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The Frontier States of Western Yorubaland

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Biodun Adediran

2. The Early Inhabitants of Western Yorùbáland

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INTRODUCTION

  • 1 Shaw, T. The pre-history of West Africa. In: Ájàyí, J. F. A. and Crowder, M. (eds.) History of Wes (...)
  • 2 Willet, F. A survey of recent results in radio-carbon chronology of western and northern Africa. J (...)
  • 3 Armstrong, R.G. The use of linguistic and ethnographic data in the study of Idoma and Yorùbá histo (...)

1Man has been living in West Africa for a reasonably long time, probably before the differentiation of the ethnic groups which now inhabit the region.1 Within Yorùbáland, some archaeological data demonstrate the antiquity of human settlements;2 and inferences from linguistic studies suggest that the Yorùbá occupied their present habitat thousands of years ago.3 The Yorùbá have well authenticated traditions which buttress these inferences from ancillary studies. These could serve as the starting point for a discussion of the nature of the early inhabitants of western Yorùbáland.

TRADITIONS OF THE EARLY INHABITANTS OF YORÙBÁLAND

  • 4 See Johnson, S. The History, pp. 3-5; Bíòbákú, S.O. The Origin of the Yorùbá, pp. 17-23.
  • 5 Fábùnmi, M. A. A Traditional History of Ilé-Ifę. Kings Press, Ifè (1975) pp. 18-20; Idem. Ifè Shr (...)

2The traditions of human habitation in Yorùbáland in ancient times are woven around the personality of Odùduwà and the idea of Ilé-Ifè as the immediate centre from which the Yorùbá dispersed. Although these traditions are many and varied, they can be grouped into two major versions. The first states that the Yorùbá migrated from outside their present homeland, from across the eastern Sudan, and settled in Ilé-Ifè under the leadership of Odùduwà.4 The other version sees them as originating in Ilé-Ifè itself and states that it was there that Odùduwà created the world out of primordial water.5

  • 6 For recordings of the first version, see Hodgkin, T. Nigerian Perspectives, p. 78; for the second (...)
  • 7 Akinjogbin, I.A. The expansion of Òyó, pp. 376-377; Qbáyemí, A. The Yorùbá and Edo-speaking people (...)

3Both versions are of some antiquity since they were recorded at the beginning of the nineteenth century.6 They have come under close scrutiny in recent times from scholars who point out that each is a telescopic account of early Yorùbá history.7 These scholars have also suggested that the Odùduwà period in Ilé-Ifé represented a major watershed in the political history of the Yorùbá.

  • 8 Akínjógbìn, I.A. and Àyándélé, E.O. Yorùbáland up to 1800. In: Ikime, O. (ed.) Groundwork of Niger (...)
  • 9 Egharevba, J.U. A Short History of Benin. ìbàdàn University Press (1968) pp. 6-9; Smith, R.S. King (...)
  • 10 Ifę traditions say that it took three reigns after Odùduwà. See Adédìran, A. A descriptive analysi (...)

4The duration of the the pre-Odùduwà period is not known. Akínjógbìn, arguing from some radio-carbon dates obtained in Ilé-Ifè, suggests that the Odùduwà period had already begun by the ninth century A. D.8 Other writers have assigned dates between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries.9 Discrepancies are bound to occur, and it is possible that no precise dates will ever be obtained. Although the Odùduwà period was characterized by population expansion and cultural differentiation which began at Ilé-Ifę, it did not start at the same time all over Yorùbáland. In Ilé-Ifę itself, it took many generations to stabilize,10 and there may be some justification in dating it to the period after the expansion from that town and slightly later than for other parts of Yorùbáland.

  • 11 See Willet, F. Ifę in the History of West African Sculptures. Thomas & Hudson, London (1967); also (...)
  • 12 See for instance, Johnson, S. The History, p. 143.
  • 13 This speculation is based on the traditions themselves, see Smith, R.S. Kingdoms of the Yorùbá, (...)
  • 14 See for instance, Willet, F. Investigations at Old Qwó. JHSN 2: i (1966) pp. 59-77; Shaw, T. Excav (...)
  • 15 cf. the traditions of Qbà-Ilé near Akúrę, Beier, U. Before Odùduwà. Odù 3, pp. 30-32, and Èsìé in (...)

5The belief in the relative antiquity of Ilé-Ifę arises from its claim to being the longest continuously inhabited Yorùbá town; a claim reinforced by the impressive assemblage of archaeological artefacts,11 the widespread influence of the Odùduwà group, and most importantly, its tradition of autochthonous origins which are accepted with religious tenacity among the Yorùbá12 and some of their neighbours. Nevertheless, the primacy of Ifę is not easily defined and there are indications that it might have been non existent in the pre-Odùduwà period.13 It is not only in Ilé-Ifę that archaeological evidence for the pre-Odùduwà period has been found,14 and traditions of autochthonous origins, though not widespread, exist in other parts of Yorùbáland.15

  • 16 See for instance Smith, R.S. Kingdoms of the Yorùbá, p. 59 for conflicts between the Odùduwà gro (...)

6Therefore, the accounts of the spreading out from Ilé-Ifę during the Odùduwà period, although describing the process of the peopling of Yorùbáland, are definitely not referring to peopling as such. There are widespread traditions which make it unmistakably clear that the Odùduwà period was not the earliest. Both versions of the traditions of origin agree that aboriginal inhabitants existed who had to be subdued by members of the Odùduwà group in different parts of Yorùbáland.16

THE CASE OF WESTERN YORÙBÁLAND

  • 17 Dunglas, E. Perles anciennes trouvées au Dahomey. Première Conférence des Africanistes de l’Ouest (...)
  • 18 Igué, O.J. Quelques aspects, p. 78.
  • 19 Bíòbákù, S.p. The Ègbá and their Neighbours. OUP (1957) p. 2; Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire (...)
  • 20 George, J.O. Historical Notes on the Yorùbá Country and its Tribes. Lagos (1895) p. 22.
  • 21 Verger, P. Histoire du pays de Kétou. Private paper. Verger bases his speculation on a folk etymol (...)
  • 22 Versions of these traditions are in Gayibor, N.L. Recueil des Sources Orales du Pays Aja-Ewe. Lomé (...)

7E. Dunglas pointed to the existence all over western Yorùbáland of ruins which he suspected belonged to pre-Odùduwà inhabitants.17 Ògúnşǫlá Igué identified such ruins in nine different locations.18 On the basis of local traditions, Bíobákú speculated that the pre-Odùduwà inhabitants of western Yorùbáland that could be associated with these ruins were the Fon.19 J. O. George, an Ègbá local historian, also referred to the ‘Pópò’ who inhabited, the region of Kétu on the eve of the arrival of the Odùduwà group.20 It has also been suggested that before the Odùduwà migrations reached western Yorùbáland, the area occupied by the Fon extended as far as the Ògùn River.21 Indeed, it is widely accepted by the Yorùbá, the Aja, and in scholarly circles, that the original home of the Aja-Ewe peoples was in the region of modern Kétu and that they were pushed westward to Tado by the expansion of the Yorùbá,22 ostensibly from Ilé-Ifę.

  • 23 Newbury, C.W. The Western Slave Coast and its Rulers. Oxford, Clarendon (1961), p. 10; Akínjógbìn, (...)
  • 24 Oral Interviews: Mme Yaoicha Gankpé (60+), Houime-Tossue, Porto-Novo, 5/8/78; M. Tijani Serpos (70 (...)
  • 25 Newbury, C.W. The Western Slave Coast, pp. 7-9; Akínjógbìn, I.A. The expansion of Qyó, P- 378.
  • 26 See Palau-Marti. Le Roi-Dieu au Bénin. Paris (1964) p. 171.
  • 27 ‘Adímçlá’ is, in fact, identified in the Porto Novo version of the legend as an ijèbú prince. See (...)

8There are indications, however, that the Aja were not the exclusive inhabitants of western Yorùbáland on the eve of the emergence of the kingdoms which resulted from the Odùduwà migrations. There are many local traditions of pre-Aja inhabitants scattered all over the region.23 In a few cases, some of these are identified as Yorùbá; this certainly means that they were ethnically different from the Aja. The legend of a Yorùbá hunter, Adímólá (Adímúlà, Adémólà ?) as the leader of a migration to Tado and as the ancestral progenitor of the Aja people24 suggests that it is not only the Aja-Ewe migrations, but also the emergence of the Aja ethnic group that can be closely linked with Yorùbá incursions into the region. A version of the legend identifies ‘Adím ólá’ as a ‘panther’25 which is an emblem of royalty among the Yorùbá The two versions are not irreconcilable, and ‘Adím ólá’ may in fact be a prince26 from one of the Yorùbá kingdoms already founded by the fifteenth century.27

TRADITIONS OF EARLY MIGRATIONS INTO WESTERN YORÙBÁLAND

  • 28 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 143-155; see also Babáyęmí, S.O. Upper Ògùn: A historical sketch. Afr (...)
  • 29 Òjó, S. Badà. Ìwé Ìtàn Yorùbá Apá Kìnní, p. 158.

9Many Yorùbá groups moved into and settled in various parts of western Yorùbáland before the events associated with the Odùduwà migrations. These pre-Odùduwà migrant groups came into the region probably as a result of the foundation of central Yorùbá kingdoms notably Òwu, Òyó and ìjębú by Odùduwà groups from Ilé-Ifę. Certainly, the raiding activities of early Òyó on its neighbours as recorded in the traditions of Alàáfin Òrányàn, Sangó, Àjàká and Aganjú led to demographic upheavals in central Yorùbáland as evidenced in the destruction of early settlements like Tedé, Ìmęri, Sambo, Ògbòrò, ìgbóná, and Òwu.28 During this period, which probably lasted till the early sixteenth century, the hilly and marshy regions of western Yorùbáland became a magnetic field with pockets of colonists settling in the Şábę, Ìdáìşà, Kétu and Anàgó regions.29

  • 30 Oral interviews: The Bàbá ìlú of Dírin, Chief Àgàn Jagunde (100+), Kóládé Onílùdé (100+), Fátó (...)
  • 31 Oral interview: Aiyédùn Omítókí (100+), Pàákô, Ilé-Şábe, 27/8/78; Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende (...)
  • 32 Akíndélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Étude, pp. 17-20. Other settlements founded arou (...)

10Such a group was the one that founded Dírin shortly before the arrival of the group that built the kingdom of Kétu. Dírin traditions30 trace the origin of this group to Ìlá-Òràngún in the Ìgbómìnà country. The group left at a time of unspecified hardship, probably brought about by the unrest associated with Òyó raids. Guided by the Òpá Ogbó (Ogbó staff) the group followed the Òyán river southward until it arrived in the present town. Most ruined pre-kingdom Şábę settlements like Nónómí, Sángán, Kókíá, ìdùfę and Ilesà31 were apparently set up during this period of population displacement in northern Yorùbáland. It is probable also that the first wave of Yorùbá immigrants into the Ànàgó region arrived in western Yorùbáland at this time.32

  • 33 Oral interviews: ìdôkú Àpàki (80+), Abajeni Honoré (80+), ìsàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 17/9/78; Jérôme Kosa (...)
  • 34 Ibid.

11Refugees from old Òyó itself settled in western Yorùbáland at various times before the foundation of the kingdoms. One of these groups was ancestral to the Ìjeùn in the Ìdáìşà region. The group was a fairly large one which left Òyó-Ilé33 in annoyance because their leader lost a contest for the throne to a junior brother. The group passed through the Şábę country where it crossed the Ouémé before finally settling in the Ìdáìşà country. The oríkí of the group34 gives three vital pieces of information that make it possible to fix the time of their migration in consonance with the better-known events in Òyó. The relevant part of the oríkí goes thus:

  1. Àti bí à m’ólà
  2. Ǫmo ęlęsin ní Yorùbá
  3. L’átòkè òfę
  4. Qmò èyò kékeré, ękù
  5. Qmò èyò nşǫ námu námu
  6. Yámú mi l’óni’kìí şe t’èmi
  7. Mó kunkun ki o şe tirę
  8. Qmo elégbàá, k’òşowó nìnì
  9. L’ókè-èyò
  10. Èyò l’eókó ní’lé
  11. K’áfesę fi d’ónà
  1. At birth we inherited royalty
  2. Offspring of those who had horses in the Yorùbá country
  3. From the Upper Qfè (Ouémé) river
  4. Hail offspring of Èyò (Òyó)
  5. Who spoke in diverse tongues
  6. My brother’s property is not necessarily mine
  7. Work hard for yours
  8. Offspring of those to whom two hundred cowries is a small amount
  9. Up in the Èyò country
  10. Èyò had hoes at home
  11. But made a path with their feet
  • 35 Verse 2 of the oríkí.
  • 36 Johnson, S. The History, p. 161; Law, R.C.C. A West African cavalry state: The kingdom of Òyó. JAH (...)

12First, it is recorded that by the time the ancestors of the Ìjeùn left old Òyó they already had horses.35 This suggests that the possession of horses was then unique. By the mid-sixteenth century, horses were certainly not unique in the north western Yorùbá country since the Òyó themselves were already using horsemen in their wars. Up to the beginning of that century, however, only a few Òyó men had horses or had even ever seen one.36 It appears therefore that the events recorded in the oríkì should be dated to a time not later than the beginning of the century.

  • 37 Verses 6-8.
  • 38 Verse 1.
  • 39 Johnson, S, The History, p. 158; See also Agírí, B.A. Early Òyó history, p. 4.
  • 40 Verse 5.

13The second piece of information that can be deduced from the oríkì of the Ìjeùn is that at a time before their departure from Òyó-Ilé, they were robbed of something for which they refused all sorts of compensation, including money.37 That precious possession must have been the ‘royalty’ which the oríkì claims was theirs by right of birth.38 Bearing in mind the information in the narrative that the leader of the Ìjeùn lost the throne to a junior brother, the events could be seen as referring to an internal dispute in the Aláàfin royal family. Such a dispute might have occurred as a result of the reorganization of the Òyó royal family carried out by Aláàfin Oluaso. Johnson39 records that under that king the throne became hereditary within the Ònà Isokùn, the most junior branch of the family. Although Olùàso compensated the other two branches with some honorary titles, the development apparently generated much controversy and confusion with people ‘speaking in diverse tongues’.40

  • 41 Verses 10 and 11.
  • 42 Johnson, S. The History, p. 159.

14It is then possible to understand why the Ìjeùn chose to ‘make a path with their feet’, though they had hoes.41 Two interpretations are possible here. The first is that the Ìjeùn were so enraged by Olúàso’s actions that they left Òyó in annoyance. The other puts their departure a bit later, during the reign of Aláàfin Onígbogí, when the Nupe attacked Qyó-Ilé.42 In either of the two cases, the Ìjeùn would have had to leave in haste, possibly without making adequate preparations.

  • 43 See Ajísafę, A.K. Ìwé Ìtàn Abęòkùta. Hardcore (1972) pp. 2-4; also Biòbákú, S.O. The Ègbá a (...)

15Taking all this into account, the departure of the Ìjeùn from Oyd is estimated to be at a time between the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth. A major query raised about this reconstruction concerns the name Ìjeùn and the insistence that the name was derived from a quarter in Òyó-Ilé. There is no ìjeun in present day Òyó, but among the Ègbá there is a section called Ìjeùn with a claim to an ancestral link with the Òyó royal family. Since people who leave a place are more likely to keep a knowledge of their original home than the people left at home, it is not unlikely that there was an Ìjeùn quarter in old Òyó and that the Ìjeùn among the Ègbá are a splinter group of the ìdáìşà one.43

  • 44 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 80.

16Local traditions in Şábe still recollect some of these early waves of migration into the northern part of western Yorùbáland.44 Pre-kingdom inhabitants such as Olóró (Olú of Oró) and the Èhìnòkè in Ilé-Şábe, the Olúbarà in Kábua, the Óólú in Jàbàtà, the Lémon in ìdáìşà as well as the founders of Ìlíkímu in Kétu left their homeland in central Yorùbáland at various times between the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. The claims of these groups to ancestral migrations from the Ègbá/Ègbádò regions are buttressed by evidence such as corroborative traditions in southern Yorùbáland, verses in the oríkì and folk-etymologies of place-names.

  • 45 The Ìbarà have a tradition of ancestral migrations through the Şábe country. Oral interviews: Ǫba (...)
  • 46 The Lémǫn and the Èhìnòkè claim to be branches of the same group. Oral interviews: Olú Àjé (90+), (...)
  • 47 Oral interviews: Ǫkùnrin Òfìnrin (60+), the reigning Óòlú and the priestess of Odùduwà at Jàbàtá, (...)
  • 48 Johnson, S. The History, p. 20.
  • 49 Egharevba, J.U. A Short History of Benin, pp. 29-30; Law, R.C.C. The dynastic chronology of Lagos. (...)

17For instance, verses in the oríkì of the Olúbarà group indicate that they have ancestral connections with the Ìbarà of Ègbáland.45 Similarly, the claims of the Èhìnòkè and the Lemon to ancestral migrations from the region of present-day Abęòkúta are supported by the name Lemon which was derived from the Olúmo Rock, which represents a major deity in Abęòkúta duplicated in ìdáìşà.46 The presence of an Odùduwà shrine at Jàbàtá which conforms in rituals with that of Adó-Odò also supports local traditions of early settlers in Şábe region from the Àwórì country.47 These Various migrations are to be connected, first with the incursions of Òyó and Benin into southern Yorùbá countries48 and later, from the middle of the sixteenth century, with Benin’s activities in Lagos and the Àwór country.49

  • 50 Oral interview: Òfín Awodio (100+), Jàlúmòn, Ilé-Şábe, 25/8/78.
  • 51 Berge, J.A. Etude sur le pays Mahi. Bulletin du Comité d’Etudes Historiques et Scientifiques de l’ (...)
  • 52 Akíndélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Étude de l’Ancien Royaume de Porto Novo, pp. 2 (...)
  • 53 Oral interview: The Bábá ìlú of Dírin, 3/7/78, states that before the foundation of Dírin, the (...)

18The traditions of a Pòpó group which settled in the Şábe region shortly after the Èhìnòkè50 and that of a similar one in ìfítá;51 as well as the incursion of the Ègùn52 and Mahi53 into Ànàgó and Kefu regions, indicate that the eastward expansion of the Aja from Tado was contemporaneous with the settlement of these Yorùbá migrants in western Yorùbáland.

TRADITIONS OF AUTOCHTHONOUS INHABITANTS AND SUB-ETHNIC DIFFERENTIATION

  • 54 On this see Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, p. 401.
  • 55 Oral interview: Pa A. Àjàó (90+), Dégue-Peace, Porto Novo, 8/8/78; see also Akíndélé, A. and Agues (...)
  • 56 Oral interviews: M. Tidjani Serpos (70+), Porto Novo, 8/8/78; Mme Yaoicha Gankpé (60+), Porto Novo (...)

19Before these migrations into western Yorùbáland, there were original inhabitants whose descendants can still be identified in a few places. A layer of settlements, dating back to the middle of the sixteenth century and pre-dating the earliest wave of migrants to the region, can be identified around present-day Porto Novo. In the Akoro quarter, which is the oldest inhabited part of Porto Novo, is located the shrine of Òrìşa Abęęsán (Avesan),54 the oldest and most important deity in the area. Traditions connected with the Abęęsán are many and vary from one source to the other. One of these refers to Abęęsán as the deified ‘nine headed monster’ that inhabited the area before human habitation.55 Another talks of Abęęsán as a woman who had nine sets of twins and who was the head of a fairly populous settlement.56 In both cases, the Abęęsán had to be subdued by the migrant group, who were apparently some of the early Yorùbá migrants, before Akoro could be founded.

  • 57 The traditions of Bánigbé-Pòtòpótò some seventy kilometres north of Porto Novo also talks of an Òr (...)
  • 58 That is from the frequency of figure nine. The name Abęęsán itself was derived from èsán (nin (...)

20What the legends of Abęęsán seem to sketch is the history of Porto Novo in remote antiquity. The uniform pattern of all the versions; the importance attached to Abęęsán in Porto Novo and all over the Ànàgó area57 and the few details available on its rituals suggest that the Abęęsán is a deified hero of the pre-Akoro era. It would appear that during that era there were many settlements possibly nine or multiples of nine,58 with that of Abęęsán as nucleus.

  • 59 Igué, OJ. Quelques aspects, p. 79.
  • 60 Oral interviews: Bara Maurice (85+), Bara Georgwin (100+), and Bocco Joseph (80+), Ęsèpa, Dassa-Zo (...)
  • 61 Oral interviews: Okiri Agboruku (60+), Ìsàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 18/9/78; Jacob Ídòyún (80+), Bode Toni (...)
  • 62 Mouléro, T. L’histoire du peuple d’Idacha, p. 3.

21In the ìdáìşà region, descendants of such autochthonous inhabitants are still identifiable. Two groups, the Màmàhún and the ìfítá cling to the belief that their ancestors did not migrate from anywhere but have always lived in or near their present habitat. As opposed to suggestions of ancestral migration,59 extant ìfítá traditions trace the origin of the group to the hills in the region of Dassa-Zoumé.60 The Màmàhún traditions also claim that their ancestors simply emerged from the ground.61 From the time of Father Mouléro’s writings till the present, ìfítá and Màmàhún traditions have been consistent that the two groups developed in situ.62

  • 63 Jàbàtá traditions refer to the founder of the town as Àpàkí tilè w’aíyé (who left the grou (...)

22To the north of ìdáìşà, the first migrant group, the Èhìnòkè, met a small number of unknown inhabitants. These inhabitants had to be conquered by the head of Èhìnòkè before he could set up his own settlement on the hills in the vicinity of Ilé-Şábę. These inhabitants were perhaps the same as the autochthonous group that lived in Jàbàtá and Kábua,63 two other pre-Odùduwà settlements in the Şábę region.

  • 64 Such peoples have been identified in Wawe, Bohicon and Cana. See Sedolo, M.D. Sur le Royaume de Ké (...)
  • 65 Cornevin, R. Histoire du Togo. Paris (1969), p. 48; Bertho, J. La parenté, p. 126.

23Further west, between the Ouémé and the Mono rivers, there are traditions of autochthonous inhabitants predating the arrival of the Aja-Ewe peoples.64 Some versions of these traditions talk of ‘fairies’ who lived in dung hills as being the aboriginal inhabitants of this area and who were well-versed in herbal medicines; but the fact that sacrifices continued to be offered to these ‘fairies’65 suggests that they were, like the Abęęsán, deified human beings. The various traditions of autochthonous origins, of people emerging from the ground or river, of fairies and wild animals, may in effect be an admission that all knowledge of the origins of the early inhabitants before the early migrations is beyond human recollection.

24Certainly, by the beginning of the sixteenth century, it was possible to identify two layers of inhabitants in western Yorùbáland: those who claimed autochthonous origins and those who had migrated in relatively recent times into the region. These two layers did not exist in water-tight compartments; but constituted a cultural hybrid from which the various sub-groups of the Yorùbá and the Aja were differentiated.

  • 66 Gayibor, N.L. Recueil des Sources Orales, p. 11; see also Amenumey, D.E.K. The problem of dating t (...)
  • 67 Amenumey, D.E.K. The problem of dating the accession of the Ewe, p. 142.

25The tradition of ancestral migrations of the Aja-Ewe peoples having major stopping places at Ǫyǫ and Kétu,66 must be referring to the migration of some of these early inhabitants westward as a result of the arrival of the early Yorùbá migrants.67 Reasons why Ketu is mentioned probably include the continual interaction of the Yorùbá of Kétu with the Fon, Mahi and Ègùn sub-groups of the Aja; the fact that Kétu was, like Tado, a walled town and the insistence in Kétu tradition that the founders of the kingdom found the Aja in the area. The mention of Kétu suggests that migrants from that area formed a dominant group in the cultural hybridization that later led to the emergence of the Aja at Tado while reference to Ǫyǫ appears to indicate that the movements from the fringes of western Yorùbáland westward were caused by immigrants from central Yorùbáland, perhaps those fleeing from the menace of the early Aláàfin. The hypothesis that they were pushed westward by the Yorùbá is thus accepted, but the suggestion here is that it was not done by the ‘Odùduwà groups’ who built the kingdoms.

  • 68 cf. Igué, O. J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 93-96; Parrinder, E.G. The Yorùbá-speaking peoples, p (...)

26The conquest of Abęęsán and its incorporation into the system of the Yorùbá founders of Akoro, the cohabitation of the Màmàhún, Ìfítá and the Ìjeùn as well as the conquest of the thinly spread groups of inhabitants in the Şábę region by the Ègbá and the Àwórì suggest that those who did not move out were absorbed into the cultural system of the early Yorùbá migrants. The differentiation of the And, Işà and Mànígrì into sub-ethnic groups is to be understood against the background of this cultural miscegenation.68

  • 69 This is in fact implied in a cross-section of the traditions. Gbaguidi, B. Origine des noms des vi (...)

27It is, however, not certain at what time before the sixteenth century each of the three sub-groups could be differentiated from one another. From their geographical proximity and cultural affinity, one can hazard the guess that the three had ancestral relations and that their original habitats overlapped in the region later covered by the Ìdáìşà and the Şábę.69 More likely, however, is that the three originally formed a single cultural hybrid, which, until the latter part of the sixteenth century or the beginning of the seventeenth century, was continuous all over western Yorùbáland as far as Tado.

Figure 2. Some pre-dynastic settlements in western Yorùbáland с.1500 A. D.

  • 70 Mouléro, T. Des villages de la division de Savalou. Unpublished ms. 23pp.
  • 71 cf. Igué, O.J. Quelques aspects, p. 79-85; Cornevin R., Histoire du Togo, p. 57.

28The emergence of the Aja at Tado and their dispersal from that centre from the middle of the sixteenth century, led to sub-ethnic differentiation and expansion eastward. The immediate result was a further differentiation of the prevalent cultural continuum. One of the Aja sub-groups, the Mahi, expanded northwards into the region of modern Savalou70 and set in motion a series of population migrations westward. The westward immigrants eventually congregated in the region of Atakpamé and became the And. The name Ifę (’Fę) by which the And are also known probably derived from the fact that their original home was in the upper Ouémé region. The River Ouémé was, and is, locally referred to as the ‘Ǫfę’ which when pronounced with the ‘o’ silent becomes ‘fę’ and sounds like ‘Ifę’. The name therefore would appear to have meant simply people from the upper Ǫfę (Ouémé) region; and not people from Ilé-Ifę. The acceptance of this suggestion, however, hinges on linguistic analysis, for example, proving the change from ‘Ǫfę’ to ‘Ifę’. Nevertheless, their relative antiquity in the region is confirmed by linguistic and ethnographic data.71

  • 72 Mouléro, T. Origine des habitants de Mànígrì. Unpublished ms. Oral interview: Olú Àjé (90+), Agúgù (...)
  • 73 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende de Banté. Unpublished ms.
  • 74 Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement, pp. 32-38; Campbell, F. Sàkété, autrefois et aujourd’hui. Fr (...)

29The Aja were still expanding eastward when another wave of Yorùbá migrants arrived in western Yorùbáland. These latter are the groups associated with the building of the western Yorùbá kingdoms. One of the immediate results of their arrival was a clash with the extant settlers (i.e., the cultural amalgam). This clash led to the immediate movement of those in the northern section westward; one group congregating at Mánígrì72 and another at Báńtę as the Işà.73 A similar clash between the Ègùn and the inhabitants of Porto Novo led to the scattering of some of the people previously inhabiting the area, northwards into the Ànàgó region.74

THE EVE OF THE ODÙDUWÀ PERIOD

  • 75 A similar development following the Aja migrations from Allada led to the foundation of the kingdo (...)

30With the settlement of the new migrant groups, western Yorùbáland entered the Odùduwá period. The on-going process of cultural hybridization and sub-ethnic differentiation was intensified. In addition, there were tremendous socio-political developments which culminated in the emergence of the kingdoms of Kétu, Şábę and Ìdáìşà.75 But such groups as the Áná, Işá and Mànígrì which were not exposed to the new influences retained the socio-political institutions prevalent during the pre-Odùduwà period.

31To fully understand the impact of the new groups, we shall attempt to sketch the socio-political structures on the eve of the transition of western Yorùbáland to the Odùduwà era.

  • 76 cf. Horton, R. Stateless societies in the history of West Africa. In: Àjàyí, J.F. and Crowder, M. (...)

32The basic socio-political unit was a settlement within which kinship terms such as ‘father’, ‘mother’, ‘son’, ‘daughter’, ‘brother’, etc. were used. The use of these terms indicates that each settlement was inhabited by closely related individuals, and as such, could be referred to as a ‘lineage-settlement’76 Adé Ǫbáyęmí gives a vivid description of the political nature of such settlements which he calls ‘mini-states’:

  • 77 Qbáyęmí, A. The Yorùbá and Edo-speaking peoples, p. 205.

The basic building-block of every mini-state is the patrilineage, which is described in its biological territorial setting by important terms in the different languages.... The patrilineage, sometimes buttressed by maternal links is of immense importance to the individual for land-holding, land-allocation and food production. It is the basis for his identity and membership of the society, and for his political and social rights. It is the focus of strongest allegiance: authority is symbolised and to some extent exercised by a lineage head chosen on considerations of age and genealogical proximity to the ancestors.77

  • 78 cf. Schwab, W.B. Kinship and lineage among the Yorùbá. Africa 25: iv (1955) pp. 352-374; Lloyd, P. (...)

33Once chosen, the leader became the focus of attention of all members who held allegiance to him as the closest individual to the ancestors. He was thus looked upon as a ‘father’, which indeed he was by virtue of his age and experience. Often, such a leader took the title Ba or Baba (father). There might have been occasions when an elderly man was by-passed in preference for a younger one, yet such a man still had to be looked upon as the ‘father’ of the group, once invested with the power and authority of the ancestors.78

  • 79 Verger, P. Grandeur et décadence du culte de Ìyá mi Òsóróngá (Ma mère la sorcière) chez les Yorùbá (...)
  • 80 Oral interview: Alákétu Adétutù and chiefs, Àáfin, Ilé-Kétu, 15/7/78. See also Parrinder, E.G. (...)

34In spite of limitations to the political power of women in some Yorùbá kingdoms, their pre-eminence within the pre-Odùduwà societies is evident in traditions and rituals connected with the founding of these kingdoms.79 Some of the settlements in western Yorùbáland on the eve of the Odùduwà migrations were led by women as indicated in the Porto Novo legend of Abęęsán, ‘the woman who had nine sets of twins’. Kétu traditions identify at least four pre-Odùduwà settlements: Mèpéré, Akéré, Bòkólò and Pánkú each led by a woman.80

35Thus the earliest and simplest level of political organization was the lineage-settlement within which all members acknowledged the immediate authority or leadership of the head, i.e., the Ba-/Baba (Father) and the Yàá/Yeye/Ìyá (Mother). Issues, especially disputes involving members of the lineage-settlement, were settled by the head who as their ‘father’ or ‘mother’ had the final say on any emergent issue. Members owed their loyalty primarily to the lineage. Property such as farmland was jointly owned and commonly inherited. Individuals could move out of a lineage-settlement to set up new ones either as a result of overcrowding in the original settlement or simply from a desire to live close to their farms. This could result in a cluster of settlements which was conceived as a single ‘lineage-settlement’; the original one as the nucleus or ‘father’ and the new ones as segments or ‘children’.

  • 81 Oral interviews: Òfín Àwódìó, The Ba ‘Sàlę (100+), Madam Ada Yáì (60+), Madam Àsàná Sàbì-Ǫtéwà (...)

36Many lineage-groups that migrated into parts of western Yorùbáland which witnessed the transition to the Odùduwà period still retain some features of the pre-Odùduwà settlements. One of these is the Jàlúmòn of present-day Ilé-Şábę. The group preserves the tradition that its ancestors migrated from Grand Popo on the coast of modern Togo, presumably during the sub-ethnic differentiation of the Aja people. All members bear the same orílè, a verse of which buttresses their claim of ancestral identification with the Aja.81 Furthermore, the nucleus of the group in Ilé-Şábę is a single lineage under the immediate leadership of the Ba-Ìsàlę its head.

  • 82 Oral interviews: Olú Àjé (90+), Agúgù, Şábę, 5/9/78; the Agàànì Òòlú Òsì, 2/8/78.
  • 83 Oral interviews: Qlájǫ Ketupo (95+), Sabi Ògún (90+), Jàbàtá, 24/8/78.

37Many other Şábę lineages still remember a time when they lived separately from the others. In Ilé-Şábę, apart from the Jàlúmòn, the Èhìnòkè, the Óòlú Ótún (pronounced Ótán) and the Óólú Òsì (Òsìn) lineages were once separate lineage-settlements.82 In Kábua, the Égbá and the Bakǫ lineages were pre-kingdom settlements based on kinship ties. According to some accounts, the Olúbarà lineage was the first to settle in the region and lived on one of the summits. Subsequent arrivals in the region led to the setting up of ‘strangers quarters’ which made the settlement, in effect, a cluster of lineage-settlements with that of the Olúbarà as the nucleus. A similar pattern of settling down on the basis of kinship ties is implied in the traditions of Jàbàtá83 which was also a cluster of ‘lineage-settlements’.

  • 84 Oral interview: Bara Maurice (85+), Esępá, Dassa-Zoumé, 15/9/78.

38In the Ìdáìşà region, the nature of the early settlements was not different from what obtained in Şábę and identifiable pre-kingdom groups which retain the original structure include the Màmàhún, the Ìjeùn and the Lemon.84 In spite of the fact that the inhabitants of the Ìfítá settlement were scattered during the nineteenth century by the wars of the Fon, members of the group, wherever they are found, still acknowledge the leadership of the head at Ìfítá and bear the same oríkì orílę which indicates the location of their original home and summarizes their historical experiences before the nineteenth century. Part of the oríkì runs thus:

  1. Ǫmǫ Baba nlá
  2. Ǫmǫ Olókè l’áwò réré
  3. L’étí Akǫgun
  1. Offspring of Baba nlá
  2. Offspring of those who own tall hills
  3. Near the Akǫgun river

39Similarly, pre-kingdom inhabitants of the Kétu region especially in Ilé-Kétu, Dírin and Ìlíkímu are to be found as separate lineage groups easily identifiable on the basis of their traditions, peculiar customs and oríkí orílę. For example, the Ìdùfin lineage is easily recognized in Kétu by its lineage festival adjahoume. The recognition of the festival as a non-Yorùbá festival that pre-dated the foundation of Ilé-Kétu supports local traditions that the Ìdùfin lineage was one of the pre-kingdom groups which has retained its social features, though it was politically absorbed into the Odùduwà culture.

40Furthermore, the lineage is headed by the Aládùfin whose claim to the headship of a pre-kingdom lineage-settlement is generally not in dispute. The identification of many pre-kingdom settlements around Ilé-Kétu, which were just a stone’s throw from each other, indicates that they were settlements set up on kinship basis, into which strangers were not admitted. Consequently, the region was made up of clusters of strangers’ quarters. This comes out clearly in the traditions of virtually all Kétu settlements which talk of the setting up of settlements by successive migrant groups on the basis of kinship ties.

41The geographical nature of western Yorùbáland was indeed conducive to socio-political development into clusters of settlements. As noted earlier, the landscape is rugged in the north and marshy in the south, while rainfall is irregular. The significance of the landscape on the settlement pattern can be seen in that in comparison with areas in the same ecological zone, western Yorùbáland is sparsely populated and major settlements are far from each other. These factors encouraged settlements in a few relatively habitable and fertile areas and led to the coagulation of many lineage-settlements. It is certainly no coincidence that the sites of identifiable clusters of settlements were in fertile areas such as river basins or in hilly areas that provided some security.

42Another feature of the environment which influenced sociopolitical developments in western Yorùbáland was the economic preoccupation of its inhabitants. The emergence of ‘clusters of settlements’ could be associated with an increase in the nature and scope of economic activities. Increase in population, especially as a result of influx of people from central Yorùbáland, necessitated developments in the economy.

  • 85 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 53; Parrinder, The Story of Kétu, pp. 15-19; Akindélé, A. and (...)
  • 86 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 56. Oral Interview: Bàbá Olúdà Sabi (68+), Jàbàtá, 23/8/78.

43The earliest economic occupations of the inhabitants were presumably hunting and farming, to which all other economic activities were secondary. Verses in the oríkì of some lineages as well as their histories indicate that for long hunting85 was a major occupation and that fishing was done along the rivers.86 With regard to hunting, this is evident in the oríkì of some Şábę lineages:

44Óólú Òsì – Qmǫ pénpe bí àşá
a fí ’rù s ǫ ’dę bí ológbò
Children of those swift like the hawk
who hunt like the cat.

45Olúbarà – Óólú Àdágbá p’erin ní’gba nígba
Óólú Àdágbá p’ęfòn nígba, nígba,
Abérin jà, a b’efǫn gùn tę
Óólú Àdágbá who killed elephants in the hundreds
Óólú Àdágbá who killed buffaloes in two hundreds
Who fought with elephants and sat with the buffalo.

  • 87 Ibid. Oral interview: Biau Ezekiel (95+), Òjè-Òòlú, Kábua, 29/8/78.
  • 88 Oral interview: Àró Adétúnjí (80+), Máyingbìin, Ilé-Kétu, 22/7/78.
  • 89 The Màmàhún group claims to have had an extensive okro farm, igbó’lá. Histoire du peuple d’Ida (...)
  • 90 The history of the Óólú Òsì lineage in Ilé-Şábę talks of a dispute over the cultivation of co (...)

46Farming was also done on a fairly extensive scale in some communities which cultivated a variety of crops including food crops such as yams,87 beans,88 and vegetables,89 and cash crops like cotton.90The production of different crops in different localities seems to have stimulated the integration of cognate lineage-settlements.

  • 91 Levtzion, N., Muslims and Chiefs in West Africa, p. 17.
  • 92 Igué, O.J., Quelques aspects, p. 84.

47All these occupational activities went beyond the subsistence level and there are indications that the economy of the communities reached a level where surpluses produced in certain commodities were gainfully exchanged for others which a community could not produce.91 There are indications of a viable market economy in the traditions of the Èhìnòkè who refer to their progenitor as a successful trader; and the Màmàhún whose oríkì talks of markets which they once controlled. Such needs for mutual exchange, which probably started as gifts, led to the beginning of a local market economy especially in areas where the settlements were arranged in clusters.92

48While the opportunity for local trade to bloom into regional trade involving cognate clusters of settlements was great, the extent to which western Yorùbáland participated in long distance commerce before the seventeenth century is not certain. It would seem, however, that the region offered little attraction to those engaged in the West African savanna-forest trade, which was concentrated in the east and west. Moreover, although the vegetation was fairly open, the rugged landscape was an hindrance to easy transportation and communication. The implication of this is that long distance trade, especially with the savanna region, played an inconspicuous role in the socio-political development of western Yorùbá communities.

  • 93 See the tradition that salt was introduced into Şábę through the Ànàgó and Kétu countries on the e (...)
  • 94 Akínjógbìn, I.A. The expansion of Òyó, p. 380.

49Nevertheless, the ‘commercial factor’ cannot be completely eliminated. Certainly by the seventeenth century, a few routes passed from the northern Yorùbá kingdom of Òyó through western Yorùbáland to the coast. This is corroborated by the traditions.93 Before then, inhabitants of the northern fringes of western Yorùbáland appear to have been engaged in trade with the western Sudanese states, especially Mali and Songhai.94 It would appear also that communities as far south as the Ìdáìşà region were engaged in the east-west trade to the middle Volta. The Ìbààbá were already engaged in the Hausa-Gonja trade by the first half of the seventeenth century. The traditions among the Şábę and Ìdáìşà of frequent journeys to the shrine of Nàná Bùrùkúù in central Togo may in fact be referring to trade caravans.

  • 95 Oral interviews: Idoyen Àlàgbé (85+), Ìsògún, Dassa-Zoumé, 18/9/78; Emmanuel Gòngò (95+), and Owus (...)

50In addition to all these, the development of some metallurgical industries seems to have influenced the fusion of lineage-settlements into clusters. One of these industries was the working of iron, evidence for which can be deduced from folktales and some ethnographic data. Ògún, the Yorùbá god of iron, was known in virtually all the pre-Odùduwà communities, including those in the extremity. This suggests that the use of iron tools was widespread. In at least one case, in the Ìdáìşà region,95 there are indications that the manufacture of iron implements and possibly the mining of iron ore were only carried out in a few locations. This made dependence on the few iron producing centres very great and presumably, such centres acted as the focus of many cognate lineage-settlements.

  • 96 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 17.
  • 97 Oral interview: Qfín Àwódìò. Jàlúmqn, Ilé-Şábę 25/8/78. A verse in the oríkì the Jàlúmqn refers (...)
  • 98 Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple d’Idaisa, p. 3.

51Many other small-scale industries which could have produced effects similar to those of the iron industry seem to have developed in different parts of western Yorùbáland. Remnants of lineage-settlements can be identified whose inhabitants excelled in various occupational activities such as weaving,96 knitting with beads, brass-work97 and wood-work.98 Craft specialization was important in strengthening the bonds holding different lineages together just as the production of a variety of food crops was.

52These pieces of evidence of occupational specialization, though scanty and scattered, indicate a viable economy which apparently led to social stratification in some of the pre-kingdom communities. One of such communities was Ilé-Şábę where the head of the Olóró lineage-settlement took advantage of his successful economic enterprise to establish a personal ascendancy over all the settlements. As the traditions record metaphorically, on account of wealth amassed from his commercial ventures, the Olóró ‘grew taller than everybody else’ in the whole Şábę region. This is evident from verses in the orílę:

  1. Sòkòtò péńpé yę ęnití kò l’ówó,
  2. Bàtà lásán l’ará y’ókù ńbó
  3. Olúwobú ńyan l’órí ęşin
  4. Gbogbo ènìà l’ónwó ódò l’aíyà
  5. T’olúwobú nd’ójú gun
  1. Short trousers fit a poor man
  2. Others put on mere slippers
  3. Only Olúwobú (i.e., the Olóró) rides on a horse
  4. Everybody crosses the river with water reaching the chest,
  5. But for olúwobú, the water only reaches the knees.

53Indeed, the socio-economic developments sketched above had significant impact on the political nature of the lineage-settlements. The setting up of successive ‘strangers quarters’ and the resultant clusters of settlements necessitated the emergence of another level of political organization. The extent and content of political authority at this latter level transcended the boundaries of a lineage-settlement and involved the various settlements in an area. As the existence of clusters necessitated inter-lineage interactions, there was need for an institution to regulate these interactions and adjudicate disputes involving members of different lineage-settlements.

54Under such circumstances, kinship ties were inadvertently weakened and criteria such as family sentiments became inadequate as the basis of political organization. One readily available substitute was land. As the producer of food and other things needed for human existence, land was equally important to all lineage-settlements within a cluster. Thus, it easily became the unifying factor and the basic criterion for leadership. The possibility of being evicted from their lands or of being dispossessed of their holdings induced many lineage-settlements, irrespective of the kinship factor, to form alliances looking to one another for protection.

55Inter-lineage relations were reckoned on the basis of settling down within a structure which saw the first lineage-settlement in an area as the oldest. The leader of this settlement as the host of all the other lineage-heads was looked upon for political leadership. Such leaders took the titles Óòlú, Oní, Alá which literally translated mean lord or owner. Some of these had crowns, staff and sandals as symbols of their leadership, and members of their lineages bore the oríkì ‘oníl ę’ (owners of the land) to distinguish them from later arrivals.

56Thus each cluster of settlements could be differentiated into two classes; those who could become heads of the clusters or Onílę, and those who could not aspire beyond the level of lineage-headship. The status of the Onílę was enhanced by his control over rituals and matters pertaining to the use of land, especially over the economic activities which in the first instance stimulated the fusion of lineage-settlements. Within the socio-political organization therefore, the Onílę was the focus of attention and possessed greater and wider power and authority than the lineage heads. There was, in effect, some germ of political centralization; and each cluster was a state in its own right and could be referred to as a city-state.

  • 99 See Bertho, R. Coiffures-masques a franges de perles chez les Yorùbá du Dahomey. NA 40 (1950). The (...)
  • 100 Oral interviews: Agàànì Óòlú òsì, Ilé-Şábę, 22/8/78; Ayíédùn Omitoki (100+), Pàákò, Ilé-Şá (...)

57In the Şábę region, there were three easily identifiable clusters of settlements on the eve of the emergence of the kingdom of Şábę; these were in the areas of Kábua, Ilé-Şábę and Jàbàtá. In Kábua, the Olúbarà lineage exercised political authority as the head of a city-state; all migrant groups into the area paid homage to the Óòlú as the leader of the first group to settle in the region and the only lineage head who wore a crown. The head of the cluster of settlements in Jàbàtá was also known as the Óòlú; his authority was reinforced by his religious duties as the chief priest of Odùduwà and his exclusive use of a crown with beaded fringes.99 Around Ilé-Şábę, all lineage-settlements probably acknowledged the leadership of the Èhìnòkè group as the earliest settlers who understood the mysteries of the hills in the region. The lineage-traditions of some other pre-dynastic inhabitants like the Óòlú Qtún, the Olóró (Olú oró) and the Óòlú òsì100 suggest that apart from the Èhìnòkè there were other city-states in the vicinity of Ilé-Şábę.

  • 101 Some of the traditions actually claim that it was founded by one Ǫba Àyàbá. See Berge, J.A. Etude (...)
  • 102 Oral interviews: Bara Georgewin (100+), Bara Maurice (85+), Bocco Joseph (80+), Ęsępá, Dassa-Zoumé (...)

58In the Ìdáìşà region, at least two city-states existed. Ìfítá was organised under a head who had the exclusive use of sandals as his symbol of authority and who was in the early times very powerful and influential. Ògúnsolá Igué believes that it was a viable kingdom composed of not less than sixty-six villages with definite boundaries, Ìfítá, the capital, though now a hamlet, was once estimated to have a population of about 30,000.101 The case of the Màmàhún is not as straightforward, and if the tradition that the Màmàhún settlement was a single hut inhabited by some of her children were to be taken seriously, it would appear that the group did not overgrow the parochialism characteristic of the lineage-settlements. However, this does not necessarily preclude the exercise of political authority equivalent to that of the various Óòlú by the Màmàhún lineage-head. The recognition that the Màmàhún shared common boundaries with the Óòlú of Ìfítá102 suggests an extensive sphere of influence for them. Certainly, the group had control over land in thé area; this is borne out by the possession of Ojúlę (the land deity) and by their Orílę, part of which reads thus:

  • 103 Oral interview: Ìdòyún Jacob (80+), Ìsàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 19/9/78.

Ǫmq àti’lę şę
Ǫmq arílę a fó f’ólù
Ǫjókòó l’ókè só àwò réré103

Offspring of those who sprung from the ground
And gave land to the Óòlú
They sit on high mountains, but could see far off.

  • 104 Both live together in the Ìsàlú quarter of Dassa-Zoumé but have different lineage-heads.

59But the Màmàhún’s control over land would appear to have been short-lived and probably had ended by the beginning of the seventeenth century. The arrival of the Ìjeùn into the region led to the displacement of the political leadership of the Màmàhún and the taking over of the Óòlú-ship by the Ìjeùn. Control over land and the exercise of political authority over the clusters of settlements in the region were then separated: the Màmàhún continued to allocate land to successive migrants into the area, while the political leadership was exercised by the Ìjeùn. The Màmàhún were quickly absorbed socially into the Ìjeùn system104 but they retained their political consciousness. Nevertheless, the Ìjeùn organized themselves into a strong group under Arígbó, their leader, who took the title Ba-Ìjeùn apparently signifying that he was ‘father’ only to the Ìjeùn. However, that the place where the Ìjeùn settled became known as ‘Òkènte’ (the hill where we meet to take decisions) suggests a political alliance within which the Ìjeùnwere leaders.

  • 105 Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple, p. 5.

60Various other heads of settlements of city-state status in the Ìdáìşà region apparently included the Iléma (Lémon-Ìlú + Ęma, Olú Ęma) and the Óòlú of Ìtagi.105 Father Mouléro mentioned seven settlements which were apparently of city-state status: Ìtagi, Igbó-Oba, Sáká-lòkè, Sátó-segun, Kámáátęę, Òkè-Ìta and Sokpa. Current Ìdáìşà traditions mention forty-one.

  • 106 Oral interviews: The Bàbá Ìlú of Dírin, 3/7/78; Adégbolá Oyèluyì (60+), 4/7/78; and Alanwa Bámgbós (...)
  • 107 Oral interviews: Àgàn Jagunde (100+), 8/7/78 and Ipò Pascal (60+,) 3/7/78, Dírin.
  • 108 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 15-16.

61In the Kétu region, there was certainly an awareness that some heads of settlements were higher in status than others. The traditions of the first settlers in Dírin, Ìlíkímu and Ìdofà allotting hunting grounds to successive migrant groups106 indicate a control system based on precedence in settling down in an area. The head of the Dírin group had a staff of office, opá ogbo, with which he enforced his authority over those with whom he had no blood ties.107 As in Dírin, local traditions in Ìlíkímu and Ìdòfa recognize the existence of an early level of authority higher than that of the lineage settlements but lower than that which the group that founded Ilé-Kétu later exercised. Two legendary personalities, Alálùmo (Olú of Ìmon) and Ìmáşàyí (Olú of Máşàyí) who featured prominently in the history of Kétu on the eve of the emergence of the kingdom, appear to have been heads of city-states.108

62How many city-states were in western Yorùbáland on the eve of the beginning of the Odùduwà period is at this stage not certain; but with the rapid increase and diversification in population following the sub-ethnic differentiation, an atmosphere conducive to the fusion of many lineage-settlements into larger communities was created. Land continued to be the most important stabilizing factor until the late sixteenth century, when as a result of another wave of migrations from central Yorùbáland, the basis of political organization was changed and precedence in settling in a region became inadequate as a criterion for the exercise of political leadership.

Notes

1 Shaw, T. The pre-history of West Africa. In: Ájàyí, J. F. A. and Crowder, M. (eds.) History of West Africa, Vol. I, pp. 33-71.

2 Willet, F. A survey of recent results in radio-carbon chronology of western and northern Africa. JAH 12: III (1971) pp. 339-370; and Shaw, T. Excavations at Iwò Elérú. West African Archaeological Newsletter 3 (1965) pp. 15-16.

3 Armstrong, R.G. The use of linguistic and ethnographic data in the study of Idoma and Yorùbá history. In: Vansina, J., Mauny, R. and Thomas, L.V. (eds.) The Historian in Tropical Africa. London (1964) pp. 127-144; also Qbáyęmí, A. The Yorùbá and Edo-speaking peoples, pp. 199-201; and Greenberg, J.H. Historical inferences from linguistic research in sub-Saharan Africa. Butler, J. (ed.) Boston University Papers, pp. 6-7.

4 See Johnson, S. The History, pp. 3-5; Bíòbákú, S.O. The Origin of the Yorùbá, pp. 17-23.

5 Fábùnmi, M. A. A Traditional History of Ilé-Ifę. Kings Press, Ifè (1975) pp. 18-20; Idem. Ifè Shrines. University of Ifę Press (1969) pp. 3-4; and Bíòbákú, S.O. The Origin of the Yorùbá, p. 11.

6 For recordings of the first version, see Hodgkin, T. Nigerian Perspectives, p. 78; for the second see, Hallet, R. (ed.) The Niger Journal of Richard and John Lander, pp. 88-89.

7 Akinjogbin, I.A. The expansion of Òyó, pp. 376-377; Qbáyemí, A. The Yorùbá and Edo-speaking peoples, pp. 196-263; Qlómólà, G.O.I. The eastern Yorùbá country before Odùduwà: A reassessment. In: Akínjógbìn, I.A. and Èkémǫdé, G.O. (eds.) The Proceedings, pp. 34-73; Igué, O.J. Quelques aspects du peuplement, p. 77. Also Oliver, R. and Fagan, C. Africa in the Iron Age, pp. 186-187; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 28-29; Agírí, B.A. Early Qyó history, pp. 5-9.

8 Akínjógbìn, I.A. and Àyándélé, E.O. Yorùbáland up to 1800. In: Ikime, O. (ed.) Groundwork of Nigerian History. Heinemann (1980) pp. 121-143.

9 Egharevba, J.U. A Short History of Benin. ìbàdàn University Press (1968) pp. 6-9; Smith, R.S. Kingdoms of the Yorùbá, pp. 103-104; Oliver, R. and Fagan, B. Africa in the Iron Age, p. 183; cf. Qbáyęmí, A. The Yorùbá and Edo-speaking peoples, pp. 255-263.

10 Ifę traditions say that it took three reigns after Odùduwà. See Adédìran, A. A descriptive analysis of Ifę palace organisation. The African Historian 8 (1976) pp. 4-5; also Stevens, P. Òrìşà Ńlá festival. Nigeria 90 (Sept. 1966) pp. 184-188; Parrat, J. An approach to Ifę festivals. Nigeria 108 (April 1969) pp. 344-347.

11 See Willet, F. Ifę in the History of West African Sculptures. Thomas & Hudson, London (1967); also Eyo, E. Recent excavations at Ifę and Qwò and their implications for Ifę, Qwò and Benin studies. Ph.D. thesis, University of Ìbàdàn (1974).

12 See for instance, Johnson, S. The History, p. 143.

13 This speculation is based on the traditions themselves, see Smith, R.S. Kingdoms of the Yorùbá, p. 31. Linguistic evidence: Adétùgbó, A. The Yorùbá language in Yorùbá history, p. 193; and the simple fact that archaeological excavations in Yorùbáland are concentrated in Ilé-Ifę,

14 See for instance, Willet, F. Investigations at Old Qwó. JHSN 2: i (1966) pp. 59-77; Shaw, T. Excavations at two Elérú, pp. 15-16.

15 cf. the traditions of Qbà-Ilé near Akúrę, Beier, U. Before Odùduwà. Odù 3, pp. 30-32, and Èsìé in Kwara State; Qbáyęmí, A. Yorùbá genesis: a 1972 review. Unpublished manuscript.

16 See for instance Smith, R.S. Kingdoms of the Yorùbá, p. 59 for conflicts between the Odùduwà group and pre-Odùduwà inhabitants in Ijęsà: with the Elésun at Adó-Èkìtì, p. 64, with the Eléféne at Qwç, p.71, and with ìdóko at Ondó and Ijębú, pp. 79, 98-91.

17 Dunglas, E. Perles anciennes trouvées au Dahomey. Première Conférence des Africanistes de l’Ouest Tome II. Dakar (1951) pp. 431-434.

18 Igué, O.J. Quelques aspects, p. 78.

19 Bíòbákù, S.p. The Ègbá and their Neighbours. OUP (1957) p. 2; Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 67.

20 George, J.O. Historical Notes on the Yorùbá Country and its Tribes. Lagos (1895) p. 22.

21 Verger, P. Histoire du pays de Kétou. Private paper. Verger bases his speculation on a folk etymology of the Ògùn river as Odò Ègùn, i.e., the Fon’s river.

22 Versions of these traditions are in Gayibor, N.L. Recueil des Sources Orales du Pays Aja-Ewe. Lomé, Togo (1977); also Bertho, J. La parenté des Yorùbá, p. 121; and Amenumey, D.E.K. The problem of dating the arrival of the Ewe people at their present habitat. In: Akínjógbìn, LA. and Èkémodé, G.O. The Proceedings, p. 143.

23 Newbury, C.W. The Western Slave Coast and its Rulers. Oxford, Clarendon (1961), p. 10; Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 24-26.

24 Oral Interviews: Mme Yaoicha Gankpé (60+), Houime-Tossue, Porto-Novo, 5/8/78; M. Tijani Serpos (70+), Foun-Foun, Porto Novo, 8/8/78. See also Akindélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Étude de l’Histoire de l’Ancien Royaume de Porto Novo, pp. 24-26.

25 Newbury, C.W. The Western Slave Coast, pp. 7-9; Akínjógbìn, I.A. The expansion of Qyó, P- 378.

26 See Palau-Marti. Le Roi-Dieu au Bénin. Paris (1964) p. 171.

27 ‘Adímçlá’ is, in fact, identified in the Porto Novo version of the legend as an ijèbú prince. See Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement Yorùbá, p. 32.

28 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 143-155; see also Babáyęmí, S.O. Upper Ògùn: A historical sketch. African Notes 6: ii (1971) pp. 73-77; Mábogùnjé, A.L. and Omer-Cooper, J.D. Òwu in Yorùbá History. Ìbàdàn (1971) pp. 32-36.

29 Òjó, S. Badà. Ìwé Ìtàn Yorùbá Apá Kìnní, p. 158.

30 Oral interviews: The Bàbá ìlú of Dírin, Chief Àgàn Jagunde (100+), Kóládé Onílùdé (100+), Fátólú Qláléye (93+), Opę. Òrìsà Ògúnlébiti (100+), 3/7/78. The ìgbómìnà claim to have migrated from Ilé-Ifę at the same time as the Aláàfin and have a special type of cutlass called Ogbó as the totem they received at Ilé-Ifę.

31 Oral interview: Aiyédùn Omítókí (100+), Pàákô, Ilé-Şábe, 27/8/78; Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende de Chabe (Save). ED (nd) 2 (1964) pp. 52-54.

32 Akíndélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Étude, pp. 17-20. Other settlements founded around the same time in the Ànàgó region were in the neighbourhood of present day ìláso, Dégè, Òjóda and Àsómu. Oral interviews: Mosuro (95+), Dagbao, ìtàkété, 29/9/78; Alhaji Abibu Mustapha (60+), Dégún, Itàkété 28/9/78. See also Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement Yorùbá, pp. 33-34.

33 Oral interviews: ìdôkú Àpàki (80+), Abajeni Honoré (80+), ìsàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 17/9/78; Jérôme Kosadan (60+), Òdùmàtę Àbádòkè (55+), Isàlû, Dassa-Zoumé, 16/9/78. Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p.98 suggests that they were envoys of the Aláàfin. Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple d’Idacha (MS.) pp. 1-2. Because of the existence of an ijeùn group in Abéòkta, Mouléro locates their origin to that town and mistakenly links their migration into western Yorùbáland with the Apòmú war (1821).

34 Ibid.

35 Verse 2 of the oríkí.

36 Johnson, S. The History, p. 161; Law, R.C.C. A West African cavalry state: The kingdom of Òyó. JAH 16: i (1975) pp. 2-4.

37 Verses 6-8.

38 Verse 1.

39 Johnson, S, The History, p. 158; See also Agírí, B.A. Early Òyó history, p. 4.

40 Verse 5.

41 Verses 10 and 11.

42 Johnson, S. The History, p. 159.

43 See Ajísafę, A.K. Ìwé Ìtàn Abęòkùta. Hardcore (1972) pp. 2-4; also Biòbákú, S.O. The Ègbá and their Neighbours, pp. 3-4.

44 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 80.

45 The Ìbarà have a tradition of ancestral migrations through the Şábe country. Oral interviews: Ǫba Samuel Adésinà, the Olúbarà, Ìbarà, Abęòkúta, 2/3/78; Ǫba A. A. Bakare, the Abord and chiefs, Ìbórò, 16/4/78; Chief J.F. Ǫdúnjo, Mókólá, Ìbàdàn, 19/3/78. See also Ǫdúnjo, J.F. Ìjìnlę Májémù l’Àrín Ègbá àti Ègbádò. Alébíosù Press, Lagos (1946) pp. 19-20.

46 The Lémǫn and the Èhìnòkè claim to be branches of the same group. Oral interviews: Olú Àjé (90+), Agúgù, Ilé-Şábe, 8/9/78; Alálę Balémo (100+), Alál Christophe (80+), Jonas Ajínde (80+), and Esenu Ògúngàrá (88+), Lémon-Tre, 14/9/78. There is an extant tradition in Idáisà that the Lémon came from an unidentifiable place called Ìkémón ‘in the Yorùbá country’. Oral interview: Ìdòyûn Jacob (80+), Ìsàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 19/8/78.

47 Oral interviews: Ǫkùnrin Òfìnrin (60+), the reigning Óòlú and the priestess of Odùduwà at Jàbàtá, 7/9/78; Ǫba J.A. Akápò, the Qlòfin of Adó Odò and chiefs, 8/4/78.

48 Johnson, S. The History, p. 20.

49 Egharevba, J.U. A Short History of Benin, pp. 29-30; Law, R.C.C. The dynastic chronology of Lagos. LNR 2: ii (1968) pp. 51-52.

50 Oral interview: Òfín Awodio (100+), Jàlúmòn, Ilé-Şábe, 25/8/78.

51 Berge, J.A. Etude sur le pays Mahi. Bulletin du Comité d’Etudes Historiques et Scientifiques de l’Afrique Occidentale Française XI (1938) pp. 726-727.

52 Akíndélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Étude de l’Ancien Royaume de Porto Novo, pp. 27-28; also Dunglas, E. Origines du Royaume de Porto Novo. France-Dahomey 31 (October 1952).

53 Oral interview: The Bábá ìlú of Dírin, 3/7/78, states that before the foundation of Dírin, the Mahi had already settled in the area. In fact, the folk etymology of the name, Dírin, suggests that the site of the town was originally a graveyard of the Mahi.

54 On this see Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, p. 401.

55 Oral interview: Pa A. Àjàó (90+), Dégue-Peace, Porto Novo, 8/8/78; see also Akíndélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Étude, pp. 17-20.

56 Oral interviews: M. Tidjani Serpos (70+), Porto Novo, 8/8/78; Mme Yaoicha Gankpé (60+), Porto Novo, 5/8/78.

57 The traditions of Bánigbé-Pòtòpótò some seventy kilometres north of Porto Novo also talks of an Òrìsà Abęęsán which has as its symbols nine needles. Oral interviews: Osùbíyì Ęlégbédé (60+) and Akíndélé Ǫmqlèèkàn (60+), Bánigbé-Pòtòpótó, 30/9/78.

58 That is from the frequency of figure nine. The name Abęęsán itself was derived from èsán (nine).

59 Igué, OJ. Quelques aspects, p. 79.

60 Oral interviews: Bara Maurice (85+), Bara Georgwin (100+), and Bocco Joseph (80+), Ęsèpa, Dassa-Zoumé, 15/9/78. Also Hutchet, R.P. Origine de noms des villages des Dassa. Unpublished ms. (1941); and Berge, J.A. Etude sur le pays Mahi, p. 725.

61 Oral interviews: Okiri Agboruku (60+), Ìsàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 18/9/78; Jacob Ídòyún (80+), Bode Toni (50+), Ìsalú, Dassa-Zoumé, 19/9/78. cf Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple, p. 2 refers to them as an òyó group.

62 Mouléro, T. L’histoire du peuple d’Idacha, p. 3.

63 Jàbàtá traditions refer to the founder of the town as Àpàkí tilè w’aíyé (who left the ground and came to the world). Oral interviews: Madam Qlàjǫ Ketupo (95+), Bàbá Ajamusia A dékúlé (60+), and Sabi Ògún (90+), Jàbàtá, 24/8/78. The Kábua group are identified as the descendants of Yagba who simply emerged from the Qpárá River. Oral interviews: Biau Ezekiel (95+), Okè-Òólú, Kábua, 29/8/78. cf Mouléro, T. Les villes Nago de la sous-préfecture de Save. ED 14-15 (1969) pp. 30-31.

64 Such peoples have been identified in Wawe, Bohicon and Cana. See Sedolo, M.D. Sur le Royaume de Kétou et ses origines. NA 66 (Avril 1955) p. 47.

65 Cornevin, R. Histoire du Togo. Paris (1969), p. 48; Bertho, J. La parenté, p. 126.

66 Gayibor, N.L. Recueil des Sources Orales, p. 11; see also Amenumey, D.E.K. The problem of dating the accession of the Ewe people to their present habitat. In: Akínjógbìn, I.A. and Èkémodè, G.O. (eds.) The Proceedings of the Conference on Yorùbá Civilisation, pp. 135-153.

67 Amenumey, D.E.K. The problem of dating the accession of the Ewe, p. 142.

68 cf. Igué, O. J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 93-96; Parrinder, E.G. The Yorùbá-speaking peoples, p. 26; and Tidjani, A.S. Notice sur le mariage au Dahomey. ED 6 (1951); Murdock, P. Africa, Its People and Their Culture History. McGraw-Hill, NY. (1969) p. 24.

69 This is in fact implied in a cross-section of the traditions. Gbaguidi, B. Origine des noms des villages, cercle de Savalou, Canton des Dassas. ED 8 (1952); Hutchet, R.P. Les Dassa. Unpublished ms.; Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement, pp. 38-40.

70 Mouléro, T. Des villages de la division de Savalou. Unpublished ms. 23pp.

71 cf. Igué, O.J. Quelques aspects, p. 79-85; Cornevin R., Histoire du Togo, p. 57.

72 Mouléro, T. Origine des habitants de Mànígrì. Unpublished ms. Oral interview: Olú Àjé (90+), Agúgù, Ilé-Şábę, 8/9/78.

73 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende de Banté. Unpublished ms.

74 Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement, pp. 32-38; Campbell, F. Sàkété, autrefois et aujourd’hui. France-Dahomey. (19th & 20lh June, 1956). Oral interview: Madam Yaoicha Gankpé, Porto Novo, 5/8/78.

75 A similar development following the Aja migrations from Allada led to the foundation of the kingdoms of Dahomey and Porto Novo. See Akíndélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Étude, pp. 27-28; Akínjógbìn, I. A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 11-12.

76 cf. Horton, R. Stateless societies in the history of West Africa. In: Àjàyí, J.F. and Crowder, M. (eds.) History of West Africa I, pp. 72-113.

77 Qbáyęmí, A. The Yorùbá and Edo-speaking peoples, p. 205.

78 cf. Schwab, W.B. Kinship and lineage among the Yorùbá. Africa 25: iv (1955) pp. 352-374; Lloyd, P.C. The Yorùbá lineage. Africa 25: iii (1955) pp. 235-251.

79 Verger, P. Grandeur et décadence du culte de Ìyá mi Òsóróngá (Ma mère la sorcière) chez les Yorùbá. JSA 33: i (1955) pp. 200-218; Awé, B. Notes on the institution of the Ìyálódé within the traditional Yorùbá political system. Unpublished paper.

80 Oral interview: Alákétu Adétutù and chiefs, Àáfin, Ilé-Kétu, 15/7/78. See also Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 18-21.

81 Oral interviews: Òfín Àwódìó, The Ba ‘Sàlę (100+), Madam Ada Yáì (60+), Madam Àsàná Sàbì-Ǫtéwà (55+), Jàlúmòn, Ilé-Şábę, 20/8/78. See also Bertho, J., La parenté des Yorùbá. Africa 19: ii (1949), p. 124.

82 Oral interviews: Olú Àjé (90+), Agúgù, Şábę, 5/9/78; the Agàànì Òòlú Òsì, 2/8/78.

83 Oral interviews: Qlájǫ Ketupo (95+), Sabi Ògún (90+), Jàbàtá, 24/8/78.

84 Oral interview: Bara Maurice (85+), Esępá, Dassa-Zoumé, 15/9/78.

85 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 53; Parrinder, The Story of Kétu, pp. 15-19; Akindélé, A. and Aguessy, C. Contribution à l’Etude, pp. 17-20.

86 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 56. Oral Interview: Bàbá Olúdà Sabi (68+), Jàbàtá, 23/8/78.

87 Ibid. Oral interview: Biau Ezekiel (95+), Òjè-Òòlú, Kábua, 29/8/78.

88 Oral interview: Àró Adétúnjí (80+), Máyingbìin, Ilé-Kétu, 22/7/78.

89 The Màmàhún group claims to have had an extensive okro farm, igbó’lá. Histoire du peuple d’Idacha, p. 2.

90 The history of the Óólú Òsì lineage in Ilé-Şábę talks of a dispute over the cultivation of cotton, this indicates that the Şábę or a part of them engaged in cotton cultivation.

91 Levtzion, N., Muslims and Chiefs in West Africa, p. 17.

92 Igué, O.J., Quelques aspects, p. 84.

93 See the tradition that salt was introduced into Şábę through the Ànàgó and Kétu countries on the eve of the foundation of the kingdom in: Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 64; and to Òyó during the reign of Ǫbalókun in: Johnson, S. The History, p. 168. See also Morton-Williams, P. The Òyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic Slave Trade, p. 40.

94 Akínjógbìn, I.A. The expansion of Òyó, p. 380.

95 Oral interviews: Idoyen Àlàgbé (85+), Ìsògún, Dassa-Zoumé, 18/9/78; Emmanuel Gòngò (95+), and Owusu Ikúkò-létò (60+), Ìsògún, Dassa-Zoumé, 24/9/78. See also, Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. 3.

96 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 17.

97 Oral interview: Qfín Àwódìò. Jàlúmqn, Ilé-Şábę 25/8/78. A verse in the oríkì the Jàlúmqn refers to them as ‘those who knit with brass’.

98 Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple d’Idaisa, p. 3.

99 See Bertho, R. Coiffures-masques a franges de perles chez les Yorùbá du Dahomey. NA 40 (1950). The crown of the Óòlú of Kábua is now the most important crown of the Oníşábę while that of the Óòlú of Jàbàtá is still used by the chief priest of Odùduwà during rituals.

100 Oral interviews: Agàànì Óòlú òsì, Ilé-Şábę, 22/8/78; Ayíédùn Omitoki (100+), Pàákò, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78; Sabi Ajòngolo (90+), òkè Amósùn, Ilé-Şábę, 26/8/78. Olóró is also referred to as Olúwobú in his oríkì.

101 Some of the traditions actually claim that it was founded by one Ǫba Àyàbá. See Berge, J.A. Etude sur le pays Mahi, pp. 725-732; and Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 76. Dunglas, E. Contribution à l’histoire du moyen-Dahomey. ED. (1957). Égbákòkóú N d’octobre 1975.

102 Oral interviews: Bara Georgewin (100+), Bara Maurice (85+), Bocco Joseph (80+), Ęsępá, Dassa-Zoumé, 15/9/78; Ìdòyún Jacob (80+), Ìsàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 19/9/78; Àlàgbé Idoyen, Ìsògún, Dassa-Zoumé, 18/9/78.

103 Oral interview: Ìdòyún Jacob (80+), Ìsàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 19/9/78.

104 Both live together in the Ìsàlú quarter of Dassa-Zoumé but have different lineage-heads.

105 Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple, p. 5.

106 Oral interviews: The Bàbá Ìlú of Dírin, 3/7/78; Adégbolá Oyèluyì (60+), 4/7/78; and Alanwa Bámgbósé, 2/10/78; Ìlίkίmu, Onídòfa E. Ajíbádé and chiefs, Ìdòfà, 14/3/78.

107 Oral interviews: Àgàn Jagunde (100+), 8/7/78 and Ipò Pascal (60+,) 3/7/78, Dírin.

108 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 15-16.

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 2. Some pre-dynastic settlements in western Yorùbáland с.1500 A. D.
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