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The Frontier States of Western Yorubaland

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Biodun Adediran

5. Problems of Political Consolidation

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INTRODUCTION

1The states which emerged with the installation of the dynastic groups in western Yorùbáland were different from those of the pre-dynastic era. Territorially, the sphere of influence of each dynastic group was larger than that of the ‘land-owning’ groups and in fact incorporated many ‘landowners’. Although the dynastic groups displaced the land owners, they could not dispossess them of their spiritual powers, particularly over land. As new arrivals, the dynastic groups knew nothing about the mysteries of the land on whose inhabitants they had imposed themselves. Inadvertently, the conflicts which accompanied the arrival of the dynastic groups in western Yorùbáland continued after their successful installation. The monopoly of political power by migrant groups brought reactions from the pre-dynastic lineage groups. The struggles were intensified by internal wrangling within each dynastic group. The chaos resulting from these struggles threatened the continued existence of the newly constituted units. Although the nature of the problems faced varied from one region to the other, the pattern of struggle and the outcome were similar in Kétu, Şábę and Ìdáìşa.

MILITARY CONFRONTATION AND RECONCILIATION IN KÉTU

2The problems faced by the Kétu dynastic group in consolidating its hold were primarily due to the nature of the pre-dynastic settlements which it sought to dominate. Although the dynastic group got over the crisis that accompanied its installation in Ilé-Kétu, it had not successfully integrated its culturally different hosts into its own system. The early kings of Kétu faced many problems in carrying out this task.

  • 1 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 21; see also discussions in ch. 4.
  • 2 Oral interviews: Àgàn Jagunde (100+), Dirin, 8/7/78; Michael Desu (95+), Ajozume, 10/7/78; Hodonu (...)

3It will be recalled that the reaction of the indigenous inhabitants in the Kétu area changed from hospitality to hostility as the dynastic group penetrated westwards in search of a suitable place for settlement; and that at the founding of Ilé-Kétu, there were violent clashes followed by a reconciliation. Some of the indigenous inhabitants migrated from the site in protest against the installation of the dynastic group, while others stayed behind.1 Those who stayed behind were given a free hand in the running of the affairs of their own settlements and were allowed to carry out such rituals and traditions as were characteristic of them. This accounts for the survival of such festivals as Adjahaume and the existence of remnants of these groups in Ilé-Kétu. Although the leadership of the dynastic group was accepted, it was looked upon by the pre-existing groups only as first among equals. In fact, it was regarded as a tenant in the region and depended substantially on the co-operation of the aborigines for the performance of rituals, especially those concerning the mysteries of the earth deity.2 This arrangement was helpful as it won for the dynastic group some peace in which to settle down.

4But the peaceful atmosphere was short-lived. Although, the ‘tenancy clause’ in the agreement convinced the pre-dynastic groups that the newcomers would not present any threat to their own existence and ambitions, the full implications of the foundation of Ilé-Kétu and acceptance of the Ędę, group were not immediately clear to them. It was only when Ędę’s successors began to enjoy the advantages derivable from the arrangement that they realized the extent to which they had given away their rights.

  • 3 Oral interviews: Alákétu Adétutù and chiefs, 15/7/78; Àró Adétúnjí (80+), Máyingbìn, Ilé-Kétu, 22/ (...)

5An early sign of tension appeared after the death of Ędę, when the pre-dynastic groups accused his successor, Alákétu Òkòyí, of breaching the agreements made at the foundation of Ilé-Kétu. Òkòyí, it would appear, believed that he was de facto ruler of all settlements in the vicinity. He was determined to establish the primacy of the dynastic group and put an end to the tenancy agreement with the original inhabitants of the Ilé-Kétu region. Consequently, he interfered directly with the affairs of the pre-dynastic settlements.3 Of course, the pre-dynastic groups protested strongly against the Alákétu’s policies which they considered draconian.

6This was, however, only part of a general climate of mutual suspicion and distrust among the groups in the region. The fundamental cause of the tension was the taking over of parcels of land belonging to members of the pre-dynastic groups. The pre-dynastic heads of settlements believed that 6k6yf encouraged his kinsmen to take over as many parcels of land as they wanted. While this allegation may be exaggerated, it is probable that Òkòyí condoned the activities of his people. Bearing in mind the size of the dynastic group and the poor nature of the soil in the Kétu region, it is not difficult to visualize a situation in which the people spread out and established farmsteads and even villages outside the radius of Ilé-Kétu and on the lands and farms of the pre-dynastic groups in the neighbourhood.

  • 4 Oral interviews: Bognon Benoit (75 +) and Lali Bernard (85+), Pànkú 13/7/78; Hodonu Òkúndé (90+) a (...)

7In such circumstances, an open clash was only a matter of time. The atmosphere was charged; what was needed to bring about a general conflagration was just a slight provocation from either party. The account of what actually happened varies from one source to the other, but there is some consensus on the bare details.4 Afraid of the numerical strength of their guests, the indigenous inhabitants of Ilé-Kétu sought an alliance with other pre-dynastic settlements such as Ęwę and Pánkú. Kétu official traditions allege that the inhabitants of Pánkú were at the head of the alliance. What is certain is that the disgruntled allies entered Ilé-Kétu by passing through Pánkú; thus strengthening suspicions that the Pánkú group was at best neutral towards their non-Yorùbá colleagues.

  • 5 Oral interview: The Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78.
  • 6 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 24-25; Verger, P. Histoire du pays (ms). Oral interviews: A (...)

8The Ilé-Kétu people were taken aback by the turn of events. Initially, the belligerents had the upper hand because of the treachery of the people of Pánkú and the weakness of Òkòyí.5 After the initial embarrassment however, the Ilé-Kétu people rallied, resisted the attack and succeeded in repelling the invaders. In the general stampede, Alákétu Òkòyí escaped to Tóbóló, one of the farmsteads, where he died, ostensibly of shame;6 but was probably murdered. Whichever was the case, such failings as Òkòyí demonstrated, were inconsistent with his position as Alákétu.

9Meanwhile, it became clear to the Ilé-Kétu group that a major cause of the conflict was the displeasure of the aborigines displaced from the site of Ilé-Kétu. It was found that, although they had been forced out, they did not lose the hope of winning back their land; and finding common cause with their colleagues who had stayed behind, they had successfully planned and executed the attack. It was realized that if not checked quickly, the hostility might spread and draw in the major Fon settlements such as Ęwé which had given refuge to some of the displaced aborigines, and whose neutrality in the encounter was very much in doubt.

10Consequently, the Ilé-Kétu people decided to sue for peace with the major Fon settlements in the area and to bring back those dislodged from the site of Ilé-Kétu. Although the details of the settlement are not known, the outcome is dear from a cross section of the accounts. There was a return to the pre-Òkòyí arrangement. Those heads of settlements that had been dislodged by Ędę were reinstated over their settlements and, like those who had stayed behind, were given a free hand in the affairs of their ‘people’. Each settlement was given a measure of autonomy but all still recognized the dynastic group headed by the Alákétu as first among equals.

  • 7 Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, pp. 109-139.

11This reconciliation did not last. Subsequent events indicate that the agreement was breached by Èşù, the next Alákétu. Èşù maltreated members of the pre-dynastic groups and exerted his influence to such an extent that he succeeded in putting all the other settlement heads under him. The wide reference to Èşù as the first Alákétu and the general acceptance among the Kétu themselves that Èşù ‘owns Ilé-Kétu’7 probably indicate the extent to which this Alákétu succeeded in establishing the position of the dynastic group vis-a-vis the pre-dynastic groups.

  • 8 See the interpretation in ch. 3. The name ‘Ęşù’ may in fact be a generic name for the Sóipàsán ele (...)
  • 9 According to the accounts, Ęşù’s family was excluded from those eligible to present candidates to (...)

12It would appear that Alákétu Èşù was from the Sóipásán section of the dynastic group formed at Àró.8 It will be recalled that at Aró, nine royal families had emerged as the dynastic group. The problem of intra-group struggles had been partially solved with the adoption of a rotational system of succession by the collateral branches. It would appear that the Alákétu attempted to abolish the collateral branches of the group and thereby created a row. This earned him an inglorious name and nothing is remembered about him other than a catalogue of cruel activities. His notoriety would appear to have arisen as a result of a desire to establish the supremacy of the Şóipàsán section over the Òyó section in total disregard of the agreements reached before the evacuation of Aró. This contravention of the Òkìtì ìmùlęcovenant was seen as a threat to the existence of the dynastic group. It brought about a squabble within the group, and in the end the Şóipàsán element was displaced9 and the Alákétu title became an exclusive right of the Òyó.

13However, the reign of Alákétu Èşù had such a traumatic effect on the dynastic group that, in spite of the displacement of the Sóipàsán element, Èşù was deified and an official, the Ęlęgbára, was appointed to propitiate his spirit, and continued till colonial times as the principal Kétu official in charge of religious affairs.

14Remnants of the Sóipàsán element are probably the Ìléşín lineage group which, up till the present time, grudgingly accepts the leadership of the Alákétu. The Ìléşín are the custodians of the deity, Èşù. They are also responsible for most of the ceremonies that take place within Ilé-Kétu during the investiture of an Alákétu. In one of these ceremonies, the leader of the group seizes whatever attire the Alákétu-elect has on, gives him new clothes and puts a crown on his head. From then on, it traditionally becomes a taboo for an Ìléşín man to meet the Alákétu or move near the palace. Furthermore, at the demise of the Alákétu, the Ìléşín take possession of the corpse and are again responsible for most of the interment ceremonies.

  • 10 Oral interviews: Adéşína Claver; Àró Adétúnjí; Samuel Adébíyì, Qláibi (80+), Ìlésín, Ilé-Kétu, 28/ (...)

15Ostensibly in return for these services, but apparently as a compensation for the loss of their political rights, the Ìléşín enjoyed many privileges above those of the ordinary Kétu citizens; they could not be enslaved, pawned or punished by the Alákétu. Their section of the town was in effect a state within a state; it was a refuge for all Kétu criminals including those condemned to death.10

16This crisis between the Sóipàsán and Òyó elements was strictly an affair of the dynastic group; but the pre-dynastic groups played an important role in all its phases. From the beginning of the dispute, the pre-dynastic heads who were already enraged by Alákétu Èşù’s policies against them supported the Òyó elements; and it would appear, as some versions of the traditions insist, that some of the pre-dynastic heads should share in the credit for the amicable way in which the crisis was eventually solved.

  • 11 See Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Kings, traditions and chronology, op. cit., for further discussions.

17After the peaceful resolution of the issue, the Òyó branches of the dynastic group reorganized themselves and presumably swore to adhere to the rotational system of succession agreed on at Àró. It is presumable also that there was some measure of good neighbourliness with the pre-dynastic settlements. The next three Alákétu after Èşù: Apánhùn, Dako and Ògo had peaceful reigns. Pierre Verger however records that there was a ‘war’ during the reign of Dako.11 The circumstances under which Dako’s successor ascended the throne indicate that if there was any trouble at all, it was limited in extent and perhaps not more than a petty squabble within the dynastic group. In any case, the general impression created in most versions of available traditions is that the period was peaceful.

  • 12 Oral interviews: Lali Bernard (85+) and Bognon Benoît (75+), Pánkú, 17/7/78.

18The serene atmosphere encouraged the pursuit of gainful economic activities, especially farming, which grew beyond ‘reasonable limits’.12 By the end of Ògo’s reign, the Ilé-Kétu group had converted practically every available piece of land in the vicinity into farms. In this way the Ilé-Kétu inhabitants again incurred the displeasure of the indigenous inhabitants, especially the people of Pánkú. After a series of protests which Ilé-Kétu authorities ignored, the pre-dynastic settlements again attacked Ilé-Kétu.

19For some time, hostility against the Ilé-Kétu group had been mounting in Pánkú. The Pánkú people had never taken kindly to the installation of the dynastic group. The Ilé-Kétu people themselves were suspicious of the neutrality of Pánkú. The victory of the dynastic group during the first attack by the pre-dynastic groups must have convinced them that Ilé-Kétu had to be checked lest it develop into an uncontrollable monster. That the rapid growth of Ilé-Kétu was alarming to Pánkú is confirmed by a tradition, still current in that town, that the people of Kétu ‘felt superior to their hosts’. This certainly implies that the Ilé-Kétu group attempted to extend their political supremacy over Pánkú. All this made the insatiable appetite of the Kétu people for farmlands very disturbing.

  • 13 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 22-24 mixes it up with the earlier attack. Oral interview: (...)

20Once again, as under Alákétu Òkòyí, the Pánkú people formed an alliance of disgruntled pre-dynastic groups and attempted to take Ilé-Kétu by storm. In the event, the palace was destroyed and the reigning Alákétu Àgbó kejì barely escaped to Ìtùyí, one of the new farmsteads.13 After the initial stampede, the Kétu succeeded in pushing the attackers back to Pánkú, though not before they had destroyed a few farms in the vicinity of Ilé-Kétu.

  • 14 Bíòbákú, S.O. The Origin of the Yorùbá, p.15.

21Again a reconciliation took place. A pact was signed and it was agreed that an annual tribute be given to the people of Pánkú as a token of gratitude for the land taken from them. Items in the tribute included among other things, corn wine, a fowl and kola nuts. This aspect of the agreement is still observed at every installation of an Alákétu. Furthermore, the two groups swore to be good neighbours and each one was forbidden to raise or aid an attack on the other. From this episode arose the name Pánkú which literally means ‘kill me and you die’ and the ‘fire-giving episode’ which has been referred to as a good example of a reenactment ceremony.14

  • 15 Oral interviews: The Alákétu and chiefs, 17/8/78; Àgàn Jagunde (100+), Dírin, 3/9/78, Lali Bernard (...)
  • 16 Oral interviews: Àró Adétúnjí, Ilé-Kétu, 22/7/78; Adésínà Claver, Ilé-Kétu, 8/7/78; Samuel Adébìyí (...)

22This second attack was of great significance in the constitutional development of Kétu. During the attack, both the Fon and the Yorùbá elements in Ilé-Kétu rallied together and, perhaps for the first time, acted as one. Furthermore, from that time, the heads of the semi-autonomous settlements within Ilé-Kétu agreed to form a council in which the Alákétu would be head and not just one among equals.15 Heads of pre-dynastic settlements in the vicinity of Ilé-Kétu were thus brought together in a council; these included the Èesàbà, Akínikó, Aládùfin, and Ajahossu, the last two of which were evidently of non-Yorùbá origin.16 With this reconciliation, it was only a matter of time before the Fon elements around Ilé-Kétu were absorbed into the new political system. The success of this experiment at cohabitation is demonstrated at the installation of the Alákétu when every light in Ilé-Kétu is extinguished; the Alálumon (a descendant of the ‘hunter’ that led the dynastic group from Àró to Ilé-Kétu) goes to Pánkú and fetches fire which the Ajahossu (a descendant of one of the pre-dynastic settlements) receives at the entrance to the town.

23Although what could be regarded as a permanent reconciliation had been achieved after the second attack on Ilé-Kétu, the inhabitants of the town were resolved to find a permanent solution to the vulnerability of their settlement. It is not surprising that the people of Kétu made the issue of defence an important part of their policy; considering the fact that in the two attacks, the reigning Alákétu lost their lives. The ease with which the Kétu had been thrown into disarray must have convinced them that there were limits to which the protective charms made on founding Ilé-Kétu could aid the security of the settlement; more so as the attitude of Pánkú and their non-Yorùbá allies among the pre-dynastic groups was not predictable. Thus the next two Alákétu after Àgbò kejì set out to provide practical solutions to the problems of security.

  • 17 Oral interviews: Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78; Lóyè Adégbqlá (110+), Akoro, Ìmękq, 23/4/78; Verger, (...)
  • 18 Crowther, Samuel. C.M.S. Intelligencer. (1853) p. 247.

24The plan was to build a wall round the settlement. The first Alàkétu to embark on the project was Sà who succeeded in digging a trench round the settlement and in making the main gate called Ìdèná. He did it so thoroughly and so fast that the people could not believe that the project was undertaken by human beings. Today, as in 1853 when the Reverend Samuel Àjàyí Crowther visited Ilé-Kétu, the tradition is that the fortifications were made by two giants: Ajíbódù and Olúwodú, who worked at night and greatly tasked the efforts and patience of the people because of the large provisions of food and drink which they required.17 This soon became unbearable and ‘at last when the inhabitants were weary of carrying away the earth and stones dug out, they all begged the giants to put a stop to the work’.18 This is perhaps just a recollection of the Alákétu’s high handedness in the execution of the project. In fact, the succeeding Alákétu, called Epo, who continued with the project soon had a rebellion on his hands.

25By the time of Alákétu Epo, the people had become fed up with the project. However, he diplomatically rallied them and continued building. He soon equalled the vigour of his predecessor. An indication of his excessive demands on the people is a widespread tradition that to strengthen the walls, the Alákétu directed that red palm oil should be used to mix the soil instead of water.

  • 19 Verger, P. Histoires du pays (ms).

26General discontent was rife within the settlement and the town was divided into two. There were those who sought to put a stop to the project on the grounds that the demands were too great and that it was a time-wasting exercise since, in view of the reconciliation, it had been overtaken by events. Another group favoured a continuation but recommended a reduction in the tempo of execution. In the end, a civil war broke out and the Alákétu was one of the first victims.19

  • 20 Crowther, S.A., op. cit.

27How far the two Alákétu went with the project is not certain. The picture of the fortifications that was painted by nineteenth century visitors to Ilé-Kétu shows that they were simply enormous. Samuel Crowther’s description was certainly not exaggerated: ‘there is a deep trench from fifteen to twenty feet deep around the town, with walls for fortification’.20 A later visitor observed that:

  • 21 Ibid; Smith, R.S. Yorùbá Warfare, pp. 26-27.

The Ìdènà (sentry) gate at Kétu has inner and outer doors in deep porches, sited at an angle to each other and with the outer porch projecting across the line of the ditch. Between the porches is a courtyard with a covered verandah. The earthen walls are some two or five feet thick and the building is roofed with thatch which could be quickly removed in case of attack to prevent its being fired.21

28These descriptions fit into an extant song composed after the completion of the project:

  1. Ǫba Sà l’ó wa ńdikù
  2. Ǫba Epo l’ó mǫ odi
  3. Ońdikù l’ówó ótún
  4. Yàrà l’ósìn
  5. Gbàgede l’áàrín22
  1. King Sà dug trenches (at Ìdikù?)
  2. King Epo built the walls
  3. Trenches on the right
  4. Ditches on the left
  5. Open space in the middle
  • 23 Even in the 19th century, the walls were found useful in the defence of the town. Dunglas, E. Kéto (...)

29The walls would appear to have served their purpose for Kétu remained impregnable to its neighbours till the nineteenth century.23 It is a paradox that in spite of this monumental achievement, the reigns of the kings who embarked on building the walls and gate ended with rebellions.

  • 24 Verger, P. Histoire du pays (ms); Comevin, R. Histoire du Dahomey, p. 152.

30The civil strife that ended Alákétu Epo’s reign was a long-drawn out one which continued after his assassination. At the end of hostilities, the major problem that faced the people of Ilé-Kétu was that of succession to the throne.24 Virtually everybody had been involved in the strife and belonged to one of the two hostile camps. It became difficult to select the next Alákétu for fear that he would take vengeance on the other side. After a fairly long time, the choice fell on Ájìnà, a man who had not been resident in Ilé-Kétu and was presumably not partisan. This appears to have been the beginning of the requirement that the individual to be elected Alákétu must not be resident in Ilé-Kétu. It was hoped that the reign of a non-partisan individual would restore peace. This was realized, and till the nineteenth century, successive Alákétu consolidated their hold on the inhabitants of Ilé-Kétu and the settlements in the neighbourhood.

31By the time of Arúgbó, the fourth Alákétu after Àjìnà, it became necessary to institute a check on the growing power of the Alákétu. A plan was worked out to confine the Alákétu within the precincts of his residence (palace); apparently to limit his participation in ordinary civil activities. An official, the Oní Ǫjà (owner of the markets), was appointed, ostensibly to take charge of the markets in Ilé-Kétu, but actually as a counterbalance to the power of the Alákétu.

  • 25 See Babáyęmí, S.O. The fall and rise of Oyó, pp. 19-20.
  • 26 This happened in 1858 and led to the death of Alákétu Adégbedé. Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, (...)

32One of the major aims for instituting the title appears to have been to prevent the Alákétu from combining economic privileges with the political ones he had already acquired above the other heads in the area. Certainly, the Oní Ǫjà in Kétu had more significance than in Òyó, where the roles of a similar title-holder appeared to be purely economic and confined to such petty functions as the organization of the Àkęsán market and the collection of customary fees.25 In Kétu, the Alákétu was never supposed to meet the Oní Ǫjá; if by chance they did meet, it was obligatory for the Alákétu to commit suicide. The idea was that if the people grew dissatisfied with the Alákétu, they could simply trick him out of the palace and make him meet the Oní Ǫjá.26

  • 27 That there was a general climate of peace and political stability is confirmed by the fact that fr (...)
  • 28 The institution of an official to take charge of ‘market affairs’ is indicative of economic buoyan (...)
  • 29 Qdún (festival), Tętę, Ajíbóyèdé and Arowojoyè (rich enough to be king).
  • 30 Oral interview: The Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78; Adéşíná Claver, 8/7/78.
  • 31 The royal name of this Alákétu was derived from his success as a trader in beads before ascending (...)

33The institution of the Oní Ǫjá title suggests growing prosperity and economic viability in the Kétu region following the success of the dynastic group in adapting to emergent problems. There are indications that after Alákétu Arúgbó, there was some political stability27 which presumably ushered in an era of economic prosperity28 lasting till the end of the eighteenth century. The four immediate successors of Arúgbó are remembered as enjoying peaceful reigns and the names of two of them indicate an economic boom.29 Other Alákétu who reigned before Kétu got involved with the Fon of Dahomey later in the eighteenth century gave a further boost to economic activities. The Aró branch became renowned as many of the Alákétu from that royal family encouraged farming activities. Some individual Alákétu can easily be singled out for their contributions.30 For instance Alákétu Agòdògbò had a large farm of food crops. Alákétu Ilękę also had a large farm and in addition acquired impressive wealth from his commercial activities.31

  • 32 Verger, P. Kétou: Les rois (manuscript) records folk etymologies of these names, some of which are (...)
  • 33 Asùnú was from the Aláàpíni royal family. He was exiled from Ilé-Kétu and it was only in the 19th (...)

34However, it was not all smooth-sailing and there are indications from the king-lists of periods of unrest.32 For example, the name ętù (gun powder) is indicative of a civil war; Kòsónilóyè (no one on the throne) suggests an interregnum; Amúwàgún (he who straightened out the affair) confirms that there were some problems and the personal oríkì of Àsùnú tells of a crisis which led to his exile from Ilé-Kétu.33 But this period of trouble appears to have been very brief, perhaps not lasting up to a decade.

35With the settled conditions in the Kétu region, the dynastic group had the opportunity of strengthening the ties between it and the diverse groups in the vicinity of Ilé-Kétu. Non-Yorùbá settlements like Ajozume, Vedji, Ewe and Pánkú accepted the overlordship of the Alákétu as a result of the series of negotiations following the demonstration of strength of the Kétu group. Thus, the belief in Pánkú that the Kétu group successfully installed itself because it was a relatively large group, and in Ajozume that it was relatively powerful.

  • 34 See Tàiwò, M.K. Ìwe Ìtàn Aiyétòrò àtì Agbègbè Rę. Abeokuta (1950) pp. 13-20.
  • 35 Asíwájú, A.I. Western Yorùbáland, p. 23.

36Actually by the second half of the eighteenth century, the Kétu dynastic group had emerged as a strong focus of political authority within a fairly extensive area. The gradual integration of the settlements between Àró and Ilé-Kétu had brought the settlements in this area within the orbit of the dynastic group; while such pre-dynastic settlements as Dírin, Ìdòfà and Ìká, where refugees from the Òkè-Ǫyán region settled,34 or which had featured in the arrangement at Àró, automatically owed allegiance to the group that founded Ilé-Kétu. A few others like Ìjòùn had been forcibly brought under the Alákétu.35 Allegiance to the Alákétu was not nominal as all these groups regarded themselves as a single spiritually bonded unit.

  • 36 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 40; Oral interviews: Lóyè Adégbolá (105+), Akokoro, Imèkǫ, 2 (...)
  • 37 Oral interviews: Arò Adétunji, Ile Ketu, 22/7/78; Onidofà E. Ajibadé and chiefs, 14/3/78; Chief Su (...)

37From this core area, individuals moved into relatively fertile areas in the Ęgbádò country to establish farmsteads which subsequently developed into large settlements. This is well illustrated in the cases of Ìmèko and Ègùá36 both of which had humble beginnings as farmsteads founded directly from Ilé-Kétu. Ìmèko, for instance, was originally a roadside camp for Kétu farmers; but as a result of its strategic location on the Òyó-Ęgbádò route, it gradually grew into a village and many Kétu indigenes settled there permanently. Furthermore, many disgruntled individuals, especially princes disqualified during the selection of an Alákétu, moved into the Ęgbádò country to found new settlements or establish their political authority over existing ones already inhabited by Kétu people. For instance, internal wrangling within the Aró branch eventually led to the establishment of the Kétu dynasty in Ìdòfà and the foundation of the Kétu chiefdom of Ìdòfòyí.37

  • 38 Folayan, K6H. Ègbidòtill 1834. Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 92-95

38This systematic extension of Kétu towards Ęgbádòland was checked in the second half of the eighteenth century by the gradual expansion of the authority of Òyó southwards.38 After the foundation of Èwòn in c.1750 by a group led by Gáà, who later became Başòrun of Òyó, Kétu’s Ęgbádò corridor virtually became part of Òyó territory. However relations between Kétu and Òyó were friendly as evidenced by the cooperation between the Alááfin and the Alákétu in the former’s project of founding satellite states in the Ánágó region immediately south of Kétu. This is indicated in the tradition that many of these settlements were founded by the Òyó who passed through Kétu territory.

  • 39 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 39 suggests that this happened during the reign of Alàkétu A (...)
  • 40 Ibid., pp. 41-43; Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 172-173.
  • 41 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 113.

39While Kétu’s relations with Òyó remained friendly throughout the eighteenth century, those with Dahomey were hostile. About 1760, during the reign of Alákétu Òrùbú, Dahomey under Tegbessu attacked Ilé-Kétu.39 Though this attack was repelled, it was the curtain raiser for a series of assaults which lasted till the end of the nineteenth century. Tegbessu’s successor, Kpengla (1774-1799) made two determined though unsuccessful attempts on the town.40 Another desperate attempt was made by Agongolo, Kpengla’s successor;41 like all the preceding ones, this also met with no significant success.

40What the Dahomean attacks indicate is that the Kétu dynastic group had successfully integrated its ethnically different ‘hosts’ into its own socio-political system. Indeed, on most occasions when the Dahomean army failed to enter Ilé-Kétu, they took revenge on the settlements in the vicinity whether Yorùbá or not.

THE STRUGGLE FOR SUPREMACY IN ŞÁBĘ

41The spirit of cohesiveness which the Kétu group gradually built up through a series of conflicts and reconciliations had been present among the Şábę from the moment Yáì Olúkòíbí became Oníşábę. Unlike in Kétu, the problem that faced the dynastic group in Şábę was not that of ethnic integration. Although the Babagídàí dynastic group was a non-Yorùbá one, it had systematically been absorbed into the Yorùbá social system while at Kábua. This in fact, is the implication of the account of the marriage between Babagídàí and Jìmí, daughter of the Yorùbá Óòlú of Jàbàtá. Indeed, the group led by Yáì succeeded in establishing itself in Ilé Şábę partly because it was regarded as ethnically identical with the pre-dynastic groups.

42The fundamental problem that faced the Şábę dynastic group was the struggle for supremacy among individuals within the Babagídàí group and to a lesser extent between the dynastic group and the lineage heads in Ilé-Şábę. The unsettling conditions that accompanied the installation of the group all over the Şábę region initially masked this problem. In fact, for some time, all members of the Babagídàí group as well as the pre-dynastic lineage heads in Ilé-Şábę acted in unison against their bitterest enemy — the Amùşù.

43With the advent of Yáì, the defence of the Amùşù against the incursions of Babagídàí into Ilé-Şábę collapsed. However, the Amùşù were still united in their ambitions which were, to liquidate the Babagídàí group at least in Ilé-Şábę and to return to the ‘city-state’ which they had legitimately taken over after protracted and costly negotiations.

  • 42 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 79-81.

44Yáì appeared to realize that his successful installation in Ilé-Şábę could not be taken as the end of the Amùşù resistance. As soon as he was installed, he initiated a series of reconciliatory meetings in order to assuage their wounded feelings. But the Amùşù were uncompromising,42 apparently determined to pursue their ambitions to logical ends.

  • 43 Oral interview: Justin Yáì (75+), Sèhú, Ilé-Şábę, 10/9/78.

45While the negotiations were going on, the Amùşù were strengthening themselves, making efforts to win the sympathy of those pre-dynastic settlements that had not been taken over by the Babagídàí group. The bulk of the Amùşù regrouped under one Àró, Ǫla Òjòdú’s son and heir presumptive to the Amùşù throne.43 It was this group that formed the rallying point for all the Amùşù and the backbone of their hostilities. The plans materialized and there were three major battles before Yáì and his allies could successfully defeat the Amùşù.

  • 44 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 79-81; oral interviews: Justin Yáì, Ilé-Şábę, 10/9/78; Olú Àj (...)

46The first two encounters ended in victory for the Amùşù,44 and indicated how determined they were in their efforts. Şábę traditions however give the impression that the hostilities of the Amùşù were not taken seriously and that Yáì was bent on a peaceful reconciliation. But the outcome of the first two encounters and rumours of another one frightened everybody in Ilé-Şábę. Yáì himself was alarmed and sent his most trusted allies to Add for negotiation. Like the preceding ones, this also proved fruitless. The failure of this last attempt heightened fears in Ilé-Şábę and Yáì finally had to accept the futility of his reconciliatory moves and adopt an aggressive policy.

  • 45 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 79; oral interview: Dáwódù Okùnlolá, 8/9/78.

47An impressive force was built up, composed of virtually all able-bodied men in Ilé-Şábę. But, on the eve of its setting out, a complication arose which delayed it. Before embarking on major activities such as war, adequate spiritual consultation had to be held. While the necessary consultation was going on, a diviner predicted that the expedition would not succeed unless certain rituals were performed. His prescription put everybody in a dilemma. According to the diviner, the Amùşù could only be defeated with the aid of a charm made from part of Àdó’s clothes. Fortunately, for the Ilé-Şábę belligerents, a daughter of Yáì volunteered to perform the dangerous task of obtaining the vital ingredient. She crossed over to the Amùşù settlement and worked her way into Add’s household; and then found her way back to Ilé-Şábę.45 Whatever credence can be given to this legend; its significance here is that it shows the strength of the Amùşù and indicates the belief in Ilé-Şábę that they could not be easily defeated without adequate supernatural aid.

48The Amùşù themselves have a painful recollection of how, in spite of the stiff resistance they put up, they lost the third encounter due to the human weaknesses of their leader. This comes out vividly in their oríkì part of which reads thus:

  1. Ǫmǫ òjò dú oní’lę
  2. Onílę kóì kó tó ilé eku
  3. Ibaaka tí ńsé ojú pálepále
  4. Ìbà kan, Ìbà kàn
  5. T’ó d’orí k’odò l’Ǫpòtòkú
  6. L’óní kí gbogbo ęiyę wáję.
  1. Offspring of those who own the land
  2. Owners of a small parcel of land like a rat’s hole
  3. The great father who draws a hard face always
  4. One great father, a great father indeed
  5. Who drooped his head at Qpòtòkú
  6. Invited all birds to peck.

49Apparently the human weakness of the Amùşù’s great father who bowed his head refers to his submission to Yáì’s daughter.

  • 46 This led, during the colonial period, to the institution of an administrative inquiry the report o (...)

50Thus the challenges of the Amùşù, during the first few years of the installation of the Babagídàí group in Ilé-Şábę were immediately checked by the humiliating defeat of Add. Actually the problem was not solved but was only pushed to the background and Amùşù agitation continued to be a recurrent factor in the politics of Şábę. Every attempt to install a new head at Ilé-Şábę witnessed a resurgence of the Amùşù claims.46

  • 47 For détails see Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Kinship and political authority.

51More challenging problems resulted from the outcome of the systematic imposition of the Babagídàí group in the Şábę region. It may be recalled that with the establishment of the Babagídàí group, there emerged a loose confederacy of the three city-states — Kábua, Jàbàtá and Ilé-Şábę. Yáì Olúkòíbí, the son of Babagídàí who took over the Ilé-Şábę city-state, successfully exploited his parental connections to draw the other two city-states in the region into his orbit; and subsequently established himself as the focus of power and authority in the area. But this resulted in a delicate constitutional arrangement within which the position of Yáì as political head was precarious.47

52Yáì’s ascendancy in the Şábę region depended on two major factors: first, the co-operation of the lineage heads in Ilé-Şábę and secondly the co-operation of members of the Babagídàí group. It is obvious that in this delicate arrangement, much depended on the personal ability of the ruler. An astute ruler could effectively maintain his supremacy by balancing the lineage heads in Ilé-Şábę against members of the Babagídàí group. On the other hand, a weak ruler could easily become a victim of the ambitions of powerful individuals within the Babagídàí group or among the lineage heads in Ilé-Şábę.

53Yáì himself realized that the installation of the Babagídàí dynasty in Ilé-Şábę was based on the good wishes of the lineage heads. Consequently, he incorporated heads of the leading lineages into something like an ‘ad hoc committee’ Virtually all those who featured prominently in his confrontations with the Amùşù were incorporated. These included the Jàlúmqn (Ba-Şálę); Olóró; Òòlú Òtún, Òòlú Òsì and Ba Sólò.

54While the Amùşù agitations lasted, these heads continued to support the efforts of the Babagídàí group, but some of the lineage heads later turned round against them. The common opposition to the Amùşù had brought all the lineage heads to support the Babagídàí group; some of them therefore expected a return to the pre-Amùşù status quo in which each one was the ‘indisputable lord and master’ of his own settlement.

  • 48 Oral interviews: Omítókí, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78; Sàbì Ajóngólò, Ilé-Şábę, 26/8/78. See also Mouléro, T (...)
  • 49 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 78-80.

55One of those who nursed such ambitions was evidently the Olóró, who on account of his personal wealth had grown taller than everybody else in the Şábę region. During the interregnum that followed the reign of Ǫlá Òjòdú at Ilé-Şábę, the head of the Jàlúmòn lineage who was the de facto ruler of the city-state promised the Olóró the leadership of Ilé-Şábę once the Amùşù were defeated. But on the expulsion of the Amùşù, Yáì was undoubtedly the most powerful and influential individual in the neighbourhood, consequently the Jàlúmqn lineage head changed his mind and accepted Yáì as the head of Ilé-Şábę.48 The Olóró was not pleased and set out to frustrate various attempts made by Yáì to consolidate his rule in the city-state. He featured prominently in the moves to reconcile with the Amùşù; and he quickly exploited the opportunity to take vengeance on the Babagídàí group. According to the accounts recorded by Father Mouléro, the Olóró, Arętù, was on one occasion sent by Yáì to solicit the cooperation of the Amùşù, but because of his personal ambition, he aggravated the already poor relations.49

  • 50 Ibid., pp. 60-61. Oral interviews: Ǫfin Awodio, Ilé-Şábę, 25/8/78; Sàbì Ajóngólò, Ilé-Şábę, 26/8/7 (...)

56When eventually Yáì got to know of the dubious role played by the Olóró he was disgusted. He grew distrustful of all the lineage-heads and suspicious of virtually all those around him including members of the Babagídàí group. He immediately dismissed the Olóró and saw that he was disgraced. He ordered his own daughter who had been instrumental to the defeat of the Amùşù to be executed on the grounds that she was a potentially treacherous ally. Furthermore, he began to weaken the power of the Ilé-Şábę lineage heads, and in their place install a few of his close servants. Two of these, the Bapónà and Basàdín, he incorporated into his ‘committee of advisers’.50

  • 51 See Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 68.

57Yáì’s decision to strengthen the power of his trusted servants vis-à-vis the lineage heads of Ilé-Şábę created opposition as these erstwhile allies of the Babagídàí group were infuriated and turned against him. They boycotted the palace, allegedly on Yáì’s insistence, but most probably on their own initiative. There was general restlessness and an open conflict was discernible. In this tense atmosphere, Yáì died in circumstances suggesting that the lineage heads in Ilé-Şábę were guilty of regicide.51

  • 52 The relevant part goes thus:

58After Yáì’s death, the hostility was extended to the whole of the Babagídàí group. The existence of the group in Ilé-Şábę was threatened and for some time it appeared that the Amùşù would stage a successful comeback. The personal oríkì of Yáì’s junior brother and successor, Sàbì Aimònà, mentions many unsuccessful plots52 before he finally met his death under circumstances similar to those of Yáì. This hostility continued till the reign of Biau Àìmò, the fifth king in Ilé-Şábę.

  • 53 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 69.

59Aware of the suspicious circumstances under which two of his predecessors, Yáì and Sàbì, died, Biau was cautious in his dealings with the lineage heads. He took the ‘royal marks’ which would transform him to an image above all the lineage heads without the knowledge of these disgruntled elements. Nevertheless, the lineage heads took vengeance after Biau’s death. They decided on open rebellion and embarked on a series of actions which were tantamount to a rejection of the Babagídàí group in Ilé-Şábę. The issue was not amicably resolved until Biau’s children were banished to Jàbàtá.53

60Although the fundamental issue of the crisis in Ilé-Şábę was the desire of the lineage heads to share in the power and authority enjoyed by the Babagídàí group, the inability of the group to resolve the issue before Biau Àìmò’s accession to the throne was due substantially to dissension within the Babagídàí group.

  • 54 See Goody, Jack. Death, Property and the Ancestors. Stanford (1962) p. 346.

61This dissension was due to the nature of the group. Within the group, the working arrangement was based on kinship, with collateral branches regarded as equals. The leadership of the group was common property to which any member had a right. This was a potential source of conflict.54 The initial dispersal of ambitious members of the group all over the Şábę region and their successful seizure of political leadership in many pre-dynastic settlements had provided some solution to the incipient conflict.

62But under the situation created by Babagídàí himself, Biau Olódùmarè, the rightful heir to the leadership of the group had been by-passed. By the time of Babagídàí’s death, the legitimacy of Yáì as head of the group had become an accepted fact for all members of the group. But in such a close group, the constitutional slip was very grave and was not likely to be condoned for ever. Though for the period when Yáì reigned, the conditions worked out well, nevertheless, the danger of future conflict was there.

63Thus, the death of Yáì soon brought to the fore the weaknesses inherent in the structural arrangement of the group. Both the leadership of the group and the headship of Ilé-Şábę were combined in Yáì. The procedure for choosing his successor was therefore fairly cumbersome, involving the lineage heads in Ilé-Şábę and the senior members of the Babagídàí group. While the Ilé-Şábę heads had to make sure that they had a capable candidate, the onus was on the Babagídàí group to make sure that their ‘father’ was a suitable figure.

64As would be expected, the sons and brothers of Yáì put up their claims to the throne of Ilé-Şábę; but since other members of the Babagídàí group all over Şábęland were interested in the leadership of the group, there were conflicting claims. The issue was further complicated by the fact that Biau Olódùmarè was still alive. After the installation of Yáì at Ilé-Şábę, he had merely withdrawn to Kábua and on Babagídàí’s death had assumed duties as head of that settlement. Besides a well-known interest in the control of the affairs of the Babagídàí group, Biau coveted the enviable position of the ruler of Ilé-Şábę. He had direct control over the shrine of Babagídàí at Kábua and, therefore, regarded himself as the most powerful member of the group. The real problem was that it was impossible for a man of Biau’s calibre and experience to forget or cast off the authority he exercised by right of birth.

  • 55 Oral interviews: Şàbì Olódùmarè (70+), Òkè-Òòlú, Kábua, 30/8/78; Biau Ezekiel (95+), Òkè-Òòlú, Kab (...)

65Actually, the issue had been brewing before Yáì’s death. Kábua traditions talk of how, even after Yáì’s installation, ‘authority’ lay with Biau at Kábua.55 Ilé-Şábę versions concede that Biau often took action independent of Yáì’s knowledge which was tantamount to a disregard of Ilé-Şábę as the leading branch of the Babagídàí group.

  • 56 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 73-74.

66Thus, the death of Yáì gave Biau Olódùmarè an opportunity to demonstrate that, in spite of the constitutional ‘amendment’ made by Babagídàí, he was the most powerful individual in the region. Taking advantage of the complex processes involved in choosing a successor to Yáì, Biau soon involved himself in the affairs of Ilé-Şábę. As the ‘eldest’ surviving member of the Babagídàí group, he had the exclusive right to select a successor to its leadership. Furthermore, tradition demanded that he lead other heads of collateral branches of the Babagídàí group to perform the first investiture ceremony of a new Oníşábę. Biau vacillated in the exercise of these rights. Even though there were many eligible candidates who put in their claims, he refused to give his assent to their choice and finally picked one Mònsfà, a protégé of his, whose legitimacy within the Babagídàí group was in doubt.56

67What is generally accepted about Mònsfà is that, by the time he ascended the throne, he had built up a personal reputation on account of his enviable military career. He had won the admiration of Biau when he aided him in carrying out military operations in the northern fringes of Şábęland. These attributes endeared him to Biau as a capable choice, his doubtful legitimacy within the Babagídàí group notwithstanding. Biau somehow got his choice confirmed and Mònsíà ascended the throne as Qlá Àjágbó.

  • 57 Ibid., p. 74. Oral interview: Yadu Jean (65+), 4/9/78; Şàfà Òtéwà (80+), Kokoro, 3/9/78.

68It is conceivable that the ease with which Biau’s choice was confirmed owed a lot to the cooperation of other leading members of the Babagídàí group whose downright opposition would have made Mònsíà’s installation impossible. Indeed, if the other members of the Babagídàí group were opposed to Mònsíà’s accession, they did not show it, possibly because of the fear of incurring Biau’s displeasure. What is clear is that Mònsíà was a figurehead and Biau was the actual ruler of Şábę till his death. There are indeed a few instances which indicate that Biau made attempts to set himself up as a focus of power independent of Ilé-Şábę. An example was the setting up of the satellite settlements of Gbédé and Òkùnfò shortly after Yáì’s death.57

  • 58 Mouléro T. Histoire et légende, pp. 81-82.

69Biau’s death soon left Àjágbó defenceless and he became a victim of the widening crisis within the Babagίdàí group. In the succession dispute between two sons of Biau Olódùmarè for the leadership of Kábua, Mònsfà sided with Aşàde, the younger brother, who eventually succeeded to the throne. But Aşàde turned against his mentor and ousted him in a palace coup.58

  • 59 Oral Interview: Şàbì Olódùmarè, Kábua, 30/8/78.

70At face value, Aside’s action against Mònsfà can be seen as a personal reaction to the mistake of choosing Mònsfà to succeed Yáì. However, this does not entirely explain the issue. Aşàde’s own accession was unconstitutional; he usurped the throne from his elder brother whom he killed with the aid of Mònsfà. Under the circumstances, he was unlikely to view the illegitimacy of Mònsfà with much concern. What appeared to be most important in Aşàde’s mind was the desire to safeguard his own interests. Kábua traditions suggest that he was enticed to the throne by the idea of being the power behind the Ilé-Şábę throne, following the example of the iron-handed rule of Biau through Mònsfà.59 But at his accession, he was already heavily indebted to Mònsfà, who in fact had grown very powerful and influential. The only way for Aşàde to realize his ambition was to get rid of Mònsfà and install his own stooge in Ilé-Şábé.

  • 60 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 81-82.

71Thus, immediately after Mònsfà’s death, Aşàde set about making arrangements for electing a successor in the exercise of his traditional right as head of Kabua and probably to demonstrate that, contrary to fears at his installation, he was capable of putting right the affairs of the Babagídàí group. The man chosen by Aşàde was Şàbì, Yáì’s junior brother and indisputably a member of the Babagídàí faction which silently viewed the appointment of Mònsfà as a constitutional slip more serious than the one made by Babagídàí. It also assuaged the feelings of those who looked at Aside’s own accession to the throne of Kábua as an aberration to normal convention. Şàbì, who took the royal name of Olá Almoni was evidently capable, having distinguished himself as a successful individual.60 He could have succeeded his elder brother, Şàbì Aimònà, but for the personal ambitions of Biau Olódùmarè. It is not unlikely however, that his advanced age also convinced Aşàde that he could not be much hindrance to Aşàde’s own personal ambition. It is unfortunately not possible to see how much this idea was in the mind of Aşàde for he predeceased Qlá Áìmoni.

  • 61 Ibid., p. 68.

72The death of Ǫlá Àìmoni himself brought the usual squabble within the Babagfdaf group. Initially Àfùdá Gbàyà who had succeeded to the headship of Kábua entertained the idea of usurping the throne, but he quickly withdrew his claim on the excuse that he could not expose himself to the ‘mosquitoes’ of Ilé-Şábę, apparently referring to the chaos in that town.61 He subsequently chose Ajere Akínkanjú, a fairly young member of the Babagídàí group who was in some way indebted to him. The choice of the young prince was however a miscalculation, for it was he who eventually reduced the status of the head of Kábua to that of a mere subordinate and finally established the Ilé-Şábę section of the Babagídàí group as the leading branch.

73Building on the experiences of his predecessors, Akínkanjú quickly consolidated his hold on the Babagídàí group and the rebellious Ilé-Şábę lineage heads and built a royal court in which he was the undisputed head. Those lineage heads who were still sympathetic with the Babagídàí group he constituted into a permanent council of advisers, which he used to assuage the wounded feelings of the non-Babagídàí groups in the vicinity.

  • 62 Ibid., pp. 65-66.

74Akínkanjú’s most notable achievement was, however, his systematic reduction of the significance of Kábua within the Babagídàí group, which had become disgusted by the increasing accumulation of power by successive heads of Kábua. Akínkanjú subjugated Afùdá, his former mentor. After a few years on the throne, he invited Afùdá to Ilé-Şábę and practically cut him down to size.62 Thus the intra-group struggles within the Babagídàí group were resolved in favour of Ilé-Şábę. Akínkanjú established himself as the effective head of the Babagídàí group and the only focus of power and authority in the Şábę region.

  • 63 Ibid., pp. 66-68; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 142-143.
  • 64 George, J.O. Historical Notes, pp. 23-34; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 268-268; cf. Akínjógbìn, (...)
  • 65 For the activities of Dahomey in the coastal states, see Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbou (...)

75Meanwhile, ambitious individuals within the Babagídàí group began to seek the aid of freebooters from Òyó country.63 During the reign of Akínkanjú, Òyó had gained a foothold in the Şábę region.64 Himself a successful participant in the Porto Novo trade, Akínkanjú probably had many acquaintances among the Òyó before his accession to the throne. As soon as he became the Oníşábę, he renewed old alliances, possibly to enlist the sympathy of Òyó authorities as an insurance against the Fon of Dahomey, with whose activities in the coastal states he was certainly familiar,65 and who were at that time extending their influence towards Şábę.

POLITICAL UNIFICATION IN ÌDÁÌŞÀ

76While it was only towards the end of the eighteenth century that the Şábę were being drawn into the orbit of Òyó and Dahomey, the Ìdáìşà had had an almost unbroken record of relations with the two powerful states since the installation of the Jagun dynasty at the beginning of the century. The problems of political consolidation that faced the Ìdáìşà were threefold: intra-group conflicts; internal crises in Igbó-Ìdáìşà; and continuous invasions from the Fon and the Mahi who surrounded the Ìdáìşà country. In each of these, both Òyó and Dahomey played some role.

  • 66 Palau-Marti, M. Notes sur les rois de Dàsà, p. 204; Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou de Dassa-Zoumé, p. (...)
  • 67 Òyòró, according to some accounts, was a woman chosen because of women’s ability to keep secrets. (...)

77It will be recalled that Şàgbóná, who led the Jagun group to Yaka, was from the Ègbá section of the alliance formed at Èpò. After the successful installation of the Jagun, Şàgbóná embarked on establishing the ascendancy of the Ègbá over the Lemon section. He took steps which gradually reduced the status of the Lémǫn. Contrary to the agreement at Èpò, Şàgbóná established the Jagun title as the exclusive right of the Ègbá while he instituted a parallel title, the Ǫba l’ókè for the Lémǫn.66 Òyòró, who became the first Ǫba lókè, was deliberately chosen in aspiration for a subtle co-ruler and as a further buttress to the monopoly of political authority by the Ègbá.67

  • 68 Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, pp. 1-2. Oral interviews: Albert Àbíssí (75+), Dassa-Zoumé\ 20/9/78.

78Şàgbóná’s disregard of the agreement reached at Èpò, that the Jagun title should be alternated between the two sections, was not taken lightly by the Lémǫn. The Lemon as well as virtually all the lineage groups in the vicinity were hostile to Şàgbóná.68 The installation of the dynastic group in Ìdáìşà had been facilitated by the cooperation of the pre-dynastic groups who expected it to provide solutions to the problem of external raids which were common in the region and who loathed the leadership of the Ìjeùn. But Şàgbóná was so preoccupied with the consolidation of his power within the dynastic group that he paid little attention to these issues and as a result he fell into disfavour with the people.

  • 69 Şàgbóná was apparently exiled in a bloody coup. According to the accounts, he ‘went home for three (...)

79The Lémǫn took advantage of the growing unpopularity of Şàgbóná and spearheaded a palace coup during which he was displaced69 and an elderly man from their section, Ògùdù, was installed as the next Jagun.

80The first few actions of Jagun Ògùdù convinced everybody that he was equal to the task. The major thing for which he has always been remembered was his confrontation of the Ìjeùn. During the reign of Şàgbóná, the Ìjeùn had embarked on actions which undermined the prestige of the Jagun group. The keystone of their policy was the frustration of the attempt of the Jagun to unite the various groups in the region. The crux of the matter was the issue of land ownership which the Ìjeùn disputed with the Màmàhún. As a result of the preoccupation of Şàgbóná with the consolidation of his own position within the dynastic group, and possibly to avoid open confrontation with the Ìjeùn, he paid little attention to the matter.

  • 70 Mouléro. T. Histoire du peuple d’Idacha, pp. 12-13; Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p.2.
  • 71 Oral interview: Àbíssí Albert, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78. An alternative term for the fee igba owo (two (...)

81The much dreaded confrontation occurred in the early years of Ògùdù’s reign.70 The Jagun wanted a piece of land as a royal cemetery and Ògùdù as the head of the group negotiated for a site with the Màmàhún. In view of the significance of land ownership in exercising political authority, that negotiation appears to be an attempt by the Jagun group to legitimize its political hold in the region. When Ògùdù eventually got the piece of land, he named it Igbó Ìdáìşà and made it the centre of his administration. For this, the Jagun paid a token amount and agreed that subsequent Jagun should pay a stipulated fee. This fee known as owó igbó (forest fee)71 was based on the belief that land, as the inalienable right of a lineage, could not be permanently transferred or bought by another group. Consequently at any time the land was to be used, the Màmàhún group had to be consulted and asked to perform certain rituals.

  • 72 Oral interview: Idoku Àpàkí (80+), Abajeni Honoré (88+), Ìsálú, Dassa-Zoumé, 17/9/78; Jagun Esègún (...)

82The negotiation drew an open protest from the Ìjeùn who insisted that if they were prevented from exercising their political leadership, their rights over the land in the area ought to be recognized. This led to a series of conflicts in which the Jagun group and their allies emerged victorious.72 Although this only reduced the agitation of the Ìjeùn, Ògùdù gained overwhelming admiration.

  • 73 Oral interviews: Albert Àbíssí, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78; Alálè Albert (90+), Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78. Se (...)

83Ògùdù had a long reign during which everybody including his most trusted servants and admirers grew tired of him. In the end, according to traditions,73 his officials and a few Ìdáìşà elders conspired to put an end to his life. The conspirators made a cave in the rocks and locked him in, in the hope that hunger and suffocation would kill him.

84The official explanation for this action was that Ògùdù had become too old. Although checks on ageing in office are common within societies which identify the health of the monarch with that of the kingdom, the phenomenon of regicide was not institutionalized among the Ìdáìşà; and no age limit was set upon the tenure of office of any Jagun. As Jack Goody clearly observes, in such circumstances, as happened in Ìdáìşà:

  • 74 Goody, J. (ed.) Succession to High Office: Cambridge Papers in Social Anthropology. Cambridge (196 (...)

The only check upon gerontocratic rulers are the opinions of electors, of their colleagues and of themselves about their fitness to carry on with the job, an opinion greatly influenced by reluctance to deal harshly with the old, particularly those who have done the state some service. Indeed there is often a reverence accorded to successful old age in high office which partly neutralises the ‘efficiency criterion’ and bestows charisma upon those who endure its burden to the end.74

  • 75 Oral interviews: Zomahun Emile (100+), Dassa-Zoume, 18/9/78; Gongo Emmanuel (95+), Ìsògún, Dassa-Z (...)

85Ògùdù was fairly old before his accession to the throne. After the initial actions which he took to justify the displacement of Şàgbóná, his administration grew lax and the problems which he had promised to solve began to crop up again. These included incessant Mahi raids, and agitation from the displaced Ìjeùn. The problem of raids was greater than merely taking captives; they posed a threat to the existence of the people who lived under constant fear and dared not move far away from their settlements. Consequently, economic activities were paralysed and famine gradually became imminent.75 In an attempt to control the situation, Ògùdù grew increasingly harsh. This merely worsened the situation and made his reign too burdensome to be endured.

  • 76 Oral interviews: Àbíssí Albert, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/70; Alálè Balémon, Lémon-Tre, 17/9/78.
  • 77 It is believed that Ògùdù turned into a boa and cursed the people; Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. (...)

86The displacement of Ògùdù created confusion within the dynastic group and it was not possible to appoint a successor for some time. In accordance with the agreement between the two major component parts of the dynastic group, the Ègbá expected the next Jagun to be chosen from their section.76 But the circumstances that led to Ògùdù’s accession and the atmosphere in which he was displaced complicated the issue. The Lémǫn, with Şàgbóná’s actions still fresh in their minds, were determined not to give the Ègbá another chance. The conspirators who had displaced Ògùdù themselves believed that until the spirit of Ògùdù was placated, there would be no peace and the problems which had led to Ògùdù’s displacement would continue unabated.77

  • 78 Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple, p. 14; Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. 2.

87One could however argue that the unduly long reign attributed to Ògùdù covered those of many Jagun from the Lémǫn branch. There are in fact conflicts in the traditions as to the identity of the Jagun between Ògùdù and Ajíbóyè. The deposition of Ògùdù would then be seen as an attempt to change the dynasty and a confirmation that there was an intra-group squabble. The attempt at a dynastic change was however fiercely resisted and thwarted by the Lemon as evidenced by the installation of Olúsa, another member of the Lemon section.78

88The choice of Olúsà did not bring the much needed peace within the dynastic group. The new Jagun was determined to avenge the cruelty meted out to her ‘father’ and she grew unbearably harsh and cruel. Olúsà’s cruelty was so surprising that the Ìdáìşà resolved never to have a female ruler again. Instead there emerged a line of female officials who were Ìná, mothers to all principal title holders including the Jagun. The decline in agricultural production which had been going on since the last years of Ògùdù’s reign was aggravated. There was widespread discontent, and the Ègbá section of the dynastic group began to enlist the support of disgruntled elements in Igbó-Ìdáìşà against Olúsà, who was subsequently displaced in another palace coup.

89Jagun Ajíbóyè who succeeded to the throne was from the Ègbá section. His selection signifies that the Ìdáìşà were determined to return the throne to Şàgbóná’s line in spite of all the misgivings they had against it. No sooner had Ajíbóyè been elected than he revived the issue which Şàgbóná had begun, namely, the separation of the powers of the Ègbá from the Lemon. It is not known whether this action met with any opposition from the Lémǫn or received the support of the generality of the people, but Ajíbóyè succeeded in pursuing it to its logical conclusion.

90With his position within the group secure, Ajíbóyè concentrated his attention on solving the various problems which had been raging for quite some time. The immediate problem was the Ìjeùn who challenged the ascendancy of the Jagun group.

91Jagun Ajíbóyè simply refused to pay the owó igbó agreed on by Şàgbóná. He insisted that his predecessors had paid completely for the land and therefore it had become the property of the Jagun group. Ajíbóyè’s refusal appears to be an attempt to completely shake off all traces of dependence on or subservience to any group. But the refusal to pay the owó igbó did not meet with the same success as the relegation of the Lemon within the Jagun group. The reign of Ajíbóyè therefore witnessed a long drawn out series of clashes in the community.

  • 79 Oral interviews: Jacob Ìdòyún (80+) and Òkìrí Agboruku (60+), Isàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 19/9/78; Albert (...)

92The reaction of the Màmàhún on the issue was not at all violent; they appealed to the Jagun to respect the existing agreement, drawing attention to the fact that as the owners of the earth deity, ojúlè, they had the right to demand a fee before performing the necessary rituals any time the land was to be used. When the Jagun persisted, the Màmàhún simply refused to perform their ritual functions.79

  • 80 See Palau-Marti, M. Notes sur les rois, pp. 207-308.

93The impasse provided an opportunity for the Ìjeùn to renew their claims of proprietorship. Taking a cue from the Màmàhún, the Ìjeùn decided to prevent the Jagun group from using Yaka over which they had some ritual control, as it was their original home where they were ‘hosts’ to the Jagun group. Yaka, which was the official residence of the Ǫba l’ókè, was very important to the Jagun because it was their sanctuary. At the death of a member of the group, he had to be carried to Yaka where certain rites would be performed before the corpse was taken to the royal cemetery for interment.80 The significance of Yaka and probably the fact that the Ìjeùn were, unlike the Màmàhún, a force to be reckoned with, made Jagun Ajíbóyè recognize the rights of the Ìjeùn. He finally accepted that a fee should be paid any time Yaka was to be used.

  • 81 Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple, p. 12.

94But the Jagun failed to honour his promise; consequently, on an occasion when the sanctuary was to be used, the Ìjeùn took up arms, waylaid the mourners and dispersed them. A clash broke out and once again the Ìjeùn took up arms against the Jagun group.81

  • 82 See Akínjógbín, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, p. 98 ff; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, p. 162.

95Eventually however, a pact was signed. The Ìjeùn were given the political recognition they sought. Their leader, the Ba-Ìjeùn, was honoured with a title, Ǫba-Ilé, which literally translated means ‘king of the house’. As with the Ǫba l’ókè, the institution of the Ǫba-Ilé title created another tier of kingship. He was given an advisory role to play and was made ‘father of the king’, enjoying privileges which made him, like the Ǫba l’ókè, ‘equal to the Jagun’. By thus successfully winning over the leader of the Ìjeùn group, the Jagun dynastic group indirectly reconciled with the Ìjeùn and put a successful end to their challenges. Meanwhile, the problem of external raids which had earlier made the pre-dynastic settlements in the region welcome the Jagun group continued unabated. From c.1731, the pressure of the Dahomean slave raids on the Mahi82 made the latter very adept in their attacks on the Ìdáìşà.

  • 83 Akínjógbín, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 180-187.

96The Dahomeans themselves made many unprovoked incursions into the Ìdáìşà territory, especially under their energetic king, Agongolo (1789-1797) who, towards the end of his reign, carried out a series of raids into the region in order to solve some economic problems within his kingdom. Under Agongolo’s successor, Adandozan, Dahomean slave raiding expeditions into the Mahi country became more intense and the Yorúbá settlements in the Ìdáìşà region appeared to be major targets of attack.83

97There were a number of reasons why Adandozan looked at Ìdáìşà with great concern. Dahomey had favoured the existence of independent settlements in the Mahi country as this made her raiding activities easy. The centralizing tendency which the Jagun group brought into the region was therefore a threat to her northern sources of revenue. The Dahomeans were convincéd of this threat because all the expeditions sent to the region by Kpengla brought discouraging results. Furthermore, the foundation of a Yorùbá kingdom on Dahomey’s northern corridor was seen in Abomey, the Dahomean capital, as a plot by the Òyó to create an outpost for future control of Dahomey and the southern Aja states.

  • 84 Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 180-181.
  • 85 Akínjógbìn, I.A. The expansion of Òyó and the rise of Dahomey, pp. 395-399.
  • 86 The tradition of Sàgbóná going home for three years (footnote 65 above) may in fact be a recollect (...)
  • 87 Mouléro, T. L’Histoire du peuple, p. 14; cf. Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. 3.

98This latter fear was also not entirely unfounded. At the time of the installation of the Jagun group in Igbό-Ìdáìşà, small batches of Òyó soldiers were arriving in the region.84 It was the era of territorial expansion for Òyó, and Òjígí, the Aláàfin reigning about 1730 seemed particularly interested in the eastern extremity of Yorùbáland.85 The spirit of expansionism became intensified after 1750 when Gáà became the Başòrun of Òyó. Actually, from the reign of Jagun Şàgbόná, there had been close relations between the Jagun group and the Òyó.86 Ajíbóyè, the Jagun during whose reign the dynastic group became stable, was in fact living in Òyó-Ilé at the time he was chosen to ascend the throne.87 The circumstances under which the young prince went to Òyó have not yet been established, but his selection in absentia could have been prompted by a desire to strengthen ties with Òyó.

  • 88 Ibid., p. 4.

99One of the immediate steps which Ajíbóyè took on his accession was the introduction of Òyó religious institutions, especially the Ifá cult, and the adoption of Òyó official titles such as Başòrun.88 For some time, probably until he solved the internal problems which he had to face in Ìdáìşà, he continued to treat the Òyó authorities with caution and respect. It is presumable that during this period, Dahomey was kept at bay by the fear of Òyó, for by then, the Ìdáìşà country was a field of operation for Òyó soldiers and was practically under Òyó’s control.

  • 89 Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. 4; Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 113. Oral interviews: Pa (...)

100As soon as his position as Jagun was secured, Ajíbóyè adopted the policy of total independence from 0yd overlordship. This resulted in a series of raids by Òyó soldiers in an attempt to enforce metropolitan authority. The greatest clash, locally referred to as the Jóko Jódò war, took place about 1780. The Òyó attacked the little kingdom, thinking that they would make easy prey of it. But the battle was a long drawn-out one. The Òyó initially had the upper hand, but just when all hope of success was almost lost among the Ìdáìşà, the Òyó were forced to withdraw as a result of an outbreak of smallpox which decimated their soldiers.89

  • 90 Law, R.C.C. The constitutional troubles of Òyó in the eighteenth century. JAH 12:i (1971), pp. 39- (...)

101The Òyó never had the opportunity to embark on a reconquest of Ìdáìşà as a series of internal crises at Òyó-Ilé started the empire on a path towards disintegration.90 This gave Jagun Ajíbóyè enough peace to integrate the diverse settlements in the region into a permanent alliance, with Igbó-Ìdáìşà as the centre and the Jagun at the apex.

  • 91 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 125, 215-216.

102First, Jagun Ajíbóyè kept all the settlements under strict surveillance by the widespread distribution of members of the Jagun as liaison officers all over the country.91 The presence of representatives of the Jagun in the settlements created an awareness of political allegiance to the dynastic group and undermined the consciousness of autonomy in local leaders. A major significance of this strategy was the creation of a feeling of political unity in the region.

  • 92 Asongba, Romain. Les réalités tribales, p. 3.

103This was strengthened by the social policy of the Jagun group which Jagun Ajíbóyè presumably adhered to with religious tenacity. The customs of the Jagun forbade intermarriage within the group.92 At first this may appear normal since the group could be regarded as a lineage. But, in actual fact, the Jagun ‘lineage’ was made up of at least three different lineage groups: the Ǫmǫ oláof Kétu, the Lémón and the Ęgbá; intermarriage was therefore not necessarily taboo. By disallowing intermarriage, the policy ensured that every prince, òtólá had the blood of a commoner flowing in his veins; and many non royal lineages were in this way socially bound to the dynastic group. The social policy of the Jagun group could therefore be seen as a deliberate plan to encourage interaction among the diverse lineage groups and to make the region as homogeneous as possible.

104Thus, by the end of Jagun Ajíbóyè’s reign, possibly in the last decade of the eighteenth century, the dynastic group had emerged as the undisputable pivot of a political union in the Ìdáìşà region. Furthermore, every Ìdáìşà man had come to see himself as belonging to the same stock as every other man, irrespective of where each came from.

CONCLUSION

105For the continued existence of the communities they took over, the migrant dynastic groups which installed themselves in western Yorùbáland had to depend on the preceding land-owing groups (onílę) to consolidate their hold. They needed their services to perform essential ritual ceremonies pertaining to the land which was the basis of existence of the community. The cult of the earth was therefore very important in the constitutional development of the new states; it linked together groups which otherwise would have been in opposing camps. However, to mask the ‘tenancy’ of the dynastic group and the retention of power over land by the onílę, the idea that political authority and spiritual authority were still combined in the leadership persisted. The Ǫba (head of the dynastic group) as head of the new state had power not only over all the citizens but also over all land. Thus the saying arose that, Ǫba l’ónilę (the king owns all lands); whereas in practice the different lineage groups had their own land, to which they were spiritually tied and the dynastic group (including the Ǫba himself) was subservient to the ónilę in ritual matters concerning the earth cult. This concept of Ǫba l’ónilę was, however, practical in the case of later arrivals to whom the Ǫba allocated parcels of land and who Were thus dependent on the Ǫba in all matters relating to land. The concept became popular later on, probably because, unlike the pre-dynastic lineage groups, the dynastic group was not a localized territorial unit, so that members of the group, backed up by royal power, could set themselves up on any piece of land within the kingdom.

106The dynastic groups went further than establishing political leadership; they took action which legitimized their newly assumed status by instituting rituals to give spiritual sanction to their new roles. These rituals, which were subsequently renewed at every installation of a new Ǫba, had psychological effects on the pre-dynastic groups who began to look at the dynastic groups as the focus of their attention and the symbol of their existence. By accepting the leadership of the group, the pre-dynastic groups assumed new identities. However, that the success of the dynastic groups in the process of founding the kingdom owed a lot to the pre-dynastic groups is visible in the constitutional arrangement of each kingdom. In the state structure which eventually emerged, other lineage groups, apart from the dynastic group, were brought in to participate in the running of the affairs of each kingdom.

107The concomitant result of all this was the emergence of a culturally homogeneous unit spiritually bonded to the dynastic group. The unit was looked upon as an enlargement of the ‘city-state’ which itself was originally seen as an enlarged lineage. Political bonds were thus expressed in kinship terms; the Ǫba was the ‘father’ and all other citizens were his ‘children’. Invariably, a new sub-ethnic unit emerged coinciding with the territorial sphere of influence of the dynastic group.

108But this conception of the state is that of a state par excellence. At a practical level, no Yorùbá kingdom ever fitted neatly into it.

  • 93 Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 261-277.

109Territorial expansion created ‘overlapping territories’ where political consolidation and ethnic cohesion were at best minimal. At various times in the history of a kingdom therefore, there would be peoples who had not been ethnically integrated enough to regard the capital town as their ‘home’, the Ǫba as their ‘father’ and themselves as citizens (children — ‘ǫmǫ’). Within such an unintegrated area, there was always the tendency for the emergence of a local focus of ethnic cohesion and potential nucleus of a new kingdom. This is most clearly illustrated in the way the Òyó empire gradually disintegrated from the last quarter of the eighteenth century93 and in the way the western Yorùbá state systems collapsed in the nineteenth century.

Figure 4. Western Yorùbá kingdoms c. 1800

Notes

1 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 21; see also discussions in ch. 4.

2 Oral interviews: Àgàn Jagunde (100+), Dirin, 8/7/78; Michael Desu (95+), Ajozume, 10/7/78; Hodonu Òkùndé (90+), Ganyigon, 17/8/78; Samuel Adébìyí, Ìlómu, Ilé-Kétu, 1/10/78, Lali Bernard (85+), Pànkú, 13/7/78; Adésínà Claver (110+), Dagbajin, Ilé-Kétu, 8/7/78.

3 Oral interviews: Alákétu Adétutù and chiefs, 15/7/78; Àró Adétúnjí (80+), Máyingbìn, Ilé-Kétu, 22/7/78.

4 Oral interviews: Bognon Benoit (75 +) and Lali Bernard (85+), Pànkú 13/7/78; Hodonu Òkúndé (90+) and Hesson Kotonu (90+), Ganyigon, 17/8/78; Benoli Adú (90+) and Joseph Add (95+), Ajozume, 10/7/78; the Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78.

5 Oral interview: The Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78.

6 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 24-25; Verger, P. Histoire du pays (ms). Oral interviews: Adésínà Claver (110+), Dágbadjìn, Ilé-Kétu, 8/7/78; Abíónà Bùkó (100+), Òkè-Ǫlá, Tóbóló, 9/6/78; M. John Fádípę (55+), Isàlę Aìyé-Gbàmi, Tóbóló, 9/6/78.

7 Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte, pp. 109-139.

8 See the interpretation in ch. 3. The name ‘Ęşù’ may in fact be a generic name for the Sóipàsán element.

9 According to the accounts, Ęşù’s family was excluded from those eligible to present candidates to the leadership of the group. Oral traditions: Adéşína Claver (110+), Dágbajìn, Ile-Ketu, 3/7/78; Àró Adétúnjì, (80+), Máyingbìn, Ilé-Kétu, 22/7/78.

10 Oral interviews: Adéşína Claver; Àró Adétúnjí; Samuel Adébíyì, Qláibi (80+), Ìlésín, Ilé-Kétu, 28/7/78.

11 See Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Kings, traditions and chronology, op. cit., for further discussions.

12 Oral interviews: Lali Bernard (85+) and Bognon Benoît (75+), Pánkú, 17/7/78.

13 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 22-24 mixes it up with the earlier attack. Oral interview: Alákétu Adétutù and his chiefs, 15/7/78.

14 Bíòbákú, S.O. The Origin of the Yorùbá, p.15.

15 Oral interviews: The Alákétu and chiefs, 17/8/78; Àgàn Jagunde (100+), Dírin, 3/9/78, Lali Bernard (85+), Pánkú, 4/9/78.

16 Oral interviews: Àró Adétúnjí, Ilé-Kétu, 22/7/78; Adésínà Claver, Ilé-Kétu, 8/7/78; Samuel Adébìyí, Ilé-Kétu, 1/8/78; Ògúndélé Òsálèrun (70+), Qtękòtán, 11/7/78. cf. Cornevin, R. Histoire du Dahomey. Paris (1962) p. 151 dates this to the first attack.

17 Oral interviews: Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78; Lóyè Adégbqlá (110+), Akoro, Ìmękq, 23/4/78; Verger, P. Histoire du pays (ms.); Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 26-27.

18 Crowther, Samuel. C.M.S. Intelligencer. (1853) p. 247.

19 Verger, P. Histoires du pays (ms).

20 Crowther, S.A., op. cit.

21 Ibid; Smith, R.S. Yorùbá Warfare, pp. 26-27.

22 Oral interview: Àró Adétúnjí, Ilé-Kétu. 22/7/78.

23 Even in the 19th century, the walls were found useful in the defence of the town. Dunglas, E. Kétou Wotótó. France-Dahomey 22nd December, 1951; Sedolo, H.D. Consideration sur la guerre de Kétou Wotótó. NA Nos. 57, 62 and 64 (1953-54).

24 Verger, P. Histoire du pays (ms); Comevin, R. Histoire du Dahomey, p. 152.

25 See Babáyęmí, S.O. The fall and rise of Oyó, pp. 19-20.

26 This happened in 1858 and led to the death of Alákétu Adégbedé. Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 52-59.

27 That there was a general climate of peace and political stability is confirmed by the fact that from Alákétu Arogbó’s reign onwards there is an agreement in virtually all the king-lists.

28 The institution of an official to take charge of ‘market affairs’ is indicative of economic buoyancy.

29 Qdún (festival), Tętę, Ajíbóyèdé and Arowojoyè (rich enough to be king).

30 Oral interview: The Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78; Adéşíná Claver, 8/7/78.

31 The royal name of this Alákétu was derived from his success as a trader in beads before ascending the throne.

32 Verger, P. Kétou: Les rois (manuscript) records folk etymologies of these names, some of which are still current in Ilé-Kétu. See Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Kings, traditions and chronology; idem. Research on pre-colonial western Yorùbáland: A note on source-materials. Anthropos 80 (1985) pp. 545-554.

33 Asùnú was from the Aláàpíni royal family. He was exiled from Ilé-Kétu and it was only in the 19th century that one of his descendants, Adégbedè was brought back from exile to be installed Alákétu. Oral interview: Madam Adégbedè Adéòti (120+), head of Aláàpíni family, Ógídígbò, Ilé-Kétu, 24/7/78. Part of Asùnú’s oríkì reads thus:

  1. Ìkà yí ká yìn
  2. Òsì l’àwá tajó
  3. Instead of praising him
  4. He was impoverished

34 See Tàiwò, M.K. Ìwe Ìtàn Aiyétòrò àtì Agbègbè Rę. Abeokuta (1950) pp. 13-20.

35 Asíwájú, A.I. Western Yorùbáland, p. 23.

36 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 40; Oral interviews: Lóyè Adégbolá (105+), Akokoro, Imèkǫ, 23/4/78; Onimèkǫ, R.O Adébàyǫ and chiefs, Imèkǫ, 13/3/78; J.A. Fàkànbi (70+), Okè-Oyinbo, Egua, 3/6/78; Idowu Yesufu (70+), Okè-Ǫlà, Égùà, 3/6/78.

37 Oral interviews: Arò Adétunji, Ile Ketu, 22/7/78; Onidofà E. Ajibadé and chiefs, 14/3/78; Chief Suberu Akinfénwa Baále Ìdòfòyí and chiefs, Ayétòro, 3/6/78. See also NAI Assessment Report on Ìmálà District, CS026/3 File No. 21790; also Taiwo, M.K. Ìwé Ìtàn Ayétòro, pp. 13-15

38 Folayan, K6H. Ègbidòtill 1834. Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 92-95

39 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 39 suggests that this happened during the reign of Alàkétu Ande but see Adédìran ’Biódún. Kings, traditions and chronology.

40 Ibid., pp. 41-43; Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 172-173.

41 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 113.

42 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 79-81.

43 Oral interview: Justin Yáì (75+), Sèhú, Ilé-Şábę, 10/9/78.

44 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 79-81; oral interviews: Justin Yáì, Ilé-Şábę, 10/9/78; Olú Àjé (90+), Agúgù, Ilé-Şábę, 8/9/78 and Ayédùn Omítókí, Pàákò, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78.

45 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 79; oral interview: Dáwódù Okùnlolá, 8/9/78.

46 This led, during the colonial period, to the institution of an administrative inquiry the report of which is Paul Mercer’s L’Ancien Royaume de Save et son Evolution (ms, No date) Bibliothèque de l’IRAD, Porto Novo.

47 For détails see Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Kinship and political authority.

48 Oral interviews: Omítókí, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78; Sàbì Ajóngólò, Ilé-Şábę, 26/8/78. See also Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 64.

49 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 78-80.

50 Ibid., pp. 60-61. Oral interviews: Ǫfin Awodio, Ilé-Şábę, 25/8/78; Sàbì Ajóngólò, Ilé-Şábę, 26/8/78; The Basona, 8/9/78; Yesufu Basàdín (79+) and Madam Ǫbę. Basàdín (95+), Ilé-Şábę, 22/9/78.

51 See Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 68.

52 The relevant part goes thus:

Abá l’ayé n dá

Ǫba apà ’wà dà s’oògùn

Man proposes

The king whose change of character was his charm.

53 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, p. 69.

54 See Goody, Jack. Death, Property and the Ancestors. Stanford (1962) p. 346.

55 Oral interviews: Şàbì Olódùmarè (70+), Òkè-Òòlú, Kábua, 30/8/78; Biau Ezekiel (95+), Òkè-Òòlú, Kabua, 29/8/78.

56 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 73-74.

57 Ibid., p. 74. Oral interview: Yadu Jean (65+), 4/9/78; Şàfà Òtéwà (80+), Kokoro, 3/9/78.

58 Mouléro T. Histoire et légende, pp. 81-82.

59 Oral Interview: Şàbì Olódùmarè, Kábua, 30/8/78.

60 Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 81-82.

61 Ibid., p. 68.

62 Ibid., pp. 65-66.

63 Ibid., pp. 66-68; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 142-143.

64 George, J.O. Historical Notes, pp. 23-34; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 268-268; cf. Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, p. 178.

65 For the activities of Dahomey in the coastal states, see Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, 110 ff; Argyle, W.I. The Fon of Dahomey: A History and Ethnography of the Old Kingdom. Oxford (1966) pp. 14-23.

66 Palau-Marti, M. Notes sur les rois de Dàsà, p. 204; Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou de Dassa-Zoumé, p. 1.

67 Òyòró, according to some accounts, was a woman chosen because of women’s ability to keep secrets. Oral interview: Alálè Ba-Lémon (100+) Lémon-Tre, 14/9/78. Palau-Marti, M. Notes sur les rois de Dàsà, p. 208.

68 Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, pp. 1-2. Oral interviews: Albert Àbíssí (75+), Dassa-Zoumé\ 20/9/78.

69 Şàgbóná was apparently exiled in a bloody coup. According to the accounts, he ‘went home for three years’ (indicating that he abdicated his duties). On his arrival, the gates of the palace were barred against him. Consequently, he caused the rocks to open and swallow him and his sympathizers. See Ediku, Lazzare. Les rois ou Jagou de Dassa-Zoumé, pp. 1-2.

70 Mouléro. T. Histoire du peuple d’Idacha, pp. 12-13; Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p.2.

71 Oral interview: Àbíssí Albert, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78. An alternative term for the fee igba owo (two hundred cowries) suggests the amount.

72 Oral interview: Idoku Àpàkí (80+), Abajeni Honoré (88+), Ìsálú, Dassa-Zoumé, 17/9/78; Jagun Esègún, Àpàkí Kòbólú (60+), Ìsègún, Lémon-Tre, 15/9/78.

73 Oral interviews: Albert Àbíssí, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78; Alálè Albert (90+), Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78. See also Palau-Marti, M. Notes sur les rois, pp. 202-204.

74 Goody, J. (ed.) Succession to High Office: Cambridge Papers in Social Anthropology. Cambridge (1969) p. 9.

75 Oral interviews: Zomahun Emile (100+), Dassa-Zoume, 18/9/78; Gongo Emmanuel (95+), Ìsògún, Dassa-Zoume, 4/9/78. See also Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. 2.

76 Oral interviews: Àbíssí Albert, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/70; Alálè Balémon, Lémon-Tre, 17/9/78.

77 It is believed that Ògùdù turned into a boa and cursed the people; Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. 2.

78 Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple, p. 14; Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. 2.

79 Oral interviews: Jacob Ìdòyún (80+) and Òkìrí Agboruku (60+), Isàlú, Dassa-Zoumé, 19/9/78; Albert Àbíssí, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78.

80 See Palau-Marti, M. Notes sur les rois, pp. 207-308.

81 Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple, p. 12.

82 See Akínjógbín, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, p. 98 ff; Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, p. 162.

83 Akínjógbín, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, pp. 180-187.

84 Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 180-181.

85 Akínjógbìn, I.A. The expansion of Òyó and the rise of Dahomey, pp. 395-399.

86 The tradition of Sàgbóná going home for three years (footnote 65 above) may in fact be a recollection of an abortive alliance with Òyó; for home to Sàgbóná was ‘Ęgbá’ which was by then under Òyó.

87 Mouléro, T. L’Histoire du peuple, p. 14; cf. Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. 3.

88 Ibid., p. 4.

89 Ediku, L. Les rois ou Jagou, p. 4; Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 113. Oral interviews: Pa Alálè Albert and M. Àbíssí Albert, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78. According to the accounts, a wife of the Jagun brought a charm from Nàná Bùrùkúù which had the efficacy of burning everything including water; consequently the Òyó were driven back. Nàná Bùrùkúù is the Ìdáìşà god of smallpox and it seems that this is a reference to an outbreak of smallpox epidemic which Igué dates to c. 1780.

90 Law, R.C.C. The constitutional troubles of Òyó in the eighteenth century. JAH 12:i (1971), pp. 39-43; Akínjógbìn, I.A. The prelude to the Yorùbá civil wars, pp. 27-28.

91 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, pp. 125, 215-216.

92 Asongba, Romain. Les réalités tribales, p. 3.

93 Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 261-277.

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Légende Figure 4. Western Yorùbá kingdoms c. 1800
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