Version classiqueVersion mobile

The Frontier States of Western Yorubaland

 | 
Biodun Adediran

1. Western Yorùbáland: The Land and the People

Texte intégral

INTRODUCTION

  • 1 Shaw, T. The pre-history of West Africa. In: Àjàyí, J.F.A. and Crowder, M. (eds.) History of West (...)

1In West Africa, as elsewhere in the world, ethnic boundaries are not easy to fix. Constant population expansion and the resultant socio-cultural contacts among different ethnic groups often frustrate such attempts; and it becomes difficult to decide where one ethnic group begins and where another ends. This problem is particularly difficult in a ‘frontier zone’ where two or more ethnic groups overlap and where inter-ethnic contacts over a fairly long time have blurred the ethnic differences among them.1 Such a frontier zone may be regarded as a ‘unit’ of its own in the sense that the cultural characteristics that it exhibits make it a ‘hybrid’, difficult to classify with any of the parent ethnic groups.

  • 2 Mercier, P. Cartes Ethno-démographiques de l'Ouest Africain 5. IFAN, Dakar (1954) pp. 18-21; Akínj (...)
  • 3 The only exception in this regard are the Akan who are matrilineal. See Manoukian, M. Akan and Ga- (...)
  • 4 Greenberg, J.H. The Languages of Africa. Indiana University, Bloomington (1963) p. 3.
  • 5 Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and its Neighbours, p. 11.

2A large area of West Africa between the Niger Delta in the east and the Volta in the west forms a single cultural region.2 Apart from the fact that the area is a geographical entity, there is a remarkable degree of cultural affinity among the peoples. All the peoples share important social traits such as respect for age, patrilineal descent,3 age grades and family organization. The languages are closely related, most of them being classified under the ‘Kwa’ sub-group of the Niger-Congo family of languages.4 Furthermore, there are agelong traditions of interactions among the peoples.5 It is therefore not possible to isolate or excise one ethnic group from the others because all the groups are intricately and continually intermixing. Thus, although this study is primarily concerned with one ethnic group, the Yorùbá, the area it covers is a zone of contact between three large groups, the Aja, the Ìbààbá (Borgu) and the In order to understand the discussions clearly, it is necessary to identify each ethnic group and to examine the nature of the Yorùbá in this frontier zone which is designated as western Yorùbáland.

THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

  • 6 cf. Aşíwájú, A.I. Western Yorùbáland Under European Ride 1889-1845: A Comparative Analysis of Fren (...)
  • 7 Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement Yorùbá Dahomey-Togo.ED 4 (1950) pp. 29-40; Parrinder, E.G. Th (...)
  • 8 Forde, D. The Yorùbá-speaking Peoples of South-Western Nigeria. London (1951) pp. 1-2; Mercier, P. (...)
  • 9 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire des populations Yoruba du Dahomey et du moyen Togo. Thèse de 3è (...)

3Western Yorùbáland stretches from the south-western frontier of modern Nigeria across the Republic of Benin to central Togo. In a geographical context, it extends from the Òyán (a tributary of the Ògùn River) westwards to the basin of the river Mono6 which, as some scholars have argued, can be taken as the western boundary of Yorùbáland.7 From the Atlantic Ocean in the south, the region extends to latitude 9° north where it merges with Borgu.8 From a coastal belt just north of the intricate system of lagoons which surround the town of Porto Novo, western Yorùbáland extends northwards towards a depression which runs from west to east. North of this depression, the land rises gently, with hills shooting out in clusters varying from 350 metres high in the northeast to about 460 metres in the central region around Dassa-Zoumé. In some places such as Àgbàssà, Kábua and Ilé-Şábę (Savè) which are hilly regions, the importance of the hills is borne out by the fact that they are regarded as major local deities; in Ilé-Şábę they are actually referred to as Ìná (mother).9

4The drainage follows the topography, with the rivers flowing southwards. The most important rivers are the Òyán, Òpárá, Ouémé (Òfè), Zou and Mono. All these rivers, with their tributaries, provide good drainage for the region. There is no evidence to suggest that any of the rivers was used for extensive navigational purposes, but none of them is large enough to prevent inter-regional contact and communication. They are just of moderate size. In the dry season, which comes up annually from about October and lasts till the following April, they are considerably reduced in volume and can easily be forded.

  • 10 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 38-42; especially table on p. 40.
  • 11 Ibid., p. 155 ff.
  • 12 Dalzel, A. The History of Dahomey, pp. iii-v; see also various extracts in Verger, P. Trade Relati (...)

5The vegetation varies with the landscape. In the southern section, there are patches of rain forest which quickly merge into woodland savanna north of the depression mentioned earlier. Except for the marshy depression which is forested all the year round, the vegetation of western Yorùbáland can be rightly classified under the derived savanna type. However, thick forests exist alongside the rivers. The climatic variation offers an opportunity for the cultivation of a variety of crops. Maize is probably the most widely cultivated as it has the advantage of being harvested annually. Cassava, yam, cocoyam and oil palm are also popular crops produced all the year round. Tobacco and cotton are equally popular, especially in the northern section.10 The food crops are supplemented by beans, pepper and other garden vegetables, as well as by livestock; mostly fowls, goats and cattle.11 The production of most of these agricultural products has a tradition that dates back many centuries. Early European travellers were attracted to the West African coast by the prospect of trade in a variety of commodities such as pepper and palm oil. Eighteenth century European traders were later to report an abundance of crops including maize, beans, yams, sugar cane, tobacco, etc., and of animals such as sheep, goats, cattle and pigs12 in western Yorùbá country.

THE INHABITANTS

6The geography of western Yorùbáland has been conducive to human habitation. The possibility of the cultivation of a variety of crops and the wealth of excellent fishing provided by the rivers made the region attractive to many ambitious immigrants. Furthermore, the rugged northern topography and the marshy southern section provided adequate places of refuge for those fleeing from enemies. A major factor that led to the foundation of most settlements in the region, as borne out in the oral traditions, was the desire for safety. It is no surprise therefore that the region was inhabited by more than one ethnic group.

7The three major ethnic groups that inhabit western Yorùbáland share a number of cultural features. Though in some areas, cultural distinctions are blurred, the social interaction did not lead to the extinction of all the peculiar characteristics of each ethnic group; to some extent, each retained its distinct identity. This has made it possible to distinguish the Yorùbá from the Aja and the Ìbààbá ethnic groups.

  • 13 Manoukian, M. The Ewe-speaking People of Togoland and the Gold Coast. London (1952). See the argum (...)
  • 14 Information received from M. Tijani Serpos (70+)> Foun-Foun, Porto-Novo, 8/8/78.

8The Aja live principally in the region between the Ouémé and the Volta rivers, south of latitude 9° north. They speak dialects of the same language and share a strong belief in the tradition that their ruling classes have a common origin in Tado, a small town on the western bank of the Mono river. Within the large Aja group can be identified smaller sub-groups like the Fon of Dahomey, Mahi of Savalou, Ègùn of Porto Novo and the Pòpó on the coast of the Republics of Benin and Togo.13 The Yorùbá refer to all these subgroups collectively as Ègùn or Fon but recognize that there are different sub-groups. Thus they refer to Ègùn-Mahi, Ègùn-Abomey (Fon), Ègùn-Ajàşé (Porto Novo) and Ègùn-Pópo.14

  • 15 Akínjógbín., I.A. Dahomey and its Neighbours; Idem. The expansion of Oand the rise of Dahomey, (...)
  • 16 Bertho, R.P. Parenté de la langue Yoruba du Nigéria du sud et la langue Aja de la région côtière d (...)

9Evidence indicates that there have been noticeable contacts between the Aja and the Yorùbá since the 17th century.15 However, attempts made by some scholars to use folk etymologies of Aja place-names and traditions of migrations to assume a common origin for the two ethnic groups16 require a more comprehensive analysis of linguistic and ethnographic data to be convincing.

  • 17 The term, îbààbâ, used by the forms the basis for the administrative term, Bariba. Another adminis (...)
  • 18 See for instance, a tradition of the foundation of the Yorùbá kingdom of Òyó and the aid given by (...)
  • 19 Stephens, P. The Kisra Legend and the distortion of historical truth. JAH 16: ii (1975) pp. 185-20 (...)

10The Ìbààbá17 (Borgu) also have traditions of age-long interaction with the Yorùbá, especially those in the north-west. They live principally west of the longitude 0°30‛ and between the 9° north and 12° north parallel. They look upon Bussa in modern Nigeria as the immediate source of their dispersal. The traditions of their origins indicate that at the time they came in contact with the Yorùbá they had evolved clearly defined political structures and had organized themselves into kingdoms.18 Attempts in some traditions to rationalize Ìbààbá-Yorubá relations by claiming a common origin for the two through the legendary Kisra have been shown to be recent fabrications.19

11South of Borgu and east of Aja country, begins the area generally referred to as Yorùbáland. From Aja country, Yorùbáland extends eastwards till it merges with the country of the Edo, another ethnic group closely related to theYorùbá.

12Three crucial determinants often used to distinguish the Yorùbá from their neighbours are: the Yorùbá language; the tradition of ancestral migrations from I1é-If in western Nigeria; and the belief, among most of their rulers, in a common descent from Odùduwà — their culture-hero.

  • 20 See Mercier, P. Cartes Ethno-demographiques, p. 10; Aşíwájú, A.I. The Aja-speaking peoples, pp. 16 (...)

13The frontiers defined above were, of course, unstable both politically and ethnically. No hard and fast line can be drawn to indicate the boundary between the Yorùbá and the Aja or the Ìbààbá.20 For instance, several settlements which linguistically and culturally belong to the Aja group can be found to the east of the Ouémé, in the area designated as Yorùbá country. Similarly, clearly recognizable ‘enclaves’ of the Yorùbá can be found deep within the Borgu territory, west of the Ouémé River, in the heart of what has been described as Ajaland.

  • 21 Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte des Orisa et Vodun à Bahia, la Baie de Tous les Saints au Brésil et (...)

14The Yorùbá, who were the most numerous and most extensive of the groups, formed the dominant culture. The most widely spoken language in the area is Yorùbá and most of the religious beliefs in the region originated from major Yorubd settlements especially 116-Ifę and Òyq- For instance, in the cult of Òrìşà called Vodun by the Fon, prayers are recited in Yorùbá, despite the fact that the worshippers are non-Yorùbá speaking. Similarly, the Ifá (divination) cult, in whatever form it is found among these peoples, shows traces of Yorùbá influence.21

  • 22 See for instance Fádípè, N.A. The Sociology of the Yorùbá. Ìbàdàn (1970); Forde, D. The Yorùbá-spe (...)
  • 23 Ellis, A.B. The Yorùbá-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa. London Curzon (Reprinte (...)

15Though the Yorùbá form a homogeneous cultural group, there are variations in local customs over the wide area of Yorùbáland.22 In this respect, many sub-ethnic units with peculiar local customs and dialects have been identified as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century.23 The major ones include the Yàgbà, Èkìtì, Ìgbómìnà, Ìjèşà, Ifę and Òndó in the east; the Òyó, Ègbá, Òwu, Ègbádò and Ìjèbú in the centre; and within western Yorùbáland, the Şábę, Kétu, Ìdáìşà, Işa, Ánà (also called Ifè), Mànígrí and Ánàgó.

  • 24 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 15-25.
  • 25 Adétùgbó, A. The Yorùbá language in Yorùbá history. In: Bíòbákú, S.O. (ed.) Sources of Yorùbá Hist (...)
  • 26 See excerpts from some 16lh and 17th century accounts. In: Biòbàkú, S.O. (ed.) Sources of Yorùbá H (...)

16The exact period when the differentiation into sub-ethnic units occurred is not certain; nor do we have a clear idea of the process involved. The Yorùbá believe that the process could be dated to the earliest period of their history when the various units migrated from Ilé-Ifè) to the different localities which they now occupy.24 Evidence from linguistic studies suggests that the process was a continuous one and that the various dialects (and presumably the sub-groups) emerged at different times.25 What is certain is that by the sixteenth century, some of the sub-groups, particularly the Ìjèbú and the Òyó, were already identifiable, since they are mentioned in early European accounts.26

  • 27 Òjó, G. J. A. Yorùbá Culture, pp. 17-20; Anene, J.C. The International Boundaries of Nigeria 1835- (...)
  • 28 Law, R. C. C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 14-16.
  • 29 Koelle, S.W. Polyglotta Africana: Or a Comparative Vocabulary of Nearly 300 Words and Phrases in M (...)

17The sub-ethnic differentiation among the Yorùbá has led to some scepticism about the ethnic cohesion of the sub-groups especially with regard to those in the western and eastern extremities.27 It has, in fact, been argued that the consciousness of forming an ethnic group was absent among the various sub-groups and that in pre-colonial times, the tendency was for each sub-group to emphasize its own separate identity.28 Similarly, it has been argued that until the second half of the nineteenth century, when Christian missionaries put the Yorùbá language into writing, there was no collective name for all the sub-groups.29

  • 30 This is fully discussed in Adédìran, 'Bíódún. Yorùbá ethnic groups or a Yorùbá ethnic group ? A re (...)

18There are pieces of evidence which suggest that the various subgroups were known by many collective terms of which the name ‘Yorùbá’ was one.30 Other collective terms such as ‘Ànàgó’ and Olùkùmi were used among the western and eastern neighbours of the Yorùbá before the nineteenth century. Although up to the middle of the nineteenth century, the term, ‘Yorùbá’, was not popular, there are indications that it was already in use by the turn of the century. In the context in which the term first came to us, it appears to have had, originally, a wide applicability, being the term which the Hausa used for various Yorùbá sub-groups.

  • 31 Fádípè, N. A. The Sociology of the Yorùbá, p. 6; Forde, D. The Yorùbá-Speaking Peoples, p. 1; Bíòb (...)

19If allowances are made for normal local variations as a result of adaptations to environment and peculiar historical experiences, it is possible to see beyond the façade of differences that the social and political customs of the Yorùbá share a basic concept. Those who emphasize the linguistic unity among the sub-groups.31 have not overstated the case. Though the degree of mutual intelligibility of the dialects tends to decrease as the distance between sub-groups increases, all the dialects are basically the same and can be recognized as such. Furthermore, the predominance of the Òyó dialect over a fairly wide region lessened the dialectal differences and provided a common medium of expression used in commercial and other affairs involving different sub-groups.

  • 32 See for instance Snelgrave, W. A New and Accurate Account of Some Parts of the Guinea and the Slav (...)
  • 33 William Bosman, quoted in Verger, P. Trade Relations, p. 106.

20Early European visitors to West Africa, especially that part which later acquired a notoriety for its thriving trade in human cargo, remarked that the language of commerce was Olùkùmi. The location of the country of the people who speak the language in the heart of Yorùbáland32 makes it clear beyond doubt that the term Olùkùmi and its eighteenth century variants: Ulcumy, Lukumi, Ulkama, etc., refer to the Yorùbá language. William Bosman, one of the infamous slave traders of the eighteenth century observed that though the Lukumi language was the lingua franca on the coast of the modern Republic of Benin, it was not indigenous to the area because it was only adopted by the coastal peoples ‘n preference to their mother tongue’33.

21Thus, in spite of the numerical strength and geographical spread of Yorùbá-speakers on the coast of West Africa, the language has long been the major criterion for distinguishing the Yorùbá from other ethnic groups. In spite of dialectal and social variations, the Yorùbá form a single cultural group from the point of view of a common language and a sense of common history.

  • 34 Some of the traditions about Ilé-Ifè as the ancestral home of the Yorùbá are in Ìdòwú, Bólájí. Oló (...)
  • 35 cf. Qbáyęmí, A. Ancient Ifè: Another culture historical re-interpretation. JHSN 9: iv (1979) pp. 1 (...)
  • 36 See different extracts in Hodgkin, T. Nigerian Perspectives: An Historical Anthology. Oxford (1975 (...)
  • 37 Hallett, Robin (ed.) The Niger Journal of Richard and John Lander. Routledge, London (1965) pp. 88 (...)

22This sense of common history revolves around the notion of Ilé-Ifè as the centre where Yorùbá culture first crystallized, and the nucleus from which the salient aspects of Yorùbá civilization spread to all parts of the region now called Yorubaland.34 This consciousness was not just a nineteenth century development,35 nor was it confined to a small part of Yorùbáland. There were references by early European visitors on the coast of Benin to an interior city which was most probably the Ilé-Ifè of the traditions.36 Accounts collected from as far west as Atakpamé in modern Togo,37 buttress the suggestion that reference to Ilé-Ifè represents the Yorùbá way of expressing their consciousness of forming a distinct ethnic group. However, until some concrete data is available, the development of this consciousness and its significance in intra-ethnic relations will have to remain speculative.

23Nevertheless, it is certain that the development of cultural traits had some relevance to environmental conditions; the diversification in cultural characteristics among the Yorùbá can therefore be explained in terms of local adaptations necessitated by the diversity of the physical geography of their country.

24The geographical nature of western Yorùbáland allows for local adaptations in the way of life of the inhabitants. Its peculiar location in a frontier zone where three large ethnic groups overlap further intensified the process of sub-ethnic differentiation.

THE WESTERN YORÙBÁ SUB-GROUPS

  • 38 Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement Yorùbá, p. 29.
  • 39 For instance, the Şábę are referred to as ‘les gens de Şábę’ or the Ànàgó of Şábę to distinguish t (...)

25Administratively, the western Yorùbá are designated as ‘Nágó’, a term which apparently derived from the Fon38 and which was synonymous with the name ‘Yorùbá’. In spite of the use of this collective name, the various sub-groups of the Aja as well as the Ìbààbá have always recognized the sub-ethnic differentiation among the western Yorùbá39 Thus, each of the sub-groups was and is regarded as a distinct unit which occupies a particular geographical region, has some peculiar social customs and was in pre-colonial times organized into a distinct political unit with some measure of independence from the others.

26The Şábę, Kétu and Ànàgó form tightly packed clusters astride the Nigeria-Benin border and form a continuous stream with the subgroups within Nigeria. Four other sub-groups, the Áná, Işà, Mànìgrì and Ìdáìşá are separated from the main Yorùbá stream by an upthrust of the Aja people northwards from the region of Porto Novo.

  • 40 An administrative district in the Republic of Bénin is the equivalent of a local government area i (...)
  • 41 Anene, J. C. The International Boundaries of Nigeria, p. 187.
  • 42 See Lombard, J. Structure du Type 'Féodal' en Afrique Noire, p. 41.
  • 43 Personal communication with Professor Pierre Verger.

27The area that can be referred to as Şábęland extends from the Òyán river westwards to the Ouémé. This region covers the administrative districts40 of Şábę, Wèşè, Kìlìbó and Saworo in the Republic of Benin and extends to present-day Òyó-north and Ègbádó-Kétu region in modern Nigeria. However, it is not only in Sábęland that the Şábę can be found. There are large Şábę groups in urban centres like Cotonou, Abomey, Porto Novo and Paraku in addition to a sizeable number of Şábę refugees in the Kétu and Ànàgó regions of Benin, and the Òyó, Ègbádó and Lagos areas of Nigeria.41 The Mókólé, a small group of mixed Ìbáábà and Yorùbá elements around the Ìbààbá town of Nikki had and still have close affinity with the Şábę, and are at times included in the sub-group.42 In addition, there is some reason to believe that the Şábę form a sizeable proportion of the Yorùbá in diaspora.43

  • 44 See Palau-Marti, M. Notes sur les noms et les lignages. JAH 38: i (1968) pp. 59-68. All these non- (...)
  • 45 Aşíwájú, A. I. A note on the history of Şábę, p. 20; cf Palau-Marti. Le nom et la personne chez le (...)

28The Şábę are one of the most exposed of the western Yorùbá groups to non-Yorùbá influences, especially from Borgu. Their territory is inhabited by the Mahi, Fulani and Ìbààbá,44 in addition to the Yorùbá. Attention can be drawn to the Ìbààbá system of naming adopted in Şábę, by which children are given specific names according to the order in which they are born.45

  • 46 Information first received from Dr. Ògúnsola Igué and confirmed during fieldwork.

29Further indication of Ìbààbá-Şábę interaction is a social practice called gònnèşí by the Ìbààbá and described as Qdún Ìyá (Mother’s festival) by the Şábę. It is a reciprocal practice in which an Ìbààbá asks for any object or service of his choice from a Şábę and the latter has no option but to oblige. The Şábę enjoy similar privileges in Borgu.46

  • 47 Aşíwájú, A. I. Western Yorùbáland, pp. 141-144.

30Like the Şábę, substantial groups of Kétu immigrants can be found scattered all over the Republic of Bénin and south-western Nigeria.47 However, the area that can be referred to as Kétuland coincides, roughly with the administrative district of Kétu in the Republic of Bénin, and, in Nigeria, with the Ègbádò-Kétu area of Ògùn State. It is thus south-east of the Şábę territory and east of the Ouémé River.

  • 48 Parrinder, E. G. The Story of Kétu, p.35 ff.
  • 49 Bowen, T. J. Adventures and Missionary Labours in Several Countries in the Interior of Africa from (...)
  • 50 See Diewal, H. Gèlèdè dance of the western Yorùbá. African Arts 8: ii (1975) pp. 36-45, 78-79. On (...)

31From the eighteenth century, the Kétu began to feature in European accounts because of the bellicose policy of the Fon of Dahomey towards them.48 In the nineteenth century, they became well-known for their remarkable crafts, which included images made of wood and other works in lead, brass and iron.49 Among the western Yorùbá and in the adjoining Ègbádò territory, gèlèdé, a form of social entertainment similar to the egúngún of the Òyó-Yorùbá is popular among the Kétu.50

  • 51 Igué, O.J. and Yáì, O. The Yorùbá-speaking people, p. 17; Igué and Yáì suggest that the Anago are (...)

32The Ànàgó territory extends from the Kétu region southwards to the coast,51 coinciding with the administrative districts of Ìpòbé (Pobe), Ìpínlè, (Ikpinle), Ìtàkété (Sakete) and Ìfònyìn, and extending to the Ègbádò south region of Nigeria.

  • 52 The Òhòrí-Ìjè itself is an agglomeration of eighteen villages: Ìsàbà, Ìsàgbá, Ìpòsé, Ìsèdé, Ìwòyè, (...)
  • 53 For some of the traditions, see Foláyan, Kólá. Ègbádò to 1834: The birth of a dilemma. JHSN4:i (19 (...)
  • 54 Ibid., pp. 4-24; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 114-118; Igué, O. J. and Yáì, O. The Yorùbá-speak (...)

33The Ànàgó was not a cohesive group like the other groups in western Yorùbáland. It was made up of at least seven major subsections: the Òhòrí-Ìjè,52 Wérè, Ìtàkétè, Ìfònyìn, Òhúmbó, Ìkólájé and Ìpókíá. Each of these has independent traditions of origin,53 peculiar customs and, in pre-colonial times, possessed a measure of political autonomy from the others. This measure of local autonomy which became very strong in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is the basis for the misconception that each sub-section was a distinct sub-group in itself. In spite of slight variations in customs and dialects, the seven sub-sections of the Ànàgó are ethnically, linguistically and historically the same.54

Figure 1. Western Yorùbáland: Sub-ethnic divisions c. 1889

  • 55 Igué, O. J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 13-20; Idem. Quelques aspects du peuplement et des popula (...)

34The Áná, found principally in the basin of the Mono river in central Togo, are the most westerly sub-group of the Yorùbá The Işà occupy a territory just north of the And between the Mono and the Ouémé and cognate with that of the Mànígrì which extends further northwards. Lying south-west of the Şábę country and northwest of Kétu between the Zou and the Ouémé rivers is the territory of the Ìdáìşà. It coincides roughly with the administrative district of Dassa-Zoumé. These sub-groups, though in the midst of non-Yorùbá groups, are easily recognizable as being of the same ethnic background as the Yorùbá to the east.55

TRADITIONS, RELIGION AND CUSTOMS

35Although the western Yorùbá sub-groups drew substantially from neighbouring non Yorùbá cultures, they have not lost their original identity and it is not anachronistic to refer to them as Yorùbá. While they are aware that slight differences exist between the customs of one sub-group and the others, they recognize that all of them belong to the same ethnic group, collectively distinct from the Aja and the Ìbààbá.

  • 56 See Igué, O. J. Quelques aspects, p. 90.

36Each of the sub-groups has well authenticated traditions linking it with the mainstream Yorùbá in Nigeria. One of these is the belief that their ancestral origin is from Ilé-Ifè and migrations from that cradle were made either directly or through some early centres of Yorùbá civilization like Òyó and Benin. It is in fact this reference to Ilé-Ifè that Ògúnsólá Igué uses as the major criterion for distinguishing the Yorùbá from non-Yorùbá groups in the Republic of Bénin.56

  • 57 Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte des Orisa et Vodun, pp. 144, 271-282.

37Popular Yorùbá deities like Odùduwà, Ògún and Şàngó are to be found all over western Yorùbáland in addition to the local ones. Some of these deities were introduced as recently as the eighteenth century, not directly from Ilé-Ifè, but from other central Yorùbá towns especially Òyó-Ilé. In fact, in the pantheon of the Áná, Işà, Mànígrí and Ìdáìşà, common Yorùbá deities like Qbàtálá and Odùduwà are absent, the most prominent deity being Nàná Bùrùkúù. Although this deity is little known in other parts of Yorùbáland, there are indications that it is a local adaptation of another deity, Şànpànná57.

  • 58 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 104-109.
  • 59 Parrinder, E. G. The Yorùbá-speaking peoples in Dahomey, pp. 126-127.

38A noticeable aspect of Yorùbá social customs which remains visible is that of facial scarification. The characteristic facial marks are the three long vertical strokes, or the three short horizontal strokes on three or four short vertical strokes called pélé and àbàjà respectively.58 There are variants of these two types and it is not impossible to identify the sub-group to which a bearer belongs simply by looking at the way the marks are made. Among the Ànàgó, and the Kétu, evidence of Aja influence is to be seen in the adoption of two short vertical strokes at the temple and forehead in addition to the pélé or àbàjà. Apart from the two popular types of facial marks, there is the long vertical stroke on each cheek characteristically called Ondó marks by the Yorùbá in Nigeria and called màlé by the local indigenes. This type is seen mainly among the Áná, Işà and Ìdáìşà59 as well as a few Şábę lineages which have ancestral links with these sub-groups.

39In spite of the influence of their non-Yorùbá neighbours on naming customs, the western Yorùbá still preserve the naming, marriage and burial customs characteristic of the Yorùbá. Among the Şábę and Ìdáìşà, the Ìbààbá and Mahi naming systems are adopted, in addition to the Yorùbá system, and all children are given common Yorùbá names as well as oríkí (praise-names) at birth.

DIALECT VARIATIONS

40The most common binding feature in western Yorùbáland is the language. The Yorùbá language has always been the mother tongue of the seven sub-groups. Generally, the dialectal groups correlate with the sub-ethnic groupings. One sub-group can conveniently be distinguished from the other on the basis of dialect.

41Within each sub-group, the dialect is used for inter-personal communication in all spheres of social life. In some cases, slight differences may occur in the dialect of one settlement and those of others within the same sub-group. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable in areas where the Yorùbá overlap with non-Yorùbá speaking peoples.

  • 60 See Adétùgbó, A. The Yorùbá language in Yorùbá history, pp. 192-193.
  • 61 To a Yorùbá who speaks the ‘standard’ Yorùbá dialect in Nigeria, the degree of intelligibility is (...)
  • 62 This writer is from this area and this certainly affects his perception of the dialectal variation (...)

42Adétùgbó suggests that this phenomenon may be due to the relative antiquity of the Yorùbá dialect in the area.60 But a majority of the western Yorùbá are bilingual, having equal mastery of their own dialect and of the neighbouring non-Yorùbá language. Even untrained observers will notice that a wide range of words borrowed from the neighbouring non-Yorùbá languages appear frequently in the dialects of the western Yorùbá The frequency of loan words varies from one locality to the other, generally increasing towards the west and the north where interaction with non-Yorùbá peoples is very intense.61 This has resulted in variations in some of the dialects. The tendency is for a dialect to become less intelligible to a man from the Òyó-Yorùbá area of Nigeria the farther north and west he goes.62

  • 63 Oral interviews: Pa Yáì Àdìmí (70+), Jagun, Kílígó, 5/9/78; Pa Biau Ezekiel (95+), Òkè-Olú, Kabua, (...)

43Among the Şábę, variations of the dialect are identifiable in accordance with the frequency of Ìbààbá loan-words.63 However, in the majority of the Şábę settlements, people speak what may be called (for want of a better term), Şábę proper. This is spoken in the core area of Şábęland and in the eastern settlements bordering on metropolitan Òyó Within this area, a man from the Onkó district of old Òyó was not likely to find much difficulty in communicating, for the variant is basically similar to the Onkó dialect. Then, there is the northern variant, spoken north of the town of Kìlìbó. This variant contains a remarkable dosage of Ìbààbá loan-words; the frequency of which appears to increase northwards. On the western periphery are settlements bordering on Mahi territory whose inhabitants are generally bilingual in Mahi and Yorùbá.

  • 64 Oral interviews: Mr. F. O. Babátúndé (50+), Ìmèko, 22/3/78; Ǫba A. Adétutù, the Alákétu and his ch (...)
  • 65 Thus, for the Òyó-Yorùbá Béèni (yes), there are among the Ànàgó: Wèèni (Ìpòbé), Béèle (Ìtákété), B (...)

44Similarly, one can discern among the Kétu sub-group three major variants: the Kétu proper, the Òhòrí-Kétu and the Ègbádò-Kétu spoken in the core, southern and western areas of Kétuland respectively.64 Among the Ànàgó, this phenomenon reaches a very high degree with almost every settlement speaking what can be called a distinct sub-dialect.65 Among the Áná, Işà and Ídáìşà, the local dialects borrow heavily from the Mahi dialect of the Aja language. In these cases, Yorùbá words are pronounced with non-Yorùbá accents, making them audibly foreign to the Òyó-Yorùbá listener. In spite of the dialectal variations noted above, all the western Yorùbá dialects are genetically more closely related to one another and to other Yorubd dialects than to any of the neighbouring Aja or Borgu dialects.

POLITICAL SYSTEMS

  • 66 Fádípè, N.A. The Sociology of the Yorùbá, p. 199, divided Yorùbá political systems into four types (...)

45Although the western Yorùbá sub-groups never formed a single political unit, political organization was akin to the models in central and eastern Yorùbáland. Their political organization was hierarchical in nature with the patrilineally biased lineage at the base. However, as in other parts of Yorùbáland, the degree of political centralization varied among the seven sub-groups.66

46In the Yorùbá conception, the highest degree of political centralization is that of a kingdom, a sovereign state, headed by an Ǫba (king) whose right to political authority was symbolized by the exclusive use of crowns with beaded fringes (adé ìlèkè), beaded staff (Qpá ìlèkè), fly whisks with beaded handles (ìrùkèrè) and in some cases beaded gowns (éwù ìlèkè). The use of all these paraphernalia of office, especially the adé ìlèkè, was restricted to rulers with acceptable claims with Odùduwà, the legendary source of political authority among the Yorùbá.

  • 67 See Òjó, G. J. A. Yorùbá Palaces: A Study of Àfins of Yorùbáland. London (1966).
  • 68 cf. Akánjógbìn's Ebí social theory. Akínjógbìn, I. A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 14-17.

47A typical Yorùbá kingdom was made up of many towns and villages of varying sizes. One of these was the capital town which was the hub of the political and economic activities of the people as well as the seat of the Ǫba, who resided in a secluded residence called Ààfin (palace).67 It is at times not easy to distinguish the capital town from the others on the basis of size or population. In most cases, the capital town had the same name as the name of the kingdom and the group name of the inhabitants. However, the capital town often had the prefix or suffix Ilé (home) or other terms such as Òde, Ìpòlé, and Orílé apparently to distinguish it from either of the other two senses of usage. It probably also had a psychological significance, that is, as a way of reminding the people that, however far removed from the capital town they might be, and whatever amount of success or personal wealth an individual might have attained or acquired, the capital town was their spiritual home.68

48Within his territory, the Ǫba, aided by heads of leading lineages who were his principal chiefs, ran affairs. He had autonomy in political and economic matters; he could install his own chiefs and heads of principal settlements or provinces (Baálè); he could declare war as well as make peace; and he could impose economic sanctions.

49It is possible to identify three types of political organizations in western Yorùbáland in pre-colonial times.

  • 69 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 94-96, 238-240; Idem. Quelques aspects, pp. 83-84; Mouléro (...)

50First were the three sub-groups in the north-western extremity: the Áná, Işà and Mànígrí. They did not have any idea of kingship69 and were thus acephalous. Among these sub-groups, the notion of political authority, as expressed in the concept of Odùduwà as the source of political authority, was and is vague. There were no crowned rulers; and Odùduwà is virtually unknown in the local pantheon. The pre-colonial level of political organization was not beyond the village, each settlement regarding itself as autonomous. However, social cohesion within each sub-group was kept by the aid of some religious institutions, and the local chief priest of Nàná Bùrùkúù, in conjunction with a few others, exercised supreme authority. Although at Atakpamé the major Áná settlement, some local leaders attempted to set up something like a royal court of kings, political authority was very weak and despite the pre-eminence of the priests of Nàná Bùrùkúù and Sànpànná, the autonomy of the towns and villages persisted. Similarly, among the Işà where Bánté is the principal settlement, the authority of the priest of Nàná at Pírà appears to be more recognized than that of the local head at Bánté. Among the Mànígrì, some measure of political centralization seemed to have been achieved as there was an olú ìlú (head of settlement) who combined political duties with his ritual roles. But in effect, his position was nominal and the priest of Nàná at Píra retained authority among the people.

  • 70 cf. Similar examples such as the Tallensi of Northern Ghana, the Dogon of Mali and the peoples of (...)
  • 71 See for instance, similar examples in the eastern extremity of Yorùbáland. Forde, D. The Yorùbá-sp (...)

51The inability of the Áná, Işá and Mànígrì sub-groups to form centralized states was not unrelated to their location in hilly regions not conducive to human movement and so a hindrance to large-scale political organizations.70 Indeed, prevailing circumstances in the western extremity of Yorùbáland made political unification of the various settlements difficult. The area bordered on the territories of very powerful states such as the Asante, Fon and Songhai. These states, till the end of the nineteenth century, continually ravaged the region and generated a series of population upheavals which prevented the establishment of nuclear settlements. As none of their powerful neighbours was able to bring the region under its effective control, the Áná, Işà and Mànígrì retained very simple political structures which were apparently characteristic of the pre-kingdom era in Yorúbáland.71

  • 72 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 75-77.
  • 73 Fádípè, N. A. The Sociology of the Yorùbá, p. 199.

52In the second type of political organization, some measure of political centralization existed. In many regards, this type, which Samuel Johnson labelled kinglings,72 was like a kingdom and differed from it mainly in the amount of initiative allowed its political head. Nathaniel Fádípè’s use of the term chiefdom is indeed apt, for, as he noted, it was not a sovereign state but a dependency or constituent unit of a state.73 Although the internal affairs of a chiefdom were the immediate concern of the head chief and his councillors, the activities had to be sanctioned by an external party, usually the head of a sovereign state. Part of the demands on a chiefdom were that the head-chief was required to be present at the court of his overlord during the latter’s important festivals; to furnish contingents to any army which might be raised under the instructions of the sovereign ruler; and to pay regular tributes or levies. The head of such units was known as Baálè.

  • 74 Johnson, S. The History, p. 41; Kényó, E. A, Yorùbá Natural Rulers and Their Origin. Ìbàdàn (1964) (...)

53The privilege of using the title ‘Ǫba’, usually reserved for a sovereign ruler, could be extended to a ruler in this category who belonged to the royal family of a sovereign state who had in some way distinguished himself in the services of his overlord. Such a ruler was allowed the use of ordinary crowns without beaded fringes (adé oríkògbófo) within his area of jurisdiction, especially if such an area were farther away from the metropolis.74

  • 75 Morton-Williams, P. The Ǫyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic Trade, pp. 25-45; Aşíwàjú, A. I. Western Yorùb (...)
  • 76 Amusa Olúbíyì (100+), Òkè-Sòrí quarter, Ìfònyìn, 20/9/78; Fálàná Aríorí (100+), Fùdítì, 12/8/78; G (...)

54In this regard, the use of the term ‘kingdom’ to describe the Ànàgó states in pre-colonial times75 is a misnomer as none of them was sovereign. All the states recognized the political supremacy of the Aláàfin of Ǫyó and looked upon the Alákétu of Kétu as a ‘senior brother’ whose consent on major issues was necessary.76

  • 77 An instance was a land dispute between the Ìfònyìn and the Ǫhòrí-Ìjè which the Alákétu settled, fi (...)
  • 78 Adéye, A. Àwǫn ará Ìjè (unpublished).
  • 79 Morton-Williams, Peter. The Òyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic Trade, pp. 30-31.

55Although the pre-colonial political status of the Alákétu among the Ànàgó is not certain, there were cases in which he intervened in vital political issues such as disputes involving different sub-sections of the Anagd.77 The Ǫhórí-Ìjè had to seek his consent before the installation of their head chief.78 A similar practice obtained among the Ìfònyín where the coronation of the head chief had to be carried out by Kétu officials even though it was the Aláàfin who approved the installation.79

  • 80 Except the Ìpókíá who trace a circuitous route of migration through the Kingdom of Benin. Oral Int (...)

56In fact, none of the Ànàgó crowned heads made any strong claims to being the ultimate political authority in this area of jurisdiction. The privileges of using the title ‘Ǫba’ and of wearing crowns were derived from their traditions of ancestral links with the Òyó royal family. Claims of migration from Ilé-Ifè or direct links with Odùduwà are remarkably weak, and can only be inferred from the accounts of migrations from Òyó.80 Recorded and current traditions of most Ànàgó states, especially the Òhòrí-Ìjè, Ìtàkété Ìfònyìn and Ìkolájé, actually give the impression that they were satellites of the Alààfin deliberately created to give Òyó strong control of the coastal trade.

  • 81 Until the late 19th century, the political head of the Şábę was referred to as Ǫlá.

57The third type of organization was found in the states of the Şábę, Kétu and Ìdáìşà which were sovereign states in pre-colonial times. Each was a territorial unit inhabited by people living within a framework that recognized the political leadership of one man. At the head of each of these sub-groups was an Ǫba elected from among royal families whose claims to ancestral links with Odùduwà and Ilé-Ifè were acceptable within his area of authority. In effect, each of these states was a collection of villages arranged in hierarchical order. Although all the heads were referred to by the common title, Ǫba,81 each had a specific title which identified him as the head of his kingdom. The royal titles Oníşábę and Alákétu, which translated literally mean the owner of Şábę and the owner of Kétu respectively, are suggestive of the regard attached to each of these heads. Among the Ìdáìşà where the royal title was Jagun, the Ǫba was also referred to as Ololú (chief of chiefs).

58Although hereditary within specific lineages, the choice of each of these title-holders was democratic and had to be approved by leading heads of non-royal lineages. With the exception of Ìdáìşà, there are branches of the royal lineages: two in Şábę — Ìfàà and Akínkanjú; five in Kétu — Aláàpíni, Àró, Mágbó, Mèfù and Mèsà. Each Ǫba had and still has a council of advisers: nine Agàànì in Şábę, about seventy Olóyé in Kétu, and ten Òrè-Ǫba in Ìdáìşà.

59Thus, in comparison with the other sub-groups which did not evolve to the level of kingdoms, the Şábę, Kétu and Ìdáìşà had fairly complex political institutions.

  • 82 See for instance, Fǫláyan, K. Ègbádò to 1834: The birth of a dilemma. JHSN4: i (1967) pp. 15-33; A (...)

60Attempts to explain the origins of the different patterns of political organization have relied heavily on the traditions of sub-ethnic migrations.82 The conclusions can be summarized thus: the emigration of each sub-group into western Yorùbáland occurred at different times, and thereafter, there was uneven exposure of each sub-group to cultural influences radiating from Ilé-Ifè. These imply that each of the seven sub-ethnic groups migrated into western Yorùbáland as a composite unit and that their present homelands were originally uninhabited or, if they were inhabited, they were relatively backward before the migrations.

61As will be evident in subsequent chapters, the founding dynasties of the three kingdoms had their origins in some demographic upheavals in the north-central portion of Yorùbáland in the sixteenth century. By the time of their arrival in western Yorùbáland, the region was already inhabited and the process of cultural development from which the various sub-groups emerged had reached an advanced stage.

Notes

1 Shaw, T. The pre-history of West Africa. In: Àjàyí, J.F.A. and Crowder, M. (eds.) History of West Africa, Vol. I. Longman (1985) pp. 33-71.

2 Mercier, P. Cartes Ethno-démographiques de l'Ouest Africain 5. IFAN, Dakar (1954) pp. 18-21; Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 8-14; Idem. Towards a political geography of Yorùbáland. In: Akínjógbìn, LA. and Èkémǫdé, G.O. (eds.) The Proceedings of the Conference on Yorùbá Civilisation. Ilé-Ifè (July 1976) pp.. 19-33; also Aşíwájú, A.I. and Law, R. From the Volta to the Niger, C1600-1800. In: Àjàyí, J.F.A. and Crowder, M. (eds.) History of West Africa, Vol. I. Longman (1985) pp. 412-464.

3 The only exception in this regard are the Akan who are matrilineal. See Manoukian, M. Akan and Ga-Adangme Peoples. London (1950) p. 22.

4 Greenberg, J.H. The Languages of Africa. Indiana University, Bloomington (1963) p. 3.

5 Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and its Neighbours, p. 11.

6 cf. Aşíwájú, A.I. Western Yorùbáland Under European Ride 1889-1845: A Comparative Analysis of French and British Colonialism. Longman (1976) p. 10. Aşíwájú includes the region between the Qyán and the Ògun rivers but excludes the area between the Ouémé and the Mono.

7 Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement Yorùbá Dahomey-Togo.ED 4 (1950) pp. 29-40; Parrinder, E.G. The Yorùbá-speaking people in Dahomey. Africa 17: ii (April 1947) pp. 124-125; Idem. Some western Yorùbá towns. Odù 2 (1955) pp. 29-33.

8 Forde, D. The Yorùbá-speaking Peoples of South-Western Nigeria. London (1951) pp. 1-2; Mercier, P. Cartes Ethno-démographiques, pp. 18-21.

9 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire des populations Yoruba du Dahomey et du moyen Togo. Thèse de 3èmc cycle de Géographie. Paris (1970) pp. 30-33. Oral Interview: Ǫba Adélékè Àkànní (The Oníşábe) and chiefs, Ààfin, Ilé-Şábe, 21/8/78.

10 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 38-42; especially table on p. 40.

11 Ibid., p. 155 ff.

12 Dalzel, A. The History of Dahomey, pp. iii-v; see also various extracts in Verger, P. Trade Relations Between the Bight of Benin and Bahia in the 17th-19th Centuries. Ìbàdàn (1976); also Blake, J.W. European Beginnings in West Africa, 1485-1578. Longman (1937) pp. 79-80; and Wigboldus, J.S. Trade and agriculture in coastal Benin c.1470-1660: An examination of Manning's early growth thesis. A.A.G. Bijdragen 28 (1986) pp. 299-383.

13 Manoukian, M. The Ewe-speaking People of Togoland and the Gold Coast. London (1952). See the arguments on the term Aja in Asiwájú, A.I. The Aja-speaking peoples of Nigeria: A note on their origin, settlement and cultural adaptations up to 1945. Africa 49: i (1979) pp. 15-16.

14 Information received from M. Tijani Serpos (70+)> Foun-Foun, Porto-Novo, 8/8/78.

15 Akínjógbín., I.A. Dahomey and its Neighbours; Idem. The expansion of Oand the rise of Dahomey, 1600-1800. In: Àjàyî, J.F.A. and Crowder, M. (eds.) History of West Africa I, pp. 373-412.

16 Bertho, R.P. Parenté de la langue Yoruba du Nigéria du sud et la langue Aja de la région côtière du Dahomey et Togo. NA 35 (1947) pp. 10-11; Idem. La parenté des Yoruba aux peuplades du Dahomey et du Togo. Africa 19: ii (1949) pp. 121-132.

17 The term, îbààbâ, used by the forms the basis for the administrative term, Bariba. Another administrative term often used is Borgu, which in this work is used only for their country. The îbààbá refer to themselves as Baàtombá (singular Baàtònù). See Lombard, J. Structures de Type 'Féodal' en Afrique Noire: Etudes des Dynamisme s Internes et des Relations Sociales chez les Bariba du Dahomey. Paris (1965) p. 45, especially note 1.

18 See for instance, a tradition of the foundation of the Yorùbá kingdom of Òyó and the aid given by the King of the Ìbààbá in Johnson, S. The History of the Yorùbá from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate. Johnson, O. (ed.) C.M.S., Lagos (1921), pp. 10-11.

19 Stephens, P. The Kisra Legend and the distortion of historical truth. JAH 16: ii (1975) pp. 185-200.

20 See Mercier, P. Cartes Ethno-demographiques, p. 10; Aşíwájú, A.I. The Aja-speaking peoples, pp. 16-18; also Aşíwájú, A.I. and Law. R. From the Volta to the Niger, c. 1600-1800, op. cit.

21 Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte des Orisa et Vodun à Bahia, la Baie de Tous les Saints au Brésil et à l'Ancienne Côte des Esclaves d'Afrique. IFAN, Dakar (1957); Abímbólá, W. The Sixteen Great Poems of Ifá. UNESCO (1975) pp. 37-39; Nukunja, G.K. Afa divination in Anlo: A preliminary report. Research Review 5: i. Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana (1969) pp. 9-26.

22 See for instance Fádípè, N.A. The Sociology of the Yorùbá. Ìbàdàn (1970); Forde, D. The Yorùbá-speaking Peoples; Lloyd, P.C. Agnatic and cognatic descent among the Yorùbá. MAN (ns.) 14 (1966) pp. 484-500.

23 Ellis, A.B. The Yorùbá-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa. London Curzon (Reprinted 1974) pp. 2-3; Ajàyí, J.F. The aftermath of the fall of Old Òyó. In: Ájàyí, J.F.A. and Crowder, M. (eds.) History of West Africa II. Longman (1974) p. 129.

24 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 15-25.

25 Adétùgbó, A. The Yorùbá language in Yorùbá history. In: Bíòbákú, S.O. (ed.) Sources of Yorùbá History, p. 152.

26 See excerpts from some 16lh and 17th century accounts. In: Biòbàkú, S.O. (ed.) Sources of Yorùbá History, pp. 9-11.

27 Òjó, G. J. A. Yorùbá Culture, pp. 17-20; Anene, J.C. The International Boundaries of Nigeria 1835-1860: The Framework of an Emergent African Nation. Longman (1970) p. 146. This is also implied in the title given to Professor Daryll Forde's ethnographic survey on the Yorùbá, The Yorùbá-speaking Peoples.

28 Law, R. C. C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 14-16.

29 Koelle, S.W. Polyglotta Africana: Or a Comparative Vocabulary of Nearly 300 Words and Phrases in More Than One Hundred Distinct African Languages. (First published, 1855) C. M. S. London (1963 edition) p. 5; Àjàyí, J. F. and Smith, R.S. Yoruba Warfare in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge (1971) pp. 1-2; Àtàndá, J. A. The New Óyó Empire: Indirect Rule in Western Nigeria. London (1973) p. 4; Law, R. C. C. The Óyó Empire, pp. 5-7.

30 This is fully discussed in Adédìran, 'Bíódún. Yorùbá ethnic groups or a Yorùbá ethnic group ? A review of the problem of ethnic identification. Africa: Revista do Centra de Estudos Africanos da USP 7 (1984) pp. 57-70.

31 Fádípè, N. A. The Sociology of the Yorùbá, p. 6; Forde, D. The Yorùbá-Speaking Peoples, p. 1; Bíòbákú, S.O. The Origin of the Yorùbá, p. 7; Law, R. C. C. The Óyó Empire, p. 4.

32 See for instance Snelgrave, W. A New and Accurate Account of Some Parts of the Guinea and the Slave Trade, Frank Cass (1967) p. 8. Snelgrave's location of ‘Ukame’ or ‘Ukami’ as distinct from ‘Ioes’ (Óyó) on the map attached to his book indicates that the two terms were not synonymous, cf Law, R.C.C. The Óyó Empire, p. 16; and Morton-Williams, P. The Óyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1670-1830. JHSN 3: i (1964) p. 26.

33 William Bosman, quoted in Verger, P. Trade Relations, p. 106.

34 Some of the traditions about Ilé-Ifè as the ancestral home of the Yorùbá are in Ìdòwú, Bólájí. Olódùmarè: God in Yorùbá Belief. Longman (1962) chs. 2 and 3.

35 cf. Qbáyęmí, A. Ancient Ifè: Another culture historical re-interpretation. JHSN 9: iv (1979) pp. 151-186.

36 See different extracts in Hodgkin, T. Nigerian Perspectives: An Historical Anthology. Oxford (1975) pp. 122 and 124. There is however some controversy on the interpretation of the passages as referring to present Ilé-Ifè. see Ryder, A. A reconsideration of Ifè-Benin relationship. JAH 6: i (1965) pp. 25-37; Akínjógbìn, I.A. Ifè: The home of a new university. Nigeria no. 92 (1967) pp. 40-46; also Abímbólá, W. The literature of Ifá cult. In: Bíòbákú, S.O. (ed.) Sources of Yorùbá History, pp. 54-55.

37 Hallett, Robin (ed.) The Niger Journal of Richard and John Lander. Routledge, London (1965) pp. 88-89; Crowther, S.A. Kétu in the Yorùbá country. In: Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, An Ancient Yorùbá Kingdom. Ìbàdàn (Second edition, 1967) p. 14. Frobenius, Leo. The Voice of Africa; Being an Account of Travels of the German Inner Africa Exploration Expedition in the Years 1910-1912, Volume I. New York (1968) p. 69.

38 Mercier, P. Notice sur le peuplement Yorùbá, p. 29.

39 For instance, the Şábę are referred to as ‘les gens de Şábę’ or the Ànàgó of Şábę to distinguish them from other Yorùbá sub-groups. Oral interview: Yofin Hacojare (100), Toffo, 14/8/78.

40 An administrative district in the Republic of Bénin is the equivalent of a local government area in Nigeria.

41 Anene, J. C. The International Boundaries of Nigeria, p. 187.

42 See Lombard, J. Structure du Type 'Féodal' en Afrique Noire, p. 41.

43 Personal communication with Professor Pierre Verger.

44 See Palau-Marti, M. Notes sur les noms et les lignages. JAH 38: i (1968) pp. 59-68. All these non-Yorùbá groups speak the Şábę dialect, regard themselves as Şábę, and are proud of their adopted identity as borne out by Henry Townsend's recordings on those he met in Ìjàyè in 1855. Townsend CA2/885b quoted in Aşíwájú, A.I. and Igué, O. J. A History of Şábę (MS).

45 Aşíwájú, A. I. A note on the history of Şábę, p. 20; cf Palau-Marti. Le nom et la personne chez les Şábę, (Dahomey). In: La Notion de la Personne en Afrique Noire. CNRS, Paris (1971) p. 322, where the first daughter is referred to as Niyoon, the fourth son as Boni or Dimon and the fifth son as Aga. Similarly, other western Yorùbá sub-groups take Fon, Mahi and Ègùn names.

46 Information first received from Dr. Ògúnsola Igué and confirmed during fieldwork.

47 Aşíwájú, A. I. Western Yorùbáland, pp. 141-144.

48 Parrinder, E. G. The Story of Kétu, p.35 ff.

49 Bowen, T. J. Adventures and Missionary Labours in Several Countries in the Interior of Africa from 1849-1856. New York (1857) p. 144.

50 See Diewal, H. Gèlèdè dance of the western Yorùbá. African Arts 8: ii (1975) pp. 36-45, 78-79. On Egúngún, see Qlájubù, O. and Òjó, J. R. O. Some aspects of Òyó-Yorùbá masquerades. Africa 47: iii (1977) pp. 253-275.

51 Igué, O.J. and Yáì, O. The Yorùbá-speaking people, p. 17; Igué and Yáì suggest that the Anago are the same as the Àwórì. Aşíwájú, A.I. Western Yorùbáland, pp. 11-19; Aşíwájú distinguishes the Òhòrí-Ìjè and Ìfònyìn from the Ànàgó. The position in this study is that the Ànàgó are distinct from the Àwórì, while both the Òhòrí-Ìjè and the Ìfòyìn are part of the Ànàgó.

52 The Òhòrí-Ìjè itself is an agglomeration of eighteen villages: Ìsàbà, Ìsàgbá, Ìpòsé, Ìsèdé, Ìwòyè, Ìsàpó, Ìsàgán, Èdé, Ésèpé, Àsàgú, Ìsòwú, Àìbá, Ìsolò, Ìlésí, Igbó-Èsó, Igbidi, Èwón and Ìsòyìn. Adéye, A. Àwon ará Ìjè (Òhòrí-Ìjè). (Unpublished ms); Oral interviews: S. Qkóya (80+), Rue de la gare, Ipobe, 29/8/78. See also Igue, O. J. L'habitat Holli au Dahomey. ODÙ CNS 14 (July 1976) pp. 89-106.

53 For some of the traditions, see Foláyan, Kólá. Ègbádò to 1834: The birth of a dilemma. JHSN4:i (1967) pp. 15-33.

54 Ibid., pp. 4-24; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 114-118; Igué, O. J. and Yáì, O. The Yorùbá-speaking people, pp. 10, 19-20.

55 Igué, O. J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 13-20; Idem. Quelques aspects du peuplement et des populations Yorùbá en République Populaire du Bénin. In: Akínjógbìn, I.A. and Èkémodé, G.O. (eds.) The Proceedings of the Conference on Yorùbá Civilisation, pp. 83-85.

56 See Igué, O. J. Quelques aspects, p. 90.

57 Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte des Orisa et Vodun, pp. 144, 271-282.

58 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 104-109.

59 Parrinder, E. G. The Yorùbá-speaking peoples in Dahomey, pp. 126-127.

60 See Adétùgbó, A. The Yorùbá language in Yorùbá history, pp. 192-193.

61 To a Yorùbá who speaks the ‘standard’ Yorùbá dialect in Nigeria, the degree of intelligibility is likely to decrease in the following order: Kétu, Şábę, Ànàgó, Ìdáìşà, Mànìgrì/Işà/Ànà.

62 This writer is from this area and this certainly affects his perception of the dialectal variations.

63 Oral interviews: Pa Yáì Àdìmí (70+), Jagun, Kílígó, 5/9/78; Pa Biau Ezekiel (95+), Òkè-Olú, Kabua, 29/8/78; and Pa Aiyédùn Omítókí (100+), Pàákó, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78. See also Igué, O. and Yaï, O. The Yorùbá-speaking people; also discussions with Qlábìyí Yáì.

64 Oral interviews: Mr. F. O. Babátúndé (50+), Ìmèko, 22/3/78; Ǫba A. Adétutù, the Alákétu and his chiefs, Ilé-Kétu, 15/7/78.

65 Thus, for the Òyó-Yorùbá Béèni (yes), there are among the Ànàgó: Wèèni (Ìpòbé), Béèle (Ìtákété), Bééle (Ìfònyìn). A similar circumstance exists in the border areas between Yorùbáland and the Edo country. See Dennett, R. E. Notes on the language of the Efa (people) or the Bini, commonly called Uze Ado. JAS 3 (1903-1904) p. 144.

66 Fádípè, N.A. The Sociology of the Yorùbá, p. 199, divided Yorùbá political systems into four types: Ǫyó Ègbá, Ifè and Ìjèbú.

67 See Òjó, G. J. A. Yorùbá Palaces: A Study of Àfins of Yorùbáland. London (1966).

68 cf. Akánjógbìn's Ebí social theory. Akínjógbìn, I. A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 14-17.

69 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 94-96, 238-240; Idem. Quelques aspects, pp. 83-84; Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende de Banté (unpublished MS); Adotevi, A.K.L. L'Histoire d'Atakpamé (MS). Also oral interviews: Challa Olí Bùkúù (90+), Tàkété, Kàmbólé, 1/8/81; Ògbóni Bákàrè (90+), Àtàfà, Kàmbólé, 2/8/81; Achikiti Kodojori et al., Sètí, Atakpamé, 3/8/81; M. Oudji, Wudu, Atakpamé, 4/8/81; Ògbóne Atche-Akoun, Jama, Atakpamé, 5/8/81.

70 cf. Similar examples such as the Tallensi of Northern Ghana, the Dogon of Mali and the peoples of northern Togo and Central Nigeria. See Goody, J. Technology. Tradition and the State in Africa. Oxford (1974) p. 57.

71 See for instance, similar examples in the eastern extremity of Yorùbáland. Forde, D. The Yorùbá-speaking Peoples, p. 60; Qbáyemí, A. The Yorùbá and Edo-speaking peoples, p. 202.

72 Johnson, S. The History, pp. 75-77.

73 Fádípè, N. A. The Sociology of the Yorùbá, p. 199.

74 Johnson, S. The History, p. 41; Kényó, E. A, Yorùbá Natural Rulers and Their Origin. Ìbàdàn (1964) pp. 23-25. Oral interviews: Ǫba Lamidi Adéyemí and his chiefs, 30/1/78; Ǫba Adégòkè Àdìgún, The Sàbigànna of Ìgànná and his chiefs, 19/2/78; E.A. Kényó, 7/3/78. Usually these lesser kings were provincial governors with many Baálè under their jurisdiction.

75 Morton-Williams, P. The Ǫyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic Trade, pp. 25-45; Aşíwàjú, A. I. Western Yorùbáland, pp. 15-19; Igué, O. and Yáì, O. The Yorùbá-speaking People, pp. 19-20.

76 Amusa Olúbíyì (100+), Òkè-Sòrí quarter, Ìfònyìn, 20/9/78; Fálàná Aríorí (100+), Fùdítì, 12/8/78; Gbadamosi Ógúnjǫbí (90+), Ìdómègbón quarter, Ìyoko, 28/9/78; Alhaji Abibu Mustapha (60+), Dégún quarter, Ìtàkété, 28/9/78; Láyadé Àkán (78+), Àjàwéré, 30/9/78; Táíwò Sègbé (100+), Òkè-Ata quarter, Ìpòbé, 29/8/78.

77 An instance was a land dispute between the Ìfònyìn and the Ǫhòrí-Ìjè which the Alákétu settled, fixing a boundary between the two at Òkè-Ìta near Ìpòbé. Oral interviews: Madam Atòóròmólá Elégbàsán (100+), Òkè-Sòrí, Ìfònyìn, 28/9/78; M. Antoine Adeye (55+), Dassa-Zoumé, 19/9/78.

78 Adéye, A. Àwǫn ará Ìjè (unpublished).

79 Morton-Williams, Peter. The Òyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic Trade, pp. 30-31.

80 Except the Ìpókíá who trace a circuitous route of migration through the Kingdom of Benin. Oral Interview: Ǫba Adéjobí Ìsèpé and his chiefs, Ìpókíá, 15/3/78; see also NAI C. S. O. 26/4, File No. 30375; Ellis, J. H. Intelligence Report on Ipokia Group, 1935.

81 Until the late 19th century, the political head of the Şábę was referred to as Ǫlá.

82 See for instance, Fǫláyan, K. Ègbádò to 1834: The birth of a dilemma. JHSN4: i (1967) pp. 15-33; Aşíwájú, A. I. Western Yorùbáland, pp. 13-19; Igué, O.J. Quelques aspects, pp. 2-6.

Table des illustrations

URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/387/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 26k
Légende Figure 1. Western Yorùbáland: Sub-ethnic divisions c. 1889
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/387/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 274k

© IFRA-Nigeria, 1994

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Cette publication numérique est issue d’un traitement automatique par reconnaissance optique de caractères.
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search