  diet  daily,  the 
poorer  people  are  mostly  vegetarians,  except  when  animals  are 
slaughtered  for  sacrifice  they  seldom  partake  of  meat ;  game, 
however,  is  plentiful.  Dwellers  on  the  coast  have  a  plentiful 
supply  of  fish. 

Of  fruits  the  principal  are : — The  shea  fruit  in  the  plain,  the 
Oro  {Irvinga  Barter i  Hook)  in  forest  lands.  The  Ori  or  black 
plum  {verbenacea  cuneata),  locust,  bananas,  plantains,  pawpaws, 
oranges,  lime  (citron),  pine-apples,  the  well-known  kola  nut,  and 
the  bitter  kola  {garcinia  kola-Heckel) ,  ground  nuts  {Arachis  hypogea) , 
etc.  Their  drink  consists  of  palm  wine,  bamboo  wine,  and  beer 
made  from  the  guinea  corn  or  from  maize. 

§  {d)    Dress 

The  Yorubas  clothe  themselves  in  loose  flowing  robes  like  the 
people  of  the  East,  whence  indeed  they  trace  their  origin.  The 
men  wear  gowns,  vests,  and  a  very  free  and  ample  kind  of  trousers 
called  S6k6t6.  In  lieu  of  the  gown  sometimes  a  sheet  of  cloth 
three  yards  by  two  is  thrown  around  the  body  for  a  covering, 
passing  under  the  right  arm-pit,  and  overlapping  over  the  left 

In  ancient  times  the  gowns  were  made  very  plain  and  were 
,  of  purely  native  manufacture.  They  were  without  embroidery 
on  the  breast  and  around  the  neck  as  at  present  ;  only  kings  and 
chiefs  wore  gowns  made  of  superior  stuffs  richly  embroidered. 
The  covering  for  the  common  people  is  called  Eleg6d^.  The 
weavers  have  a  standard  of  breadths  for  all  home-made  cloths. 
Men's  coverings  are  made  of  14  breadths,  and  women's  of  10, 
of  about  5  inches  each.  Cloths  of  wide  breadths— say  about  a 
yard — were  first  imported  from  Or6  or  Ila  in  the  Igbomina 
province,  and  were  known  as  Akoko  cloths  being  chiefly  the  pro- 
duction of  Akoko  women  ;  hence  the  practice  spread  all  over  the 
country  for  women  to  manufacture  broad  width  cloths,  and  men 
narrow  ones.  Formerly  only  men  were  weavers  and  tailors,  but 
from  intercourse  with  other  nations  the  women  now  engage  in  the 
same  craft. 

The  vest  spoken  of  above  is  known  as  kukumg  over  which  the 
gown  or  loose  cloth  is  thrown.  It  is  sleeveless  and  without  a  collar, 
and  open  in  front ;   it  may  be  made  of  any  kind  of  native  stuff. 



but  that  which  is  made  of  Alari  (crimson  dye)  or  of  SSmayan 
(rough  silk)  is  the  most  respectable,  as  it  is  at  the  same  time  most 

Another  kind  of  vest  is  termed  Ewii ;  this  is  much  like  the  former, 
but  with  sleeves  ;  it  is  more  commonly  used  in  modern  times  ; 
in  full  dress  it  is  often  worn  under  the  gown,  and  is  always  made  of 
white  stuff. 

There  is  another  form  which  seems  to  be  of  foreign  importation 
used  only  by  big  men  ;  it  is-  full  of  pleats  below  reaching  to  the 
calves,  but  the  sleeves  are  very  ample  and  long,  about  12  inches 
longer  than  the  arms,  very  wide  at  the  end.  It  is  called  Dandogo, 
and  is  worn  in  lieu  of  the  gown. 

Togo  is  a  sleeveless  dress  like  kukumo  but  smaller  and  simpler  ; 
it  is  the  soldier's  dress  and  is  often  worn  with  a  turban  wrapped 
round  for  a  belt. 

There  are  three  sorts  of  gowns,  the  Suliya,  Agbada  and  Girike. 
The  Suliya  is  the  smallest,  plainest  and  lightest  ;  always  made 
of  white  material,  it  reaches  much  below  the  knee,  open  at  the 
sides,  with  the  arm  stretched  the  sleeve  would  reach  as  far  as  the 
wrist,  but  long  and  pointed  below.  The  Agbada  is  a  larger  form, 
always  made  of  dyed  or  coloured  stuff.  It  reaches  as  far  as  the 
ankles,  much  embroidered  at  the  neck  and  breast,  open  at  the 
sides,  and  quite  covers  the  arms.  The  Girike  is  the  largest  and 
heaviest,  it  is  like  the  Agbada  but  more  ample  ;  it  is  much 
embroidered,  reaching  also  as  far  as  the  ankles,  and  extends 
beyond  the  arms. 

Trousers  (called  Sokoto)  are  made  of  different  shapes  and 
lengths,  but  all  are  kept  round  the  waist  by  a  strong  cord.  They 
are  worn  below  the  vests.     They  consist  of  the  following : — 

(a)  Ladugbo  is  the  commonest,  worn  by  young  and  working 
men,  it  is  quite  free,  but  somewhat  tight  at  the  knee  where  it 
terminates.     It  is  now  out  of  fashion. 

(b)  Aibopo,  also  common,  worn  by  all  classes.  It  is  free  but 
tightened  towards  the  knee  where  it  terminates. 

(c)  The  Alongo.  This  is  tight  throughout,  and  is  not  unlike  a 
bishop's  gaiters.  It  reaches  below  the  knee,  and  is  used  chiefly 
by  sportsmen. 

(d)  The  Kdfo  is  a  tight-legged  dress  like  the  Alongo,  but  reaches 
as  far  down  as  the  ankles.  It  is  worn  by  warriors  and  ruffians 

(e)  The  Ketnbe.  This  is  made  like  the  Aibopo  but  richly 
embroidered  about  the  legs  with  threads  of  crimson  dye.  This 
is  the  kind  usually  worn  by  nobles  and  gentlemen. 

(/)  The  Efa  or  Abenugbangba.     The  name  (wide-mouthed)  well 


describes  the  nature  of  the  trousers.  It  is  a  kind  that  is  very 
free,  longer  than  the  Aibopo,  is  somewhat  shaped  like  European 
trousers,  but  stops  short  a  little  below  the  knee. 

(g)  The  Wondo  is  made  entirely  like  the  European  trousers. 
Though  once  fashionable,  yet  is  now  entirely  out  of  use. 

{h)  The  last  is  the  Agadansi.  This  is  adopted  from  the  Nupes, 
by  whom  it  is  commonly  used.  It  extends  from  the  waist  to 
the  ankles  ;  it  is  very  free  throughout  save  at  the  ankles  where 
it  terminates  and  is  heavily  embroidered  there.  It  is  often  made 
of  two  or  three  j^ards  wide  (sometimes  more)  so  that  when  the  feet 
are  thrust  in  at  either  end,  and  the  cord  drawn  above,  it  gathers 
into  a  large  volume  between  the  legs. 

The  men's  head-gear  is  usually  a  cap  (Filk)  of  which  there  are 
two  kinds  ;  the  ordinary  filk  which  is  about  lo  inches  long,  rather 
close  fitting,  and  is  bent  upon  itself  on  the  top.  The  turban  is 
generally  wound  round  it  by  Moslems  and  full-dressed  gentlemen. 
The  other  kind  is  used  generally  by  young  folks,  and  is  called 
Fild  Ab'eti  i.e.  the  ear-covering  cap.  It  is  shaped  like  the  sector 
of  a  circle,  the  pointed  ends  being  used — as  its  name  denotes — for 
covering  the  ears  in  cold  weather.  But  when  used  otherwise  the 
pointed  ends  are  tmned  fore  and  aft,  the  point  on  the  forehead 
being  tilted  up  in  a  sporting  manner  to  show  the  under -surface 
prettily  done  up  wth  cloths  of  bright  colouring  :  it  is  then  termed 

Hats  made  of  straw,  and  ornamented  with  coloured  leather  are 
worn  solely  for  protection  from  the  sun  :  the  crowns  are  large 
enough  to  accommodate  the  turbaned  head. 

The  women's  dress  is  much  simpler,  two  or  three  wrappers 
and  a  head  dress  or  circlet  complete  their  toilet.  Unmarried 
women  generally  use  two  wrappers,  the  under  wrapper  being  fixed 
above  the  breasts.  This  is  made  of  fine  cloth  and  is  heavier. 
The  upper  is  fixed  about  the  middle  of  the  body  ;  and  is  made  of 
lighter  cloth.  To  these  married  women  add  a  third,  used  as  a 
shawl,  or  covering  for  the  head  and  back.  Underneath  all  these, 
and  immediately  next  the  body  is  worn  from  the  age  of  puberty 
a  short  apron  or  petticoat  reaching  the  knees,  and  tied  round  the 
waist  with  a  strong  cord  or  band.     This  is  called  T6bi. 

Female  headgear  consists  of  a  band,  of  about  6  to  lo  inches 
wide  and  5  feet  long  (more  or  less).  This  is  wound  twice  round 
the  head  and  tucked  on  one  side.  It  may  be  of  plain  cloth 
or  costly,  as  she  can  afford.  Well-to-do  ladies  use  velvet 

Hats  are  used  only  as  sunshades  ;  the  crown  is  small  for  the  head 
but  the  rim  is  as  wide  as  an  open  umbrella. 


Camwood  to  the  feet  and  stibium  to  the  eyelids  complete  the 
female  toilet. 

§  {e)  Marriage 

In  ancient  times  the  Yorubas  were  mostly  monogamic  ;  not 
from  any  enlightened  views  on  the  subject  however,  but  rather 
from  necessity  ;  for,  although  polygamy  was  not  actually  forbidden, 
yet  only  rich  folk  could  avail  themselves  of  indulgence  in  that 
condition  of  life. 

Besides,  in  a  community  mainly  pastoral  and  agricultural, 
where  all  were  peaceful,  and  no  one  engaged  in  any  occupation 
perilous  to  the  lives  of  its  male  population  e.g.  warfare,  sea- 
faring, deep  mining,  etc.,  where  wants  were  few,  and  those  easily 
satisfied,  the  young  men  married  as  soon  as  they  were  of  an  age  to 
support  a  family,  and  therefore  a  superfluous  female  population 
was  hardly  ever  known. 

The  marriage  laws  and  customs  have  undergone  changes  brought 
about  by  intercourse  with  other  peoples,  but  the  chief  features  in 
them  are  still  preserved. 

Where  all  things  are  equal  and  normal,  there  are  three  stages 
to  be  observed,  viz.  i.  An  early  intimation.  2,  A  Formal 
Betrothal.     3,  The  Marriage. 

1.  An  early  intimation. — It  is  generally  the  duty  of  the  female 
members  of  the  family  to  look  out  for  a  wife  for  their  male  relative  ; 
girls  are  generally  marked  out  from  childhood  as  intended  for  a 
particular  young  man,  with  or  without  her  knowledge  ;  this  is  the 
first  stage  in  the  process.  Mutual  relations  at  this  time  are  of 
an  informal  nature  ;  much  depends  upon  subsequent  events, 
especially  on  the  girl's  liking  for  the  man  when  she  is  of  age,  and 
the  consent  of  the  parents.  There  are  other  important  factors 
in  the  matter,  but  for  the  former,  ways  and  means  are  found  for 
the  girl  to  make  the  acquaintance  of  the  future  husband.  This 
period  is  also  employed  in  making  a  close  acquaintance  with  each 
other's  family,  for  before  a  formal  betrothal  is  made  the  relatives 
on  both  sides  will  first  satisfy  themselves  that  the  family  of  the 
other  side  is  free  from  the  taint  of  any  hereditary  disease  such  as 
insanity,  epilepsy,  leprosy,  etc.  and  also  whether  they  be  insolvent 
debtors.  As  mutual  understanding  becomes  established,  presents 
are  usually  given  at  the  New  Year,  and  at  other  annual  festivals. 
This  period  will  last  until  the  girl  is  of  marriageable  age. 

2.  The  Betrothal, — This  is  called  the  "  Isihun  "  or  formed  consent. 
No  girl  will  marry  without  the  consent  of  her  parents  ;  and  it  is 
rare  for  a  girl  to  refuse  the  choice  of  her  parents.  The  family  oracles 
are  invariably  consulted  before  the  final  decision  is  arrived  at. 


The  ceremony  of  betrothal  is  a  very  important  one  ;  it  is 
generally  performed  in  the  night,  when  all  the  most  important 
members  of  the  family  on  both  sides  will  be  at  leisure  to  be  present, 
as  well  as  their  intimate  friends.  The  young  man  is  to  present 
40  large  kola  nuts,  some  money,  and  several  pots  of  beer  for  the 
entertainment  of  those  present.  The  kola-nuts  have  to  be  split, 
and  all  present  as  well  as  important  absentees  must  have  a  share 
of  them,  indicating  thereby  that  they  are  witnesses  of  the  betrothal. 
From  this  day,  the  girl  is  not  to  meet  her  fiance  or  any  member  of 
his  family  without  veiling  or  hiding  her  face. 

Then  follows  what  is  known  as  the  AnS  or  "  dowry."  The 
bridegroom-elect  has  to  present  to  the  parents  of  the  intended 
bride,  choice  kola-nuts,  some  alligator  pepper,  and  bitter  kolas.* 
Also  a  fine  wrapper  of  good  quality,  a  large  covering  cloth, 
a  head  tie,  and  some  money  according  to  his  ability.  .  Well-to-do 
families  rarely  require  more  than  10  heads  of  cowries  in  these 
days,  in  earlier  times  one  head  was  considered  ample — only  as 
a  token. 

Whatever  variations  may  be  in  these  presents,  the  kola-nuts  of 
both  kinds  and  the  alhgator  pepper  are  invariable  and  essential. 
If  the  girl  happens  to  be  doing  debtors'  service  at  the  time,  the 
young  man  will  pay  the  debt  and  release  her,  before  the  marriage 
can  take  place. 

This  event  (the  betrothal)  is  also  an  occasion  of  rejoicing, 
feasting,  and  offering  of  sacrifices.  The  parties  themselves  are 
to  carry  special  propitiatory  sacrifices  offered  to  the  evil  one. 
This  is  termed  "  Ebg  lyawo  "  i.e.     A  bride's  sacrifice. 

3.  Marriage.  (Igbeyawo). — Marriages  may  be  solemnized  at 
any  time  of  the  year,  except  during  the  fasts,  but  the  most  usual 
time  is  after  the  season  of  harvest,  and  following  the  Egugun 

The  bride  is  conducted  to  her  new  home  always  in  the  night, 
attired  in  her  best  with  a  thin  white  cloth  for  a  veil,  and  attended 
by  her  companions  all  well  clothed,  with  drums,  and  singing  and 
dancing.  The  bridal  party  is  met  at  the  entrance  gate  of  the 
bridegroom's  compound  by  a  female  band  of  the  house  specially 
selected  for  the  purpose,  and  by  them  the  ceremony  of  washing 
the  bride's  feet  is  performed,  and  then  the  bride  is  literally  lifted 
and  borne  into  the  house.  Hence  the  term  for  marriage  "  Gbe 
lyawo  "  i.e.  lifting  or  carrjdng  the  bride.  She  is  then  conducted 
into  the  bathroom  where  she  is  washed,  rubbed  down,  perfumed, 

'  This  is  really  not  dowry  but  symbols  of  future  relationship 
between  both  families. 


and  dressed  up  afresh,  and  then  conducted  into  the  apartment  of 
the  head  lady  of  the  house.  She  now  becomes  the  inmate  of  that 
house  for  life. 

The  bride  is  usually  brought  with  her  idols,  and  furnished  from 
her  home  with  every  thing  that  appertains  to  the  female  depart- 
ment of  house-keeping,  including  cooking  utensils,  brooms,  and 
other  articles  for  house  use. 

If  she  gives  satisfaction  to  her  husband,  and  friends,  presents 
are  sent  on  the  next  day  to  her  parents,  she  herself  is  covered 
with  trinkets  (consisting  chiefly  of  corals  and  other  costly  beads, 
gold  necklaces  where  they  are  obtainable,  etc.)  and  the  festivities 
continue  for  at  least  three  days. 

A  bride  who  is  found  unchaste  is  rather  hardly  used  and  some 
times  severely  punished  to  the  extent  of  having  her  tied^  and 
severely  flogged,  thus  compelling  her  to  name  her  violator  so  as 
to  have  him  severely  fined.  No  ornaments  are  allowed  her 
and  she  may  be  ordered  to  perform  errands  out  of  doors  unveiled, 
the  next  day,  or  may  be  sent  out  with  a  pitcher  for  water  !  Other- 
wise, a  bride  is  never  seen  out  of  doors  for  12  months  at  least 
after  her  marriage,  except  closely  veiled,  and  with  attendants. 

In  the  case  of  Moslems,  liturgical  forms  of  ceremonies  are  per- 
formed by  the  priest  in  the  house  or  in  the  mosque.  This  is 
termed  Isoyigi.  Such  women  alone  in  former  times  had  the 
privilege  of  covering  their  head  with  a  light  shawl  when  out 
of  doors  ;  but  the  practice  has  now  been  extended  to  all  married 

Widowhood  and  Remarriage. — Three  months  is  the  period  of 
mourning  in  Yoruba,  during  which  time  widows  remain  closely 
indoors  ;  they  may  spin,  dye,  or  do  any  home  work,  but  must  do 
nothing  that  will  take  them  out  of  doors.  Among  other  signs  of 
widowhood  is  an  entire  absence  of  personal  attention,  they  neither 
bathe  nor  do  up  their  hair,  nor  change  the  cloth  they  had  on  at 
the  time  of  the  husband's  death. 

This  period  over,  they  are  open  to  offer  of  marriage  from  mem.bers 
of  the  deceased  husband's  family.  Where  there  are  several 
women,  the  heir  (usually  the  eldest  son  or  younger  brother)  who 
succeeds  to  the  headship  of  the  house,  usually  inherits  the  majority 
of  the  women,  except  of  course  his  own  mother.  The  custom 
is  for  each  man  to  send  his  chewing  stick  (tooth  brush)  round  to 
the  woman  of  his  choice,  she  is  expected  modestly  to  decline 

'  This  gave  rise  to  the  proverb  "  Tani  de  o  ti  o  nka  oko  "  i.e. 
who  has  tied  you  that  you  begin  to  name  a  violator  ?  The  equiva- 
lent of  Qui  s'excuse  s'accuse. 


it  once  or  twice  ;    but  if  she  refused  it  the  third  time,  the  refusal 
is  taken  as  final. 

The  following  peculiarities  mark  Yoruba  wedded  life  : — 

1.  Women  are  never  really  married  twice  ;  they  may  be  inherited 
as  widows,  or  taken  for  a  wife  outside  the  late  husband's  family, 
but  the  marriage  ceremony  is  never  gone  over  again  under  any 

2.  Once  married  they  are  attached  for  ever  to  the  house  and 
family  of  their  deceased  husbands ;  hence  it  is  more  usual  for  widows 
to  choose  another  husband  from  the  same  family. 

3.  No  woman  is  without  a  husband,  except  in  extreme  old  age, 
but  every  woman  must  in  any  case  have  a  male  protector  who  is 
responsible  for  her. 

4.  Divorce  is  very  rare  ;  so  rare  as  to  be  practically  considered 
X    as  non-existing.     It  is  by  no  means  easily  obtained  especially 

when  there  are  children  of  the  union. 

The  causes  that  may  lead  to  a  divorce  are  : — Adultery  with  the 
husband's  blood  relation,  kleptomania,  repeated  insolvency, 
especially  such  as  may  bring  trouble  to  the  house.  A  woman 
may  apply  for  a  divorce  for  extreme  cruelty,  which  can  be  testified 
to,  and  ill-usage. 

But  these  causes  notwithstanding  a  divorce  is  never  granted  by 
the  rulers  of  the  town  until  all  possible  means  of  reclamation  have 
been  exhausted. 

5.  A  woman  divorced  from  her  husband  can  never  be  married, 
or  taken  up  legally  by  another  man  ;  hence  the  saying  A  ki  isu 
opo  alkye  (no  one  can  inherit  the  relict  oi  a  living  man). 

Under  purely  Native  Government  the  above  rules  still  hold 

Other  Recognized  Forms  of  Marriage 

There  are  cases  in  which  all  the  above  forms  and  ceremonies  are 
not  gone  through,  and  yet  the  woman  is  regarded  as  the  lawful 
wife  of  the  man  of  her  choice.  Mutual  consent  is  the  only  thing 
indispensable.  Of  such  cases,  some  may  be  girls  who  when  of 
age,  will  not  accept  the  man  chosen  for  them  from  childhood, 
except  one  of  their  own  choice.  Some  may  be  widows  who  failed 
to  be  mated  at  the  house  of  her  late  husband.  Some  may  be 
slaves  who  have  redeemed  themselves,  or  a  captive  of  war,  or 
one  bought  to  be  made  a  wife  of.  In  all  such  cases,  the  woman's 
free  consent,  and  the  recognition  of  her  by  the  members  of  the 
man's  family,  are  all  that  is  required  for  her  to  be  regarded  as  the 
man's  lawful  wife. 

There  is  a  third  form  of  marriage  which  is  more  common  among 


Moslems  of  modern  times.  In  such  cases,  it  is  not  usual  to 
mark  out  a  husband  for  the  girls  from  childhood  ;  but  when 
they  are  of  age,  the  father,  seeing  a  young  man  he  delights  in,  or 
an  elderly  man  with  whom  he  desires  to  form  a  connection,  if  he 
expresses  himself  willing  to  accept  the  gift,  the  father  after  a  very 
short  notice  will  order  his  daughter  to  be  washed  and  dressed 
up  and  taken  over  to  the  man  in  the  evening,  as  a  "  Sarahk" 
i.e.  a  free  gift  of  God  !  The|;irl  may  not  even  know  the  man  until 
she  is  taken  to  him  ! 

In  such  cases  a  girl  that  is  wild  and  unruly  who  is  likely  to 
bring  disgrace  on  the  family  receives  but  a  few  hours'  notice  ; 
but  a  dutiful  and  obedient  daughter  will  always  have  her 
feelings  consulted,  and  her  wishes  granted  as  to  her  choice  of  the 
man  and  the  time  of  the  marriage.  Festivities  are  performed  in 
these  cases  also. 

These  are  the  three  forms  of  wedlock  recognized  by  the  Yorubas 
the  first  being  far  more  binding  than  the  latter  two. 

Moslems  hold  that  the  Koranic  law  limits  them  to  four  wives, 
and,  therefore,  the  ceremony  of  Isoyigi  is  never  performed  for  the 
same  man  above  that  number. 

Other  wives  taken  without  the  ceremony  of  Isoyigi  are  known 
as  Wahari  (a  Hausa  word) ;  they  are  legal  in  every  way  and  their 
children  quite  as  legitimate,  but  both  mother  and  children  are 
regarded  as  somewhat  inferior  to  those  others.  Amongst  pagans 
the  "  customs  "  detailed  above  take  the  place  of  Isoyigi  with  the 
status  it  confers  upon  both  the  mother  and  the  children. 

Only  the  products  of  an  illicit  intercourse  are  regarded  as 

§  (/)  Trades  and  Professions 

The  principal  occupations  of  men  are: — Agriculture,  commerce, 
weaving,  iron-smelting,  smithing,  tanning  and  leather  working, 
carving  on  wood  and  on  calabashes,  music,  medicine,  barbing, 
and  other  minor  employments. 

Agriculture. — This  is  the  most  general  occupation  of  the  bulk 
of  the  people.  It  is  carried  on  with  simple  and  primitive  instru- 
ments, viz.  a  hoe  and  a  cutlass,  and  nothing  more,  both  of  home 
manufacture.  Ploughing  is  unknown,  and  it  is  very  doubtful 
indeed  whether  a  plough  would  be  of  much  service  to  them 
under  present  conditions ;  experiments  with  that  instrument 
by  those  who  understand  the  use  of  it  have  not  proved  successful. 

The  principal  articles  of  food  and  of  commerce  grown  are : — 
Corn  (guinea  corn  in  the  north  and  maize  in  the  south),  beans  of 
several  varieties,  ground  nuts  [arachis  hyPogea),  yams  of  various 


species,  sweet  potatoes,  koko  (colocasiaantiquorum),  pepper,  piper, 
calabashes  and  other  kinds  of  gourds,  coffee,  cocoa,  kola  nuts, 
vegetables  of  all  sorts  for  home  consumption,  cotton  for  weaving, 

When  a  plot  has  been  worked  with  rotation  of  crops  for  a 
few  years,  it  is  left  to  lie  fallow  for  some  years  whilst  contiguous 
plots  are  put  under  cultivation,  and  so  on  alternately  ;  manuring 
is  unknown.     The  soil  is  remarkably  fertile  under  present  system. 

Women  and  children  assist  in  reaping  and  in  bringing  harvest 
home.   No  beasts  of  burden  are  employed  in  agricultural  operations. 

All  farmers  and  men  of  any  importance  have  generally  smaller 
farms  nearer  home  "  Oko  Utile  "  and  a  more  distant  one  generally 
in  the  forest  "  Oko  Egdn."  When  engaged  in  the  nearer  one, 
they  work  from  6  or  7  a.m.  to  5  p.m.,  with  intervals  for  meals,  and 
then  return  home  ;  but  at  the  distant  farm,  they  invariably 
remain  there  for  weeks  and  months  before  returning  home. 
Regular  farmers  do  so  only  at  -the  annual  festivals.  In  these 
farms,  not  only  are  fruits  of  the  earth  cultivated  but  also  poultry 
and  smaller  cattle  are  reared  for  the  market.  Fairs  are  held  period- 
ically in  some  central  farm  markets  where  these  products  are  dis- 
posed of  to  market  women  from  surrounding  towns  and  villages. 

Although  the  soil  is  well  adapted  for  raising  fruits,  yet  fruit 
trees  are  rarely  cultivated  for  the  supply  of  markets. 

Commerce. — Commerce  comes  next  in  the  order  of  im.portance. 
Yorubas  are  keen  traders,  they  are  to  be  found  in  every  part  of 
neighbouring  countries  for  that  purpose.  A  large  trade  is  carried 
on  by  barter.  Cowry  shells,  the  medium  of  exchange,  being  too 
clumsy  for  large  transactions,  are  used  only  for  small  exchanges 
locally  ;  the  very  small  species  are  used  by  travellers.  Costly 
beads  are  used  by  many  on  distant  journeys  for  trade,  they  are 
valued  as  precious  stones.  Thus  the  products  of  the  north  are 
given  in  exchange  for  those  of  the  south,  and  those  of  Yoruba 
land  for  those  of  neighbouring  states  always  by  barter.  Both 
sexes  are  engaged  in  trade  but  each  in  his  own  line. 

Currency. — Metallic  currency  was  unknown  previously  to  the 
arrival  of  European  traders,  and  even  as  lately  as  1897  in  places 
far  off  from  the  coast  coins  were  regarded  more  or  less  as  a  curiosity. 
Silver  was  better  appreciated  than  gold  or  copper,  because  it  can 
be  converted  to  ornaments.  Silversmiths  abound  in  the  country 
whilst  there  were  no  goldsmiths.  Shells  then  stood  for  money 
and  are  thus  calculated  : — 

40  cowries  =  i  string 
50  strings  =  i  head 
10  heads     =  i  bag 


The  value  of  a  cowry  was  never  fixed.  Countries  nearer  the 
coast  can  obtain  them  with  greater  faciUty  than  those  inland, 
and  therefore  they  are  of  higher  value  in  the  interior  ;  but  since 
the  British  occupation  of  Lagos  the  principal  port  of  the  Yoruba 
country,  and  English  coins  began  to  circulate  in  the  country, 
the  rate  of  exchange  became  practically  fixed  at  6d.  for  a  "  head  " 
(the  usual  standard  of  calculation)  i.e.  2,000  cowries  ;  hence  3d. 
=  1,000  cowries.  But  coppers  being  considered  inferior  in  value,  one 
penny  is  taken  at  300  cowries  each  ;  3d.  in  coppers  then  would  be 
900  cowries.  Cowries  are  an  absolute  necessity  at  the  present 
stage  of  the  country,  and  should  be  used  pari  passu  with  coins 
for  purchases  below  one  penny.  Fruits,  herbs,  and  small  articles 
of  food  may  be  purchased  for  a  few  cowries,  beggars  collect  them 
by  two's  and  three's  from  passers  by,  and  thereby  earn  enough 
to  keep  life  going  ;  to  what  extent  they  are  rcire,  to  that  extent 
the  hardships  of  life  are  felt  in  the  land.  . 

The  custom  of  stringing  cowries  was  for  the  facility  of  counting 
large  sums  ;  they  were  usually  strung  by  200  in  5  strings  of  40 
each,  three  of  66  or  two  of  100  each  and  with  a  discount  of  one  per 

Esusu  is  a  universal  custom  for  the  clubbing  together  of  a  number 
of  persons  for  monetary  aid.  A  fixed  sum  agreed  upon  is  given 
by  each  at  a  fixed  time  (usually  every  week)  and  place,  under  a 
president ;  the  total  amount  is  paid  over  to  each  member  in  rotation. 
This  enables  a  poor  man  to  do  something  worth  while  where  a 
lump  sum  is  required.     There  are  laws  regulating  this  system. 

Weaving. — This  also  is  carried  on  by  both  sexes  but  in  different 
styles  of  manufacture.  Men  weave  cloths  of  narrow  breadths 
about  5^  inches  wide  called  Alawe.  The  loom  is  operated  upon 
N^dth  both  hands  and  feet  ;  the  threads  of  the  warps  are  so  arranged 
that  they  open  and  close  by  a  mechanical  contrivance  worked 
by  both  feet  moving  alternately  as  the  pedals  of  an  harmonium, 
whilst  the  shuttle  about  8  by  2  inches  carrying  the  woof  is 
tossed  and  caught  by  the  right  and  left  hand  alternately  through 
the  opening,  the  disengaged  hand  being  rapidly  used  in  ramming 
in  the  thread.  The  cloth  is  woven  in  one  long  strip  and  then  cut 
to  the  required  lengths  and  tacked  together. 

Tailoring  is  done  mostly  by  men  only  as  it  is  only  men's  dress 
which  requires  a  tailor.  It  includes  embroidery  made  in  the  neck 
and  breast  of  men's  gowns.  Women  being  wrapped  in  plain 
cloths  hardly  require  tailoring.  The  stitches  are  made  the 
contrary  way  to  that  of  European  tailors,  the  needle  being  pushed 
away  from  the  seamster,  and  not  toward  himself. 

Iron  Smelting  was  carried  on  more  largely  in  earlier  than  in 


modern  times.  Certain  districts  are  rich  in  iron  ores,  its  iron 
production  gave  its  name  to  the  city  of  Ilorin,  from  Ilo  irin,  iron 
grinding,  also  to  El  eta  a  district  of  Ibadan  "  Eta  "  being  the  term 
for  iron  ore.  Certain  districts  in  the  Ekiti  province  are  also  famous 
for  their  iron  ores  from  which  good  steel  was  made,  such  as  Oke 
Mesi.  Charcoal  from  hard  wood,  and  the  shells  of  palm  nuts  are 
the  materials  generally  used  for  generating  the  great  heat  required 
for  the  furnace  (called  Ileru)  which  is  kept  going  all  the  year  round. 
Iron  rods  and  bars  of  European  commerce  being  cheaper  are  fast 
displacing  home-made  products,  and  here  and  there  all  over  the 
country  the  furnaces  are  being  closed,  and  soon  will  doubts  begin 
to  be  expressed  as  to  whether  Yorubas  ever  knew  the  art  of  smelting 
iron  from  the  ores  ! 

Other  products  of  the  mines  e.g.  gold,  silver,  tin,  etc.,  are  not 
known  among  the  Yorubas. 

Smithery  is  carried  on  largely.  Before  the  period  of  intercourse 
with  Europeans,  all  articles  made  of  iron  and  steel,  from  weapons 
of  war  to  pins  and  needles  were  of  home  manufacture  ;  but  the 
cheaper  and  more  finished  articles  of  European  make,  especially 
cutlery  though  less  durable  are  fast  displacing  home-made  wares. 

There  are  also  brass  and  copper  smiths  who  make  ornaments 
from  these  materials ;  for  this  purpose  brass  and  copper  bars  are 
imported  from  foreign  parts. 

Workers  in  leather  were  formerly  their  own  tanners,  each  one 
learns  to  prepare  for  himself,  whatever  leather  he  wants  to  use ; 
black,  white,  green,  yellow,  and  brown  are  the  prevailing  colours 
given  to  leather.  They  are  now  largely  imported  from  Hausa- 
land,  principally  from  Kano. 

Every  worker  is  expected  to  know,  and  to  be  able  to  execute 
the  various  crafts  performed  with  leather,  e.g.  saddlery,  sheaths 
to  swords  and  knives,  leather  ornaments  on  hats,  waistbands  for 
children,  leather  cushions,  bolsters,  boots  and  shoes,  sandals,  etc. 

It  may  be  remarked  that  shoes  and  boots  are  used  only  by  riders 
on  horseback,  and  therefore  they  are  always  made  with  spurs 
immovably  fixed  upon  them. 

Music  is  a  favourite  pastime  and  gives  occupation  to  many, 
both  men  and  boys. 

Musicians  also  have  first  to  learn  how  to  manufacture  the 
instruments  they  have  to  perform  upon,  hence  each  one  can  easily 
repair  a  damaged  instrument. 

Yoruba  music  has  yet  to  be  studied  and  reduced  to  a  system 
by  a  competent  musician  ;  how  essential  this  is  can  easily  be 
recognized  when  we  consider  how  much  time  and  trouble  is  spent 
in  acquiring  the  art,  and  how  much  the  practice  of  it  enters  into 


the  varied  life  and  conversation  of  the  people.  Having  learnt 
how  to  make  their  instruments,  they  then  begin  to  learn  how  to 
speak  with  them,  an  operation  to  which  the  Yoruba  language 
readily  lends  itself,  as  it  consists  chiefly  in  modulation  of  the 
voice  ;  this  the  instruments  try  to  imitate.  The  praises  and 
attributes  of  great  men  and  distinguished  names  are  got  up,  and 
the  various  measures  in  dances  are  learnt.  There  is  no  sound 
more  common  in  Yoruba  towns  than  what  Europeans  term 
"  tomtoms."  Musicians  are  in  requisition  at  weddings,  funerals, 
in  processions  of  all  kinds  religious  and  otherwise ;  they  are  constant 
attendants  on  all  great  men,  and  many  of  them  parade  the  streets 
asking  alms  on  their  drums. 

Musical  Instruments  used  by  the  Yorubas  are  of  two  classes 
only,  viz.  wind  and  percussion. 

{a)  The  Ivory  trumpet  and  the  Kakaki  introduced  from  the 
Hausa  and  Nupe  are  used  for  the  AlAfin  alone.  The  Fami  fami, 
Okinkin,  Igba,  Tiyako  fife  and  the  Oge.  These  are  the  principal 
wind  instruments. 

{h)  The  Koso  is  the  AlAfin 's  drum,  and  the  Ogidigbo  is  used 
only  on  the  occasion  of  the  AlAfin  and  theBasorun  dancing  on  the 
annual  festivals. 

The  Calabash  drum — ornamented  with  strings  of  cowries — 
is  called  Sek^r^.  The  Yangede,  Dundun,  Bata,  Aye,  Sami, 
Siki  and  the  Apinti  are  all  ancient  drums.  The  Aro  (cymbal) 
the  Bembe,  introduced  from  Hausa,  and  the  Gangan  the  noisiest 
but  most  popular  are  of  recent  invention.  These  are  the  percussion 

Stringed  instruments  are  rarely  used,  except  by  Hausa  mendi- 

Medicine. — There  are  certain  persons,  doctors  by  profession 
(general  practitioners)  to  whom  people  resort  on  an  emergency. 
They  are  called  Adahunse.  There  are  no  institutions  like  hospitals, 
but  some  of  these  doctors  do  keep  on  their  premises  a  number  of 
invalids  suffering  from  chronic  or  constitutional  diseases,  e.g., 
leprosy,  insanity,  chronic  ulcers,  etc.  Many  of  these  patients 
being  unable  to  pay  the  doctor's  fees,  style  themselves  "  Gba 
mi  o  ra  mi  "  i.e.,  help  me  and  appropriate  me.  Such  persons 
on  being  cured  become  the  property  (or  perpetual  house  servant) 
of  the  doctor. 

Formerly  there  were  certain  clans  known  as  medicine  people, 
and  were  licensed  as  such  by  the  King.  For  instance,  the 
inhabitants  of  the  towns  of  Ogur6,  Ogidi,  Abe,  Agberi,  Apat^, 
Arohungbe.  They  were  remarkable  for  their  skill  in  using  secret 
poisons,  and  crimes  committed  by  them  generally  went  unpunished, 


they  being  under  the  special  protection  of  the  King.  They  are 
expected  to  be  at  the  King's  service  when  required,  but  it  meant 
death  to  any  of  them  if  the  poison  given  to  the  King  for  his  use 
upon  his  enemies  did  not  take  fatal  effect. 

There  was  also  a  particular  family  of  Efon  descent  living  at 
one  time  at  Oyo  said  to  have  belonged  to  the  Ondasa  tribe.  Their 
great  ancestor  was  said  to  have  been  invited  to  the  capital  bj' 
one  of  the  early  Kings  of  Oyo  for  medical  advice  when  all  his 
wives  were  barren.  His  prescriptions  were  successful,  and  so  he 
was  detained  at  Oyo  and  rewarded  with  a  high  rank  and  position 
in  the  palace  amongst  the  household  officers.  His  descendants 
are  now  distinguished  from  the  citizens  of  Oyo  by  the  totem  OgQ 
(a  club)  being  affixed  to  their  names. 

The  art  of  medicine  is  kept  a  profound  secret  by  those  who 
profess  it  ;  an  increase  of  knowledge  can  only  be  gained  by  an 
interchange  of  thoughts  between  brother  professionals  ;  many 
die  without  imparting  their  secrets  to  others,  and  thus  much 
valuable  knowledge  is  entirely  lost.  But  some  do  impart  their 
secret  to  those  of  their  children  male  or  fern. ale  who  show  special 
aptitude  for  such  knowledge  and  whom  they  particularly  l6ve. 

On  the  whole  we  can  unhesitatingly  assert  that  those  men 
who  are  specialists  in  one  or  two  particular  branches  but  who  do 
not  make  the  practice  of  medicine  a  profession  can  be  more  con- 
fidently relied  upon. 

Carpentry  is  in  a  very  backward  condition.  Of  joinery  they 
have  no  idea  whatever.  Carpenters  are  called  Gbenagbena. 
They  are  the  crudest  and  most  primitive  of  handicraftsmen  ;  their 
services  are  not  much  in  requisition. 

Carving  in  wood  is  executed  in  a  rather  primitive  way  but  such 
natural  genius  is  displayed  by  some  men,  that  it  is  a  matter  of 
surprise  that  such  artistic  achievem.ents  can  be  displayed  by  an 
illiterate  person,  and  with  tools  so  simple  and  primitive. 

The  Yorubas  of  the  Egbado  district  are  said  to  be  the  best  artists 
in  the  country.  They  certainly  have  in  their  forest&^^vood  most 
suitable  for  carving  purposes.  / 

Calabash  dressers  are  always  found  in  a  row  in  market  places 
plying  their  trade  ;  all  sorts  of  geometrical  figures  are  traced  or 
cut  in  calabashes  ;  some  designs  are  exquisitely  correct  and 
beautiful.  Names,  mottoes,  and  phrases  are  burnt  into  calabashes 
by  educated  artists,  figures  only  by  the  uneducated.  These 
designs  are  recently  being  imitated  by  Europeans  under  the  term 
of  Poker  Work. 

Seamanship. — There  are  very  few  large  rivers  in  Yoruba  land 
and  nearly  all  of  them  fordable  during  the  dry  season,  consequently 


only  in  coast  towns  and  on  the  Niger  are  canoemen  found  who 
make  any  pretence  to  seamanship. 

When  the  inland  rivers  are  swollen  by  rains,  large  bowls  and 
very  large  calabashes  are  used  in  ferrying  passengers  across.  The 
passengers  sit  on  them  with  their  luggage,  with  the  ferryman  in  the 
water,  pushing  the  freight  across. 

All  canoes  are  dug  out  from  large  trees.  Our  canoemen  cannot 
really  be  called  experts,  as  they  rarely  sail  out  of  sight  of  land, 
and  canoes  can  ill  endure  any  storm  or  tempest  ;  nevertheless, 
when  war  canoes  are  rigged  up  and  manned,  they  are  handled  with 
no  little  skill  in  their  fights,  sham  or  real.  In  the  title  of  Aromire 
(i.e.  one  in  friendly  terms  with  water)  we  have  preserved  a  chieftain 
who  ranked  as  an  admiral  in  the  olden  days  of  sea  fights. 

Fisheries. — Deep  sea  fishing  is  but  little  practised,  the  rivers 
and  lagoons  furnish  all  that  they  can  harvest.  Shrimps  and  oysters 
are  plentiful  in  their  season.  The  fishing  industry  is  of  course 
confined  to  coastal  towns,  and  as  there  are  no  means  of  supplying 
inland  towns  the  consumption  of  the  fresh  article  is  confined  to 
the  coast. 

Building  as  a  profession  is  almost  unknown  ;  houses  as  a  rule 
are  built  by  men  clubbing  together,  but  there  are  always  a  few 
experts  among  them  in  particular  lines,  either  in  building  the  mud 
walls  or  in  roofing  and  they  distribute  themselves  accordingly. 
These  are  always  in  requisition  whenever  they  can  be  spared 
from  their  farms.  Large  works  are  undertaken  and  arranged  for, 
when  all  hands  can  conveniently  be  spared  from  their  farms. 

Pastoral  Work  as  a  profession  is  carried  on  only  in  the  northern 
provinces  more  suited  for  that  purpose  from  the  extensive  plain 
and  pasture  land  of  those  regions.  But  very  few  Yorubas  are 
found  engaged  in  it.  Gambaris  (i.e.  Hausas)  are  generally  engaged 
by  the  chiefs  to  tend  their  cattle. 

The  barbers  and  ropemakers  are  also  mostly  Hausas  and 
Fulanis,  these  are  crafts  rarely  practised  by  Yorubas. 

These  Hausas  also  perform  some  minor  surgical  operations 
such  as  cupping,  bone-setting,  tapping  hydroceles,  etc.  Some 
are  even  oculists,  and  profess  to  be  able  to  operate  for  cataract. 
It  goes  without  saying  that  much  mischief  is  often  done  by  their 
crude  performances.  They  are  unskilled  and  the  instruments 
used  are  rather  clumsy.  It  is  a  wonder  that  more  mischief 
is  not  done,  or  that  they  occasionally  get  good  results  at  all. 

Occupations  of  Women 

It  is  specially  the  province  of  women  advanced  in  age  to  seed 
cotton  and  spin  thread.     The  former  is  done  by  rolling  out  the 


seeds  from  the  wool  between  a  smooth  log  of  hard  wood  and  a 
polished  iron  rod,  the  latter  by  weighting  a  thin  rod  of  about 
12  inches  long  with  a  small  ball  of  clay  about  i  inch  distant  from  one 
end,  attaching  the  cotton  to  the  other  end  and  setting  the  ball  spin- 
ning like  a  top,  the  wool  being  rapidly  drawn  out  to  the  required 
fineness.  Seeded  cotton  is  rendered  fluffy  for  spinning  by  being 
attached  to  the  string  of  a  bent  bow,  and  the  string  constantly 
pulled  as  if  shooting  an  arrow.  These  operations  being  an  occupa- 
tion of  a  sedentary  nature,  and  more  suitable  for  old  women  are 
performed  by  them  leisurely  all  day.  Reels  of  spun  thread  are 
sold  to  dyers. 

Aged  women  who  reside  in  the  farms  also  employ  their  time 
in  shelling  the  kernels  from  the  pcdm  nuts,  and  also  tending 
poultry,  goats  and  sheep  for  the  market. 

Dyeing  is  done  by  women.  They  buy  a  quantity  of  the  yarn, 
bleach  and  dye  them  in  various  colours,  and  sell  them  to  the 
weavers,  male  or  female.  The  commonest  colour  is  blue  or  blue 
black  from  the  indigo  dye.  The  preparation  of  indigo  balls  for 
the  market  is  also  an  important  industry.  Women  are  equally 
with  men  engaged  in  trading  and  weaving  ;  but  whereas  men 
weave  in  small  breadths  and  carry  on  their  occupation  in  courtyards 
or  secluded  squares  in  the  streets  where  they  can  stretch  their 
warp  20  yards  or  more,  the  women  on  the  contrary  fix  their 
looms  in  the  piazza  of  the  house,  close  to  the  door  of  their  apart- 
ments where  they  may  be  seen  sitting  on  the  ground,  with  their 
legs  in  a  hole  under  the  loom  ;  they  weave  the  cloths  in  broad 
pieces  called  Kijipa   two  or  three  breadths  forming  a  covering. 

The  warp  is  wound  round  two  stout  bamboo  poles  fixed  athwart 
two  strong  upright  posts,  top  and  bottom.  There  is  a  mechanism 
by  which  the  threads  can  be  made  to  cross  each  other.  The 
woof  in  rods  of  about  a  yard  long  is  passed  slowly  right  and  left 
as  the  warp  is  opened  and  separated  one  way  and  the  other,  being 
rammed  down  each  time  by  a  flat  smooth  staff. 

Besides  indigo  dyes  of  light  blue  and  dark  shades,  the  scarlet 
called  ilaharl  and  roagh  silk,  Samayan  in  grey  are  the  prevailing 
colours  of  Yoruba  yarn. 

Palm  oil  making  and  nut  oil  making  from  the  kernels  of  the  palm 
nuts,  as  well  as  shea  butter  from  the  shea  fruit  are  exclusively 
female  industries. 

Beer-brewing  from  guinea  corn  or  maize  is  done  also  by  women  ; 
for  this  they  have  a  sheltered  place  within  or  near  the  compound 
to  insure  protection  against  fire. 

A  large  class  is  engaged  in  preparing  articles  of  food.  They  are 
purveyors  of  cooked  food,  keepers  of  refreshment  stalls  and  other 


branches  of  dietary  for  the  market,  especially  to  accommodate 
working  men  and  caravans. 

The  manufacture  of  beads  from  the  hard  shells  of  palm  nuts,  or 
from  the  cocoa  nut  shells,  is  an  important  female  industry.  The 
former  quality  is  more  highly  valued. 

Pottery  is  also  a  female  industry.  Men  may  sometimes  be  seen 
assisting  to  dig  up  the  clay  and  to  perform  some  rough  initial 
work,  but  as  a  rule  the  whole  industry  is  in  the  hands  of  women. 
The  drying,  pulverising,  sifting,  mixing  and  moulding,  are  all 
done  by  women  and  girls. 

Large  pots  for  brewing  beer,  and  for  setting  indigo  dyes,  and 
cooking  Eko  (the  morning  gruel)  for  sale  are  turned  out  with 
marvellous  skill.  Cooking  utensils,  dishes,  water  pots,  etc.,  are 
also  made  for  the  markets.  Some  parts  of  the  country  furnish 
clay  of  superior  quality,  notably  Ilorin. 

Although  ignorant  of  the  use  of  the  wheel,  or  any  such  mechanical 
contrivance  used  in  pottery,  yet  the  figures,  forms  and  shapes  of 
the  articles  turned  out  are  wonderfully  correct. 

Every  woman  whatever  her  trade  may  be,  is  expected  to  keep 
a  few  chickens  and  a  goat  or  two  from  which  she  derives  smeill 
income  for  house  keeping  and  general  "  pin  money."  The  rearing 
of  poultry  then  must  be  reckoned  among  female  occupations. 

Hair  dressing  may  also  be  mentioned  among  female  occupations, 
for  although  the  race  has  not  much  to  boast  of  in  that  form  of 
natural  adornment,  yet  they  often  contrive  to  bring  out  styles 
and  fashions  which  satisfy  them  ;  but  a  marked  distinction  must 
always  be  made  between  that  of  married  women  and  the 
unmarried ;  this  is  a  social  law  which  on  no  account  should  ever 
be  infringed. 

On  the  whole  the  women  seem  to  be  far  more  industrious  than 
the  men,  for  whereas  the  men  always  contrive  to  have  leisure 
hours  and  off  days  from  work,  the  women  seem  to  have  none. 
Boys  and  young  men  certainly  have  more  idle  hours  than  the  girls. 
The  care  of  the  children  also  devolves  almost  entirely  upon  their 
mother,  an  inevitable  result  of  polygamy. 

§  {g)   Learning 

As  the  Yorubas  have  no  knowledge  of  letters,  their  learning 
consists  chiefly  in  oral  traditions.  The  historians  are  the  King's 
cymbaUists  and  ballad  singers,  the  chief  of  whom  is  called  the 
Ologbo  or  Arokin.  They  may  be  compared  to  the  rhapsodists 
of  the  Homeric  age,  as  they  perform  almost  precisely  similar 
functions.  They  chant  to  the  King  the  story  of  the  nation,  and 
history  of  former  reigns,  for  his  information  and  instruction.     They 


are  kept  in  the  royal  service  and  are  well  supported.     The  office 
is  hereditary. 

Like  many  other  heathen  nations  the  Yorubas  have  their 
tradition  about  the  creation  and  the  deluge.  It  is  their  belief 
that  at  the  creation  men  fed  on  wood  and  water,  that  they  had  a 
long  projecting  mouth  ;  that  the  bat  was  originally  a  creature  in 
human  form,  and  was  a  black-smith  by  trade,  and  that  with  his 
instrument  he  reduced  men's  mouths  to  their  present  shape,  for 
which  cause  he  was  condemned  to  lose  the  human  form  and  to 
assume  that  of  a  beast,  and  to  use  one  and  the  same  mouth  for 
receiving  food  as  well  as  for  evacuation.  The  allegation  that 
water  was  the  original  food  of  man  is  supported  by  the  fact  that 
it  is  the  first  thing  taken  by  a  new-born  babe,  as  well  as  the  last 
thing  taken  at  a  man's  dying  moments. 

§  (h)  Wealthy  Personages 

There  were  certain  historical  personages  in  Yoruba  who  were 
noted  for  their  great  wealth,  viz.,  Amoloku  of  Oro,  Gedegbe  of 
Qfa,  Lapemo  of  Ijomu  near  C>r6,  Onibiy6  of  Guguru,  Minimi 
of  Erubu.  There  is  also  a  sixth  spoken  of  who  resided  at  Gbudu. 
There  was  also  a  lady  known  as  the  Olowo  of  Ijebu. 

§  (i)  The  Iwofa  System  and  the  Laws  Regulating  it 

The  term  Iwofa  has  no  equivalent  in  English.  It  denotes  one 
who  serves  another  periodically  in  lieu  of  the  interest  on  money 
lent.     In  short,  it  is  one  in  service  for  interest. 

It  has  been  mistranslated  a  "pawn"  by  those  who  fancied 
they  saw  a  resemblance  to  it  in  that  system,  and  are  trying  to 
identify  everything  native  with  those  that  are  foreign,  and  conse- 
quently, as  in  other  similar  cases,  much  mischief  has  been  done 

The  Yoruba  man  is  simply  shocked  to  hear  of  "  pawning  " 
a  man  as  is  done  with  goods  and  chattels  ;  to  pawn  in  Yoruba  is 
ft  dogd  which  term  is  never  applied  to  a  human  being. 

It  has  also  been  compared  to  slavery  by  those  ignorant  of 
the  legal  conditions  ruling  the  system  ;  but  an  Iwofa  is  a  free 
man,  his  social  status  remains  the  same,  his  civil  and  political  rights 
are  intact,  and  he  is  only  subject  to  his  master  in  the  same  universal 
sense  that  "  a  borrower  is  servant  to  the  lender." 

Iwofas  are  held  quite  distinct  from  slaves  ;  the  verbs  applied 
to  each  system  mark  the  distinction  e.g.  rd  to  buy  is  applied  to 
a  slave,  yd  to  lend  or  engage  (a  hand)  to  an  Iwofa  ;  consequently 
you  can  buy  a  slave,  but  engage  an  Iwofa  or  service  man. 

The  derivation  of  the  term-  is  probably  from  Iwo  the  entering 


into,  and  Efk  a  period  of  six  days  ;  hence  an  Iwgfa  is  one  who 
enters  into  a  recurrent  sixth  day  service. 

The  Iwofa  system  is  a  contract  entered  into  in  the  presence 
of  witnesses  called  Onigbgwo  i.e.  sponsors,  the  money-lender 
is  termed  Oluwa  i.e.  master,  and  the  worker  Iwofa,  i.e.  a  service 

It  is  a  legal  transaction  recognized  and  protected  by  the  laws  of 
the  country.  Whatsoever  the  amount  of  money  lent,  it  is  the 
law  that  the  service  rendered  goes  for  the  interest,  and  only  the 
principal  is  paid  back  whenever  payment  is  made  whether  after 
a  few  days  or  after  many  years. 

An  Iwgfa  may  be  a  man  or  a  woman,  a  boy  or  a  girl,  and  the 
laws  for  each  differ  accordingly. 

A  man  Iwgfa  lives  in  his  own  house  and  plies  his  own  trade, 
but  he  is  required  to  clean  a  piece  of  land  equal  to  lOO  yam 
heaps  or  an  equivalent  in  his  master's  farm  once  a  week,  the 
Yoruba  week  consisting  of  five  days. 

The  people  being  mainly  agricultural,  farm-cleaning  is  the 
work  of  their  daily  life,  and  is  the  recognized  ordinary  system  of 

Cleaning  three  hundred  heaps  is  the  ordinary  amount  of  an 
average  man's  day's  work,  consequently  a  strong  man  often 
found  it  possible  to  work  in  three  different  farms  on  the  same 
day,  for  different  masters,  or  to  do  three  week's  work  at  a  time  in 
one  farm,  and  have  14  off  days  at  a  stretch,  in  which  he  is  free 
to  follow  his  own  trade  without  interruption.  Special  arrange- 
ments can  also  be  made  if  a  longer  period  is  desired,  but  the 
Iwgfa  is  bound  to  make  up  for  the  number  of  days  lost. 

This  is  the  original  law,  but  it  is  subject  to  slight  modification 
or  variation  in  various  places,  according  to  the  local  value,  or  the 
amount  of  money  lent  ;  e.g.  amongst  the  Egbas,  a  whole  day's 
work  is  required  instead  of  a  morning's  work.  But  whatever 
modification  of  the  original  law  is  made  in  any  particular  locality, 
the  law  for  that  tribe  is  always  fixed  by  authority,  and  never  subject 
to  the  whims  and  caprice  of  an  individual  money-lender. 

The  master  is  to  treat  the  service  man  as  his  social  rank  demands, 
he  mingles  freely  with  his  equals  in  the  house  or  in  the  field  as 
a  member  of  the  household.  A  kind  master  often  allows  him 
his  breakfast  before  he  quits  the  field  although  he  is  not  bound  to 
do  so,  and  if  a  master  be  too  exacting  or  disagreeable,  he  may  be 
changed  any  day  without  any  previous  notice,  once  the  money 
lent  is  paid  back  in  full. 

Where  the  master  is  a  great  chief  or  a  rich  man,  the  service  man 
may  live  under  his  protection  and  own  him  his  feudal  lord  ;  hence 


some  men  never  troubled  themselves  to  pay  back  the  money, 
but  may  rather  incur  further  obligations,  being  safe  and  free  under 
the  protection  of  a  great  name.  Some  men  there  are  ,who  are 
better  able  to  do  another  man's  work  than  their  own. 

An  Iwofa  is  never  subject  to  punishment  physical  or  otherwise, 
if  he  fail  in  his  weekly  service,  the  sponsors  are  called  upon  to  make 
good  the  deficiencies. 

In  fine  an  Iwofa  differs  from  a  slave  in  that  a  slave  must  live 
with  his  master,  an  Iwofa  in  his  own  house.  A  slave  can  be 
compelled  to  work  for  his  master  every  day,  an  Iwofa  for  a  limited 
amount  of  work  for  half  a  day  in  the  week,  and  that  not  by  com- 
pulsion but  from  obligations  of  honour.  A  slave  can  be  punished, 
an  Iwofa  cannot  be.  A  slave  has  lost  his  independence  and 
political  rights,  an  Iwofa  retains  both.  A  slave  has  no  one 
responsible  for  him,  an  Iwofa  has  two  at  least.  In  fine  an  Iwofa 
can  go  and  come  as  he  likes,  a  slave  cannot. 

For  women  the  same  law  holds  good  generally  but  with  some 
modifications  on  account  of  their  sex  ;  they  work  generally  as 
char-women  once  a  week,  and  have  a  meal  in  the  house  before 
returning  home.  In  some  cases  they  may  live  among  the  women 
folk  in  their  master's  house,  carrying  on  their  own  work,  and  lending 
a  helping  hand  in  the  housework  and  in  harvest  time  do  their  own 
share  of  the  day's  work  in  the  field  along  with  the  other  women. 

Some  are  engaged  in  trade,  in  which  they  sell  for  their  master  at 
the  same  time,  and  bring  him  the  proceeds  of  his  own  articles 
as  the  allotted  service  rendered.  When  the  trade  is  done  in  the 
home  market,  payments  are  made  every  nine  days  which  are 
market  days  ;   when  out  of  town,  at  the  return  of  the  caravan. 

If  a  service  woman  is  tampered  with  by  the  master,  the  money 
is  thereby  considered  absolutely  paid,  and  the  debt  discharged. 
If  forced  against  her  will,  not  only  is  the  debt  cancelled,  but  he 
is  also  liable  to  prosecution  and  heavy  fines  besides  to  be  paid 
both  to  the  woman's  husband  as  damages  and  to  the  town  author- 
ities as  court  fees. 

If  a  young  unmarried  woman  is  tampered  with,  not  only  is 
the  debt  ipso  facto  discharged,  but  the  master  has  to  repay  the 
fiance  all  the  money  he  has  spent  on  her  and  also  a  betrothal 
"  dowry  "  to  the  parents  besides. 

If  the  matter  is  not  arranged  amicably  and  the  case  has  to  go 
before  the  town  authorities,  the  master  has  to  pay,  and  heavy 
fines  are  inflicted  on  him  besides.  Often  has  a  rich  man  been 
reduced  to  poverty  by  this  means  and  consequently  they  are 
always  very  careful. 
If  a   betrothed  girl   becomes  marriageable  whilst  in  service 


and  her  fianU  wishes  to  get  married  at  once,  he  has  only  to  pay 
back  the  loan  and  lead  his  intended  bride  away.  A  woman 
cannot  be  married  whilst  doing  service  work. 

A  boy  or  a  girl  in  service  has  to  live  entirely  with  the  master  or 
mistress  as  a  domestic  servant,  inasmuch  as  their  services  are 
not  worth  much  and  they  have  to  be  trained  besides,  and  the 
parent  or  whoever  placed  him  there  is  supposed  to  have  his  whole 
time  to  ply  his  trade  and  withdraw  his  child  as  soon  as  possible  ; 
therefore,  the  boy  must  give  the  master  his  whole  time  whatever 
that  may  be  worth.  The  master  is  bound  to  feed  him  but  not 
necessarily  to  clothe  him,  although  many  kind  masters  do  that  as 
well.  They  have  a  fixed  time  to  visit  their  parents,  usually  once 
a  week. 

The  boys  generally  tend  horses  and  run  errands,  and  the  girls 
engage  with  the  house-wives  in  domestic  affairs.  They  are 
always  with  the  boys  and  girls  of  their  own  age  in  the  family. 

The  law  protects  such  children  very  strongly.  If  the  child 
refuse  to  stay  any  longer  with  the  master  or  mistress  for  any  cause 
whatever,  they  are  never  forced  against  their  wish,  but  the  parent 
or  guardian  must  provide  a  substitute,  or  perform  himself  the 
weekly  task. 

If  a  child  die  during  his  or  her  service,  the  master  must  prove 
to  the  satisfaction  of  the  parents  and  (if  need  be)  of  the  town 
authorities  that  it  was  not  due  to  any  act  of  carelessness  or  neglect 
on  his  part,  and  that  he  provided  ample  medical  aid  for  him. 

The  troubles  accruing  from  young  Iwofas  are  often  a  deterrent 
to  the  acceptance  of  them  for  service  ;  some  folks  would  expect 
and  demand  more  comforts  for  their  children  in  service  than  they 
can  provide  for  them  at  home.  Marriages  and  funerals  are  the 
two  great  causes  of  money  borrowing. 

But  this  system  is  not  limited  alone  to  the  business  of  pro- 
fessional money-lenders,  it  enters  much  into  other  transactions 
of  their  everyday  life. 

The  system  of  engaging  domestic  servants  for  service  with 
a  monthly  wage  is  unknown  in  this  country,  the  Iwofa  system  is 
what  is  resorted  to  for  that  purpose.  A  parent  will  even  put  his 
child  into  service  that  way  when  there  is  no  debt  to  pay  in  order 
to  train  him  into  habits  of  discipline  and  industry,  and  return 
the  money  when  they  feel  that  the  child  has  been  safhciently 

Some  would  do  so  and  put  the  money  into  trade  and  when 
satisfied  with  the  profits  made,  return  the  principal  and  bring  the 
child  home. 

The  system  is  used  also  for  apprenticeship.     A  man  who  wants 


his  son  to  learn  a  particular  trade  would  put  him  under  the  crafts- 
man for  the  purpose,  and  obtain  from  him  a  certain  amount  of 
money  ;  the  master,  wishing  to  get  his  interest  out  of  the  boy 
willsee  that  he  learns  speedily  and  well,  so  as  to  be  of  some  use 
to  him.     In  this  way  both  are  benefited. 

A  chief  or  a  well-to-do  gentleman  with  a  wild  and  unruly  son 
whom  he  wishes  to  tame,  or  who  is  indulged  at  home,  would  also 
resort  to  this  method  for  training  and  discipline ;  in  such  a  case 
the  boy  will  remaiii  with  such  a  handicraftsman  until  he  is  able  to 
earn  his  own  livelihood  by  his  craft,  then  the  money  is  paid  back 
and  the  boy  returns  home. 

This  method  of  lending  money  is  the  only  one  known  for  invest- 
ment and  is  therefore  resorted  to  as  their  banking  system. 

So  the  Iwofa  system  may  be  regarded  at  one  and  the  same 
time  as  one  for  banking,  apprenticeship,  and  domestic  service. 

Since  the  establishment  of  the  British  Protectorate  there 
•has  been  more  than  one  attempt  made  to  abolish  the  system  as 
a  "  species  of  slavery  !  "  The  Yorubas  themselves  never  at  any 
time  regarded  it  as  such  ;  to  so  regard  it  must  be  due  either 
to  an  ignorance  of  the/ laws  regulating  it,  or  because  an  exact 
equivalent  cannot  be  found  in  any  European  system.  It  can, 
however,  be  imagined  what  chaos  will  result  in  any  European 
country  if  the  banking  system,  apprenticeship,  and  domestic 
service  were  abolished  at  a  stroke — if  that  be  possible.  Like  any 
other  system  it  may  be  reformed  if  given  to  abuse,  that  is  more 
reasonable  and  statesmanlike.  But  to  abolish  it  outright  because 
it  has  no  foreign  analogue  would  be  to  disorganize  the  social  life 
of  a  people  with  no  compensating  advantage  to  borrower  or  lender. 
If  such  were  done  in  this  case  the  greatest  sufferers  will  be  those 
it  was  intended  to  benefit,  viz.,  the  service  men  themselves.  But 
with  the  country  now  settled,  and  everyone  free  to  prosecute  his 
business,  there  must  be  less  of  money  borrowing  and  service  for 
interest,  and  thus  a  gradual  change  or  modification  is  naturally 
effected  in  this  system,  with  no  tendency  to  abuse. 

§  (j)  Distraining  for  Debt 

The  Yorubas  have  a  peculiar  method  of  forcing  paj'ment  out 
of  an  incorrigible  debtor.  When  a  creditor  who  has  obtained 
judgment  for  debt  finds  it  impossible  to  recover  any  thing  out 
of  the  debtor,  he  applies  to  the  town  authorities  for  a  licensed 
distrainor.  This  individual  is  called  Og6,  he  is  said  to  d'dgd  ti 
i.e.  to  sit  on  the  debtor  (as  it  were).  For  that  purpose,  he  enters 
the  premises,  seeks  out  the  debtor,  or  esconces  himself  in  his 
apartment  until  he  makes  his  appeeirance,  and  then  he  makes 


himself  an  intolerable  nuisance  to  him  and  to  the  members  of  the 
house  generally  until  the  money  is  paid. 

The  distrainor  is  a  man  of  imperturbable  temper,  but  of  a  foul 
tongue,  a  veritable  Thersites.  He  adopts  any  measures  he  likes, 
sometimes  by  inflicting  his  presence  and  attention  on  the  debtor 
everywhere  and  anywhere  he  may  go,  denying  him  privacy  of 
any  kind,  and  in  the  meantime  using  his  tongue  most  foully  upon 
him,  his  own  person  being  inviolable,  for  touching  him  implies 
doing  violence  to  the  person  of  the  authorities  who  appoint  him 
the  task.  He  demands  and  obtains  whatever  diet  he  may  require, 
however  sumptuous  and  may  help  himself  if  not  quickly  served. 
If  he  thinks  fit,  he  may  lay  hold  on  any  poultry  or  cattle  he  finds 
in  the  premises,  and  prepare  himself  food,  and  all  at  the  expense 
of  the  debtor.  He  must  not  take  anything  away  but  he  may  enjoy 
the  use  of  anything  he  finds  in  the  house. 

Loud  in  his  abuses,  intolerable  in  his  manners  to  all  in  the 
house  whilst  going  in  and  out  with  the  debtor,  he  goes  on  in 
this  way  all  day,  and  from  day  to  day  if  needs  be,  until  even  the 
inmates  of  the  compound  get  tired  of  this,  and  then  means  will 
quickly  be  found  of  getting  rid  of  the  distrainor  by  paying  off  the 

§  {k)  War 

In  early  times  war  expeditions  were  sent  out  every  other  year  by 
the  AlAfin  of  Oyo  to  distant  countries  chiefly  amongst  the  Popos. 
War  then  was  for  spoils  and  to  keep  their  hands  in,  and  not  for 
captives  ;  the  victors  rarely  pursued  the  vanquished  ;  those  who 
concealed  themselves  behind  heaps  of  rubbish,  or  in  any  hiding 
place  in  the  town  or  in  the  fields  were  quite  safe.  When  a  town 
was  taken  the  shade  trees  about  the  principal  market — which  is 
always  in  front  of  the  official  residence  of  the  chief  ruler  of  the 
town — are  cut  down  as  a  sign  of  conquest.  Slave-raiding  and  the 
traffic  in  human  beings  did  not  then  exist.  Long  sieges  were 
unknown,  for  whether  victorious  or  defeated,  the  presence  of  the 
Kakanfo  or  his  corpse  was  expected  home  within  60  days. 

There  never  was  or  has  been  a  standing  army,  nor  any  trained 
soldiers  (except  at  Ibadan  latterly  where  the  idea  began  to 
germinate,  and  some  of  the  chiefs  had  a  number  of  their  slaves 
trained  solely  for  war  ;  some  chiefs  had  also  a  corps  of  boys,  not 
to  bear  arms,  but  to  be  attendant  on  them  in  battle,  in  order  to 
famiharize  them  with  the  horrors  of  war  1)  But  according  to  the 
custom  of  the  country,  every  man  capable  of  bearing  arms  is 
expected  to  serve  in  war  ;  but  the  law  did  not  make  it  compulsory 
except  for  men  of  rank  and  title,  and  for  home  defence. 


At  the  close  of  every  war,  each  one  goes  away  to  his  farm, 
and,  except  on  an  occasion  of  importance,  as  when  the  King's 
messengers  are  to  be  received,  even  the  Bale  and  the  Balogun 
could  not  be  found  at  home  during  the  day  at  the  busy  seasons. 

Before  the  introduction  of  fire-arrtis  (a  comparatively  recent 
affair)  their  weapons  of  war  consisted  of  bow  and  poisoned  arrows, 
a  short  sword  called  J^m6  and  Ogb6  a  kind  of  heavy  cutlass 
used  chiefly  by  the  common  people. 

As  sieges  then  were  of  short  duration  and  dways  carried  on 
in  the  dry  season,  there  was  no  necessity  to  provide  against  severe 
weather  ;  the  chieftains  generally  used  awnings  made  of  Ayin 
mats  spread  on  four  poles.  Since  sieges  began  to  be  carried  on 
for  more  than  60  days,  booths  of  palm  branches  have  come  into 
use,  and  in  later  times  even  these  have  given  way  to  huts  and 
houses  built  of  swish. 

The  preserved  food  used  in  earlier  expeditions  consisted  of 
parched  beans,  and  a  sort  of  hard  bread  made  of  beans  and  corn 
(maize)  flour  called  Akara-kuru. 

By  the  rules  of  warfare  piye  or  foraging  was  permitted.  The 
Ibadans,  who,  more  than  any  of  the  others  carried  on  war  operations 
for  longer  periods,  and  over  wider  regions,  were  accustomed  to 
cultivate  the  lands  all  around  their  camps  and  in  the  neighbourhood 
whenever  a  long  siege  was  anticipated. 

War  Titles  and  Methods 

War  titles  are  of  two  grades,  senior  and  junior,  but  both 
are  modelled  on  one  and  the  same  plan. 

Senior  Grade : — The  Balogun  or  Commander-in-Chief  comes 
first  with  his  principal  lieutenants  the  Otun  and  Osi,  that  is 
Generals  commanding  the  right  and  the  left  wings,  then  the 
(Asipa),  Ekerin,  Ekarun  and  Ekefa  i.e.  the  fourth,  fifth  and  sixth. 
These  command  the  veterans. 

Junior  Grade  : — The  Seriki  with  his  principal  lieutenants  also, 
viz.,  the  Otun,  Osi,  with  the  Ekgrin,  Ekarun,  and  Ekefa.  These 
command  the  young  warriors,  and  those  not  attached  to  any  of  the 
greater  war-chiefs. 

The  AsAj  u  is  the  leader  of  the  van,  he  too  has  his  lieutenants. 

The  Sarumi  or  chief  of  the  cavalry  and  his  men  form  a  class  by 
themselves  ;  he  also  has  his  Balogun  of  the  cavalry,  with  the 
Otun,  Osi,  etc. 

"  These  titles  constitute  what  is  termed  "  Oye  Ilu"  or  "Town 
titles,"  because  they  are  conferred  by  Bale  or  chief  of  the  town  and 
the  town  council,  and  they  are  all  members  of  the  town  council 
with  a  right  to  speak  and  vote. 


Among  the  senior  war  titles  may  be  mentioned  the  Bale's  war 
chiefs.  The  Bale  himself  does  not  go  to  war  ordinarily,  but  he 
has  his  war-chiefs,  the  Otun  Bale,  Osi  Bal§,  Ekerin,  Ekarun, 
Ekefa  as  well,  who  represent  him  in  war  ;  they  are  always  chosen 
from  among  the  older  men  who  have  past  their  best  days. 

Signification  of  the  Titles 

The  term  Balogun  is  contracted  from  Iba-li-Ogun  i.e.  lord  in 
war.  In  time  of  war,  and  generally  in  the  camp,  the  Ibalogun 
is  not  only  supreme,  but  he  is  also  above  all  laws,  he  commands 
implicit  obedience  from  all,  and  he  can  do  whatever  he  likes. 

The  Balogun's  Otun  and  Osi  (right  and  left)  are  also  the  Otun 
and  Osi  of  the  town  and  of  the  army  ;  they  command  respectively 
the  right  and  left  wings,  and  they  rank  next  after  the  Ibalogun. 

The  Asipa  is  a  title  borrowed  from  Oyo  to  satisfy  any  war-chief 
who,  being  equal  by  merit  to  the  Otun  and  Osi,  yet  just  missed 
becoming  either. 

The  Ekerin,  Ekarun,  Ekafa  are  the  fourth,  fifth  and  sixth 
respectively  of  the  senior  generals. 

Seriki  is  a  Hausa  word  signifying  a  "  king."  He  is  practically 
like  the  Balogun,  and  is  as  important  among  the  young  warriors 
as-  the  Balogun  is  among  the  veterans.  A  brave  Seriki  ranks 
himself  next  to  the  Balogun,  the  Otun  and  Osi  Balogun  notwith- 
standing ;  for  it  often  happens  when  he  is  exceptionally  brave, 
that  he  skips  over  these  and  succeeds  the  Balogun,  when  a  vacancy 
occurs.     Otherwise  the  Otun  succeeds. 

All  booty  and  perquisites  that  fall  to  the  army  are  divided 
into  two  unequal  parts,  the  larger  portion  belongs  to  the  Balogun 
and  his  lieutenants  and  the  lesser  to  the  Seriki  and  his  lieutenants 
also.  The  Balogun  and  the  Seriki  are  each  entitled  to  one  half 
of  the  portion  that  falls  to  them,  the  other  half  being  equally 
divided  among  the  subordinate  war  chiefs  of  each  respectively. 

In  every  successful  expedition  each  of  the  subordinate  war  chiefs 
is  expected  to  give  one  half  of  his  plunder  or  captives  to  his  chief, 
the  seniors  to  the  Balogun,  the  juniors  to  the  Seriki,  and  they 
themselves  also  receive  the  like  from  their  subordinates. 

Subordinate  Titles  : — Every  one  of  the  above  chiefs.  Senior  and 
Junior  had  his  own  subordinate  chiefs  modelled  on  the  same 
plan  of  Balogun,  Otun,  Osi,  etc.,  in  the  same  way,  these  also 
form  their  companies  on  the  same  plan,  and  so  on  throughout 
the  whole  army.  By  this  system  every  man  capable  of  bearing 
arms  knows  his  right  place  in  the  army,  so  that  what  appears  to 
be  a  motley  crowd  is  really  a  well-organised  body  every  man  being 
in  his  right  place  at  the  front,  the  right  or  the  left  of  his  immediate 


chief,  although  they  lack  that  co-ordination  and  precision  of 
movements  which  are  the  outcome  and  advantages  of  discipline 
and  drill. 

Other  subordinate  titles  Areagoro,  Bada,  Ajiya. 

Ar§agoro. — This  is  the  first  title  borne  by  a  young  chief  of  great 
promise,  who,  as  the  heir  of  a  great  war  chief  has  just  succeeded 
to  the  headship  of  a  great  house.  It  is  a  stepping-stone  to  one  of 
the  senior  grade  titles.  He  is  always  attached  to  one  of  the 
senior  chiefs,  as  his  alter  ego  ;  he  represents  his  chief  in  the  councils 
and  other  important  assemblies  in  the  absence  of  the  latter,  where 
he  can  speak  and  vote  with  equal  right  and  authority  ;  hence  the 
saying  :  "  Ar§agoro  ti  o  ba  gboju  t'on  ti  Oluwa  re  I'egb^ra  " 
i.e.  an  Areagoro  who  is  bold  is  the  equal  of  his  master.  An 
Areagoro  remains  as  such  only  till  a  vacancy  occurs  in  one  of  the 
higher  titles  suitable  for  him. 

Bada. — The  title  of  Bada  answers  in  many  respects  to  a  knight 
of  the  middle  ages.  He  is  one  who  is  expected  to  keep  at  least 
one  or  two  war  steeds  and  a  few  followers  at  his  own  charges, 
to  be  ready  to  take  the  field  at  a  moment's  notice,  to  be  an  accom- 
plished horseman,  a  skilful  swordsman  or  lancer,  and  to  fight 
always  on  horse-back.  All  the  principal  chiefs  have  each  at  least 
a  Bada.  The  Badas  stand  in  the  order  of  seniority  of  their  respec- 
tive masters  and  form  a  corps  by  themselves. 

Ajiya  is  a  non-descript  title  borne  by  any  junior  war  chief  who 
cannot  for  the  time  being  find  a  place  among  his  peers.  He  is 
rather  a  free  lance. 

Arrangement   of  the   War   Chiefs   in  Battle 

The  Asaju  or  leader  of  the  van  comes  first.  His  company 
begins  the  fight  by  skirmishing,  and  provoking  the  opposite  party. 
He  is  supported  by  all  the  Badas. 

The  Seriki  comes  next  with  his  lieutenants  in  their  proper  order, 
and  then  the  real  pitched  battle  begins.  Last  of  all  comes  the 
Balogun  with  his  lieutenants.  The  Balogun  himself,  however, 
does  not  take  any  active  part  at  once,  until  later  on,  except 
to  watch  the  various  movements  and  generally  to  direct  the 

The  duties  of  the  cavalry  are  to  reconnoitre,  to  hover  about  the 
enemy  watching  for  an  opportunity  they  can  take  advantage  of 
such  as  a  weak  or  an  unguarded  point  through  which  they  can  dash 
to  break  the  ranks  of  the  enemy,  and  throw  them  into  confusion. 
Also  to  cover  retreats  on  a  defeat  or  to  cut  off  stragglers  when 
pursuing  an  enemy. 

Occasionally  at  the  height  of  the  battle  a  brave  horseman  would 


demoralize  the  enemy  by  dashing  suddenly  into  their  midst,  and 
return  with  a  captive  on  his  horse  ! 

The  usual  method  of  a  pitched  battle  is  for  all  the  war  chiefs  to 
be  disposed,  each  in  his  right  place,  according  to  their  rank  and  title, 
or  as  the  commander-in-chief  disposes,  and  then  each  in  turn  to 
march  forward,  company  by  company  to  the  middle  line  of  battle 
to  discharge  their  arms,  trying  each  time  to  gain  more  ground. 
This  method  they  call  Tawusi.  But  when  later  on,  the  Balogun 
himself  rises  to  fight,  that  denotes  a  general  charge  throughout 
the  whole  host  ;  every  man  must  be  engaged  in  fight  ;  and  where- 
ever  he  fixes  the  war  standard,  every  one  is  bound  to  dispose  himself 
about  it  in  due  order.  •  His  going  forward  means  that  the  whole 
army  must  push  forward  at  whatever  cost,  for  no  one  whose 
right  place  is  in  front  dares  fall  to  the  rear  of  the  Balogun  except 
when  hors  de  combat. 

The  Bale's  war  chiefs  need  not  take  any  prominent  part  in  the 
fight,  but  they  guard  the  camp  and  baggage,  support  weak  points, 
and  make  themselves  useful  generally  as  men  vvho  must  keep  cool 
heads  while  the  others  are  engaged  in  the  excitement  of  a  fight. 
Their  chief  duty  otherwise  is  to  act  the  part  of  advisers  and 
moderators  of  rash  and  hot-headed  warriors. 

A  synopsis  of  the  arrangement  in  battle : — 

The  AsAju 

Supported   by   all   the  Badas 

Osi    Seriki  Seriki  Qtun    Seriki 

Ekerin  to  Ekefa  disposed  as  strategy  requires 

Osi  Balogun      Balogun       Otun  Balogun 

Asipa,  Ekerin  to  Ekefa  disposed  as  strategy  requires. 

The  Otun  and  Osi  Bale  and  other  older  warriors  are  to  guard 
the  rear,  camp,  and  baggage  and  support  weak  points. 

War  as  a  profession  in  this  country  was  always  said  to  date  from 
the  time  of  the  Fulani  invasion  and  seizure  of  Ilorin  when  the 
necessity  arose  for  an  organized  resistance  but  the  Yorubas  generally 
are  not  considered  a  fighting  race,  although  they  have  now  and 
again  thrown  up  a  general  who  would  be  considered  distinguished 
in  any  race.  In  the  later  period  of  their  history  circumstances 
have  brought  things  about  that  Ibadan  became  a  centre  for  all 
warlike  spirits  of  whatever  tribe,  and  consequently  it  is  to  that 
place  we  have  to  turn,  to  see  the  development  of  warlike  proceedings. 

How  war  is  declared. — Every  expedition  is  supposed  to  be  sent 
out  by  the  King  (Alafin).  It  is  in  his  name  war  was  generally 
declared,  and  his  permission  or  at  any  rate  his  assent  must  be 
obtained  before  an  army  can  march  out. 


When  it  has  become  evident  that  a  place  is  marked  out  for 
an  attack,  a  system  of  exclusive  dealings  is  first  established 
between  that  town  and  its  neighbours  ;  then  follow  preparations 
for  attack  and  defence,  and  when  plans  are  matured  then, 
at  the  usual  meeting  of  the  town  council  in  the  house  of  the  chief 
ruler,  the  announcement  is  made. 

The  Balogun  (commander-in-chief)  rising,  would  address 
the  assembled  crowd  outside  and  end  with  "  I  leave  (such  and 
such  a  place)  at  your  mercy."  He  is  greeted  with  shouts  of 
applause,  and  a  day  would  be  fixed  when  the  war-staff  will  be 
taken  outside  the  town  walls.  The  marching  out  of  the  Balogun 
is  always  so  denoted  as  the  war-staff  is  always  kept  with  him. 

The  War  Staff  or  standard  of  war  is  a  bamboo  pole  of  about 
four  feet  in  length,  and  2\  inches  in  diameter.  It  is  wrapped  all 
over  with  charms  and  amulets,  and  finished  up  with  a  globular 
head,  the  size  of  a  large  cocoa-nut.  The  size  of  course  varies  with 
the  cost.  It  is  encased  in  leather  with  the  charms  hanging  all 
over  it.  It  is  always  an  object  of  worship.  To  this  day,  proper 
standards  of  war  are  procured  from  He  Ife  and  are  dedicated  to 
Oranyan.  Human  sacrifices  were  usually  offered  to  such  standards 
before  they  are  taken  out  to  any  campaign.  Whenever  war  is 
declared,  and  it  is  to  be  worshipped,  priests  and  priestesses  are 
always  required  for  the  purpose  of  offering  the  sacrifice. 

The  Propitiation  of  Oranyan. — The  victim  is  usually  subjected 
to  much  inhuman  treatment  on  these  occasions  before  being 
despatched.  With  his  hands  tied  behind  his  back,  he  is  led  to 
the  market  place,  and  there  paraded  from  one  spot  to  another, 
and  made  to  do  homage  to  the  fetishes  there,  and  to  invoke  blessings 
on  the  town  and  on  the  chiefs  thereof.  As  he  could  not  conveniently 
prostrate  himself  before  the  gods  in  his  bound  condition,  he  is 
assisted  with  a  forked  stick,  with  which  he  is  pushed  violently 
down  from  behind !  Bruised  and  bleeding,  he  is  to  receive 
three  strokes  on  the  back  with  a  rod  before  he  is  helped  up 


In  this  way,  the  unfortunate  one  is  soon  exhausted  ;  he  would 
then  be  literally  dragged  along  into  the  grove  sacred  to  Oranyan, 
and  there  beheaded. 

The  blood  is  considered  sacred  and  hence  the  commander-in- 
chief  of  the  army  who  must  be  present  on  such  occasions  with 
his  staff  of  principal  officers  must  come  forward  with  each  of  them 
and  have  a  touch  of  the  blood  to  rub  on  their  swords,  and  after 
them  the  common  soldiers  would  all  rush  in  for  a  drop  to  rub  in 
their  hands,  for  success  in  the  war. 

The  corpse  is  not  to  putrefy  before  the  Balogun  leaves  the  town : 


it  is  considered  an  ill  omen  if  it  does.  Hence  Orauyan  is  never 
worshipped  until  they  are  quite  ready  to  march  out. 

The  corpse  is  exposed  for  seven  days,  and  it  is  the  duty  of  some 
of  the  priestesses  to  bathe  it  daily  and  smear  it  with  camwood 
preparations,  and  pray  for  the  speedy  return  of  the  victim  to  this 
world  and  to  be  born  in  their  family  ! 

We  see  in  these  revolting  practices,  not  an  act  of  studied  cruelty, 
but  one  of  supposed  highest  form  of  religious  worship  of  a  poor 
deluded  people. 

The  blood  of  certain  animals  is  forbidden  to  be  used  in  the 
worship  of  Orariyan  e.g.  the  tortoise,  he- goat,  hen  and  pigeon. 

§  (/)  Funerals 

The  Yorubas  do  not  bury  their  dead  in  graveyards  or  cemetries, 
but  in  their  houses.  Infants,  however,  are  not  buried  in  the  house, 
but  their  dead  bodies  are  either  thrown  away  into  the  nearest 
bush  or  forest,  or  are  partially  buried  with  a  bit  of  earth  sprinkled 
over  them,  and  are  thus  left  a  prey  to  jackals  prowling  by  night. 

Such  children  are  called  "  Abiku "  (born  to  die)  and  are 
supposed  to  belong  to  a  company  of  young  demons  roaming  about. 
They  are  beUeved  to  be  capable  of  being  born  as  young  children, 
and  (except  forcibly  detained  by  charms)  of  returning  to  their 
company  at  will,  or  at  the  instance  of  the  members  of  their 

The  graves  of  aged  people  are  dug  generally  in  the  piazza  or  in 
one  of  the  sleeping  rooms.  In  case  of  the  wealthy  dead,  after  the 
ground  has  been  dug  to  a  depth  of  about  6  feet  in  the  piazza  it  is 
then  carried  on  horizontally  towards  one  of  the  bedrooms,  so  that 
the  corpse  is  literally  buried  in  the  bedroom.  It  is  then  shut  up 
in  this  horizontal  hole  with  a  piece  of  board  plastered  over  with 
mud  ;  the  whole  grave  is  then  filled  up  and  the  floor  of  the  piazza 
levelled  and  polished,  the  rest  of  the  earth  being  cast  into  the 

Only  the  well-to-do  can  afford  a  coffin,  the  workmanship  of 
which  is  usually  very  rough  and  coarse,  the  many  chinks  and 
interstices  being  filled  up  with  cotton-wool  and  soap.  As  a  rule, 
coffins  are  made  much  larger  than  we  should  think  necessary,  but 
the  superabundant  space  is  filled  up  with  some  of  the  dresses  be- 
longing to  the  deceased,  and  with  presents  from  all  the  relatives,  it 
being  a  custom  amongst  them  that  all  the  nearest  relatives  should 
give  each  a  piece  of  cloth  for  the  burial.  In  the  absence  of  cloths 
seeded  cotton  is  put  in  to  fill  up  the  coffin  tight,  as  they  have  a 
superstitious  dislike  of  leaving  any  empty  spaces  in  a  coffin. 

In  the  practice  of  filling  up  the  coffin  with  cloths,  one  may  catch 


a  faint  glimpse  of  the  popular  ideas  in  regard  to  another  state  of 

If  the  family  is  wealthy,  after  a  couple  of  months  another 
ceremony  is  gone  through,  consisting  chiefly  of  feasting  and  dancing 
in  honour  of  the  dead,  and  this  they  term  laying  the  dead  upon  its 
other  side. 

In  cases  where  coffins  cannot  be  had,  after  wrapping  up  the 
corpse  in  a  mat  like  a  mummy  it  is  laid  in  the  grave  and  a  few 
sticks  of  the  Akoko  tjee  are  laid  across  upon  which  a  mat  is  spread. 
If  a  piece  of  board  could  be  procured,  it  is  laid  over  the  corpse 
instead,  and  then  earth  is  put  upon  it,  and  the  grave  filled  up. 

The  funeral  ceremonies  are  further  continued  by  the  following 
observances  : — The  wife  or  wives  of  the  deceased  are  to  lie  on  the 
bare  ground  over  the  grave  without  even  a  mat  or  cloth  being 
spread  for  full  three  months  from  the  date  of  the  funeral.  On 
the  7th  day  they  are  led  out  of  their  town  wall  by  an  Egugun  to  a 
place  where  mounds  of  earth  had  been  raised  according  to  the 
number  of  the  women  with  a  yam  placed  on  each  mound.  There 
is  an  extra  mound  raised,  on  which  no  yam  is  placed  ;  this  represents 
the  deceased.  The  widows  are  led  out  clad  in  rags  with  both 
hands  on  the  opposite  shoulders,  their  heads  being  left  bare. 
Each  takes  a  yam  from  the  heap,  and  this  is  understood  to  be  the 
last  subsistence  they  should  expect  to  receive  from  their  dear 
departed.     After  this  they  return  home  weeping. 

On  the  13th  or  17th  day  the  final  ceremony  is  thus  performed  : 
By  the  advice  of  the  Alagba,  they  provide  some  heads  of  cowries, 
a  dog,  two  dishes  of  pounded  yam  or  cooked  yam  flour,  two  pots 
of  native  beer,  kola  nuts,  parched  corn,  a  hoe  and  a  cutlass,  and 
two  coverings  of  native  cloth  for  an  Egugun  dress.  At  dead  of 
night  a  man  goes  and  sits  on  the  roof  of  the  house  of  the  deceased  ; 
another  who  is  to  personate  the  dead,  is  secreted  at  the  back  yard, 
but  within  hearing  distance  of  the  former  ;  a  third  is  the  Egugun 
called  Agan  undressed,  coming  in  the  Alagba's  company,  speaking 
in  a  hollow,  but  thrilling  tone  of  voice,  crying  out,  "  E  gbe  mi." 
(Do  lift  me  up).  Immediately  several  voices  are  heard  "  Lift  here, 
lift  there,"  as  if  they  were  carrying  the  Agan  and  found  him  rather 
heavy.  As  they  enter  the  compound  the  widows  and  the  other 
women  are  to  rush  into  the  rooms  and  ex'tinguish  all  lights.  The 
Agan  is  then  conducted  to  the  piazza  of  the  deceased  where  the 
special  ceremony  is  performed.  He  sings  out  distinctly  the  name 
of  the  deceased  so  that  the  substitute  might  hear  him,  at  the  same 
time  warning  him  not  to  answer  to  his  call,  but  to  that  of  the  man 
on  the  roof.  The  latter  then  strikes  the  hoe  in  his  hand  with  the 
cutlass  as  a  signal  to  attract  the  attention  of  the  secreted  substitute. 


After  this,  he  calls  out  in  loud  tones  the  name  of  the  deceased 
as  did  the  Agan.  He  calls  out  three  times,  and  at  the  third  call, 
which  is  also  the  last,  a  still  small  voice  is  heard  from  the  counterfeit, 
simulating  that  of  the  dead.  At  this  stage,  the  widows  and  all 
the  other  mourners  begin  to  weep  and  wail  for  the  dead  ;  the  dog 
is  then  slaughtered  and  the  flesh  is  taken  to  the  Alagbas. 

On  the  following  morning,  the  Egugun  of  the  deceased,  appears 
in  his  usual  dress,  with  an  attendant  Egugun,  both  emerging  from 
the  Alagbi's  house.  He  proceeds  to  his  old  home  where  a  mat  is 
spread  outside  to  receive  him.  He  embraces  all  his  children,  sits 
them  by  turns  on  his  knees,  and  blesses  them,  promising  to  bestow 
health,  strength,  long  life,  and  the  rest.  He  accepts  presents 
from  all  the  relatives,  who  are  the  mourners — of  stringed  cowries 
from  the  men,  and  unstringed  from  the  women.  After  which 
they  repair  with  all  the  presents  received  to  the  Egugun  grove 
or  to  the  Alagba's  where  the  Egugun  is  undressed  and  a  good 
feast  is  made  of  the  flesh  of  the  dog  slaughtered  on  the  previous 
evening.  The  stringed  cowries  contributed  by  the  men  are  there 
returned  to  each  of  them,  being  participators  in  the  organised 
imposture  that  was  being  practised.  The  unstringed  cowries  of 
their  dupes,  the  women,  are  distributed  amongst  those  who  took 
part  in  the  ceremony  including  of  course  the  AlagbS.. 
.  This  is  the  last  farewell  between  the  deceased  and  his  family 
if  we  except  the  supposed  annual  visits  made  by  the  former 
during  the  Egugun  festivals. 

In  case  of  a  woman  the  ceremony  is  simpler.  The  same  offerings 
are  usually  required,  excepting  the  hoe  and  the  cutlass.  The 
relatives  are  ordered  to  procure  a  miniature  hearth,  and  put  it 
into  a  new  calabash  to  meet  the  Egugun  of  the  deceased  matron 
emerging  from  the  Egugun  grove. 

On  the  day  appointed  they  proceed  to  the  grove  with  drums, 
the  orphans  carrying  each  a  horse's  tail  on  his  shoulder,  as  a 
sign  of  mourning.  Then  one  of  the  Alagba's  men  calls  out  thrice 
the  name  of  the  dead  matron,  just  as  in  the  similar  ceremony 
detailed  above  ;  an  Egugun  answers  from  the  grove  and  the 
voice  is  drowned  with  drumming  and  singing.  The  Egugun  with 
the  Paka  (an  attendant)  now  issues  from  the  grove,  and  walks 
towards  the  orphan  children  to  receive  the  new  calabash  containing 
the  miniature  hearth  ;  blesses  the  giver,  and  returns  with  it  to 
the  grove.  The  hearth  is  subsequently  buried  quietly  by  the  river 
side  or  within  the  grove. 

This  is  the  last  office  of  a  dutiful  child  to  its  mother  and  this  is 
understood  as  their  last  meeting  in  this  world.  The  hearth  pre- 
sented to  her  is  for  her  to  cook  with  in  the  other  world. 


The  period  of  mourning  for  either  man  or  woman  is  as  aforesaid, 
three  months,  during  which  time  the  men  are  to  remain  unwashed, 
unshaven  and  the  women  with  dishevelled  hair  and  dress  unchanged. 
At  the  expiration  of  this  term  on  a  day  appointed  the  whole  of  them 
shave  for  the  dead,  and  their  hair  is  thrown  outside  by  the  wall 
of  the  house.  They  then  parade  the  streets,  dressed  in  their  best, 
singing  and  dancing  in  honour  of  the  dead,  and  calling  at  one  house 
after  another  to  return  thanks  to  the  sympathizers.  The  children 
of  the  deceased,  begotten  or  adopted,  now  carry  the  horses' 
tails  in  their  hands  by  which  they  are  distinguished  from  those 
who  have  no  immediate  connection  with  the  family. 

In  the  division  of  the  property  the  widows  as  aforesaid  pass  into 
the  possession  of  the  children  and  the  nearest  relatives,  the  right 
to  each  being  determined  by  ballot.  Each  male  relative  sends 
round  his  chewing  stick  (native  tooth  brush)  with  his  name  to 
the  woman  of  his  choice  ;  they  are  expected  to  reject  the  proposal 
twice  as  if  they  were  resolved  to  remain  widows  all  their  life  ;  but 
at  the  third  and  last  proposal,  with  tears  in  their  eyes,  they 
make  their  choice  and  are  taken  over.  This  concludes  the  final 

In  the  case  of  young  men  or  young  women,  the  proceedings 
are  essentially  different.  The  companions  of  him  or  her  that  is 
gone  proceed  in  a  body  to  a  spot  where  two  roads  intersect  each 
other,  preceded  by  one  of  their  number  who  stands  at  a  great 
distance  from  them.  The  call  as  in  the  case  of  the  Agan  is  made 
thrice,  the  usual  answer  follows,  and  then  he  or  she  is  told  by 
all  the  friends  and  companions  "  A  yk  o  O  !  "  (we  separate  you 
from  our  companionship).  The  substitute  returns  home  with  the 
rest,  and  the  simple  ceremony  comes  to  an  end. 




I.  The  Mythological  Period  :  Oduduwa  to  Ajaka 

II.  The  Period  of  Growth  and  Prosperity  :    Aganju  to 


III.  The  Decline,   Revolutionary   Wars   and  Disruption: 

Aole   to    Oluewu 

IV.  The  Arrest  of  Disintegration,  Efforts  at  Restoration 

OF  Unity,  Tribal  Wars,  the  British  Protectorate  : 
Atiba  to  Adeyemi 



Chapter  I 


§  I.  Oduduwa 

Oduduwa  the  reputed  founder  and  ancestor  of  the  race  is  really 
a  mythical  personage.  The  Etymology  of  the  term  is  from  Odu 
(ti  o)  da  Iwk.  Whatever  is  unusually  large  as  a  large  pot  or 
container  is  termed  Odii  :  the  term  then  implies,  the  great  container 
the  author  of  existence.  According  to  Ife  mythology  Oduduwa 
was  the  son  of  Olodu  mare,  i.e.  the  father  or  Lord  of  Odu  ;  ma  r6 
implies  cannot  go  beyond  i.e.  the  Almighty.  Oduduwa  was  sent 
by  Olodumare  from  heaven  to  create  the  earth.  Olokun  i.e. 
the  goddess  of  the  ocean  was  the  wife  of  Oduduwa,  Oranmiyan 
and  Isgdale  their  children,  and  Ogun  a  grand-child. 

Such  is  the  desire  of  most  nations  to  find  a  mythical  origin 
for  themselves  through  their  kings  and  ancestors. 

All  that  was  known  of  him  has  been  told  in  Part  I  of  this  history, 
which  gives  an  account  of  the  emigration  of  the  ancestors  of  the 
Yorubas  from  the  east  to  He  Ife  where  Oduduwa  died  in  peace 
and  was  deified,  being  worshipped  to  this  day  by  the  Ifes,  and  up 
to  the  time  of  the  British  Protectorate,  human  sacrifices  were 
offered  to  him  at  regular  intervals.  The  soil  of  He  Ife  is  said  to  be 
sacred  to  him.  He  was  the  grandfather  and  great-grandfather 
of  renowned  Kings  and  Princes  who  ruled  and  made  history 
in  the  Yoruba  country. 

The  number  of  years  embraced  by  this  period  is  unknown, 
but  it  includes  the  time  during  which  the  Yoruba  kingdom  was  in 
prosperity,  and  the  Kings  despotic.  The  capital  of  the  kingdom 
then  was  He  If§. 

The  Basgrun  of  this  reign  was  Qlorunfun-mi. 

§  2.  Oranyan 

Orafiyan  the  grandson  of  Oduduwa  succeeded  his  grandfather 
on  the  throne.  He  was  a  very  brave  and  warlike  Prince,  and  of 
an  indomitable  courage.  He  was  the  founder  of  the  order  of  the 
Esos  vide  Pt.  I  page  73.  His  body-guard  consisted  of  150  well- 
tried  soldiers. 



How  he  headed  his  brothers  on  an  abortive  expedition  to  the 
east  to  avenge  the  death  of  their  great-grandfather,  and  how  they 
quarrelled  at  Igangan  and  dispersed  from  that  place,  has  been 
told  in  Part  I.  After  founding  the  city  of  Oyo  where  he  resided 
for  a  time  he  was  said  to  have  pushed  on  to  a  place  called  Okd, 
leaving  Oyo  in  charge  of  one  of  the  princes.  This  is  not  unlikely 
when  we  remember  that  that  was  not  an  age  of  settled  government, 
but  that  the  warlike  and  restless  King  was  engaged  in  extending 
his  dominions  far  and  wide.  Much  that  was  known  of  him  has  been 
told  in  Part  I.  He  resided  at  6k6  for  many  years  and  according 
to  some  died  there,  but  others  affirmed  that  he  died  at  He  Ife, 
where  his  grave  is  shown  to  this  day.  But  the  Yorubas  have  a 
custom  whenever  any  one  died  away  from  home,  to  cut  the  hair 
of  his  head  and  pare  his  nails,  and  these  are  taken  to  the  place 
where  they  would  have  him  buried,  and  there  ceremoniously 
and  religiously  deposited.  It  may  thus  have  been  the  case  here. 
But  an  anecdote  connected  with  his  later  years  must  here  be  told  : 

It  was  said  that  after  a  long  period  of  reign  an  urgent  necessity 
made  him  revisit  the  city  of  He  Ife,  which  he  had  left  for  so  long  a 
time  ;  perhaps  to  arrange  some  family  affairs,  or  to  possess  himself 
of  some  of  his  father's  treasures  left  in  charge  of  Adimu.  He  left 
his  son  Ajaka  as  Regent  and  went.  Having  stayed  much  longer 
than  the  time  fixed  for  his  return  (communication  between  the 
two  places  being  then  dangerous  and  difficult)  the  people  thought 
he  was  dead,  or  that  at  any  rate  he  would  no  more  return  to  6k6  ; 
the  OYO  MESI  who  were  the  authorised  rulers  of  the  town  conse- 
quently confirmed  Ajaka  on  the  throne,  investing  him  with  full 
powers,  and  all  the  insignia  of  royalty. 

But  his  father  was  returning  ;  and  having  come  within  a  short 
distance  of  the  city,  his  attention  was  arrested  by  the  sound  of  the 
Kakaki  trumpet — a  trumpet  blown  for  the  sovereign  alone. 
Upon  enquiry,  he  learnt  what  had  taken  place.  He  thereupon 
retraced  his  steps  quietly  to  He  Ifg  where  he  spent  the  rest  of  his 
days  in  peaceful  retirement.  An  obelisk  termed  Opa  Oranyan 
(Orafiyan's  staff)  erected  on  the  spot  he  was  supposed  to  have  been 
buried  is  shown  at  He  Ife  to  this  day.  This  would  seem  to  confirm 
the  view  that  he  died  and  was  buried  at  He  If§  and  not  at  0k6. 



Opa  Or(7/7c/an 



This  obelisk  is  about  10  or  12  feet  in  height/  and  about  4  feet 
square  in  width  at  its  base  ;  it  tapers  to  a  point,  and  has  upon 
one  face  of  it,  several  spike  nails  driven  into  it,  and  some  carvings 
as  of  ancient  characters.  The  nails  are  arranged  in  such  an  ordered 
manner  as  to  render  them  significant.  First,  there  are  61  in  a 
straight  line  from  the  bottom  upwards  at  intervals  of  about 
2  inches  in  midline;  and  next,  at  about  a  distance  of  4  inches 
on  either  side  of  this,  and  from  the  same  level  on  top,  two 
parallel  lines  of  31  nails  running  downwards  and  curving 
below  to  meet  those  of  the  midline.  Then  in  the  space 
between  these  three  rows  of  parallel  lines,  and  about  the  level 
where  they  converge,  is  found  the  most  conspicuous  of  the 
carvings,  i*^^. 

What  is  conjectured  as  most  probable  in  these  arrangements 
is  that  the  61  nails  in  midline  represent  the  number  of  years 
Oraiiyan  lived,  and  that  the  31  each  on  either  side  indicates  that 
he  was  31  when  he  began  to  reign,  and  that  he  reigned  31  years, 
the  year  he  began  to  reign  being  counted  twice  as  is  the  manner 
of  the  Yorubas  ;  and  that  the  carvings  are  the  ancient  characters 
Resh  and  Yod  which  stand  for  Oranyan. 

Besides  Opa  Orafiyan,  there  are  to  be  found  to  this  day,  in 
groves  at  He  Ife,  and  at  other  Ife  settlements  outside  the  city, 
carvings  in  stone  of  natural  objects  such  as  tongs  and  anvil, 
table,  stool,  fish,  and  several  other  objects  of  curiosity  which 
are  generally  hidden  from  strangers,  because  they  are  held 
sacred  ;  they  represent  the  handicrafts  of  the  founders  of  the 

The  art  of  carving  on  stones  or  drilling  holes  in  them  has  since 
become  lost  among  Yorubas,  and  consequently,  how  nails  could 
have  been  driven  into  stones  and  various  figures  cut  out  of  them 
is  usually  explained  to  be,  that  these  objects  were  once  carved  out 
of  wood,  and  when  the  carvers  were  deified,  their  work  became 
petrified  !  As  these  gods  were  once  men,  so  these  stones  were  once 
wood  ! 

The  Ifes  are  the  guardians  and  custodians  of  these  sacred 
relics  from  ancient  times. 

Nearly  all  legends  and  folklore  are  attributed  to  the  age  of 
Orafiyan,  among  these  may  be  mentioned  the  following  told  by  an 
ffe  :— 

1  About  four  feet  was  broken  off  from  the  top  of  this  obelisk 
during  a  storm  in  the  year  1884.  The  obelisk  has  since  twice 
fallen  down  and  inartistically  re-erected.  But  a  stump  of  it  now 

the  founders  of  the  yoruba  nation  t47 

The  Legend  of  Moremi  and  her  Son 

"  Moremi  was  the  wife  of  one  of  the  ancient  heroes  of  He  Ifg, 
probably  Oranmiyan.  She  was  a  woman  of  great  beauty  and 
virtue,  and  had  an  only  son  named  Ela  or  Olurogbo. 

It  happened  that  the  city  of  Ife  was  at  one  time  in  a  state  of 
frequent  commotion  and  unrest,  owing  to  the  repeated  raids  of  a 
tribe  of  people  called  the  Igbos.  This  continued  for  a  series  of  years. 
The  Ifes  attributed  this  affliction  and  distress  to  the  displeasure 
of  their  gods,  because  those  that  attacked  them  from  the  Igbo 
territory  appeared  not  to  be  human  beings,  but  gods  or  demi  gods, 
and  consequently  the  Ifes  felt  they  could  not  withstand  them,  and 
so  these  raiders  used  to  make  away  with  easy  plunder,  including 
their  valuables,  with  their  women  and  children.  For  this  they 
propitiated  and  called  upon  their  gods  for  help,  but  received  no 

Now,  this  Moremi,  fired  with  zeal  and  patriotism  was  determined 
to  do  what  she  could  to  free  her  country  from  this  calamity. 
She  was  resolved  to  find  out  what  these  Igbos  really  were,  and 
how  to  fight  them.  To  this  end  she  repaired  to  a  stream  called 
Esinmirin,  and  there  made  a  vow  to  the  deity  thereof,  that  if 
she  was  enabled  to  carry  out  her  plans,  and  they  proved 
successful,  she  would  offer  to  the  god  the  most  costly  sacrifice 
she  could  afford.  Her  plan  was  to  expose  herself  to  the  raiders, 
and  get  caught,  and  be  taken  to  their  country  where  she  could 
best  learn  their  secrets:  'But,'  she  said,  '  if  I  perish,  I  perish.' 

At  the  time  of  the  next  raid  she  undertook  to  carry  out  her 
plans,  she  was  caught  by  the  Igbos  and  taken  to  their  country  ; 
and  being  a  woman  of  great  beauty,  she  was  given  up  amongst 
others,  and  sundry  booty  to  their  king.  Her  beauty  and  virtue 
soon  won  her  a  place  in  the  country  and  the  confidence  of  the 
people  ;  she  became  familiar  with  all  their  customs,  and  learnt 
all  their  secrets :  then  she  also  learnt  that  those  who  were  such 
objects  of  terror  to  her  people  were  mere  men,  who  covered  them- 
selves from  head  to  foot  with  Ekan  grass  and  bamboo  fibres, 
making  them  appear  extra  human,  and  are  nicknamed  Eluyare. 
She  extracted  from  her  husband  also  the  secret  of  attacking  them 
successfully.  '  If  your  people  know  how  to  make  a  torch,  and  have 
the  courage  to  rush  amongst  them  with  lighted  torches,  they 
cannot  stand  that.' 

Moremi  feeling  she  was  now  conversant  with  everything  amongst 
the  Igbos,  having  disarmed  any  suspicion  they  may  have  enter- 
tained of  her  as  a  captive,  suddenly  escaped  one  day  to  her  native 
land,  and  by  making  use  of  the  secrets  she  had  learnt,  freed  her 


country  for  ever  from  the  raids  of  the  men  once  their  terror.  It 
remained  now  for  her  to  fulfil  her  vows. 

She  repaired  to  the  stream  with  her  offerings  of  lambs,  rams,  and 
goats  for  sacrifice,  but  the  god  would  not  accept  any  of  these. 
She  then  offered  a  bullock,  which  the  god  also  refused  to  accept, 
then  she  prayed  the  priests  to  divine  for  her  what  would  be  accept- 
able ;  this  was  done,  and  the  god  demanded  of  her,  her  only 
son  ! 

She  then  gave  up  her  only  son  in  sacrifice  to  the  gods  in  the 
fulfilment  of  her  vcws.  The  If§  nation  bewailed  her  loss  and 
promised  to  be  to  her  sons  ind  daughters,  for  the  loss  she  had 
sustained  for  the  salvation  of  her  country. 

Olurogbo  however,  when  supposed  to  be  killed,  was  but  half 
dead ;  he  afterwards  revived  and  rose  again,  and  made  a  rope 
with  which  he  climbed  up  into  heaven  ;  and  all  Ifes  to  this  day 
have  a  full  hope  that  he  will  come  again  to  this  world,  and  reap 
the  full  reward  of  his  good  deeds." 

We  may  discern  in  this  legend  a  confused  idea  of  the  story 
of  Jephtha,  and  that  of  the  Blessed  Virgin  and  her  Son  perverted, 

Orafiyan  was  the  father  of  al^  Oyos  or  Yorubas  proper,  and 
was  the  universal  conqaeror  of  the  land.  He  left  behind  him 
two  renowned  sons,  Ajaka  and  Sango,  both  of  whom  succeeded 
him  in  turns,  and  both  of  whom  became  famous  in  Yoruba  history, 
and  were  deified  after  death. 

The  Basorun  of  this  reign  was  Efufu-ko-fe-ori. 

§  3.    AjuAN  alias  Ajaka 

Ajuan  alias  Oba  Ajaka  was  at  first  only  a  Regent  when  his 
father  left  for  He  Ife,  but  was  subsequently  confirmed  on  the 
throne  as  was  mentioned  above.  He  alone  of  all  the  Yoruba 
Kings  had  the  singular  fortune  (or  misfortune)  of  being  called 
to  the  throne  twice,  being  once  deposed,  but  afterwards  recalled 
to  the  throne. 

Very  little  was  known  of  his  earlier  reign,  except  that,  unlike 
his  father,  he  was  of  a  peaceful  disposition,  loved  husbandry  and 
encouraged  it. 

Being  too  mild  for  the  warlike  spirit  of  the  age,  and  tamely 
suffering  the  encroachments  of  provincial  kings,  he  was  dethroned, 
and  he  went  to  Igbodo  where  he  remained  in  retirement  seven  years 
during  which  period  his  brother  Sango  reigned  in  his  stead.  His 
Basorun  was  nick-named  Erin-din-logun-Agbgn  k6  se  da  ni  Ha 
(i.e.  sixteen  cocoa  nuts  is  unsuitable  for  Ha  divination).  That  is 
to  say  cocoa  nuts  are  not  suitable  substitutes  for  palm  nuts.  The 
reason  for  this  sobriquet  is  not  known. 

the  founders  of  the  yoruba  nation  i49 

§  4.    Sango  or  Olufiran 

Sango  son  of  Oranyan,  and  brother  of  Ajaka  was  the  fourth 
King  of  Yoruba.  He  was  of  a  very  wild  disposition,  fiery  temper, 
and  skilful  in  sleight  of  hand  tricks.  He  had  a  habit  of  emitting 
fire  and  smoke  out  of  his  mouth,  by  which  he  greatly  increased  the 
dread  his  subjects  had  of  him. 

The  Olowii  at  this  time  appeared  to  have  been  more  powerful 
than  the  King  of  Ovo,  for  after  the  death  of  the  uncle  Oranyan, 
he  compelled  his  cousin  the  peaceful  Ajaka  to  pay  tribute  to  him. 
This  was  probably  the  reason  why  Ajaka  was  deposed. 

On  Sango's  coming  to  the  throne,  being  a  much  younger  man, 
the  Olowu  meant  to  take  advantage  of  his  youth  ;  he  demanded 
the  tribute  of  him,  but  Sango  refused  to  acknowledge  his  primacy, 
notwithstanding  the  Olowu' s  threat  to  deprive  him  of  his  wives 
and  children  ;  consequently  his  capital  was  besieged  and  a  sharp 
fight  ensued.  Sango  there  displayed  his  wonted  bravery  as  well 
as  his  tricks  ;  volumes  of  smoke  issuing  from  his  mouth  and  nostrils 
so  terrified  the  Olowu  and  his  army  that  they  became  panic  stricken 
and  were  completely  routed  and  put  to  flight. 

Sango  pushed  on  his  advantage,  and  with  every  fresh  victory 
he  was  the  more  firmly  established  on  the  throne  ;  he  thereby 
became  elated  and  was  tyrannical. 

It  was  his  ambition  now  to  remove  the  seat  of  government 
from  Oko  to  Oyo  then  called  Oyokoro,  he  knew  he  would  meet 
with  strong  opposition  from  the  prince  of  that  city  and  so  he  set 
upon  devising  plans  by  which  he  could  effect  his  purpose  with 
as  little  fighting  as  possible. 

Sango  was  now  possessed  with  a  desire  of  performing  an  act 
of  filial  piety.  He  wished  to  worship  at  the  grave  of  his  dead 
mother,  but  he  did  not  so  much  as  remember  her  name  for  she 
died  when  he  was  but  a  babe.  She  was  the  daughter  of  Elempe 
a  Nupe  king,  who  formed  an  alliance  with  Oranyan  by  giving  him 
his  daughter  to  wife,  of  which  marriage  Sango  was  the  issue. 
Sango  therefore  commissioned  a  Tetu  and  a  Hausa  slave  to  proceed 
to  the  Tapa  country,  to  his  maternal  grandfather  Elempe  for  the 
purpose  giving  them  a  horse  and  a  cow  for  the  sacrifice. 

'  The  King's  charge  to  these  messengers  was,  that  they  should 
listen  carefully  to  the  first  name  uttered  in  the  invocation  which 
evidently  will  be  his  mother's  name. 

The  messengers  were  heartily  welcomed  and  highly  entertained 
by  Elempe,  their  King's  grandfather,  so  much  so  that  the  Hausa 
forgot  himself  and  the  duty  he  was  charged  with.  At  the  time 
of  the  sacrifice,  the  priest  said  at  the  grave  "  Tor6si,  lya  gbodo, 


listen  to  us,  thy  son  Sango  is  come  to  worship  thee."  The  Tgtu 
noted  the  name  Torosi,  but  the  Hausa,  being  far  from  sober  paid 
no  heed  to  what  was  said ;  therefore,  on  their  return  home,  the 
Tgtu  who  had  faithfully  carried  out  his  orders  was  highly  rewarded, 
and  the  Hausa  slave  severely  punished.  The  punishment  meted 
out  to  him  was  122  razor  cuts  slashed  all  over  his  body  as  a  lasting 
warning  for  all  time. 

The  scars  left  by  these  wounds  strangely  took  the  fancy  of  the 
King's  wives  who  thought  that  they  added  comeliness  and  beauty 
to  the  man,  and  therefore  they  advised  that  in  future  such  marks 
should  not  be  performed  upon  a  slave,  but  on  actual  members 
of  the  royal  family  as  distinctive  of  royalty. 

Sango  took  this  advice,  and  placed  himself  first  in  the  hands 
of  the  "  Olowolas  "  (the  markers)  named  Babajegbe  Osan  and 
Babajegbe  Oru  ;  but  he  could  stand  only  two  cuts  on  each  arm, 
and  forbade  them  to  proceed  any  further.  This  is  what  is  termed 
£y6.  The  marks  are  to  this  day  retained  in  the  royal  family, 
as  a  distinctive  badge  of  royalty,  and  hence  members  of  the  royal 
family  are  termed  Akey6.  They  are  two  broad  ribbon  marks  on 
the  arms  from  the  shoulder  to  the  wrist. 

When  the  King  had  determined  upon  taking  Oyokoro,  it 
occurred  to  him  to  employ  this  as  a  device  by  which  he  could 
effect  his  purpose  easily  without  loss  of  lives.  He  thereupon 
sent  the  Hausa  slave  to  Oloyo-koro  for  him  to  see  how  beautiful 
this  slave  looks  with  these  marks,  and  that  it  has  been  resolved 
to  use  the  same  as  a  mark  of  royalty  ;  he  therefore  advised  the 
Oloyo-koro  to  submit  himself  to  be  thus  marked,  with  his  principal 
chiefs  for  rank  and  beauty,  stating  that  he  himself  had  done  so.  To 
this  they  consented,  Babajegbe  Osan  and  Babajegbe  Oru  were 
sent  over  there,  and  admirably  did  they  perform  their  tasks. 

But  on  the  third  day,  when  the  Oloyo-koro  and  his  chiefs  were 
very  sore,  Sango  appeared  with  his  forces  against  them  ;  no 
resistance  could  be  offered,  and  the  city  fell  easily  into  his  hands  : 
shamefully  and  brutally  he  put  to  death  the  prince  and  his  chiefs, 
the  dupes  of  his  stratagem. 

Thus  the  seat  of  government  was  permanently  removed  from 
Oko  (or  as  some  would  have  it,  from  He  Ife)  to  Oyo  the  ancient 
"  Eyeo  or  Katunga." 

Sango  reigned  for  seven  years,  the  whole  of  which  period  was 
marked  by  his  restlessness.  He  fought  many  battles  and  was 
fond  of  making  charms.  He  was  said  to  have  the  knowledge 
of  some  preparation  by  which  he  could  attract  lightning.  The 
palace  at  Oyo  was  built  at  the  foot  of  a  hill  called  Ok^  Ajaka 
(Ajaka's  hill).     One  day  the  King  ascended  this  hill  accompanied 


by  his  courtiers  and  some  of  his  slaves,  among  whom  were  two 
favourites,  Biri  and  Omiran  ;  some  of  his  cousins  went  with  him, 
but  none  of  his  children.  He  was  minded  to  try  the  preparation 
he  had  in  hand ;  thinking  it  might  have  been  damp  and  useless, 
he  first  made  the  experiment  on  his  own  house.  But  it  took  effect, 
a  storm  was  immediately  raised  and  the  lightning  had  struck  the 
palace  before  they  came  down  the  hill,  and  the  buildings  were  on 
fire.  Many  of  Sango's  wives  and  his  children  perished  in  this 

Sango  who  was  the  author  of  his  own  misfortunes  became 
alarmed  and  dismayed  at  what  had  happened  and  from  a  broken 
heart  he  was  resolved  to  abdicate  the  throne  and  retire  to  the  court 
of  his  maternal  grandfather,  Elempe  king  of  the  Nupes. 

All  Oyo  was  now  astir,  not  only  to  sympathize  with  the  King, 
but  also  to  dissuade  him  from  carrying  out  his  resolution  ;  but 
he  could  not  bear  any  opposition,  and  so  mad  was  he,  that  he 
even  used  his  sword  against  some  of  his  loyal  subjects  who  ventured 
to  remonstrate  with  him,  and  who  promised  to  replace  for  him 
his  dead  wives  by  others,  by  whom  he  might  beget  children,  and 
so  in  time  make  good  his  present  losses. 

According  to  other  accounts,  he  did  not  abdicate  of  his  own 
freewill,  but  was  asked  to  do  so  by  a  strong  party  in  the  state. 
Both  accounts  may  be  true,  there  may  have  been  two  parties, 
for  to  this  day,  Yorubas  have  an  abhorence  of  a  King  given  to 
making  deadly  charms  ;  because  for  one  who  already  has  absolute 
power  invested  in  him  by  law,  this  strange  power  can  only  be  used 
spitefully,  so  that  no  one  near  him  would  be  safe. 

He  was  said  to  have  caused  160  persons  to  be  slain  in  a  fit  of 
anger,  of  those  who  were  showing  much  concern  and  over-anxiety 
on  his  behalf,  and  who  would  prevent  him  by  force  from  carrying 
out  his  resolve. 

Thus  determined  he  set  out  on  his  fateful  journey  with  a  few 
followers.  Biri  his  head  slave  and  favourite  was  the  first  to  regret 
the  step  taken,  and  to  urge  on  his  master  to  yield  to  the  entreaties 
of  those  citizens  of  Ovo,  who  with  all  loyalty  promised  to  replace 
his  losses,  as  far  as  man  can  do  it,  and  to  rebuild  the  palace  ;  but 
finding  the  King  inexorable,  he  forsook  him  and  returned  to  the 
city  with  all  his  followers  ;  Omiran  likewise  followed  his  example, 
and  the  King  was  thus  left  alone.  He  now  repented  his  rashness, 
especially  when  he  found  himself  deserted  by  his  favourite  Biri. 
He  could  not  proceed  alone,  and  for  shame  he  could  not  return 
home,  and  so  he  was  resolved  to  put  an  end  to  his  own  life  ;  and 
climbing  on  a  shea  butter  tree,  he  hanged  himself. 

His  friends    hearing  of  this  tragedy  went  immediately  and 


performed  for  him  the  last  act  of  kindness,  by  burying  his  remains 
under  the  same  tree. 

On  hearing  of  the  King's  death,  his  personal  friends  followed 
his  example,  and  died  with  him.  Biri  committed  suicide  at  Koso 
(where  the  King  died),  Omiran  did  the  same.  His  cousin  Omo 
Sinda  committed  suicide  at  Papo,  Babayanmi  at  Sele,  Obei  at 
Jakuta  and  Oya  his  favourite  wife  at  Ira. 

Thus  ended  the  life  of  this  remarkable  personage,  who  once 
ruled  over  all  the  Yorubas  and  Popos.  He  was  afterwards  deified, 
and  is  still  worshipped  by  all  of  the  Yoruba  race  as  the  god  of 
thunder  and  lightning. 

In  every  Yoruba  and  Popo  town  to  this  day,  whenever  there  is 
a  flash  of  lightning  followed  by  a  peal  of  thunder,  it  is  usual  to 
hear  from  the  populace  shouts  of  "  Ka  wo  o,"  "  ka  biye  si " 
(welcome  to  your  majesty,  long  live  the  King.) 

Ajaka  his  brother  was  now  recalled  from  exile,  and  he  once 
more  held  the  reins  of  government. 

Salekuodi  was  the  Basorun  of  this  reign. 

§  5.  Ajaka's  Second  Reign 

King  Ajaka  who  was  dethroned  for  being  too  peaceful  was 
now  recalled  to  the  throne.  He  proved  after  his  re-instatement  a 
totally  different  man  to  what  he  had  been  before,  and  showed 
himself  more  warlike  than  even  his  brother  Sango, 

He  led  an  expedition  into  the  Tapa  country.  Tradition  has 
it,  that  he  employed  large  and  well-trained  birds,  armed  with 
arrows,  and  after  crossing  the  Niger  they  showered  down  these 
deadly  weapons  upon  the  maternal  relations  of  his  brother  Sango. 

What  is  certain  is,  that  the  expedition  was  successful  but  by 
what  means,  it  is  not  really  known.  But  thus  it  was  with  the 
Yorubas  (as  with  all  superstitious  people)  that  brave  deeds  and 
extraordinary  acts  of  daring  are  always  attributed  to  the  super- 

He  spent  the  latter  part  of  his  years  in  waging  intestine  wars 
with  his  subjects.  He  was  said  to  have  been  engaged  in  civil 
wars  with  1060  of  his  chiefs  and  princes  among  whom  were  the 
principal  vassal  or  provincial  kings,  the  Onikoyi,  the  Olugbon, 
and  the  Aresa. 

He  had  in  his  service  certain  "  medicine  men,"  who  made  charms 
for  him,  viz.,  Atagbgin,  Omo-onik6k6,  Abitibiti  Onisegun,  Paku, 
Teteoniru,  Y5nk,  Oko-adan  Egbeji,  Alari  baba  isegun,  and 

The  following  fable  was  related  of  him  : — 

After  his  wars,  some  of  these  "  medicine  men  "  went  up  to  him, 


and  humbly  prayed  to  be  allowed  to  return  home  ;  but  the  King 
refused  to  grant  them  leave,  fearing  lest  their  services  might  be 
required  by  some  other  kings,  and  in  that  way,  others  might  be  in 
possession  of  the  charms  they  made  for  him.  As  they  were 
determined  to  go  home  they  showed  the  King  by  demonstrative 
proofs,  that  they  made  the  request  simply  out  of  courtesy  but 
that  the  King  could  not  detain  them.  Paku  fell  down  before  him, 
and  disappeared.  Tete  oniru,  Abitibiti  Onisegun,  and  Alari 
baba  I§egun  performed  the  same  feat  and  vanished.  Egbeji 
threw  up  a  ball  of  thread  which  hung  suspended  in  space,  and  he 
climbed  up  it  and  disappeared.  Elenre  alone  remained  standing 
before  him.  Then  said  the  King  to  him  "  Elenre,  you  had  better 
follow  the  examples  of  your  colleagues  and  vanish,  or  I  shall 
wreak  my  vengeance  upon  you  for  their  disobedience."  "  Kill 
me  if  you  can  "  replied  Elenre.  The  King  thereupon  ordered  him 
to  be  decapitated  ;  but  the  sword  was  broken  in  two  on  the 
attempt.  He  then  ordered  him  to  be  speared  but  the  spear 
became  bent  and  the  spearman's  arm  withered  !  He  ordered  a 
large  stone  to  be  rolled  over  him  to  crush  him  to  death  but  it 
fell  on  him  as  light  as  a  ball  of  cotton-wool. 

The  King  and  the  executioners  were  now  at  their  wits'  end, 
and  then  it  occurred  to  one  of  them  to  "  plough  with  his  heifer." 
His  wife  Ijaehin  being  prevailed  upon,  told  them  that  no  iron  or 
steel  can  affect  him:  "Pull  off  a  single  blade  of  grass  from  the 
thatch  of  the  house,  and  with  that  you  can  decapitate  him." 
This  was  done,  and  the  head  was  struck  off,  but  instead  of 
falling  to  the  ground,  it  fell  into  the  King's  hand,  and  he 
involuntarily  grasped  it.  The  King  tried  all  his  best  to  drop  it 
off,  but  to  no  avail.  Any  food  brought  to  the  King  the  head 
devoured,  and  drank  all  the  water  likewise.  The  King  soon 
became  famished,  he  was  losing  flesh,  and  was  really  dying  from 

All  the  "  medicine-men  "  of  every  tribe  in  the  kingdom  were 
sent  for,  to  disenchant  this  alarming  phenomenon  :  as  soon  as 
anyone  entered,  the  head  would  call  him  by  name,  tell  out  the 
composition  of  his  charms,  and  then  ask  "  Do  you  think  that 
can  affect  me  ?  "  Thus  many  were  baffled,  until  at  last  came  one 
Agawo  ;  this  man  at  once  pro:-trated  at  a  distance  and  entreated 
the  head  to  forbear  with  him,  saying : — "  Who  am  I  to  oppose 
you  ?  In  what  am  I  better  than  my  predecessors  whom  you  have 
already  foiled  ?  I  came  only  in  obedience  to  the  King's  commands 
as  I  dare  not  refuse  to  come."  The  head  replied  "  I  will  respect 
you  because  you  are  wise  and  respect  yourself  ;  I  yield  to  your 
entreaties."     Then,    falling    suddenly    from    the    King's    hands. 

154  "^"^    HISTORY    OF  THE   YORUBAS 

Elenre's  head  became  a  flowing  river  known  at  Oyo  to  this  day  as 
Odo  Elenre  (Elenre's  river). 

His  wife  Ijaehin  who  disclosed  the  secret  of  his  strength  was 
also  converted  into  a  stream,  but  Elenre's  head  said  to  it  "  Thou 
shalt  not  flow,"  therefore  Ijaehin  became  a  stagnant  pool  at  Oyo 
unto  this  day. 

From  this  incident  King  Ajaka  made  it  a  rule  that  from  hence- 
forth no  King  should  be  present  in  person  at  an  execution. 

He  put  to  death  all  the  vassal  kings  1060  in  number  taken  in 
war  ;  the  relics  of  their  skulls  were  put  together  and  are  worshipped 
under  the  name  of  Orisa'la  to  this  day.  This  is  the  probable 
origin  of  that  worship. 

The  reign  of  the  mythological  heroes  abound  in  garbled  forms 
of  scriptural  stories,  showing  as  was  remarked  in  the  earlier  part 
of  this  history  that  the  ancestors  of  the  Yorubas  were  acquainted 
with  Christianity  in  the  land  of  their  origin.  The  fable  here  related 
is  evidently  the  story  of  Elijah  in  a  perverted  form..  His  putting 
to  death  so  many  priests  of  Baal  has  been  perverted  into  Ajaka 
slaying  all  his  vassal  kings  and  their  skulls  converted  to  an  object 
of  worship.  His  judgment  of  fire  on  those  sent  to  arrest  him  finds 
a  counterpart  in  Elenre's  head  anticipating  those  who  came  to 
exorcise  it,  both  yielded  to  a  wiser  delegate  who  substituted 
entreaties  for  authority.  The  name  Asawo  (i.e.  one  who  deals 
in  mysteries)  is  very  significant  ;  it  is  evidently  a  mythological 
rather  than  a  real  name.  Elijah  going  up  to  heaven  became 
Egbeji  climbing  up  a  cord  and  disappearing  as  the  saying  goes 
"  Egbeji  ta  'kun  O  lo  si  Orun,"  i.e.  Egbeji  suspended  a  cord  and 
by  it  went  up  to  heaven.  The  river  Jordan  crossed  by  Elijah 
suggested  Elenre's  head  becoming  a  river,  etc. 

The  Ogidigbo  drum  was  introduced  into  Oyo  during  this  reign. 
It  is  of  all  drums  the  most  inartistic,  and  is  totally  devoid  of  any 
embellishment.  It  consists  of  a  block  of  wood  about  3ft.  in  length 
hollowed  out  from  the  centre  to  about  6  inches  of  both  extremities, 
and  is  beaten  with  a  rod. 

It  is  used  only  for  the  King  and  theBasorun  at  the  great  festivals 
when  they  dance  together  at  his  public  appearance. 

Nothing  is  known  of  the  end  of  Ajaka,  probably  he  died  in 

Salekuodi  continued  as  the  Basorun  of  this  reign  also. 


Chapter  II 


§  r.  Aganju 

As  Sango  left  no  issue,  the  crown  fell  to  Ajaka's  son  Aganju  without 
any  dispute.  His  reign  was  long  and  very  prosperous.  He  had 
a  remarkable  faculty  of  taming  wild  animals  and  venomous 
reptiles,  several  of  which  may  be  seen  crawling  about  him.  He  had 
also  in  his  house  a  tame  leopard. 

He  greatly  beautified  the  palace  adding  piazzas  in  front  and 
back,  with  rows  of  brazen  posts.  He  originated  the  custom  of 
decorating  the  palace  with  hangings  on  state  occasions,  being  a 
sovereign  of  accomplished  taste. 

Towards  the  end  of  his  reign,  he  waged  war  with  a  namesake 
of  his,  Aganju  the  Onisambo,  for  refusing  him  the  hand  of  his 
daughter  lyayun.  In  this  war,  four  chiefs,  viz.  the  Onisambo  and 
his  allies  the  Onitede  the  Onimeri  and  the  Alagbona  were  captured, 
their  towns  destroyed,  and  the  bride  forcibly  secured. 

The  close  of  his  reign  was  clouded  by  great  domestic  troubles. 
His  only  son  Lubeg6  was  discovered  having  illicit  intercourse 
with  his  beloved  lyayun,  on  whose  account  so  many  princes  and 
people  have  lost  their  lives.  The  stern  father  was  enraged  beyond 
words,  the  sentence  pronounced  on  him  was  the  extreme  penalty 
of  the  law,  and  it  was  rigidly  carried  out.  But  the  King  was 
overcome  with  grief,  he  died  not  long  after  this,  even  before  the 
birth  of  a  successor  to  the  throne.  The  name  of  his  Basorun  was 
Banija,  succeeded  by  Erankogbina. 

§  2.  KoRi 

The  late  King  having  no  surviving  son  Erankogbina  the  Basorun 
was  left  to  manage  the  affairs  of  the  kingdom.  The  only  hope  of 
a  direct  successor  to  the  throne  was  the  child  of  lyayun  still  in 
utero  ;  hence  sacrifices  were  offered  frequently  on  the  grave  of 
Aganju  praying  him  to  grant  lyayun  a  son  if  his  name  is  not  to  be 
forgotten,  and  the  dynasty  end  with  him.  When  in  due  course 
therefore  lyayun  gave  birth  to  a  son,  the  joy  of  the  populace  was 
unbounded.     He  was  named  Kgri. 



During  Kori's  minority,  lyayun  was  declared  Regent ;  she 
wore  the  crown,  and  put  on  the  royal  robes,  and  was  invested 
with  the  Ejigha,  the  Opa  ileke  and  other  royal  insignia,  and  ruled 
the  kingdom  as  a  man  until  her  son  was  of  age. 

It  was  during  this  reign  that  Timi  was  sent  to  Ede  and  not  in 
Sango's  reign  as  was  supposed.^ 

The  Ijesas  proving  very  troublesome  to  their  neighbours  by 
kidnapping  them  in  their  farms,  and  molesting  caravans  to  and 
from  Apomu  a  frontier  town  where  a  large  fair  is  periodically 
held  for  the  exchange  of  goods  with  the  Ijebus,  and  also  getting 
frequently  embroiled  with  the  king  of  Ido  their  neighbour,  com- 
plaints from  time  to  time  reached  the  AlAfin  of  Oyo.  It  was 
now  determined  that  a  stop  be  put  to  these  inroads  ;  for  this 
purpose  the  King  sent  a  notable  hunter  to  that  district  who 
succeeded  in  checking  these  marauders.  He  took  up  a  position 
at  a  place  called  Ede  as  his  headquarters,  and  there  he  subsequently 
established  himself  as  a  kinglet  with  the  title  of  Timi. 

Timi  was  a  famous  archer,  notable  for  his  deadly  arrows,  and 
he  more  than  justified  his  appointment.  The  Owa  of  Ilesa 
imitating  the  same  appointment,  posted  an  opposition  kinglet 
at  Osogbo  named  Atawoja  ;  but  his  chief  duty  was  to  worship 
the  fish  in  the  river  Osun. 

As  the  Timi's  duties  required  all  his  time,  skill  and  valour, 
he  had  no  time  left  to  provide  for  himself  and  family  ;  the  traders 
and  caravans  being  now  well  protected,  he  obtained  permission 
from  the  AlAfin  to  levy  a  toll  of  5  cowries  each  on  every  trader  ; 
by  this  means  he  soon  had  more  than  enough  for  the  support 
of  his  family,  and  as  a  good  and  loyal  subject,  he  paid  the  surplus 
into  the  royal  treasury. 

After  some  years  of  this  act  of  loyalty,  he  regretted  this  self- 
imposed  tribute,  taking  another  view  of  the  matter,  that  whatever 
he  could  collect  this  way  should  be  his  own  by  right  as  a  compen- 
sation for  the  loss  of  the  advantages  of  a  city  life,  as  well  as  a 
reward  for  his  labours.    So  he  abruptly  stopped  the  tribute. 

When  the  King  missed  the  usual  tribute,  he  sent  to  demand 
the  same,  but  Timi  refused  to  pay  it,  and  gave  his  reasons  for  not 
doing  so.  This  did  not  satisfy  the  King,  so  a  more  peremptory  order 
was  sent  to  Timi  to  deliver  up  what  he  had  withheld.  This  order 
was  also  disobeyed,  and  so  the  King  resorted  to  force,  a  body  of 
troops  was  sent  to  arrest  him,  and  to  seize  all  his  belongings.  But 
Timi  was  prepared  for  this,  he  resisted  with  all  his  might,  and 
routed  the  King's  forces. 

^  Vide  Yoruba  Reading  Book. 


But  the  King  was  resolved  to  punish  Timi  as  a  warning  to  others 
who  might  follow  his  example.  Eliri-onigbajo  the  Gbonka  was 
proposed  to  him  as  the  only  man  equal  to  the  task.  But  the 
Gbonka  was  already  a  powerful  subject  at  Oyq,  being  the  only 
man  who  dared  to  oppose  the  King's  encroachments  upon  the 
liberties  of  the  people,  therefore,  he  was  at  first  loth  to  accede  to 
this  proposal,  lest  a  success  might  add  an  additional  lustre  to  the 
Gbonka's  glory,  and  make  him  more  elated  than  before  ;  but  on 
second  consideration  he  consented,  secretly  hoping  he  might  fall  by 
the  hand  of  his  brave  antagonist.     So  the  Gbonka  was  appointed. 

The  fight  was  limited  to  a  single  combat  between  the  two 
chieftains,  Timi  armed  himself  with  his  bow  and  arrows,  but 
the  Gbonka  carried  a  shield  with  which  to  defend  himself  against 
the  powerful  darts  of  his  assailant.  His  own  weapon  of  offence 
was  a  viol  containing  a  drug  with  strong  narcotic  properties  when 
inhaled,  and  by  means  of  this  Timi  was  soon  rendered  unconscious, 
and  in  this  state,  he  was  dispossessed  of  his  weapons,  and  taken 
bound  to  Qyo. 

The  King  received  the  tidings  with  mixed  feelings  of  joy  and 
disappointment  that  neither  of  them  fell  in  the  combat,  especially 
the  Gbonka  whom  he  wished  to  get  rid  of.  When  the  illustrious 
captive  was  brought  before  him,  the  King  pretended  to  be  dis- 
satisfied with  the  issue  of  the  contest,  doubting  its  fairness,  except 
the  same  could  be  repeated  in  his  presence,  so  that  he  may  witness 
it  personally,  secreth^  hoping  that  Timi  might  have  a  better 
chance  this  time,  and  that  the  Gbonka  might  fall.  This  desire 
was  apparent  to  all  present,  and  to  the  Gbonka  himself  ;  however, 
he  addressed  himself  to  the  renewed  combat.  The  King  ordered 
the  Timi's  weapons  to  be  restored  to  him,  and  the  fight  resumed. 
To  his  mortification  the  Gbonka  was  again  victorious  amid  shouts 
of  applause  from  the  people.  Timi  was  not  only  subdued  but 
was  also  instantaneously  killed  by  the  victor  before  the  King  and 
without  his  orders. 

The  Gbonka  to  show  further  what  he  could  do,  and  to  strike 
terror  into  the  King,  ordered  a  pile  to  be  made,  and  pots  of  palm 
oil,  nut  oil,  and  shea  butter  to  be  poured  on  it  ;  he  then  went 
coolly  and  sat  on  the  top  of  it,  and  ordered  it  to  be  set  on  fire. 
All  present  were  anxious  for  the  consequence  ;  but  when  the  pile 
was  ablaze,  the  Gbonka  disappeared. 

Courtiers  now  began  to  congratulate  the  King  on  the  fall  of 
his  enemy  by  his  own  hands  ;  but  he  was  apprehensive  of  some 
other  issues  "  Not  too  fast"  said  he,  "  we  must  first  wait  and  see." 
Tidings  soon  reached  the  court  that  the  Gbonka  followed  by 
drummers,  was  seen  dancing  about  the  town. 


The  Gbonka  knowing  the  public  feeling  towards  the  King,  and 
his  unpopularity,  entered  the  palace  and  challenged  His  Majesty 
to  display  feats  similar  to  his  own  and  said  if  he  could  not,  he 
would  be  rejected.  There  being  no  alternative,  the  King  took 
poison  and  died. 

Esugbiri  succeeded  Erankogbina  as  Basorun  during  this  reign. 

§  3.  Oluaso 

The  unfortunate  King  was  succeeded  by  a  handsome  and 
amiable  prince  called  Oluaso,  who  was  remarkable  for  his  longevity 
and  peaceful  reign.  His  agnomen  was  Osarewa  S'akin  i.e., 
handsome  but  strong.  He  was  a  wise  and  affable  sovereign 
fabled  to  have  reigned  for  320  years,  and  had  1460  children  ! 
Three  times  did  nine  of  his  wives  bear  him  male  twins  in  one  day. 
The  first  set  he  named  Omgla,  the  second  Ona-aka,  and  the  third 
Ona-isokun.  Of  these  three  sets  of  twins  the  last  (Ona-isokun) 
were  the  most  popular  and  Kings  were  chosen  from  amongst  them 
and  their  descendants.  These  names  have  become  hereditary 
titles  unto  this  day.  The  King  built  54  palaces  for  these  54 
princes  all  of  whom  rose  to  positions  of  trust  and  responsibility 
by  their  own  merits. 

He  originated  and  built  120  kobis  to  the  royal  palace.  He  was 
ably  assisted  by  his  Basorun,  Esugbiri-elu.  He  lived  to  a  good 
old  age,  and  died  full  of  days  and  honour,  and  his  longevity  has 
passed  into  a  proverb.  "  O  ni  ki  o  gbo  ogbo  Oluaso,  o  le  jiya 
Oluaso  ?  "  You  pray  to  live  as  long  as  Oluaso,  can  you  endure 
the  trials  of  Oluaso  ?  Old  age  has  its  own  trials  and  sufferings. 
His  son  Onigbogi  succeeded  him  on  the  throne.  Esugbiri  was  the 
Basorun  of  this  reign  also. 

§  4.  Onigbogi 

Onigbogi  was  one  of  the  sons  of  Oluaso  by  Aruigba-ifa  an  Ota 
woman.  She  had  left  Oyq  during  the  previous  reign  for  her  own 
native  town,  but  on  hearing  that  her  son  ascended  the  throne,  she 
returned  to  Oyo  in  order  to  assist  him  in  his  government  by  her 
advice.  She  was  a  very  superstitious  woman.  Wishing  her  son 
to  have  a  long  and  prosperous  reign,  she  advised  him  to  introduce 
the  worship  of  Ifa  into  Oyo  as  a  national  deity.  The  Oyo  citizens 
asked  the  King  and  his  mother  what  offerings  are  required  with 
which  to  propitiate  Ha.  She  replied,  16  rats,  16  bags  of  cowries, 
16  fishes,  16  fowls,  16  arm  lengths  of  cloth  and  16  ground  pigs. 
The  Oyo  citizens  answered  that  they  were  prepared  to  give  the 
offerings,  but  they  could  not  worship  palm  nuts.  Thus  the  advice 
of  the  King's  mother  was  rejected  and  the  worship  of  Ifa  cancelled. 


When  Aruigba-ifa  was  going  to  Oyq  she  was  accompanied  by 
the  personification  of  several  common  objects  used  in  fetish 
worship  e.g.  Aje,  Opon,  Ajere,  Osun,  Elegbara,  and  Iroke.  When 
the  citizens  of  Oyo  rejected  her  god,  she  returned  on  her  way  to 
Ota  with  all  her  followers,  weeping  as  they  went.  On  reaching 
the  foot  of  the  Ado  hill,  the  Alado's  wife  came  out  to  see  the  cause 
of  a  company  of  people  weeping  and  wailing,  saying  "  We  are 
driven  out  of  the  country."  She  reported  this  at  home,  and  the 
Alado  came  out  and  invited  the  party  to  lodge  with  him.  His 
inquisitiveness  led  him  to  ask  why  such  august  personages  should 
be  driven  out  of  the  city  ;  when  he  had  learnt  the  whole  story,  he 
sympathized  with  Arugba,  and  asked  her  to  stay,  promising  to 
give  some  of  the  things  required,  as  they  were  too  poor  to  be  able 
to  afford  all.  This  was  done,  and  Arugba  not  only  initiated  him 
into  the  mysteries,  but  also  conferred  upon  him  the  right  of  initiat- 
ing others.  Hence  in  the  subsequent  reign  when  the  Oyos  decided 
to  adopt  Ifa  worship,  it  was  this  Alado  who  went  to  the  city  to 
initiate  them  into  all  the  mysteries,  rites  and  ceremonies  of  Ifa 

A  war  broke  out  after  these  events,  and  the  King  sent  out  the 
Basgrun  at  the  head  of  his  army  to  Ita-ibidun  with  all  the  war 
chiefs.  The  king  of  the  Tapas  (Nupe)  between  whom  and  the 
Yorubas  there  have  been  strained  relations  since  the  death  of 
Sango,  seized  this  opportunity  for  crossing  the  river,  and  pouring 
his  army  into  the  Yoruba  country,  carried  everything  before 
him,  until  he  stood  before  the  gate  of  Ovo.  There  being  no  avail- 
able force  to  oppose  him,  the  city  was  soon  taken.  The  King 
fled  to  Gbere  in  the  Bariba  country,  and  there  he  died  not  being 
used  to  the  hardships  incidental  to  the  life  of  an  exile  ;  leaving  his 
son  Ofinran  a  refugee  in  a  strange  land.  In  the  land  of  his  exile. 
King  Onigbogi  made  it  a  law  that  only  35  of  the  Esos  should  be 
absent  from  home  at  any  time,  leaving  35  for  the  defence  of  the 
city  and  country,  the  Tapa  King  having  entered  Ovo  practically 
without  any  opposition. 

Ayangbagi  Aro  was  the  Basorun  of  this  period. 

§  5.  Ofinran 

The  Oyo  refugees  were  at  first  received  with  open  arms  by  the 
King  Eleduwe  and  his  Balogun  Bokgyo  because  Ofinran's  mother 
was  a  Bariba  woman.  The  refugees  having  no  regular  employment 
here,  joined  theBaribas,  who  are  a  race  of  marauders,  in  all  their 
expeditions.  In  one  of  these  expeditions  Irawo  in  the  Yoruba 
country  was  taken,  and  also  Oke  Isero  where  died  the  famous 
warchief  Gbonka  Eleri-onigbajo. 


After  this,  the  Baribas  began  to  ill-treat  the  refugees,  but  the 
young  prince  proved  himself  equal  to  the  occasion  ;  he  collected  his 
people  together,  and  set  out  at  their  head  for  Oyo. 

When  they  arrived  at  a  place  called  Kusu,  they  encamped 
there  to  complete  their  preparations  for  the  journey  to  Oyo. 
From  Kusu  the  King  sent  delegates  to  Ota  for  Ifa  priests,  as  he  and 
his  chiefs  superstitiously  believed  that  their  misfortunes  arose 
from  their  rejecting  the  worship  of  Ifa  ;  the  Alado  then  came  to 
initiate  the  AlAfin  and  his  people  into  the  mysteries  of  the  Ifa 
worship.  Thus  Ifa  was  accepted  by  Yoruba  proper  among  the 
gods  of  the  land. 

The  Egugun  mysteries  also  were  hitherto  unknown  to  the 
Yorubas,  by  this  means  the  Tapas  have  long  imposed  upon  them, 
they  believing  in  the  reality  of  the  so-called  apparitions.  On  the 
hill  Sanda  at  Kusu  the  secret  was  made  known  to  Saha  the  King's 
head  slave. 

The  first  Alapini  with  the  other  Egugun  priests  the  Elefi, 
Olohan,  Oloba,  Aladafa,  and  the  Olgj^,  emigrated  from  the  Tapa 
country  to  Yoruba,  joining  the  remnants  returning  from  the 
Bariba  country.  These  became  the  first  priests,  and  instructed 
the  Yorubas  further  in  the  Egiigun  worship  ;  therefore  the  honours 
and  emoluments  to  be  enjoyed  in  this  worship  by  right  belong  to 
them  and  their  successors  unto  this  day. 

Before  the  encampment  at  Kusu  was  broken  up,  the  King  died, 
and  was  succeeded  by  his  son  Eguguoju.  The  deceased  King's 
body  was  wrapped  in  an  ass's  skin  to  be  taken  to  Oyo.  At  a  place 
called  Okutu-gbogbo  the  cord  broke,  and  the  body  had  to  be  bound 
up  afresh  before  they  could  proceed.  On  the  very  spot  in  which 
this  happened,  the  palace  at  Saki  was  built. 

Sokia  "  ti  iwo  ewn  irin  "  (clad  with  a  coat  of  mail)  was  the 
Basorun  of  this  period. 

Chapter  III 


§  r.  Eguguoju 

Eguguoju  having  succeeded  his  father,  became  the  leader  of  his 
people  to  Oyo  ;  the  camp  at  Kusu  was  broken  up  and  they  carried 
the  remains  of  the  late  King  with  them  for  state  funeral  at  home. 

They  encamped  next  at  Iju  Sanya,  a  desert  place.  Whilst  there 
two  large  birds  an  Igbo  and  an  Oyo  were  seen  fighting,  and  they 
chased  each  other  from  the  bough  of  the  tree  under  which  the 
King  sat  until  they  came  down  to  the  ground,  and  he  ordered  both 
to  be  caught  and  killed. 

This  occurrence  was  regarded  by  him  as  a  happy  omen  ;  he 
therefore  resolved  to  build  a  city  there  and  to  remove  the  seat  of 
government  to  that  place.  From  the  example  of  the  birds,  he 
was  resolved  to  fight  to  the  last  drop  of  blood  in  his  veins  any  army 
that  came  against  him  there,  never  showing  the  "  white  feather." 
The  city  was  accordingly  built  there,  and  was  named  Oyo  Igboho, 
after  the  two  birds,  Igbo  and  Oyo,  and  there  he  buried  the  remains 
of  his  father. 

Nothing  remarkable  was  recorded  of  this  King  except  that  he 
built  Igboho,  which  became  the  last  resting-place  of  four  Yoruba 
Kings  before  the  government  was  again  removed  to  the  ancient 

Obalohun  was  the  Basorun  of  this  reign. 

§  2.  Orompotq 

Prince  Orompoto,  brother  of  Eguguoju,  and  son  of  Ofinran 
succeeded  to  the  throne.  Shortly  after  his  accession,  troubles 
began  to  assail  him  ;  he,  however,  proved  himself  to  be  a  skilful 
and  experienced  commander,  and  as  a  statesman,  he  was  unrivalled. 
In  his  reign  Oyo  regained  the  military  fame  it  had  lost.  He  was 
swift  in  action,  darting  upon  his  enemies  as  an  eagle  upon  his 
prey,  when  they  least  expected  his  approach.  He  used  all  skill 
to  conceal  his  movements  from  the  enemy.  His  rearguard  con- 
sisted of  1,000  foot  and  i,ooo  horse,  for  each  of  whom  he  provided 
a  broad  ghaju  leaf  to  sweep  and  obliterate  the  foot  prints  of  his 
army  on  the  march,  the  horsemen  tying  the  leaves  to  the  tails 
of  their  horses. 

But  at  the  battle  of  Ilayi  the  King's  army  was  routed  although 



he  fought  with  unusual  bravery.  He  lost  in  this  battle,  three 
Gbonkds,  leaders  of  the  van.  When  the  first  fell,  he  there  and  then 
created  another  ;  he  also  fell,  and  he  created  a  third  who  also  fell, 
but  whose  fall  converted  the  rout  to  victory  under  a  peculiar 

As  he  fell  under  showers  of  arrows  in  a  kneeling  posture  his 
mouth  remained  fixed  in  a  state  as  if  grinning;  the  Baribas  observing 
two  white  rows  of  teeth  under  his  helmet  thought  he  was  playing 
them  a  trick,  and  that  he  was  laughing  at  their  fruitless  attempts 
to  kill  him  and  put  his  army  to  flight,  not  knowing  that  he  was 
stiff  dead  and  that  the  Oyos  were  on  the  point  of  retreating.  A 
sort  of  dread  overcame  them  for  a  man  it  was  impossible  to  kill 
notwithstanding  showers  of  arrows  hanging  on  him  !  so  they 
retreated  thinking  they  had  lost  the  day,  and  the  Oyos  remaining 
in  the  field  claimed  the  victory.  Hence  it  was  commonly  said  of 
this  man  "  Gbonka  Orogbori  ti  o  ft  ehin  le  ogun."  (The  Gbonka 
of  the  ghostly  head  who  routed  an  army  with  his  teeth). 

How  long  this  King  reigned  is  not  known  but  he  was  the  third 
buried  at  Igboho. 

Asamu  was  the  Basgrun  of  this  reign. 

§  3.    AjIBOYEDE 

Ajiboyede  succeeded  to  the  throne.  He  was  a  most  successful 
King  but  he  was  a  tyrant. 

During  this  reign,  the  country  was  invaded  by  Lajomo,  king  of 
the  Tapas.  The  King  marched  against  him  ;  brave  deeds  were 
done  on  both  sides ;  at  last,  however,  the  Yorubas  were  routed, 
and  the  King  would  have  been  slain  but  for  a  circumstance  which 
not  only  saved  his  life,  but  also  turned  the  tide  of  victory  in  his 

When  it  became  apparent  that  the  battle  was  lost,  Ajanlapa 
the  Osi'wefa  hastily  exchanged  dress  with  the  King,  and  told  him 
to  escape  for  his  life.  He  put  on  the  King's  crown  and  his  robes, 
and  the  Tapas  supposing  him  to  be  the  King  turned  their  attention 
chiefly  on  him,  and  showered  upon  him  such  a  number  of  darts, 
that  in  falling  his  body  was  propped  up  by  the  shafts  of  the  arrows. 
As  the  crown  fell  off  his  head  (like  Gbonka  Orogbori  of  the  preceding 
reign)  a  coward  observed  his  teeth  with  the  face  set  as  if  he  were 
grinning  ;  thinking  he  was  laughing  at  their  futile  efforts  he  con- 
cluded at  once  that  they  had  supernatural  beings  opposed  to  them  ! 
He  was  alarmed,  communicated  his  fears  to  his  comrades,  and 
panic  immediately  spread  throughout  the  Tapa  host ;  and  before 
they  could  be  rallied,  the  stampede  had  become  general,  and 
he  pursued  now  became  the  pursuers  ;   the  Yorubas  returned  to 


the  charge,  and  the  Tapas  were  completely  routed,  and  put  to 
the  sword.  Lajomg  their  King  was  taken  and  the  victory  was 

The  King  was  so  grateful  for  his  life  being  saved  by  the  devoted 
Osi'wefa,  that  he  took  counsel  of  all  the  Oyo  nobles  as  to  what 
honours  he  should  bestow  on  Ajanlapa's  son.  He  wished  him  to 
be  his  constant  attendant,  to  be  about  him  night  and  day,  and  that 
he  should  be  free  of  any  part  of  the  palace.  But  such  a  post  cannot 
be  held  by  any  other  than  a  eunuch  and  to  make  him  so  would 
seem  cruel  and  ungrateful  ;  but  the  Oyos  counselled  that  unless 
he  is  so,  he  cannot  enjoy  the  full  liberty  desired  by  the  King.  A 
painful  necessity  that  seemed  to  be,  but  the  King  yielded  to  that 
advice,  and  he  was  emasculated. 

This  circumstance  accounts  for  the  great  honours  attached  to 
that  office  to  this  day,  vide  p.  59.  The  Osi'wefa  is  always  the 
first  as  well  as  the  last  in  the  King's  bed  chamber.  If  the  King 
is  ill,  he  takes  his  place  on  state  occasions,  putting  on  his  robes 
and  the  crown  ;  in  war,  he  often  appears  as  the  King's  deputy, 
invested  with  all  the  paraphernalia  of  royalty,  including  the  state 
umbrellas,  the  kakaki  trumpet,  etc.  Thus  Ajanlapa  by  sacrificing 
his  life  converted  what  would  have  been  a  crushing  defeat  into  a 
triumphant  victory,  and  so  saved  his  country  from  humiliation,  and 
purchased  royal  honours  for  his  family  and  for  his  official  successors 
for  ever.  To  mark  this  victory  as  well  as  his  long  reigp,  Ajiboyede 
celebrated  the  Bebe  festival. 

The  Bebe  is  akin  to  a  jubilee  or  golden  age  of  a  king's  reign. 
There  have  been  but  few  such  in  the  history  of  the  Yorubas.  It 
lasts  for  3  years,  and  during  this  period  liberty  of  speech  and 
action  is  granted  to  everyone,  high  and  low,  rich  and  poor  through- 
out the  kingdom,  without  any  fear  of  being  accused  of  sedition 
or  treason.  No  riot  or  fighting  is  to  be  heard  of  anywhere,  all 
provocations  must  be  suppressed  while  the  Bebe  lasts,  for  no  one  is 
to  be  prosecuted  during  that  period.  All  is  peace.  The  King's 
Ilaris  are  rarely  seen  about  on  duty  at  this  time,  and  when  met, 
ne«d  not  command  that  worship  and  deference  usually  accorded 
them.  No  toll  or  tribute  is  paid.  Everyone  appears  in  his  holiday 
dress.  Country  folks  go  to  Oyo  to  enjoy  themselves  without  fear. 
Festivities  mark  the  occasion.  Provincial  and  feudatory  kings 
and  princes,  and  those  of  adjacent  countries  pay  visits  to  Oyo 
to  offer  congratulations  ;  presents  are  given  and  received  in  a 
lavish  manner.  The  corridors  and  courtyards  of  the  palace,  and 
all  the  trees  in  the  King's  market  used  to  be  decorated  with 
hangings  of  cloth  of  various  hues,  native  and  foreign  make,  as 
with  bunting.      One  deplorable  act,  however,  is  a  blot  on  theBeb§ 


celebration ;  it  is  always  accompanied  with  human  sacrifices 
offered  to  the  memory  of  all  preceding  Kings  from  Oduduwa 
downwards  ;  two  to  each,  and  their  blood  mingled  with  those  of 
animals  slaughtered  without  number  is  poured  out,  for  the  King 
and  his  courtiers  are  required  to  have  a  religious  dance  upon  it ; 
and  this  part  of  the  ceremony  is  regarded  as  the  highest  act  of 
worship,  and  of  thanksgiving. 

The  Bebe  is  sometimes  termed  the  Iht  or  funeral  rites,  as  if 
intended  to  mark  the  close  of  a  long  reign,  from  the  fact  that  the 
few  Kings  who  celebrated  it  died  a  short  time  after. 

The  three  years  festivities  of  the  Bgbe  being  over,  the  Ba§orun 
celebrates  a  minor  form  of  festival  termed  the  Owara,  and  this 
lasts  three  months. 

A  short  time  after  these  festivitives  were  over,  the  King  lost 
by  death  his  first-born  son,  Osemolu  to  his  inexpressible  grief. 
All  the  Oyo  nobles  who  came  to  sympathize  with  him  were  by  his 
orders  put  to  death,  alleging  that  their  feigned  condolence  was  but 
a  mock  sympathy,  for  since  he  was  fasting  from  grief,  their  hands 
smelt  of  food  recently  partaken.  An  insurrection  against  him  was 
quite  ripe  when  a  Moslem  priest  from  the  Tapa  country  called 
"  Baba-kewu  "  sent  his  son  "  Baba-Yigi  "  to  remonstrate  with 
him  for  his  unjust  and  cruel  acts  in  avenging  his  son's  death  on 
innocent  people,  when  his  son  had  died  a  natural  death.  "  This," 
said  he,  "  is  a  sin  against  God  who  took  away  the  life  of  your 

The  King  pondered  seriously  over  this  message,  and  became 
convinced  of  his  tyranny.  He  convened  an  assembly  of  the 
Oyo  citizens,  and  publicly  asked  their  pardon  for  his  unjust  acts. 

He  was  making  preparations  for  removing  the  seat  of  govern- 
ment back  to  Oyo  when  he  died. 

This  is  the  fourth  and  last  King  buried  at  Igboho. 

The  Ba§grun  of  this  reign  was  Ibat^. 

§  4.  Abipa  or  "  Oba  M'oro  "  (the  ghost  catcher) 

Prince  Abipa  succeeded  to  the  throne,  being  the  fourth  and  last 
King  who  reigned  at  Gboho. 

His  first  effort  was  to  carry  out  the  last  wishes  of  his  father, 
viz.,  to  remove  the  seat  of  government  back  to  the  ancient  capital. 

The  Nobles  however,  and  those  born  at  Gboho  were  strongly 
opposed  to  the  removal,  but  could  not  prevent  or  dissuade  the 
King  from  carrying  out  his  purpose  ;  they  therefore  had  recourse 
to  a  stratagem  by  which  they  hoped  to  thwart  his  purpose. 

When  they  knew  that  the  King  was  about  to  send  to  inspect 
the  old  sites,  and  to  propitiate  the  gods  as  a  preliminary  to  re- 


occupation,  emissaries  were  secretly  despatched  by  them  to  precede 
the  King's  messengers.  The  Bagorun  sent  a  hunchback,  the 
Alapini  an  albino,  the  Asipa  a  leper,  the  Samu  a  prognathi,  the 
Laguna  a  dwarf,  the  Akiniku  a  cripple.  All  these  emissaries 
are  considered  in  this  country  as  unnatural  beings,  suffering  the 
vengeance  of  the  gods,  hence  they  are  termed  "  Eni  Orisa  "  (the 
belongings  of  the  gods).  They  are  usually  kept  as  priests  and 
priestesses  to  Obatala  and  other  gods,  especially  the  albinoes, 
dwarfs,  and  hunchbacks. 

As  the  King's  messengers  were  about  to  offer  the  sacrifices  at 
the  place  appointed,  these  counterfeit  apparitions  who,  according 
to  instructions  had  posted  themselves  on  the  hill  Ajaka,  at  the 
foot  of  which  the  palace  was  built,  by  a  preconcerted  plan  suddenly 
began  to  shout  "  Ko  si  aye,  ko  si  aye  "  (no  room,  no  room). 

At  night  they  roamed  about  the  hill,  hooting  and  cooing  with 
lighted  torches  in  hand,  and  they  were  taken  for  the  spirits  of 
the  hill  refusing  them  readmission  to  Oyq. 

This  report  was  very  distressing  to  the  King,  and  he  was  at 
a  loss  what  to  do.  The  Ologbo  or  Arokin  (chief  cymbalist) 
shrewdly  suspecting  the  real  facts  of  the  case  advised  his  master 
to  send  hunters  to  investigate  the  truth  of  the  matter.  B6ni, 
Igi^ubu,  Alegbktk,  Lgkd,  Gbandan^and  Olomo  were  the  six  famous 
hunters  sent.  They  armed  themselves  with  weapons  and  with 
charms  to  meet  any  contingency  for  self-defence. 

When  these  hunters  discovered  that  they  were  human  beings 
they  came  upon  them,  and  one  of  them  took  his  aim  and  would 
have  shot  one  of  the  deformed  beings,  had  he  not  cried  out  and 
begged  for  his  life.  They  were  all  taken  alive  and  brought  before 
the  King  ;  and  being  questioned  they  were  obliged  to  betray  their 
masters  who  were  at  this  time  ignorant  of  what  had  taken  place. 
The  King  adopted  a  most  characteristic  way  of  administering  to 
his  Nobles  a  silent  rebuke  which  told. 

At  the  weekly  meeting  of  the  King  and  the  noblemen  for  the 
Jakuta  sacrifices  (which  occur  every  5  days)  after  the  usual  pro- 
ceedings and  religious  ceremonies  of  the  day  were  over,  and  they 
retired  into  the  banqueting  hall  for  refreshment  as  was  their 
wont,  the  King  on  this  occasion  sent  to  each  of  the  noblemen  a 
calabash  full  of  beer  by  the  hands  of  his  own  emissary  the 
"  apparition  "  of  Oyo  !  The  Basgrun  saw  with  ineffable  surprise 
his  hunchback  whom  he  thought  was  playing  the  ghost  at  distant 
Oyo  emerging  from  the  King's  inner  apartment  with  a  calabash 
full  of  beer  for  him,  the  Alapini  his  albino,  and  so  with  all  the 
others,  each  one  being  waited  upon  by  his  own  emissary  !  Instantly 
a  deep  silence  pervaded  the  room  and  the  rest  of  the  time  was  passed 


in  an  ominous  stillness.  The  King  and  his  Nobles  parted  with- 
out a  word  being  spoken  on  the  subject.  The  noblemen,  however, 
showed  their  resentment  by  poisoning  the  Ologbo  the  King's 
adviser ;  but  he,  in  order  to  show  his  love  and  esteem  for  the 
deceased,  ordered  for  him  a  semi-state  funeral,  and  had  his  body 
wrapped  in  ass's  skin  to  be  taken  to  Oyo  for  interment. 

From  this  incident.  King  Abipa  was  nick-named  Oba  M'gro 
(the  King  who  caught  ghosts). 

Another  nickname  given  to  the  King  that  had  connection 
with  this  event  was  derived  from  his  head  slave  Bisa,  a  Bariba, 
who  was  his  favourite,  and  one  time  had  great  influence  with  his 
master.  The  King  found  out  that  Bisa  was  an  accomplice  with 
the  Nobles  in  thwarting  his  designs.  His  Majesty  now  adopted  a 
characteristic  method  of  administering  him  a  very  sharp  rebuke 
which  he  never  forgot. 

He  one  day  called  Bisa,  and  told  him  that  the  Eleduwe  (the 
king  of  his  native  country)  was  dead,  and  that  the  Baribas  have 
sent  to  him  to  pay  the  ransom  of  Bisa,  who  has  been  elected  to 
the  vacant  throne.  "Now  Bisa,  will  you  go?"  "Yes,  your 
Majesty  "  replied  Bisa,  "  and  your  majesty  may  be  sure  of  this, 
that  when  I  ascend  the  throne,  the  Bariba  country  to  its  utmost 
limits  will  be  free  and  open  to  all  Yorubas."  The  King  then 
rejoined  "  Why  do  you  wish  to  go  to  your  country  and  yet  you 
were  trying  to  prevent  me  going  to  my  birthplace  and  ancestral 
home  ?  Therefore,  yoti  shall  not  go."  Bisa  begged  hard,  but  his 
master  remained  resolute,  hence  he  was  nicknamed  "  Ogbolu 
Akohun,  Akohun  Bisa  jale "  Ogbolu  the  Refuser  who  totally 
refused  Bisa's  entreaties. 

From  this  time  Bisa  lost  all  influence  with  the  King.  The  design 
of  removing  the  seat  of  Government  to  Oyo  was  now  carried  out, 
and  Oyo  from  that  time  was  known  as  Oyo  O^Q  ie-  Qyq  of  the 

Those  famous  hunters  remained  three  years  with  the  King 
in  the  capital  as  his  guests,  until  he  was  perfectly  settled.  When 
they  were  about  to  return  home,  the  King  in  order  to  do  them 
honour,  sent  a  special  messenger  with  them  as  his  representative, 
and  lest  this  servant  of  his  should  prove  a  source  of  expense  to 
them,  he  was  allowed  the  privilege  of  receiving  tolls  for  his  liveli- 
hood. He  became  really  the  new  Governor  of  the  town  with  the 
title  of  Onibode  (receiver  of  customs) .  Hence  that  title  is  bestowed 
on  the  chief  ruler  of  Gboho  to  this  day. 

The  remaining  act  of  this  King  was  the  consolidation  of  his 

^  Oyo  is  also  sometimes  called  Oyo  Egboro  from  the  name  of  the 
prince  from  whom  Sango  seized  it. 

THE    KINGS   OF    OYO  IGBOHO  167 

kingdom.  He  buried  charms  in  several  places  in  the  city  that  it 
might  never  be  destroyed  by  war. 

When  his  "  medicine  men  "  asked  for  a  new  born  babe  to  be 
used  as  an  ingredient  in  the  composition  of  the  charm,  it  happened 
that  one  of  his  wives  had  just  then  been  confined  ;  this  being 
reported  to  him,  he  ordered  the  new  born  babe  to  be  brought  in  its 
blood  as  it  was,  and  he  handed  it  over  to  the  men  to  be  pulverized 
and  used  for  their  purpose.  This  act  is  to  this  day  highly  com- 
mended by  the  people,  and  the  King  accounted  a  great  public 
benefactor  who  so  loved  his  country,  that  he  sacrificed  his  son  for 
the  welfare  of  his  people. 

O Yo  was  never  destroyed  by  war  after  this  event,  but  all  the  same, 
when  the  hour  of  retribution  came,  the  blood  of  the  innocents 
was  avenged,  for  she  suffered  the  fate  of  all  cities  destroyed  by 
war.     She  was  deserted,  and  thus  she  is  in  ruins  unto  this  day. 

Ibate  continued  as  the  Basorun  of  this  reign  also. 

Chapter   IV 


§  I.  Obalokun  Agana  Erin 

Obalokun  succeeded  to  the  throne  of  his  fathers.  His  mother 
was  the  daughter  of  the  Alake,  the  Primus  of  the  Egba  chiefs. 

The  most  memorable  event  of  this  reign  was  the  introduction 
of  salt  into  the  Yoruba  country.  The  article  hitherto  used  for 
it  was  an  insipid  rock  salt  known  as  Obu.  Salt  now  known  as 
iyo  was  at  first  called  dun-mdmd. 

This  King  was  said  to  be  in  friendly  relations  with  the  King 
of  France  (probably  Portugal)  with  whom  he  had  direct  communi- 
cation. It  was  said  that  the  King  sent  800  messengers  with 
presents  to  that  European  sovereign,  but  that  they  were  never 
heard  of  again.  Tradition  says  that  the  sounds  of  bells  ringing 
in  the  skies  was  plainly  heard  in  the  Akesan  (King's)  market, 
and  it  was  conjectured  that  it  was  the  voices  of  the  unfortunates 
speaking  to  them  from  the  other  world  to  tell  their  fate. 

What  natural  phenomenon  this  may  have  been  due  to  which 
was  interpreted  thus,  we  do  not  know,  but  so  it  was  believed  at 
the  time,  and  similar  omens  are  not  unknown  to  history. 

It  was  said  that  a  white  traveller  visited  Oyo  during  this  reign. 

This  King  placed  the  first  Ajele  (political  resident)  at  Ijana 
near  Ilaro,  with  the  title  of  Onisare.  The  appointment  of  an 
Onisar^  was  regularly  from  Oyo  and  he  must  be  a  Tapk  by  birth. 
More  of  this  will  be  noted  hereafter. 

He  sent  an  expedition  into  the  Ijesa  country  which  was  ambushed 
and  defeated  by  the  tribe  known  as  Ijesa  Arera,  the  Ovos  being 
then  unaccustomed  to  bush  fighting.  So  great  was  the  loss  of 
life  in  this  expedition  that  the  Ologbo  was  sent  out  as  a  town  crier 
to  inform  the  bereaved  of  their  losses  in  this  war. 

During  this  reign  Sabigana  emigrated  from  the  Sabe  to  the 
Yoruba  country. 

TheBasorun  of  this  reign  was  Iba  Magaji. 

§  2.  Ajagbo 

Ajagbo  who  succeeded  Obalokun  was  remarkable  for  a  long 
reign.  He  was  said  to  have  reigned  140  years  and  is  an  exception 
to  the  recent  rule. 

He  was  born  a  twin,  and  so  striking   was  the  resemblance 



between  himself  and  his  brother  Ajampati  that  the  one  was  often 
mistaken  for  the  other,  and  very  often  royal  honours  were  paid 
to  the  latter  as  to  his  brother. 

Ajagbo  was  also  a  warlike  prince  ;  several  expeditions  were 
sent  out  by  him. 

He  had  a  friend  at  Iwoye  called  K6koro-gangan  whom  he  made 
his  Kakanfo  (vide  p.  74).  This  was  the  first  Kakanfo  in  the 
Yoruba  country. 

It  was  his  custom  to  send  out  four  expeditions  at  the  same  time 
under  four  commanders.  One  under  the  Basorun,  the  next 
under  the  Agbakin,  the  third  under  the  Kakanfo,  the  fourth  under 
the  Asipa.  Those  under  this  last  consisted  of  the  youths  of  the 

He  destroyed  Iweme  in  the  Popo  cpuntry.  He  Olgpa,  Onko 
and  his  maternal  town  Ikereku-were  an  Egba  town.  The  rest  of 
his  reign  was  peaceful. 

The  Basorun  of  this  reign  was  Akidain. 

§  3.  Odarawu 

Odarawu  was  the  successor.  His  reign  was  very  short.  He 
had  a  bad  temper  which  was  the  cause  of  his  being  rejected. 
His  short  reign  became  a  proverb,  and  often  used  to  point  a 
moral,  and  as  a  warning  to  succeeding  Kings  and  also  to  inculcate 
a  lesson  of  patience  and  forbearance. 

On  his  accession  he  was  asked  according  to  custom  who  was  his 
enemy  ;  he  replied  Ojo  segi,  i.e.  a  town  in  the  kingdom  named 
after  the  Bale  thereof. 

The  reason  he  gave  for  this  was  that  when  a  private  man,  he 
was  once  insulted  by  the  Bale's  wife.  The  alleged  insult  was 
under  the  following  circumstances  :  — 

He  was  accustomed  then  to  trade  in  the  provinces,  and  on  one 
occasion  he  went  to  the  market  to  buy  eko  for  his  dinner,  the  seller 
whom  he  approached  happened  to  be  the  Bale's  wife  ;  both  buyer 
and  seller  were  ignorant  of  each  other's  position.  Eko  then  was 
sold  for  one  cowry  each  ;  he  bought  six  and  paid  five  cowries  as  a 
privilege  of  his  birth.  The  seller  not  knowing  that  he  was  an  Akeyo 
(prince)  and  considering  herself  insulted  thereby,  in  the  heat  of 
passion  gave  him  a  slap,  and  called  him  a  thief  for  the  one  cowry 
withheld  ! 

The  King's  order  for  the  destruction  of  the  town  was  obeyed, 
but  the  Oyo  people  surmised  that  this  would  be  a  heartless  tyrant, 
who,  on  account  of  a  single  cowry  harboured  such  malice  and 
resentment  within  him  as  subsequently  to  order  the  destruction 
of  so  many  lives  of  his  peaceful  and  loyal  subjects.     On  this 


account,  having  fulfilled  his  wishes,  he  was  rejected.     He,  therefore 
committed  suicide. 

Akidain  survived  the  late  King  and  was  the  Basorun  of  this 
reign  also. 

§  4.  Karan 

Karan  succeeded  Odarawu,  but  he  proved  to  be  an  unmitigated 
tyrant.  He  tortured  many  of  his  subjects  by  ordering  them  to  be 
scourged  front  and  back  until  they  expired  ;  so  great  were  his 
cruelties  that  his  name  ha-^  ^"^c-^^  i^f^  a  proverb  "  as  cruel  as 
Karan  "  and  this  led  to  a  c,^^. ^   .        mation  of  his  reign. 

He  sent  out  an  expedition  against  Aga  Oibo,  and  there  the 
conspiracy  against  him  was  quickly  developed. 

When  the  insurrection  was  ripe  for  execution,  they  sent  a 
message  home  to  him  craving  for  his  fan,  as  it  has  been  told  them 
by  divination  that  the  town  cannot  be  taken  except  the  King's 
fan  be  offered  in  sacrifice  to  the  gods.  This  was  complied  with,  and 
a  portion  of  the  sacrificial  meat  was  sent  him  to  partake  of. 

As  soon  as  he  had  tasted  thereof,  it  was  said  to  him  "  The  King 
has  eaten  his  own  fan,  his  word  is  now  of  no  value,  "  i.e.,  his 
commands  have  returned  to  his  own  mouth.  This  is  a  characteristic 
round  about  method  the'  Yorubas  have  of  conveying  intimations 
of  what  they  intend  to  do.  The  army  is  now  absolved  from  a 
charge  of  disobedience  if  they  withdraw  from  the  siege  for  the  King 
has  recalled  his  words  !  All  those  who  would  stand  by  him  were 
included  in  the  plot.  Iba  Biri  was  elected  to  be  the  Basorun  in 
place  of  Woruda  who  had  succeeded  Akidain.  The  Agbakin's 
son  was  chosen  to  succeed  his  father,  and  so  on  with  the  other 
titles.  This  done,  they  raised  the  siege  and  encamped  against  the 
city  demanding  the  King's  abdication  or  death. 

The  King  unwilling  to  die  offered  a  stout  resistance.  He  was 
personally  courageous  and  brave,  but  he  had  the  whole  of  his 
army  against  him.  When  they  entered  the  city,  he  held  out 
against  them  in  the  palace  ;  overcome  by  odds,  he  shot  arrows 
until  his  hands  were  swollen.  Dislodged  from  within  the  courtyard 
he  climbed  to  the  top  of  the  roof,  and  there  he  sat  fighting  until 
the  palace  was  set  on  fire  and  he  perished  in  the  flames. 

Thus  ended  a  short  and  an  inglorious  reign.  He  was  succeeded 
by  his  son,  Jayin. 

Woruda  was  the  Basorun  of  this  reign. 

§  5.  Jayin 

Jayin  was  the  son  of  the  late  King  Karan.  He  was  an  effeminate 
and  dissolute  prince.  He  had  his  harem  full  of  all  sorts  of 
characters.    His  son  Olusi  was  kind  and  generous  ;  he  was  the  idol 


of  the  nation,  and  on  him  they  built  their  hopes  for  a  better  future 
for   the   country. 

Brought  up  amidst  such  demoralizing  influences,  in  an  evil 
hour,  he  fell  under  the  charms  of  one  of  his  father's  numerous 
wives  and  was  caught  in  her  embraces.  The  father  already  jealous 
of  the  son's  popularity  with  the  people  never  forgave  this  offence. 
According  to  one  account  he  summoned  the  prince  before  him, 
and  whilst  reprimanding  him  for  his  conduct,  he  was  for  a  moment 
off  his  guard  and  thus  betrayed  himself  by  letting  out  the  feeling 
rankling  in  his  breast.  "  Villain  "  said  he,  "  the  citizens  of  Oyo 
prefer  you  to  myself,  and  you  are  at  one  with  them  against  me." 
Whilst  speaking  thus  to  him,  he  had  in  hand  a  club,  the  top  of 
which  was  spiked  and  tipped  with  poison  ;  this  he  pressed  upon 
his  head  to  the  point  of  bleeding,  and  the  poison  proved  fatal  to 

According  to  another  account,  it  was  a  poisoned  cake  made 
of  beans  that  his  father  gave  him,  and  of  which  he  partook  that 
caused  his  death.  Anyhow,  it  was  certain  that  he  died  of  poison 
by  the  hand  of  his  father. 

He  was  universally  mourned.  The  Oyo  chiefs  were  detei mined 
to  find  out  the  cause  of  his  death.  They  had  a  strong  suspicion 
of  foul  play  and  were  determined  to  avenge  it. 

The  King  gave  it  out  that  his  death  was  due  to  an  accident 
from  the  kick  of  his  horse.  The  secret  however,  was  divulged 
by  one  of  his  wives,  and  the  disappointed  citizens  became  much 
disaffected  towards  their   King. 

The  late  Olusi  had  a  public  funeral,  a  national  mourning  was 
proclaimed,  and  the  public  undertook  to  perform  his  funeral 
obsequies.  His  Egugun  was  brought  out,  i.e.  an  appearance  of 
his  apparition  clothed  with  the  cloths  with  which  he  was  known 
to  have  been  buried. 

The  Egugun  was  said  to  have  repaired  to  the  palace,  as  was 
usual  to  pay  honours  to  the  chief  ruler  of  the  town,  and  as  soon 
as  the  King  showed  his  face,  he  was  grasped  by  it.  He  was  then 
told  to  die,  having  been  touched  by  an  Egugun. 

3ut  according  to  another  and  a  more  probable  account,  when  the 
King  heard  that  his  late  son's  Egugun  in  the  company  of  others 
was  coming  to  the  palace,  knowing  what  the  most  probable  out- 
come of  such  a  visit  must  be,  he  hastily  took  poison  and  died. 
And  this  has  passed  into  proverb  "  O  ku  dhde  ki  a  ko  iwi  wo 
Akesan,  Oba,Jayin  te  ori  gba  aso.  (At  the  approach  to  Akesan 
of  a  company  of  chanting  Eguguns,  King  Jayin  buried  his  head  in 
a  shroud.)     Used  of  one  who  anticipates  the  inevitable. 

It  was  during  this  reign  that  an  Ilari  "  Agbeja-ilfe  "   was  sent 


to  settle  a  land  dispute  between  the  Aseyin  odo,  and  the  Olowu 
Ipole  ;  he  became  the  first  Awujale  of  the  Ijebus. 

Iba  Biri  was  appointed  Basorun  in  place  of  Woruda  deposed. 

§  6.  Ayibx 

An  inter-regnum  of  some  years  followed  the  last  reign,  the 
affairs  of  the  kingdom  being  left  in  the  hands  of  the  Basorun. 
The  heir  to  the  throne  was  the  late  King's  grandson,  the  infant 
son  of  the  lamented  Olusi,  who  was  too  young  to  administer  the 
government.  The  Oyo  Mesi  elected  him  in  order  to  do  honour  to 
the  memory  of  his  deceased  father.  Ayibi  was  crowned  when  he 
came  of  age.  Unfortunately  he  proved  unworthy  of  the  honour 
and  respect  done  him  ;  he  greatly  disappointed  the  hopes  of  the 
nation.  This  may  have  been  due  to  a  great  defect  in  his  training 
when  a  minor,  over-indulgence  taking  the  place  of  strict  discipline. 
He  proved  to  be  a  tyrant  who  took  delight  in  shedding  blood. 

When  any  suit  was  brought  to  court  for  his  decision  he  often 
gave  judgment  by  ordering  both  com.plainant  and  defendant 
to  be  executed.  He  had  no  respect  for  age,  or  rank,  but  terribly 
abused  his  power. 

As  an  example  of  his  cruelty  and  arbitrariness,  the  following 
story  was  told  of  him  : — 

He  was  one  day  in  his  bath,  being  attended  by  one  of  his 
favourite  wives  ;  and  she,  in  a  moment  of  self-forgetfulness  (or 
rather  of  amorous  regard)  said  jocularly  to  him,  "  And  this  is  all 
of  the  man  so  much  dreaded  by  all  !  "  He  took  offence  at  this 
remark,  but  disguised  his  displeasure  by  a  smile,  but  inwardly 
he  was  determined  to  convince  her  practically  of  the  power  which 
made  him  an  object  of  dread  to  all. 

After  leaving  his  bathroom,  he  gave  an  order  to  a  Tetu  (execu- 
tioner) privately  to  fetch  the  heads  of  the  wife's  father  and  mother 
each  in  a  calabash,  and  decently  covered  up.  This  order  was 
promptly  executed  The  wife  had  by  this  time  forgotten  her 
remarks  in  the  bathroom,  as  she  had  no  reason  to  be  apprehensive 
of  any  evil  consequences  arising  therefrom.  The  calabashes 
being  brought  and  set  before  him,  he  sent  for  her  from  her  apart- 
ment, and  asked  her  to  uncover  those ,  calabashes  and  tell  the 
contents  of  them  !  "  Do  you  know  them  ?  "  asked  he,  "  Yes  I 
do,"  she  replied  trembling.  "  Then,"  rejoined  he  "  that  is  the 
secret  why  I  am  so  much  dreaded  by  all,  although  to  you  I  seem 
but  commonplace  and  ordinary."  She  fully  expected  her  own 
execution  to  follow,  but  he  was  satisfied  with  the  pain  and  misery 
into  which  he  had  thrown  her,  and  he  graciously  pardoned  (sic) 


For  this  and  similar  acts  of  cruelty,  an  insurrection  was  stirred 
up  against  him  by  all  the  people,  and  being  rejected  he  committed 

Oluaja,  and  after  him  Yabi  were  the  Basoruns  of  this  reign. 

The  reason  why  these  Kings  after  rejection  invariably  committed 
suicide  is  this.  The  person  of  a  King  is  regarded  as  sacred. 
Kings  are  venerated  as  gods,  indeed  many  of  them  have  been 
actually  deified  ;  but  the  moment  a  king's  enormities  provoke  an 
open  rebuke,  or  on  being  told  publicly  "  We  reject  you,"  by  the 
constitution  of  the  country  he  must  die  that  day.  He  cannot 
from  the  sanctity  with  which  he  has  been  regarded  abdicate 
and  continue  to  live  as  a  private  individual,  or  Continue  to  reign 
by  sufferance,  by  the  clemency  of  aggrieved  subjects.  Hence  he 
must  die  ;  and  by  his  own  hands,  for  it  is  an  unthinkable  horror 
among  the  Yorubas  for  any  man  to  lay  hands  upon  a  being 
regarded  as  sacred.  It  is  the  prerogative  of  the  Basorun  to  utter 
the  sentence  of  rejection  when  the  people  are  determined  on  it. 

Ev^en  Noblemen  also  from  their  exalted  positions  are  never 
ordered  to  execution.  "  The  King  rejects  you.  The  ancient  Kings 
Oduduwa,  Orafiyan,  Aganju,  and  others,  reject  you."  He  must 
then  take  poison  and  die.  Such  deaths  are  accounted  honourable, 
public  and  decent  funerals  are  accorded  them. 

If  any  one  allows  himself  to  be  executed  his  carcase  will  be  treated 
like  that  of  a  common  felon,  and  his  house  pulled  down.  Therefore 
a  faint-hearted  individual  would  be  despatched  by  his  nearest 
relatives  to  save  themselves  from  indelible  disgrace.  An  honour- 
able burial  will  then  be.  accorded  to  the  illustrious  dead. 

§  7.    OSINYAGO 

Osinyago  who  succeeded  to  the  throne  was  equally  worthless. 
He  was  an  avaricious  man  who  by  exactions,  massacre,  and  con- 
fiscations amassed  wealth  which  he  did  not  live  long  to  enjoj'. 

His  firstborn  son,  like  his  father,  was  of  a  grasping  propensity, 
which  led  to  his  early  death.  The  second  child  Omgsun,  although 
a  female,  was  of  a  masculine  character,  and  she  considered  the 
rank  and  privileges  of  the  Aremo  (Crown  Prince)  her  own  ;  but  the 
King  adopted  a  cousin  Woruale  (contracted  to  Wurale  or  Irale) 
son  of  Gbagba,  a  physician,  his  maternal  uncle,  as  the  Aremo,  and 
this  Omosun  resented. 

It  happened  that  a  dispute  arose  between  these  two  as  to 
the  right  of  appointing  a  new  Aseyin  at  the  death  of  the  then  king 
of  Iseyin,  and  Omosun  from  wounded  pride  that  she  was  opposed 
by  a  commoner,  in  the  heat  of  passion  slew  Irale  ! 


Irale's  father  Gbagba  the  physician  was  determined  to  avenge 
the  death  of  his  son,  and  this  he  did  by  poison  said  to  have  been 
extracted  from  one  cowry  worth  of  shea  butter,  200  grains  of 
beniseed,  and  other  ingredients  by  which  he  effected  the  deaths  of 
the  King,  Omosun,  Apala  the  Basorun,  and  other  notabilities  of 
Oyo  who  were  concerned  with  the  misgovernment  that  was  going 

He  was  said  to  have  escaped  to  his  own  country  by  means 
of  charms.  One  report  says,  he  flew  away  like  a  bird,  and  was 
found  at  Ede  ;  another  says  he  died  and  was  buried,  but  his 
corpse  became  a  red  monkey  which  escaped  into  the  bush.  What 
was  more  probable  was,  that  from  the  dread  he  inspired  by  his 
powers,  he  had  an  opportunity  of  escape,  and  was  not  slow  to  make 
use  of  it.  The  country  was  bereft  of  King  and  Basorun  simul- 

The  Basorun  of  this  reign  was  Apalk. 

§  8.  OjiGi 

Ojigi  who  was  elected  to  the  vacant  throne,  was  a  powerful  and 
warlike  King.  He  extended  his  conquests  to  the  Dahomian 
territory.  In  three  expeditions  headed  by  the  Basorun  and  the 
Gbonka  Latoy6,  the  Dahomians  were  brought  fully  under  sub- 

Yansumi  an  Idahomian  town  was  taken  and  destroyed.  He  sent 
an  expedition  also  against  the  Igbdnas. 

This  King  in  order  to  show  his  undisputed  sovereignty  over 
the  whole  of  the  Yoruba  country,  including  Benin,  sent  out  a 
large  expedition  which  struck  the  Niger  in  the  north,  near  the 
Ibaribas,  and  coasted  along  the  right  bank  until  they  arrived  at 
the  coast  and  returned  to  Oyo  by  the  Popo  country.  Great 
exploits  were  reported  of  the  leaders. 

Personally,  he  was  a  very  good  man,  but  a  too  indulgent  father. 
The  Aremo  by  his  cruelties  and  excesses  brought  about  the  father's 
rejection  and  death.  He  ordered  Oluke  the  Basoran's  son  to  be 
unlawfully  beaten.  As  this  wrong  could  not  be  avenged  without 
serious  consequences,  and  as  the  King  did  not  punish  the  wrong  doer, 
it  was  thought  more  expeditious  to  effect  the  King's  death  ;  for 
about  this  time  the  custom  began  to  prevail  for  the  Aremios  to 
die  with  the  father,  as  they  enjoy  unrestrained  liberty  with  the 
father.  A  pretext  was  soon  found  for  rejecting  the  King  and 
fond  father,  and  consequently  he  died,  and  his  eldest  son  with 

One  of  the  most  famous  men  in  Yoruba  history  Yamba  was  the 
Basorun  of  this  reign. 

a  succession  of  despotic  and  short-lived  kings     i75 

§  9.  Gberu 

Prince  Gberu  who  now  succeeded  to  the  throne  was  a  wicked 
and  superstitious  King,  much  given  to  making  charms.  Before 
his  accession  to  the  throne  he  had  a  friend  called  Jambu  whom  he 
afterwards  raised  to  the  high  rank  of  Basgrun.  But  it  was  not 
long  before  these  former  friends  became  disaffected  towards 
each  other.  Both  of  them  were  one  day  sitting  under  a  large 
Ose  tree  (the  Adamsonia  digitata)  at  Oyo.  TheBasorun  remarked 
on  the  magnificence  of  the  tree  which  "  bade  fair  to  last  for  ever." 
The  King  made  no  reply,  but  afterwards  poisoned  the  tree  in 
order  to  cast  the  suspicion  on  the  Basorun  who  had  made  remarks 
on  it  ;   and  before  the  next  morning  it  had  withered. 

Oyo  we  may  remark  is  situated  in  a  vast  plain  where  trees 
are  rarely  seen.  This  was  one  of  the  few  that  grew  there  and  it  was 
much  thought  of,  and  was  highly  prized  for* its  magnificence  when 
in  full  bloom. 

This  circumstance  caused  a  great  sensation  in  the  city  among 
all  who  saw  the  tree  flourishing  in  all  its  glory  only  the  day  before  ! 
Enquiries  as  to  the  cause  were  keen  and  close  ;  it  was  at  first  thought 
this  deed  was  done  by  the  Basorun  in  order  to  frame  an  accusation 
against  the  King  as  both  were  seeking  each  other's  life  ;  but  the 
author  of  the  deed  was  soon  known. 

The  chiefs  of  the  town  now  grew  suspicious  and  apprehensive 
of  their  own  safety  should  the  King  add  the  use  of  secret  poison 
to  his  unlimited  regal  power.  They  soon  found  a  pretext  for 
rejecting  him,  and  he  had  to  put  an  end  to  his  own  life.  His 
quondam  friend  Jambu  the  Basorun  who  divulged  the  secret  was 
not  spared  either,  he  soon  shared  the  fate  of  his  friend  and 

Gberu's  reign  was  short  and  inglorious.  He  was  succeeded  by 

Jambu  was  the  Basgrun  of  this  reign. 

§  10.  Amuniwaiye 

Prince  Amuniwaiye  who  now  ascended  the  throne  promised 
well  at  first,  by  his  clemency  and  grace;  but  subsequently  his  low 
morals  rendered  him  weak  and  despicable,  and,  as  such,  a  disgrace 
to  his  high  office. 

He  had  for  mistress  the  wife  of  his  principal  "  medicine  man  " 
Olukoyisi,  with  whom  he  became  acquainted  under  the  following 
circumstances  : — 

The  King  engaged  this  "  medicine  man"  to  help  him  against 
the  friends  of  Jambu  the  powerful  Basgrun  who  effected  the  death 


of  the  former  King.  Being  afraid  that  if  his  services  to  the  King 
were  known,  his  own  life  would  be  in  danger,  he  worked  warily 
by  sending  his  wife  Ololo  with  the  pots  instead  of  going  himself 
personally.  In  this  way  the  King  had  the  opportunity  of  coming 
into  contact  with  her,  which  he  disgracefully  abused,  and  the 
husband  got  to  know  it. 

He  could  not  bring  an  open  charge  against  the  King  nor  had 
he  any  other  means  of  obtaining  redress  but  by  secret  revenge, 
and  this  he  effected  terribly ! 

Olukoyisi  prepared  certain  ingredients  from  the  root  of  the 
Opgki  tree  which  he  applied  to  his  wife  unsuspected  ;  it  was  a 
fatal  "  tell-tale,"  for  when  next  she  was  being  indulged  in  the 
royal  embraces,  the  pair  of  them  got  so  inextricably  adhered 
together,  that  it  became  necessary  to  resort  to  a  surgical  operation 
in  order  to  separate  them  !  Thus  both  of  them  died  in  the  act. 
Thus  ended  this  inglorious  reign. 

The  Basgrun  of  this  reign  was  Kogb6n  son  of  the  late  Jambu. 

§  II.  Onisile 

Onisile  who  now  ascended  the  throne  was  quite  a  different 
man  from  the  former  occupant.  He  was  a  great  warrior,  and 
for  his  exploits  was  nicknamed  "  Gbagida  !  Wowo  I'^won  ab'esiri 
fo  odi "  (Gbagida  [an  expression  of  admiration]  a  man  with 
clanging  chains  [for  prisoners]  whose  horse  can  leap  over  a  town 

He  was  remarkable  for  his  indomitable  courage  and  lion- 
hearted  spirit.  He  was  moreover  very  artistic,  and  was  said  to 
have  made  seven  silver  doors  to  the  seven  entrances  of  his  sleeping 

During  this  reign  the  Sekere  (calabash)  drum  was  ornamented, 
not  only  with  cowries,  but  also  with  costly  beads  e.g.  lyiin  (corals) 
Okun  (stone  beads,  Benin)  Erinla  (striped  yellow  pipe  beads)  and 
Segi  (blue  pipe  beads),  strung  with  silk  thread  dyed  red  ;  all  of 
native  manufacture. 

His  rashness  and  fearlessness  was  the  ultimate  cause  of  his  death. 
He  was  cautioned  against  experim.enting  with  the  "sun  leaf" 
a  plant  known  to  possess  electrical  properties,  by  which  lightning 
can  be  attracted  ;  but  he  was  not  the  man  to  heed  any  such  remon- 
strance. The  consequence  was  that  the  Sango  worshippers  managed 
to  attract  lightning  on  the  palace,  the  King  was  struck,  and  from 
the  shock  he  became  paralysed.  Thus  he  was  incapacitated  from 
performing  the  duties  of  his  office. 

The  chiefs  of  Oyo  then  assembled  and  waited  on  him,  and  told 
him  that  as  he  had  challenged  Sango  to  a  single  combat  and  had 


been  worsted,  he  could  no  longer  continue  to  live.  Thus  he  was 
rejected,  and  he  had  to  die. 

The  feeling  had  gained  ground  by  this  time  that  Kings  should 
not  be  allowed  to  die  a  natural  death.  Unchecked  despotism, 
unrestrained  licence,  insatiable  greed,  and  wanton  voluptuousness 
should  not  be  allowed  to  flourish  throughout  the  full  term  of  a 
natural  lifetime.  The  excesses  of  the  Crown  Prince  also  were 
unendurable  hence  the  earliest  opportunity  was  usually  sought, 
for  putting  an  end  to  their  reign. 

His  Basorun's  name  was  Soyiki  alias   £)sij6gb6. 

Chapter   V 


§  I.  Labisi 

This  unfortunate  Prince  was  nominated  to  the  vacant  throne, 
but  was  never  crowned.  Only  17  days  after  he  commenced  the 
preliminary  ceremonies,  the  new  Basorun  Gaha  rose  to  power,  and 
commenced  those  series  of  atrocities  which  made  him  notorious 
in  Yoruba  history. 

Olubg  and  Ajibadu  the  King-elect's  friends  were  sum.marily 
put  to  death,  and  he,  having  no  supporters  was  not  even  allowed 
to  enter  the  palace,  much  less  to  sit  on  the  throne.  He  had  to 
put  an  end  to  his  own  life. 

Gaha  had  great  influence  with  the  people,  and  a  great  many 
followers  who  considered  themselves  safe  under  his  protection, 
from  the  dread  in  which  they  stood  of  the  Kings,  because  of  their 
cruel  and  despotic  rule. 

Gahk  was  also  famous  for  his  "  charms  ;  "  he  was  credited  with 
the  power  of  being  able  to  convert  himself  into  a  leopard  or  an 
elephant,  and  on  this  account  was  much  feared.  He  lived  to 
a  good  old  age,  and  wielded  his  power  miercilessly.  He  was  noted 
for  having  raised  five  Kings  to  the  throne,  of  whom  he  murdered 
four,  and  was  himself  murdered  by  the  fifth. 

§  2.  AwoNBioju  alius  Ouuboye 

Gaha  the  Basorun  had  by  this  time  attained  to  great  power  and 
influence.  He  made  himself  the  King  maker  and  King  destroyer. 
He  did  not  aspire  to  the  throne,  for  that  was  impossible  of  attain- 
ment, but  he  demanded  the  homage  of  all  the  Kings  he  raised  to 
the  throne.  He  raised  Awonbioju  into  the  place  of  Labisi.  His 
reign  was  very  short,  having  wielded  the  sceptre  for  only  130  days. 
He  was  murdered  by  the  all-powerful  Basorun  for  nobly  refusing 
to  prostrate  before  him,  his  own  Chancellor. 

§  3.  Agboluaje 

Agboluaje  who  succeeded  the  late  King  on  the  throne  was  a 
very  handsome  and  prepossessing  Prince,  and  as  he  submitted 
to  the  powerful  Basorun,  he  was  allowed  to  reign  for  a  longer 
period  than  the  two  preceding  Kings.     He  was  not  as  ambitious 



as  some  of  his  predecessors,  he  had  no  wars,  the  kingdom  had 
extended  to  its  utmost  limits,  bounded  by  the  river  Niger  on  the 
north  and  a  portion  of  the  Tapa  and  Bariba  countries,  on  the 
East  by  the  lower  Niger,  on  the  South  by  the  seacoast,  and  on  the 
West  it  includes  the  Popos  and  Dahomey.  From  all  the  provinces 
included  within  these  boundaries,  and  by  some  including  the  Gas 
and  Ashanti,  tributes  were  paid  to  Oyq.  Tranquility  prevailed 
all  over  the  land. 

The  King  thought  this  a  fitting  opportunity  for  celebrating 
the  Beb§,  not  so  much  for  the  length  of  his  reign,  but  for  the 
peace  and  prosperity  that  prevailed  all  over  the  Kingdom. 

During  the  three  years  celebration,  visitors  from  all  parts 
thronged  Ovg  as  was  usual,  but  the  most  distinguished  guest  was 
the  Elewi-odo,  a  Popo  king,  who  visited  Oyq  in  state  and  had  a 
reception  befitting  his  rank.  He  was  a  particular  friend  of  the 
Alafik's,  and  usually  supplied  him.  with  cloths  and  other  articles 
of  European  manufacture,  being  nearer  the  coast  and  having  deal- 
ings with  European  traders  of  those  days. 

As  on  such  occasions  everybody  visited  Oyo  in  his  best  holidaj' 
dress,  so  the  Elewi-odo  who  was  accounted  proverbially  rich 
appeared  at  this  time.  On  public  occasions  the  Elewi-odo  sat 
on  a  throne  opposite  the  King  ;  as  often  as  the  King  changed 
his  robes,  he  changed  his  covering  cloth  to  one  of  the  same 
material ;  when  the  King  puts  on  a  robe  of  silk  or  velvet,  he  covers 
with  a  cloth  of  the  same  material.  Both  Kings  were  an  object 
of  interest  and  admiration  by  the  1060  vassal  kings  and  chiefs 
of  Yoruba,  with  the  populace  who  were  present  on  that  occasion. 

But  the  citizens  of  Oyo  grew  jealous  for  the  honour  and  glory 
of  their  King  and  wished  him  to  appear  superior  to  the  Elewi-odo 
by  robing  himself  with  something  the  like  of  which  even  the  Elewi 
had  not  ;  but  they  found  that  he  had  nothing  the  like  of  which  his 
friend  had  not  ;  so  they  had  recourse  to  a  device.  The  manu- 
facturers were  summoned  and  the  case  put  before  them,  and  they 
promised  to  rise  to  the  occasion.  A  simple  gown  was  thereupon 
woven,  of  common  stuff  indeed,  but  embossed  all  over  with  the 
silken  wool  of  the  large  cotton  tree  ;  seen  at  a  distance  the  nature 
of  the  cloth  cculd  not  be  made  out  by  the  crowd  ;  when  the  sun 
shone  upon  it,  it  reflected  a  silken  hue  to  the  admiration  of  all  ; 
when  the  breeze  blew,  detached  flosses  of  silk  floated  all  around 
his  majesty.  Even  the  Elewi-odo  and  the  provincial  kings  could 
not  help  admiring  the  curious  robe  which  they  took  for  something 
so  superior,  that  none  but  the  great  Ai.afin  of  Oyo  alone  possessed ! 
The  crowd  went  into  ecstatic  frenzy  about  it,  and  shouted  an 


But  the  conduct  of  the  Elewi  on  this  occasion  offended  the 
Basorun  because  he  vied  with  his  sovereign.  Therefore,  after  his 
return  home  at  the  expiration  of  the  Bebe  and  the  Basorun  had 
celebrated  his  Owara  as  usual,  he  denounced  the  Elewi  before  His 
Majesty  in  the  severest  terms  :  that  he  came,  not  to  honour  the 
King  but  to  disgrace  him,  to  show  off  his  wealth  to  the  King's 
disadvantage,  and,  therefore,  he  was  determined  to  punish  him 
for  his  conduct. 

The  King  pleaded  hard  for  his  friend  but  in  vain.  "  Every 
one  "  said  he,  "  is  allowed  by  custom  to  appear  at  Oyo  during 
Bebe  in  his  best,  how  much  more  should  a  king  do  so  ?  His  action 
in  this  matter  is  pardonable,  and  therefore,  should  be  overlooked." 
But  Gaha  was  inexorable,  and  war  was  declared. 

The  Elewi  having  been  privately  forewarned,  attempted  no 
resistance,  but  sent  a  private  message  to  the  King  not  to  be  anxious 
on  his  account,  and  that  his  safety  was  assured.  He  speedily 
crossed  the  Esuogbo  river  and  escaped  to  the  Tapa  country. 

Unfortunately  the  private  messenger  arrived  af  Oyo  too  late 
to  meet  the  King  alive.  Unwilling  that  the  head  of  his  friend  the 
Elewi  should  be  brought  in  triumph  to  him  at  Oyo,  he  took  poison 
and  died  before  the  return  home  of  the  expedition  His  brother 
Majeogbe  was  placed  on  the  throne  by  the  all-powerful  Basorun 

§  4.  Majeogbe 

Majeogbe  did  not  fare  any  better  than  his  immediate  pre- 
decessors. His  first  care  was  to  find  means  of  checking  the  ambition 
of  the  Basorun.  He  could  not  order  his  execution,  and  the 
Basorun  was  too  much  on  the  alert  to  be  taken  off  by  poison  ; 
but  he  set  about  making  charms  offensive  and  defensive  in  order 
to  rid  himself  of  this  terror. 

Gaha  had  by  this  time  attained  the  zenith  of  his  glory  ;  his 
sons  were  scattered  all  over  the  length  and  breadth  of  the  kingdom, 
they  resided  in  the  principal  towns  and  all  the  tributes  of  those 
towns  and  their  suburbs  were  paid  to  them.  No  tribute  was  now 
paid  to  the  AlAfin  ;  Gaha's  sons  were  as  ambitious  and  as  cruel 
as  their  father. 

Several  anecdotes  illustrating  their  wanton  cruelties  were  told 
of  them,   e.g.  : 

One  of  them  once  engaged  a  carrier  to  whom  he  gave  a  load  too 
heavy  for  him  to  carry,  but  he  dared  not  refuse  to  do  so.  He 
walked  behind  the  man  amusing  himself  with  the  sight  of  the  man's 
sufferings  from  the  weight  of  the  load.  He  remarked  in  jest  that 
the  man's  neck  had  become  so  thick  that  he  doubted  whether  a 


sword  could  cut  through.  He  suited  his  action  to  his  words, 
drew  his  sword,  and  actually  tried  it  !  The  man  was  decapitated, 
and  his  body  was  left  wallowing  in  his  blood,  and  another  man  was 
compelled  to  take  up  the  load. 

Another  of  his  sons  was  said  to  have  shot  a  farmer  dead,  whilst 
engaged  in  making  heaps  for  planting  yam,  wantonly  charging 
him  with  disfiguring  the  King's  ground  by  making  horns  on  it  ! 

Another  similarly  shot  a  farmer  dead  whilst  hoeing  the  ground, 
pretending  that  he  mistook  him  for  an  ape  on  all  fours  ! 

Thus  Gaha  and  his  sons  usurped  all  power  of  the  government 
the  King  himself  living  in  dread  of  his  own  fate  at  the  pleasure 
of  the  notorious  regicide. 

The  King's  own  "  medicine  men  "  were  not  idle  either.  A 
lighted  lamp  was  said  to  have  been  placed  in  one  of  his  inner 
apartments  which  was  kept  burning  for  three  years  untrimmed, 
and  while  it  was  burning  there  can  be  no  peace  to  the  regicide. 

A  horse  was  said  to  be  in  one  of  the  stables  and  was  heard 
neighing  every  day,  and  yet  was  kept  there  3  years  without 
fodder  ! 

The  AlafIxN's  death  was  brought  about  by  one  of  his  sons  quarrel- 
ling in  theBasorun's  quarter  of  the  town  ;  this  act  Gahk  resented 
as  a  daring  affront  which  the  father's  life  must  atone  for,  the  son 
being  too  insignificant  for  him  to  take  any  notice  of.  But  the 
AlAfin  had  succeeded  by  this  time  in  poisoning  the  Basorun  that 
he  became  paralysed  in  both  his  legs.  On  the  other  hand  the 
nature  of  the  charms  in  the  King's  apartment  had  been  made  known 
to  Gaha,  who  now  bent  all  his  energies  to  extinguish  the  ever- 
burning lamp.  Its  effect  was  so  great  that  all  who  approached 
that  apartment  instantly  dropped  down  dead.  All  the  "  medicine- 
men "  in  the  kingdom  were  summoned  by  Gahk  but  none  succeeded, 
and  it  cost  many  their  lives.  At  last  an  Agberi  man  appeared, 
who  sacrificed  the  life  of  his  slave  in  order  to  gain  the  honour, 
nor  did  he  survive  it  himself.  In  this  service  the  Agberi  tribes 
gained  the  pre-eminence  over  others  of  the  same  craft,  and  became 
friends  of  the  Basorun.     And  thus  the  King  died. 

But  from  this  time  the  power  of  Gahk  began  to  decline,  old  age 
set  in,  and  impaired  his  strength  of  body  and  mind.  His  wives 
began  to  desert  his  harem,  but  some  faithful  domestics  stood  by 
him  and  they  concealed  from  the  general  public  the  fact  of  his  being 
lame.  The  door  opening  to  the  audience  chamber  was  always 
kept  shut  whilst  the  King  and  the  other  noblemen  were  in  waiting 
every  morning  to  pay  their  respects  to  him.  The  opening  and 
closing  of  the  doors  of  the  inner  apartments  announce  the  approach 
of  his  supernal  highness.     He  crawled  on  all  fours,  and  was  usually 


seated  before  the  door  of  the  audience  chamber  was  sUd  back, 
so  that  he  was  never  seen  on  the  move  ;  but  in  order  to  inspire 
dread,  his  drummer  used  to  beat  "  Iba  kanbo,  irin  ija  ni  nrin." 
His  Highness  comes  majestic,  striding  as  one  spoiling  for  a  fight. 

§  5.  Abiodun  alias  Adegolu 

Abiodun,  whose  peaceful  reign  has  passed  into  a  proverb  was 
described  as  a  tall  and  slender  prince,  of  a  very  dark  complexion, 
a  comely  person,  of  dignified  manners,  and  altogether  fit  to  wear 
a  crown.  He  also  was  raised  to  the  throne  by  the  order  and 
influence  of  the  Basorun. 

The  young  King  was  wise  and  prudent,  and  at  first  made  no 
attempt  at  any  opposition  to  the  powerful  Basorun.  He  went 
regularly  every  morning  to  pay  him  his  respects,  and  invariably, 
received  his  presents  of  10  heads  of  cowiies  (which  as  a  matter  of 
fact,  never  exceeded  6  heads,  not  with  the  knowledge  of  the 
Basorun  however,  but  by  the  action  of  the  attendants). 

This  state  of  things  continued  for  many  j^ears  so  much  so  that 
even  the  Basorun  himself  was  becoming  tired  of  this  abject 
submission,  and  wanted  but  a  decent  pretext  for  which  he  might 
kill  him,  just  for  a  change  !  This  man  of  blood  was  often  heard 
to  say  "  Who  taught  this  King  to  be  so  wise  ?  These  daily  presents 
are  getting  to  be  too  heavy  a  charge  on  my  exchequer  now." 
All  power  was  in  his  hands  and  so  were  the  responsibilities.  His 
lust  for  power  drained  his  exchequer,  for  his  sons  lording  it  all 
over  the  country  deprived  him  of  the  revenues  which  might  have 
come  to  him. 

That  he  was  in  great  straits  for  money  seemed  evident  from  the 
fact  that  he  requested  his  "  medicine  men  "  to  make  him  charms 
to  get  him  plenty  of  cowries.  "  Of  all  that  constitutes  v/ealth 
or  power,"  said  he,  "  I  have,  save  money  (cowries)  enough  to 
support  my  position." 

One  of  his  "  medicine  men  "  assured  him  that  he  can  make 
him  a  soap  to  wash  with,  and  before  sunset,  his  wish  will  be 
realized.  He  made  the  soap,  and  His  Supernal  Highness  used  it 
according  to  directions,  and  strange  to  say,  it  took  effect,  but  in  a 
way  no  one  anticipated.  Whatever  the  cause  was  due  to,  nobody 
knew,  but  fire  broke  out  in  the  Basorun's  house  that  afternoon, 
and  all  efforts  to  extinguish  it  failed,  and  so  the  palace  was  burnt 
to  the  ground.  Owing  to  His  Highness'  influence  and  power, 
and  the  dread  all  had  of  him,  every  rank  and  station,  from  the 
AlAfin  downwaids  now  vied  to  be  the  foremost  in  contributing  to 
repair  his  losses,  10, 15,  20  bags  of  cowries  came  in  from  all  quarters. 


The  heads  of  the  different  wards  of  the  city,  the  Modade,  Molkbi, 
Nsise-og\in,  Ntetu,  T'onse-Awo,  Aremu,  Ita-Ologbo,  Ajofk, 
and  the  Ogede  quarters,  all  brought  presents  in  cowries. 

Then  the  provincial  kings  and  chiefs  from  the  Onikoyi  down- 
wards brought  building  materials,  and  also  their  own  contributions 
in  cowries,  which  greatly  augmented  his  store.  The  Basgrun 
then  asked  the  "  medicine  mam  "  "  Is  this  the  way  you  promised 
to  get  me  cowries  ?  "  He  replied,  "  Yes,  your  Highness  ;  by  what 
other  means  could  you  have  amassed  such  an  abundance  in  so 
short  a  time  ?  " 

But  the  Basorun  was  still  thirsting  for  the  blood  of  the  AlAfin, 
and  he  was  never  so  wise  in  his  dealings  with  him,  till  at  length, 
King  Abiodun  took  a  bold  step,  upon  which  he  had  devoted  no 
little  consideration.  Having  given  orders  to  his  courtiers  and  his 
wives  privately  to  report  to  the  Basorun  that  he  was  suffering  from 
indisposition  he  left  Oyo  privately  in  the  night  for  a  town  called 
Akala  to  his  namesake  Adegolu  the  powerful  chief  of  that  place. 
Being  in  disguise,  he  was  not  recognised  by  the  Bale's  wife,  who 
told  him  her  husband  had  gone  to  his  farm.  The  feigned  poor 
stranger  asked  the  lady  kindly  to  fetch  him  home  in  haste,  as 
he  had  an  important  message  for  him.  The  kind  hostess  did  so, 
and  Chief  Adegolu  came  home  immediately,  wondering  what  the 
message  could  be. 

"  Who  are  you  ?  Where  from  ?  And  what  is  your  message  ?  " 
\\eie  the  eager  questions  the  Bale  put  to  the  sti  anger.  "  I  want 
a  private  interview  "  was  the  reply.  Both  of  them  retired  to  a 
convenient  place,  and  the  Bale  was  startled,  and  was  scarcely 
himself  when  he  heard  from  this  humble  stranger  "  I  am  your 
namesake  Adegolu  the  AlAfin  of  Qyo."  It  was  with  some  difficulty 
he  could  restrain  the  Bale  from  doing  homage  there  and  then  with 
earth  on  his  head,  etc.  "  No,  no,"  said  the  King,  "  another  time 
will  do  for  that.  I  am  come  to  confer  with  you  upon  the  present 
crisis,  how  to  rid  the  throne  of  Oyo  of  the  great  usurper,  the  King 
maker  and  King  destroyer.  You  know  very  well,  that  in  all  the 
6,600  towns  and  villages  of  the  Yoruba  kingdom,  Gaha  and  his 
sons  have  the  dominant  rule." 

After  conference.  Chief  Adegolu  went  with  the  stranger  to  rhe 
powerful  Kakanfo  (Field  Marshal)  Oyabi  at  Ajase  ;  here  the  plot 
was  matared,  of  a  strong  and  secret  combination  against  the 
Basgrun  and  his  sons.  This  was  communicated  by  swift  posts 
to  all  the  principal  kings  and  chiefs  in  the  country,  and  it  was 
arranged  that  on  a  fixed  day,  they  should  all  rise  and  destroy  all 
Gahci's  children. 

The  arrangement  being  complete  King  Adegolu  returned  home 


as  he  came  out ;  and  next  morning  paid  his  respects  to  the 
Basorun  as  before. 

At  the  day  appointed,  the  whole  country  rose  up  against  Gahk's 
children,  and  butchered  them  to  pieces  ;  and  in  order  to  exter- 
minate the  seed  in  toto,  those  of  their  wives  who  were  enceinte 
were  ripped  open,  and  the  embryo  chopped  in  pieces  ! 

The  whole  army  of  the  country  headed  by  Oyabi,  and  Adegolu 
now  marched  for  Oyo  according  to  the  secret  arrangement,  and  the 
Oyo  chiefs  with  the  AlAfin  opened  the  gates  to  them. 

Gahk's  people  single-handed  were  preparing  to  resist,  but  it 
was  evident  that  his  time  was  come  and  nothing  could  stop  the 
inevitable  and  fatal  end.  Gahk  summoned  his  relatives  together, 
and  handed  to  them  a  bundle  of  here  grass,  well  tied,  and  asked 
them  to  break  it ;  when  all  had  tried  and  failed,  he  had  it  loosed, 
handing  round  a  few  blades  to  each  ;  that  was  easily  crunched  ; 
then  said  he  to  them  "  Combined  we  shall  stand,  but  if  disunited 
we  shall  be  broken  to  pieces  like  the  blades  of  ber^  in  your  hands." 
But  his  brother  Olubii  who  might  have  offered  the  stoutest 
resistance,  had  been  won  over  by  the  Oyo  chiefs,  who  promised 
him  his  brother's  title  when  all  shall  have  been  over  ;  but  this 
turned  out  to  be  a  ruse,  devised  to  weaken  theBasorun's  resistance, 
for  Olubu  never  escaped  the  fate  of  all  Gahk's  people,  but  was 
butchered  in  the  general  massacre  of  the  great  man's  adherents 
and  relatives.  To  the  last,  Olaotan,  Gahi's  eldest  son,  stood  by  his 
father.  The  troops  from  the  country  poured  in  from  all  quarters 
and  were  joined  by  those  of  the  city,  all  equally  tired  of 
the  iron  rule  of  Gahk  and  of  the  enormities  being  perpetrated  by 
his  children.  His  palace  was  surrounded,  and  attempts  were 
made  to  beat  down  the  walls  thereof  ;  but  they  were  heroically 
defended  by  his  trusty  domestics,  and  the  few  faithful  adherents. 

Gahk  in  vain  tried  to  transform  himself  into  an  elephant  as 
of  yore.  He  ordered  four  mortars  to  be  placed  in  position  for  the 
fore  and  hind  legs,  and  two  pestles  for  the  tusks  ;  old  and  feeble 
and  lame,  he  could  not  even  help  himself  up  the  mortars,  and  when 
helped  to  them,  his  trembling  limbs  could  not  support  his  body 
weight :  his  incantations  proved  a  failure.  At  the  sight  of  this 
failure  Olaotan  groaned  with  disappointment  and  said,  "  Father, 
have  I  not  always  said  it  were  better  you  should  secure  a  charm 
for  ensuring  perpetual  youth  ?  It  was  because  I  was  strongly 
convinced  that  these  charms  will  be  of  Uttle  avail  to  you,  when  old 
age  has  set  in." 

From  the  walls  and  from  the  roofs  of  his  palace,  the  Basgrun's 
men  kept  the  army  of  the  Kakanfo  at  bay.  A  sharp  shooter  in 
particular  did  havoc  amongst  them  ;    but  a  certain  young  man. 


bold  and  astute,  observing  this,  ran  close  to  the  wall  at  some 
distance  from  the  spot  where  he  was,  and  walked  along  so  close 
under  it  right  on  to  the  spot,  that  he  was  not  seen  from  above  or 
within,  and  as  soon  as  the  marksman  put  his  head  out  again  for 
another  shot,  he  grasped  and  dragged  him  down,  and  immediately 
the  men  rushed  forward  and  beat  down  the  wall.  The  house  was 
immediately  fired,  and  all  the  domestics  found  within  were  put 
to  the  sword.  The  Basorun  and  Gbagi  a  faithful  and  favourite 
Ilari  were  taken  aUve  and  brought  before  the  King.  He  was 
soon  on  his  chair  of  state  with  all  insignia  of  royalty  in  full  display 
about  him,  and  the  fallen  minister  made  to  prostrate  at  a  distance 
before  him,  under  a  hot  burning  sun.  The  old  man  pleaded  for 
his  life,  and  even  asked  to  be  degraded  and  made  the  keeper  of 
His  Majesty's  poultry  yard,  but  it  was  felt  that  no  quarters  could 
be  granted  to  him  now.  Being  bulky  in  size,  the  ground  under  him 
where  he  lay  prostrate  under  the  mid-day  sun  became  saturated 
with  the  profuse  perspiration  oozing  from  him.  He  neither  deserved 
nor- received  pity  of  any  one.  There  were  great  rejoicings  in  the 
city  and  in  the  King's  palace,  and  especially  among  the  King's 

So  great  were  the  indignities  and  contempt  this  fallen  minister 
was  subjected  to,  that  even  children  could  approach  him  now 
and  pull  at  a  pedunculated  tumour  in  his  forehead,  hanging  down 
his  face,  which  the  fear  and  dread  of  him  did  not  allow  people  to 
notice  before,  for  who  could  approach  so  near  as  to  gaze  on  him  ? 
But  the  fate  awaiting  him  was  of  greater  concern  to  him  now,  than 
to  take  notice  of  these  trifling  jests. 

By  the  order  of  the  AlAfin,  the  posts  of  his  house  and  everything 
that  could  be  used  as  firewood,  which  had  escaped  the  burning, 
were  brought  together  and  piled  as  a  stake  ;  pots  of  palm  oil, 
nut  oil,  and  shea  butter  were  poured  on  it,  and  set  ahght  ;  he  was 
then  approached  by  a  menial  saying  in  mockery  "  Master,  the  fire 
is  alight,  will  you  not  warm  yourself  a  bit  in  such  a  weather  as 
this  ?  "  Then  he  was  lifted  up  to  the  top  of  the  stake  and  made 
secure,  together  with  Gbagi,  his  faithful  Ilari. 

His  fate  has  been  a  lesson  to  all  usurpers  and  abusers  of  power. 
It  has  passed  into  a  proverb  "  Bi  o  I'aiya  Osika,  bi  o  ri  iku  Gahk, 
0  yio  so  otitg.  If  you  have  the  heart  of  a  cruel  man,  take  note  of 
Gaha's  death  and  be  true." 

A  one  day  bebe  i.e.  a  public  holiday  with  the  freedom  of  a 
Bebe  (vide  p.  163)  was  proclaimed,  after  which  Qyabi  the  Kakanfo 
returned  home  with  the  thanks  and  good  wishes  of  the  King  and 

Abiodun  now  commenced  the  work  of  reformation  beginning 


from  the  capital.  In  order  to  make  himself  secure  on  the  throne, 
he  suppressed  or  executed  all  those  known  or  suspected  to  have 
been  Gahk's  friends  secretly,  and  who  might  raise  an  insurrection 
against  him,  for  Gaha  was  not  without  friends  even  among  the 
chiefs,  such  as  the  Esiele,  the  Sakin,  and  the  Sahadow^. 

From  this  time  commenced  that  period  of  peace  and  prosperity 
for  which  King  Abiod UN's  reign  was  famous.  Tributes  poured  into 
Oyo  from  the  remote  states  and  from  Dahomey,  agriculture  and 
commerce  flourished,  and  the  people  to  the  remotest  part  of  the 
kingdom  were  so  far  happy  and  contented. 

The  Kakanfo  Qyabi  did  not  live  long  to  enjoy  the  peace  he  was 
so  instrumental  in  effecting  ;  two  years  later,  the  AlAfin  invited 
him  to  Oyo  in  order  to  bestow  on  him  special  honours,  and  marks 
of  favour  in  recognition  of  his  services  to  King  and  country,  but 
unfortunately,  his  health  was  in  a  precarious  condition,  and  in 
obeying  the  commands  of  his  sovereign,  he  died  on  his  way  to 

§  6.  Abiodun's    Peaceful    Reign 

King  Abiod  UN  had  a  long  and  prosperous  reign.  He  was 
said  to  have  been  the  father  of  660  children  !  The  firstborn 
Agunpopo  was  said  to  have  been  the  issue  of  an  ilUcit  intercourse 
with  one  of  his  father's  wives,  during  the  father's  lifetime :  hence 
the  Oyo  citizens  refused  to  have  him  as  the  Argmg  (Crown  Prince). 
Ige  Gbengberu  his  legitimate  firstborn  was  accepted  for  that  title, 
but  he  \yas  of  a  delicate  constitution,  and  died  prematurely  ;  the 
office  of  Aremo  now  devolved  upon  the  next  prince  Adesina. 

Wlien  Abiod  UN  was  fully  established  on  the  throne  he  found  out 
that  a  Mohammedan  had  hidden  one  of  Gahk's  childien  for  about 
40  years^  !  The  King  not  only  graciously  spared  the  young  man, 
but  also  amply  rewarded  his  preserver  for  his  generous  act,  and 
confirmed  his  goodwill  by  giving  one  of  his  daughters  to  the 
Moslem  for  wife  ;  "  for  surely,"  said  the  King,  "  you  would  have 
done  the  same  for  myself  also." 

Towards  the  latter  part  of  the  King's  reign,  certain  of  the 
Popo  tribes  had  a  quarrel  among  themselves,  and  two  of  their 
kings  came  to  Oyo  with  a  large  retinue  of  about  4,000  people 
for  an  appeal.  They  were  detained  for  3  years  without  their 
case  being  heard,  and  in  the  end  they  were  informed  that  they 
were  no  more  to  return  to  their  own  country,  but  kept  as  the 

^  The  Yorubas  always  exaggerate  their  time  period  by  a  bad 
method  of  calculation.  If,  for  instance,  a  child  is  born  5  days 
before  the  new  moon  appears,  he  is  then  2  months  old,  and  at  the 
next  new  moon  he  is  3  months,  when  in  reaUty  he  is  only  a  month 
and  some  days.    So  also  is  the  calculation  for  years. 


King's  body  guard  under  the  command  of  his  son  Agunpopo 
whom  the  Oyo  citizens  insisted  upon  reckoning  among  his 
brotherstheOlusami,  Atingisi.andlyajinforthereasonstated  above. 

One  act  of  revenge  marred  this  distinguished  sovereign's 
reputation.  Long  before  his  accession,  he  was  a  trader  in  potash. 
He  once  had  a  quarrel  at  Ijaye  with  the  Bale's  son  but  the  Bale, 
out  of  deference  to  his  high  birth  interposed  and  sharply  repri- 
manded his  son.  Upon  his  accession  he  avenged  the  alleged  insult  by 
ordering  the  destruction  of  the  town.  Ijaye  was  then  an  Egba  town. 

This  fact  is  noted  because  this  was  the  first  time  Ijaye  was  taken, 
a  town  which  was  destined  hereafter  to  play  a  notable  part  in 
Yoruba  history.  His  other  wars  were  against  the  Popos  every 
other  year.     They  were  completely  subdued. 

The  Crown  Prince  Adesina  turned  out  to  be  a  very  vain  and 
extravagant  young  man,  weak  in  character,  yielding  to  flattery. 
E.g.,  it  was  said  that  some  of  his  followers  used  to  say  to  him 
"  Prince,  you  can  give  me  lo  heads  of  cowries  now  (equivalent 
to  ;£io  in  those  days),  if  only  you  wish  ;  why,  you  have  only  to 
say  the  word  and  it  would  be  done  ;  come  now,  why  be  reluctant 
about  it  ?  It  is  only  to  speak,  etc."  The  Prince  would  yield,  and 
order  the  money  to  be  given. 

King  Abiodun  attained  to  a  good  old  age,  full  of  honours,  having 
subdued  all  his  enemies.  The  Aremo  had  hoped  to  succeed  his 
father.  Not  satisfied  with  the  high  honour  and  unrestricted 
liberty  he  was  enjoying,  he  was  too  eager  to  occupy  the  throne, 
and  so  he  hastened  his  father's  death  by  poison. 

The  end  of  this  reign  marked  an  important  epoch  in  Yoruba 
history.  With  the  death  of  Abiodun  ended  the  universal  and 
despotic  rule  of  the  Alafins  of  Oyo  in  the  Yoruba  country.  He  was 
the  last  of  the  Kings  that  held  the  different  parts  of  the  Kingdom 
together  in  one  universal  sway  and  with  him  ended  the  tranquility 
and  prosperity  of  the  Yoruba  country.  The  revolution  ensued, 
and  the  tribal  independence,  with  the  loss  to  Yoruba  of  the  Tapa 
and  Bariba,  and  Dahomey  provinces,  and  the  Popos  later  on, 
which  has  continued  to  our  own  day.  In  a  word,  with  Abiodun 
ended  the  unity  of  the  Yoruba  kingdom. 

Kangidi  succeeded  Gahk  as  the  Basorun  of  this  reign. 

In  which  revolutionary  wars  devastated  the  whole  of  Yoruba- 
land,  ending  in  the  Fulani  usurpation  and  tribal  independence. 
It  embraced  a  period  of  the  reigns  of  five  Kings,  from  the 
accession  of  Aole  to  the  death  of  Oluewu,  the  last  of  the  Kings, 
who  reigned  at  the  ancient  Oyo. 

Chapter  VI. 


None  of  Abiodun's  numerous  children  succeeded  him  on  the  throne. 
Aol^,  a  tall  and  handsome .  Prince,  a  cousin  of  the  late  King  was 
elected  in  his  stead.  But  unfortunately,  his  reign  was  a  very 
unhappy  one  ;  it  marked  the  commencement  of  the  decline  of 
the  nation  until  it  terminated  in  the  tragic,  end  of  the  fifth 
King  after  him.  The  cup  of  iniquity  of  the  nation  was  full ; 
cruelty,  usurpation,  and  treachery  were  rife,  especially  in  the 
capital  ;  and  the  provinces  were  groaning  under  the  yoke  of 
oppression.  Confiscation  and  slavery  for  the  slightest  offence 
became  matters  of  daily  occurrence,  and  the  tyranny,  exactions, 
and  lawlessness  of  the  Princes  and  other  members  of  the  royal 
family,  were  simply  insupportable.  Oaths  were  no  more  taken 
in  the  name  of  the  gods,  who  were  now  considered  too  lenient 
and  indifferent  ;  but  rather  in  the  name  of  the  King  who  was 
more  dreaded.  "  Idk  Oba  ni  yio  je  mi  "  (may  the  King's  sword 
destroy  me)  was  the  new  form  of  oath  !  Aole  was  unfoitunately 
saddled  with  the  ill  fate  of  the  nation,  as  the  following  ditty 
commonly  sung  would  show  : — 

"  Laiye  Abiodun  I'afi  igba  won  'wo 
Laiye  Aol^  I'adi  adikal^." 

(In  Abiodun's  reign  money  we  weighed  by  bushels.  [Lit.  with 
calabashes.]     In  Aole's  reign,  we  packed  up  to  flee). 

But  there  was  nothing  more  in  his  actions  than  in  those  of  his 
predecessors  to  warrant  this  saying,  on  the  contrary,  he  was 
probably  too  weak  and  mild  for  the  times.  The  nation  was  ripe 
for  judgment,  and  the  impending  wrath  of  God  was  about  to  fall 
upon  it  ;   hence  trouble  from  every  quarter,  one  after  another. 

On  the  King's  accession,  according  to  custom  when  the  time 
came  for  him  to  send  out  his  first  expedition,  he  was  asked  who 
was  his  enemy,  that  they  should  fight  him.  He  named  the  Bale 
of  Apomu,  and  hence  Apomu  was  doomed. 

The  alleged  cause  of  offence  will  clearly  show  how  much  of 
corruption  there  was  at  the  fountain  head  in  those  days. 

Apomu  was  the  market  town  where  Oygs,  Ifes,  Owus,  and 
Ijgbus  met  for  trade.     It  was  situated  in  Ife  territory,  and  m  the 

1 88 


border  of  the  Olowu's  dominion.  Raiding  and  man-stealing  were 
rife  at  those  times.  Oyos  particularly  were  in  greater  danger, 
as  they  came  from  afar.  During  the  last  reign  several  Oyos  were 
stolen  and  sold  here,  and  hence  King  Abiqdun  sent  orders  to  both 
the  Olowu  and  the  Owoni  of  Ife  to  keep  a  strict  watch  and  prevent 
the  recurrence  of  these  practices.  The  Owoni  and  the  Olowu  in 
turn  sent  strict  orders  to  the  Bale  of  Apomu  to  be  on  the  watch, 
and  arrest  any  offender. 

Aole  who  was  then  a  private  man  used  to  trade  in  these  parts 
with  a  friend  who  was  also  his  attendant  ;  and  on  one  occasion, 
he  bartered  away  his  friend  for  merchandise  !  So  faithless  and 
heartless  were  the  princes  in  those  days.  The  Ijebus  were  actually 
taking  him  away  when  it  was  reported  to  the  Bale  of  Apomu  that 
an  Oyg  man  was  being  sold  away.  Fortunately  for  the  man 
by  the  prompt  action  of  the  Bale  he  was  rescued  at  a  certain  spot 
named  Apata  Odaju  (the  rock  of  the  heartless),  perhaps  so  named 
from  this  circumstance,  and  brought  before  the  Bale.  Investig- 
ation soon  showed  who  the  slave-dealer  was  ;  but  as  Aol^  was  an 
Akeyo  (Prince)  and  could  not  more  severely  be  dealt  with,  in 
order  that  justice  may  not  miscarry,  he  was  ordered  by  the 
Bale  to  be  severely  flogged.  This  was  the  reason  why  Aole  now 
named  the  Bale  of  Apomu  as  his  enemy. 

When  the  Bale  of  Apomu  heard  that  war  was  declared  against 
his  town  on  his  account  he  took  refuge  in  the  court  of  the  Ow5ni 
of  Ife  his  over-lord,  and  whose  orders  he  had  obeyed.  But  as 
the  offence  was  against  the  Suzerain,  even  the  Ow6ni  could  not 
save  him  ;  so  this  faithful  chief,  in  order  to  save  his  town  and  his 
people  from  destruction,  committed  suicide,  and  his  head  was  cut 
off  and  sent  to  Oyo  to  appease  the  offended  monarch  ! 

But  an  expedition  must  in  any  case  be  sent  out,  the  King  was, 
therefore,  approached  again  and  asked  to  name  his  enemy.  But 
he  replied,  "  My  enemy  is  too  formidable  for  me."  Being  pressed, 
he  named  the  powerful  chief  Afonja  the  Kakanfo  residing  at  Ilorin 
with  great  reluctance,  as  he  foresaw  evil  ahead. 

§  2.  The    King's   Enemies 

After  the  death  of  the  Kakanfo  Oyabi,  Afonja  of  Ilorin  demanded 
the  title  ;  but  as  a  Prince  (through  the  mother)  the  title  was  below 
his  rank,  for  the  Kakanfo  ranks  after  the  Basorun,  but  being  the 
highest  mihtary  title,  it  suited  his  restless  nature  best,  and  so  he 
obtained  it,  almost  by  force. 

But  King  Aole  was  unwilhng  to  initiate  any  civil  war,  and 
refused  to  take  any  action  against  Afonja  after  he  had  granted 
him  the  title. 


Hitherto,  Afgnja  alone  was  his  enemy,  the  other  chiefs  were 
as  yet  loyal  to  him,  but  circumstances  occurred,  one  after  the  other 
which  created  a  disaffection  between  him  and  theBasorun  and  the 
other  chiefs,  fanning  into  a  flame  the  destructive  fire  already 
smouldering   in   its   embers. 

The  cause  of  quarrel  between  the  King  and  Asamu  theBasorun 
was  this  : — 

One  Alaja-eta  a  Hausa  trader  at  Oyo  was  plundered  of  his 
goods,  under  the  pretext  that  he  was  bringing  bad  charms  into 
the  city.  Among  his  confiscated  goods  was  his  Koran  which  he 
prized  more  than  all  his  other  stolen  property.  He  appealed  to 
the  King,  and  he,  from  a  sense  of  justice  ordered  that  all  his  goods 
be  restored  to  him.  All  but  the  Koran  were  accordingly  restored. 
The  Hausa  again  appealed  to  the  King  for  this  his  most  valued 
treasure  ;  the  King  insisted  that  search  should  be  made  and  the 
lost  Koran  be  restored. 

The  Basorun  in  whose  possession  it  probably  was,  or  who 
at  any  rate  knew  where  it  could  be  found,  refused  to  restore  it 
and  told  the  King  it  could  not  be  found  !  His  Majesty  felt  this 
keenly  as  an  insult  to  his  dignity  ;  he  was  heard  to  say  "  Is  it 
come  to  this  that  my  commands  cannot  be  obeyed  in  my  own 
capital  ?  Must  it  be  said  that  I  failed  to  redress  the  grievance 
of  a  stranger  in  my  town  ?  That  he  appealed  to  me  in  vain  ?  " 
Turning  to  the  Basorun  and  pointing  upwards  he  said,  "  Very 
well  then,  if  you  cannot  find  it  my  father  (meaning  the  deified 
Sango)  will  find  the  Koran  for  me." 

As  the  god  Sango  is  reputed  to  take  vengeance  on  thieves  and 
liars  by  burning  their  houses,  so  the  next  day,  when  lightning 
struck  the  Basgrun's  house,  great  was  his  rage  against  the  King 
for  being  instrumental  in  convicting  him  of  theft  and  lying  ! 

The  ceremony  of  appeasing  the  god  by  the  devotees,  entailed 
heavy  expenses  on  the  Basgrun  who,  had  it  been  another  man's 
house  might  have  gone  shares  with  the  Alafin  in  the  fines  imposed 
upon  the  sufferers.  He  knew  where  the  trouble  came  from,  for 
he  noted  the  King's  words  "  My  father  will  find  it  for  me."  In 
this  way  be  became  the  King's  enemy. 

Another  circumstance  occurred  which  added  the  Ow6ta  one  of 
the  5sgs  to  the  list  of  the  King's  enemies. 

One  Jankalawa  who  had  offended  the  late  King  and  who  had 
escaped  to  the  Bariba  country  when  he  sought  to  kill  him,  now 
returned  after  the  King's  death  and  was  flaunting  about  the  streets 
of  OYg  under  the  protection  of  Lafianu  the  Owota.  The  late 
King's  wives  were  angry  at  this  and  complained  to  Aole  against 
Jankalawa.    Said  they  "  You  have  inherited  our  late  husband's 


wives,  his  treasures,  slaves  and  his  throne.  Why  nut  make 
his  cause  your  cause  and  his  enemies  yours  as  well  ?  Why  do  you 
allow  this  Jankalawa  to  stalk  so  defiantly  about  the  streets  of 

By  thus  appealing  to  him  from  day  to  day,  he  yielded  to  their 
entreaties  and  remonstrances,  and  ordered  the  arrest  and  subse- 
quent execution  of  Jankalawa. 

The  Owota's  pride  was  wounded,  because  he  was  not  respected 
by  the  King,  in  that  one  known  to  be  under  his  protection  should 
be  so  summarily  dealt  with.  Thus  the  Bagorun  and  the  Kakanfo 
found  an  accomplice  in  the  powerful  Owota.  A  conspiracy  was 
formed  but  not  being  ripe  for  execution,  they  awaited  a 
favourable  opportunity. 

At  length  the  time  arrived  when  an  expedition  must  be  sent 
out,  and  the  King  was  again  asked  "Who  is  your  Majest3''s  enemy?" 
He  replied,  "  I  have  told  you  that  my  enemy  is  too  formidable 
for  me,  and  besides  we  are  the  same  kith  and  kin."  However,  he 
advised  that  as  the  last  campaign  ended  at  Gbeji,  the  war  should 
be  prosecuted  from  that  place. 

But  in  order  to  gain  their  object  in  view,  viz.,  the  removal 
of  the  Kakanfo,  the  King's  counsellors  advised  that  the  Kakanfo 
and  the  army  should  be  sent  against  Iwere,  a  place  fortified  by 
nature  and  by  art,  and  impregnable  to  the  simple  weapons  of 
those  days,  and  as  the  Kakanfo  by  the  oaths  of  his  office  must 
either  conquer  within  three  months  or  die,  and  Iwere  is  impreg- 
nable, he  will  have  no  other  alternative,  but  as  in  honour 
bound  to  make  away  with  himself. 

It  was,  however,  arranged  that  he  should  not  be  foiewamed, 
but  decoyed  as  it  were  to  that  place  until  he  found  himself  at  the 
foot  of  the  hill  on  which  Iwere  was  built  ;  hence  it  was  given  out 
that  war  was  declared  against  Gbeji. 

But  the  royal  party  leading  the  army  received  private  instruc- 
tions to  lead  the  army  to  Iwere  and  when  there  to  inform  the 
Kakanfo  that  that  was  the  place  he  was  sent  against. 

But  private  intelligence  had  reached  the  Kakanfo  at  Ilorin, 
of  all  the  plots  and  intrigues  going  on  in  the  capital.  However, 
he  with  his  accomphces  in  the  city  deferred  the  execution  of  their 
design  till  after  their  arrival  at  the  seat  of  war. 

The  army  at  length  stood  before  Iwere  and  the  Royal  party, 
consisting  of  the  King's  brother,  the  Eunuchs,  and  the  principal 
slaves,  and  their  men,  pointing  to  it  said  "  This  is  the  town  to  be 
taken  by  the  order  of  the  AlAfin." 

The  time  was  now  come  for  the  mutiny  to  break  out.  The 
Basorun  and  the  Owota  at  the  head  of  the  troops  from  the  city, 


the  Onikoyi  and  the  Kakanfo  leading  those  from  the  provinces 
now  alleged  as  a  pretext  for  the  mutiny  that  "  If  the  King  had  not 
aimed  at  our  destruction,  he  would  not  have  ordered  us  to  this 
impregnable  town.  And  besides,  is  not  this  the  maternal  town  of 
King  AjAGBO  ?  Are  there  not  Kobis  in  the  Queen  Mother's  palace 
there  ?  " 

The  watchword  was  now  given  "  O  Ya  "  (now  is  the  time)  and 
so  the  whole  army  turned  their  swords  upon  the  royal  party  and 
massacred  them  !  Chief  Qpele  of  Gbogun  in  particular  was  famous 
as  a  swordsman  ;  he  made  himself  notorious  on  that  occasion, 
and  took  to  himself  a  name  "  A  ri  agada  pa  aburo  Oba  "  (one  who 
has  a  blade  for  slaying  the  King's  brother). 

The  siege  was  immediately  raised,  and  the  whole  army  stood 
before  the  city  for  forty  and  two  days.  The  King  sent  word  to 
say  if  they  have  returned  from  the  expedition,  whether  successful 
or  unsuccessful,  let  them  come  in  for  an  interview.  The  insurgent 
chiefs  sent  word  back  to  say  that  the  royal  party  had  offended  them 
and  that  the  result  had  proved  unfortunate.  "  Very  well,"  Sciid 
the  King,  "  in  any  case,  come  in  for  an  interview."  Several  weeks 
passed,  and  they  were  still  encamped  before  Oyo  irresolute  as  to 
what  they  should  do  next.  At  last  an  empty  covered  calabash 
was  sent  to  the  King — for  his  head !  A  plain  indication  that  he 
was  rejected.  He  had  suspected  this  all  along  and  was  not  unpre- 
pared for  it.  There  being  no  alternative  His  Majesty  set  his  house 
in  order;  but  before  he  committed  suicide,  he  stepped  out  into  the 
palace  quadrangle  with  face  stern  and  resolute,  carrying  in  his  hands 
an  earthenware  dish  and  three  arrows.  He  shot  one  to  the  North, 
one  to  the  South,  and  one  to  the  West  uttering  those  ever-memor- 
able imprecations,  "  My  curse  be  on  ye  for  your  disloyalty  and 
disobedience,  so  let  your  children  disobey  you.  If  you  send  them 
on  an  errand,  let  them  never  return  to  bring  you  word  again. 
To  all  the  points  I  shot  my  arrows  will  ye  be  carried  as  slaves. 
My  curse  will  carry  you  to  the  sea  and  beyond  the  seas,  slaVes  will 
rule  over  you,  and  you  their  masters  will  become  slaves." 

With  this  he  raised  and  dashed  the  earthenware  dish  on  the 
ground  smashing  it  into  pieces,  saying  "  Igba  la  isg  a  ki  isg  awo, 
beheni  ki  org  mi  o  se  to  !  to  !  "  (a  broken  calabash  can  be  mended, 
but  not  a  broken  dish  ;  so  let  my  words  be — irrevocable  !) 

He  then  took  poison  and  died,  after  which  the  camp  was  broken 
up,  and  each  of  the  chiefs  repaired  to  his  own  place. 

Thus  ended  an  unhappy  reign  of  about  seven  years,  and  Prince 
Adebg  succeeded  him  on  the  throne. 

Asamu  Agba-o  lekan  was  the  Basgrun  of  this  reign. 

the  revolution  193 

§  3.  The  Rebellion  of  the  Oyo  Chiefs 

The  death  ot  the  late  King  was  all  that  the  rebel  chiefs  demanded, 
after  which,  the  army  entered  the  city,  pillaged  the  palace  and  then 
dispersed  each  to  his  own  place.  From  this  time  the  spirit  of 
rebelHon  and  independence  began  to  spread  throughout  the  king- 
dom. Adebo  was  placed  on  the  throne  with  the  nominal  title  of 
King,  but  without  the  authority  and  power  of  a  King.  It  was  his 
misfortune  to  have  come  to  the  throne  at  such  a  time,  and  he  held 
the  sceptre  for  only  130  days. 

Afonja  the  Kakanfo  of  Ilorin  and  Opele  the  Bale  of  Gbogun 
were  the  first  to  proclaim  their  independence,  other  chiefs  soon 
followed  their  examples.  This  was  the  commencement  of  the 
break-up  of  the  unity  of  the  Yoruba  kingdom,  and  the  beginning 
of  the  tribal  independence.  Tribute  was  no  longer  paid  to  the 
King.  The  King's  messengers  and  Ilaris  no  longer  carried  that 
dread  as  before,  nor  were  they  allowed  to  oppress  people  or  enrich 
themselves  with  their  goods  as  before. 

As  the  King's  authority  waned,  so  also  the  respect  and  deference 
hitherto  paid  to  the  citizens  of  the  capital  ceased  ;  they  were 
even  treated  disrespectfully  and  became  the  subjects  of  vulgar 
songs  all  over  the  country,  a  thing  unheard  of  before  !  Law  and 
order  were  subverted,  might  triumphed  over  right,  and  the 
powerful  chieftains  turned  their  arms  towards  subverting  town 
after  town  in  the  kingdom  in  order  to  increase  their  own  wealth 
and  power.  Chief  Opele  of  Gbogun  took  Dofian  and  Igbo-Owu; 
he  besieged  Gboho  but  fell  in  that  place,  being  shot  with  an  arrow 
by  the  brave  defenders. 

Opele  was  the  only  powerful  chief  Afonja  respected  and  having 
now  no  rival  he  resolved  upon  a  scheme  to  reduce  the  provinces 
under  his  own  sway,  leaving  the  capital  severely  alone  in  complete 
isolation.  He  made  no  attempt  on  Oyo,  had  no  aspiration  after 
the  throne  knowing  that  was  impossible  of  attainment  ;  it  was 
sufficient  tor  him  that  the  King  was  powerless  to  check  his  ambition. 
In  order  to  strengthen  his  hands  in  the  enterprise  he  was  about  to 
undertake,  he  invited  a  Fulah  Moslem  Priest  named  Alimi  to 
Ilorin  to  act  as  his  priest.  Alimi  in  responding  to  his  call  came 
with  his  Hausa  slaves  and  made  Ilorin  his  home.  These  Hausa 
slaves  Afonja  found  to  be  useful  as  soldiers.  He  also  invited  to 
Ilorin  a  rich  and  powerful  Yoruba  friend  at  Kurwo  named 
Solagberu,  who  quartered  himself  at  the  outskirts  of  the  town. 

All  the  Hausa  slaves  in  the  adjacent  towns  hitherto  employed 
as  barbers,  rope-makers,  and  cowherds,  now  deserted  their 
masters  and  flocked  to  Ilorin  under  the  standard  of  Afonja  the 
Kakanfo,  and  were  protected  against  their  masters. 


Under  Solagberu's  standard  also  flocked  Mohammedans  from 
Gbanda,  Kobayi,  Agoho,  Kuwo,  and  Kobe.  All  in  his  quarter 
being  Moslems,  he  named  that  part  of  the  town  Oke  S  una,  i.e., 
the  quarter  of  the  faithful.  They  held  themselves  separate  not 
only  from  the  pagans,  but  also  from  the  Fulahs  or  Fulanis  their 

From  this  time  beg?in  the  Jehad  or  religious  war  in  the  Yoruba 
country.  Those  who  were  enlisted  as  soldiers  called  themselves 
Jama  (a  Hausa  word  for  the  rank  and  file,  as  distinguished  from 
the  leaders).  The  mark  of  distinction  between  themselves  and 
others  was  the  Kende,  two  large  iron  rings  one  on  the  thumb, 
the  other  on  the  3rd  or  4th  finger  of  the  left  hand  ;  with  this  they 
welcome  each  other,  striking  the  rings  against  each  other  to  produce 
a  sound.  This  io  the  sign  of  brotherhood  ;  hence  they  often  say 
'■  O  re  kende  si  mi,  okan  na  ni  wa,"  (he  welcomed  me  with  the 
Kende,  we  both  are  one). 

The  operations  of  the  Jamas  were  directed  against  the  Igbdna 
tribe.  The  only  towns  of  Yoruba  proper  destroyed  were  amongst 
the  Ibolos  viz.,  Iresk,  Ejigbo,  and  Ilobu.  The  reason  why  these 
towns  were  destroyed  we  shall  notice  afterwards. 

§  4.  The  Rising  of  Ojo  Agunbambaru 

Ojo  surnamed  Agunbambaru  was  one  of  the  surviving  sons  of 
the  renowned  Basorun  Gahk.  He  had  escaped  to  the  Bariba 
country  at  the  general  massacre  of  Gahk's  children  and  relatives 
in  the  reign  of  King  Abigdun.  Hearing  of  the  present  state  of 
the  country,  he  thought  there  could  never  be  a  more  favourable 
opportunity  for  him  both  to  avenge  his  father's  death,  and  also 
to  obtain  his  title  without  opposition. 

He  returned  from  the  Bariba  country  with  an  immense  army, 
entered  Qyo,  and  under  the  pretext  of  espousing  the  King's  cause, 
he  put  to  death  indiscriminately  most  of  the  influential  citizens 
who  were  named  as  Afonja's  friends  and  allies.  The  Owota  was 
the  first  victim  of  his  ambition  and  revenge.  On  the  whole,  about 
100  chiefs  were  despatched,  who  were  either  his  father's  enemies, 
or  who  might  have  opposed  him -in  his  main  object. 

He  now  set  off  for  Ilgrin  to  measure  strength  with  Afgnja  the 
powerful  Kakanfo,  whose  father  was  one  of  those  who  swelled 
Oyabi's  army  for  the  overthrow  of  his  father  the  Basorun  Gahk, 
and  who  had  succeeded  the  same  Oyabi  in  his  title  as  Kakanfo, 
These  were  his  grievances  against  Afgnja  ;  but  besides  these, 
Afgnja  was  the  only  person  in  the  land  after  Op§le  of  Gbogun, 
who  might  have  opposed  him  in  his  designs. 

If  Ojo  had  acted  with  prudence,  he  might  have  succeeded  without 


the  slightest  doubt ;  but  his  indiscriminate  slaughter  of  the  Oyo 
chiefs  and  others  in  his  track,  and  his  threats  against  the  Onikoyi, 
tended  to  weaken  his  own  strength  on  the  outset.  Fire  and  the 
sword  marked  his  path  to  Ilorin,  and  so  great  was  the  dread  of  him, 
that  such  towns  as  Ogidi,  Ogele  and  others,  were  deserted  at  his 

Adegun  the  Onikoyi  being  one  of  Afonja's  secret  friends,  was  on 
his  hst  for  destruction  but  he  was  reserved  till  after  the  war.  Both 
were  kept  informed  of  all  Ojo's  movements,  policy,  and  designs 
by  the  Oyo  people  who  followed  him  trembhng,  not  really  as 
friends,  but  rather  as  traitors,  their  minds  having  been  prejudiced 
against  him,  on  account  of  his  excesses,  and  a  secret  combination 
was  formed  between  them  and  the  Onikoyi,  to  desert  Ojo  at  the 
most  ciitical  moment. 

Ojo's  army  was  further  swelled  by  recruits  from  all  the  Yoruba 
towns  who  feared  his  vengeance  should  victoiy  crown  his  efforts 
without  their  help  ;  and  even  the  Onikoyi  who  knew  himself  to 
be  a  marked  man,  declared  for  him  and  swelled  his  army. 

Afonja  met  this  large  army  a  great  way  off  but  he  was  defeated 
on  three  successive  engagements.  His  army  being  completely 
routed  he  fled  precipitately  to  Ilorin  to  fortify  the  town  against 
the  approach  of  the  conqueror.  Ilorin  had  not  been  walled,  and 
there  was  no  time  to  think  of  doing  so  now,  so  he  had  to  extemporise 
fortifications,  erecting  stockades  with  the  locust  and  shea-butter 

Ilorin  was  soon  besieged  and  was  nearly  taken,  as  Afgnja's 
courage  was  faiUng  from  repeated  reverses,  when  private  messages 
from  the  enemy's  camp  were  sent  to  encoiurage  him  to  hold  out 
a  Uttle  longer. 

At  last,  the  final  decisive  battle  was  to  be  fought,  Afonja  and 
his  army  were  hard  pressed  on  every  side,  being  shut  up  within 
their  forts,  and  the  town  was  on  the  point  of  being  taken  when 
Adegun  the  Onikoyi  and  his  accomplices  suddenly  gave  way, 
in  the  heat  of  the  battle,  and  the  great  conqueror  irretrievably 
lost  the  day  ! 

The  traitors  fled  away  in  confusion,  but  Ojo  and  his  trusty 
Bariba  troops  retreated  orderly  ;  the  Kakanfo  could  not  follow  up 
the  victory  by  pursuing  him  from  the  dread  he  had  of  the  Baribas, 
who  were  renowned  for  being  good  archers,  and  for  their  poisoned 
arrows.  Ojo  made  good  his  escape  with  the  remnant  of  his  army. 
Being  thus  deserted  by  those  whose  cause  he  professed  to  espouse, 
Agunbambaru  considered  himself  unsafe  among  them,  and  there- 
fore returned  to  the  Bariba  country  with  the  wreck  of  his  army 
watching  for  another  favourable  opportunity. 


After  the  fall  of  Opele  of  Gbogun,  King  Adebo  declared  war 
against  the  town  of  (Gbogun,  but  he  died  at  home  during  the 
progress  of  the  siege.  His  reign  was  short  and  specially  marked 
by  troubles.  The  people  now  longed  for  peace,  hence  their 
pathetic  songs  . — 

"  A  pete,  a  pero,  a  fi  Adebo  joba, 
Abiodun,  pada  wa  joba  o  !  " 

(With  deliberation,  and    thought  we  made  Adebg   King,   O 
Abiodun,  do  thou  return  to  reign  !) 
Asamu  was  also  the  Basorun  of  this  reign. 

§  5.  Maku 

Afonja  by  new  conquests  and  especially  by  his  recent  victory 
over  Ojo  became  mightier  still.  The  Igb6nas  having  already  been 
subjugated,  he  now  proceeded  to  punish  Iresa  for  being  in  league 
with  Ojo,  because  no  private  message  came  to  him  from  that  place 
during  the  war. 

Prince  Maku  ascended  the  throne  without  Afonja's  being  con- 
sulted, and  therefore  he  never  sent  any  congratulations,  nor 
repaired  to  Oyo  to  do  homage  as  usual.  A  deputation  was  therefore 
sent  to  inform  him  that  "  The  New  Moon  has  appeared,"  meaning 
a  new  King  has  ascended  the  throne  ;  and  he  sent  back  this 
arrogant  reply  "  Let  that  New  Moon  speedily  set." 

Maku's  reign  was  very  short,  not  exceeding  two  months  (or 
three  moons  as  Yorubas  reckoned  it). 

He  declared  war  against  Iworo,  and  took  the  field  in  person.  He 
suffered  a  defeat  and  retreated  to  I  wo  (in  the  Metropolitan  district). 
From  shame  he  did  not  return  to  Oyo  till  the  Oyo  Mesi  sent  word 
to  him  that  he  should  not  think  of  removing  the  seat  of  government 
to  I  wo,  or  else  why  did  he  remain  there  ?  His  Majesty  thereupon 
returned  to  the  capital,  and  then  he  was  poUtely  told  that  rio  Yoruba 
King  must  survive  a  defeat.     He  thereupon  committed  suicide. 

The  Bagorun  of  this  reign  was  the  same  Asamu. 

Chapter  VII 


§  I.  The  Spread  of  Anarchy  and  Fall  of  Afonja 

An  interregnum  folloNved  the  last  reign  but  for  how  long,  it  is 
not  known  ;  after  which  Majotu  was  placed  on  the  throne.  The 
whole  country  was  at  this  time  in  the  greatest  disorder,  wars  and 
rumours  of  war  being  the  order  of  the  day.  The  tocsin  of  war 
resounded  from  every  quarter,  and  the  new  King  found  himself 
incapable  of  coping  with  the  situation. 

The  Epos,  imitating  the  Kakanfo  at  Ilorin  organized  a  military 
band  which  they  called  Ogo  Were  (i.e.  the  Jackals)  at  the  head  of 
which  was  the  Aresa  but  with  what  object  in  view,  it  was  not 
known.  The  Kakanfo  received  the  news  with  mixed  feelings 
of  jealousy  and  suspicion  ;  he  sent  and  enquire.d  of  Toyeje  the 
Bale  of  Ogbomoso  his  Otun  i.e.  commander  of  his  right,  what  he 
understood  by  that  movement.  Toyeje  could  not  say.  War  was 
in  consequence  declared  against  the  Epcs,  and  several  towns  in 
that  province  were  taken,  only  Ogbahagbkha  and  Iwo  amongst 
the  principal  towns  escaped.  Ilobu  and  Ejigbo  amongst  the 
Ibglos  were  also  taken,  and  the  Ogo  Were  suppressed. 

Afonja  was  now  the  sole  power  in  the  kingdom  ;  the  King  and 
the  capital  were  left  to  manage  their  own  affairs  by  themselves. 

The  Jamas  were  increasing  in  number  and  in  rapacity,  to  the 
utter  distress  and  ruin  of  the  country.  When  there  was  no  war 
in  hand  they  usually  scattered  themselves  all  over  the  land  plunder- 
ing the  people  and  committing  outrages.  They  would  enter  any 
house,  make  it  their  headquarters,  from  which  they  would  pillage 
the  neighbourhood  and  surrounding  districts.  They  fed  upon  the 
cattle  of  the  house  and  led  the  rest  away  at  their  leisure  and 

Knowing  the  consequences  to  themselves  and  to  the  town  if 
they  were  to  attack  these  marauders,  the  country  folk  became 
rather  disinclined  to  rear  up  any  cattle  or  poultry  to  feed  these 
thieves  ;  every  one  helped  himself  and  family  to  whatever  remained 
of  their  livestock,  so  that  at  one  time  there  was  not  a  single  livestock 
to  be  found  in  country  towns. 

To  further  illustrate  the  gross  licences  of  these  Jamas,  slaves 
who  had  deserted  their  masters  often  returned  to  the  same  town, 
and  even  to  the  very  house  as  a  Jama,  making  their    former 



master's  house  their  headquarters  for  their  rapine  :  masters  who 
were  kind  to  them  formerly  were  now  repaid  by  protection  against 
the  rapacities  of  their  comrades  ;  unkind  ones  were  now  treated 
with  heartless  revenge.  These  fellows  were  not  regarded  now  as 
slaves  bat  as  the  Kakanfo's  servants. 

Thoughtful  men  were  now  apprehensive  of  the  evils  to  the  nation 
which  the  unrestrained  licences  of  these  Jamas  portended,  but  no 
one  was  bold  enough  to  remonstrate  with  the  Kakanfo,  or  even  to 
appeal  to  him  against  their  rapacities.  Fagbohun  the  chief  of 
Jabata  alone  had  the  courage  to  do  so  by  virtue  of  his  office  as 
the  commander  of  the  left  wing  of  the  Kakanfo's  arm}-,  and  he 
incurred  his  displeasure  for  his  boldness. 

In  order  to  get  Fagbohun  into  his  grasp,  Afonja  summoned 
all  the  provincial  Bales  to  him  at  Ilorin,  but  Fagbohun  having 
got  wind  of  his  intention  escaped  back  to  his  town. 

But  Afonja  perceived  his  error  when  it  was  too  late.  Haughty 
and  passionate,  his  very  egotism  was  the  cause  of  his  fall.  Fortune 
had  carried  him  to  such  a  high  pitch  of  glory,  he  thought  his  fall 
was  impossible  ;  besides,  he  had  unlimited  confidence  in  his 
Jamas,  and  was  not  aware  ot  their  growing  disaffection  and  dis- 
loyalty towards  himself.  He  thought  he  could  put  them  down 
whenever  he  liked,  and  was  sometimes  very  severe  with  any  act  of 
insubordination,  openly  threatening  them  with  suppression  and 
annihilation.  This  threat  only  served  to  increase  their  disaffection. 
Too  late,  he  saw  what  Fagbohun  had  warned  him  against.  He 
failed  completely  to  check  their  ambition,  rapine  and  lawlessness. 
His  threats  and  warnings  were  not  heeded.  Long  impunity  had 
increased  their  boldness. 

At  last,  the  Kakanfo  was  resolved  to  give  effect  to  his  threats 
and  to  disband  the  Jamas,  but  he  miscalculated  his  own  strength. 
By  the  death  of  his  brother  Agbonrin,  and  his  head  slave  Lasipa 
he  had  lost  his  mainstay  for  these  were  men  of  power.  He  had 
offended  all  the  powerful  chiefs  in  the  kingdom  including  his 
former  friend  and  ally  Solagberu  of  Oke  Suna,  and  his  priest 
AUmi  by  his  high-handedness,  lofty  airs  and  haughty  spirit. 

Fearing  lest  these  Jamas  should  attack  him  suddenly  if  he  were 
to  delay  their  destruction,  he  sent  a  private  message  to  the  Onikoyi 
and  other  powerful  chiefs  in  the  country  inviting  them  to  make 
their  appearance  in  Ilorin  suddenly,  and  to  assist  him  in 
annihilating  these  Jamas. 

But  the  secret  was  divulged  to  the  Jamas,  and  they,  losing 
no  time,  being  headed  by  Alimi  the  priest,  rose  up  against  him 
before  he  could  obtain  help  from  abroad.  Solagberu  being  a 
Yoruba,  professed  neutrality.     The  Kakanfo  was  closely  besieged 


in  his  quarters,  but  he  fought  with  his  characteristic  bravery. 
When  he  found  himself  overwhelmed  by  numbers,  he  despatched 
Bugare  his  head  slave  to  solicit  the  aid  of  Solagberu  ;  but  Solagberu 
treacherously  detained  him,  saying,  "  Your  Master  has  hitherto 
looked  down  upon  us  as  his  menials,  and  why  does  he  now  require 
our  aid  ?  "  This  treachery,  he  lived  to  regret.  The  great  Kakanfo 
was  disappointed  on  all  sides.  As  neither  Bugare  nor  Solagberu 
made  an  appearance,  he  could  not  hold  out  till  the  Onikoyi's 
arrival  ;  he  was  compelled  to  fight  within  the  walls  of  his  house  ; 
but  when  the  house  was  set  on  fire,  he  rushed  out  again  into  the 
streets  surrounded  by  his  faithful  few.  The  insurgents  surrounded 
them,  charged  again  and  again,  but  could  not  break  their  ranks, 
Afonja  himself  in  the  midst  of  them  was  fighting  most  desperately, 
surrounded  by  the  corpses  of  some  of  his  faithful  attendants. 
Seeing  the  day  was  lost,  some  of  his  followers  became  disheartened 
and  deserted  him.,  but  the  rest  chose  to  die  with  him.  He  fell 
indeed  like  a  hero.  So  covered  was  he  with  darts  that  his  body 
was  supported  in  an  erect  position  upon  the  shafts  of  spears  and 
arrows  showered  upon  him. 

So  much  dread  had  his  personality  inspired  that  these  treacher- 
ous Jamas  whom  he  had  so  often  led  to  victory  could  not  believe 
he  was  really  dead  ;  they  continued  to  shower  darts  upon  him 
long  after  he  had  ceased  fighting.  They  were  afraid  to  approach 
his  body  as  if  he  would  suddenly  spring  up  and  shake  himself  for 
the  conflict  afresh  ;  not  till  one  of  them,  bolder  than  the  rest 
cautiously  went  near  and  placed  an  arrow  in  his  hand  and  they 
saw  he  could  no  longer  grasp  it,  that  they  believed  he  was  really 
dead  !    His  corpse  was  taken  up  and  burnt  to  ashes. 

The  crafty  AUmi  his  treacherous  friend  took  his  helpless  children 
and  family  under  his  own  protection,  a  leging  that  it  was  a  mis- 
understanding that  led  to  the  civil  fight  between  himself  and  his 
old  friend,  in  which  the  latter  unhappily  lost  his  life.  His  house 
was  rebuilt,  and  the  remnant  of  his  people  were  permitted  to  occupy 
it,  but  the  government  of  the  town  passed  over  to  the  conqueror. 
His  family,  however,  are  highly  respected  at  Ilgrin  to  this  day. 
Thus  passed  away  one  who  will  always  be  remembered  in  the 
annals  of  the  Yoruba  country  as  the  leader  of  the  revolution  which 
ended  in  the  dismemberment  of  the  Yoruba  country. 

The  late  Afonja  was  a  native  of  Ilorin.  The  city  was  built  by 
his  great  grandfather,  Laderin,  whose  posterity  bore  rule  in  her  in 
succession  to  the  fourth  generation.  Laderin  the  founder,  was 
succeeded  by  Pasin,  his  son,  a  valiant  chiet  who  opposed  the 
renowned  Gaha  when  he  was  in  the  zenith  of  his  glory.  Fearing 
his  rising  power,  Gahk  drove  him  out  of  Ilorin  and  he  escaped  to 


Ol^.  He  sent  an  army  after  him  there  which  reduced  the  town  and 
Pasin  was  taken  and  slain.  Alagbin  the  son  of  Pasin  succeeded 
his  father,  and  in  turn  handed  the  government  to  his  vaUant  son 
Afonja  with  whom  the  rule  ended. 

Ilorin  is  sometimes  spoken  of  as  Afonja's  Ilorin.  This  is  because 
he  was  the  most  renowned  of  her  rulers,  and  not  only  so,  but 
also  because  it  was  he  who  made  it  into  the  large  city  it  now  is. 

There  were  several  towns  and  villages  around  at  no  very  great 
distance  from  Ilorin  e.g.  Kanla,  Oke  Suna,  Ganma,  Elehinjare, 
Idofian,  Oke  Oyi,  Ibare,  Igbon,  Iresa  etc.  Most  of  them  this 
restless  warrior  captured  one  by  one  and  resettled  them  around 
Ilorin  so  as  to  make  it  into  what  it  has  become.  The  able-bodied 
men  he  enrolled  among  his  soldiers,  and  several  women  and 
children  he  sold  into  slavery,  in  order  to  have  wherewith  to 
maintain  and  supply  arms  to  his  war  boys. 

He  was  not  actually  of  the  royal  family  although  often  reckoned 
as  such,  but  his  mother  was  said  to  have  been  a  home  born  slave 
of  the  palace,  and  he  was  brought  up  among  the  children  of  the 
royal  family,  hence  the  Ibamu  facial  mark  across  the  face  seen 
in  his  descendants  to  this  day. 

Ilorin  now  passed  into  the  hands  of  foreigners,  the  Fulanis 
who  had  been  invited  there  as  friends  and  allies.  These  being 
far  more  astute  than  the  Yorubas,  having  studied  their  weak 
points  and  observed  their  misrule,  planned  to  grasp  the  whole 
kingdom  into  their  own  hands  by  playing  one  chief  against  another 
and  weakening  the  whole.  Their  more  generous  treatment  of 
fallen  foes  and  artful  method  of  conciliating  a  power  they  could 
not  openly  crush,  marked  them  out  as  a  superior  people  in  the  art 
of  government. 

§  2.  The  First  Attempt  to  Recover  Ilorin  from  the  Fulanis 

The  Battle  of  Ogele 

The  tragic  end  of  Afonja  the  Kakanfo  by  the  hands  of  his 
Jamas  had  long  been  anticipated  by  thoughtful  men  who  depre- 
cated their  formation,  and  had  predicted  the  worst  for  the  nation 
when  slaves  became  masters. 

The  death  of  the  Kakanfo  struck  the  whole  nation  with  such 
awe  and  bewilderment  that  it  took  the  people  nearly  a  whole 
year  to  bring  them  to  their  right  mind.  Seeing  that  the  fate  of 
the  whole  nation  was  trembling  in  the  balance  as  it  were,  all  the 
people  united  to  avenge  the  death  of  Afonja,  while  in  the  meantime, 
the  crafty  Fulani  had  been  strengthening  himself  for  the  conflict. 
He  had  studied  the  Yorubas  and  knew  how  to  circumvent  them. 


Toyeje  the  Bale  of  Ogbomosg  and  commander  of  the  late 
Kakanfo's  right,  was  promoted  to  the  post  of  Kakanfo,  and  the 
whole  nation  was  united  under  his  standard  to  expel  the  Fulanis 
from  Ilorin.  They  encamped  at  a  place  called  Ogele,  where  they 
were  met  by  the  Fulani  horse  aided  by  the  powerful  Yoruba 
Moslem  Chief  Solagberu  of  Oke  Suna.  Another  fatal  mistake  of 

A  sanguinary  battle  was  fought  in  which  the  Fulanis  were 
victorious.  They  routed  the  Yorubas  and  followed  up  their 
victory,  which  resulted  in  the  desertion  or  destruction  of  a  great 
many  towns  in  the  Ibolo  province.  The  only  important  towns 
left  in  that  part  were  Ofa,  Igbona,  Ilemona,  Erin,  and  a  few  others. 

The  refugees  could  only  carry  away  such  of  their  personal 
effects  which  could  be  snatched  away  in  a  hasty  flight,  as  the 
Fulani  horse  kept  hovering  in  their  rear.  They  found  temporary 
refuge  in  any  walled  town  where  a  powerful  chief  happened  to  be, 
there,  it  may  be,  to  await  another  siege  by  the  conqueror. 

The  distress  caused  by  this  calamity  cannot  be  described. 
Aged  people  who  could  not  be  carried  away  were  left  to  perish. 
The  doleful  lamentations  of  parents  who  had  lost  their  children, 
and  of  thousands  of  widows  and  orphans  were  heartrending. 
Bereft  of  every  thing,  without  money,  or  anything  that  could 
be  converted  into  money  in  such  hasty  and  sudden  flight,  they  were 
reduced  to  abject  misery  and  poverty  among  strangers,  and  could 
only  support  life  by  doing  menial  work  by  procuring  firewood  or 
leaves  for  sale  and  such  like.  A  people  who  until  recently  lived 
in  what  for  them  was  affluence  and  plenty,  are  now  oppressed 
with  want  and  misery  brought  about  by  the  want  of  foresight,  and 
the  vaulting  ambition  of  their  rulers. 

§  3.  The  Second  Attempt  to  Expel  the  Fulanis  and  Recover 


The  Mugbamugba  War 

After  a  short  respite  the  Yorubas  again  rallied  and  resolving 
to  rid  the  country  of  these  hordes  of  marauders  the  Jamas,  made 
an  alliance  with  Monjia,  the  King  of  Rabbah,  that  he  may  help 
them  to  extirpate  the  pests.  The  war  took  place  somewhere 
between  March  and  April  at  the  time  when  the  locust  fruit  was 
ripe  for  harvest. 

The  country  was  already  devastated  by  the  late  wars,  many 
towns  were  left  desolate,  and  consequently  there  were  no  farms  for 
foraging.  What  food  there  was  in  the  Ilorin  farms  were  soon 
eaten  up,  and  both  the  besiegers  and  the  besieged  were  without 


provisions  and  had  to  live  on  the  locust  fruit  (igba) .  Hence  the  war 
was  termed  Mugbamugba. 

The  Yorubas  were  again  unsuccessful  in  this  expedition.  They 
had  not  yet  learnt  how  to  cope  with  cavalry  and  the  Fulanis  were 
expert  horsemen.  From  successive  defeats  the  Yorubas  lost  all 
courage,  and  victories  one  after  another  made  the  Ilorins  more 
confident,  so  that  in  the  open  fields  they  gained  easy  victories  over 
the  Yorubas  ;  and  when  they  were  protected  within  walled  towns 
they  reduced  them  by  long  sieges  and  famine. 

On  this  occasion,  the  Ilorins  attacked  the  alUes  to  advantage. 
They  hid  their  horses  in  the  rear  of  the  allied  armies  and  while 
a  party  of  horsemen  engaged  them  in  front  the  main  body  of  the 
cavalry  suddenly  bore  down  upon  them  from  the  rear  and  routed 
them.  Monjia  fled  precipitately  to  his  own  country,  leaving  the 
Yorubas  at  the  mercy  of  the  victors.  The  Ilorins  followed  up  their 
victory  and  swept  away  all  the  towns  in  the  direction  of  ^ia, 
Erin,  Igbona  etc.  The  Olofa  with  Asegbe  his  favourite  and  wise 
Ilari  escaped  to  Ikoyi. 

§  4.  The  Battle  of  Pamo 

Alimi  the  Moslem  priest,  who  was  at  the  head  of  the  foreigners 
at  Ilorin  died  after  the  last  war  and  was  succeeded  by  his  son 
Abudusalami,  who  became  the  first  King,  or  Emir,  of  Ilorin. 
Ilorin  now  passes  definitely  into  the  hands  of  the  Fulanis  as  rulers, 
and  affords  a  home  for  the  Gambaris  (Hausas)  from  whom  the 
Jamas  were  reciuited. 

The  late  Alimi  was  much  respected  at  Ilorin  from  his  arrival 
there  as  a  mere  priest.  At  fiist  he  had  no  intention  of  making 
Ilorin  his  home  much  less  to  embark  upon  a  career  of  conquest  ; 
and  indeed  when  Afonja  and  his  Jamas  commenced  their  excesses 
he  was  prepared  to  return  to  his  own  country  from  disgust,  but 
the  eldeis  of  the  Yorubas  prayed  him  to  stay  and  act  as  a  check  on 
Afonja  for  there  was  no  one  else  to  whom  he  would  defer  and  there 
was  no  telling  how  far  he  would  go  without  someone  to  put  the 
fear  of  God  into  him.  The  Kakanfo  and  the  people  of  Ilorin  pre- 
vailed upon  him  to  send  for  his  family  and  make  Ilorin  his  home. 

Alimi  was  a  pure  Fulani  by  birth  and  his  wife  also  a  Fulani 
lady.  They  lived  together  for  a  considerable  time  without  any 
issue.  The  wife  then  consulted  a  Moslem  priest  as  to  her  state  of 
childlessness,  and  she  was  told  to  give  out  of  her  abundance  to  a 
distinguished  Moslem  priest  a  slave  as  an  alms  to  the  glory  of 
of  God,  and  she  was  sure  to  have  children. 

Having  considered  this  matter  over,  she  came  to  the  conclusion 
within  herself  that  she  knew  of  no  distinguished  Moslem  priest 


greater  than  her  own  husband,  and  therefore  she  gave  to  her 
husband  one  of  her  maidens  as  "  an  alms  to  the  glory  of  God." 

This  maiden  as  Ahmi's  secondary  wife  became  the  mother  of 
Abudusalami  and  Shitta  his  two  eldest  sons.  The  Fulani  lady 
herself  subsequently  gave  birth  to  a  son  named  Sumonu,  who  was 
nick-named  Beribepo  (one  who  cuts  off  head  and  post).  Alimi 
afterwards  took  to  himself  a  third  wife  by  whom  he  also  had  a 
son,  and,  therefore  at  his  death  he  left  four  sons  to  inherit  his 
property.  As  will  be  seen  below  however,  no  advantage  in  the 
matter  of  government  accrued  to  the  son  of  the  real  wife  (who  was 
a  pure  white  Fulani)  above  those  of  the  slave  wife  who  were 
coloured.  Hence  in  the  third  generation,  the  chief  rulers  of  Ilorin 
have  become  black. 

The  power  of  the  Fulanis  was  now  very  great,  and  they  aimed 
at  nothing  short  of  the  subversion  of  the  whole  Yoruba  country, 
and  the  short  sighted  Yoruba  war-chiefs  were  playing  the  game  for 
them  by  their  mutual  jealousy  of  one  another.  One  expedition 
followed  after  another  and  the  result  was  the  devastation  and 
depopulation  of  the  country.  Far  seeing  men  had  predicted  all 
this,  if  the  various  Yoruba  families  did  not  unite  and  expel  the 
foreigners  ;  but  jealousy  and  rivalry  among  the  chiefs  prevented 
unity  of  purpose.  Allegiance  was  no  longer  paid  to  the  King,  not 
even  in  the  capital.  Intestine  wars  not  only  weakened  the  country, 
but  offered  it  an  easy  prey  to  the  common  enemy. 

Thus  Toyeje  the  Kakanfo  at  Ogbomosg  had  a  difference  with 
Adegun  the  Onikoyi  which  at  length  broke  out  into  an  open  war, 
each  of  them  being  now  independent,  and  neither  would  submit 
to  the  other.  The  Kakanfo  formed  an  alliance  with  the  Oluiwo 
of  Iwo,  the  Timi  of  Ede  and  Solagberu  of  Ilorin,  and  besieged 
the  Onikoyi  in  his  city  of  Ikoyi. 

Solagberu  had  his  own  personal  grievance  to  vent  because  the 
Onikoyi  did  not  do  homage  to  him  or  pay  him  tribute  ;  so  he  came 
with  all  the  Ilorin  forces  at  his  command.  Abudusalami  the 
Emir  alone  remained  at  home.  The  combined  forces  encamped 
at  a  place  called  Pamo.  The  conflict  was  very  fierce,  and  Ikoyi, 
hemmed  in  on  all  sides,  was  nearly  taken,  when  Asegbe  the  Olofa's 
Ilari,  who  was  then  with  his  master,  a  refugee  at  Ikoyi,  saved  the 
city  by  wise  and  judicious  measures.  He  told  his  master  and 
it  also  came  to  the  Onikoyi's  hearing  that  if  he  could  be  allowed 
to  use  his  wisdom  without  being  forbidden  or  thwarted,  he  could 
save  the  city.  The  besieged  who  were  prepared  to  agree  to  any 
terms  in  order  to  obtain  peace  accepted  the  offer,  although 
reluctantly,  as  Asegbe  kept  his  plans  to  himself. 

He  sent  a  private  messenger  to  Abudusalami  the  Emir  of  Ilgrin 


in  the  name  of  the  Onikoja,  that  he  was  besieged  in  his  city, 
for  the  sole  reason  that  he  declared  himself  for  the  Emir  of  Ilorin. 
The  Emir  again  questioned  the  messenger  "  Is  it  true  the  Onikoyi 
declared  for  me?  "  "  Quite  true,  your  Majesty,"  was  his  reply. 
"  Then  the  siege  must  be  raised,"  said  the  Emir. 

Orders  were  now  sent  to  recall  Solagberu  with  all  the  Ilorin 
forces,  but  he  refused  to  obey  orders.  Again  and  again  peremptory 
orders  were  sent,  with  the  same  result.  The  fifth  and  last  message 
was  to  the  Princes  and  other  chiefs,  to  the  effect  that  whoever 
would  prove  himself  loyal  should  return  home  at  once  by  the  order 
of  the  Emir.  The  Ilorin  army  now  left  the  camp,  leaving  Solagberu 
alone  behind  together  with  the  aUies. 

The  next  effort  of  the  Emir  of  Ilorin  was  to  raise  the  siege  at 
all  cost,  and  hence  he  sent  his  army  to  reinforce  Ikoyi.  These 
Ilorin  troops  entered  Ikoyi,  but  for  ten  days  did  nothing  but  help 
themselves  to  every  thing  they  could  lay  hands  on,  eating  and 
drinking  to  excess.  On  the  eleventh  day  they  asked  to  be 
conducted  to  the  scene  of  action.  Then  they  joined  battle,  and 
completely  routed  the  Kakanfo's  army.  Solagberu  fled  back  to 
his  quarters  at  Ilorin,  and  the  Yorubas  were  dispersed.  Solag- 
beru's  feelings  towards  Abudusalami,  can  better  be  imagined 
than  described.  The  men  of  note  who  fell  in  this  war  were, — 
The  Timi  of  Ede,  the  king  of  Erin,  the  Chief  Aina-Abutu-Sogun, 
and  Ay  ope. 

Although  Solagberu  was  allowed  to  remain  in  his  quarters,  yet 
the  disaffection  between  him  and  the  Emir  of  Ilorin  was  very 
great,  and  every  incident  served  but  to  heighten  it.  .  It  grew 
from  jealousy  and  illwill  to  opposition  and  resentment,  and  at 
length  into  a  civil  war.  The  Emir's  party  besieged  Oke  Sun  a, 
desperate  battles  were  fought,  but  the  besieged  held  out  for  a 
long  time  until  they  were  reduced  by  famine.  They  were  hard 
put  to  it  in  order  to  sustain  life,  living  on  frogs,  lizards,  barks 
of  trees,  etc.,  till  no  green  thing  could  be  found  at  Oke  Suna, 
Solagberu  had  cause  to  remember  with  regret  his  tieachery  towards 
his  friend  Afonja,  in  his  hour  of  need,  at  the  hands  of  these  very 
Jamas.     At  last,  Oke  Suna  was  reduced  and  Solagberu  slain. 

Abudusalami  the  Fulani  Emir  having  now  no  rival  in  any 
Yoruba  King  or  Chief,  the  Onikoyi  having  declared  for  him,  the 
Kakanfo's  army  shattered,  and  Solagberu  slain,  resolved  upon 
subverting  the  whole  kingdom,  and  making  himself  the  King  of 
the  Yoruba  country.  The  remaining  Yoruba  towns  spared  were 
placed  under  tribute.  He  was  aided  in  his  enterprise  by  the 
Jamas  whose  tyrannies  and  oppression  greatly  exceeded  those 
which  they  practised  in  the  days  of  Afonja,  which  were  so  galling 


to  the  Yorubas  :  formerly  it  was  only  the  livestock  that  were  freely 
taken  away,  but  now,  they  entered  houses  and  led  away  women 
and  young  persons  at  their  pleasure.  It  was  Hterally  enslaving 
the  people  ! 

To  such  a  wretched  and  miserable  condition  were  the  people 
reduced,  especially  in  the  provinces. 

Chapter  VIII 



§  I.  The  Owu  War 

The  kingdom  being  now  in  a  disorganized  condition  each  tribal 
unit  constituted  itself  an  independent  state.  The  Ifes  in  the  east, 
and  the  Ijebus  in  the  south  formed  an  alliance  against  the  Owns 
to  the  south-west  of  the  former  and  north  west  of  the  latter. 

The  Owns  (although  now  domiciled  with  the  Egbas)  are  a  family 
quite  distinct  from.  Egbas  or  Oyos.  Hardihood,  stubbornness, 
immorality,  and  haughtiness  are  marked  traits  in  their  character, 
so  much  so  that  it  has  passed  into  a  proverb  "  A  bi  omg  I'Owu, 
o  ni  ako  tabi  abo  ni,  ewo  ni  jdo  se  omg  nibe  ?  "  (a  child  is  born  at 
Owu,  and  you  ask  male  or  female :  which  will  be  a  proper  child  ?) 
Either  sex  when  roused  by  passion  would  sooner  die  than  not  take 
dire  revenge.  Their  manners  were  totally  different  from  those  of 
the  Oyos,  but  from  the  days  of  Sango  they  have  been  very  loyal 
to  the  AlAfin  of  Oyo. 

As  warriors,  the  Owus  were  hardy,  brave,  and  courageous, 
they  had  no  guns,  their  weapons  consisting  of  the  Agedengbe 
(a  long  heavy  cutlass)  with  bows  and  arrows.  Coming  to  close 
quarters  with  cutlass  in  hand  was  the  mode  of  fighting  characteristic 
of  these  brave  people. 

The  cause  of  the  war  between  these  three  families  was  this  : — 
We  have  already  stated  above  that  during  the  reign  of  King 
Abiodun,  express  orders  were  sent  from  Oyo  to  the  Ow6ni  of  If§, 
and  the  Olowu  to  prevent  Oyos  being  kidnapped  and  sold  at 
Apomu,  the  great  market  town  where  the  interior  and  the  coast 
people  met  for  trade.  Now,  since  the  commencement  of  the 
revolution,  and  the  disorganized  state  of  the  kingdom,  the  practice 
was  revived.  The  rebellion  has  rendered  the  Central  Authority 
powerless,  but  there  were  still  some  men  of  considerable  power  and 
influence  in  the  land,  such  as  Adegun  the  Onikoyi  who  was  the 
premier  provincial  king,  Toyejg  theBal§  of  Ogbomoso  the  Kakanfo, 
and  Edun  of  Gbogun. 

A  message  similar  to  that  sent  by  King  Abiodun  was  now  sent 
by  the  Onikoyi  and  the  Kakanfo  conjointly  to  the  Olowu,  and  he 
in  carrying  out  his  orders  had  to  chastise  several  towns  ;   hence 



Ikoyi  Igbo,  Apomu,  Ikire,  Irkn,  He  Olup^mi,  Itahakun,  Iseyin 
Od6,  Iw^ta,  Akinboto,  Gbkngan,  Isope,  Iwar6,  and  Jagun,  were 
destroyed  by  war,  all  in  Ife  territory. 

The  Ow6m  of  Ife  was  highly  incensed  at  this  and  declared  war 
against  Owu.  The  command  of  the  war  was  entrusted  into  the 
hands  of  his  commander-in-chief  Singunsin.  Other  war-chiefs 
associated  with  him  were : — Okansk,  Gbogbo  Olu,  Wasin, 
Alodeloko,  etc.  Their  first  encampment  was  at  a  place  called 
Dariagbon  a  farm  village  of  one  01up6na,  next  at  Sifirin  at  the 
confluence  of  the  Osun  and  Ohk  rivers. 

The  Ifes  thought  they  would  make  an  easy  conquest  of  Owu 
for  they  themselves  are  a  brave  people,  and  hence  this  war  song 
in  their  peculiar  dialect : — 

E  maha  ja  (a)  gba,  Let  us  cut  ropes, 

Igbekun  la  mu  a  di  Our  captives  to  bind. 

If  a  Olowu  The  Olowu's  If  a  (god  of  palm  nut) 

£wa  la  mu  a  se  With  our  corn  we'll  cook. 

The  Owns  received  the  news  that  war  was  declared  against  them 
with  great  indignation.  They  considered  themselves  the  power 
in  these  southern  regions,  and  what  infatuation  has  led  the  Ifes 
to  this  presumption  ?  With  one  consent  they  immediately  marched 
out  to  meet  them  at  this  great  distance.  The  engagement  was  a 
hand  to  hand  fight  in  which  the  Ifes  were  completely  routed  ;  their 
army  was  all  but  totally  annihilated,  only  about  200  escaped  to 
tell  the  tale  of  their  dire  misfortune  ! 

The  King  of  Iwo,  in  whose  territory  this  disaster  took  place 
did  not  admit  the  survivors  into  his  town  for  fear  of  incurring  the 
displeasure  of  his  formidable  neighbours  the  Owus,  whom  he 
dreaded  ar;d  of  whom  he  was  jealous,  but  he  so  far  sympathized 
with  them  that  he  advised  that  they  should  not  undergo  the 
humiUation  of  returning  home,  and  he  allowed  them  to  rendezvous 
in  a  place  called  Adunbieiye  for  the  purpose  of  recruiting  their 
army  and  to  try  another  chance,  secretly  hoping  that  fortune  may 
favour  them  next  time,  and  being  ill  at  ease  with  such  a  formidable 
neighbour  as  the  Owus. 

This  small  army  remained  in  this  place  for  about  5  years, 
unable  to  return  home  from  shame,  and  yet  could  not  obtain 
re-inforcement  adequate  for  the  great  enterprise. 

Just  at  this  crisis  the  Owus  and  the  Ijebu  traders  had  a  serious 
complication  at  the  Apomu  market.  The  dispute  arose  from  the 
sale  of  alligator  pepper,  and  it  resulted  in  the  rash  expedition 
against  Apomu  by  the  haughty  Owus  ;  the  town  was  destroyed, 
and  many  Ijebu  traders  and  residents  lost  their  lives  or  their  all. 


The  king  of  Iwo  thereupon  advised  the  Ifes  to  form  an  alliance 
with  the  Ijebus,  who,  like  them,  have  now  a  grievance  against 
Owu.  When  this  was  done,  the  lies  at  home  were  now  wilUng 
to  re-inforce  their  wrecked  army  for  a  conjoint  attack  upon  Owu. 

The  Ijebus  now  declared  war  against  Owu,  and  crossing  the 
Osun  river,  encamped  at  the  farm  of  one  Oso. 

The  Ijebus  were  better  armed  than  either  their  allies  or  their 
foes,  and  indeed,  than  any  of  the  interior  tribes,  for,  being  nearest 
to  the  coast,  they  had  the  advantage  of  obtaining  guns  and  gun- 
powder from  Europeans  in  exchange  for  slaves.  They  were 
remarkable  marksmen.  The  older  men  with  their  cloths  tied 
round  their  waists,  and  the  ends  left  flowing  behind,  constituted 
the  regular  fighting  column  :  being  too  old  pr  too  heavy  to  run 
away,  they  were  obhged  to  be  courageous. 

The  Owns  were  mad  with  rage  at  the  receipt  of  the  news  that 
anyone,  such  as  the  Ijebus,  had  presumed  to  declare  war 
against  them  who  (as  they  considered  themselves)  were  the  first 
power  in  these  parts  (southern  Yoruba).  They  rushed  out  to 
check  the  progress  of  the  Ijebus  as  they  did  that  of  the  Ifes,  and 
attacked  them  furiously  cutlass  in  hand.  But  they  were  compelled 
to  fall  back  from  the  steady  fire  of  the  Ijebus  which  did  great 
havoc  amongst  them.  Summoning  courage,  the  Owns  offered 
another  obstinate  battle,  but  they  were  again  repulsed  with  a 
heavy  slaughter,  having  lost  in  the  first  and  second  engagements 
about  40  of  their  leaders.  This  was  the  first  check  to  their  pride. 
They  ralUed,  however,  and  retreated  to  a  short  distance,  and  then 
again  ventured  upon  another  attack,  the  Ijebus  advancing  as 
they  were  retreating  :  they  finally  met,  and  once  more  fortune 
was  against  the  Owus,  and  they  fled  precipitately  to  fortify  their 
city  against  the  expected  siege. 

The  Ijebus  with  their  allies  the  Ifes  encamped  to  the  west  of  the 
city  of  Owu,  under  a  large  tree  called  the  Ogilngun,  east  of  the 
town  of  Oje.  We  may  here  remark  that  although  the  Egba  towns 
of  Of  a  and  Oje  were  about  a  mile  and  two  miles  respectively  from 
Owu,  yet  so  bitter  was  the  animosity  between  them  that  not  only 
did  these  towns  refuse  their  aid  to  Owu,  but  rather  rejoiced  at 
its  misfortunes  ! 

The  Owus  fought  with  their  accustomed  bravery,  and  in  one 
furious  assault,  routed  the  aUies,  and  pursued  them  to  Oje,  Ofa, 
and  Ibadan.  The  first  two  places  were  deserted  in  the  general 
confusion  and  panic,  and  all  sought  refuge  at  Ibadan.  Here  the 
allies  received  reinforcements  from  the  Egbas,  and  from  the  Oyo 
refugees  from  the  north  whose  homes  had  been  devastated  by 
the  Fulanis  and  who  were  now  scattered  about  the  provinces 


homeless,  and  without  occupation.  Glad  to  find  some  occupation 
in  arms,  these  refugees  flocked  to  the  standard  of  the  allies  in 
numbers  ;  and  thus  strengthened,  the  war  was  renewed.  The  siege 
lasted  about  5  years  (usuaJly  reckoned  as  7).  The  city  was  obstin- 
ately defended  by  the  brave  inhabitants  from  the  walls,  and  from 
the  forts  built  on  the  walls  of  the  city.  One  Skkulk  was  an  expert 
sharp  shooter  who  was  never  known  to  miss  his  aim  ;  he  contri- 
buted much  to  the  defence  of  the  town.  But  he  was  at  the  same 
time  a  good-natured  man,  kind  and  merciful  to  his  enemies. 
Whenever  he  saw  a  young  man  hazarding  his  life  too  close  to  the 
forts  in  order  to  show  valour,  pitying  his  youth,  he  used  to  hail 
at  him  from  the  fort,  and  warn  him  as  follows  : — "  I  give  you  your 
life  for  to-day,  but  do  not  venture  here  to-morrow  or  you  shall 
die."  And  he  was  alw^ays  as  good  as  his  word.  Thus  Sakulk 
defended  the  city  heroically  and  killed  many  a  valiant  warrior. 

At  last,  the  allies  held  a  council  of  war,  and  were  determined 
to  get  rid  of  S^kulk  on  the  next  day.  The  Ijebus,  who  had  guns 
were  the  foremost,  and  the  whole  army  directed  their  fire  and 
showers  of  darts  at  the  fort  where  S^kiila  was  fighting,  all  kept 
shooting  at  that  one  spot,  until  they  saw  Skkiilk  fall,  suspending 
from  the  fort  ! 

Owu  was  now  deprived  of  her  bravest  defender,  and  famine 
also  began  its  fatal  work  within  its  walls. 

It  was  at  this  time  the  Owns  began  for  the  first  time  to  eat 
those  large  beans  called  popondo  (or  awuje)  hitherto  considered 
unfit  for  food  ;  hence  the  taunting  songs  of  the  alUes  : — 

Popondo  I'ara  Owu  nje.    The  Owns  now  live  on  propondo, 

Aje  f'ajaga  bo  'run.  That  done,  their  necks  for  the  yoke. 

Unto  this  day,  whoever  would  hum  this  ditty  within  the  hearing 
of  an  Owu  man,  must  look  out  for  an  accident  to  his  own  person. 

For  all  the  famine  within,  the  besiegers  could  neither  scale  the 
walls,  nor  force  the  gates  open,  until  Akinjobi  the  Olowu  opened 
a  gate,  and  escaped  to  Erunmu,  one  of  the  principal  towns  in  his 
territory.  The  chief  of  this  place  was  one  Oluroko  who  was 
nearly  related  to  the  Ow6ni  of  Ife.  Oluroko  protected  his  over- 
lord. The  allies  pursued  the  Olowu  to  this  place,  but  Oluroko 
when  called  upon  to  answer  for  his  conduct,  submitted  himself, 
and  asked  for  pardon,  showing  that  he  could  not  have  acted 
otherwise  and  be  blameless.  ^  The  allies  saw  with  him,  and  pardon 
was  accordingly  granted  him. 

Ikija  was  the  only  Egba  town  which  befriended  the  city  of 
Owu  in  her  straits  hence  after  the  fall  of  the  latter  town,  the 
combined  armies  went  to  punish  her  for  supplying  Owu  with 
provisions  during  the  siege.    Being  a  much  smaller  town,   they 


soon  made  short  work  of  it.  After  the  destruction  of  Ikija,^  the 
allies  returned  to  their  former  camp  at  Idi  Ogungun  (under  the 
Ogiingun  tree) . 

"Owu  was  thenceforth  placed  under  an  interdict,  never  to  be 
rebuilt ;  and  it  was  resolved  that  in  future,  however  great  might 
be  the  population  of  Oje — the  nearest  town  to  it — the  town  walls 
should  not  extend  as  far  as  the  Ogungun  tree,  where  the  camp  was 
pitched.  Consequently  to  this  day,  although  the  land  may  be 
cultivated  yet  no  one  is  allowed  to  build  a  house  on  it. 

[In  the  year  1873  Akinyemi  one  of  the  sons  of  one  Bolude  of 
Ibadan  happened  to  build  a  substantial  farm  house  at  Owu. 
Latosisk  then  the  Kakanfo  at  Ibadan  ordered  it  to  be  pulled  down 
immediately,  and  Akinyemi  was  fined  besides]. 

After  the  fall  of  Owu  and  Ikija,  the  army  was  not  disbanded, 
but  the  commanders  of  the  Ife  and  of  the  Ijebu  armies  returned 
home  to  give  an  account  of  the  war  to  their  respective  masters, 
but  the  remnants  still  in  the  camp  were  continually  swelled  by 
recruits  from  Oyo  refugees  whom  the  Fulanis  had  rendered  home- 

After  a  time  the  Ijebus  in  the  camp  invited  the  allies  home  to 
their  country  as  friends  ;  then  they  broke  up  the  camp  at  "  Idi 
C)gungun  "  and  withdrew  to  Ipara  in  the  south. 

It  should  be  noted  that  the  Owu  war  marked  a  definite  period 
in  Yoruba  history.  It  was  here  for  the  first  time  gunpowder  was 
used  in  war  in  this  country,  and  it  was  followed  by  the  devastation 
of  the  Egba  townships  and  the  foundation  of  modern  Abeokuta 
and  Ibadan,  to  be  related  in  due  course. 

§  2.  Consequences  of  the  Revoution  : — The  Lasinmi  War 

Whilst  the  Owu  war  was  raging  in  the  south,  the  northern 
provinces  were  in  no  less  disturbed  condition.  The  Onikoyi, 
not  content  with  being  the  first  and  greatest  of  the  provincial 
kings  took  advantage  of  the  disturbed  state  of  the  country  to  usurp 
the  King's  prerogative  and  aimed  at  subjugating  the  other  chiefs 
under  his  own  authority.  Toyeje  the  Kakanfo  at  Ogbomosg  was 
alone  his  rival  and  in  order  to  oppose  him,  the  Onikoyi  created 
Edun  of  Gbogun  an  opposition  Kakanfo  to  him.  But  Toyeje 
continued  in  office,  and  so  there  were  two  Kakanfos  at  this  period, 
a  thing  quite  unprecedented. 

During  this  reign,  it  was  said  that  a  European  traveller  visited 
Oyo  to  whom  the  King  granted  an  interview.  This  was  most 
probably  Clapperton  (vide  Clapperton'sL as^  Expedition  to  Africa, 

^  The  site  of  Ikija  is  now  an  Ibadan  farmstead  known  as  Karaole. 


Vol.  I.,  Chap.  IV.).  The  King  was  said  to  have  complained  bitterly 
of  the  rebellion  of  his  subjects,  and  that  he  was  King  only  in  name : 
he  craved  for  military  assistance  in  order  to  reduce  his  rebellious 
chiefs  ;  but  as  it  was  impossible  for  the  stranger  to  afford  this, 
he  tried  persuasive  measures.  He  visited  the  several  powerful 
chiefs  in  the  country,  remonstrated  with  them  pointing  out  forcibly 
how  "  Unity  is  strength."  His  advice  was  favourably  received 
and  the  result  was  a  congress  held  at  Ikoyi  in  which  all  the  principal 
chiefs  were  present,  and  to  which  the  King  sent  an  Ilari. 

After  a  prolonged  deliberation  they  came  to  an  agreement  to 
return  to  their  former  loyalty  and  allegiance.  The  Onikoyi 
then  asked  that  the  Ilari  be  called  in  to  bear  the  good  tidings  to 
his  master  ;  but  when  called  aloud  by  his  official  (Ilari)  name 
"  Kafilegboin,"  the  chiefs  all  gave  a  start  and  were  much  surprised 
to  hear  the  name  of  the  Ilari  sent  to  them.  "  What  !  Kafilegboin  ! 
(i.e.  let's  have  it  on  stiff)  Is  that  then  the  King's  intention  ?  A 
name  which  implies  implacabiUty,  resolute  determination  and 
inexorableness!  Very  well  then,  let  the  rebellion  continue.  No  one 
among  us  can  consider  himself  safe  at  the  hands  of  the  King  should 
we  return  to  our  allegiance,  since  he  can  send  us  such  an  Ilari  at  a 
time  as  this  when  he  wants  to  win  us  back!"  The  congress  was 
then  dissolved. 

Whether  the  King  did  this  intentionally  or  not,  we  cannot  say; 
but  Yorubas  being  very  diplomatic,  and  very  suspicious  of  one 
another,  he  should  have  sent  one  whose  name  implies  conciliation 
or  harmony  if  he  wished  to  win  back  the  chiefs. 

But  we  consider  all  this  from  God  in  order  that  the  sins  of 
the  nation  may  be  purged  by  judgment  from  above. 

Shortly  after  this,  there  was  a  serious  compUcation  between  the 
Kakanfo  at  Ogbomoso  and  the  Timi  of  Ede.  Ede  had  been 
tributary  to  Ogbomoso,  but  after  the  Pamo  war  it  threw  off 
its  allegiance,  and  the  Kakanfo  had  long  been  seeking  for  an 
opportunity  to  reduce  it  again  to  subjection.  One  cannot 
say  what  was  the  real  cause  of  the  war,  but  there  can  be  no  doubt 
that  the  Kakanfo  made  something  or  other  a  pretext  for  commenc- 
ing hostilities.  The  Kakanfo,  however,  did  not  take  the  field  in 
person  as  he  considered  it  only  a  small  affair  ;  he  sent  Lasinmi 
his  Balogun  to  reduce  the  town. 

Ede  was  beseiged,  and  for  15  days  desperate  battles  were  fought, 
but  the  town  was  defended  heroically. 

Bamgbaiye  the  Timi  of  Ede  at  that  time,  was  one  of  the  richest 
of  the  provincial  kings,  and  it  was  due  to  his  largesses  that  the  town 
was  able  to  hold  out  so  long.  Every  morning  he  ordered  bushels  of 
corn  (maize)  to  be  well  cooked,  and  placing  large  earthenware  pots 


at  certain  intervals  right  round  the  walls  of  the  town,  he  filled 
them  alternately  with  the  cooked  corn  and  cool  drink  (well- 
mashed  Eko)  or  pure  water,  for  the  combatants,  so  that  no  one 
need  compldn  of  hunger  or  find  an  excuse  for  leaving  his  post 
by  day  or  by  night. 

The  strength  of  the  besiegers  and  the  besieged  was  well-nigh 
spent,  when  Asegbe  the  Olofa's  wise  Ilari  appeared  again  on 
the  scene  to  prevent  further  bloodshed  and  to  save  the  town. 
With  a  small  body  guard,  he  approached  the  walls  of  the  town, 
so  as  to  be  heard.  With  his  usual  persuasive  eloquence  he  induced 
the  people  to  surrender  in  order  to  avoid  further  bloodshed.  "  We 
are  all  the  same  tribe  and  one  family,  and  why  should  we  destroy 
one  another  in  the  very  face  of  our  common  enemy,  destroying  us 
from  without  ?  I  give  you  my  word,  that  if  you  capitulate  the 
siege  will  be  instantly  raised.  " 

These  words  were  soon  conveyed  to  the  Timi,  and  so  glad  was 
he  that  he  sent  Asegbe  a  bottle  of  gin,  which  he  and  his  attendants 
drank  on  the  spot  and  the  empty  bottle  was  sent  back  as  a  token 
of  good-will,  that  the  gift  was  accepted. 

The  Timi  sent  again  to  enquire  how  the  negotiations  might 
best  be  carried  on.  Asegbe  advised  him  to  send  lo  bags  of  cowries 
and  10  goats,  and  to  capitulate  and  the  siege  would  be  raised. 
Asegbe  returned  to  the  camp  to  report  his  success,  and  the  chiefs 
were  all  glad  and  thankful.  Towards  the  evening  the  Timi  paid 
the  fines  imposed  and  capitulated  and  the  siege  was  raised. 

Bamgbaiye  was  the  richest  Timi  that  ever  ruled  Ede.  His  large 
garden  was  full  of  goats  and  sheep  without  number  so  that  all  the 
green  grass  in  the  garden  was  eaten  up.  But  the  creatures  were 
all  miserable  looking  as  they  were  more  in  number  than  could  be 
properly  fed  at  home  ;  they  should  have  been  driven  by  herdsmen 
to  the  pastures  to  graze,  but  the  war  without  prevented  this. 
It  was  even  said  that  they  were  so  hungry  that  any  one  entering 
the  garden  would  have  to  defend  himself  with  a  stick  to  prevent 
his  clothes  being  eaten  off  his  body !  When  presents  had  to  be 
given,  or  fines  and  indemnities  paid  in  token  of  subjection,  or  to 
purchase  peace  as  above  related,  selections  were  made  from  the 
well-favoured  ones  among  them  and  the  enemy  appeased.  He 
could  afterwards  recoup  himself  by  taxation. 

Ede  prospered  under  the  rule  of  this  king. 

§  3.  State  of  the  Capital  During  this  Period 

King  Majotu  was  well  advanced  in  age,  before  he  was  called 
to  the  throne,  and  consequently  the  business  of  state  was  for  the 
most  part  left  in  the  hands  of  the  Crown  Prince  Adewusi  surnamed 


Fuhiiniji :  unfortunately,  he  was  neither  wise  nor  prudent  but 
rather  a  dissolute  and  licentious  prince,  extravagant  and  cruel 
to  a  degree.  His  weak  qualities  were,  however,  eclipsed  by  his 
largess.  He  acted  more  like  a  monomaniac  than  like  a  rational 
being.  His  father  was  too  old  and  weak  to  check  him.  Not- 
withstanding his  exalted  position  he  usually  spent  days  and  nights 
out-of-doors,  roaming  from  one  quarter  of  the  town  to  another 
without  returning  home. 

Whenever  he  was  going  to  s.pend  a  night  in  a  house  in  any  quarter 
of  the  town,  he  usually  gave  orders  that  his  suite  should  start  about 
half-an-hour  after  he  had  preceded  them.  He  would  clothe 
himself  in  tatters,  carrying  an  axe,  a  club,  or  a  stick  just  hke  a 
madman  !  He  would  reach  the  gate  of  the  chief  whose  guest  he 
intends  to  be,  long  before  the  arrival  of  his  suite,  and  mingle  with 
the  crowd  of  spectators  who  were  there  waiting  to  see  the  sight  of 
a  royal  equipage,  listening  to  their  remarks  and  especially  to 
those  of  his  intended  host. 

If  the  host  were  to  complain  of  the  undesired  visit  of  an  un- 
principled coxcomb  putting  him  to  unnecessary  trouble  and  ex- 
pense, and  that  he  would  rather  do  without  the  honour  of  his  visit, 
or  any  other  such  remarks  that  he  might  make,  he  would  hear  it 
all  with  his  own  ears.  As  soon  as  his  attendants  arrived  he  would 
instantly  get  himself  into  the  midst  of  them,  change  his  rags  for 
a  magnificent  robe,  and  step  forth  as  becomes  a  prince.  When 
the  host  now  rushed  forward  to  show  his  respect,  and  bid  him  a 
hearty  welcome,  etc.,  he  would  burst  out  "You  hypocrite,  did  you 
not  say  so  and  so,  when  you  heard  I  was  coming  to  you  on  a  visit  ? 
I'll  curb  your  lying  tongue."  When  the  host  lay  prostrate  and 
trembling,  conscious  of  guilt  and  pleading  for  mercy,  he  would 
deal  him  heavy  blows  with  his  club,  which  more  often  than  not 
killed  or  disabled  him  for  life,  and  in  some  cases,  if  he  survived, 
he  would  order  him  to  be  sold  into  slavery. 

But  if  the  host  were  really  solicitous  about  giving  him  a  loyal 
welcome,  and  showed  himself  desirous  of  giving  him  an  entertain- 
ment worthy  of  his  rank,  he  would  hear  and  know  for  himself, 
so  that  when  he  joined  his  attendants  and  came  forward  to  greet 
his  host,  he  would  accept  his  welcome  and  bid  him  not  to  care 
about  how  he  should  entertain  him,  but  would  himself  order 
refreshments  and  entertain  the  host  and  all  present  out  of  his  own 
bounty,  and  give  him  presents  lavishly  besides.  If  this  prince  is 
spoken  of  as  cruel,  and  as  having  killed  or  sold  into  slavery  several 
of  his  father's  subjects,  it  was  in  this  way. 

An  instance  related  of  his  liberahty  was  as  follows  : — 
Upon  a  festival  called  Isul^  customarily  held  in  the  month  of 


July,  all  the  members  of  the  royal  family  gorgeously  dressed  go 
in  procession  to  a  certain  place  to  worship  the  spirits  of  their 
dead  ancestors.  The  demonstrations  on  these  occasions  are 
very  imposing,  and  usually  end  with  gifts  from  the  Crown  Prince. 

On  one  such  occasion,  this  Prince  gave  the  Ologbo  who  accom- 
panied him  a  common  gown,  but  the  latter  refused  to  accept  it,  say- 
ing it  was  not  worthy  of  the  dignity  of  His  Royal  Highness.  The 
Crown  Prince  thereupon  took  off  his  robes  in  which  he  went  to 
the  Isule,  and  gave  them  to  the  Ologbo,  and  ordered  other  members 
of  the  royal  family  to  do  the  same. 

Adewusi  had  his  own  good  qualities  but  his  enormities  were 
revolting  !  He  accounted  it  a  privilege  to  commit  indecencies 
under  the  open  sky,  surrounded  by  his  attendants  and  Eunuchs 
holding  large  cloths  in  the  four  corners  as  a  curtain  to  shield  him 
from  sight.  In  his  train  were  always  some  of  his  wives  and 

He  would  commit  rape  with  impunity,  and  whether  to  show 
that  he  was  above  law,  or  out  of  pure  spite  to  the  chiefs,  in  his 
visits  to  any  of  them  it  was  his  custom  on  entering  their  houses, 
to  perform  the  same  act  in  the  open  court-yard  before  he  took  his 
seat  in  the  piazza  ! 

This  beastly  conduct  bemeaned  him  in  the  estimation  of  the 
Oyo  chiefs,  and  not  only  had  he  lost  all  respect  from  them  on  that 
account,  but,  on  one  occasion,  he  very  nearly  lost  his  life  at 
the  hands  of  the  Basorun,  in  whose  palace  he  had  the  temerity 
to  venture  on  the  same  action  !  On  his  arrival,  his  supernal 
highness  came  out  to  receive  him  as  his  guest,  but  was  shocked 
to  find  that  Adewusi  made  no  exception  in  his  lewd  practices 
in  regard  to  himself.  He  returned  in  a  rage  to  his  inner  apart- 
ment, to  reappear  with  a  drawn  sword,  and  would  have  despatched 
him  and  his  mistress  on  the  spot  had  not  the  Prince  and  all  his 
attendants  fled  away  in  confusion.  The  Basorun's  servants 
pursued  after  them  with  clubs  and  dispersed  them. 

Adewusi  had  no  one  among  all  the  chiefs  to  appeal  to  for 
sympathy,  as  he  had  offended  every  one  of  them  in  the  same 
way,  although  none  but  the  Basorun  was  able  to  resent  it;  hence 
their  sympathy  was  rather  on  the  side  of  the  Basorun. 

But  the  ultimate  result  of  this  would  have  been  serious  for  the 
Prince  had  not  his  wise  and  aged  father  conciliated  the  chiefs. 

Knowing  what  the  outcome  would  probably  be,  His  Majesty 
summoned  a  meeting  of  the  chiefs,  noblemen,  and  other  important 
personages  in  the  city  and  said  to  them  in  a  parable : — "  The 
Crown  Prince  was  my  creditor  when  we  were  in  the  other  world, 
and  when  I  could  not  pay  the  debt,  I  escaped  to  this  world.     He 


pursued  me  hither  demanding  payment,  and  being  born  of  royalty, 
I  was  able  to  pay  off  my  debt. 

But  my  difficulty  is  this — for  the  purpose  of  which  I  have 
summoned  you  all  my  chiefs  for  your  advice  and  help.  The 
Crown  Prince  not  content  with  the  payment,  demanded  that  I 
should  carry  back  the  amount  paid  to  the  other  world  ;  and  for 
this  I  crave  your  advice  and  help." 

The  Oyo  chiefs  asked  His  Majesty  for  an  explanation  of  the 
parable   and  his  reply  was  as  follows  : — 

"  The  enormities  of  the  Crown  Prince  in  your  quarters  and  in 
your  houses,  I  have  heard  of,  and  what  would  have  been  the  result, 
if  the  Basorun  had  killed  liim  in  his  house,  we  all  know.  Would 
it  not  have  cost  me  my  own  life  also  ?  What  I  crave  of  you  is 
that  in  future  I  should  be  exonerated,  and  not  be  charged  with 
his  conduct."  The  Oyo  chiefs  were  appeased  and  promised  not  to 
implicate  the  father  in  the  crimes  of  his  son. 

Added  to  the  scourge  of  the  sword,  divine  judgment  fell  upon 
the  nation  in  famine  also  and  pestilence.  Towards  the  end  of  this 
reign  there  was  a  famine  in  the  land  for  two  years  which  obliter- 
ated every  trace  of  the  plenty  they  revelled  in  when  there  was  peace 
and  prosperity.  Many  died  from  it.  It  was  a  struggle  for  many 
to  be  able  to  support  their  family,  especially  those  in  exile  ;  but 
the  richness  of  the  soil  enabled  those  whose  towns  were  not 
destroyed  to  render  great  assistance  to  their  guests  the  refugees. 
But  unfortunately  there  was  a  dearth  of  the  latter  rains  and  the 
dry  season  crops  could  not  be  planted.  This  following  closely 
after  the  Lasinmi  war  caused  the  distress  to  be  more  severe. 

Gbogi,  an  Ijesa  town  was  attacked  and  destroyed  only  for  the 
sake  of  the  provisions  it  contained,  no  one  caring  for  slaves  or 
booty.  The  staple  of  the  Ijesas  being  yam  and  not  corn,  the 
famine  was  less  felt  amongst  them,  as  the  yam  crop  does  not 
depend  upon  the  latter  rain.  This  famine  was  called  lyan 

It  was  said  that  a  subscription  was  made  by  several  famihes  to 
the  amount  of  6  heads  of  cowries,  and  a  special  messenger  was 
sent  to  the  Egba  territory  to  buy  corn.  The  return  of  the  messenger 
was  eagerly  looked  forward  to,  and  at  length  he  returned  with  a 
merry  heart  whistling  as  he  walked  along  :  but  there  was  no  load 
on  his  head,  the  6  heads  worth  of  corn  was  carried  in  a  bag  slung 
on  his  shoulders  !  and  he  protected  it  beneath  the  cloth  he  wrapped 
himself  with,  so  that  no  one  may  know  what  he  had  with  him. 
It  was  a  treasure  !  It  was  shared  by  the  subscribers  by  counting 
the  grains. 

This  calamity  was  followed  by  a  pestilence  called  the  Pehe, 


a  disease  of  the  respiratory  organs  like  the  recent  {1892)  fatal 
epidemic  of  Influenza  ;  thousands  were  swept  away  by  it,  and 
King  Majotu  was  among  its  victims.  Of  a  long  succession 
of  Kings,  it  was  his  good  fortune  to  have  died  a  natural  death. 

At  the  death  of  the  King,  the  Crown  Prince  was  told  to  die 
with  his  father,  according  to  the  custom  now  prevailing.  But  he 
was  unwilling  to  do  so,  and  was  giving  out  bribes  liberally  to  the 
chiefs  that  they  should  give  him  their  support ;  and  trusting 
to  his  former  largess  to  the  people,  he  was  determined  upon  a 
civil  fight,  hoping  for  a  general  rising  in  his  favour  ;  but  Akawo, 
his  bosom  friend  quietly  undeceived  him,  and  advised  him  to  die 
honourably,  or  he  would  have  the  mortification  of  seeing  himself 
deserted  at  the  most  critical  moment  by  those  on  whom  he  counted 
most  to  espouse  his  cause.  Adewusi  then  committed  suicide, 
and  Prince  Amgdo  was  placed  on  the  throne. 

Chapter  IX 


§  I.     Evil   Days   for  the   Capital 

Prince  Amod6  was  one  of  the  grandchildren  of  Ajampati  the 
twin  brother  of  King  Ajagbo.  He  came  to  the  throne  at  a  time 
when  the  kingdom  was  distracted  by  anarchy  and  confusion. 
The  Fulanis  having  an  eye  on  the  capital  of  Yoruba-land,  but  not 
being  confident  enough  to  make  an  attack  on  the  city  whilst  there 
were  so  many  powerful  chiefs  in  the  land,  who  might  suddenly 
return  to  their  allegiance,  were  using  prudence  and  astuteness  to 
spread  the  disaffection.  They  were  fanning  the  flames  of  discord 
by  allying  themselves  with  one  or  other  of  the  chiefs  known  to  be 
rebellious  against  their  lawful  sovereign.  None  of  the  provincial 
kings  now  paid  tribute  to  Oyo  or  acknowledged  the  authority  of 
the  King.     He  was  virtually  King  of  the  capital  only. 

In  order  to  have  a  powerful  friend  and  ally  in  whom  he  could 
confide  in  time  of  emergency,  King  Amodo  made  an  alliance  with 
Lanloke  the  chief  of  Ogodo,  a  market  town,  at  the  confluence 
of  the  river  Niger,  where  Yorubas  and  Tapas  met  for  an  exchange 
of  merchandise.  Ogodo  was  originally  a  Tapa  town,  but  subse- 
quently the  Yoruba  population  predominated,  nearly  all  the 
children  of  influential  Oyo  chiefs  resided  there  permanently  for 
the  purpose  of  trade.  King  Amod6  cemented  and  strengthened 
this  aUiance  by  giving  his  daughter  to  Lanloke  to  wife,  and 
treating  him  as  an  independent  sovereign. 

To  show  how  weak  and  contemptible  the  AlAfin  has  become, 
Lanloke  most  brutally  and  cowardly  beat  the  princess  his  wife 
actually  to  death,  and  boasting  over  it,  took  to  himself  the  nick- 
name, "  My  name  is  Amod6,  and  I  put  Amod6  to  death.  My  name 
is  Ajebaba,  and  I  enslaved  Ajebaba." 

Fearing  the  resentment  and  vengeance  of  Oyo  for  this  act, 
he  hastily  formed  an  alHance  with  the  Ilgrins,  and  assumed  the 
aggressive,  and  so  besieged  Oyo.  Oyo  at  length  capitulated  and 
the  Ilorin  troops  entered  and  sacked  the  city.  Oyo  was  plundered 
of  nearly  everything,  but  no  captives  were  made  excepting 
some  Oyo  beauties  who  were  carried  away  with  the  spoils, 

Jimba,  one  of  the  head  slaves  of  the  Ilorin  Emir  was  the  chief 
spoiler.  He  took  away  all  the  Egugun  dress,  and  forced  the 
citizens  to  accept  the  Koran,  which  necessitated  every  one  to 



change  his  name  for  an  Arabic  name,  the  only  alternative  being 
the  sword. 

Thus  at  length  Oyo  became  tributary  to  Ilorin  ! 

§  2.    The  Third  Attempt  to  Expel  the  Fulanis 
The  Kanla  Expedition 

Amod6  was  ill  at  ease  under  the  yoke  of  the  Fulani  Emir  of 
Ilorin,  and  he  prevailed  upon  all  the  Yoruba  chiefs  throughout 
the  country  to  unite  and  rid  themselves  of  their  common  enemy.' 
Apparently  they  were  united,  but  between  the  capital  and  the 
provinces,  the  spirit  of  disaffection  and  jealousy  was  strong. 
It  was  understood  full  well  that  the  King's  policy  was  to  use 
them  together  to  rid  himself  first  of  the  common  enemy,  and  then 
to  subdue  the  rebel  chiefs  one  after  another,  by  force  of  arms. 

But  the  Ilgrins  on  the  other  hand  were  more  diplomatic.  In 
order  to  facilitate  their  plans,  they  made  friendship  with  some  of 
the  Yoruba  chiefs  who  were  men  of  power,  and  who,  if  united, 
would  be  able  to  oppose  them  successfully  ;  such  were  Prince 
Atiba  of  Ago  Oja,  Edun  chief  of  Gbogun,  the  most  powerful 
Yoruba  general  of  the  day,  and  Adegun  the  Onikoyi  the  premier 
provincial  king. 

Whenever  there  was  war  with  the  Ilorins  these  chiefs  usually 
acted  against  their  own  real  and  national  interests,  either  by 
betraying  their  own  nation  and  people,  or  by  giving  their  backs 
to  the  enemy  without  shooting  an  arrow,  and  thus  allowing  the 
Ilorin  horse  the  advantage  of  out-flanking  their  foes. 

King  Amod6  having  prevailed  upon  all  the  chiefs  to  come 
together,  declared  war  against  the  Fulanis,  and  Ilorin  was  besieged 
by  a  formidable  army  raised  throughout  the  country. 

Adegun  the  Onikoyi  was  suffering  from  indisposition  and 
was  really  unfit  to  take  the  field  ;  but  Edun  of  Gbogun  his  rival, 
forced  him  to  go  to  the  war,  secretly  planning  with  the  Ilgrins 
that  he  would  give  way  in  the  heat  of  the  battle,  in  order  that 
Adegun  might  be  taken  alive  !  This  battle  took  place  at  Kanla 
from  which  the  expedition  was  named. 

Edun  having  carried  out  his  act  of  treachery,  the  Onikoyi 
was  surrounded  by  the  Ilorin  horse  ;  but  he  fought,  and  fought 
bravely  and  fell  like  a  hero.  Thus  the  AlAfin's  army  was  routed, 
and  the  people  fled  away  in  confusion. 

It  was  at  the  time  when  the  rivers  overflowed  their  banks, 
and  a  number  of  people  were  drowned  at  the  river  Ogun.  The 
most  notable  chief  drowned  on  this  occasion  was  Oja  the  founder 
of  Agd  (the  present  Qyo).     Prince  Atiba,  one  of  the  rising  power, 


rode  his  powerful  horse  into  the  river,  and  narrowly  escaped  being 

The  Yoruba  towns  deserted  at  this  defeat  were  Esiele  and 

§  3.     The  Vicissitudes  of  Ikoyi 

The  fall  of  Adegun  at  the  Kanla  war  left  the  kingship  of  Ikoyi 
vacant.  There  were  two  aspirants  to  the  title,  viz.,  Siyenbola, 
the  son  of  the  late  Adegun,  and  Ojo,  the  son  of  Adegun's  prede- 
cessor. The  majority  of  the  people  was  for  Siyenbola,  and  Ojo's 
partisans  were  but  few.  Ojo,  however,  went  to  Oyo  to  have 
the  title  conferred  on  him  by  the  Suzerain  as  of  yore,  and  he 
succeeded  in  obtaining  the  Alafin's  favour  in  his  claim. 

King  Amodo  was  glad  for  this  mark  of  recognition  and  hoped 
for  the  gradual  return  of  the  provincial  kings  to  their  allegiance. 
He  therefore  made  Ojo  take  a  solemn  oath  that  he  would  ever  be 
loyal  to  him.  His  Majesty  strictly  charged  him  against  making 
any  league  with  Edun  the  rebel  chief  of  Gbogun  through  whose 
town  he  must  pass  to  reach  his  home  at  Ikoyi.  This  charge  was 
occasioned  by  the  treacherous  conduct  of  Edun  at  the  Kanla 
war  by  which  the  Alafin  lost  the  day.  "I  am  a  King,"  said 
Amodo,  "  and  you  are  now  a  king.  Kings  should  form  aUiance 
with  kings  and  not  with  a  commoner." 

The  King  justly  anticipated  what  would  happen,  for  when 
Ojo  the  new  Onikoyi  reached  Gbogun  on  his  way  home,  Edun 
sought  his  friendship  and  alliance,  and  pressed  him  to  take  an 
oath  with  him,  that  they  would  always  be  faithful  to  each  other. 
Ojo  stoutly  refused  to  take  the  oath,  alleging  that  it  was  unbecoming 
for  a  king  to  take  an  oath  with  one  not  of  royal  blood.  But 
Edun  was  a  man  of  power,  and  the  Onikoyi  was  already  in  his 
clutches  being  in  his  town  and  he  felt  he  could  do  whatever  he 
hked  with  him  ; ;  he  therefore  insisted  that  the  oath  should  be 
taken  before  the  Onikoyi  could  leave  his  town.  Ojo  was  in  a 
dilemma,  his  oath  of  allegiance  to  the  Alafin  forbade  him  to  dis- 
obey the  King's  charge,  and  now  he  was  at  the  mercy  of  this 
miscreant.  He  had  now  no  option,  the  oath  must  be  taken  and 
the  only  way  out  of  it  the  Onikoja  could  find  was  to  delegate  one 
of  his  attendants  to  perform  the  business  for  him,  as  the  fitness 
of  things  required  from  the  inequality  of  their  respective  ranks. 
The  Kakanfo  considered  this  an  insult  to  his  dignity,  and  he 
resented  it  by  ordering  Atanda  one  of  his  own  attendants  to  take 
the  oath  with  the  Onikoyi's  delegate. 

Whilst  this  was  taking  place  at  Gbogun,  tidings  reached  Ikoyi 
that  Ojo  had  succeeded  in  obtaining  the  title  from  the  AlAfin, 


and  Siyenbgla  who  had  usurped  it  therefore  fled  from  the  town 
with  all  his  party  to  Ilorin. 

The  remnant  of  Ojo's  party  at  home  who  did  not  accompany 
him  to  Ovg  met  him  at  Esiele  with  the  news  that  the  town  had 
been  deserted  from  disgust  that  he  should  reign  over  them. 
The  Onikoyi  was  too  weak  to  proceed  to  occupy  Ikoyi  with  his 
small  party,  he  therefore  remained  at  Esiele. 

A  week  after  this,  the  Ilorin  horse  came  against  Esiele  to  espouse 
the  cause  of  Siyenbgla,  and  they  had  seven  days  of  hard  fighting, 
but  finding  it  not  such  an  easy  business  to  rush  the  town,  as  they 
had  supposed,  they  retreated  home  to  make  full  preparation  for 
a  regular  siege  at  the  ensuing  year. 

The  siege  was  accordingly  laid  in  the  following  year.  Esi§le 
held  out  for  a  long  time,  being  heroically  defended  by  its  balogun 
Kurumi,  and  another  notable  war-chief  Dad6  (of  both  of  whom 
we  shall  hear  more  afterwards) .  When  they  could  hold  out  no 
longer,  the  war-chiefs  deserted  the  town,  leaving  mostly  the  women 
and  children  at  the  mercy  of  the  conquerors.  Ojo  the  Onikoyi 
was  slain,  and  Siyenbgla  having  now  no  rival  obtained  the  title  of 
Oniko5a  from  the  Emir  of  Ilgiin,  and  returned  with  those  of 
his  party  who  went  with  him  to  Ilgrin  to  re-occupy  the  town. 
Thus  Ikoyi  was  re-peopled  but  no  longer  as  a  vassal  state  of 
Ovg  but  of  Ilgrin.  The  city  was  rapidly  refilled  by  those  of  Ojo's 
party  that  escaped  the  fall  of  Esiele  and  they  now  acknowledged 
Siyenbgla  as  their  king. 

Esiele  also  was  again  re-peopled,  as  it  was  not  actually  destroyed 
by  war  but  deserted  under  stress.  The  inhabitants  were  per- 
mitted to  remain  as  they  were  because  the  siege  was  laid  against 
the  town  on  account  of  the  late  Onikoyi — no  longer  alive. 

Shortly  after  this  there  was  a  serious  complication  between 
Edun  of  Gbogun  the  Kakanfo  and  Dada  the  Bale  of  Ade)d  which 
broke  out  into  a  war.  Edun  marched  his  army  through  Esiel§ 
to  besiege  Adeyi,  but  Fasgla  the  Bale  of  Esiele  hearing  that  the 
Kakanfo's  army  was  to  pass  through  his  town  having  hardly 
recovered  from  the  effects  of  the  late  war,  and  dreading  the 
devastation  and  pillaging  of  farms  consequent  on  such  a  march, 
deserted  the  town.  So  Esiele  was  again  desolate,  the  people 
finding  refuge  at  Ogbomgsg  and  Ikoyi. 

The  expedition,  however,  was  unsuccessful.  The  Kakanfo's 
army  suffering  many  reverses,  it  had  to  be  given  up. 

§  4.    The  Gbogun  War  and  Fall  of  Edun  the  Kakanfo 

Gbogun  was  the  last  of  the  powerful  towns  in  the  country 
and  as  the  aim  of  the  Fulanis  was  the  subversion  of  the  whole 


country,  a  pretext  for  war  was  soon  found  in  order  to  lay  siege 
against  her. 

Abudusalami  the  Emir  of  Ilorin  threatened  the  Kakanfo  with 
war  if  he  refused  to  pay  allegiance  to  him  ;  Edun  accepted  the 
challenge  and  began  at  once  to  make  a  vast  preparation,  offensive 
and  defensive. 

Ikoyi  being  already  a  vassalage  of  Ilorin  and  a  neighbouring 
town,  Edun  regarded  her  as  an  enemy  and  insisted  that  it  should 
be  deserted  at  once  or  he  would  take  her  by  surprise.  Siyenbola 
the  Onikoyi  sent  ambassadors  to  Gbogun  to  arrange  terms  of  peace 
but  Edun  refused  to  hear  ot  any  such  thing  and  threatened  to 
destroy  the  town  the  next  day,  if  not  deserted  at  once  as  he  would 
not  afford  the  Ilorins  a  base  of  operation  against  him  at  such 
close  quarters.  There  being  no  alternative,  Ikoyi  was  a  second 
time  deserted  and  Siyenbola  escaped  to  Ilorin. 

Gbogun  was  soon  besieged  by  the  Ilorins  and  desperate  battles 
were  fought,  the  defenders  fighting  heroically  and  could  not 
be  overwhelmed  until  at  last  the  city  was  reduced  by  famine  and 
thus  Gbogun  fell,  the  last  of  the  powerful  towns  of  Yoruba. 

Edun  the  greatest  Yoruba  general  of  the  day  escaped  by  way 
of  Gbodo  where  he  was  overtaken,  being  hotly  pursued  by  the 
Ilorin  horse.  He  had  with  him  a  handful  of  veterans  and  such 
was  the  terror  his  very  name  inspired  that  the  pursuers  did  not 
dare  to  offer  him  battle. 

The  men  of  Gbodo  were  torn  between  two  opinions  whether  they 
should  afford  protection  to  their  fallen  general  or  allow  him  to  escape 
in  peace.  But  the  pursuers  insisted  on  his  destruction,  saying ' '  If  you 
allow  him  to  escape,  your  lives  will  go  for  his  life  as  you  will  show 
yourselves  thereby  to  be  an  enemy  to  the  Emir  of  Ilorin."  This 
decided  the  men  of  Gbodo;  in  order  to  save  themselves  they  took  up 
arms  against  the  fallen  general  and  overwhelmed  him  and  his 
faithful  few,  the  brave  man  himself  falling  under  a  shower  of  darts 
fighting  gallantly  at  the  head  of  his  little  band.  His  head  was 
taken  off,  raised  upon  a  pole  and  carried  in  triumph  to  the  camp 
and  from  thence  to  Ilorin  ;  OdQewu  his  eldest  son  and  some  of 
the  distinguished  war-chiefs  who  were  taken  being  compelled  to 
ride  behind  it  in  order  to  grace  the  triumph  of  the  conquerors. 

On  the  3rd  day  after  their  arrival  at  Ilorin  Oduewu  succeeded 
in  purchasing  the  head  of  his  father  and  had  it  decently  buried 
to  save  himself  from  disgrace. 

After  the  fall  of  Gbogun,  Siyenbola  returned  the  second  time 
to  Ikoyi.  Fasgla  the  Bale  of  Esiele,  who  had  escaped  with  his 
family  and  a  few  followers  to  Ogbomgso,  also  returned  to  his  town. 
On  his  way  to  E§i§le,  he  was  the  guest  of  Siy§nbola  the  Onikoyi 


for  three  days.  He  and  his  sons  Sinolu  and  Abgsede  and  his 
eldest  daughter  Omotajo  were  feasted  on  the  flesh  of  an  elephant 
just  killed  and  brought  to  the  Onikoyi.  This  was  regarded  as  an 
auspicious  omen. 

§  5.    The  Pole  War  and  the  Death  of  the  Abuousalami 

The  Fulanis  having  subdued  all  the  chiefs  in  Yoruba  proper 
and  reduced  the  large  towns  by  conquest  or  annexation,  his 
ambition  led  Abudusalami  to  turn  his  attention  to  the  Ijesa  tribes 
for  conquest,  and  hence  he  sent  an  expedition  to  that  province. 

The  Fulanis  depended  more  on  their  cavalry  than  on  their 
infantry,  the  latter  being  armed  with  only  a  sword  and  a  club. 
In  a  country  with  primitive  forests  like  those  in  the  Ijesa  province 
horses  were  of  no  avail,  and  hence  the  Ijesas  chased  the  enemy  in 
their  mountain  tracks  and  cut  in  pieces  the  greater  part  of  their 
horsemen.  In  pursuing  their  foot  soldiers,  they  cry  after  them 
"  Pole,  Pole,"  which  in  their  dialect  means  Down,  Down.  From 
this  circumstance  this  expedition  was  termed  the  Pol^  war. 

After  the  return  of  this  expedition  Abudusalami  fell  sick  and 
died.  He  was  a  successful  king  who  raised  the  Fulani  power  to 
that  pitch  of  glory  which  Ilorin  has  attained. 

The  late  Abudusalami  and  Shitta  were  the  children  of  the  slave 
wife  of  Alimi  and  being  the  two  eldest  they  naturally  took  the  lead. 

On  their  father's  death  Abudusalami  divided  his  property  into 
four  equal  parts,  called  all  his  brothers  to  take  each  one  his  portion 
beginning  from  the  youngest.  His  half  brothers  took  theirs 
and  went  away,  but  as  Shitta  was  about  to  take  his  Abudusalami 
stopped  him  and  sent  him  away  with  a  walking  stick.  With  the 
slaves  and  riches  of  himself  and  his  brother,  he  kept  up  his  royal 
estate  and  had  sufficient  means  to  carry  on  the  war  and  to  effect 
the  conquest  of  Yoruba  proper  and  hence  at  his  death  the  throne 
and  the  property  devolved  upon  Shitta,  the  half  brothers  having 
no  longer  any  claim.  Abudusalami  hereby  secured  the  throne  of 
Ilorin  to  his  own  and  his  brother's  descendants  to  the  total 
exclusion  of  the  half  brothers  and  the  succession  to  this  day 
alternates  between  the  family  of  the  two. 

The  children  of  the  lawful  wives  (especially  those  of  the  Fulani 
lady)  considered  the  throne  theirs  by  right,  but  as  they  could  not 
claim  anything  of  the  royal  estates  they  were  excluded  from  the 
throne  as  well.  Abudusalami  was  succeeded  by  his  brother 
Shitta.       Olusi  the  Bale  of  Ogbomgso  also  died  about  this  time. 

Chapter   X 


§  I.    The  Destruction  of  Egba  Towns 

We  have  seen  above  (Chap.  VII)  that  after  the  fall  of  Owu,  and  the 
punishment  inflicted  upon  some  Egba  towns  for  secretly  befriending 
the  beleagured  city,  the  camp  at  Idi  Ogugun  broke  up,  and  the 
leading  Ife  and  Ijebu  generals  returned  home  to  their  respective 
masters,  but  the  rest  of  the  aUied  armies  with  the  Oyo  refugees 
were  invited  by  the  Ijebus  to  Ipara,  a  town  of  Ijebu  Remg. 
Making  this  place  their  headquarters,  these  restless  bands  of 
marauders  found  occupation  for  their  arms  in  conquering  and 
subjugating  several  towns  in  Ijebu  Rem.o  under  the  Awujale  of 
Ijebu  Ode,  viz  Ode,  Iperu,  Ogere  and  Makun. 

Pretext  was  soon  found  for  waging  war  with  the  Egbas  who  were 
then  living  in  small  villages  scattered  all  over  the  area  between 
Ipara  and  Ibadan.  Several  expeditions  were  made  from  their 
base  at  Ipara,  and  Iporo,  Eruwon,  Oba,  Itoko,  Itesi,  Imo,  Ikereku, 
Itoku,  etc.,  were  taken. 

The  following  are  the  names  of  the  distinguished  war-chiefs  in 
this  campaign  : — Oyo  chiefs — Oluyedun,  Lakanle,  Oluyole, 
Adelakun,  Opeagbe,  Abitiko,  YSmati,  Oluoyg,  Koseiko,  Abidogun, 
Apksa,  Osun,  Laleitan,  Bankole,  Fadeyi  Ogani-ija,  Agbeni,  etc. 

All  these  chiefs  oined  the  allied  army  as  private  soldiers,  but 
the  fortunes  of  war  raised  them  to  positions  of  great  distinction. 
Notwithstanding  this,  they  were  looked  down  upon  by  the  Ife 
and  Ijebu  leaders  under  whose  auspices  they  joined  the  war  against 
Owu,  and  had  no  voice  in  their  councils.  But  they  were  soon  to 
show  their  superiority. 

Ife  chiefs — Maye  (the  generahssimo  in  the  absence  of  Singusin) 
Ogugu,  Derin-Okiin,  Labgsinde,  Ogini,  Aregbe,  Olufadi,  Degoke, 
Kugbayigbe,  Oluygde,  Epo,  Kudayisi. 

Ijebu  chiefs — Kalejaiye,  Amoibo,  Osunlalu,  Oguade,  Argwgsanle, 

Rich  with  the  booty  of  these  expeditions,  and  finding  no  fresh 
fields  of  operation  for  their  arms  they  decided  to  disband  the 
army.  The  Ijebu  war  chiefs  returned  home  and  the  Ifes  set  out 
to  return  by  way  of  Oorun  ;  the  Oygs  who  had  nowhere  to  go  to 



accompanied  them.     There  were  thousands  of  Oyos  already  in 
Ife  districts. 

At  06run  (a  Gbagura  town)  they  found  fresh  employment 
for  their  arms  when  the  men  of  that  place  refused  them  a  passage. 
Another  circumstance  also  occurred  which  hastened  the  siege  of 
Oorun  and  the  fall  of  the  remaining  Egba  townships. 

A  dispute  arose  between  the  people  of  Idomapa  a  neighbouring 
town  and  the  Gbaguras  about  territorial  limits  which  at  length  broke 
out  into  war  and  Oluwole  the  king  of  Idomapa  who  was  the 
weaker  of  the  two  combatants  asked  the  aid  of  Labgsinde  one  of 
the  leading  Ife  war-chiefs,  and  through  him  the  rest  of  the  Ife 
and  Oyo  war-chiefs  against  Ajiboso  the  king  of  the  Gbaguras.  The 
allies  encamped  at  Idomapa  and  Oorun  was  the  scene  of  conflict, 
where  the  Gbaguras  concentrated  all  their  forces  to  oppose  the 
Idomapas  and  their  allies. 

The  Gbagura  army  was  swelled  by  re-inforcement  from  Ika, 
Owe  Ikija,  Iwokoto.  The  contest  was  furious  and  one  Oga 
Oh5roagallantwar-chiefgreatlydistinguishedhimself  in  the  defence 
of  06run.  As  long  as  he  could  handle  his  bow  and  arrows,  the 
enemy  was  kept  at  bay  ;  but  he  fell  in  an  engagement,  and  at  the 
same  time  famine  had  commenced  its  direful  work,  and  so  the 
assailants  successfully  reduced  the  town. 

As  their  fighting  men  had  all  fallen  at  Oorun  the  conquest  of 
all  the  rest  of  the  Gbagura  towns  was  complete.  Oorun  when 
captured  was  fired ;  being  a  town  situated  on  a  high  hill,  the 
conquerors  were  able  by  the  aid  of  the  light  to  pursue  their 
victory  to  the  next  town  which  they  found  deserted,  and  so  on 
to  the  next   and  the  next  until  they  reached  Ojoh6. 

The  towns  deserted  and  overrun  that  night  were  Oorun,  Ijaiye- 
maja,  Kosi-kosi,  Ikerekuiwere,  Ora,  Ibadan.  Ofa  and  Oje  were 
also  deserted,  but  the  conquerors  did  not  know  of  this  till  three 
days  after  as  they  lay  outside  their  line  of  march. 

From  Ibadan  they  followed  up  the  conquest  to  Ojokodo  Iwohaha, 
and  Eguoto  ;  all  these  places  were  deserted  and  plundered  in 
one  night  and  by  the  dawn  of  day  they  were  before  0]6h6.  Ojghb 
offered  a  stout  resistance  and  being  weary  from  long  marches  the 
conquerors  retired  to  find  a  resting  place.  Of  all  the  towns  overrun 
the  previous  night,  Ibadan  alone  they  found  not  destroyed  by 
fire,  and  so  this  marauding  band  hastily  occupied  it,  the 
war-chiefs  taking  possession  of  any  compound  they  chose,  and  their 
men  with  them  and  thus  Ibadan  was  again  re-peopled  but  not  by 
the  owners  of  the  town,  but  by  a  composite  band  of  marauders, 
consisting  of  Oyos,  Ifes,  Ijebus,  and  some  friendly  Egbas,  Maye 
a  bold  and  brave  Ife  chieftain  being  their  leader.     Next  to  him 


was  Labgsinde  also  an  Ife,  but,  through  his  mother,  of  Oyo  descent. 
These  two  leaders  were  men  of  different  character  and  opposite 
temperament.  Maye  was  of  an  irritable  temper,  in  manners 
rough  and  domineering,  and  never  failed  at  all  times  to  show  his 
contempt  for  the  Oyos,  chiefly  because  they  were  homeless  refugees. 
At  the  head  of  the  Oyos  was  Lakanl^  a  bold  and  brave  leader  who 
alone  of  all  the  Oyo  war-chiefs  could  venture  to  open  his  mouth  when 
Maye  spoke.  Labosinde  on  the  contrary  was  most  agreeable  and 
very  fatherly  in  his  manners  and  therefore  much  respected  by  all. 

Ibadan  now  became  the  headquarters  of  these  marauders  from 
which  place  Ojoho  was  besieged  and  at  length  taken.  At  this 
time  also  Ikeiye  Owe  and  a  part  of  Ika  were  deserted  ;  the  Ika 
people  escaping  to  Iwokoto.  All  these  were  Eeba  villages  of  the 
Gbagura  section. 

§  2.  Foundation  of  the  Present  Abeqkuta 

As  stated  in  the  preceding  section  there  were  some  friendly 
Egba  chiefs  who  joined  the  marauders  at  Idi  Ogiigun  and  at 
Ipara,  and  now  they  were  all  living  together  at  Ibadan.  The  most 
influential  among  them  were  : — Lamgdi,  Apati,  Ogunbona,  Oso, 
Gbewiri,  and  Inakoju.  OgQdipe,  who  afterwards  became  a  notable 
chief  at  Abeokuta  was  then  but  a  blacksmith  and  a  private  soldier. 

Rivalry  was  so  rife  among  these  various  tribes  that  altercations 
were  frequent,  and  one  led  to  a  civil  war.  In  a  public  meeting 
held  at  the  Isale  Ijebu  quarter  of  the  town,  Lamodi  an  Egba 
chief  shot  Ege  an  influential  Ife  chief  down  dead  with  a  pistol, 
and  in  the  commotion  which  ensued  Lamodi  himself  was  slain. 
For  fear  of  the  Ifes  avenging  the  death  of  Ege  the  Egbas  withdrew 
in  a  body  from  Ibadan  and  encamped  on  the  other  side  of  the 
Ona  river,  about  3  or  4  miles  distant  Here  also  they  were  ill  at 
ease  and  after  divination  they  sent  for  one  Sodeke  to  be  their 
leader,  and  they  escaped  to  Abeokuta  then  a  farm  village  of  an 
Itoko  man,  and  a  resting  place  for  traders  to  and  from  the  Oke 
Ogun  districts.  Sodeke  was  at  the  head  of  this  new  colony  until 
his  death.  This  was  about  the  year  1830  They  were  continually 
swelled  by  Egba  refugees  from  all  parts  of  the  countr}^  and  also 
by  Egba  slaves  who  had  deserted  their  masters.  At  Abeokuta  the 
refugees  kept  together  according  to  their  family  distinctions,  viz. : — 

1.  The  Egba  Agbeyin  comprising  Ake  the  chief  town,  Ijeun, 
Kemta,  Imo,  Igbore,  etc.     These  were  under  the  Alake  as  chief. 

2.  Egba  Agura  (or  Gbagura)  comprising  Agura  the  chief  town 
Ilugun,  Ibadan,  Ojohg,  Ika,  etc.,  under  the  Agura  as  chief. 

3.  Egba  Oke  Ona  with  Oko  the  chief  town.  Ikija,  Ikereku, 
Idomapa,  Odo,  Podo,  etc.,  under  the  Osile  as  chief. 


Here  also  the  Owus  joined  them,  one  common  calamity  throwing 
them  together.  It  was  some  considerable  time  after  that  Ijaiye 
joined  them,  and  so  by  degrees  all  the  Egba  townships  about  153 
became  concentrated  at  Abeokuta,  the  new  town  comprising  Ijemo 
Itoko  and  a  few  others  who  were  already  on  the  spot. 

Until  the  death  of  Sodeke  in  A.D.  1844  the  Egbas  never 
spoke  of  having  a  king  over  them,  Sodeke  wielding  supreme 
power  in  a  very  paternal  way.  Of  external  relations,  very  little  (if 
any)  existed,  each  of  these  families  managed  its  own  affairs,  and 
there  was  no  properly  organized  central  government. 

Even  after  the  foundation  ot  Abeokuta  there  were  still  some 
Egbas  residing  at  Ibadan.  Egba  women  also  who  were  unable 
or  unwilling  to  go  with  their  husbands  to  the  new  settlement  were 
taken  as  wives  by  the  new  colonists  at  Ibadan  and  they  became 
the  mothers  of  most  of  the  children  of  the  first  generation  of  the 
new  Ibadan. 

From  this  it  will  be  seen  that  the  current  tale  of  the  Egbas 
being  driven  from  Ibadan  by  the  Oygs  is  lacking  in  accuracy. 
Such  then  is  the  foundation  of  the  present  Abeokuta. 

§  3.  The  Egbado  Tribes 

The  Egbados  are  a  Yoruba  family  bordering  on  the  coast. 
They  were  very  loyal  subjects  of  the  AlAfin^  before  the  revolution 
that  altered  the  pohtical  state  of  the  country.  The  Olu  or  king  of 
Ilaro  was  the  greatest  king  of  the  Egbados,  having  about  443 
ruling  chiefs  under  him,  himself  a  crowned  vassal  of  Oyo. 
The  ancient  custom  was  for  the  Alafin  to  crown  a  new  Olu 
every  three  years.  After  the  expiration  of  his  term  of  office  the 
retiring  Olu  was  to  take  10  of  his  young  wives,  and  whatever  else 
he  chose  and  proceed  to  the  metropohs,  and  there  to  spend  the 
rest  of-his  days  in  peace.  There  was  a  quarter  of  the  city  assigned 
to  them  known  as  Oke  Olu  (the  quarter  of  the  Olus). 

The  parting  between  these  young  wives  and  their  mothers 
was  most  touching.  The  relatives  generally  accompanied  them 
as  far  as  to  Jiga  or  Jakg,  and  the  wailings  and  lamentations  on  such 
occasions  were  as  one  mourning  for  the  dead.     Hence  the  sa5nng 

^  In  the  year  1902  the  head  chief  of  Ifo  died,  an  Egbado  town 
about  6  hours  distant  from  Ilaro.  Sir  Wm.  MacGregor,  then 
Governor  of  Lagos,  asked  the  chiefs  of  the  town  who  their  overlord 
was,  to  appoint  a  successor,  they  replied  the  Alafin  of  Oyo.  He 
was  much  puzzled  at  this.  He  told  them  he  was  too  far,  they 
had  better  apply  to  the  Alake  of  Abeokuta.  Evidently  they 
at  least  were  not  affected  by  the  revolution. 


"  A  ri  erinkan  I'Egba  iri  Olu  "  (the  Olu  is  seen  by  the  Egbas  but 
once  in  ahfe  time). 

Next  to  the  Olu  of  Ilaro  came  the  Onisare  or  king  of  Ijana, 
but  his  was  not  a  crowned  head.  The  appointment  of  the  Onisare 
was  also  from  Oyo,  and  a  Tapa  was  always  selected  for  that  office. 
The  reason  for  this  is  not  known.  The  Olu  and  the  people  of  Ilaro, 
as  well  as  the  Onisare  and  the  people  of  Ijana  were  so  to  speak  but 
one  people ;  they  observed  the  same  national  customs,  and  the  same 
laws,  their  national  deity  was  the  god  Ifa  and  the  annual  festivals 
in  its  honour  were  observed  in  both  places  one  after  the  other  in 
the  same  month,  each  lasting  for  a  week,  the  one  commencing  the 
day  after  the  completion  of  the  other  so  as  to  give  the  people 
of  both  places  an  opportunity  of  taking  part  in  each  other's 

The  following  ceremony  usually  brought  the  anniversary  to  a 
close  : — ^Both  these  kings  were  to  meet  in  a  certain  place  in  the 
open  field  midway  between  the  two  towns  :  two  mounds  of  earth 
previously  raised  opposite  each  other  served  for  each  king  to 
enthrone  himself  upon,  the  one  turning  his  back  to  the  other 
as  they  were  not  to  see  each  other's  face.  The  one  to  reach  the 
spot  first  would  sit  with  his  face  turned  homewards,  the  other 
on  his  arrival  does  the  same,  and  thus  they  sit  back  to  back,  each 
one  looking  homewards  ;  communication  with  each  other  was  by 
messengers.  A  numerous  retinue  always  attended  either  to  take 
an  active  part  in  the  proceedings  or  as  mere  spectators. 

This  custom  served  as  a  bond  of  union  and  friendship  between 
them,  a  people  having  identical  interests. 

The  kings  of  Ijakoand  Jiga  are  called  Abepa :  they  had  a  strange 
custom  of  standing  seven  days  and  seven  nights  in  the  seventh 
month  of  the  year  during  the  anniversary  of  their  national  deity, 
after  which  they  may  sit  down. 

The  Egbados  were  a  commercial  people  and  of  a  quiet  and 
peaceful  disposition  and.  as  a  result,  were  considered  very  wealthy. 
They  termed  themselves  "Egbaluw§"  to  distinguish  them 
from  the  Egbas  in  forest  lands  (now  inhabiting  Abeokuta)  whom 
they  designated  "  Egbalugbo."  They  traded  in  kola  nuts,  palm 
oil,  and  fish.  They  had  very  few  slaves,  and  their  wealth  consisted 
in  beads  and  native  cloths.  From  Kano  and  Sokoto  they  imported 
what  they  termed  Erinla  and  Esuru  beads  in  quantities,  as  they 
esteemed  them  very  valuable. 

The  Beginning  of  Disturbance  in  the  Egbado  Districts. 
The   Ijaka   War.     A  serious  complication  arose  between  the 
people  of  Ijana  and  Ijaka  which  ended  in  the  conquest  and  fall  of 


this  peaceful  tribe.     War  was  very  foolishly  declared  against  Ijaka 
by  the  Onisare  of  Ijana  which  resulted  in  the  defeat  ot  the  aggressor. 

There  was  a  rich  and  influential  chief  at  Ijana  called  Dekun, 
in  whom  the  Ijanas  trusted  when  they  rashly  declared  war,  not 
knowing  that  he  was  a  great  coward.  At  the  height  of  the  battle 
Dekun  dastardly  gave  way  and  the  IjcLnas  were  completely  routed. 
He  escaped  to  Oniyefun  and  those  who  like  himself  escaped  with 
their  lives  murmured  against  him,  and  even  insulted  him  to  his 
face,  calling  him  "  white-feathered,"  "  a  poltroon,"  "  the  cause  of 
their  defeat."  Dekuri  was  offended  at  this,  and  more  from  shame 
than  from  the  insult  he  resolved  never  to  return  to  Ijana.  He 
remained  at  Oniyefun  for  a  considerable  time,  until  a  war 
(which  we  shall  notice  afterwards)  met  him  there. 

On  the  return  home  of  the  remnants  of  the  defeated  IjSnas 
Dekun's  house  was  plundered. 

Dekun  afterwards  spent  several  years  at  Ijaka  with  whose 
king  he  contracted  friendship,  and  later  perhaps  in  order  to  avenge 
the  insults  received,  he  took  refuge  with  the  king  of  Dahomey  whom 
he  asked  to  espouse  his  cause.  The  king  of  Dahomey  destroyed 
Inubi  where  thousands  of  Oyo  refugees  made  their  home  ;  of  these 
about  13,000  were  children  or  grandchildren  of  Oyo  nobles  or 
well-to-do  people  "  whose  fathers  had  kept  horses  "  before  the 
devastation  of  the  Yoruba  country  by  the  Fulanis.  They  were 
all  put  to  the  sword  by  the  Dahomians  with  the  exception  of  one 
Ekuola  to  whom  Dekun  was  under  some  obligation,  and  he 
evidently  interposed  and  had  his  life  spared.  Thus  did 
Dekun  resent  his  so-called  insdlt.  Such  was  the  beginning 
of  the  fall  of  this  peaceful  Egbaluwe  tribe,  and  the  inroads  of  the 
Dahomians  into  the  Yoruba  country. 

Two  years  after  the  destruction  of  Inubi,  the  king  of  Dahomey 
took  Refurefu  by  capture  in  war. 

A  Short  Account  of  Dekun.  Dekun  was  an  Ilari  of  Oyo,  placed 
at  Ijana  by  one  of  the  AlAfins  as  the  King's  representative. 
Instead  of  upholding  the  King's  interests  when  the  great  chiefs 
of  the  kingdom  rebelled  against  their  sovereign,  he  also  rebelled 
against  his  master,  and  made  himself  great  at  Ijclna,  by  appro- 
priating all  taxes  and  tributes  he  should  have  forwarded  to  Oyo. 
He  joined  the  marauders  at  Ipara  in  the  devastation  ot  the  Egba 
principalities,  but  at  the  occupation  and  settlement  of  Ibadan  he 
returned  to  Ijana,  and  did  not  reside  with  the  new  settlers.  In 
one  of  their  expeditions  Sodeke  was  captured  by  him,  and  served 
him  for  years  as  his  horse  boy.  But  providence  destined  Sodeke 
for  a  great  position  in  life  and  hence  he  eventually  became  the 
renowned  leader  of  the  Egbas  to  Abeokuta. 


Dgkun  was  rich  but  childless,  although  he  kept  a  numerous 
harem.  There  is  a  story  told  in  connection  with  him  which  is 
worth  recording  : — 

A  woman  ot  an  abandoned  character  called  Isokun  had  left 
her  husband  and  children  at  Ipokia  to  become  Dekun's  mistress. 
This  woman  on  one  occasion  went  on  a  long  journey  and  required 
some  justification  for  her  prolonged  absence  ;  on  her  way  home, 
she  saw  at  the  last  sleeping  place  of  the  caravan,  a  mother  with 
her  new  born  babe  3  days  old,  she  quietly  stole  this  babe  from  its 
mother's  side  while  she  was  fast  asleep,  and  immediately  went  off 
with  it.  On  reaching  home  she  gave  it  as  an  excuse  for  her  long 
absence  that  she  was  enceinte  of  this  child  before  she  left  home,  and 
when  she  might  have  returned  she  was  unfit  for  travelling  but 
immediately  after  delivery  she  was  able  to  hasten  home. 

Dekun  rejoiced  that  after  all  he  was  now  a  father  and  to 
demonstrate  his  joy  he  invited  all  the  principal  men  and  chiefs  of 
Ijana  and  of  the  adjacent  towns  to  a  feast  held  in  honour  of  the 
event.  Presents  poured  in  from  every  rank  and  station  for  the 
child  and  the  supposed  mother  according  to  the  father's  dignit}' 
and  every  care  and  attention  were  bestowed  on  them. 

Meanwhile  the  real  mother  was  in  eager  search  for  her  lost 
baby.  She  at  first  supposed  that  it  might  have  been  a  wolf 
that  snatched  it  away  from  her  side,  and  consequently  she  explored 
the  surrounding  woods  if  haply  she  might  find  the  bones.  Failing 
in  this  she  was  resolved  to  seek  for  it  in  the  town  ;  and  taking  it 
quarter  by  quarter  she  entered  every  house  asking  the  mothers 
to  produce  their  babies,  in  order  to  identify  her  own.  On  the 
i8th  day  of  search  she  reached  Dekun's  house  and  discovered  her 
baby  with  Isokun.  Then  there  arose  an  uproar  about  the  child 
and  a  regular  "  to  do  "  about  the  whole  affair  with  assertions 
and  denials  on  either  side.  A  proper  investigation  of  the  case 
having  been  instituted,  and  signs  of  recent  delivery  not  found 
in  Isokun  she  was  thus  brought  to  book  ;  the  whole  truth  was  at 
length  extorted  from  her  when  her  arms  were  bound  behind  her 
back  with  a  new  rope,  till  both  elbows  and  wrists  met. 

From  shame  she  escaped  from  Ijana  to  her  former  home  at 
Ipokia  where  she  had  left  her  sons  and  daughters  to  become 
D§kun's  mistress.  Her  name  was  put  to  vulgar  street  songs, 
being  branded  as  a  man-stealer. 

Dekun  lived  in  Dahomey  till  the  accession  of  King  Atiba  of 
the  present  Oyo  who  demanded  him  from  the  King  of  Dahomey, 
and  he  was  given  up.  He  was  charged  as  a  rebel  and  a  traitor, 
condemned,  and  pubhcly  executed  at  the  market-place.  The 
sentence  was  universally  held  to  be  a  just  one. 


Dekun  it  seems  had  a  son  called  Onibudo  ;  perhaps  an  adopted 
one  as  is  customary  with  childless  chiefs  ;  his  life  was  spared,  but 
he  was  degraded  by  the  AlAfin  and  the  mean  title  of  Agbomopa 
was  conferred  on  him  and  his  descendants. 

§  4.  The  Founding  of  Modakeke 

By  the  Fulani  conquest  of  all  the  principal  towns  in  Yoruba 
proper,  fugitives  from  all  parts  escaped  southwards  and  settled 
in  all  Ife  towns  except  at  He  Ife  the  chief  town.  They  were  in 
great  numbers  at  Moro,  Ipetumodu,  Odiiabon,  Yakioy6,  Ifa-lende, 
Sope,  Waro,  Ogi  as  well  as  in  Apomu  and  Ikire. 

Just  about  the  time  of  the  Lasinmi  war  a  Mohammedan  at 
Iwo  called  Mohomi  invited  the  Folanis  of  Ilorin  to  extend  theii 
conquest  to  the  towns  of  these  Eastern  districts,  as  the  Oyos 
were  then  engaged  in  a  civil  war.  The  Ilorin  army  accordingly 
came  and  overran  the  above  mentioned  towns.  The  latter  made 
no  attempt  at  resistance  but  simply  deserted  their  towns  and  with 
all  the  Oyo  refugees  escaped  to  He  Ife  their  chief  town  and  were 
well  received  and  protected  by  Aldnmgyero  (aUas  Odunle)  the 
then  reigning  Ow6ni  of  Ife.  The  most  important  Oyo  chief 
amongst  the  refugees  was  the  Asirawo,  the  king  of  Iraw6. 

Before  long,  a  feeling  of  disaffection  became  evident  between 
the  Ife  citizens  and  the  exiles.  The  Owoni  spared  the  Ife  refugees, 
but  enslaved  all  the  Oyos  making  them  "  hewers  of  wood  and 
drawers  of  water  "  after  having  murdered  the  Asirawo  their  chief. 
One  ot  the  Asirawo's  sons  enslaved  was  the  afterwards  renowned 
chieftain  of  Modakeke,  Ojo  Akitikori  by  name. 

The  Oyos  built  their  houses,  cleaned  their  farms  and  performed 
all  sorts  of  menial  work  for  them.  This  was  towards  the  close 
of  Akinmoyer6's  reign.  Gbanlare  who  succeeded  him  was  more 
favourably  disposed  towards  the  Oyos,  and  they  now  received 
better  treatment,  but  this  was  not  for  long.  Gbegbaaje  succeeded 
Gbanlare,  and  the  bad  feeling  and  cruelty  against  Oyos  were 
revived  ;  many  of  them  were  even  sold  into  slavery.  This  king 
also  was  soon  murdered. 

Winmolaje  who  succeeded  Gbegbaaje  utilized  the  services 
of  these  Oyos  in  repelling  the  inroads  of  the  Ijesas  into  his  territory. 
From  appreciation  of  their  services,  he  was  kindly  disposed  toward 
them  ;  but  the  hatred  and  malice  of  the  Ife  citizens  generally  was 
so  strong  that  not  even  the  well-disposed  could  curb  the  virulence 
of  the  opposite  party. 

A  pretext  was  soon  found  again  for  murdering  the  well  disposed 
Ow6ni.     Adegunle  succeeded   to   the  throne:   he   was  partly  of 


Yoruba  descent  on  the  mother's  side  and  hence  was  the  benefactor 
of  the  Oyos  all  his  days. 

Before  he  accepted  the  crown  of  Ife  he  made  the  chiefs  take 
an  oath  that  they  would  not  find  a  pretext  for  murdering  him  as 
they  did  his  predecessors,  but  would  allow  him  to  die  a  natural 
death  ;  they  readily  agreed  to  this  request.  Soon  after  his  accession 
knowing  full  well  the  disposition  of  his  people,  he  took  the  pre- 
caution at  once  of  accumulating  ammunition  of  war,  in  order  to 
make  himself  strong  against  any  attack  from  the  populace.  He 
was  not  of  a  warlike  disposition  but  was  rather  given  to  agricultural 
pursuits  ;  hence  his  nickname  "  Ab'ewe  ila  gbagkdk  gbagada  " 
(one  whose  okra  leaves  are  very  broad)  from  his  garden  plantations. 

The  Oyos  were  by  this  time  growing  to  be  an  important  section 
in  the  community,  having  for  their  chief  one  Wingbolu  a  smelter 
of  iron. 

The  Ife  nature  and  spirit  of  the  times  soon  became  evident. 
Notwithstanding  the  oath,  a  pretext  was  soon  found  for  a 
civil  war  against  their  king,  but  he  was  too  strong  for  them;  he 
defeated  and  suppressed  all  the  refractory  chiefs  among  them. 

After  the  civil  fight  the  Owoni  called  Wingbolu  and  asked  him 
why  he  and  the  Oyos  were  neutral  at  the  time  of  the  insurrection. 
He  replied  boldly  "  Had  I  been  invited  by  your  opponents,  does 
your  majesty  think  yoa  would  have  proved  victorious  ?  Or  if 
you  had  invited  us,  would  not  3''our  victory  have  been  more 
complete?  " 

Thinking  over  these  significant  remarks  the  Owoni  who  had 
some  strains  of  Oyo  blood  in  him  was  resolved  not  on  exter- 
minating these  Oyos  as  some  others  would  have  done  but  rather 
on  emancipating  them.  He  appointed  them  a  settlement  outside 
the  walls  of  the  city  deputing  one  Adewgro  to  accompany  Win- 
gbolu to  the  site  and  mark  out  the  settlement.  On  the  Oyo  chief 
himself  he  conferred  the  title  of  Ogunsuwa  signifying  One  whom 
Ogun  (the  god  of  war)  has  blessed  with  a  fortune.  That  has 
become  the  title  of  all  the  chief  rulers  of  Modakeke  to  this  day. 

By  a  royal  proclamation  all  Oyos  were  to  leave  the  city  of  He 
Ife  for  the  new  settlement,  and  accordingly  the  settlement  grew 
rapidly  from  new  arrivals  every  day.  The  new  settlement  was 
named  Modakeke,  a  term  said  to  have  been  derived  from  the  cry  of 
a  nest  of  storks  on  a  large  tree  near  the  site. 

Modakeke  was  first  built  in  a  circular  form  as  a  single  vast 
compound  of  about  2  miles  in  circumference ;  the  enclosed  area 
was  left  covered  with  trees  and  high  grass,  each  individual  clearing 
out  a  small  space  in  front  of  his  dwelling.  This  was  done  for  the 
sake  of  mutual  protection  as  no  one  need  to  go  out  of  the  com- 


pound  for  sticks  or  thatch  for  roofing  purposes.  Modakeke  was 
in  1884  a  town  of  between  50,000  and  60,000  inhabitants. 

By  dwelling  in  a  separate  settlement  it  was  not  meant  that  they 
should  hold  themselves  independent  of  the  Ifes.  They  were  still 
loyal  to  the  Ow6ni. 

A  sedition  was  again  raised  for  the  purpose  of  murdering  the 
Ow6ni  for  emancipating  the  Oyos,  but  he  receiving  help  from  the 
new  settlement  crushed  the  rising  completely,  and  all  the  ring- 
leaders were  put  to  death  among  whom  was  the  son  of  a  rich  lady 
called  Olugboka. 

As  Ab'ewe-ila  could  not  be  murdered  by  force  of  arms,  the 
Ifes  finally  succeeded  in  poisoning  him  and  the  first  intimation 
the  settlers  had  of  the  death  of  their  benefactor  was  from  the 
street  song  of  the  Ifes  "  They  are  deprived  of  their  King,  woe 
betide  the  Oyos." 

The  late  king  was  denied  a  royal  funeral,  and  was  buried  like  any 
common  man  and  all  his  slaves  were  seized  b}-  the  Ifes,  but  the 
Oyos  amongst  them  went  over  in  a  body  to  the  new  settlement. 

Modakeke  was  soon  besieged  by  the  Ifes,  but  they  were  repulsed 
with  a  heavy  loss  in  dead,  wounded,  and  captives.  The  Modakekes 
captured  aboat  12070  of  them,  but  they  had  not  the  heart  to 
enslave  their  former  masters  and  benefactors  and  hence  all  were 
released.  Thirty  days  after  this  defeat,  one  Ogunmakin  an  Ife 
chief  receiving  re-inforcement  from  Oke  Igbo,  Modakeke  was 
again  attacked.  The  Ifes  were  again  badly  beaten  and 
they  were  pursued  right  home,  and  the  city  of  Ife  taken 
by  an  assault.  The  victors  now  ventured  to  sell  their  Ife  captives 
as  slaves,  but  reserved  of  their  women-folks  for  wives.  The  Ifes 
escaped  to  Isoya,  Oke  Igbo,  and  other  Ife  towns  where  they 
remained  for  many  years  till  about  the  year  1854  when  the  Ibadans 
were  engaged  in  the  Ijebu  Ere  war.  Chief  Ogunmola  of  Ibadan 
sent  messengers  from  the  camp  to  negotiate  terms  ot  peace  and 
bring  the  Ifes  home,  as  it  would  never  do  to  let  the  cradle  of  the 
race  remain  perpetually  in  desolation  and  the  ancestral  gods  not 
worshipped.  Kubusi  was  the  then  reigning  Owoni  who  could  no 
longer  remain  in  exile,  but  promised  that  if  allowed  to  return 
home  the  past  would  be  obliterated  ;  no  restitution  of  anything 
will  be  demanded  of  the  Modakekes,  not  even  of  their  wives  who 
might  have  been  appropriated. 

But  no  sooner  did  they  return  home  than  all  the  Ife  women 
deserted  their  present  husbands  with  all  the  children  born  to  them 
and  returned  to  He  Ifg. 

Notwithstanding  their  present  relations  the  Modakekes  still 
acknowledged  the  supremacy  of  the  Ifes  and  by  mutual  arrange- 


ment  they  had  their  representatives  in  the  If  e  assembly.  Thus  they 
Uved  together  harmoniously  till  the  year  1878  when  the  whole  of 
the  Yoruba  country  was  again  embroiled  in  war,  and  the  latent 
animosity  broke  out  afresh  in  an  open  fight,  and  the  If§s  were 
again  worsted  as  we  shall  noti  e  hereafter. 

Chapter  XI 

§  I.    The  Destruction  of  the  Epos  and  the  Death  of 
Ojo  Amepo 

Notwithstanding  the  Fulani  devastations,  there  were  not 
wanting  still  among  the  Yorubas  powerful  generals,  who  could 
successfully  oppose  them  if  only  they  would  act  together.  One 
such  was  Ojo  Amepo  the  Kakanfo. 

Ojo  Amepo  was  one  of  the  generals  of  the  late  Kakanfo  Afonja 
of  Ilorin  ;  he  inherited  the  lion-like  spirit  of  his  chief.  After  the 
fall  of  Afonja  he  resided  at  Akese,  where  he  found  employment 
for  his  enterprising  spirit  in  waging  intestine  wars  with  the  Epos, 
and  became  a  great  man  and  a  terror  in  that  district.  Thus  Ojo 
Amepo  usurped  the  prerogatives  of  the  AlAfin  in  that  district. 
He  took  Iware,  Okiti,  Ajerun,  Koto,  Ajabe,  towns  near  Ijaye,  and 
he  assumed  the  title  of  Kakanfo  in  opposition  to  Edun  of  Gbogun 
whom,  however,  he  survived  (as  Edun  himself  formerly  did  in 
opposition  to  Toyeje  of  Ogbomoso)  showing  the  state  of  anarchy 
in  the  kingdom  as  there  can  be  but  one  Kakanfo  at  a  time. 

Amepo  was  a  good  horseman  and  an  intrepid  warrior.  Ago 
was  one  of  the  towns  in  the  Epo  district.  Oja  the  founder  perished 
at  the  Kanla  war  as  we  have  already  noticed,  and  the  only  man 
of  power  then  in  that  town  was  Prince  Atiba  formerly  of  Gudugbu, 
and  he  was  in  friendly  alliance  with  the  Ilgrins  and  abetted  them, 
when  they  were  resolved  upon  subjugating  the  Epds. 

Chiefs  Amepo,  Salako,  and  Ojomgbodu  were  opposed  to  the 
Ilorins,  and  the  latter  soon  found  a  pretext  to  wage  war  upon 
them  and  to  destroy  their  towns. 

The  Ilorins  encamped  at  Ago  Oja  against  Ojomgbodu  which 
was  about  6  or  7  miles  distant.  The  Kakanfo  at  Akesfe  sent  Dado 
his  commander-in-chief  at  the  head  of  a  detachment  to  reinforce 
the  beleaguered  town  ;  associated  with  Dado  were  Adekambi, 
Soso,  Dese  and  Lagbayi,  all  distinguished  men.  A  portion  of  the 
Ilorin  army  was  encamped  against  Wonworo  at  the  same  time,  and 
the  Kakanfo  also  sent  Ayo  another  distinguished  war  chief  to 
protect  the  place.  Both  these  places  were  obstinately  defended 
and,  but  for  the  tragedy  which  befell  the  Kakanfo  at  home,  they 
might  have  held  out  longer  even  if  they  could  not  repel  the  enemy 



Amepo  the  Kakanfo  being  anxious  about  his  men  when  he 
heard  no  news  from  the  seat  of  war,  rode  out  one  morning  dressed 
in  his  red  uniform  with  only  about  20  boys  as  his  attendants. 
He  took  the  path  leading  to  the  seat  of  conflict  to  listen  if  per- 
chance he  would  hear  the  sound  of  musketry  showing  that  his  people 
were  still  holding  out  and  the  town  not  yet  taken. 

He  dismounted  under  a  large  tree  in  the  fields,  and  most  un- 
fortunately for  him  was  discovered  from  afar  by  a  company 
of  Ilorin  horsemen,  who  had  made  excursion  into  the  W6nw6ro 
farms,  and  were  returning  to  their  camp  at  Ago-Oja  by  way  of 
Akesfe.  He  found  himself  in  a  predicament  all  too  late,  his  body 
guards  were,  alas  !  too  young  to  defend  him,  and  his  corpulency 
prevented  him  from  springing  at  once  upon  his  horse  and  making 
good  his  escape.  So  he  was  slain  there  under  the  tree,  and  his  head 
and  hands  were  cut  off  and  carried  in  triumph  to  the  camp  before 
Ojomgbodu.  But  before  doing  so,  the  Ilorin  horsemen  rode  back 
to  Akese  and  called  upon  the  town  to  surrender  under  threats  of 
immediace  destruction.  The  Kakanfo  being  slain,  and  the 
war-chiefs  absent  at  Ojomgbodu,  the  town  Akese  surrendered  at 
discretion  ;  but  as  soon  as  the  horsemen  were  gone  the  inhabitants 
packed  up  and  deserted  the  town. 

The  Kakanfo  s  army  at  Ojomgbodu  of  course  did  not  know 
of  the  tragedy  that  had  befallen  their  master  at  home  until  they 
were  informed  the  next  morning  in  the  battlefield  by  the  Ilorin 
horsemen  taunting  them.  To  confirm  the  truth  of  their  statement, 
Amepo  s  speckled  hand  which  was  cut  of!  was  thrown  to  them 
within  the  town  wall  for  identification.  "  Know  ye  whose  hand 
that  was  ?  We  have  slain  your  master  !  What  is  the  use  of  further 
fighting  ?  Woe  betide  you  if  you  do  not  surrender  at  once." 
The  men  were  panic  stricken  and  would  have  fled  there  and  then 
but  for  the  presence  of  mind  and  brave  speech  of  Dado  the  com- 
mander-in-chief. He  said  to  them  "  The  death  of  our  master  is 
no  reason  why  we  should  give  way,  let  us  fight  like  brave  men  and 
not  show  the  white  feather."  Turning  to  the  besiegers  he  said 
"  We  are  here  to  defend  the  town  not  our  master  whose  misfortune 
is  only  an  incident  though  a  lamentable  one.  You  prepare  yourself 
for  a  battle  to-morrow,  for  you  shall  receive  such  a  severe  encounter 
as  you  have  never  experienced  before  ;  you  will  then  know  how 
brave  men  can  resent  treachery."  This  speech  created  order 
among  the  troops  and  the  Ojomgbodu  people  also  were  re-assured  ; 
but  it  was  only  a  ruse  in  order  to  make  good  their  escape,  for  by 
daybreak,  before  the  Ojomgbodu  people  knew  that  they  were 
deserted.  Dado  had  retreated  with  his  army  in  good  order  and 
escaped  to  Ika-Odan. 

236  the  history  of  the  yorubas 

§  2.  The  Occupation  of  Ijaye  and  end  of  Dado 

Ika-Odan  now  became  the  home  of  the  flower  of  the  army 
from  the  Oyo  provinces.  The  leaders  here  were  the  only  brave 
generals  who  would  not  submit  under  the  yoke  of  the  Ilorins, 
and  who  held  out  still  until  such  time  that  fortune  would  veer 
round  to  their  side. 

These  refugees  soon  became  masters  of  the  town,  the  wives  and 
daughters  of  their  hosts  became  theirs,  and  the  hosts  themselves 
practically  their  menials. 

Everything  at  home  and  in  the  farms  was  soon  devoured  as  they 
lived  only  by  foraging.  When  nothing  remained  in  the  Ika-Odan 
farms  they  extended  their  operations  into  the  Ijaye  farms.  When 
the  I j ayes  could  no  longer  endure  it,  and  their  farms  were  nearly 
all  eaten  up  they  attacked  these  marauders  ;  a  skirmish  ensued 
and  the  foragers  finding  the  men  of  Ijaye  too  strong  for  them,  sent 
home  for  re-inforcements. 

Kurumi's  advice  was  for  conciliatory  measures,  considering 
that  these  proceedings  were  rather  hard  on  the  people,  who 
really  could  not  help  attacking  the  foragers.  But  Dado  their 
leader  was  for  opposition.  "  Cowards  "  said  he,  "  what  can  the 
I  j  ayes  do  ?  "  Saying  this,  he  hastily  put  on  his  armour  and  rushed 
on  to  the  scene  of  the  conflict.  He  was  allowed  to  go  on  alone, 
none  of  the  other  war-chiefs  followed  him. 

The  foragers  seeing  their  leader  coming  were  inspirited  and 
put  forth  more  efforts,  and  he  led  them  to  victory.  They  drove 
the  Ijayes  home,  and  pressed  so  closely  on  their  heels  that  the  latter 
could  not  rally  to  defend  the  town,  but  deserted  it  and  fled  on,  till 
they  escaped  to  Ika-Igbo.  Ijaye  now  fell  into  the  possession  of  the 
assailants  who  did  not  fire  it,  but  simply  occupied  it  as  was  done 
at  Ibadan,  each  one  taking  possession  of  the  finest  compound  he 
could  get. 

Dado  now  sent  to  invite  Kurumi  and  the  rest  of  the  war-chiefs 
at  Ika-Odan,  and  they  came  and  took  possession  of  Ijaye.  Thus 
that  town  passed  out  of  the  hands  of  the  Egbas,  and  became  an 
Oyg  town  to  this  day. 

At  a  special  meeting  convened  to  consider  their  future  course 
it  was  resolved  that  they  should  make  Ijaye  their  home  at  least 
for  the  present  until  they  could  see  a  brighter  prospect  of  dis- 
lodging the  Fulanis  from  Ilorin  and  then  return  to  their  own 
homes.  They  therefore  took  possession  of  the  lands  and  farms 
along  with  the  houses  and  proceeded  to  so.v  the  farms,  lest 
famine  should  follow  the  present  abundance.  Thus  they  became 
proprietors  of  houses,  lands  and  farms  not  their  own.     The  fields 


were  extensively  cultivated,  all  the  war-chiefs  with  the  sole  exception 
of  Dado  their  leader,  paid  great  attention  to  agriculture,  going  to 
their  farms  daily. 

Dado  was  of  a  more  restless  spirit  and  was  indifferent  to 
agriculture.  Nothing  delighted  him  more  than  the  rattle  of 
musketry,  for  he  was  never  in  his  element  unless  he  was  at  the 
head  of  his  army  directing  a  battle.  He  often  frightened  his 
people  home  from  farm,  mistaking  the  volleys  Dado  ordered 
to  be  fired  for  an  attack  on  the  town.  The  other  war-chiets 
petitioned  him  again  and  again  not  to  cause  such  an  alarm,  but 
he  usually  replied  in  a  haughty  manner:  "  Cowards,  were  I  such 
as  you  I  could  not  have  brought  you  here,  when  yoi"  wished  to 
negotiate  peace  with  the  aborigines." 

Casting  this  at  their  teeth  day  by  day,  his  colleagues  felt  hurt 
but  were  afraid  of  opposing  him  till  one  day  Kurumi  summoned 
up  courage  to  do  so  and  was  backed  by  the  other  chiefs,  a  civil 
war  ensued  and  Dado  was  expelled  the  town. 

Dado's  Later  Career. — To  trace  the  subsequent  career  of  Dado 
we  have  to  anticipate  some  events  of  history  yet  to  be  narrated. 

Dado  was  bold  and  brave  as  a  warrior,  but  in  his  disposition,  he 
was  irritable  and  very  proud.  On  his  expulsion  from  Ijaye  he  went 
first  to  Iware,  and  from  thence  he  crossed  the  river  Ogun  going 
to  a  small  town  near  Isede  called  Tobalogbo.  He  encamped 
outside  the  town  walls  with  his  few  followers,  and  sent  to  apprise 
the  Bale  of  his  arrival.  His  fame  as  a  great  warrior  having 
travelled  far  and  wide  the  Tobalogbo  treated  him  with  every  mark 
of  respect,  supplying  him  and  his  followers  with  provisions,  and  on 
the  next  day  he  came  out  with  his  chiefs  to  pay  his  respects  to 
the  fallen  general. 

Whilst  the  Bale  and  chiefs  prostrated  before  this  monster 
in  the  act  of  salutation,  he  ordered  them  all  to  be  decapitated  ! 
He  and  his  men  then  rushed  into  the  town  and  captured  it.  He 
cared  only  for  the  booty  and  not  for  making  it  his  residence  ; 
he,  therefore,  passed  on  to  the  town  of  Aborerin  near  Iberekodo 
and  there  he  built  a  house  and  resided  with  his  family  and  about 
400  men.  Subsequently  he  left  Aborerin  with  his  family  and 
belongings  and  wishing  to  try  the  fortunes  of  war  once  more, 
he  joined  an  Ibadan  contingent  under  Osun  the  chief  of  the  Ibadan 
cavalry  in  an  expedition  in  aid  of  Oniyefun.  When  Osun  fell  in 
battle,  and  Oniyefun  was  reduced  by  the  Egbas,  he  narrowly 
escaped  with  a  handful  of  his  men,  leaving  his  wives  and  children 
at  the  mercy  of  the  conquerors  and  escaped  to  Ijaka.  Divine 
retribution  now  began  to  overtake  him  for  his  cruelties  and  for  his 
heartless  treachery  and  cold-blooded  murder  of  Tobalogbo  and 


his  chiefs.  He  lost  everything  at  Oiiiyefun,  and  from  that  time 
he  went  up  and  down  the  country  as  a  "  fugitive  and  vagabond." 
After  some  time  spent  at  Ijaka  he  came  to  Ibadan  ;  he  accompanied 
Lakanle  the  Ibadan  commander-in-chief  to  the  Arakanga  war 
(to  be  related  afterwards) ;  on  their  leturn  he  went  to  Ilorin  and 
returned  again  to  Ibadan.  Fortune  was  altogether  against 
him  He  outlived  his  fame  and  glory,  suffered  from  penury 
and  want  and  was  reduced  to  a  nonentity. 

After  Lakanle's  death,  having  no  one  to  befriend  him  at  Ibadan 
again,  he  went  once  more  to  Ijaye.  Kurumi  was  then  at  the  zenith 
of  his  glory,  with  the  old  animosity  against  Dado  still  rankhng 
in  his  breast.  He  sent  for  him  one  day  and  as  Dado  lay  prostrate 
before  him  Kurumi  ordered  him  to  be  decapitated  ! 

Thus  the  same  measure  was  meted  to  him,  as  he  once  meted 
to  his  hosts  of  Tobalogbo. 

The  Occupation  of  Abento, — Kuriimi  of  Ijaye  was  an  arbitrary 
and  domineering  chief,  and  moreover  tribal  jealousies  and  clanship 
were  rife  among  the  chiefs  who  now  occupy  Ijaye  as  they  were 
from  different  provinces  and  townships  brought  together  here 
by  one  common  calamity.  Kurumi  and  the  Ikoyi  chiefs  with 
him  were  from  the  MetropoHtan  province. 

The  notable  war-chiefs  from  Akes^  were  : — Ay6,  Adekambi, 
Ajadi,  Sukotg,  Bankgle,  Lahkn,  Aruno-agba-ni-igbe  and  Oluwol^. 
These  chiefs  from  the  Ep6  districts  could  not  endure  the  hauteur 
of  Kurumi  who  was  backed  up  by  the  Ikoyi  chiefs.  They  hold 
themselves  superior  to  the  Akes^  chiefs.  Ikoyi  was  indeed  the 
premier  provincial  city  next  to  the  Metropolis,  and  the  Onikoyi 
the  AlAfin's  viceregent,  but  these  chiets  seem  to  have  forgotten 
that  they  were  no  longer  worthy  of  the  honour  they  now  claimed 
since  they  have  become  disloyal  to  the  Crown. 

However,  in  order  to  avoid  a  civil  war  from  constant 
friction  the  above-mentioned  Akes|  chiefs  with  their  men  left 
Ijaye  in  a  body  and  retired  to  Abem6,  a  town  12  miles  distant 
(midway  between  Ijaye  and  the  present  Oyg)  under  the  leadership 
of  chief  Ay6.  We  now  have  two  rival  towns,  Ijaye  occupied 
by  the  Ikoyi  chiefs,  and  Abemo  by  the  Akes^  chiefs, 

§  3.     How  Ibadan   Finally  Became  a  Yoruba  Town 

The  Fall  of  Maye 

The  marauders  who  settled  at  Ibadan  after  the  fall  of  Ooriin 
and  all  the  Gbagura  towns  (as  we  have  mentioned  above)  com- 
prised the  Ife,  Ijebu,  Qyo,  and  Egba  chiefs  with  their  men.  Chief 
Maye  an  Ife  was  the  acknowledged  head  of  them  all.     He  was  a 


proud,  haughty,  and  irritable  man,  overbearing  to  all  ;  Lakanl§ 
the  Oyo  leader  (as  above  mentioned)  was  the  only  man  who  could 
speak  when  May§  was  in  a  rage.  The  Ifes  generally  regarded  the 
Oyos  of  the  settlement  as  slaves  because  they  were  homeless 
refugees  ;  they  treated  them  httle  better  than  they  would  dogs. 
Maye  handled  them  with  an  iron  hand,  and  denied  them  every 
security  either  of  their  goods  or  of  their  lives ;  they  were  oppressed 
and  beaten  with  impunity. 

The  Oyos,  groaning  under  this  yoke  of  bondage  sought  every 
opportunity  for  lifting  up  their  heads,  but  the  very  name  of 
Maye  inspired  such  a  dread  in  all,  that  no  plan  could  be  acted 
upon.  The  bards  sang  of  him  as  the  greatest  general  of  the  day, 
a  man  who  commanded  an  amount  of  dread  and  respect,  un- 
surpassed by  any,  etc.  But,  like  Napoleon  after  Moscow,  "  From 
the  highest  to  the  lowest,  there  is  but  one  ^tep  ;"  so  it  was  with 
Maye.    His  fall  was  sudden  and  cornplete. 

Two  neighbours  were  quarrelling  over  a  piece  of  ground  used  in 
common  as  a  dunghill,  one  was  an  Own  man,  Amejiogbe  by  name, 
one  of  May§'s  soldiers,  the  other  an  Oyo  man ;  both  of  them  private 
soldiers.  But  as  Oyos  were  treated  like  dogs,  when  Maye  came  out, 
he  asked  no  questions  about  the  case,  but  sided  with  the  Owu 
man  and  simply  drew  his  sword  and  cut  off  the  headof  the  Oyoman. 
Instantly  a  hue  and  cry  was  raised,  and  an  alarm  given  that  Maye 
was  putting  all  Oyos  to  death  !  The  Oyos  became  desperate,  and 
all  flew  to  arms.  Maye  was  taken  aback  with  surprise  to  see  them 
making  a  dead  set  at  him.  They  refused  to  hear  his  plea  for  self- 
defence,  and  would  not  allow  him  to  re-enter  his  house  ;  he  was 
beset  on  every  side  and  driven  out  of  the  town.  He  escaped  on 
foot  by  the  way  of  the  present  Abeokuta  gate  and  crossed  the  river 
Onk  followed  by  some  of  the  If e  chiefs  e.g.  Aponju-olosun,  Aregbe 
Deriokun,  etc. 

After  this,  the  Oyo  chiefs  began  to  feel  ill  at  ease,  and  were  the 
first  to  offer  him  terms  of  reconciliation.  They  knew  his  fame 
and  valour  and  were  trembling  for  the  possible  consequences. 
In  the  afternoon  an  embassy  was  sent  to  him  with  a  humble 
apology  and  petition  saying  "  Our  Father  should  return  home,  our 
Father  should  not  spend  the  night  in  the  bush."  He  answered 
the  messengers  roughly  and  swore  by  the  gods  that  he  would  surely 
destroy  the  town  and  that  before  long. 

The  next  day  higher  grades  of  ambassadors  were  sent  to  sue 
for  peace,  and  with  them  large  baskets  of  provisions  for  himself 
and  his  followers  because  "Father  must  be  hungry  since  yesterday." 
These  were  not  even  allowed  to  approach  his  camp,  and  some  of 
the  Oyos  who  accompanied  him  as  personal  friends  sent  privately 


to  apprise  their  country-men  that  it  was  of  no  use  their  waiting 
for  an  answer,  the  great  chief  would  neither  hsten  to  them  nor  even 
grant  them  an  interview  and  it  was  in  vain  to  hope  that  he  would 
agree  to  return  to  Ibadan. 

The  ambassadors  had  to  return  home  to  report  their  ill  success 
but  they  left  behind  all  the  provisions  they  took  with  them  in 
hopes  that  his  followers  would  take  them  away  after  they  had  gone. 

The  chiefs  were  much  disappointed  at  this  turn  of  affairs  and 
blamed  themselves  for  their  rashness  and  instructed  the  ambas- 
sadors not  to  wait  for  further  orders  but  that  by  early  dawn  they 
should  proceed  once  more  and  offer  their  humble  submission  and  say 
that  they  would  agree  to  any  fine  he  would  be  pleased  to  impose 
upon  them  as  a  condition  of  his  returning  home. 

In  the  meantime  a  meeting  was  convened  to  consider  what 
further  steps  should  be  taken ;  they  decided  to  levy  a  tax  upon  all 
the  people  in  order  to  raise  money  for  the  fine.  But  the  messengers 
soon  returned  with  a  distressing  report  : — "  The  master's  camp, 
has  been  broken  up,  the  food  they  carried  the  previous  day  was 
left  untouched,  for  hawks,  crows,  and  vultures  to  feed  upon,  nor 
could  anyone  tell  his  route  or  destination !  " 

It  was  surmised  that  he  probably  went  to  join  the  Egbas  at 
Abeokuta  to  raise  an  army  to  fight  them  :  but  a  few  days  after,  a 
farmer  reported  that  he  saw  a  broad  path  leading  to  Idomapa 
in  the  south.  Maye  then  was  the  guest  of  Oluwol^  of  Idomapa, 
but  the  people  of  Erumu  invited  him  to  Erumu,  offering  him  their 
support  and  friendship  because  his  calamity  was  caused  by  his 
espousing  the  cause  of  an  Owu  man.  We  have  seen  above,  that 
Erumu  was  the  chief  vassal  state  of  Owu  and  that  to  this  place  the 
Olowu  and  his  people  escaped  when  the  city  of  Owu  was  taken. 

They  were  determined  to  avenge  Maye's  wrongs,  and  with  such 
a  distinguished  commander  on  their  side,  they  hoped  to  be  able  to 
annihilate  these  Oyo  marauders,  the  principal  agents  in  the 
destruction  of  their  capital  city. 

Before  they  were  prepared  to  lay  siege  to  Ibadan,  the  Erumu 
people  and  their  guests  began  at  once  to  make  predatory  incursions 
into  the  Ibadan  farms,  kidnapping  also  the  caravans  with  corn 
and  other  foodstuffs  from  Ikir^  so  as  to  cut  off  theii  food  supplies 
and  distress  them  by  starvation  before  reducing  them  by  war  at 
the  ensuing  dry  season. 

This  state  of  things  continued  nearly  a  whole  year  and  during 
that  time  vast  preparations  were  made  to  crush  Ibadan  by  an 
overwhelming  force.  An  alliance  was  formed  with  the  Ife  towns 
of  Ikir^,  Apomu,  Ipetumodu  and  other  towns  in  their  neighbour- 
hood, and  a  large  army  was  raised  against  Ibadan.     The  Egbas 


also  were  invited  as  allies,  as  all  have  their  grievances  to  avenge 
on   the  new  occupants   of   Ibadan.     Two  famous   commanders 
Degesin  and  Ogini  led  the  Egba  contingents  ;  they  marched  through 
the  Ibadan  farms  in  the  south  to  join  the  main  army  at  Idomapa. 
The  Gbanamu  War.     The  Ibadan  chiefs  met  this  overwhelming 
force  with  courage  and  determination  bat  the  odds  were  against 
them  ;    at  every  battle  in  spite  of  all  they  could  do,  they  lost 
ground  and  the  assailants  advanced  to  within  a  mile  or  a  mile  and 
a  half  of  the  town.     The  Ibadans  in  their  extremity  were  obhged 
to  ask  help  from  Kurumi  of  Ijaye  who  readily  responded  to  their 
call.    They  were  all  one  people  whom  a  common  calamity  compelled 
to  these  parts,  and  they  had  to  make  a  new  home  and  defend  it. 
Kurumi  arrived  at  Ibadan  on  a  Friday,  but  as  Fridays  were  con- 
sidered inauspicious  days  the  Ibadan  chiefs  suggested  that  the 
fight  should  be  postponed  till  the  next  day.     Kurumi  repHed, 
"It  is  true  Fridays  are  inauspicious,  but  it  is  only  so  to  aggressors, 
not  to  defenders  of  hearth  and  home."     The  last  decisive  battle 
then  was  fought  on  that  day.     It  was  a  bloody  day.     Equal 
courage  and  valour  were  displayed  on  both  sides,  but  in  the  end, 
though  outnumbered  by  far,  the  superior  military  skill  of  Kurumi 
and  the  Ibadans  won  the  day.     For  the  Ibadans  it  was  a  life  and 
death  struggle,  and  because  it  was  mostly  a  hand  to  hand  fight  in 
which  swordsmen  proved  themselves  a  match  for  those  with  fire- 
arms the  battle  was  named  "  Gba'namu  "  (grasping  fire).     Rushing 
upon  their  assailants  sword  in  hand  and  grasping  the  barrel  of  the 
gun,  the  Ibadans  averted  the  fatal  discharge  of  the  weapon  while 
using  their  swords  and  cutlasses  with  effect.  Thus  the  Ife,  Owu,  and 
Egba  alUes  were  completely  routed.     Several  of  their  leaders  were 
made  prisoners  and  put  to  death.     Maye  the  great  commander  was 
taken  prisoner  by  a  common  soldier,  and  as  he  was  being  led  to  the 
town  all  the  war-chiefs  refused  to  see  his  face. 

It  is  a  common  belief  amongst  warriors  in  this  country  that  any 
war-chief,  who  ordered  a  brother  war-chief,  his  equal  in  arms,  to 
execution,  will  surely  meet  with  the  same  fate  at  no  distant  date. 
Therefore,  although  the  whole  of  the  chiefs  desired  his  execution 
yet  no  one  was  bold  enough  to  show  his  face  and  order  it,  and  take 
upon  himself  the  responsibility  for  what  all  desired.  Both  the 
captor  and  the  captive  fully  understood  the  import  of  the  phrase 
"  Let  him  not  see  my  face."  It  meant  his  death  warrant.  Maye 
therefore  cried  out :  "  E  m.a  da  a  se,  E  fi  oju  mi  kan  alagbk  !  E 
ma  da  a  se,  E  fi  oju  mi  kan  Lakanle.  (Do  not  take  the  responsi- 
biUty,  bring  me  before  a  chief  ;  do  not  take  the  responsibiUty, 
bring  me  before  Lakanle) .  But  all  in  vain,  his  fate  had  been  sealed 
by  the  chiefs  declining  to  see  him,  and  so  the  great  Maye  was 


beheaded  by  a  common  soldier.  Degesin  and  Ogini  the  Egba 
commanders  also  shared  his  fate. 

Chief  Kurumi  claimed  the  honour  of  the  victory  and  hence  his 
bards  sang  to  his  praise  "Opa  Maye,  o  pa  Ogini,  O  pa  Degesin, 
O  fi  oko  ti  Ife  laiyk  "  (he  slew  Maj^e,  he  slew  Ogini  and  Degesin 
and  thrust  his  spear  into  the  bi  easts  of  the  Ifes). 

By  this  victory  the  remnant  of  the  Oyo  refugees  was  saved. 

The  Erumu  War 

The  victors  followed  up  their  victory  and  encamped  against 
Erumu.  Reinforcements  came  for  them  from  Iwo,  Ede,  Apomu 
and  other  places  ;  the  Oyo  refugees  in  those  parts  joining  their 
brethren  at  the  siege  of  Erumu  so  that  the  doomed  town  was 
hemmed  in  on  every  side :  indeed  they  had  to  fight  from  within 
their  walls.  As  the  besiegers  could  neither  force  the  gates  nor 
scale  or  beat  down  the  walls,  they  were  content  to  reduce  the 
town  by  famine.  The  most  disgusting  creatures  were  used  for 
food,  and  even  greedily  devoured  in  order  to  sustain  life  !  It 
passed  into  a  proverb  "  When  the  price  of  a  frog  came  to  120 
cowries  then  Erumu  was  taken." 

The  siege  of  Erumu  recalled  that  of  Oke  Suna  in  the  fight 
between  Solagberu  and  Abudusalami. 

The  following  anecdotes  illustrative  of  the  horrors  of  the  siege 
of  Erumu  were  told  by  eye-witnesses  : — 

Corn  planted  within  the  walls  of  the  town  wanted  but  a  few 
weeks  for  ripening  when  the  famished  inhabitants  could  no  longer 
wait  for  a  full  corn,  everyone  helping  himself  not  only  to  the 
immature  corn  but  also  the  corn-stalks.  It  was  so  much  relished 
that  one  of  them  was  heard  to  say  that  he  did  not  know  before 
that  corn  stalks  were  so  delicious  and  that  henceforth  he  would 
ever  be  using  it  as  an  article  of  food. 

Another  reported  the  case  of  a  good-looking  and  well-to-do 
young  woman,  a  snuff  seller,  at  Erumu.  Before  the  war  broke 
out,  her  beauty  and  style  always  attracted  young  men  to  her  side 
in  the  shed  where  she  was  grinding  and  retailing  snuff.  Her  stall 
was  so  clean  and  so  well-poUshed  that  they  required  no  mats  to  sit 
upon,  they  would  just  squat  on  the  ground  about  her.  This 
well-to-do  woman  was  so  famished  that  she  died  of  starvation 
at  her  stall  in  the  open  thoroughfare,  and  of  all  her  admirers  not 
one  was  found  to  do  her  the  honour  of  a  burial  ! 

Again,  another  eye-witness  among  the  besiegers  related  that 
whilst  bathing  in  a  stream  which  flowed  through  the  town  to  the 
camp,  he  often  saw  myriads  of  maggots  which  he  could  not  account 
for  as  if  the  water  bred  them,  but  when  Erumu  was  taken  he  saw 


hundreds  of  putrefying  bodies  in  the  stream  within  the  town  and 
this  accounted  for  the  maggots  he  saw  in  such  abundance  lower 
down  as  the  stream  flowed  by  the  camp. 

On  the  town  being  taken  the  Oluroko  (or  king)  of  Erumu  and 
the  king  of  Idomapa  were  caught  and  slain.  Also  the  Olowu 
was  now  caught  who  (cLs  was  related  above)  escaped  thither  when 
the  city  of  Owu  was  destroyed.  Now,  he  was  a  provincial  King 
of  great  importance,  a  real  crowned  head,  and  his  case  caused  the 
victors  some  embarrassment.  No  pure  Yoruba  would  venture 
to  lay  hands  on  a  king  even  if  worthy  of  death  ;  in  such  an  event 
the  king  would  simply  be  told  that  he  was  rejected  and,  noblesse 
oblige,  he  would  commit  suicide  by  poison. 

The  Olowu,  although  now  a  prisoner  of  war,  was  regarded 
with  so  much  reverence  that  none  of  the  chiefs  would  dare  order 
his  execution,  and  yet  they  could  not  keep  him  nor  would  they 
let  him  go.     His  death  was  compassed  in  a  diplomatic  manner. 

The  conquerors  pretended  to  be  sending  him  to  the  Ow6ni 
ol  Ife,  who  alone  may  be  regarded  as  his  peer  in  this  part  of  the 
country,  and  he  was  to  be  accompanied  by  one  of  his  own  slaves 
as  a  personal  attendant  and  by  some  messengers  to  the  Owgni 
as  his  escort.  But  the  slave,  who  was  supplied  with  a  loaded  gun 
as  his  master's  bodyguard,  had  been  privately  instructed  that  at 
a  given  signal  from  the  escort  he  was  to  shoot  his  master  dead, 
and  that  he  would  be  granted  his  freedom  and  loaded  with  riches 
as  well.  Thus  they  proceeded  on  their  way  until  they  came  to 
the  bank  of  the  river  Osun  when  the  signal  was  given  and  the  slave 
shot  his  master  dead  on  the  spot  !  These  "messengers"  now  set 
up  a  hue  and  cry  of  horror  and  surprise:  "  WTiat !  You  slave  !  How 
dare  you  kill  your  royal  master  ?  Death  is  even  too  good  for  you." 
And  in  order  to  exonerate  themselves  of  all  complicity  in  the 
matter,  they  set  upon  the  poor  slave  attacking  him  on  all  sides 
and  clubbed  him  to  death  saying  "  The  murder  of  the  king  must 
be  avenged."  They  then  dammed  up  the  river  in  its  course  and 
dug  the  king's  grave  deep  in  the  bed  of  it,  and  there  they  buried  the 
corpse  whilst  uttering  this  disclaimer  : — 

"  O  King,  we  have  no  hands  in  your  cruel  murder.  The  onus 
of  it  rests  with  your  slave  and  we  have  avenged  you  by  putting 
him  to  death,  and  he  is  to  be  your  attendant  in  the  other  world." 

They  then  allowed  the  river  to  flow  on  in  its  channel  over  the 
grave.  Burying  the  king  in  the  bed  of  the  river  was  regai  ded  as  an 
expiation  made  for  his  murder,  because  they  were  conscious  of  guilt 
although  they  attributed  the  act  to  the  slave.  With  such  reverence 
and  sanctity  was  the  person  of  a  king  regarded.  The  divine 
right  of  kings  is  an  article  of  belief  among  the  Yorubas. 


Such  was  the  end  of  the  last  king  of  the  famous  city  of  Owu, 
The  title  is  continued  by  a  representative  of  the  family  at  Abeokuta. 

§  4.  The  Settlement  of  Ibadan 

After  the  fall  of  Erumu  the  war  chiefs  returned  to  Ibadan  and 
the  rest  of  the  people  who  joined  the  war  as  volunteers  returned 
to  their  respective  homes.  It  was  not  till  this  time  that  Ibadan 
was  peopled  by  Oyos  chiefly.  Everyone  of  these  war-chiefs 
entered  the  allied  army  of  Ife  and  Ijebu  at  Idi  Ogugun  as  a  private 
volunteer,  but  they  soon  showed  their  capabilities  in  the  various 
wars.  Oppressed  and  enslaved  by  the  Ifes,  scorned  by  the  Ijebus, 
in  pure  self-defence  they  banded  themselves  together  under  a 
leader  for  mutual  protection  and  notwithstanding  the  great  dis- 
advantage under  which  they  were  placed,  they  vindicated  their 
superiority  and  at  last  obtained  the  ascendancy  in  the  town. 

Under  such  circumstances  did  the  Oyos  become  masters  of 
Ibadan.  Hence  the  allegation  that  it  was  they  who  expelled  the 
Egbas  from  their  original  home  and  took  possession  of  the  same  is 
wholly  inaccurate,  and  the  bad  feeling  which  this  impression  has 
created  and  perpetuated  between  the  two  peoples  unto  this  day 
is  hereby  shown  to  be  groundless. 

Ibadan  then  consisted  of  the  central  market  and  about  half, 
a  mile  of  houses  around.  The  town  wall  was  where  the  principal 
mosque  now  stands. 

Hitherto  Ibadan  has  been  occupied  as  a  miUtary  headquarter 
for  marauding  and  other  expeditions,  but  after  this  war,  at  a  public 
meeting  held  to  consider  their  future  course,  it  was  resolved  that 
as  they  now  intend  to  make  this  place  their  home  they  should 
arrange  for  a  settled  government  and  take  titles.  Oluyedun  came 
first.  He  was  the  son  of  the  late  Afonja  of  Ilorin,  and  as  such, 
the  scion  of  a  noble  house.  He  was  honoured  and  respected  by  all. 
He  might  have  been  the  Bale,  but  he  preferred  to  adopt  his  father's 
title  of  Kakanfo  and  it  was  conceded  him,  not  for  his  valour,  but 
for  his  age  and  dignity,  being  a  survivor  of  the  men  of  the  preceding 

Next  came  Lakanle  "  the  bravest  of  the  brave."  He  might 
have  taken  the  title  of  Balogun  or  commander-in-chief,  as  he  had 
hitherto  been  their  principal  leader  in  M'ar,  but  Kakanfo  being 
a  miUtary  title,  that  of  Balogun  would  be  superfluous.  He  then 
became  the  Otun  Kakanfo  and  Oluyole  the  Osi  Kakanfo. 

The  others  were  :  Adelakun  the  Ekerin  (fourth),  Olumaiye  the 
Ekarun  (fifth)  Abitiko  Ekefa  (sixth)  Keiiihe  Are  Ah  ese.  To  Osun 
was  the  honour  given  to  confer  these  titles,  and  he  in  turn  was 
created  the  Sarumi   (chief  of  the  cavalry).     Only  a  single  Ife 


chief  remained  at  Ibadan  and  that  was  Labosinde,  and  even  he 
(as  was  mentioned  above)  had  Oyg  blood  in  his  veins  through 
his  mother.  He  was  very  gentle,  good-natured  and  fatherly  to 
all.  Even  during  the  days  of  Maye  the  Oyo  chiefs  had  an 
affection  and  great  respect  for  liim  as  a  father.  At  the  expulsion 
of  Maye  when  the  other  Ife  chiefs  joined  him,  he  took  no  sides  and 
hence  he  was  allowed  to  remain.  After  Maye's  tall  he  did  not 
aspire  to  the  leadership  of  the  people,  preferring  private  life  to 
the  responsibilities  of  government.  He  was  a  man  who  loved 
peace;  he  would  never  carry  arms  nor  allow  any  to  be  carried  before 
him  even  in  those  turbulent  days,  except  in  the  battlefield.  A 
bundle  of  whips  was  all  usually  carried  before  him,  as  used  to  be 
done  before  the  Roman  Tribunes  of  old,  and  with  this  token  of 
authority  he  was  able  several  times  to  disband  men  in  arms 
and  put  an  end  to  civil  fights.  The  combatants  as  soon  as 
they  saw  the  bundle  of  whips  coming  would  cease  firing, 
saying  to  one  another '!Babambo  "  "  baba  mb^"  (father  is 
coming,  father  is  coming).  His  title  now  is  Baba  I  sale  i.e.  chief 
adviser,  lit  father  underneath  (for  counsel). 

It  will  be  noticed  that  (except  this  last)  all  the  principal  titles 
were  military  titles.     Ibadan  has  kept  that  up  unto  this  day. 

Although  they  seemed  to  be  now  settled,  yet  they  really  lived 
by  plunder  and  rapine.  A  single  stalk  of  corn  could  scarcely 
be  seen  in  an  Ibadan  farm  in  the  days  of  Maye,  and  although 
Lakanle  encouraged  husbandry,  yet  the  people  were  so  much 
given  to  slave  hunting  that  they  could  not  grow  corn  enough 
for  home  consumption.  The  women  of  those  days  were  as  hardy 
as  the  men,  and  often  went  in  a  body — as  caravans — to  Ikird  and 
Apomu  for  corn  and  other  foodstuffs  although  the  road  was  unsafe 
from  kidnappers.  They  supplied  the  town  with  food  whilst  the 
men  were  engaged  in  slave  himting.  One  company  returning 
would  meet  another  just  going  out,  and  often,  an  unsuccessful 
individual  returning  would  go  back  with  the  outgoing  company  to 
try  another  chance  without  first  reaching  home.  Ill-luck  of  one 
did  not  prevent  another  company  venturing  out. 

At  home  violence,  oppression,  robbery,  man-stealing  were 
the  order  of  the  day.  A  special  gag  was  invented  for  the  mouth 
of  human  beings  to  prevent  any  one  stolen  from  crying  out  and 
being  discovered  by  his  friends.  No  one  dared  go  out  at  dusk  for  the 
men-stealers  were  out  already  prowling  about  for  their  prey. 
Thus  even  the  great  Maye  was  once  stolen  on  going  out 
one  night.  He  offered  no  resistance  but  went  quietly  with 
the  man-stealer,  who,  on  reaching  home,  called  for  a  light  to 
inspect  his  victim.     Finding  to  his  dismay  that  it  was  the  great 


chief  Maye  himself,  he  nearly  died  of  fright.  Quaking  and  trem- 
bling he  prostrated  at  his  feet  and  begged  for  his  life.  So  bad  were 
those  days  at  Ibadan  and  so  callous  had  the  people  become  that 
if  a  woman  or  a  child  was  heard  to  cry  out  "Egbkmi,  won  mu  mi 
o  "  (O  help  me,  I  am  taken)  the  usual  answer  from  indoors  was 
"  Maha  ba  a  lo  "  (you  can  go  along  with  him).  The  moral  and 
social  atmosphere  of  such  a  place  as  has  been  described  could 
easily  be  imagined.  Yet  they  were  destined  by  God  to  play  a  most 
important  part  in  the  history  of  the  Yorubas,  to  break  the  Fulani 
yoke  and  save  the  rest  of  the  country  from  foreign  domination  ; 
in  short  to  be  a  protector  as  well  as  a  scourge  in  the  land  as  we 
shall  see  hereafter. 

A  nation  born  under  such  strenuous  circumstances  cannot  but 
leave  the  impress  of  its  hardihood  and  warlike  spirit  on  succeeding 
generations,  and  so  we  find  it  at  Ibadan  to  this  day.  It  being 
the  Divine  prerogative  to  use  whomsoever  He  will  to  effect  His 
Divine  purpose,  God  uses  a  certain  nation  or  individual  as  the 
scourge  of  another  nation  and  when  His  purposes  are  fulfilled  He 
casts  the  scourge  away. 

Chapter  XII 


§  I.    The  Evacuation  of  Apomu 

We  have  seen  above  that  the  people  ot  Apomu  being  Ifes  alHed 
themselves  with  Maye  at  the  Gbanamu  war,  hence  after  the 
destruction  of  Erunmu,  they  were  afraid  that  the  next  wave  will 
overwhelm  themselves.  They  theiefore  sent  an  Oyo  resident  at 
Apomu,  chief  Agbeni  by  name,  to  encamp  on  the  further  side  of 
the  river  Osun  as  an  outpost,  to  watch  and  report  upon  the  move- 
ments of  the  Ibadan  army. 

But  the  Ibadans  were  not  meditating  any  revenge  on  them; 
yet  they  were  so  ill  at  ease  that  they  would  not  even  wait  for  a 
report  from  their  outpost,  but  one  chiet  after  another,  one  master 
of  a  large  compound  after  another  deserted  the  town  for  Ipetumodu 
till  only  the  Oyo  lefugees  remained  at  Apomu. 

At  Ipetumodu  they  were  however  restless  ;  it  seemed  unreason- 
able that  they  should  be  famishing  in  another  town  when  food 
could  be  obtained  in  their  own  farms  ;  therefore  bands  of  pillagers 
and  kidnappers  issued  daily  from  Ipetumodu  to  the  Apomu 
farms  destroying  whatever  they  could  not  carry  away.  They  also 
grew  suspicious  of  Agbeni  and  sent  a  strong  force  to  drive  him 
away  from  the  post  where  they  had  located  him.  But  Agbeni 
was  determined  to  maintain  hisground,  and  he  therefore  despatched 
messengers  to  Ibadan  to  ask  foi  help.  Only  one  desperate  battle 
was  fought  between  them,  and  the  Ipetumodu  men  apprehending 
danger  to  themselves  if  they  should  wait  to  offer  a  second,  as  by 
that  time  reinforcements  from  Ibadan  might  have  come,  they 
retreated  hastily  home. 

The  Ibadan  army  arrived  too  late  and  were  disappointed  to 
find  the  Apomu  army  gone  ;  they  were  loth  to  return  home 
empty  handed  as  they  lived  by  plunder,  they  therefore  began  to 
loot  the  houses  of  the  residents  at  Apomu.  But  these  were  their 
kinsmen,  the  Oyo  refugees  who  were  left  behind  by  the  townsmen, 
and  nearly  every  one  of  them  saw  a  friend  or  a  relative  whom  he 
was  in  duty  bound  to  protect  from  violence  and  robbery.  These 
relatives  went  over  to  them  and  with  them  to  Ibadan.  Lakanl^ 
their  leader  took  away  all  his,  and  his  friend  Agbeni  came  over  also 



with  him.  Lanase  went  over  with  all  his  belongings  to  Osun  the 
chief  of  the  cavalry,  and  so  Apomu  became  deserted. 

Agbeni  was  located  in  Lakanle's  farm  and  the  site  has  since 
been  included  in  the  overgrown  town  and  known  as  Agbeni 's 
quarter  to  this  day  with  a  market  in  front  ot  his  house.  Chief 
Agbeni  survived  Lakanle  and  all  his  contemporaries  and  died 
at  a  good  old  age  in  May  i860. 

Thus  the  Oyo  refugees  at  Apomu  were  merged  with  the  Ibadan 
settlers,  and  helped  to  swell  the  population  of  that  important 

The  Ipetumodu  and  Owiwi  Wars  about  A.D.  1819 

The  Apomu  and  Ipetumodu  people  having  drawn  attention 
to  themselves,  after  a  short  respite  the  restless  Ibadan  chiefs 
declared  war  against  Ipetumodu  for  allying  with  Apomu  to 
kidnap  the  Ibadan  caravans,  who  went  to  buy  corn  at  Ikire,  Iwo, 
He  Igbo  before  the  Erumu  wars.  Any  pretext,  however  flimsy, 
would  do  when  they  were  on  mischief  bent. 

It  was  just  at  this  time  that  the  Ijebus  declared  war  against 
Abeokuta,  and  sought  the  alliance  of  the  Ibadans.  But  they 
could  not  send  them  adequate  help  and  advised  the  Ijebus  rather 
to  wait  a  while  and  let  them  get  Ipetumodu  off  their  hands. 
But  the  Ijebus  would  not  wait,  the  Ibadans,  therefore  had  to 
send  them  a  small  contingent  under  one  Olugun^.  The  last 
decisive  battle  between  the  Ijebus  and  the  Egbas  was  the  cele- 
brated battle  of  Owiwi  (a  stream  so  called)  where  the  Ijebus 
were  sorely  defeated;  they  lost  all  their  principal  fighting  men  and 
their  power  was  completely  crushed !  Olugunk  with  his  small  force 
escaped  to  Oniyefun  a  town  on  the  right  bank  of  the  river  Ogun 
where  he  remained  for  a  long  time,  apparently  seeking  for  an 
opportunity  to  return  home. 

The  Ibadans  on  the  other  hand  were  successful  in  their  own 
expedition,  Ipetumodu  was  taken  and  those  who  escaped  fled  to 
He  Ife  their  chief  town. 

§  2.  The  Fall  of  Ilaro  and  Ijana 

During  the  siege  at  Owiwi  the  Ijebus  sought  and  obtained 
the  alhance  of  the  Egbaluwe  kings.  Abinuwggbo  the  Onisare 
of  Ijana  sent  his  forces  under  the  command  of  two  of  his  war-chiefs 
Lapala  and  Ajise ;  the  only  war-chief  remaining  at  home  was  Akere 
the  Areagoro.  Lapala  fell  in  battle  and  the  command  devolved 
upon  Ajige  alone. 

The  Ilaros  sent  no  re-inforcement  because  of  a  great  disaffection 
among  the  people  towards  their  Olu  on  account  of  his  t5n-annies. 


For  a  small  matter  which  he  might  very  well  pass  over,  he  would 
impose  exorbitant  fines,  hence  the  affection  ot  his  people  was 
alienated  from  him  and  they  were  seeking  an  opportunity  for 
his  overthrow.  His  was  a  long  reign,  for  this  age  of  anarchy,  and 
he  did  not  retire  to  Oyo  after  three  years,  like  his  predecessors, 
to  spend  the  rest  of  his  days  there  as  was  customary.  He 
became  lame  on  both  his  feet,  from  poison  by  his  people  as  was 

A  private  message  was  sent  to  the  Egbas  by  the  people  inviting 
them  to  come  and  rid  them  of  their  tyrant,  thinking  they  would 
come  and  simply  remove  the  Olu  and  leave  them  in  peace.  The 
Egbas  thereupon  sent  from  Owiwi  a  detachment  of  134  men 
under  chief  Angba  who  entered  Ilaro  without  opposition,  fired 
it,  and  began  to  kill  and  plunder  indiscriminately  !  As  the  Egbas 
cared  more  for  booty  than  for  captives  the  Olu  (their  principal 
objective)  had  an  opportunity  for  making  his  escape  to  Ifoin, 
being  borne  on  a  litter  by  his  slaves,  while  most  of  the  Ilaro  people 
escaped  to  Ijana.  A  bride  was  said  to  be  so  frightened  by  the  hasty 
flight  that  she  fell  down  dead  at  the  gate  of  Ijana,  and  was  buried 
behind  the  house  of  one  Tagi  the  gate-keeper. 

They  had  scarcely  had  breathing  time  here  when  news  came 
that  the  Egbas  had  gained  a  victory  over  the  Ijebus  at  Owiwi 
and  a  rumour  gained  ground  that  they  were  coming  to  take 
vengeance  on  the  'Luwes  of  Ijana  for  allying  themselves  with  the 
I j  ebus.  The  consternation  became  general  when  Ajise  the  surviving 
war-chief  arrived  home.  Neither  the  Ilaro  refugees,  nor  the  Ijana 
people  themselves  could  stay  in  the  town  any  longer,  all  sought 
safety  in  flight,  and  so  Ij§,na  was  deserted.  The  flight  took  place 
on  a  dark  and  stormy  night,  and  hundreds  of  people  were  groping 
in  darkness  trying  to  find  the  way  to  the  town  gate.  Fortunately 
it  was  only  a  rumour  or  the  Egbas  might  have  met  them  within 
the  town  for  at  break  of  day  the  dawn  found  them  at  Dekun's 
quarters  late  of  Ijana. 

Ak^re  the  Areagoro  the  only  war-chief  left  at  home  instead  of 
preparing  for  the  defence  of  the  town  deluded  the  people  by  having 
three  lighted  lamps  burning  at  the  three  entrances  to  his  house 
making  it  appear  as  if  he  was  still  at  home  whereas  he  had  already 

An  incident  of  interest  occurred  during  this  flight.  A  child 
of  about  3  years  of  age  was  found  the  next  day  at  Afehinte  weeping, 
its  mother  having  disencumbered  herself  ot  it  in  her  flight.  A 
kind-hearted  man  Ajayi  by  name  took  it  up  from  pity  and  carried 
it  in  his  arms  wherever  he  went.  They  did  not  meet  the  Areagoro 
at  Refvu-efu  but  joined  him  at  Osoro  ;  there  the  heartless  mother 

250  THE    HISTORY    OF    THE    YORUBAS 

seeing  the  child  with  Ajayi,  claimed  it  but  Ajayi  refused  to  give  it 
up  till  it  was  duly  ransomed. 

The  refugees  left  Osoro  for  Ifoin  where  they  met  the  01  u  and 
here  they  were  resolved  to  wait  and  offer  some  resistance  in  case 
of  an  attack,  as  they  were  afraid  to  proceed  to  Porto  Novo.  The 
Olu,  however,  left  Ifoin  for  Itoho  his  maternal  town,  where  he 
would  wish  to  die  ;  here  Sodeke  with  an  Egba  army  met  him  and 
he  was  taken  with  his  family  and  slain.  One  Okete  the  executioner 
carried  the  head  about  at  Refurefu  for  money  ;  at  the  gate  of 
whomsoever  the  Olu's  head  was  placed  Okete  received  3  heads  of 
cowries  before  removing  it.  It  was  brought  to  Abeokuta  and  was 
buried  at  the  threshold  of  the  main  entrance  to  Sodeke's  house. 

vSodeke  took  Ayawo  the  Olu's  daughter  to  wife,  but  she  had 
no  child  by  him.  After  Sodeke's  death  she  was  "  inherited  " 
by  Somoye,  who  subsequently  became  the  Basorun  of  Abeokuta. 
She  went  with  him  to  the  late  Ijaye  war  and  was  taken  captive 
when  Ijaye  fell  on  the  31st  March,  1862.  The  captor  gave  her 
up  to  Chief  Ogumgla.  She  was  sent  back  to  her  husband  in  the 
year  1865  and  was  the  means  of  reconciliation  between  Ibadan 
and  Abeokuta,  after  the  return  of  the  latter  from  the  Ikorodu 
war.  The  accounts  of  these  wars  will  be  given  below  in  due  course. 
After  Somoye's  death  Ayawo  refused  the  hand  ot  Chief  Ogundipe 
and  went  back  to  her  early  home  at  Ilaro  where  she  died. 

After  the  death  of  the  Olu  Asade  at  Itohg  the  Ilaro  refugees 
at  Idggo  near  Igbeji  created  another  Olu,  Ojo  Kosiwon  by  name. 
For  19  years  he  reigned  at  Idogo  and  after  his  death  there  was  an 
interregnum  of  many  years. 

Ilaro  was,  however,  again  repeopled  but  under  Egba  suzerainty, 
who  created  one  Tela  the  Olu  in  1857.  Ilaro  continued  under 
the  Egbas  till  the  year  1891  when  they  gave  themselves  over  to 
the  British  Government  on  account  of  the  incessant  raids  and 
molestations  of  the  Dahomians  from  which  their  Suzerain  failed 
to  protect  them.  They  now  form  a  Protectorate  in  the  "  Western 
Waters  "  of  Lagos. 

§  3.  The  Oniyefun  War 

After  the  return  of  the  Ibadans  from  the  Ipetumodu  war, 
hearing  of  the  disaster  at  Owiwi,  and  that  their  contingent  under 
Oluguna  had  escaped  to  Oniyefun  and  was  there  hemmed  in  by 
the  Egbas,  some  of  the  war-chiefs  headed  by  Osun  the  chief  of  the 
cavalry,  and  Elepo  also  a  great  warrior,  decided  to  go  to  their 
rescue.  But  Oluguna  was  met  rather  on  the  offensive,  waging 
a  desultory  warfare  in  Egba  territory.  Being  now  re-inforced 
from  home  he  commenced  regular  operations  against  the  small  and 


weaker  Egba  towns  such  as  Imosai,  Iboro,  and  Jiga.  Jakg  was 
deserted  and  these  marauders  were  infesting  the  Isaga  farms 
and  wou)d  have  taken  Isaga  had  not  the  Egbas  sent  a  strong 
force  to  protect  the  place. 

After  a  short  time,  however,  Elepo  left  them  and  returned 
to  Ibadan  and  with  him  nearly  all  the  other  war-chiefs,  as  he  was 
a  man  of  great  power  and  influence. 

The  army  at  Oniyefun  being  now  considerably  reduced  in 
number,  the  Egbas  attacked  it  in  full  force  ;  several  battles 
were  fought  and  the  Egbas  gained  an  advantage  at  every  engage- 
ment. They  succeeded  in  cutting  off  all  supplies  and  in  laying  a 
close  siege  against  Oniyefun.  All  the  Ibadan  common  soldiers 
under  colour  of  going  foraging  escaped  from  the  doomed  town 
one  by  one  never  to  return,  but  the  war-chiefs  themselves,  with 
their  immediate  followers  and  bodyguards,  could  not  leave  without 
attracting  attention  or  creating  a  panic  and  a  rush,  with  an 
immediate  destruction  of  the  town.  Osun  fell  in  an  engagement ; 
being  shot  through  the  head  he  tumbled  off  his  horse.  Sogunro  was 
wounded  and  Dado — late  of  Ijaye — who  was  also  there,  prevented 
Sogunro  being  taken  to  Jako  as  an  invalid,  lest  they  should  lose 
the  services  of  his  fighting  men.  Dado  remained  the  only  war- 
chief  in  command,  but  he  was  no  longer  the  commander  he  once 
was  before  his  fall.  He  held  out  for  only  five  days  longer,  and  then 
left  Oniyefun  secretly  with  the  other  war-chiefs  and  escaped  to 
Ibadan,  leaving  Oniyefun  at  the  mercy  of  the  invaders. 

The  Ibadan  war-chiefs  who  fell  at  Oniyefun  besides  Osun  were  : 
Sogunro,  Keji,  Ilupakin,  lyanburu,  Otopo,  and  Esan. 

§  4.  The  Arakanga  or  Jabara  War 

The  Ibadan  war-chiefs  were  indignant  at  the  fall  of  their 
comrades  at  Oniyefun,  especially  Osun  who  was  held  in  high 
esteem,  and  were  bent  on  avenging  his  death.  This  was  really 
the  cause  of  the  Arakanga  war,  and  not  in  order  to  show  that 
they  were  more  powerful  than  the  Ijebus  as  some  have  erroneously 

In  this  expedition  they  secured  theallianceof  Kurumiof  Ijaye  and 
Ayo  of  Abemo,  whose  contingent  met  the  Ibadan  army  at  Olokemeji. 

This  expedition  was  one  of  the  most  stupid  ever  undei taken 
by  the  Ibadans.  Divided  counsels  prevailed  and  therefore  no 
adequate  preparation  was  made,  one  half  of  the  so-called  kegs  of 
gunpowder  carried  before  the  chiefs  contained  nothing  but 
yam  flour,  thereby  deceiving  the  people  who  followed  them.  Some 
asserted  that  the  Egbas  were  more  afraid  of  poisoned  arrows  than 
of  ballets  and  therefore  never  supplied  themselves  with  fire-arms. 


Others  went  just  mechanically  because  they  were  obliged  to  go,  but 
without  any  preparation.  We  may  here  notice  that  this  is  how 
the  junior  chiefs  behave  when  the  war  is  unpopular,  for  they  dare 
not  remain  behind  when  the  head-chiefs  march  out. 

They  marched  out  through  the  Ido  gate  and  encamped  by  the 
Ogun  river  at  Olokemeji  for  a  long  time  till  their  stores  were 
exhausted,  and  before  the  enemy  was  in  sight  !  Meantime  their 
wives  used  the  empty  kegs  as  water  pots. 

After  a  long  time  they  pushed  forward  towards  Abeokuta,  and  the 
Egbas  met  them  a  great  way  off.  Four  hard  battles  were  fought 
and  the  Egbas  retreated  to  Arakanga,  a  river  behind  their  town 
wall.  Here  the  Ibadans  found  themselves  with  their  powder 
exhausted  and  no  time  to  procure  more  from  Porto  Novo  or 
Ado  ;  the  arrows  some  depended  upon  were  found  to  be  of  little 
use.  Adekambi  the  war-chief  sent  from  Abemo  was  the  first 
to  return  home  being  disgusted  at  the  conduct  of  the  war.  With 
him  went  a  good  many  war-chiefs,  and  recruits  which  they  met 
on  their  way  back  also  returned  home  when  they  heard  the  ill 
report  of  the  campaign. 

Five  days  after  Adekambi  had  left  the  Egbas  appeared  in 
full  force,  determined  on  death  or  victory.  At  a  given  signal  by 
the  sound  of  their  god  Or6  to  which  they  responded  with  a  shout, 
they  made  a  sudden  dash  and  attacked  the  enemy  vigorously, 
cutlass  in  hand. 

With  their  powder  exhausted  some  of  the  Ibadans  resorted 
to  the  gourd  bark  planted  all  over  the  battlefield,  and  with  this 
they  pelted  their  assailants.  From  this  ciicumstance  the 
campaign  was  termed  the  "  Jabara  war."  At  the  height  of  the 
battle,  Bada  Akeyan  one  of  the  chief  swordsmen  fell  ;  and  when 
another  chief  named  Adelakun  was  mortally  wounded,  the  Ibadans 
gave  way  and  the  rout  was  general  and  complete. 

This  desperate  method  of  attack — cutlass  in  hand — is  the  peculiar 
method  of  the  Owus,  the  bravest  element  in  the  new  settlement, 
and  the  honour  of  the  victory  was  theirs. 

The  Egbas  however  had  not  the  courage  to  pursue  their  victory 
to  any  extent  seeing  amongst  the  war-chiefs  many  of  those  who  had 
but  recently  driven  them  to  Abeokuta  :  "a  lion  at  bay  "  may 
prove  a  dangerous  customer  to  tackle.  The  Ibadans  instead  of 
escaping  home  by  the  direct  route  went  by  way  of  Ijaye,  being 
suspicious  of  the  Ijebus. 

§  5.  The  Onidese  and  Oke  Isero  Wars 

After  a  short  period  of  rest  Kurfimi  the  chiei  of  Ijaye  invited 
the  Ibadans  to  an  expedition  against  Onidese.      He  gave   as  a 


reason  for  this  war  that  they  were  troublesome  to  him,  but  as  a 
matter  of  fact,  it  was  from  pure  jealousy  at  the  growing  importance 
of  the  people  of  that  place  and  that  of  their  neighbours  of  He  Ode 
famous  for  their  poisoned  arrows. 

Seeing  the  overwhelming  force  from  Ibadan  and  Ijaye,  Owoko 
the  chief  of  Ode  was  so  terrified  that  he  deserted  the  town  with  his 
people  and  escaped  to  Onidese,  but  this  place  was  besieged  and 
taken.  Sejo  the  chief  of  Onidese  and  Owoko  of  He  Ode  were 
both  taken  together. 

Oke  I§ero. — The  following  dry  season  the  Ibadans  captured 
Oke  Isero  for  no  alleged  cause  of  grievance  but  simply  out  of  a 
desire  for  slave  raiding.  The  people  of  this  place  were  quiet 
agriculturists.  Ibadan  and  other  towns  were  fed  with  yam  flour 
exported  from  this  place. 

§  6.     The    Iperu    War 

After  the  defeat  of  the  Ijebus  by  the  Egbas  at  Owiwi  there  was 
a  series  of  desultory  warfare  between  them  with  little  or  no  success. 
Neither  of  them  could  encamp  or  take  a  town  from  the  other, 
neither  would- yield  though  both  were  tired.  Whereupon  the  Egbas 
had  resort  to  a  cowardly  trick,  at  once  disgraceful  and  perfidious. 
They  proposed  to  the  Ijebus  of  the  Remo  district  who  were  their 
neighbours,  terms  of  peace  which  these  gladly  accepted,  being  tired 
of  the  war,  and  a  treaty  was  made  between  them.  But  while 
the  Ijebus  were  rejoicing  and  congratulating  one  another  in  songs 
and  dances : — 

"  Omode  Ijebu,  E  ku  ewu 
Agba  Ijebu,  E  ku  ewu 
Ote  yi  jaja  pari  o  !  " 

(Young  folks  of  Ijebu,  we  congratulate  you 
Old  folks  of  Ijebu,  we  congratulate  you. 
This  long-drawn  war  is  at  an  end  at  last). 

Suddenly,  the  Egbas  who  had  lain  in  ambush  sprang  upon  them 
and  began  to  make  captives  of  them.  Makun  and  other  towns 
were  taken  and  destroyed  and  Iperu  was  besieged.  The  Ijebus 
beingharassedandgreatly  straitened  sent  to  Ibadan  for  help.  All 
the  war-chiefs  were  sent  forward  except  Lakanle  the  Commander- 
in-chiet,  who  remained  at  home  with  the  aged  Oluyedun  the 
Kakanfo,  and  the  venerable  Labgsinde  the  Baba  Isale. 

The  Egbas  proved  too  strong  for  the  allies,  and  all  their  efforts 
to  raise  the  siege  of  Iperu  were  fruitless.  The  difficulty  of  pro- 
visioning a  besieged  town  without  stores  at  the  best  of  times 
and  with  a  large  access  of  auxiliaries  proved  insurmountable.     The 


allies  lost  several  battles  and  the  Egbas  hemmed  them  in  very 
closely.  Iperu  was  nearly  taken  when  the  Ibadan  allies  sent 
home  to  their  commander  to  come  at  once  to  their  rescue  as  all 
hopes  of  deteating  the  Egbas  were  gone. 

Lakanle  responded  to  the  call  of  his  people  and  took  the  field 
in  person.  On  his  arrival  at  Iperu  he  assumed  no  lofty  airs  nor 
did  he  allow  one  word  of  reproach  to  fall  from  his  lips.  On  the 
contrary  he  praised  the  war-chiefs  and  harangued  the  men  as 
follows  : — "  Fellow  countrymen  and  companions  in  arms,  I  am 
not  more  surprised  at  your  valour  and  prowess  than  at  your 
chivalry  in  inviting  me  to  share  with  you  the  honours  of  the  field. 
For  what  can  I  do  singly  without  your  aid  ?  I  know  your  love  and 
esteem  for  me  and  that  you  only  wish  for  me  the  honour  and  fruits 
of  the  victory  ;  I  am  come  therefore  to  grant  you  your  hearts' 
desire  and  lead  you  on  to  victory.  Be  assured  also  that  I. 
reciprocate  your  feelings  of  love  towards  me,  for  since  your 
absence  from  home  I  have  entered  every  compound  now  and 
again  to  ask  after  the  welfare  of  your  families  and  I  am  this  day 
able  to  assure  you  that  they  are  in  good  health. 

I  have  gone  the  round  of  all  the  farms  and  when  I  saw  any  over- 
grown with  weeds  and  learnt  that  the  owner  was  at  the  seat  of 
war,  I  ordered  the  farm  to  be  immediately  cleaned.  I  am  now  able 
to  assure  you  also  that  your  farms  are  in  good  order  and  your 
families  in  good  health.  Be  of  good  cheer  my  brave  men  and  by 
this  time  to-morrow  let  victory  crown  our  efforts." 

The  soldiers  gave  long  and  loud  shouts  of  "Muso,  Muso,  Muso." 
They  made  the  heavens  reverberate  with  their  shouts  and  were 
heard  at  a  very  great  distance. 

When  the  Egbas  heard  that  Lakanle  had  reached  the  camp 
they  extemporized  a  ditty  including  his  name  : — 

"  Nigbati  a  ba  pade  t'awa  ti  Lakanle 
Igi  t'o  ba  se  oju  re  a  wl  o  !  " 

(When  we  do  meet,   ourselves  and  Lakanle 

The  trees  that  witness  the  sight  shall  tell  the  tale.) 

And  so  it  was.  It  must  here  be  admitted  that  since  the  Egbas 
have  been  driven  to  Abeokuta  and  have  had  almost  constantly 
to  engage  in  wars  both  offensive  and  defensive  against  the  Oygs 
in  one  direction,  Ijebus  in  another,  and  the  Egbaluwe  provinces, 
they  have  developed  a  wonderful  aptitude  for  fighting,  and  capable 
generals  have  been  thrown  up  amongst  them.  A  most  sanguinary 
battle  was  fought  the  next  day,  and  so  great  was  the  courage  which 
the  presence  of  their  commander-in-chief  infused  into  the  Ibadan 
soldiers,  and  with  such  skill  were  they  led  that  the  tide  of  victory 


turned  in  their  favour  that  day.  The  Egbas  were  utterly  defeated 
but  their  skilful  commanders  encouraged  them  to  keep  up  the  fire 
until  sunset  so  as  to  be  able  to  retreat  in  good  order.  Moreover 
they  also  tried  to  prevent  a  panic  among  their  soldiers  by  not 
allowing  the  bodies  of  the  wounded  and  the  slain  to  be  taken  to 
the  camp  or  to  lie  scattered  about  in  the  battlefield,  and  so  they 
made  a  pile  of  the  corpses  so  as  to  have  the  field  cleared  up.  But  in 
spite  of  it  all,  the  Egbas  could  not  hold  on  till  the  evening  ;  they 
were  completely  routed  and  Lakanl^'s  victory  was  decisive. 

In  the  pursuit,  Lakanl^'s  attention  was  drawn  to  the  pile  of 
corpses,  and  for  the  first  time  his  lion-like  heart  was  m.elted  by 
the  dreadful  carnage,  and  the  following  exclamation  escaped 
from  his  lips  "Are  these  the  bodies  of  mortals  once  born  of  women? " 
"  Of  course  they  are  "  retorted  a  private  soldier  "  and  whose 
work  it  was  but  yours?  Was  there  any  such  butchery  seen  before 
you  came  into  the  camp  ?  "  The  great  general  turned  away  quietly 
without  uttering  a  word  more. 

Thus  Iperu  was  saved  to  the  great  disappointment  of  the  Egbas 
and  this  they  afterwards  expressed  in  their  street  songs  : — 
Ki  a  ko  Iperu  ki  a  ko  Ode 
Ni  Barapa  ru  imu  re  de 
(Iperu  and  Ode  we  had  all  but  taken, 
When  officious  Barapas  came  poking  their  noses.) 

§  7.    The  Fall  of  Ota 

The  Egbas  at  this  time  were  equally  as  restless  as  the  Ibadans 
waging  a  series  of  wars  with  the  surrounding  tribes,  A  serious 
complication  arose  between  them  and  the  Otas  about  this  time 
which  resulted  in  the  latter  place  being  besieged  by  them. 

Ota  is  the  name  given  to  a  small  town  and  clan  of  the  Awori 
tribes  situated  about  24  miles  north  of  Lagos.  They  are  usually 
reckoned  amonst  the  Egbaluwes. 

Prince  Kosoko  of  Lagos  was  an  ally  of  the  Otas  and  it  was  he 
who  asked  the  help  of  the  Ibadans  in  defence  of  Ota. 

A  force  was  sent  from  Ibadan  under  the  command  of  Oliiygle 
the  Osi.  He  made  Ipara  his  headquarters  and  sent  two  war-chiefs 
Elepo  his  own  lieutenant  and  Inakoju  the  Seriki  with  some  minor 
war-chiefs  to  the  scene  of  conflict  ;  these  encamped  at  Agerige, 
Lagosward,  from  which  place  they  marched  to  Ota  when  there 
was  to  be  a  fight. 

The  Egbas  fought  bravely  but  the  besieged  defended  their  town 
most  heroically  assisted  by  their  ally.  The  Egbas  in  order  to 
harass  the  allies  began  kidnapping  the  Ibadan  caravans,  who  were 
supplying  them  with  provisions  from  home,  as  there  was  none  to 


be  got  locally,  so  that  the  station  at  Ipara  coiild  not  supply  that 
at  Ageiige.  Lakanle  hearing  this  at  home  left  the  town  and 
stationed  himself  at  Ikija,  from  which  place  he  sent  escorts  with  the 
weekly  caravans  to  Ipara  ;  by  this  means  Agerige  was  also  relieved 
and  communication  established  with  Ibadan. 

The  Otas  are  known  to  be  an  obstinate  people,  and  in  the  defence 
of  their  homes  every  man  amongst  them  was  a  hero  !  The  Egbas 
had  nearly  given  up  the  campaign  in  despair  ;  a  good  many  of  the 
war-chiefs  had  returned  home  and  others  became  rather  listless, 
but  for  the  shame  of  being  baulked  by  such  a  small  clan  which 
kept  them  in  the  field,  the  whole  undertaking  would  have  collapsed. 
But  the  situation  was  improved  by  the  diplomacy  of  one  of  the 
Egba  chiefs  ;  he  advised  that  unbounded  licence  be  granted  to 
the  soldier}'  in  the  field  to  gratify  their  passions  in  any  manner 
they  liked  with  impunity,  himself  setting  the  example  :  the  amount 
of  bravery  displayed  under  fire,  was  to  be  the  measure  of  indulgence 
in  the  camp.  The  device  proved  successful,  the  camp  was 
refilled  with  characters  of  all  sorts,  and  the  campaign  was  prosecuted 
with  renewed  vigour.  The  small  town  was  hemmed  in  on  all  sides 
and  famine  effected  what  the  sword  failed  to  accomplish. 

When  their  Ibadan  allies  saw  that  the  Otas  were  not  likely 
to  hold  out  much  longer,  and  that  it  was  with  difficulty  they  could 
obtain  supplies  from  home,  they  left  Agerige  secretlj'  and  hastened 

Ota  was  at  length  taken  by  the  Egbas  and  they  wreaked  their 
vengeance  on  the  inhabitants  so  mercilessly,  especially  on  the  men 
for  their  obstinate  resistance,  that  the  clan  was  nearly  extinguished 
altogether.  From  that  time  to  this  Ota  has  been  subjected  to 
the  Egbas. 

The  Ibadan  contingent  under  Elepo  and  Inakoju  met  Oluyole 
at  Ipara.  Whilst  here,  a  most  pernicious  plot  was  hatched  with 
consequences  so  far-reaching  and  so  disastrous  resulting  in  repeated 
civil  fights  at  home,  until  nearly  the  whole  of  the  important  war- 
chiefs  perished  one  after  another.  Oluyole  aspiring  to  the  position 
of  commander-in-chief  planned  a  scheme  by  which  Lakanlfe 
and  Bankole  his  lieutenant  should  be  wiped  out,  but  the  plot  was 
discovered  and  it  aroused  great  indignation  at  Ibadan.  There 
was  a  determination  that  he  should  not  be  allowed  to  re-enter 
the  town  and  steps  were  taken  to  prevent  it.  All  the  other  chiefs 
returned  one  by  one. 

It  was  due  to  his  friend  Elepo  alone  that  Oluyole  re-entered 
Ibadan.  He  kept  him  informed  of  all  that  was  taking  place  at 
home.  Oluyole  remained  out  but  kept  advancing  by  small 
stages,  with  the  connivance  of  Elepo,  till  one  night  he  entered  by 


the  town  gate  from  another  direction.  Once  at  home  E16po 
prevailed  on  all  the  senior  Chiefs  to  forbear  with  him  and 
pardon  him. 

Then  Oluyole's  men  began  firing  a  feu  de  joie  but  with  guns 
charged  with  bullets,  directing  them  towards  Lakanle's  house, 
and  Lakanle's  men  returning  the  compHment  did  the  same  towards 
Oluyole's,  the  houses  of  the  principal  war-chiefs  ranging  round  the 
central  market.  This  continued  for  several  days,  the  chiefs  of 
both  sides  taking  no  part,  but  leaving  the  skirmishing  to  their  boys. 
The  tension  of  affairs  affected  the  whole  town,  all  business  was  at  a 
standstill,  till  Labosinde  the  Baba-Isale  came  forward  with  some 
elderly  chiefs  and  put  a  stop  to  these  proceedings. 

This  pacification  however  lasted  but  a  short  time,  for  soon 
afterwards  there  arose  a  complication  between  Oluwaiye,  one 
of  Lakanle's  lieutenants  and  one  of  Oluyole's  men.  This  developed 
into  something  approaching  a  civil  fight,  the  town  was  soon  in  an 
uproar.  Then  Bankole  unarmed  approached  Oluyole's  men,  and 
with  soothing  words  was  urging  them  to  desist,  and  not  to  disturb 
the  recently  made  peace,  when  one  of  Oluyole's  men  levelled 
his  gun  at  him  for  interfering  and  shot  him  down  dead  !  This 
was  a  signal  for  a  civil  fight  in  the  heat  of  which  Oluwaiye  fell. 
Thus  Lakanle  was  deprived  of  both  his  lieutenants,  and  Oluyole's 
party  gained  the  upper  hand  ;  Lakanle  had  to  take  refuge  with  his 
old  friend  Agbeni  at  his  quarters. 

Oluyole  now  obtained  the  object  of  his  ambition,  and  would  not 
listen  to  any  adjustment  of  affairs  except  the  death  or  expulsion  of 
Lakanle.  The  brave  man  hearing  this  put  an  end  to  his  own 
life  by  ripping  his  bowels  open  with  a  jack-knife,  and  passing  the 
entrails  around  his  own  neck.  In  a  few  minutes  he  expired 
in  the  arms  of  one  of  his  men. 

Thus  Oluyole  became  supreme  at  Ibadan. 

Chapter  XIII 


§  I.    Final  Efforts  to  Throw  off  the  Fulani  Yoke 

The  Metropolis  had  long  been  left  to  herself  whilst  great  and 
stirring  events  had  been  taking  place  all  over  the  country.  The 
outcome  of  the  rebellion  of  the  chiefs  and  the  revolution  Was  the 
foundation  of  modern  Ibadan,  Abeokuta,  Modakeke,  the  occupation 
of  Ijaye,  Abemg,  the  destruction  of  the  city  of  Owu,  and  the  fall 
of  many  ancient  towns  in  the  plain,  and  above  all  the  ascendancy 
of  Ilgrin  under  the  ravaging  foreigners. 

That  such  important  events  as  these  should  take  place,  one 
after  another,  altering  the  face  of  the  country,  and  the  King 
not  be  able  to  promote  or  retard  the  accomplishment  of  any — 
a  King  only  in  name,  the  direct  descendant  of  absolute  monarchs 
and  deified  heroes— could  not  but  be  a  matter  of  pain  and  grief 
to  the  sovereign.  Added  to  all  this  was  a  great  calamity  which 
befel  him  at  home,  one  that  distressed  him  sore  and  accelerated 
his  death.  A  fire  broke  out  in  the  palace  and  all  efforts  to  arrest 
its  ravages  failed,  and  most  of  the  accumulated  treasures  of  his 
ancestors  were  consumed  in  the  conflagration  !  Great  efforts  were 
made  to  remove  some  to  out-houses  away  from  the  direction  of 
the  flames,  but  unfortunately  by  a  turn  of  the  wind,  those  out- 
houses also  caught  fire  and  everything  was  lost  ! 

Between  the  distress  caused  by  the  Ilorins  now  masters  of  the 
country,  and  the  destructive  fires  the  King  died  of  a  broken  heart. 
Prince  Oluewu  was  elected  his  successor  with  the  general  consent 
of  the  nobles  and  the  King-makers. 

Oluewu  was  said  to  be  a  prince  comely  in  person,  but  all  too 
conscious  of  his  own  dignity  and  importance  ;  haughty  and  irritable 
in  temperament.  His  one  aim  and  determination  was  to  recover 
his  dominions  from  the  Fulanis  first,  and  then  subdue  all  his 
refractory  chiefs. 

Soon  after  Oluewu 's  accession, Shitta the  King  of  Ilgrin,  required 
him  to  come  to  Ilgrin  in  person  to  pay  homage  to  him  as  his  vassal. 
But  Oluewu  was  unwilling  to  go  ;  however,  his  great  chiefs,  and 
especially  Prince  Atiba  of  AggOja  brought  pressure  and  entreaties 



to  bear  upon  him,  and  he  was  prevailed  upon  to  accede  to  the 
wishes  of  the  conqueror  in  order  to  save  the  capital  and  the  remnant 
of  the  towns  that  still  paid  their  allegiance  to  Oyo. 

Shitta  received  him  with  every  mark  of  honour  and  distinction; 
but  all  the  same,  the  shame  and  disgrace  of  it  all,  with  unutterable 
resentment  rankled  in  the  breast  of  King  Oluewu.  The 
Gbedu  drum  was  beaten  before  him  as  he  went,  and  also  on  his 
returning.  Shitta's  attention  was  drawn  to  that  particular  drum 
and  he  asked  some  questions  about  it.  When  he  was  told  it  was 
a  royal  drum  beaten  before  the  ICing  alone,  he  ordered  it  to  be 
taken  away,  saying  "  There  cannot  be  two  Kings  in  my  dominion 
but  one  only,  and  that  is  myself." 

Oluewu  felt  his  humiliation  keenly  and  was  resolved  to  resent 
it  at  all  cost  or  die  in  the  attempt.  But  that  was  not  all ;  the  Emir 
of  Ilorin  sent  Jimba  one  of  his  head  slaves  after  Oluewu  to  ransack 
the  palace  at  Oyo  and  to  bring  away  anything  of  value  he  could 
lay  his  hands  upon  so  that  Oyo  may  not  be  said  to  have  anything 
which  Ilorin  has  not.  This  Jimba  did,  and  among  other  things 
removed  were  the  100  brass  posts  in  the  long  corridor  of  the  palace 
erected  by  King  Aganju. 

Again,  a  short  time  after,  Shitta  required  the  Alafin  of  Oyo 
to  come  over  to  Ilorin  to  perform  the  ceremony  known  as  "  tapping 
the  Koran,"  in  order  to  become  a  true  Moslem,  but  the  AlAfin 
was  resolved  never  to  go  to  Ilorin  a  second  time  come  what  may. 
The  chiefs  urged  him  to  do  so  in  vain.  However,  Akioso  the 
Basorun  and  Ailumg  the  Asipa  went,  against  the  express  order  of 
the  King  forbidding  them  to  go  ;  and  on  account  of  this  he  was 
resolved  to  punish  them,  although  they  were  too  powerful  for 
him  to  order  their  execution  at  once. 

The  AlAfin's  refusal  to  go  to  Ilorin  being  considered  an  offence 
to  Shitta,  the  latter  sent  an  army  with  Lanloke  the  chief  of  Ogodo, 
which  ravaged  the  suburbs  of  Oyo  and  the  city  itself  was 
threatened.  At  this  crisis  the  AlAfin  invited  the  aid  of  the 
Baribas,  to  assist  him  in  subduing  his  enemies  "  within  and 
without."  Those  within  were  the  Basorun  and  the  Asipa  who 
went  to  Ilorin  against  his  commands. 

On  a  fatal  morning  the  Basorun  and  the  Asipa  went  with  the 
other  noblemen  to  a  council  at  the  palace  gate,  for  consultation 
about  the  impending  Ilorin  war,  and  the  defence  of  the  city. 
Whilst  there,  they  heard  that  the  Baribas  were  entering  the  city 
by  the  Modahade  gate.  Thinking  that  they  were  invited  by  the 
King  merely  to  help  to  defend  the  city,  the  A§ipa  rode  to  meet 
them  and  was  according  them  a  hearty  welcome  in  the  usual 
manner  of  men  on  horseback  shaking  the  fist,  when  all  of  a  sudden 


a  shower  of  darts  came  pouring  down  upon  him,  and  the  son  of 
one  Fagbayibi  shot  him  dead  on  horseback! 

The  Baribas  then  pursued  after  the  Basgrun  who  fled  to  the 
palace  begging  the  King  to  spare  his  life.  "  Ah,"  said  the  King, 
"  why  should  you  beg  me  now,  are  you  not  the  master  and  I  the 
subordinate  ?    Why  crave  your  life  from  your  servant  ?  " 

In  the  noise  and  confusion  that  ensued  with  the  entrance  of 
the  Baribas,  the  Basorun  managed  to  escape  to  his  own  house  ; 
express  messengers  were  thereupon  sent  to  his  relatives  that 
he  should  be  kept  under  strict  surveillance  whilst  the  King  and  his 
allies  were  engaged  in  the  defence  of  the  city,  and  that  they  would 
be  held  responsible  for  his  escape.  But  a  family  council  was  held 
and  in  order  to  save  him  from  a  disgraceful  death  in  public,  his 
relatives  put  an  end  to  his  life  by  strangUng. 

The  forces  of  nature  came  to  the  defence  of  Oyo  on  this  occasion. 
There  was  a  great  storm,  and  whether  it  was  due  to  the  great 
number  of  gUttering  Swords  and  spears  brandished,  or  whatever 
may  have  been  the  cause,  hghtning  was  attracted  and  so  Izirge 
a  number  of  men  were  struck  in  the  Ilorin  host  that  their  army 
was  discomfited,  and  the  men  fled  away  in  terror.  Oyo  was  a 
great  city,  which  could  not  be  rushed  by  the  Ilorins  nor  could  it  be 
invested  and  reduced  by  along  siege,  for  there  was  always  the  fear 
that  a  prolonged  siege  of  their  metropoUs  by  aliens  might  rouse  the 
great  chiefs  of  the  country  to  its  aid.  Thus  failing  to  take  the 
city,  Shitta's  next  tactics  were  the  subversion  of  the  remaining 
large  Yoruba  towns  that  still  showed  any  allegiance  to  Qyo,  and 
hence  Gbodo  was  besieged.  He  also  succeeded  in  securing  the 
alliance  of  some  powerful  Yoruba  chiefs  among  whom  were  the 
Onikoyi,  Chief  Elebuof  Ago  Oja,  and  Prince  Atibaof  the  same  place. 
This  last  named  having  resided  at  Ilorin  for  some  time  was  well 
known  to  the  Fulanis. 

The  AlAfin  again  secured  the  help  of  the  Baribas.  Eleduwg 
the  Bariba  king  promised  to  help  him  not  only  to  conquer  the 
Ilorins  but  also  to  subdue  his  rebel  chiefs.  Gbodo  which  was 
closely  besieged  by  the  Ilorins  was  well  nigh  taken  when  timely 
help  arrived  in  the  person  of  the  Eleduwe  and  his  Bariba  hordes. 
Some  of  the  Yoruba  chiefs  were  serving  in  the  Ilorin  army  at  the 
time,  notably  those  of  Ago  Oja  mentioned  above,  but  be  it  said  to 
the  praise  of  Prince  Atiba  that  he  was  acting  merely  out  of 
policy,  for  his  soldiers,  from  private  instructions  previously 
received,  were  firing  only  gunpowdei.  This  was  suspected  when  in 
spite  of  the  vigorous  attacks  of  Atiba,  his  fire  never  killed  or 
wounded  anyone  ;  the  guns  of  his  men  were  thereupon  examined, 
and  the  truth  had  to  be  confessed. 


The  Baribas  were  good  archers,  the  siege  of  Gbodo  was  raised 
and  the  defeated  Ilorins  and  their  alUes  were  hotly  pursued. 

It  was  about  the  month  of  June,  when  the  rivers  were  swollen 
by  rain,  and  thousands  of  Ilorin  horse  and  foot  were  driven  into 
the  river  Ogun  and  were  drowned.  Elebu  the  brother  and 
successor  of  Oja  the  founder  of  Ago  found  here  a  watery  grave. 
He  would  have  escaped  death  but  for  the  plot  against  his  life. 
It  is  said  that  the  late  Oja  was  a  dear  friend  to  Prince  Atiba  and 
the  friendship  continued  all  through  his  life  until  he  perished 
at  the  Kanla  expedition ;  but  Elebu  his  brother  begrudged  that 
friendship :  he  always  suspected  the  influence  and  good  faith  of 
the  prince,  regarding  him  as  a  potential  usurper  of  his  family 
rights  ;  and  when  he  succeeded  his  brother  as  the  Bale  of  Ago, 
there  was  always  friction  between  them.  Consequently  on  this 
occasion  as  Elebu  plunged  into  the  river  during  the  flight  and 
with  great  difficulty  swam  across  he  caught  hold  of  a  Gbingbin 
tree  that  stretched  its  branches  far  out  into  the  river,  but  one 
Lohosa  who  had  preceded  him  and  got  on  to  the  tree,  seeing 
Elebu  in  his  exhausted  condition,  and  in  order  to  do  good  service 
to  Prince  Atiba,  cut  off  that  branch  of  the  tree  and  Elebu  was 
swept  away  and  was  drowned. 

Prince  Atiba  himself  nearly  lost  his  life  there  also,  had  not 
Yesufu  his  uncle,  carried  him  across  on  his  back  and  given  him 
his  horse  on  the  other  side  to  ride  home. 

But  the  prince  and  many  others  owed  their  life  really  to  Maje 
his  balogun.  The  Baribas  would  have  overtaken  them  at  the  banks 
of  the  river  before  they  could  cross  had  he  not  kept  them  at  bay 
whilst  horses  and  men  were  struggling  across,  and  so  he  gave  up 
his  life  to  save  theirs,  for  he  fell  there. 

The  wreck  of  the  Ilorin  army  gathered  at  Bala  and  Iwo  from 
which  places  they  returned  home. 

But  the  Eleduwe  was  not  satisfied  with  raising  the  seige  of 
Gbodo,  he  was  determined  to  free  the  country  entirely  of  these 
foreigners,  and  hence  he  was  resolved  to  conquer  Ilorin.  Oluewu 
the  AlAfin,  whose  cause  he  was  espousing  was  right  glad  and 
sent  round  to  invite  the  co-operation  of  all  his  subjects  includ- 
ing those  who  were  alhes  of  the  Ilorins,  knowing  that  they 
were  aUies  only  out  of  policy,  but  not  wilhngly,  and  that  they 
would  be  glad  to  be  free  from  the  foreign  yoke. 

But  matters  were  complicated  by  the  fact  that  most  of  the  Oyo 
chief  towns  in  the  eastern  and  western  provinces  had  been  subju- 
gated by  the  Ilorins  and  were  vassals  of  that  state.  Hence  at  a 
council  of  war  held  by  the  two  Kings  it  was  decided  that  they 
should  not  march  straight  from  Oyo  to  Ilorin,  but  make  a  detour 


by  the  western  province,  in  order  to  secure  the  alliance  and  good 
faith  of  these  vassal  states,  and  thus  to  collect  an  overwhelming 
army  against  Ilgrin.  Accordingly  the  Eleduwe  sent  Jankgrg 
one  of  his  war-chiefs  to  garrison  Ago  Oja,  whose  chief  was  an  Ilgrin 
ally,  and  Jegede  another  war-chief  to  garrison  Otefan  whilst  he 
himself  was  following  with  his  invincible  army  in  their  wake. 

The  Ilgrins  hearing  of  the  threatened  invasion  were  not  idle 
either,  but  were  making  full  preparations  offensive  and  defensive. 

Jimba  the  head  slave  of  the  king  of  Ilgrin  headed  an  expedition 
of  horse  and  foot  to  the  Otefan  farms  when  they  heard  of  the 
garrison  there,  and  brought  away  several  captives.  Jimba's 
route  in  going  was  through  the  Esiele  farms,  but  was  so  far  from 
the  town  that  his  company  was  not  seen.  On  his  return  he  came 
through  the  town  and  halted  at  the  gate  to  receive  Fasgla  the 
Bale,  who  came  to  pay  him  his  respects.  Jimba  did  not  dismount 
as  he  was  in  a  hurry  to  get  away  with  his  captives  lest  he  be  over- 
taken, for  he  was  sure  of  a  pursuit.  On  horseback  he  accepted 
the  hospitality  of  a  drink  of  cold  water,  and  before  hurrying  away 
gave  the  following  advice  to  Fasgla  "  You  are  between  two  fires 
and  you  would  be  wise  to  vacate  this  town  at  once.  I  am 
just  returning  as  you  see  with  captives  from  the  Otefan  farms. 
Although  you  were  not  aware  of  my  passing  through  your  farms 
yet  had  I  been  detected,  I  would  have  suspected  you  as  a  traitor, 
and  would  have  punished  you  on  my  return  although  you  may  be 
innocent.  And  now  as  I  return  through  your  town  the  Otefan 
pursuers  will  track  me  to  this  place  and  you  may  likely  suffer  for 
it  and  we  have  no  means  of  protecting  you,  hence  I  advise  you 
speedily  to  vacate  this  place." 

The  Esiele  people  after  consultation  together  decided  at 
once  to  follow  his  advice.  Otefan  being  the  nearest  large  town 
and  wishing  to  cast  in  their  lot  mth  the  new  conqueror,  they 
decided  to  escape  thither  and  accordingly  despatched  oneBankgle 
to  apprise  Idowu  the  Bale  of  Otefan  of  their  intentions.  At 
Bankole's  instance  they  promised  not  to  desert  their  home  before 
his  return  as  they  treated  him  on  a  previous  occasion ;  but  their 
cowardice  got  the  better  of  them.  On  returning Bankgle  met  the 
fugitives  by  the  way  and  this  was  the  third  and  last  time  Esielg 
was  deserted,  and  is  to  this  day  an  uninhabited  desert. 

It  was  in  the  month  of  March  1830,  that  the  Eleduwe  accom- 
pam'ed  by  Prince  Atiba  of  Agg  Oja  and  Jatq,  Eleduwe's  general, 
joined  the  garrison  at  Otefan  the  rendezvous  of  the  Oyo  army. 
Kurumi  of  Ijaye,  the  Aseyin  of  Iseyin,  the  Sabigana  of  Igana, 
the  Okere  of  Saki  and  others  of  the  western  province  met  them 
there.    Here  King  Oluewu  and  the  Eleduwe  pledged  the  confidence 


of  all  the  Oyo  war-chiefs  save  the  Bale  of  Ogbomoso  and  the 
Onikoyi,  both  of  whom  were  in  secret  alliance  with  the  Ilorins, 
although  they  outwardly  professed  loyalty  to  their  lawful 

Meanwhile,  the  Emir  of  Ilorin  alarmed  by  this  great  host  sent 
to  the  Sultan  of  Sokoto  his  suzerain  for  help.  The  Sultan  sent 
17  kings  under  Esugoyi  of  Rabbah  to  his  aid,  and  they  came 
with  such  an  overwhelming  force  that  those  of  the  two  kings  were 
as  a  mere  handful  before  them.  The  two  kings  were  besieged  at 
Otefan  by  the  Ilorin  and  Niger  hosts,  several  battles  were  fought, 
and  they  were  nearly  overwhelmed  by  numbers.  At  the  last  great 
battle,  but  for  the  courage,  wisdom  and  experience  of  Eleduwe 
theBariba  King,  the  fate  of  the  whole  expedition  would  have  been 
decided  on  that  day.  He  fought  in  the  centre,  the  AlAfin  and 
Oyo  chiefs  in  the  right  and  left  wings.  He  sent  aid  to  those 
fighting  in  both  wings,  so  that  thej,  forced  the  enemy  into  the 
centre,  and  in  one  furious  charge  he  bore  down  upon  them  and 
dispersed  them.  Esugoyi's  army  was  routed  with  great  slaughter 
and  fled  away  in  confusion.  The  victory  however,  was  dearly 
bought,  for  Yenibini,  King  Eleduwe's  first-born  son  fell  in  the 

The  Oyos  pursued  their  victory  too  far  till  they  met  with  a 
disaster.  They  dearly  learnt  the  lesson  that  in  the  pursuit  of  a 
foe  footmen  are  no  match  for  horsemen.  The  Ilorins  having 
recovered  from  the  panic  of  their  defeat,  a  body  of  horsemen 
suddenly  wheeled  round  and  charged  upon  their  pursuers  and 
speared  about  400  of  them,  thereby  forcing  them  to  desist  from 
the  pursuit.  They  were  then  able  to  retreat  in  good  order,  and 
made  good  their  escape. 

§  2.    Failure.    The  Eleduwe  War 

About  the  month  of  June,  1830,  the  two  Kings  left  Otefan  for 
Adeyi,  and  thence  proceeded  to  Ogbomoso.  Here  King  Oluewu 
sent  round  to  the  whole  of  the  Yoruba  chiefs  to  join  him  in  the  last 
effort  to  throw  off  the  Fulani  yoke.  There  responded  to  his  call 
Oluyole  of  Ibadan  with  several  Egba  war-chiefs,  Kurumi  of 
Ijaye,  Ayo  of  Abem6,  Timi  of  Ede  and  others.  This  mighty  host 
remained  here  for  about  six  months  wasting  time.  They  were 
holding  councils  almost  every  day  as  to  how  best  they  might 
attack  Ilorin  with  success.  But  here  also  the  future  of  the  expedi- 
tion was  foreshadowed  and  the  doom  of  the  allied  Kings  was 
sealed.  There  were  two  principal  causes  for  this,  viz.,  the  rapacity 
of  the  Bariba  soldiers,  and  the  imprudence  of  the  Kings. 

The  excesses  of    the  Baribas  made   the    Yoruba    chiefs   and 


people  fear  lest  they  pass  from  one  master  to  another  and  a 
worse.  The  Fulanis  weie  after  all  a  superior  race,  but  the  Baribas, 
a  race  of  bandits,  as  masters  would  be  more  intolerable.  The 
country  was  literally  being  ravaged  b^  them.  They  considered 
themselves  licensed  to  all  the  goats  in  the  country.  Even  when 
kept  in  the  inner  apartment  of  the  houses,  they  would  get  at 
them  and  devour  them.  Sheep  they  did  not  care  for,  but  goats, 
say  they  are  traitors  and  must  be  devoured.  For  this  reason  the 
Yorubas  termed  them  "  Arun-eran  "  (cattle  devourers)  while  the 
Ilorins  termed  them  Ikoriko  (wolves). 

Their  excesses  consisted  not  only  in  devouring  cattle,  but  also 
in  stripping  and  depriving  helpless  ones  of  their  cloths  ;  at  length 
they  spared  not  even  men  though  they  might  be  armed.  Organized 
bands  would  attack  and  deprive  men  of  all  their  valuables. 

The  Oyos  could  offer  little  or  no  resistance  because  the  persons 
of  the  Baribas  were  held  sacred,  already  being  considered  the 
deliverers  of  the  country. 

The  following  instance  will  show  how  sacred  their  persons  were 
regarded.  One  of  them  attacked  an  Oyo  man,  who  was  not 
wilHng  to  give  way  Hghtly  and  the  Bariba  was  shot  dead  by  him. 
The  Oyo  man  ran  away.  So  much  noise  and  hubbub  were  raised 
about  this,  that  both  Kings  rode  in  person  to  the  spot  to  see  the 
corpse.  The  converse  to  this  might  have  happened  every  day 
without  provoking  any  comment.  But  the  eyewitnesses  of  the 
affray  were  so  much  in  sympathy  with  the  murderer  that  he  was 
not  betrayed,  so  disgusted  was  everybody  with  the  excesses  of  the 
Baribas.  All  this  might  have  been  avoided  if  instead  of  wasting 
time  at  Ogbomoso  they  had  given  the  soldiers  work  to  do  by 
marching  at  once  on  Ilorin,  half  demoralized  by  two  successive 
defeats.  On  the  contrary  they  allowed  them  time  to  regain 
theii  confidence  and  perfect  their  defences.  Small  blame  indeed 
to  the  soldiers  as  each  one  had  to  provide  for  himself,  how- 
ever prolonged  the  campaign. 

The  two  Kings  were  imprudent  enough  to  betray  their 
feelings.  It  leaked  out  that  after  the  conquest  of  Ilorin  all 
the  refractory  Yoruba  chiefs  who  had  usurped  the  King's  prerog- 
ative would  be  murdered  by  the  help  of  theBariba  king  ;  and  the 
kingdom  would  again  be  one  under  the  Alafin. 

One  or  two  instances  might  be  given  of  how  the  Kings  betrayed 

L.  Timi  Bamgbaiye  of  Ede  on  his  arrival  at  the  camp  went 
straight  to  pay  his  homage  to  the  King.  Being  a  corpulent  man 
the  Eleduwe  was  heard  to  remark  "  See  this  corpulent  fellow, 
one  of  those  who  have  made  themselves  fat  upon  the  King's 


diverted  revenues.     Never  mind,  he  also  will  be  dealt  with  after 
the  war  as  he  deserves." 

2.  Above  all  the  others  the  one  who  appeared  the  most  offensive 
to  the  Bariba  king  was  Prince  Atiba  of  Ago  Oja.  He  was  all 
Fulani  in  his  manners.  He  had  resided  at  Ilorin  for  some  time 
and  adopted  the  Fulani  custom  of  being  lifted  up  and  helped 
off  his  horse  by  his  attendants,  and  one  of  his  menials  ready 
with  his  sandals  so  that  he  might  not  have  to  walk  barefoot  when 
his  riding  boots  were  off. 

The  two  Kings  were  one  day  sitting  at  a  pubUc  meeting,  and 
Prince  Atiba  arrived  late  with  an  august  pageantry  to  the  disgust 
of  the  kings  and  chiefs  present,  who  could  not  afford  as  much. 
He  was  preceded  by  his  Junior  war-chiefs  mounted  on  strong 
ponies,  with  their  attendant  footmen  ;  then  those  mounted  on 
larger  horses  came  after,  then  himself  followed  on  a  specially 
powerful  animal  richly  caparisoned,  with  a  large  retinue.  He 
was  lifted  off  his  horse  his  sandals  being  ready  for  him  to 
put  on,  contrary  to  the  etiquette  of  the  country  to  be  shod  before 
a  king.  This  was  disgusting  to  both  Kings  and  to  many  of  the 
Oyo  chiefs  present,  who,  notwithstanding  the  rebellion  and 
revolution  still  going  on,  have  yet  full  respect  for  royalty. 

Olurinde  the  chief  of  Sepeteri  in  the  eastern  province,  could 
not  bear  to  see  this  act  of  disrespect  pass  unreproved,  so  he 
went  near  and  pulled  off  the  sandals  from  Atiba's  feet,  and  thus 
reprimanded  him  :  "  Know  you  not  before  whom  you  are  ?  How 
dare  you  be  shod  in  the  presence  of  our  King  ?  "  Atiba  could 
not  brook  a  reproof  from  a  commoner  and  from  wounded  pride 
fiercely  retorted;  "And  who  are  you  ?  And  what  is  that  to  you  ? 
The  King  is  my  father  and,  as  a  prince,  I  have  privileges  which 
the  likes  of  you  can  never  aspire  to.  I  can  even  pass  by  him  into 
the  harem  which  none  of  you  can  dare  do  ;  but  who  are  you  ?  " 
The  contention  was  so  sharp  that  Kitoyi  the  Okere  of  Saki  had 
to  interpose  begging  Prince  Atiba  to  have  respect  for  the  two 
Kings,  to  take  off  the  sandals,  and  not  to  persist  merely  for  the 
purpose  of  spiting  the  Sepeteri  chief. 

The  Kings  noticed  all  this  and  marked  Prince  Atiba  out  as  one 
of  those  to  be  dealt  with  after  the  war. 

Lastly  the  disaffection  towards  Oluewu  was  increased  by  the 
unreasoning  stubbornness  he  displayed  to  whatever  advice  was 
given  him,  however  good.  The  Oyo  chiefs  who  were  left  to  guard 
the  city  were  kept  informed  of  everything  that  transpired.  They 
were  very  anxious  as  to  the  fate  of  the  expedition  ;  their  own 
interests  were  chiefly  involved  in  the  fate  of  the  capital.  They 
were  sure  the  offended  chiefs  would  take  revenge  and  wreck  the  army 


of  which  they  formed  a  part.  Consequently  they  sent  message 
after  message  to  advise  the  King  not  to  advance  on  Ilgrin  direct 
from  Ogbomoso  but  to  come  by  way  of  Ikoyi,  Iwo,  Gbogun, 
and  Sah6  making  the  attack  from  the  north  so  that  having  the 
capital  and  the  Niger  provinces  behind  him  he  might  in  case  of 
defeat  have  safe  places  within  easy  reach  to  retire-  upon.  And  in 
order  to  give  strength  and  force  to  the  advice,  they  represented  it 
as  the  express  advice  of  the  god  Ifa  by  divination.  Knowing  his 
haughtiness  they  sent  their  messages  through  the  Bariba  king, 
to  whom  alone  he  might  perhaps  listen  ;  but  as  they  anticipated, 
not  even  from  the  Eleduwe  would  he  brook  any  such  advice. 
He  was  for  marching  straight  on  Ilorin  from  Ogbomoso. 

Before  the  army  marched  out  of  Ogbomoso  the  disaffected 
Yoruba  provincial  kings  and  chiefs  entered  into  a  conspiracy  to 
desert  the  King  and  his  ally  at  a  critical  moment  and  therefore  in 
order  to  apprise  the  Ilorins  of  their  intentions  they  sent  them-  a 
parabolic  message  in  soap,  camwood,  and  karinkan  (flesh  brush) 
implying  "  We  are  attending  the  bride  to  the  bridegroom's  house." 
This  was  fully  understood  at  Ilorin. 

The  huge  host  left  Ogboragsg  in  December  1830  by  slow  stages 
encamping  first  at  Aduin,  where  they  were  for  nine  days.  (Ilorin  is 
but  one  good  day's  walk  from  Ogbomoso).  On  the  tenth  day  they 
advanced  to  Jayin,  thence  to  Ogele,  and  from  Ogele  they  encamped 
at  the  farm  of  one  Ajiya  of  Ilorin.  Never  before  was  Ilorin 
threatened  by  so  large  a  force,  consequently  the  consternation 
there  was  great,  and  vast  preparations  were  made  for  battle, 
offensive  and  defensive.  The  face  of  every  man  was  marked  by 
grim  determination  to  do  his  best.  The  Moslem  priests  were  very 
busy  making  charms  and  amulets  not  only  for  individual  self- 
protection  but  also  in  order  to  defeat  the  enemy  completely.  A 
crow,  a  cat,  and  a  crown  bird  (the  Agufan)  with  charms  tied  round 
their  necks  were  sent  by  special  messengers  to  be  left  in  the  camp 
of  the  allied  armies.  These  messengers  were  caught  and  when 
threatened  they  boldly  showed  that  they  despised  death  and  said 
to  their  captors  "  Take  our  advice  and  decamp  at  once  for  as  for 
the  yams  you  are  now  cooking  in  our  farms  it  is  a  question  whether 
you  will  be  able  to  eat  them  before  you  are^  defeated,  and  even  if 
you  should,  we  are  quite  sure  that  the  survivors  will  evacuate 
them  at  the  Ogbomoso  farms." 

Shortly  after  this  a  company  of  Ilorin  horse  surprised  a  body 
of  men  who  went  foraging,  and  the  Bariba  troops  who  went  out 
against  them  were  repulsed,  but  Prince  Atiba  whose  men  were 
armed  with  guns  came  to  their  timely  aid,  drove  back  the  horsemen 
and  captured  a  horse. 


To  show  the  wanton  excesses  of  these  Baribas,  even  after  this 
skirmish  in  which  they  figured  so  badly,  they  went  unceremoniously 
to  Prince  Atiba's  tent  and  coolly  loosed  the  horse  that  was  captured 
and  were  taking  it  away  !  They  laid  claim  to  it  not  because  it  was 
captured  by  them,  but  because  they  considered  themselves  now 
the  masters  as  it  was  they  who  had  the  first  brush  with  the  enemy. 
But  the  Prince  was  not  the  man  to  forego  his  claims  easily,  he 
pointed  out  forcibly  how,  but  for  his  timely  succour  there  could 
not  have  been  any  question  as  to  the  ownership  of  the  horse,  for 
instead  of  capturing,  they  themselves  would  all  have  been  killed, 
or  captured.  The  contention  was  so  fierce  between  them  that 
the  Alafin  had  to  send  a  special  message  to  Atiba  to  forego 
his  claims  and  give  up  the  horse  for  the  sake  of  peace. 

The  following  day  being  Friday  the  Kings  did  not  take  the  field 
until  2  p.m.,  Fridays  being  considered  unlucky  up  to  that  hour. 

The  Kings  again  fought  in  the  centre  in  the  highway  called 
the  Pakaba  road,  and  located  the  Yoruba  war-chiefs  on  the  right 
and  left  wings  of  the  army. 

But  Prince  Atiba  of  AgQ  and  the  Timi  Bamgbaiye  of  Edg 
did  not  fire  a  shot  or  shoot  an  arrow  before  they  gave  way,  affording 
the  enemy  an  advantage  to  surround  the  two  Kings.  It  was 
Oluyole  of  Ibadan  alone  who  seemed  not  to  have  been  apprised 
of  the  plot,  for  he  fought  for  some  time  on  the  road  leading  to  Oke 
Suna  and  pressed  the  florins  hard  towards  the  town  wall.  The 
camp  was  taken  behind  them  and  fired  before  the  Kings  were 
aware  of  the  perfidy  of  the  Yoruba  chiefs.  There  was  no  alterna- 
tive now  for  them  but  to  fight  desperately  and  sell  their  Uves  as 
dearly  as  possible.  The  Eleduwe  fought  with  his  usual  bravery 
and  exhausted  all  his  skill  to  retrieve  the  position  if  possible,  but 
he  was  overpowered  by  numbers  and  fell  among  the  slain.  His 
head  was  taken  off  and  carried  in  triumph  to  the  town  and  exposed 
upon  the  town  WcQl. 

King  Oluewu's  heir  seeing  that  the  day  was  lost  rode  up  to  his 
father  and  bade  him  farewell,  to  meet  again  in  the  other  world. 
Putting  spurs  into  his  horse  he  galloped  to  meet  the  enemy  and 
fought  gallantly  until  he  fell  among  those  he  had  slain. 

The  Ilgrin  horse  and  foot  were  in  pursuit  all  night  and 
unfortunately  for  the  wreck  of  the  Oyo  army  whilst  escaping  to 
Ogbomoso  they  missed  the  way  taking  one  that  led  back  to  Ilorin  ; 
they  met  the  pursuers  at  a  short  distance  and  were  all  either 
captured  or  slain. 

Thus  was  fulfilled  the  prophecy  of  the  charm  bearers  who  were 
caught,  that  the  yams  they  were  then  cooking  might  be  eaten  at 
the  Ilorin  farms  but  would  be  evacuated  in  the  Ogbomosg  farms. 


Lanloke  the  chief  of  Ogodo  who  had  always  been  an  inveterate 
enemy  of  Oyo  and  an  active  ally  of  Ilorin,  taking  advantage  of 
the  absence  of  the  King  and  principal  war-chiefs  from  the  city, 
came  and  attacked  Oyo,  but  he  was  repulsed  by  the  Ohota  nick- 
named Ari-ibon-peji  eyin,  (one  whose  gun  can  create  a  gap  in  the 
upper  front  teeth) ,  who  was  left  in  charge. 

When  the  news  of  the  disaster  reached  Oyo  and  that  both  Kings 
had  perished,  Lanloke  again  attacked  the  city  but  was  again 
repulsed.  The  citizen's  fearing  that  he  would  receive  re-inforce- 
ment  from  Ilorin  did  not  wait  to  try  any  further  conclusions  ; 
the  great  metropolis  was  deserted,  some  fled  to  Kihisi,  some  to 
Igboho,  and  some  even  to  Ilorin.  As  it  was  not  a  flight  from  an 
enemy  in  pursuit  many  who  reached  Kihisi  and  Igboho  safely 
with  their  family  returned  a^ain  and  again  for  their  household 
goods  and  chattels  till  one  Agandangban  went  and  told  Lanloke 
that  Oyo  had  been  deserted,  and  the  latter  proceeded  immediately 
to  plunder,  and  carry  away  what  was  left  by  the  citizens. 

Thus  failed  the  fourth  and  last  campaign  against  Ilorin,  and  such 
was  the  fall  of  the  great  Metropohs  "  Eyeo  or  Katunga,"  the 
ancient  Oyo,  still  in  rains. 

Chaptep  XIV 
§  I.     Civil  War  at  Abem6 

Before  the  Eleduwe  war  broke  out,  a  marked  disaffection  and 
rivalry  was  rife  between  the  two  leading  chiefs  of  Abem6,  Ayo 
the  Bale  and  Okoyan  alias  Lahan  the  next  man  to  him. 

The  latter  claimed  relationship  to  Oyabi  the  late  Kakanfo 
at  Ajase  and  hence  to  Kurumi  of  Ijaye  also.  This  rivalry  became 
apparent  during  the  expedition,  for  Lahan  out  of  spite  to  his  chief 
Ayg,  went  over  to  Kurumi,  encamped  with  him  and  fought  under 
his  standard  as  if  he  was  an  Ijaye  rhan.  The  disaffection  now 
became  an  open  rupture  and  it  was  evident  to  all  that  Lahan  was 
secretly  abetted  by  chief  Kurumi  of  Ijaye.  It  subsequently 
became  known  that  Lahan  and  Kurumi  were  plotting  to  fall  upon 
Ayo  suddenly  and  despatch  him  after  their  retreat,  before  reaching 
home.  Ayo  apprised  of  this,  suddenly  broke  up  his  encampment, 
and  by  forced  marches  reached  home  a  considerable  time  before 
Lahan  who  followed  hard  after  him. 

But  Ayo  instead  of  entering  his  house  remained  squatting  on 
a  mat  in  the  square  in  front  of  his  compound,  close  by  the  spot 
where  his  women  folk  were  dyeing  cloths,  his  horse  standing  by 
his  side,  and  his  spear  stuck  in  the  ground  close  by  him, 

Lahan  halted  outside  the  town  walls,  afraid  to  enter.  When 
Ayo  heard  of  it  he  sent  to  invite  him  to  return  to  his  house  in 
peace,  but  Lahan  suspicious  and  afraid  to  enter  by  the  main  gate 
took  a  circuitous  route  and  entered  by  the  one  nearest  to  his 
quarter  of  the  town  where  he  commanded  about  200  compounds. 
Their  designs  having  now  failed  Kurumi  became  very  anxious 
about  the  safety  of  his  friend  Lahan,  and  not  wishing  to  leave  him 
thus  at  the  mercy  of  Ayg  he  attempted  to  bring  about  a  reconcili- 
ation between  them  before  proceeding  home  to  Ijaye ;  but  Ayo 
politely  declined  his  interference  saying  that  having  just  returned 
home  from  this  great  war  it  was  too  early  to  talk  about  such 
matters.  Kurumi  thus  disappointed  proceeded  homewards  but 
first  despatched  Amodu  one  of  his  distinguished  captains  on 
horseback  to  bid  Ayo  good  bye  and  to  say  he  would  return  in  a 
short  time  to  settle  their  difference. 

Amodu  met  Ayg  on  the  same  spot  his  horse  still  unsaddled 
but  all  his  men  had  dispersed,  only  about  5  attendants  remained 
L  269 


with  him.  Amodu  having  delivered  his  message  returned  to  his 
master,  and  suggested  to  him  that  a  better  opportunity  than  this 
cannot  be  had  of  making  short  work  of  the  whole  affair  ;  Ayo's 
men  having  dispersed  he  could  easily  be  surprised  and  killed. 

Kuruni  took  the  hint  and  made  for  Ayo  ;  the  latter  surprised 
to  see  an  armed  force  coming  on  towards  him,  hastily  jumped 
upon  his  horse  and  was  ready  for  action.  Kurumi  perceiving  it 
would  not  be  an  easy  matter  to  accomplish  his  purpose,  did  not 
venture  upon  an  attack  but  speedily  wheeled  round  and  left  the 
town  by  another  gate. 

Ayo  and  his  men  thereupon  became  mad  with  rage  and  they 
fell  upon  Lahan,  fired  his  quarter  of  the  town,  took  his  men  with 
their  wives  and  childien  as  captives  of  war  !  Lahan  himself  was 
spared  with  but  a  few  attendants,  and  allowed  to  shelter  himself 
in  a  small  house  in  that  quarter  which  had  escaped  the  conflagra- 
tion. Here  he  spent  a  most  miserable  night  of  grief,  remorse 
and  disappointment,  having  lost  all  his  family  and  all  his 

Chief  Oluygle  of  Ibadan  arrived  at  Abemg  only  a  day  too  late 
to  be  of  any  service  to  his  friends,  and  was  very  sorry  that  this  had 
happened,  especially  at  this  crisis.  He  visited  Lahan  where 
he  was  to  sympathize  with  him  for  his  misfortunes  having  a 
reminiscence  of  his  own  troubles  on  his  return  from  the  Ota  war. 
He  went  straight  from  Lahan  to  Ayo  to  effect  a  reconciliation 
between  them  and  the  release  of  those  who  were  seized,  contending 
that  they  cannot  be  regarded  as  prisoners  of  war  but  fellow  towns- 
men and  victims  of  a  civil  fight.  He  further  showed  the  impolicy 
of  having  one  part  of  the  town  desolate.  He  succeeded  with  Ayo 
and  with  some  of  his  chiefs  ;  some  had  even  set  free  their  own 
captives.  Thus,  in  order  to  assure  Oluyole,  one  Oga  appealed 
to  Kukomi  one  of  his  followers  in  the  presence  of  them  all,  "Have 
I  not  released  mine  ?  "  In  the  same  way  one  Eku6debe  appealed 
to  one  Bankole.  The  reply  in  both  cases  was  in  the  affirmative. 
Thereupon  one  Akilapa  and  Agidi-ko-ko-iku  who  had  not  yet  done 
so  asked  leave  to  go  home  and  release  theirs  at  once.  Everything 
now  seemed  to  make  for  a  peaceful  settlement,  when  one  Ogun- 
gbade  an  Own  man  then  residing  at  Abem^  raised  a  strong  objection 
to  the  proceedings  ;  he  declined  to  set  his  captives  free  and 
declared  himself  unconcerned  as  to  the  results  even  if  it  be  the 
destruction  of  Abem6  and  the  loss  of  his  own  liberty.  Said  he 
"  I  am  an  Owu  man  by  birth,  my  parents  came  from  the  ancient 
Owu  Ipole  to  the  city  of  Owu  where  I  was  born.  The  same  fortune 
that  smiled  on  my  parents  at  Owu  Ipole,  smiled  on  them  at  the 
city  of  Owu,     Here  am  I,  fortune  is  smiling  on  me  to-day  although 


I  was  taken  captive  at  the  fall  of  the  city  of  Owu.  Let  Abem6 
be  destroyed  to-day  and  let  me  lose  all  I  have  and  be  taken  captive, 
I  shall  still  be  a  great  man  wherever  I  may  be.  'Tis  enough,  Abem^ 
may  be  destroyed  in  part  or  in  whole  ;  it  matters  nothing.  We 
shall  not  release  our  prisoners." 

Unfortunately  at  such  a  crisis  as  this,  Chief  Ayo  was  in  an 
inebriated  condition,  although  he  was  conscious  of  what  was  going 
on  and  was  able  to  signify  his  acquiescence  to  Chief  Oluyole  ;  yet 
throughout  all  the  proceedings  and  the  wicked  proposals  of  the 
Owu  man  he  remained  silent,  and  further,  he  displayed  in  the 
presence  of  Oluyole  some  of  those  disgusting  habits  customary 
with  him  of  soiling  himself  while  in  that  state. 

Oluyole  was  indignant  with  Ayo  and  his  councillors  and  looked 
upon  them  all  as  a  number  of  fools  ;  he,  however,  concealed  his 
anger,  but  the  whole  affair  was  terminated  abruptly  and  unsatis- 

About  the  time  of  Oluyole's  departure  however,  Ayo  was 
able  to  thank  him  for  the  interest  he  kindly  took  in  the  affairs 
of  the  town,  and  presented  him  with  a  young  woman  among  the 
captives.  Oluyole  was  dehghted  with  this  acquisition  to  his 
harem.  She  was  described  as  a  young  woman  of  great  beauty, 
of  a  fair  complexion  and  a  slim  figure.  But  the  mother  hastened 
forward  with  a  tender  appeal  to  Oluyole,  and  prostrating  (after  the 
manner  of  men)  before  him,  said  "  She  cannot  be  your  wife, 
for  she  is  your  relative  ;  we  also  are  of  the  Basgrun  descent  like 
yourself."  Oluyole  yielded  to  her  entreaties  but  demanded  15 
heads  of  cowries  for  her  release;  this  was  paid  and  the  girl  was 
handed  to  her  mother. 

Oluyole  left  Abemo  for  Ibadan  by  way  of  Ijaye  where  he  spent 
5  days  with  Kurumi,  and  both  of  them  being  offended  at  Ayo's 
conduct  the  fate  of  Abemo  was  thereupon  settled  and  sealed. 

§  2.    The  Destruction  of  Abem^ 

According  to  the  settled  arrangement  between  Kurumi  and 
Oluyole  during  the  stay  of  the  latter  at  Ijaye,  their  movements 
were  to  be  kept  private  as  much  as  possible.  Abem6  was  to  be 
taken  by  surprise  in  order  to  avoid  the  necessity  of  a  siege.  The 
Ibadan  forces  were  to  join  those  of  Ijaye  and  in  order  to  do  this 
without  their  objective  being  known,  Oluyole  gave  it  out  that  the 
Aseyin  was  paying  a  visit  to  Ibadan  and  that  they  should  go  out 
and  escort  him  to  the  town. 

As  the  head  chief  went  outside  the  town  wall,  no  war-chief 
dared  remain  behind  ;  hence,  all  went  out  according  to  custom. 

They  went  as  far  as  Ijaye  but  when  they  saw  the  Ijaye  army 


also  marshalled  forth  then  they  knew  that  they  were  going  against 

It  was  quite  late  before  Ayg  knew  that  evil  was  determined 
against  him.  He  went  out  that  morning  to  review  his  troops. 
Two  of  his  generals  Aruna  and  Ajadi  being  accused  of  treason 
were  before  him,  and  whilst  he  was  enquiiing  into  the  charge  they 
were  interrupted  by  the  approach  of  the  enemy.  The  intrepid 
warrior  at  once  jumped  upon  his  horse,  and  dashed  into  the  ranks 
of  the  enemy.  He  performed  feats  of  valour  that  day,  he  broke 
through  their  ranks,  had  his  horse  shot  under  him  and  himself 
wounded  in  the  leg.  But  he  was  not  dispirited  ;  he  called  for  another 
horse  and  fought  bravely  at  the  head  of  his  people.  The  men  of 
Abemg,  however  were  overpowered  by  numbers,  for  whilst  fighting 
braveh'  at  one  gate  of  the  town,  the  Ibadans  entered  by  another 
and  set  fire  to  the  town.  All  hopes  being  now  lost,  Ayo  escaped 
with  a  few  horsemen  and  followers  to  Ago  Oja  (the  present  Oyo) 
being  hotly  pursued  by  Ijaye  and  Ibadan  troops. 

In  order  not  to  incur  the  displeasure  of  KurGmi  and  Oluyole 
the  two  leading  chiefs  of  the  country  whom  he  hoped  hereafter 
would  be  his  back  stay.  Prince  Atiba  of  Ago  Oja  told  Ayo  that  he 
could  not  protect  him  and  consequently  he  should  leave  the  town 
before  his  pursuers  arrived  there.  Ayo  took  the  way  to  Ojomgbodu 
on  his  way  to  Ilorin,  but  after  a  while  on  considering  the  humiliation 
of  it  all  and  the  grave  probabilities  that  lay  before  him,  he  chose 
death  rather  than  dishonour. 

He  dismounted  at  a  certain  spot  and  sat.  under  a  tree,  his  horse 
standing  by  him.  He  sent  away  his  little  band  of  devoted  followers 
in  order  to  die  alone  like  a  soldier.  Here  he  calmly  awaited  his 

According  to  one  account,  at  the  sight  of  them  he  sprang  again 
upon  his  horse  and  made  for  them.  He  threw  one  Lakonu  off  his 
steed  and  brandishing  his  spear  round  and  round  him,  exclaimed 
"  But  for  Atiba  you  are  a  dead  man,"  then  the  men  opened  fire 
upon  him  and  he  dropped  down  dead. 

But  another  account  says  he  sat  with  calm  dignity  under  the 
tree  and  offered  no  resistance  whilst  they  showered  their  deadly 
weapons  upon  him  and  he  dropped  down  dead. 

Thus  perished  one  of  the  best  and  ablest  of  the  Oyo  or  Yoruba 
generals.  His  remains  were  brought  back  to  Ago  Oja  and  interred 

Ayg  like  the  late  Ojo  Amepo  was  a  good  horseman  and  one 
of  the  best  generals  of  the  day,  but  drink  was  his  greatest  vice, 
and  to  that  may  be  attributed  the  cause  of  his  ruin  as  well  as  that 
of  Abem^.     His  aide-de-camp  was  nick-named  Am u-igba-legb§-giri, 



i.e.,  one  who  grasps  tight  the  sides  of  a  drinking  bowl  ;  because 
he  himself  was  hardly  inferior  to  his  master  in  that  respect  as  the 
name  implies. 

Although  the  ruler  of  the  town  yet  he  often  spent  as  much  as 
three  days  and  nights  out  of  home  attending  "  wakes  "  at  night 
wherever  he  was  invited,  and  during  daytime  dancing  to  the  bMa 
drum  in  various  quarters  of  the  town  hke  the  commonest  citizen. 
He  offered  the  right  hand  of  fellowship  to  anyone  who  could  drink 
like  himself. 

He  was  by  nature  generous  and  merciful,  in  which  respect  he 
was  most  unlike  his  bloodthirsty  peers  of  that  age.  As  an 
instance  of  this  a  story  was  told  of  his  favourite  Amu-igba-legbe 
who  on  leaving  the  Bale's  house  quite  late  one  night  the  worse 
for  drink  missed  his  way  into  his  chief's  harem,  and  slept  by  the 
side  of  one  of  his  wives  thinking  he  had  got  home  !  When  the 
woman  awoke  in  the  early  hours  of  the  morning,  and  saw  a  stranger 
by  her  side  she  cried  out  and  roused  the  whole  estabHshment. 

Amugba  starting  from  his  sleep  being  now  sober,  took  in  the 
situation  at  once  and  resigned  himself  to  the  only  fate  he  felt  sure 
was  awaiting  him  under  the  circumstances. 

Overcome  with  fear  he  went  home  in  great  distress  and  when 
the  matter  was  known  in  the  house  the  whole  compound  was 
deserted  for  fear  of  the  usual  confiscation  and  punishment  in  such 
a  case.  Amugba  expected  nothing  but  death  and  when  about  noon 
he  heard  his  chief's  drum  coming  towards  his  house,  he  thought 
the  fatal  hour  was  come.  Ayo  entered  and  saw  him  trembling  and 
attempting  an  apology ;  he  simply  jeered  at  him  and  said  :  "  Why 
are  you  looking  so  dejected  ?  Is  it  because  you  missed  your  way 
last  night  ?  Never  mind  the  mistake,  let's  go  out  and  drink 
away  yesterday's  occurrence." 

Amugba  thought  it  was  only  a  stratagem  to  get  him  out  of  his 
house  to  be  arrested  and  executed ;  he  followed,  however,  but 
was  still  dejected.  Whilst  drinking  in  a  friend's  house  Ayo 
observed  him  still  in  that  mood,  and  said  to  him  with  surprise, 
"  Are  you  still  downcast  on  account  of  yesterday's  affair  ?  Why 
that  is  past  and  gone  ;  it  only  proved  I  can  beat  you  in  drink,  for 
I  drank  far  more  than  you  did  on  that  occasion,  but  was  not  in 
the  least  affected,  whilst  you,  could  not  find  your  way  home." 
So  the  matter  passed  off  in  jokes. 

Abemo  and  Ijaye  were  rival  towns  and  the  former  had  the 
sobriquet  of  "  Abem6  siiru  okg  ilu  bantatk  "  (Abemo  small  and 
compact,  but  the  husband  of  a  huge  town)  meaning  Ijaye. 


Chaptek   XV 


§  I.    Prince  Atiba  :     His  Early  Life  and  History 

Prince  Atiba  was  the  son  of  King  Abiodun  by  an  Akeitan 
woman.  According  to  one  account,  he  was  born  in  the  city  of 
Oyo,  his  father  died  when  he  was  but  a  child,  and  when  Abiodun's 
children  were  being  ill-treated  by  King  Aole  his  mother  fled  with 
him  to  her  own  town  in  the  country. 

Bat  another  account  was  of  a  more  romantic  interest  and  is 
more  probable,  as  being  characteristic  of  that  age.  According  to 
this  account,  his  mother,  a  slave  at  Gudugbu,  was  given  as  a  hostage 
to  the  Alafin  of  Oyo.  She  had  an  intimate  friend  who  was  much 
distressed  by  this  separation.  After  8  or  lo  weary  months,  she 
was  resolved  at  all  costs  to  go  up  to  the  city  to  visit  her  friend  with 
whom  she  had  been  associated  from  childhood. 

The  Gudugbu  hostage  was  too  insignificant  to  be  noticed  among 
the  crowd  of  women  in  the  King's  harem  until-  this  strange  visit 
of  her  friend  drew  the  King's  attention  to  her.  The  visitor  from 
the  country  loitering  within  the  precincts  of  the  palace  was  asking 
all  whom  she  saw  coming  from  the  women's  quarters  to  call  her 
Eni-Olufan  one  of  the  King's  wives,  but  no  one  knew  who  that 
was.  At  length  King  Abiodun  was  told  that  a  woman  from  the 
country  was  asking  for  one  of  his  wives,  and  this  unusual  incident 
aroused  the  King's  curiosity.  The  Gudugbu  woman  was  called 
to  his  presence  to  state  the  object  of  her  visit.  She  replied  . — 
"  May  your  majesty  live  long.  The  young  woman  from  Gudugbu 
given  as  a  hostage  was  my  bosom  friend,  and  for  the  past  8  months 
or  more  I  have  had  no  one  to  talk  to,  and  hence  I  was  resolved  to 
visit  her." 

The  King  then  said  to  her,  "  Are  you  not  afraid  to  come  here 
and  to  enquire  for  my  wife  ?  Suppose  I  add  yourself  to  the  harem 
or  kill  you  or  sell  you  ?  "  Sherephed,  "  For  my  friend's  sake  I  am 
prepared  to  undergo  any  treatment,  and  if  your  majesty  make  a 
wife  of  me  I  shall  be  happy  as  my  friend  and  I  will  see  each  other 
every  day." 



The  King  greatly  admired  their  friendship  ;  he  gave  permission 
for  her  to  be  lodged  with  her  friend,  and  was  by  this  led  to  pay  some 
attention  to  the  Gudugbu  hostage. 

For  three  months  these  two  friends  enjoyed  each  other's  company 
and  as  the  King's  wife  was  now  in  the  way  of  becoming  a  mother, 
he  was  graciously  pleased  to  send  them  home.  He  sent  for  both 
of  them  one  morning,  and  after  a  few  approbatory  remarks 
on  their  friendship,  he  loaded  them  with  presents,  and  said  to  his 
wife's  friend,  "I  am  sending  your  friend  home  with  you  in  order 
that  you  may  not  fail  to  have  some  one  to  unbosom  your  mind  to 
as  hitherto.  I  make  you  both  my  deputy  for  that  part  of  the 
country.  All  matters  to  be  referred  to  Oyo  will  henceforth  be 
brought  to  you  for  decision,  all  the  tribute  monies  will  be  paid  to 
you  also,  and  as  my  wife  will  be  unable  to  undertake  a  journey, 
I  expect  your  visit  here  as  often  as  you  can  come."  With  this 
instruction  he  dismissed  them  and  sent  several  Eunuchs  and  Ilaris 
with  them  as  escort  and  to  commend  them  formally  to  the 
care  and  protection  of  the  Bale  of  Gudugbu.  Both  these  women 
returned  to  Gudugbu  in  quite  a  different  capacity  from  that  in 
which  they  left  it.  The  little  town  was  all  astir  on  their  arrival, 
and  many  were  the  private  murmurs  against  Eni-Olufan's  friend 
for  the  heavy  responsibilities  she  had  brought  upon  them.  Great 
deference,  however,  was  paid  to  them  both,  and  they  became 
practically  the  supreme  rulers  and  judges  of  that  district.  The 
King's  wife  in  course  of  time  gave  birth  to  a  son  who  was  named 
Atibk ;  her  friend  also  (who  was  a  married  woman)  gave  birth 
to  a  son  named  Onipede.  The  intimacy  existing  between  the 
two  mothers  re-appeared  also  in  the  boys  from  childhood  up  to 

[This  account  is  reconcilable  with  the  first  as  it  is  possible  that 
as  an  infant,  Atiba  may  have  been  taken  to  Oyo  to  see  his  father, 
and  may  have  been  there  till  Aole's  reign  when  the  mother  had  to 
flee  with  him  back  to  the  country  as  stated  above]. 

Atiba  grew  up  a  wild  and  reckless  lad.  When  he  was  of  age,  his 
father  ordered  that  the  mother  should  apportion  to  him  the  tribute 
money  of  that  district,  this  continued  until  the  succeeding  reign 
when  the  country  was  thrown  into  confusion  and  anarchy. 

This  circumstance  probably  led  his  mother  to  remove  with 
him  from  Gudugbu  to  Akeitan  her  own  home.  Here  Atiba  was 
under  the  care  of  his  maternal  uncle  who  was  now  head  of  the  house 
and  the  family  estate. 

Atiba  was  brought  up  as  a  tailor,  but  he  preferred  a  wild  and 
predatory  life,  for  which  the  circumstances  of  the  times  afforded 
great  opportunities.     A  story  was  told  of  him  that  once  being  very 


hungry,  he  asked  his  uncle  for  a  yam,  and  the  uncle  not  only  refused 
it  him,  but  took  the  opportunity  of  reprimanding  him  sharply 
for  living  the  idle  life  of  a  kidnapper.  "  If  I  had  lived  on  man- 
stealing  like  you,"  said  he,  "  I  could  not  have  got  any  yam," 
But  Yesufu  the  younger  uncle  felt  sorry  for  his  nephew  and  said 
to  Atiba  that  whilst  he  (the  uncle)  was  living,  he  (Atiba)  would 
never  suffer  the  pinch  of  hunger.  This  incident  had  its  reward 
hereafter  as  will  be  noticed  in  its  place. 

From  Akeitan  Prince  Atiba  made  several  incursions  into  the 
Gudugbu  farms,  and  was  generally  a  pest  to  the  country  round 

In  order  not  to  bring  trouble  on  the  Akeitan  people,  Atiba  was 
urged  to  remove  his  residence  to  the  town  of  Ago  where  he  would 
find  in  Oja-  the  chief  of  that  place  a  man  of  a  like  spirit  to  his  own, 
of  a  warlike  disposition,  and  he  did  so. 

But  when  Atiba  arrived  at  Ago,  Oja  was  strongly  advised  not 
to  let  him  settle  down  there,  because  a  man  like  him  would  eventu- 
ally become  master  of  the  town.  Elebu,  Oja's  brother  was  the 
chief  opponent.  But  Oja  did  not  follow  this  advice.  "  How  can 
I,"  said  he  "an  ofhcer  on  the  staff  of  the  Kakanfo,  and  a  title- 
bearer  in  the  kingdom,  turn  away  my  prince  ?  "  Oja  continued 
friendly  to  him  until  his  fall  in  the  Kanla  expedition. 

Their  kidnapping  expeditions  were  at  that  time  chiefly  directed 
against  the  Egbas  in  the  Oke  Ogun  districts  near  Sagaun.  They 
found  them  so  simple  and  unsophisticated  in  those  days  that  when 
a  kidnapper  had  captured  several  of  them  and  was  in  quest  for 
more  he  had  only  to  leave  his  cap  or  his  spear  or  any  other  personal 
property  by  the  side  of  them,  and  bid  them  wait  for  him  there,  and 
should  another  kidnapper  fall  in  with  them  he  was  to  be  shown  the 
sign  of  prepossession,  and  thus  they  would  be  left  untouched  until 
their  captor  returned.  These  captives  never  made  any  effort  to 

Atiba  rose  to  importance  by  committing  acts  of  violence  and 
extortion  with  impunity,  from  the  great  deference  paid  to  his 
high  birth.  In  that  age  of  anarchy  and  confusion  he  collected 
around  himself  all  lawless  men,  insolvent  debtors,  slaves  who 
had  deserted  their  masters.  His  wealth  was  continually  aug- 
mented by  fresh  marauding  expeditions,  his  men  behaving  like 
the  Jamas,  himself  at  the  head  of  them. 

By  his  address  and  largess  Atiba  won  to  himself  the  following 
chiefs  of  Oyo,  viz.,  Aderinko,  Ladejobi,  Olumole,  Oluwajo,  Lgsk 
Oluwaiye  (the  Alagba),  Adefumi,  Lakonu,  Told  Maje,  Falade, 
and  Gbenla. 

His  slaves  who  had  horses  and  a  large  retinue  each  were : — 


Eni-d'Olgrun  (who  subsequently  became  the  Apeka),  Galajimg, 
Otelowo  and  Ogboinu  his  mounted  trumpeter. 

Elebu  succeeded  his  brother  as  the  Bale  of  Ago.  As  might  be 
expected  he  was  not  on  good  terms  with  Atiba  ;  but  the  latter 
had  already  risen  to  such  a  height  of  greatness  and  popularity 
that  Elebu  could  neither  crush  him  nor  turn  him  out  of  the  town  ; 
they  remained  antagonists  till  Elebu  was  drowned  in  the  river 
during  the  Gbodo  war,  as  related  above. 

Before  Elebu's  death,  Ajanaku  of  Ilorin  to  whom  Ago  Oja 
paid  tribute  summoned  them  both  to  Ilorin  and  asked  Shitta  his 
sovereign  to  effect  a  reconciliation  between  them.  The  turban 
was  given  to  both  as  a  sign  of  brotherhood  in  the  Moslem  faith. 
This  reconciliation  was  only  on  the  surface,  but  by  no  means  real. 
It  was  at  this  time  that  all  children  born  at  Ago  had  Moslem 
names  given  to  them  and  many  adults  and  aged  people 
changed  theirs  in  order  to  be  in  good  favour  with  the  Jamas  of  Ilorin, 
who  then  infested  the  country 

Atiba  had  nearly  lost  his  life  in  the  Gbodo  expedition;  his  horse 
was  shot  dead  under  him  and  theBaribas  were  pressing  hard  behind 
him  in  pursuit.  His  life-long  friend  Onipede  galloped  past  him 
paying  no  heed  to  the  despairing  cry  of  his  friend  and  master: 
"  Onipede  here  am  I,  will  you  leave  me  behind  to  perish  ?  "  Onipede 
notwithstanding  this  rushed  on  into  the  river  Ogun  and  swam 
across  safe  to  the  other  side.  But  when  Atiba's  uncle,  Yesufu  came 
up  and  saw  him  in  such  straits  he  dismounted  and  offered  him  his 
horse.  Atiba  declined  to  take  it,  but  Yesufu  forced  him  to  accept 
it,  saying  "  Even  if  I  perish  in  this  war  I  know  that  you  will  take 
care  of  my  children."  Yesufu  was  a  powerful  swimmer  and  he 
assisted  both  the  horse  and  the  rider  safe  to  the  other  side. 
Adekidero  the  Lemomu  also  offered  his  own  horse  to  be  used 
alternately  with  Yesufu's  until  they  reached  home. 

Onipede  did  not  wait  for  him  although  he  was  riding  on  a  horse 
bought  for  him  by  the  very  Prince  he  now  deserted.  It  was  even 
reported  of  him  that  after  he  had  reached  the  other  side  of  the 
river,  he  halted  to  watch  with  amusement  the  distress  and  danger 
of  his  friend  battling  with  the  swift  current  until  Yesufu  came  to 
his  assistance,  and  that  on  the  Prince's  reaching  the  other  side 
Onipede  came  up  with  a  smile  and  an  untimely  joke  saying  "  The 
intrepid  warrior  that  you  are,  I  did  not  know  that  a  riveF 
current  could  conquer  you."  The  Prince  said  nothing,  and  showed 
no  sign  of  resentment,  but  Onipede  from  that  day  became  a 
marked  man,  because  it  was  evident  to  Atiba  that  his  death 
would  have  excited  no  feelings  of  sympathy  and  regret  in 


Up  to  this  time  Onipede  enjoyed  his  entire  confidence.  What- 
ever he  said  or  did  was  indisputable ;  any  criminal  pardoned  by 
him  was  free,  and  latterly  he  would  not  even  take  the  trouble  of 
acquainting  the  Prince  with  all  that  he  did.  He  was 
known  beyond  the  confines  of  the  kingdom  as  the  confidant  of 
the  Prince  and  all  foreigners  residing  at  Ago  were  under  his  pro- 
tection. He  was  always  attended  by  a  large  retinue  of  foot  and 
of  horsemen  as  a  Prince,  whenever  he  paid  visits  in  town  or  in 
going  to  his  farm.  He  was  the  greatest  favourite  at  the  Prince's 
palace ;  no  one  was  allowed  to  see  the  Prince  or  obtain  favours 
from  him  except  through  Onipede.  The  love  Atiba  had  for  this 
companion  of  his  childhood  and  youth  made  him  bhnd  to  all 
his  faults  until  his  eyes  were  opened  by  the  incident  narrated 

Onipede  at  the  zenith  of  his  popularity  quite  forgot  himself  and 
regarded  the  Prince  rather  as  his  equal  or  co-partner,  although  as 
a  matter  of  fact  he  was  in  no  way  equal  to  one  of  his  war-chiefs 
or  his  notable  slaves  enumerated  above.  Still  all  of  them  used  to 
show  him  due  respect  and  pay  him  marked  deference  as  one  above 
them,  so  he  came  to  set  himself  as  a  rival  of  his  master ;  but  the 
incident  of  the  Gbodo  disaster  was  the  means  of  his  fall. 

On  their  arrival  home  from  the  unsuccessful  war,  they  hastened 
to  fortify  the  town  against  an  expected  invasion.  Atiba  attended 
by  all  his  great  warriors  was  digging  a  trench  right  round  the 
town,  when  Onipede  rode  up  attended  by  a  retinue  of  mounted 
servants.  Atiba  could  no  longer  suppress  his  anger  but  ordered 
him  to  take  up  a  digger  and  work  like  any  of  the  common  labourers. 
For  one  who  had  always  lived  an  easy  life  Onipede's  hands  became 
blistered  and  sore.  There  are  two  accounts  given  of  his  death : 
one  was  that  after  this  Atiba  ordered  him  to  be  slain  and  buried 
in  an  upright  posture  when  they  returned  home  ;  and  that  his 
slaves  carried  out  his  orders  by  showering  darts  upon  Onipede, 
cut  off  his  head  and  buried  him  in  a  house  near  the  present  Akesan 

But  a  more  probable  account  given  of  his  death  was  as  follows  : 
The  Prince  and  his  servants  began  by  slighting  him,  the  latter 
losing  no  opportunity  of  showing  him  marks  of  disrespect.  He 
now  observed  that  he  was  no  longer  in  favour  but  the  exalted 
position  he  had  already  attained  placed  him  above  fear  ;  and  indeed 
the  Prince  could  not  attack  him  in  an  open  civil  fight  without 
dire  results,  for  he  was  the  commander  of  some  of  the  greatest 
war-chiefs  in  the  town.  An  opportunity  at  length  was  offered 
when  he  was  unattended.  He  met  Atiba  where  he  was  busy 
with  his  servants  storing  up  hisBere  grass,  and  there  and  then  he 


ordered  his  slaves  to  club  him  to  death.     Such  was  the  end  of 

By  the  death  of  Elebu,  Oja's  children  lost  their  natural  protector 
and  guardian,  and  the  people  their  chief.  Prince  Atiba  who  was 
aiming  at  the  supreme  power  placed  none  of  Oja's  children  who 
were  capable  as  head  of  the  house  and  chief  of  the  town,  but  rather 
his  younger  brother  Ailumo,  whom  he  knew  to  be  weak  in  intellect. 
He  placed  him  over  the  house  with  the  title  of  Mggaji  till  after  the 
Eleduwe  war,  he  should  be  formally  installed  as  Bale  of 
Ago.  In  the  meantime  Atiba  constituted  himself  the  administrator 
of  the  affairs  of  the  town  in  the  place  of  Oja's  children  and  over- 
shadowed even  the  Mogaji  himself.  Thus  the  fears  of  the  late 
Elebu  were  fully  realized  and  the  town  of  Ago  practically  passed 
out  of  the  hands  of  the  children  of  Oja  the  founder. 

§  2.     Atiba's  Accession  to  the  Throne 

That  Atiba  was  aspiring  to  the  throne  was  evident  to  all  when 
they  were  assembled  for  the  Eleduwe  war.  He  was  even  then  far 
more  powerful  than  the  King  and  all  eyes  were  turned  upon  him 
as  the  one  who  would  eventually  save  the  country  from  the  Fulani 
yoke,  In  order  to  obtain  the  object  of  his  ambition  he  plotted 
with  others  to  bring  about  the  downfall  of  the  King.  He  bought 
the  support  of  the  two  most  powerful  war-chiefs  left  in  the  land, 
viz.,  Oluyoleof  Ibadan  by  promising  him  the  title  of  Ibasorun,  and 
KuriJmi  of  Ijaye  by  promising  him  that  of  Kakanfo. 

After  the  fall  of  the  ancient  capital  and  the  death  of  King  Oluewu 
the  crown  was  offered  to  Lagiiade,  but  he  dechned  it  and  advised 
that  it  should  be  offered  to  that  powerful  aspirant  Prince  Atiba, 
of  Ago  Oja;  the  only  one  with  men  and  means,  who  seemed  able 
to  cope  with  the  Ilorins  and  save  the  country  from  tyranny  and 
oppression.  This  was  done,  and  Atiba  accepted  it  with  the  general 
consent  and  approval  of  all,  but  it  was  with  the  distinct  under- 
standing that  he  would  lead  the  people  home  from  Saki,  Gboho, 
Kihisi,  Ilorin  and  other  places  whither  they  had  taken  refuge. 
For  this  purpose  Prince  Lajide.  son  of  Onsolu,  and  Fabiyi  with 
32  other  messengers  were  sent  by  the  Oyq  Mesi  at  Kihisi  and  Igboho 
to  invite  him  home  to  the  ancient  capital.  They  were  his  guests 
till  the  coronation,  after  which  he  detained  them  permanently 
at  Ago  and  conferred  on  Prince  Lajide  the  title  of  Ona'sokun. 

After  he  was  estabhshed  on  the  throne,  he  sent  Lakonu  one  of 
his  powerful  chiefs  to  Kihisi  and  Gboho  for  the  remnant  of  the 
Kings'  wives,  and  the  eunuchs  and  other  court  officials  that  could 
be  found  in  those  regions. 

Thus  Ago  passed  out  of  the  hands  of  Oja's  family  and  became 


the  royal  city  of  Yoruba  and  as  such  it  was  no  longer  called 
Ago-Oja  but  Oyo  as  the  AlAfin  now  resides  there.  And  hence 
it  is  often  styled  by  way  of  disparagement  Ago-d'Oyg  (Ago  which 
became  Qyg).     This  is  the  present  city  of  Oyo. 

§  3.    Conferring  of  Titles 

At  the  conferring  of  titles  and  re-organization  of  the  kingdom 
the  AlAfin  confirmed  on  those  who  came  to  him  from  Kihisi  and 
Gboho  the  titles  they  had  formerly  borne.  Those  who  did  not 
care  to  leave  the  more  salubrious  north  for  forest  lands  were 
superseded  in  their  offices. 
The  following  are  those  who  were  confirmed  in  their  titles. 
Name.  Title. 

Makaaiye  0h6ta 

Odusola  Agbakin 

Ariori  SWu 

The  following  were  those  newly  conferred  at  the  present  Oyo. 

Obagbolu  Ona-modek^ 

Gbenla  Lagunk 

Aiyewun  (from  Ise5dn)  Alapini 

Ailes6  Tetu 

Adefalu  Olokuesin 

Ailumg  (Qja's  brother)  Asipa 

Yesufu  (Atiba's  uncle)  Parakoyi* 

The  following  were  titles  conferred  on  members  of  the  loyal 
family,  not  all  of  whom  however  were  deserving. 
Olukokun  (grandson  of  King  Onisile)  Atingisi 

Telaokbki  Magaji   lyajin 

Abioro  (son  of  King  Ajagbo)  Arole  Oba 

Idowu  (son  of  King  Ojigi)  Olusami 

The   following   were   commoners,   but   favourites   and   formerly 
companions-in-arms   of   Atiba,    on   whom  were  conferred   titles 
usually  borne  by  members  of  the  Royal  Family  exclusively : — 
Falade  Agunpopo 

Lakonu  Ogigimagi 

Ladejobi  Olosun 

Toki  La'dilu 

Eniaiyewu  the  Alapini  of  the  ancient  city  was  still  alive  when 
Aiyewun  was  brought  from  Iseyin  for  the  same  office.  The 
former  remained  and  died  at  Saki. 

^  In  recognition  of  his  kind  services  to  him  at  the  Gbodo 


Ailgs^  had  been  created  chief  of  the  Tetus  (they  are  150  in 
number)  before  those  from  the  ancient  city  arrived  to  claim  their 
rights  ;    they  had  to  be  satisfied  wth  minor  ranks. 

Ancient  Oyo  was  a  very  large  city  comprising  the  following 
wards : — Oke  Eso,  Modade,  Molaba,  Nsise-Ogan,  Ntetu,  Ondasa, 
On§e-awo,  Aremu,  Ile-Ologbo,  Ajofa,  Isale-Ogede. 

Now,  Ago  d'Oyo  was  very  small  in  comparison,  and  hence  the 
AlAfin  adopted  forcible  means  to  enlarge  it.  Several  of  the 
surrounding  towns  and  villages  were  depopulated  and  the  inhabit- 
ants transported  to  the  new  city  e.g.  Akeitan,  Apara,  Idod§, 
Ajagba  Seke,  Gudugbu,  Jabktk,  Ojomgbodu,  Aguwo,  Opapa  and 
Ijoga.  These  places  were  all  within  lo  or  20  miles  from  Ago. 
The  King's  army  would  surround  each  of  them  by  night,  and  at 
break  of  day,  the  inhabitants  were  offered  the  choice  of  a  peace- 
able migration  to  the  new  city  or  (in  case  of  resistance)  the  town 
would  be  destroyed.  Thus  they  were  transported  with  all  their 
household  effects  and  as  they  arrived  the  King  assigned  to  each  a 
quarter  of  the  town  for  their  residence.  Thus  Igaga  was  taken 
in  the  month  of  May  during  the  Egugun  festival. 

Higher  Titles 

(a)  The  Basgrun. — Oluyole  of  Ibadan  received  the  title  of 
Ibasorun  as  was  conditionally  promised  him  at  the  Eleduwe 
war.  He  based  his  claim  on  his  descent  from  Basorun  Yamba 
whose  cognomen  was  Ok61o  Ogun.  His  father's  name  was 
Olokuoye,  his  mother  was  Agbonrin  daughter  of  King  Abiodun 
and  thus  he  was  the  AlAfin 's  nephew. 

Oluyole  now  came  to  Ovo  to  have  his  title  conferred  upon  him 
by  the  King. 

This  was  a  new  departure  from  the  old  custom  for  the  Basorun 
to  reside  in  the  country.  His  right  place  is  in  the  city  being  the 
next  man  to  the  King,  and  the  chief  of  the  seven  principal 
councillors  of  state  comprising  the  Oyo  Mesi.  He,  moreover, 
has  distinct  official  duties  to  perform  at  the  principal  annual 
festivals  especially  at  theBere  at  which  he  is  the  chief  actor. 

But  this  new  departure  must  be  allowed  in  order  to  meet  the 
exigencies  of  the  times.  The  King  could  not  be  secure  on  his 
throne  if  he  were  to  cause  a  disaffection  to  arise  between  himself 
and  the  powerful  war-chiefs  of  Ibadan  and  Ijaye  by  denying 
them  the  titles  of  their  ancestors  which  they  were  so  ambitious 
to  obtain. 

But  a  provision  had  already  been  made  in  the  constitution 
for  performing  the  state  ceremonies  in  the  absence  of  the  Basorun  : 
his  place  could  be  filled  by  either  the  Otun'wefa,  the  Qna  Onse« 


Awo,  or  the  Ariwo.  Thus  what  would  have  proved  a  serious 
constitutional  difficulty  had  already  been  obviated  by  past 
experience,  and  adequately  provided  for. 

(b)  The  Are-ona-Kakanfo  or  Yoruba  Field  Marshal.  This 
title  was  now  conferred  upon  Kurumi  of  Ijaye  according  to  the 
conditional  promise  made  to  him  also  at  the  Eleduwe  war  by 
Prince  Atiba.  He  was  undoubtedly  the  greatest  Yoruba  general 
and  tactician  of  the  day  in  the  Yoruba  country.  He  was  a  great 
friend  of  the  King  and  during  his  term  of  office  he  shielded  the 
sovereign  against  the  encroachment  on  his  prerogatives  of  his 
nephew  of  Ibadan  for  he  was  by  no  means  loyal  to  him.  He  also 
on  this  occasion  went  to  Oyo  to  have  the  title  conferred  on  him. 
Thus  it  came  to  pass  that  the  two  most  distinguished  titles  next 
to  the  sovereign  were  held  by  the  chiefs  of  the  two  largest  towns  in 
the  south,  viz.  that  of  Basorun  the  head  of  all  civil  affairs,  and  that 
of  Kakanfo  the  head  of  the  military  department. 

State  Policy. — In  order  that  a  collision  may  not  take  place  be- 
tween these  two  warlike  towns,  so  contiguous  to  each  other,  a 
compact  was  now  arrived  at  between  the  AlAfin  a,nd  his  principal 
chiefs  : — 

1.  That  they  should  make  it  their  primary  aim  to  defend  what 
was  left  of  the  Yoruba  country,  and  gradually  regain  if  they  could 
their  lost  provinces  under  the  Fulanis  of  Ilorin. 

2.  As  the  last  King  died  in  war,  the  sovereign  should  not  be 
allowed  to  go  to  war  any  more,  but  conffiie  himself  to  all  religious, 
civil,  and  political  matters  (external  relations)  on  behalf  of  the 

3.  That  the  Ibadans  were  to  protect  all  Yoruba  towns  to  the 
north  and  north-east,  and  meet  whatever  danger  might  arise  in 
those  quarters,  to  have  a  free  hand  over  all  Ijesas  and  Ekitis, 
and  the  eastern  provinces  generally,  to  reduce  them  to  subjection. 

4.  That  the  Ijayes  should  protect  all  Yoruba  towns  of  the 
western  provinces,  and  meet  whatever  danger  appeared  in  that 
direction  and  carry  on  their  operations  against  the  Sabes  and  dis- 
loyal Popos. 

Thus  the  disintegration  of  the  country  would  be  arrested. 

But  the  ancient  cities  of  Iluku,  Saki,  Gboho  and  Kihisi  with 
their  towns,  containing  the  remnant  of  the  citizens  of  the  ancient 
Oyo  and  members  of  the  royal  family  preferred  not  to  be  placed 
under  the  protection  of  either  of  these  powers,  but  under  the  King 
direct  ;  and  this  was  allowed.  Thus  it  was  hoped  that  in  time  the 
unity  of  the  kingdom  would  be  regained,  and  those  who  still  longed 
for  their  old  homes  would  be  able  to  return  thither. 

In  this  way  it  appeared  latterly  that  the  province  under  the 


AlAfin  is  small,  and  foreigners  ignorant  of  the  history  of  the 
country  are  apt  to  consider  Ibadan  of  more  importance  than 
Oyo  especially  when  by  the  destruction  of  Ijaye  the  former  claimed 
the  overlordship  of  the  territories  formerly  under  Ijaye. 

Provincial   Affairs 

The  affairs  of  the  new  Metropohs  having  been  settled  both  the 
Basgrun  and  the  Kakanfo  returned  home  to  arrange  their  own 
local  affairs. 

Ibadan.  At  this  time  the  war-chief  next  to  the  Iba  himself 
who  was  head  and  shoulders  above  all  his  compeers  at  Ibadan 
was  chief  Elepo,  consequently  the  title  of  Ibalogun  was  offered 
him  ;  but  he  declined  it,  for  reasons  which  no  one  could  tell. 
He  was  urged  over  and  over  again  in  pubhc  as  well  as  in  private, 
both  by  the  Basorun  and  his  brother  chiefs  to  accept  it,  but  he 
declined,  saying  his  name  Elepo  alone  was  enough  for  him.  And 
yet  he  would  submit  to  no  one  but  the  Basorun  alone  who  was  his 
old  colleague.  The  title  of  Balogun  was,  therefore,  conferred 
upon  Oderinlg. 

The  following  were  the  titles  conferred  upon  distinguished 
war-chiefs  : — 

Names.  Titles. 

Od§rinlg  Balogun  or  commander-in-chief. 

Lajumgke  Otun  i.e.  general  commanding  the  right 

Opeagbe  Osi  i.e.  general  commanding  the  left  wing 

Toki  Seriki 

Babalgla  Asipa 

Oyesile  Abese 

Ogunrenu  Sarumi  or  chief  of  the  cavalry 

Yerombi  Agbakin 

Dele  Areagoro 

Ijaye. — The  Are-ona-Kakanfo  of  Ijaye  was  a  bloodthirsty 
tyrant.  He  put  to  death  all  the  chiefs  rising  into  power  who 
might  become  his  rivals.  His  Balogun's  name  was  Olasilo 
alias  Ogun-koroju,  a  Mohammedan,  and  the  friend  of  Balogun 
Oderinle  of  Ibadan.  He  was  the  only  man  at  Ijaye  for  whom 
Kurumi  entertained  any  regard.  One  Ajayi  was  his  Areagoro, 
and  this  was  about  all  the  titles  given  at  Ijaye.  Nevertheless 
there  were  other  powerful  men  at  Ijaye  such  as  Lakusk,  AgSlna 
Epo,  Fanyaka,  Akigla,  Asegbe,  Amgdu  and  Labudanu.  Lahan 
after  the  destruction  of  Abemg  came  to  reside  at  Ijaye. 

Kurumi  usurped  all  power  both  civil  and  religious  ;  all  were 
centred  on  him  or  his  family,  and  all  the  profits  accruing  from 


them  flowed  to  his  exchequer.  His  brother  Popoola  was  the  AlagbS, 
or  Egugun  high  priest,  himself  the  Mogba  or  head  Sango  priest. 
His  chief  executioner  was  one  J6mgban.  The  Kakanfo  was 
more  dreaded  at  Ijaye  than  even  the  gods  as  the  common  sajnng 
shows  "  Are  npe  o  o  ndifa  ?  Bi  If  a  fo  rere  ti  Are  fg  ibi  nko  ?  (You 
receive  the  Are's  summons  and  you  are  divining  with  your  Ifa  ? 
What  if  Ifa  is  propitious  and  the  Are  is  not  ?)  He  did  not  value 
the  life  of  a  human  being  more  than  that  of  a  dog.  For  the  least 
offence  he  ordered  the  offender  to  execution  and  plundered  his 
house.  But  he  was  more  of  a  terror  to  rank  and  station,  for 
to  the  poor,  he  granted  liberty  and  redress. 

The  Agbamaja  War 

It  has  become  the  custom  at  Ibadan  that  a  newly  created 
Balogun  should  lead  the  army  out  on  an  expedition  in  order  to 
prove  his  worth  to  the  title  and  thereby  commend  himself  to  the 
respect  of  the  soldiery.  But  no  town  at  this  time  gave  any  cause 
of  offence  for  an  attack,  all  the  same  the  Balogun  was  sent 
against  Ede-  —a  town  under  their  own  protection.  But  it  would 
appear  that  Elepo  vetoed  the  destruction  of  Ede  and  so  they 
marched  on  towards  Ilobu. 

The  people  of  Ilobu  became  alarmed.  They  had  not  committed 
any  offence,  but  although  they  were  assured  of  peaceful  measures 
yet  they  brought  a  large  amount  of  presents  to  the  Ibadan  camp 
to  buy  off  their  hostihty,  and  showed  every  sign  of  submission. 
All  the  same,  the  soldiery  becoming  restive  from  inaction  would 
have  sacked  the  town  but  for  Elepo,  especially  when  it  happened 
that  lightning  struck  a  house  in  the  town  and  the  war  boys  became 
wild,  and  rushed  to  the  spot  under  pretext  of  doing  homage  to 
Sango,  while  others  were  already  scahng  the  walls  when  E16po  and 
his  men  undertook  to  beat  them  off  and  save  Ilobu.  From  that 
town  and  the  surrounding  villages  presents  came  pouring  into  the 
Ibadan  camp  but  instead  of  going  to  the  Balogun  all  went  to 
Elepo,  before  whose  tents  all  the  presents  were  piled  up.  He 
neither  directed  them  to  the  commander-in-chief  nor  made  use 
of  them  for  himself.  He  ruled  the  army  according  to  his  will, 
and  consequently  the  Balogun  was  indignant  at  this  usurpation 
of  his  rights  and  the  other  chiefs  sympathized  with  him.