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The Frontier States of Western Yorubaland

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Biodun Adediran

6. The Autonomous Kingdoms of Western Yorùbáland

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INTRODUCTION

1The problems of consolidation that faced the dynastic groups in western Yorùbáland were absorbing, and they stimulated the emergence of strong socio-political units with definite state structures and clearly defined territorial boundaries. By the end of the eighteenth century when the region was being drawn into the spheres of influence of Dahomey and Òyó, each of the kingdoms of Kétu, Şábe and Ìdáìşà was an independent state, in which all inhabitants were spiritually bonded to the ruling group.

CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY IN KÉTU

  • 1 For instance the ìdòfòyí at Ayétòrò, the Ìjęmò and Ìkagbò in Abęòkúta as well as the Ìbórò, Ìbarà, (...)
  • 2 The Aláké however claims that his own crown was received directly from Odùduwà. Oral interview: Ǫb (...)

2Within the area occupied by the Kétu, the Alákétu was the principal unifying factor and Ilé-Kétu was the hub of all activities. Kétu indigenes, wherever they were, had a strong sentimental attachment to the Alákétu and Ilé-Kétu. All over the Ànàgó, Ęgbá and Ęgbádò areas can be found settlements with substantial Kétu populations which still look upon Ilé-Kétu with nostalgia in spite of the fact that, from the second half, of the eighteenth century, they fell under the sway of the Aláàfin of Òyó.1 This sentimental attachment was buttressed by widespread social and political institutions characteristic of the Kétu, such as facial marks, particular deities and the gèlèdé, as well as titles which are reminiscent of those of Ilé-Kétu, viz.: Sába, Síki, Ojumǫ and Ęlęgára. In a few settlements like Ìlóbí, Ìdòfòyí, Ìmásàyí and Aké which have rulers entitled to wear crowns, the crowns are referred to as Adé Alákétu which suggests that the rights of these settlements to Adé were obtained from the Alákétu.2

  • 3 See for instance, George, J.O. Historical Notes, p. 78; Morton-Williams, P. The Òyó Yorùbá and the (...)
  • 4 Atàndá, J.A. The New Òyó Empire, pp. 11-12; Talbot, P.A. The Peoples of Southern Nigeria Vol. I, p (...)

3There is a limit, however, to which one can regard the establishment of settlements by groups of people led by K6tu princes as an expansion of the territory over Which the Alákétu reigned as king. The claims made in Ilé-Kétu that the pre-nineteenth century extent of the kingdom covered the whole of Ànàgó, Ęgbádò and Ęgbáland3 are exaggerated. Virtually all the settlements in the southern section of western Yorùbáland were out of the control of K6tu authorities especially from the 1750s when the Aláàfin systematically colonized the Ęgbádò country. By the end of the eighteenth century, the supremacy of the Aláàfin had come to be so widely recognized in the Ànàgó and Ęgbádò areas that the Alákétu himself was often mistaken for a provincial head under the Aláàfin.4

  • 5 Morton-Williams, P. The Òyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic trade, p. 31; Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its (...)
  • 6 See Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 141-142.
  • 7 Clapperton, H. Journal of a Second Expedition, p. 56; Ellis, A.B. The Yorùbá-Speaking Peoples, p. (...)
  • 8 Both Tibó and Ilaro were important Òyó outposts controlled directly from Òyó-Ilé under Aláàfin Abí (...)

4Though relations between Òyó and K6tu were friendly,5 there is no evidence that K6tu was under Òyó.6 Records of nineteenth century travellers7 indicate that Kétu was independent. In spite of the widespread influence of Òyó, the region north of Ìlaró and west of Tíbò,8 bounded by the Ouémé in the west and the Qpárá and Qyán rivers in the north was directly under the control of the Alákétu. The inhabitants of this region looked upon the Alákétu not just as a ‘senior brother’ but as a ‘father’ and spiritual leader. This area coincided with a sub-ethnic unit which socially and linguistically was referred to as Kétu, and was distinguished from neighbouring Òyó, Şábę, Ànàgó and Ègbádò sub-units.

  • 9 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 82-84.
  • 10 Ibid.; See also, Bowen, T.B. Adventures and Missionary Labours in Africa, p. 147.

5The Alákétu was an institution himself, deriving his powers from his predecessors and from the ancestors of virtually all Kétu lineages. The Alákétu was at the apex of the socio-political structure. As the title suggests, he was the owner of the capital city, Ilé-Kétu, and of all the people who claimed to belong to the Kétu sub-group of the Yorùbá This is borne out by the complex system of his selection and the even more intricate system of his investiture which could last well over a year.9 During the ritual ceremonies, for the most part of which he was in seclusion, a new Alákétu was believed to acquire tremendous spiritual power from the various shrines he visited. Once fully consecrated, he became a personification of his state and enjoyed many more privileges than ordinary Kétu citizens. He had a fairly large corps of personal officials and kept a large harem. On his death, some of his favourite officials and his two principal wives were required to die with him.10

  • 11 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu.

6In spite of the sacrosanct aura that surrounded the person and residence of the Alákétu, he was not and could not afford to be a despot. He lived under the constant fear of the Oní Ǫjà, his counterpart in the economic sphere, and of necessity had to maintain good relations with the ritual priests who could invoke the ancestors against him.11

7Furthermore, the power of the Alákétu was limited by a council of chiefs whose decisions he had to abide by for fear of a rebellion that could culminate in his deposition and death.

  • 12 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 131.
  • 13 Ibid, p. 145.

8Reverend T.J. Bowen had a glimpse of this inherently weak position of the Alákétu vis-a-vis the chiefs in 1850 when he tried to visit Ilé-Kétu. His plan to visit was received with mixed feelings and caused a division between the Alákétu and some of his chiefs. Although the Alákétu personally favoured the visit. Bowen was turned back at Ìjálę, the first major Kétu settlement on his route.12 When eventually, the Alákétu brought Rev. Bowen into the town against the wishes of his chiefs, the crisis deepened.13

  • 14 Oral interview: the Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78.
  • 15 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 147.

9It must not, however, be assumed that since the chiefs could rebel against the Alákétu, they could reject him at will. There were constitutional checks on the powers of the council of chiefs itself, and its two principal members, the Eesàbà and the Eesìkì, were ritually bonded to protect the Alákétu against any malice in the council.14 Moreover, to reject the Alákétu, there had to be unanimity among the chiefs and in all the principal Kétu settlements. The king’s life was spared during Bowen’s visit because a few of the principal chiefs including Eesàbà Àsàí were on the king’s side. In addition, on the rejection of the Alákétu, some of the chiefs had to die with him.15 This was a powerful check which ensured that the rejection of an Alákétu was based on matters of fundamental principle and not on mere vendetta.

10The function of the chiefs was not just to check the Alákétu. The council which they constituted was in effect the machinery of government. They were the heads of component sections in Ilé-Kétu. Although the highest court of the land was referred to as the Alákétu’s court, it was constituted by the chiefs. Each chief (Olóyè) was the head of a lineage-group which had branches in other major Kétu settlements. As implied by its collective name Kóbalédè (teach the king how to speak), the most important function of the council was to advise the Alákétu.

  • 16 See discussions in ch. 5.
  • 17 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 79; Verger, P. L’Histoire.

11The Council had its origin in the ad hoc committee of advisers set up by Alákétu at the foundation of Ilé-Kétu.16 Then, it was made up of a few pre-dynastic lineage heads who had not evacuated the site of Ilé-Kétu in protest against the installation of the dynastic group from Ard. Prominent among the pre-dynastic heads whose descendants have continued till the present time as members of the council are the Ajahossu, Aládùfin and Akínikó. The number of members of the council increased systematically with the growth of the kingdom as a result of attempts to integrate various pre-dynastic settlements into the sphere of influence of the dynastic group, and perhaps, also as a result of the deliberate policy of successive Alákétu to strengthen their position in the council. It would appear that an Alákétu could increase the number as he deemed necessary. It is possible that some Alákétu did this in order to make unanimity on vital issues such as the rejection of the Alákétu fairly difficult. Various Kétu traditions put the number of chiefs on the council at the time of the Dahomean conquest, in the 1880s at between sixty and seventy;17 only a few of these were, however, of great importance in the administration of the kingdom.

  • 18 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 143.
  • 19 Oral interview: Àgàn Jagundę (100+).
  • 20 See Johnson, S. The History, p. 77. in some of these states, for example, the Ìgbómìnà Kingdom of (...)
  • 21 Oral interview: Adéşínà Claver, Ilé-Kétu, 8/7/78. Johnson, S. The History, pp. 77-70 mentioned Ǫlá (...)
  • 22 What obtained in Ilé-Ifę where a similar organization into ‘left’ (inner) and ‘right’ (outer) sets (...)

12The Eesàbà, whom Bowen described as the ‘king’s father’,18 was the traditional equivalent of the prime minister in a parliamentary system of government. The title appears to have been incorporated into the Kétu political system through Dírin. As part of the ceremonies for coronation the Alákétu-elect performs some rituals at the shrine of a deity-called Eesàbà Àga in Dírin.19 The Kétu Eesàbà was probably similar to the Oóşà title in some central Yorùbá states.20 Next to the Eesàbà was the Eesìkì, a name which probably has something to do with the left (òsì), the side of the Alákétu to which he sat when the latter appeared in public.21 In effect, the Eesìkì might be the head of an ‘inner cabinet’ while the Eesàbà was head of the ‘outer cabinet’.22

  • 23 The Ęlégbára title has been abolished in Ilé-Kétu. In some Kétu settlements, the title is only ren (...)
  • 24 Igué, O.J. and Ìrókò, F.A. Les Villes Yorùbá du Dahomey: l’Exemple de Kétou. Cotonou (1974).
  • 25 Cornevin, R. Histoire du Dahomey, p. 151

13The Elęgbára, usually put as next in rank to the Eesìkì, was very important23 as the head of a third arm of government, the religious arm. The significance of this title-holder will be appreciated when it is remembered that in pre-colonial Yorùbáland, politics and religion could not be separated; religion was in fact a prop to all political authority of the Ǫba or any state official. The prestige of the Elęgbára as head of all the ritual priests in the kingdom was further enhanced by his personal control of the shrines of Èsù and Ògún, the two major Kétu deities; and his position as the spiritual leader of the four other principal Olóyè the Alálùmon, Èrá, Ojumo and Ajànà all of whom, as descendants of pre-dynastic groups, were in charge of major shrines in Ilé-Kétu and played important roles in the coronation of a new Alàkétu.24 The Ojumǫ was, in addition to his religious duties, the Alàkétu’s representative in various social bodies in the town.25

  • 26 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 130.

14The political structure of major settlements in the Kétu kingdom was a replica of that of Ilé-Kétu, with the major chieftain families in Ilé-Kétu represented. Each settlement had some autonomy in its internal affairs though the Alakétu felt the pulse of the local population through the use of itinerant messengers, including perhaps Ìlàrí.26 None of the senior chiefs was, however, directly responsible for any settlement since each head of settlement was responsible to the State Council.

15Administratively, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, Kétu settlements could be classified into two. There were those whose heads were Ǫba (kings) though lower in status than the Alákétu himself. These enjoyed a great deal of autonomy though they maintained a traditional loyalty to Ilé-Kétu. The settlements in this category included Ìlíkímu, Ìdòfà, Ìjeùn, Ìdòfòyí, Ìká and Ìjálę. The second category of settlements consisted of those whose heads were Baálę, and who in all matters were expected to take a cue from one of the principal settlements headed by an Ǫba, or directly from Ilé-Kétu.

  • 27 Morton-Williams, P. The Òyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic trade, pp. 25, 45; Foláyan, K. Ègbádòland to 1 (...)
  • 28 Oral interviews: the Onídòfà and chiefs, 14/3/78; Chief James A. Égúnjobí, Esàbà, Ìjálę-Kétu, 4/6/ (...)
  • 29 Aşíwájú, A.I. Western Yorùbáland, p. 21; Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 48.
  • 30 Oral interview: Fákànbí, J.A. (70+), Òkè-Òyìnbó, Ègùa, 3/6/78; ìdòwú Yesufu (70+), Kòtò-Ǫlà, Ègùa, (...)

16This classification arose not out of the size of these settlements but out of the status of each of them in Kétu traditions. Ìlíkímu, Ìká and Ìjèün were headed by Òyó groups27 similar to the one that occupied Àró on the eve of the foundation of Ilé-Kétu, while the dynasties at Ìdòfà, Ìjálę and Ìdòfòyí were founded directly from Ilé-Kétu by Kétu princes.28 The ‘dynastic links’ of these settlements with the dynastic group in Ilé-Kétu entitled their rulers to such privileges as the use of the title, Ǫba, residence in a palace, and wearing of adé (crowns without beaded fringes). On the other hand, in spite of its strategic importance to Kétu’s commercial activities, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, Ìmęko belonged to the second category because its founder was not traditionally entitled to wear a crown or bear the title, Ǫba.29 Similarly, Ègùá which was the second largest Kétu settlement was headed by a Baálę throughout the nineteenth century.30

17But in all Kétu settlements including the ones headed by an Ǫba, the Alákétu and his chiefs could intervene in local politics, and their consent was necessary in local chieftaincy matters. Those who disagreed with by the decisions in local courts appealed to the Alákétu’s court whose decision was binding on all.

  • 31 Oral interviews: Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78; Fákànbí, J.A. and Ìdòwú Yesufu, Ègùá, 3/6/78; Onídòf (...)

18Vassalage obligations to the Alákétu by the various settlements included an annual journey to Ilé-Kétu for renovation of the Alákétu’s palace and regular contributions to the running costs of the central government. During major Kétu festivals, the Alákétu expected gifts from all settlements, irrespective of status. In addition, each head of settlement took ‘gifts’ to the Alákétu during local harvests or local festivals. There was no fixed amount, each settlement being required to bring what it thought fit. This arrangement was in itself an assurance that the Alákétu got adequate revenue; for, if the gift presented by a settlement was considered too small, it could be rejected. Invariably, each settlement brought in more than was expected, the usual intention of the local populace being to improve on the previous year’s gifts.31

  • 32 See Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 130.
  • 33 Morton-Williams, P. The Òyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic trade, p. 40.
  • 34 Bastride, R. and Verger, P. Etude sociologique de Marche Nago de Bas-Dahomey. Cahiers de l’ISEA se (...)
  • 35 Igué, O. and Ìrókò, F. Les Villes Yorùbá du Dahomey, pp. 4-6.

19In addition to regular gifts, Kétu officials collected tolls at the periodic markets located all over the kingdom. One of such officials was the ìlàrí whom Bowen met at Àìbò.32 Kétu took early advantage of the routes that developed between Òyó and the coast through the Ęgbádò country.33 Ilé-Kétu was itself a nodal town in a web of trade routes.34 The importance of the town is demonstrated by the presence of three regular markets: Ǫjà Akéré (little market) catering basically for the needs of the town, Ǫjà-nlà (big market) frequented on a daily basis and Asę market which connected Ilé-Kétu with the strategically located commercial towns of Ìmęko, Ìwòyè, Ègùá and Àbá.35

  • 36 Hallet, R. (ed.) The Niger Journal of Richard and John Lander, pp. 72-74.
  • 37 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionaries Labours, p. 146.

20Farming was the basic occupation of the Kétu people. In fact, most Kétu settlements in the Ègbádò area grew from little beginnings as farmsteads. Every Kétu man had a farm, however small. A few wealthy ones had fairly extensive farms in which they cultivated a variety of crops including yams, beans and cotton. The Lander brothers passing through ‘Engwa’ (Égùá) on their route to Old Òyó in 1829 were surprised that in spite of the poor soil, there were large plantations of cotton, indigo, Indian corn and yams.36 This was the general impression gathered in all the Kétu towns through which they passed — viz., Chakka (Ìjàká), Accodo (Ìjàká Odò) and Dufo (Ìdòfòyí). Food items were rich and included a good deal of animal protein. In the nineteenth century, milk was certainly not a luxury for it could be easily obtained.37

  • 38 Ajíşafę, A.K. A History of Abęòkúta, p. 10.
  • 39 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 144.
  • 40 Oral interview: Aró Adétúnjí (100+), Máyingbìn, Ilé-Kétu, 22/7/78; Samuel Adébíyì (75+), Ìlómu, Il (...)

21Of the many traditional industries that existed in Kétu, palm oil extraction was already extensive by the seventeenth century. The tradition of Alákétu Epo using oil mixed with soil to strengthen the walls of Ilé-Kétu can be taken as an indication that oil was already being produced in large quantities at the time of his reign. Also, of early importance was cloth-weaving38 and presumably a host of associated subsidiary industries like indigo-making, cotton-spinning, dyeing and sewing. In addition to all these, the Kétu excelled in crafts, especially in working with brass and iron and in wood carving.39 There was craft specialization; brass-work was the particular occupation of the Ìlóbí family; the settlement of Òkè Àgbędę was the major smithery,40 while Òfìà developed into a centre for wood carving, and became famous as the home of gèlèdé masks.

Figure 5. Western Yorùbá trade routes in the 19th century (Aşíwájú, 1976, p. 24)

  • 41 For fuller discussions see Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Aspects of the political economy of western Yorùbála (...)

22The strategic and economic importance of Kétu made the kingdom very important in the policies of Òyó and Dahomey from the last quarter of the eighteenth century.41 Thus Kétu was one of the victims of the struggle for supremacy between Dahomey and various Yorùbá groups in the nineteenth century.

KINSHIP AND POLITICAL AUTHORITY IN SÁBE

23Like Kétu, the kingdom of Şábę was, by the end of the eighteenth century, an ethnically homogeneous unit. The political head of the kingdom was known as the Oníşábe. In spite of the fact that there were major Şábę settlements like Kábua, Kìlìbò, Jàbàtá and Şaworo which compared favourably with Ilé-Şábę in size and population, Ilé-Şábę was the hub of the political and economic activities of the Şábę. For instance, as the place where Babagídàí lived and died, Kábua was the spiritual headquarters of the Babagídàí group and therefore a major focus of authority in the Şábę region. It was this fact that successive rulers of Kábua exploited to the disadvantage of the king at Ilé-Şábę. But also important were Kìlìbò and Jàbàtà, both of which featured prominently in the constitutional development of the kingdom. The dynasty at Kìlìbò was established by an offshoot of the Babagídàí group, while Jàbàtà was very important in the claims of the Onişábę to leadership of the pre-dynastic groups in the Şábę region. However, in the thinking of members of the Babagídàí group, Ilé-Şàbę remained the centre, and the Onişábę, once invested with the powers of Babagídàí, was their political leader. Indeed in all the struggles for supremacy between the Kábua and Ilé-Şábę branches, all powerful individuals in the region, including the Baálę of Kábua, continued to look on Ilé-Şàbę as the capital.

24Nevertheless, the actual content of the power of the Onişábę demands a close look in view of the presence of other major political foci in the senior members of the Babagídàí group and the principal lineage heads in Ilé-Şábę. The importance of the Babagídàí group is brought out by the fact that members of the group were political heads of virtually all the major settlements in the Şábę area. The kingdom could conveniently be divided into four regions, each under the direct control of the head of a senior branch of the Babagídàí group. Apart from the southern region which was administered directly from Ilé-Şábę, each of the other three regions was organized around a headquarters; the north around Kìlìbò), the north-central around Kǫkǫrǫ and the central around Kábua. Each regional head was titled Baálę and looked upon the other heads as ‘brothers’ and the Oníşábe. as the ‘father’. Thus the familial concept was applied to the administration of the kingdom. While each Baálè was in a sense autonomous, he was in theory under the Oníşábe since the whole kingdom ‘belonged’ to the Babagídàí. This administrative organization which allowed collateral branches to share in the authority of the head of the kingdom was a compromise to resolve the incessant crises within the Babagídàí group. It was also intended to protect them against the pre-dynastic groups. To control the settlements outside his region, the Oníşábe. had to have adequate control of the Babagídàí group. This dependence on the group made it a significant layer of political authority within the kingdom. All heads of senior branches of the group constituted a council with advisory roles to the Oníşábe; and acted as a major restraint to him especially on issues that affected the interests of the group.

25Evidently, the Oníşábe could not discountenance these interests, especially those of the Baálę of Kábua who was the most important of the regional heads. It may be recalled that as descendant of the eldest son of Babagídàí, the Baálę of Kábua had direct control over the shrines of the progenitor of the group. As head of the Babagídàí group and political head of the kingdom, he also had direct responsibility for the investiture of a new Oníşábe. In addition, he was responsible for the installation of the heads of two other senior branches of the Babagídàí group; the Baálę of Kokoro and Worogì.

26The Oníşábe, however, was not a mere figurehead who merely rubber-stamped the decisions of the Baálę of Kábua or, for that matter, those of the Babagídàí. In effect, he operated within a system in which he had to take cognisance of another tier of power made up of heads of the principal lineages on whom his hold on Ilé-Şabe itself depended. While the Babagídàí group represented the aristocracy, the lineage heads in Ilé-Şabe and in all other settlements were heads of non-royal branches who represented non-royal interests. They too, therefore, could not be disregarded in the running of the affairs of each settlement.

  • 42 Priests of major şábe deities are also called Agàànì. The linguistic similarity between the term A (...)
  • 43 See Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 65-67.

27Thus, the non-Babagídàí lineage heads constituted a council of chiefs which was directly responsible for the administration of each settlement under the surveillance of a member of the Babagídàí group. The council of chiefs in each settlement was made up of heads of principal component lineages. Each chief was known as Agàànì, a term which has lost its original meaning.42 The council of Agàànì in Ilé-Şabe was the equivalent of the better-known Òyó Męsì43 or the Kétu Kóbalédè.

  • 44 Oral interviews: Ayédùn Omítókí (100+), Pàákò, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78; Dáwódù Òkùnlolá (75+), kìlìbo, I (...)

28Collectively, the chiefs in Ilé- served as advisers to the Oníşábe and held the highest court in the kingdom. Although the Oníşábe was responsible for approving the appointment of each of the chiefs, he had no direct say in the choice; that right being the exclusive preserve of the lineage from which the chief came. However, the Oníşábe could delay the installation of a candidate he was not in favour of and could thus ultimately influence a choice within the lineage. On the other hand, the Agàànì council had a crucial say in the appointment of an Oníşábe. The council had to approve a candidate chosen from among the Òtólá (royal princes). Without this approval, the various investiture ceremonies either as Oníşábe or as head of the Babagídàí group could not begin. In this way, the chiefs had an instrument they could use, for they could reject a candidate whose pre-selection character showed traits of autocracy or malevolence. Such action was always attributed to the Ifá oracle. Consulting the oracle ensured that whoever was eventually chosen enjoyed a good reign. The diviner would be chosen by the chiefs and most of the rituals would be carried out by them. If the consensus of opinion among the chiefs was against a particular candidate, the oracle would definitely reject him. If, on the other hand, the chiefs favoured a particular person, but the oracle predicted a turbulent reign, the oracle would be asked to prescribe the necessary rituals to ward off the evil.44

29Furthermore, once constituted, the Agàànì could act as a check on the excesses of an Oníşábe. One of the various ways of controlling an Oníşábe whom they considered tyrannical, was simply to boycott the palace; this was tantamount to a rejection of its occupant. Another was the ritual of taking ‘royal marks’ usually given by the chiefs. At least on three occasions, this latter check was used; first against Yáì Ǫlá Ǫbę whose reign tended towards autocracy and against Ǫlá Moní and Ǫlá Aláìmò, whose selections the chiefs did not approve of.

30Each of the Agàànì was responsible for the effective control of the lineage which he represented. Thus, each had a quarter of the town over which he was the immediate head. As the titles were hereditary within specific lineages, the Oníşábę’s ability to hold the allegiance of the component lineages in Ilé-şábę depended substantially on the co-operation of the Agàànì.

  • 45 Oral interviews: the Oníşábe and chiefs, 21/8/78; Şàbì Ajóngólò (90+), Òkè Amósùn, Ilé-şábę, 26/8/ (...)
  • 46 On Olú Odò, see Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte.
  • 47 Igué, O.J. The traditional socio-political organisation of Şábę (manuscript).
  • 48 Akíntóyè, S.A. The north-eastern districts of the Yorùbá country and the Benin Kingdom. JHSN 4: iv (...)

31Of the nine Agàànì titles in Ilé-şábę, the most important today is the Olóró, the holder of which occupies a position equivalent to that of a prime minister in a parliamentary system of government. The Olóró serves as regent during an interregnum and presides over all meetings of the Agàànì council. There is some evidence that the Olóró did not always occupy this position and that in pre-colonial times, perhaps up to the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Óòlú Òtún was the most important of the Agàànì.45 The roles of the Olóró at that time appear to have been strictly confined to judicial matters. The title, Olóró (possessor of poison), was derived from the ordeal which he administered in the course of his duties. The Basàlę who ranked second on the Agàànì council was traditionally in charge of the financial transactions of the kingdom, having overall control of the customs posts in Ilé-Şábę and the traffic on the Ouémé river. This is buttressed by the fact that the shrine of the guardian spirit of the Ouémé river, Olú Odò (Lord of the river) deity is kept by the Basàlę.46 These economic functions were only assumed lately and are in addition to his principal functions as the chief adviser to the Oníşábe. The term, Basàlę, could be interpreted as ‘chief adviser’ and is derived from the support which the Jàlúmòn gave to Yáì at the inception of the kingdom. The Bapónà who has been aptly referred to as a ‘customs officer’ was responsible for the collection of tolls at the main gates of Ilé-Şábę and for the defence of the town. This dual function is attested to in the lineage’s oríkì, part of which refers to the Bapóna as ‘Ǫmǫ ǫlónà a f’ogun ş’ólú’ (offspring of owners of the gates who (also) guard the king).47 The Basàdín was primarily the link between the Agàànì and the Oníşábe; while the Basólò, whose duties are not now known, was apparently reminiscent of the Ǫsólò title of the central and eastern Yorùbá sub-groups.48 The Òòlú Òtún was an intelligence officer directly responsible to the Oníşábe; hence the lineage oríkì, ǫmǫ ab’ólá sǫ òrò kélékélé’ (offspring of those who talk to the king in low tones).

  • 49 Oral interview: Pa Ayédùn Omítóki, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78. The name of the later Oníşábę is not now rem (...)

32There is evidence of continual constitutional development especially in the attempt of the Oníşábę to maintain the balance between the Babagídàí group and the Agàànì. It was this that prompted Yai Ǫlá Ǫbę to institute the Basàdín and Bapóna titles, while a later Oníşábę instituted the Pàákò chieftaincy title to undermine the influence of the Basólò.49 Later in the nineteenth century, the Ba Àgánjò title was created by Oníşábę Ǫtęwà possibly to further strengthen his position within the Agàànì council.

  • 50 This aspect of the economy of Şábę has been dealt with by Igué, O.J. In: L’organisation de l’espac (...)

33Within this socio-political framework, it was easy for the Oníşábę to take advantage of the vast economic potentials of the different areas within the Şábę territory. Basically, the Şábę were an agricultural people.50 The main agricultural products were yam and tobacco. Vegetables were cultivated along the rivers and indigo was grown in the river valleys. Cotton seems to have been produced on a fairly extensive scale and it appears that the Şábę, or at least a section of them knew its value for cloth-weaving. The oríkì of one of the pre-dynastic lineages talks of the benefits one could derive from cotton cultivation. Part of it reads thus:

  1. Òwú l’à bá gbìn
  2. A kò gbin ’dę
  3. Òwú l’à bá gbìn
  4. A kò gbin ’lèkè
  5. Ìlèkè kìí báni dé sàréè
  6. Ǫjó a bá kú
  7. Igba aşǫ níí bá nií
  1. We ought to cultivate cotton
  2. And not silver
  3. We ought to cultivate cotton
  4. And not beads
  5. Beads cannot follow a person to the grave
  6. But on one’s death
  7. Hundred of clothes will accompagny one

34There are also indications from the oríkì orílè of the Şábę people that the palm oil trade was once an important aspect of the economy, making Şábę a great palm oil centre in the western Yorùbá country.

  • 51 Aşíwájú, A.I. A note on the history of Şábę, pp 18-19. The tradition in Johnson, S. The History of (...)

35Another major occupation which the Şábę were certainly engaged in by the beginning of the nineteenth century was animal husbandry. It has been rightly suggested that the tradition that the progenitor of the Şábę. people inherited cattle at the death of Odùduwà was derived from the fact that, as one of the northernmost sub-sections of the Yorùbá, the Şábę practised cattle-rearing51 and were most probably the immediate sources of cow meat for a substantial part of the Yorùbá people including those within the Òyó kingdom among whom the tradition originated. Cattle-rearing was supplemented with chicken and goat rearing, etc. Hunting was also an important occupation, though secondary to farming. The wooded nature of the region was highly conducive to large-scale hunting. Also, the three major rivers Òfìkì, Òpárá and Ouémé were famed for their wealth of large fishes. There is no reason to doubt that the Şábę went beyond the level of subsistence farming in the production of a variety of food and cash crops which they traded with their neighbours.

36The oríkì orílę of the Şábę people testifies that in all aspects of economic activity, the kingdom was buoyant, Summing up the idea of the Şábę about their economy before the Yorùbá civil wars it says:

  1. Şábę Ǫpárá
  2. Ǫmǫ alábata
  3. Ìgùn ’kè Ǫfè
  4. N’kò le mu Ǫfè tán
  5. Kí nwá m’Ǫpárá
  6. Inú ní fi ńrun ni
  7. Ibi Ǫpárá pàdé Ǫfè
  8. Ęja a máşe bębę l’ójú omi
  9. Àwǫn òpępę ńşe k’ódò mágbę
  10. Àwǫn Ìkòló ńşe k’ódò má fà
  11. Àt’ òpę pę
  12. Àt’Ìkòló
  13. Ni nwón nfi ńşe orò l’Ǫpárá ilé
  14. Ǫmǫ alábata
  15. Şábę Ǫpárá
  16. Ìgùn ’kè Ǫfè
  17. Şábę kìí l’ǫrún
  18. Şábę kìí l’òfà
  19. Óhun gbogbo nígba nígba ni
  20. Àgó ilé epo
  21. Àgó ilé kò jǫ ti ìgbę52
  1. Şábę, the country of Ǫpárá river
  2. Offspring of Alábata
  3. In the upper Ǫfè (Ouémé river) region
  4. I cannot drink from the Ǫfè
  5. Then drink from the Ǫpárá
  6. It will cause stomach disorder
  7. At the confluence of the Ǫpárá and Ǫfè
  8. Fishes are plentiful
  9. Ǫpèpè rejoice at high water
  10. So do Ìkòló.
  11. Both Ǫpèpè
  12. And Ìkòló
  13. Are religiously cherished in the Ǫpárá region
  14. Offspring of Alabata
  15. Şábę, the country between Ǫpárá
  16. And upper Ǫfe
  17. Şábę do not use things in hundreds
  18. Nor in twenties
  19. But do everything in two hundreds
  20. The palm oil camp
  21. A tfown camp that does not look like a bush one.

37Even though it is not certain what the revenue collection system was, it is likely that the Oníşábę received levies in cowries, foodstuff and meat from his chiefs and heads of principal settlements. Certainly tolls were collected at the main gates of Ilé-Şábę, each of which, as noted earlier, was under the direct supervision of the Bapónà and the general surveillance of the Basàlę. In fact, in addition to whatever peculiar functions any of the Agàànì had, each was an intermediary through whom the Oníşábę collected tributes and gifts. All members of the Babagídàí group who were Baá1ę or village heads also featured in the revenue collection system.

38Unfortunately, the destruction and upheavals that accompanied the nineteenth century wars have made it difficult to get a clear picture of the extent of the area from which the Oníşábę drew his revenues or over which he had political control.

  • 53 This suggestion is based on the traditions of these northern settlements. Orou, G. L’origine de la (...)
  • 54 See Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire; and Aşíwájú, A.I. Western Yorùbáland, p. 14; cf Law, R.C.C (...)
  • 55 George, J.O. Historical Notes, p. 20; cf. Cornevin, R. Histoire du Dahomey, pp. 139-142.

39Although Şaworo is the northernmost major Şábę settlement today, it is not unlikely that the ‘frontier’ once extended further north to include a few southern Ìbààbá settlements like Paraku and Şáşu (Tchatchou on French maps).53 The traditional eastern boundary of Şábę was the Ǫyán river,54 though in actual fact the region between the Ǫpárá and the Ǫyán appears to have been a ‘buffer zone’ where the authority of the Oníşábę and the Aláàfin of 0yd overlapped. The limits of the kingdom in the south and west are more difficult to fix; but the speculation that it extended as far as the sea and to Asanteland55 is certainly exaggerated. What is certain is that the political influence of the Oníşábę extended southwards as far as the confluence of the Ǫpárá and Ouémé; while westwards, traffic over the northern Ouémé river was under the control of Şábę customs men.

  • 56 Oral interviews: Ǫba Adétutù (the Alákétu) and chiefs, 15/7/78; Albert Àbissí, Ààfin, Dassa-Zoumé, (...)
  • 57 Interview: Lóyè Adégbolá (105+), Akoro, Ìmękq, 23/4/78; cf. Bíòbákú, S.O. Ęgbá and their Neighbour (...)

40By any standard, Şábę was not a large kingdom. It was however famous among neighbouring sub-groups of the Yorùbá Şábę-Ǫpárá as it is popularly referred to in the traditions, is regarded as a ‘melting pot’ of cultures and a major cultural dispersal centre, as can be seen in the widespread nature of the Nàná Bùrùkúù cult. Among all the sub-groups of the Yorùbá in that region, the deity is regarded as a strong Şábę god. In neighbouring Ęgba/Ęgbádòland, where Nàná Bùrùkúù is regarded as a non-Yorùbá deity, there is a consensus of opinion that it was introduced through Şábę.56 There is also a suggestion that the cognomen, Ǫmǫ Líşàbí (offspring of Líşàbí, by which the Ęgbá are popularly known has something to do with the Şábę.57

  • 58 Òjó, S. Ìwe Ìtàn Şakí ati Şakí Kejì, p. 32 ff; Oral interviews: Chief s. Òjó, Ìsàlę-Tábà, Şakí, 16 (...)
  • 59 Personal discussions with Dr. Igué. Oral interview: Şàbigànnà A. Àdìgún and chiefs, 19/2/78.

41In parts of the Òyó kingdom adjacent to Şábęland, the Şábę are remembered as skilful hunters and warriors, who exercised some military influence in the Ońkò district of the Òyó kingdom during the early years of the Fulani invasions.58 It could well be in consideration of this reputation that the Aláàfin allowed an exiled Şábę prince to settle and found the chiefdom of Ìgànná in Òyóland.59

  • 60 The appropriate verse in Ǫyèkú méjì portrays Şábę as being war-like. See Abímbólá, ’Wándé. Ìjìnlę (...)

42Indeed, a verse of an Odù Ifá confirms the impression that Şábę occupied a position much more important than it did on the eve of colonial rule.60 There is certainly no doubt that in spite of its very small size, Şábę was, in pre-colonial times a sovereign kingdom independent of both Dahomey and 0yd, its two powerful neighbours.

THE STRUCTURE OF ADMINISTRATION IN ÌDÁÌSÀ

  • 61 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 23; Berge, J.A. Etude sur le pays Mahi, p. 709 ff; Palau-Ma (...)

43Like Şábę, Ìdáìsà was a very small kingdom before the wars of the nineteenth century. Indeed this kingdom had very little chance of being large. The topography and the incessant raids made it impossible for the Jagun dynastic group to extend the sphere of its influence beyond the precincts of the pre-dynastic settlements which were incorporated into the union at the time of the installation of the Jagun group in Igbó-Ìdáìşà. The area of the kingdom, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, was enclosed by the Ouémé in the east, the Àgbádó (a tributary of the Zou) in the west and the Zou in the south. In the north, the kingdom shared a boundary with the Mahi Kingdom of Savalou; Gòmę was the northernmost Ìdáìşà settlement.61 Within this area, it was easy for the Jagun group, once it had established its ascendancy, to maintain its political hold.

  • 62 The present name Dassa-Zoumé dates to the early twentieth century and is a Fon translation of the (...)

44The capital town was Igbó-Ìdáìşà, the prefix Igbó (forest) having a concept similar to the Ilé (home) in other Yorùbá kingdoms.62 The head of the kingdom was the Jagun, a term which was illustrative of a preoccupation with war and of the belief that he was the epitome of bravery. The Jagun was alternatively referred to as the Ololú (chief of chiefs) which again illustrates the composition of the kingdom as a federation of many autonomous settlements. The cumulative effect of the various problems faced by the Jagun dynastic group was the emergence of that group as a strong pillar of political unity. It had a very tight hold on the scattered settlements by the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the running of the affairs of the union of scattered settlements had become well established.

  • 63 Oral interview: Àbíssí Albert, 20/9/78; Listes des dignitaires formant les collectivistes maîtress (...)
  • 64 Asongba, R. Les réalistes tribales, p. 3.

45Nevertheless, there were many pre-Jagun heads of settlements who regarded themselves as equals of the Jagun. Of these, seven were prominent: the Akran, Bara of Ìfìtá, Ǫba Agu of Àdó, Ǫba’lé of Ìjeùn, Ǫba Tudi, Ǫba of Ìtagi and Ǫba Lémon.63 Each had a cluster of settlements under his direct control. But the inhabitants of all the scattered settlements, irrespective of their pre-Jagun ethnic identity were regarded as belonging to the same social group — the Alákémon64 (commoners) as distinct from the Jagun dynastic group which had the monopoly of supreme political authority over all the settlements.

  • 65 For fuller discussions see Adédìran, ’Biódún. The structure of administration of pre-colonial Ìdáì (...)

46Before one can understand the political structure of the kingdom, one has to bear in mind that the area was a region of refuge with many settlements on hill tops.65 While the settlements retained some autonomy, they were closely knit into a confederacy within which they recognized the primacy of the Jagun. For instance, the judicial system of the various settlements ultimately ended in the Jagun’s court at Igbó-Ìdáìşà, where there was an official who performed the functions of a chief judge. This official was the head of Esępá quarter. Contact with the Jagun’s court at Igbó-Ìdáìşà was also obligatory in matters of common interest to all, such as internal security and threats of external invasion.

47The constant fear of external incursions, and the belief that only the Jagun group at Igbó-Ìdáìşà could solve the problem, made the confederacy closer than it might ordinarily have been. Although the Jagun did not interfere directly in the affairs of the settlements, he could communicate with their heads and summon any of them to his palace for routine consultation. He had to be formally informed on the death of the head of a settlement and on the installation of a new one.

  • 66 Palau-Marti. Notes sur les rois Dasa, p. 199.

48The Ìdáìşà concept of government was based on the belief that the Jagun was a direct descendant of Jagun Ǫlófin, who was the first Jagun and the symbol and source of political unity in the region. Thus the throne has always been hereditary within the family group of Jagun. According to Palau-Marti, the method of succession was a peculiar one in which at the death of a Jagun, the throne passed in turn to his brothers in order of birth and finally, after their demise, to his eldest son.66

  • 67 Oral interviews: Jagun Esègun (60+); Àpàkí Kòbólú (60+), ìsègún, Tre, 15/9/78; Àbíssí Albert, Dass (...)
  • 68 Palau-Marti. Notes..... p. 201 ff; Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple, p. 7 mistook the Ǫba l’ókè for (...)

49An interesting feature of the political structure was the existence of two other kingships in the capital town.67 First, there was the Ǫba l’ókè, head of the Lémon sub-group of the dynastic group. Although the Ǫba l’ókè played a primarily ritual role, his significance in political affairs was recognized by the respect given him and the sacrosanctity that surrounded him.68 The second kingship title was the Ǫba’lé, head of the Ìjeùn lineage group. His functions were purely advisory, and his relationship with the Jagun was that of a father to a son.

50Both the Ǫba l'ókè and Ǫba’lé acted as controls to prevent the Jagun from going beyond the limits allowed him by the constitution. As ‘kings’ in their own right, they had their own chiefs, official residences and, presumably, their own followings. They were, therefore, potential rallying points of discontent and could not be disregarded. Furthermore, the Ǫba l’ókè was expected to pray daily for the unity and survival of the kingdom; he could precipitate a crisis by withholding this essential service. The position of the Ǫba’lé was even stronger; as head of a principal pre-Jagun group, he was the champion of the cause of other pre-Jagun groups which formed the Alákémon in Igbó-Ìdáìsà.

  • 69 Asongba, R. Les réalités tribales, p. 11; Àbíssí, A. Les responsables des dynasties princières (ms (...)

51Another major restraint to the power of the Jagun was the degree of protocol that surrounded him. He had no direct access to the people or to any part of the kingdom and could only be approached through a chain of officials who formed an inner cabinet of the government. Among these officials, the most important was the Ǫgáşòrun, evidently a dialectal variant of the Òyó Basòrun and possibly the equivalent of Kétu’s Eesàbà and Şábę’s Òòlú Ǫtún. Other principal officials included the Ǫósà, chief of royal protocol, Ológun Ònà, head of the royal militia, and Aşípa, head of the princes.69

  • 70 Awę, Bólánlé, The Ìyálóde in the traditional Yorùbá political system. In: Schlagel, A. (ed). Sexua (...)
  • 71 Argyle, W.J. The Fon of Dahomey, pp. 63-65.

52Each of these had a corresponding female chief titled Ìná (mother). This is surprising because Yorùbá society is essentially patrilineal and, in ordinary circumstances, women are not accorded the same political recognition as men. But the institution of female chieftaincy parallel to that of the male is not peculiar to the Ìdáìsà and can be found among a few other Yorùbá sub-groups70 and among the neighbouring Fon of Dahomey.71 Among the latter, the titled women formed an important part of the administrative and military systems.

  • 72 Ediku, L. Les rois du Jagou de Dassa-Zoumé, p. 3.
  • 73 Awę, Bóláńlé. The Ìyálode, op. cit.

53In Ìdáìsà, the offices of the female chiefs were equal to those of the male only in theory; and in effect the female chiefs were only advisers of the males. It would appear that this position occupied by women in Ìdáìsà was a compensation for the loss of some of their political rights. Certainly, for some time after the foundation of the kingdom, women continued to have equal political rights with men.72 According to some traditions, one female Jagun misused her power to such an extent that the Ìdáìsà, after her deposition, decided never again to allow women as much political power as men. Thus, although the Ìná-Jagun, as head of the female chiefs, enjoyed many privileges and had her own court, she was not invested with as much power as that of a queen mother or that of a Lóbùn at Ońdó where a similar phenomenon existed and still exists.73

54The fact that ‘mothers’ were appointed only for members of the ‘inner cabinet’ in Ìdáìsà strongly suggests that the development of the institution has to be closely linked with the frequent squabbles within the Jagun dynastic group. From the tradition that its beginning was post-Olúsà, it may be presumed that it was one of the institutions introduced into Ìdáìsà by Jagun Ajíbóyè in his attempt to stabilize the dynastic group. Presumably, this was introduced from Dahomey where female title-holders are also known as Ìná (mother). It may be recalled that Ajíbóyè introduced many institutions into Ìdáìsà. What is certain is that in Ìdáìsà, women were not completely relegated to the background, but continued to be an important buffer between the Jagun on the one hand and members of the ‘inner cabinet’ on the other.

55Virtually all the officials in the inner cabinet were chosen from within the Jagun group. This greatly reduced the interaction of the Jagun even with members of the dynastic group. To maintain the allegiance of the group, he had to enjoy the co-operation of all the officials. Although it was with this corps of officials that the Alákémon dealt, the duties of the cabinet were confined strictly to the affairs of the Jagun group since each head of settlement had a similar ‘inner’ cabinet.

56There were two other cabinets constituted substantially by the non-Jagun lineage-groups. One, headed by the Ǫba’lé, could be referred to as the ‘outer’ cabinet. It was made up of heads of principal Alákémon lineage groups in Igbó-Ìdáìsà; there were the Bara, Akran, and Atcha. The Jagun group was represented by the Ológun Ǫnà, head of the royal militia, who was also a member of the second cabinet. The other cabinet encompassed the major Ìdáìsà settlements and was known as the ‘council of Ìdáìsà crowned heads’ (ÌdáìsàAládó=Aládé?). Members of this latter cabinet enjoyed many privileges which suggest recognition of their being in some way equal to the Jagun. They did not prostrate for him, they could sit with him and they were not required to uncap within the palace. This latter cabinet is generally taken as representative of all Ìdáìsà people; and was in a sense the council of state.

57All members of this council of state were obliged to send annual gifts to the Jagun, especially during the dry season. It is however not certain whether these annual gifts became regular out of the freewill of the respective settlements or on the instructions of the Jagun’s court. The collection of tolls was, in addition, very important. Both the Oní and the Ǫlá featured prominently in the revenue collection system. The fact that each of these governors had many titled chiefs under him is suggestive of a network covering virtually all parts of the kingdom in order to ensure a steady flow of revenue into the royal purse at Igbó-Ìdáìsà.

  • 74 Oral interview: Àbíssí Albert, 28/9/78; see also Hutchet, R.P. Les Dassas, p. 3.

58The constant raids into the Ìdáìsà country from the beginning of the eighteenth century may give the wrong impression that the economic situation was very gloomy. Life was definitely insecure and economic activities were often disrupted. Evidence however abounds that economic activities were never entirely abandoned. The belief that every Ìdáìsà man was first a soldier74 stemmed from the fact that they were always prepared for raids, even though every Ìdáìsà man was a farmer.

  • 75 See Hutchel. Origines des nom, on the growth of Gbedewo.

59Usually, small farm holdings were on the hill settlements but larger and fairly extensive farms were also cultivated on the plains. Every part of the farmland in the neighbourhood of a settlement was cultivated with food crops. Long-distance farms were also cultivated in spite of the risks involved.75 The chief crops were however food-crops grown for local consumption. Traditions of some local industries suggest that some cash crops were also produced. Cotton-spinning and dyeing were practised at Léma and pottery in Seme. Presumably, a few Ìdáìsà men frequented Şábę, markets and perhaps neighbouring Kétu markets to dispose of some of these locally produced articles.

CONCLUSION

  • 76 The expansion of Òyó had been due largely to the possession of a cavalry during the reign of Ajíbó (...)

60Although the three western Yorùbá kingdoms were politically independent and economically viable, none of them was militarily strong or territorially large. The first major factor in the political misfortunes of the western Yorùbá kingdoms was the terrain. In spite of the agricultural potentials, the soil was relatively poor, and not able to support a large population. Also, the rugged nature of the terrain, without adequate means of transportation, made territorial expansion difficult.76

61More important is the fact that the kingdoms were just overcoming the problems of consolidation and were too young to make such issues as territorial expansion or military prowess matters of priority. They were not yet internally strong when they got involved in the affairs of Òyó and Dahomey which practically stifled their growth.

Notes

1 For instance the ìdòfòyí at Ayétòrò, the Ìjęmò and Ìkagbò in Abęòkúta as well as the Ìbórò, Ìbarà, Ìlúgùn and Ìlówá sections of the Ègbádò. Oral interviews: Ǫba S.A. Akínlàdé, the Ǫmólà and chiefs, Ààfin, Ìmálà, 13/3/73; Chief Suberu Akínfénwá, Baalè Ìdòfòyí and chiefs, Ayétòrò, 3/6/78; Chief J.F. Ǫdúnjǫ, 19/3/78. See also ENA hole 34 No. 12. Ikétu, Ìjálè and Tìbó. Ellis, J.H. Intelligence Report on Ajílété... NAI CSO 26/30435 and Fǫláyan, K. Égbádòland to 1832.

2 The Aláké however claims that his own crown was received directly from Odùduwà. Oral interview: Ǫba Oyèbàdé Lípèdé, the Aláké and chiefs, Ààfin Aké, Abéòkúta, 2/3/78.

3 See for instance, George, J.O. Historical Notes, p. 78; Morton-Williams, P. The Òyó Yorùbá and the Atlantic trade. JHSN 3:i (1964) pp. 30 & 38.

4 Atàndá, J.A. The New Òyó Empire, pp. 11-12; Talbot, P.A. The Peoples of Southern Nigeria Vol. I, pp. 285-288; Morton-Williams, P. Review of Parrinder’s The Story of Kétu. Odù 7 (1959) pp. 42-43.

5 Morton-Williams, P. The Òyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic trade, p. 31; Akínjógbìn, I.A. Dahomey and Its Neighbours, p. 166.

6 See Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 141-142.

7 Clapperton, H. Journal of a Second Expedition, p. 56; Ellis, A.B. The Yorùbá-Speaking Peoples, p. 10; also Johnson, S. The History, p. 574.

8 Both Tibó and Ilaro were important Òyó outposts controlled directly from Òyó-Ilé under Aláàfin Abíódún (c. 1770-1789) ENA Hole 34/12. Ketu, Ìjálę and Tibó. Oral interview: Ǫba A. Adékàmbí, the Olú of Ilaro and chiefs, 2/3/78.

9 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, pp. 82-84.

10 Ibid.; See also, Bowen, T.B. Adventures and Missionary Labours in Africa, p. 147.

11 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu.

12 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 131.

13 Ibid, p. 145.

14 Oral interview: the Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78.

15 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 147.

16 See discussions in ch. 5.

17 Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 79; Verger, P. L’Histoire.

18 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 143.

19 Oral interview: Àgàn Jagundę (100+).

20 See Johnson, S. The History, p. 77. in some of these states, for example, the Ìgbómìnà Kingdom of Ìlá, the title is pronounced Eésà. It may be recalled that the Dírin group claims ancestral migration from Ìlá Qràngún.

21 Oral interview: Adéşínà Claver, Ilé-Kétu, 8/7/78. Johnson, S. The History, pp. 77-70 mentioned Ǫládìfi Esinkin and Esinkin Ǫlà as some central Yorùbá titles, but the title appears to have been peculiar to Kétu and Ęgbádò-Kétu settlements. Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 79.

22 What obtained in Ilé-Ifę where a similar organization into ‘left’ (inner) and ‘right’ (outer) sets of chiefs still obtains. See Adédìran, ’Bíódún. A descriptive analysis of Ifę palace organisation. Most of the Kétu chieftaincy titles have been abolished while the functions and meanings of those that still exist have been forgotten. This makes it difficult to classify the chiefs under the two principal groups.

23 The Ęlégbára title has been abolished in Ilé-Kétu. In some Kétu settlements, the title is only renamed, such as at ìdòfà where it still exists as the Asáájú.

24 Igué, O.J. and Ìrókò, F.A. Les Villes Yorùbá du Dahomey: l’Exemple de Kétou. Cotonou (1974).

25 Cornevin, R. Histoire du Dahomey, p. 151

26 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 130.

27 Morton-Williams, P. The Òyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic trade, pp. 25, 45; Foláyan, K. Ègbádòland to 1832.

28 Oral interviews: the Onídòfà and chiefs, 14/3/78; Chief James A. Égúnjobí, Esàbà, Ìjálę-Kétu, 4/6/78; Ǫba Gabriel Akinolá, the Oníjàlę and chiefs, Ìjálę-Pápá, 16/3/78; Chief Suberu Akínfęnwá, Baálę Ìdòfòyí and chiefs, Ayétòro, 3/6/78. See Ìkétu, Ìjálę and Tibó (Ìmála area). ENA Holè 34 No. 12.

29 Aşíwájú, A.I. Western Yorùbáland, p. 21; Parrinder, E.G. The Story of Kétu, p. 48.

30 Oral interview: Fákànbí, J.A. (70+), Òkè-Òyìnbó, Ègùa, 3/6/78; ìdòwú Yesufu (70+), Kòtò-Ǫlà, Ègùa, 3/6/78.

31 Oral interviews: Alákétu and chiefs, 15/7/78; Fákànbí, J.A. and Ìdòwú Yesufu, Ègùá, 3/6/78; Onídòfà E. Ajíbádé and chiefs, Ìdòfà, 14/3/78; Chief Egúnjobí, J.A. (60+), Eesàbà, Ìjálę-Kétu, 4/6/78.

32 See Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 130.

33 Morton-Williams, P. The Òyó-Yorùbá and the Atlantic trade, p. 40.

34 Bastride, R. and Verger, P. Etude sociologique de Marche Nago de Bas-Dahomey. Cahiers de l’ISEA serie V, 95 (1959); Asíwàju, A.I. Western Yorùbáland, pp. 22-26.

35 Igué, O. and Ìrókò, F. Les Villes Yorùbá du Dahomey, pp. 4-6.

36 Hallet, R. (ed.) The Niger Journal of Richard and John Lander, pp. 72-74.

37 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionaries Labours, p. 146.

38 Ajíşafę, A.K. A History of Abęòkúta, p. 10.

39 Bowen, T.J. Adventures and Missionary Labours, p. 144.

40 Oral interview: Aró Adétúnjí (100+), Máyingbìn, Ilé-Kétu, 22/7/78; Samuel Adébíyì (75+), Ìlómu, Ilé-Kétu. Ellis, J.H. Intelligence Report on Ajílété...

41 For fuller discussions see Adédìran, ’Bíódún. Aspects of the political economy of western Yorùbáland in pre-colonial time. A preliminary survey. Alóre: Ìlorín Journal of the Humanities Vol. 3 (December 1987) pp. 58-79.

42 Priests of major şábe deities are also called Agàànì. The linguistic similarity between the term Agàànì and titles like Ǫòni (Ilé Ifè) and Oghene (Benin) is striking; and Olábìyì Yáì (private discussions) suggests that the three might have had the same origin.

43 See Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, pp. 65-67.

44 Oral interviews: Ayédùn Omítókí (100+), Pàákò, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78; Dáwódù Òkùnlolá (75+), kìlìbo, Ilé-şábę, 11/9/78; Ǫfín Awodio (100+), Jálúmòn, Ilé-şábę, 25/8/78; Ǫba Adélékè Àkànní (Oníşábe) and chiefs, 21/8/78.

45 Oral interviews: the Oníşábe and chiefs, 21/8/78; Şàbì Ajóngólò (90+), Òkè Amósùn, Ilé-şábę, 26/8/78. The Òòlú Òtún’s displacement dated to the wars of the nineteenth century.

46 On Olú Odò, see Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte.

47 Igué, O.J. The traditional socio-political organisation of Şábę (manuscript).

48 Akíntóyè, S.A. The north-eastern districts of the Yorùbá country and the Benin Kingdom. JHSN 4: iv (1969).

49 Oral interview: Pa Ayédùn Omítóki, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78. The name of the later Oníşábę is not now remembered.

50 This aspect of the economy of Şábę has been dealt with by Igué, O.J. In: L’organisation de l’espace agricole en pays Tchabe (thèse de maîtrise) Dakar (1966); and La civilisation agraire, op. cit.See also Adédiran, ’Bíádún.

51 Aşíwájú, A.I. A note on the history of Şábę, pp 18-19. The tradition in Johnson, S. The History of the Yorùbá, p. 8 is partly discussed in chapter 3.

52 Collected separately from Ayédùn Omítókí, Ilé-Şábę, 27/8/78; Dáwódù Òkùnlǫlá, Ilé-Şábę, 11/9/78.

53 This suggestion is based on the traditions of these northern settlements. Orou, G. L’origine de la dynastie de Parakou. NA(Avril 1955), p. 39; also Mouléro, T. Histoire et légende, pp. 52-54. Oral interviews: Yáì Adìmí (70 + ), Jagun, Kìlìbò, 5/9/78; M. Sàbì Salomon (45+), P & T, Kìlìbò, 4/9/78.

54 See Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire; and Aşíwájú, A.I. Western Yorùbáland, p. 14; cf Law, R.C.C. The Òyó Empire, p. 88.

55 George, J.O. Historical Notes, p. 20; cf. Cornevin, R. Histoire du Dahomey, pp. 139-142.

56 Oral interviews: Ǫba Adétutù (the Alákétu) and chiefs, 15/7/78; Albert Àbissí, Ààfin, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78; Chief T. Adénékàn, the Olúwo Ìtokò, Abęòkúta, 20/3/78; interviews at various times between 1978 and June 1985 in Ęgbádòland. See also Verger, P. Notes sur le Culte des Orisha et Vodun, pp. 271-282.

57 Interview: Lóyè Adégbolá (105+), Akoro, Ìmękq, 23/4/78; cf. Bíòbákú, S.O. Ęgbá and their Neighbours, pp. 8-9. According to Loyè Adégbolá, Lísabi was a Şábę prince.

58 Òjó, S. Ìwe Ìtàn Şakí ati Şakí Kejì, p. 32 ff; Oral interviews: Chief s. Òjó, Ìsàlę-Tábà, Şakí, 16/1/78; Qkęrę T.A. Oyèdókun and chiefs, Şakí, 16/2/78.

59 Personal discussions with Dr. Igué. Oral interview: Şàbigànnà A. Àdìgún and chiefs, 19/2/78.

60 The appropriate verse in Ǫyèkú méjì portrays Şábę as being war-like. See Abímbólá, ’Wándé. Ìjìnlę Ohùn ĘEnu Ifá, Apá kejì. Collins (1969) pp. 26-32.

61 Igué, O.J. La civilisation agraire, p. 23; Berge, J.A. Etude sur le pays Mahi, p. 709 ff; Palau-Marti, Note sur les rois, p. 197.

62 The present name Dassa-Zoumé dates to the early twentieth century and is a Fon translation of the original name.

63 Oral interview: Àbíssí Albert, 20/9/78; Listes des dignitaires formant les collectivistes maîtresses des cérémonies traditionnelles et de la cour de Djagu (ms).

64 Asongba, R. Les réalistes tribales, p. 3.

65 For fuller discussions see Adédìran, ’Biódún. The structure of administration of pre-colonial Ìdáìsà. Anthropos, op.cit.

66 Palau-Marti. Notes sur les rois Dasa, p. 199.

67 Oral interviews: Jagun Esègun (60+); Àpàkí Kòbólú (60+), ìsègún, Tre, 15/9/78; Àbíssí Albert, Dassa-Zoumé, 20/9/78.

68 Palau-Marti. Notes..... p. 201 ff; Mouléro, T. Histoire du peuple, p. 7 mistook the Ǫba l’ókè for the real king of Ìdáìsà. This arose from a literal translation of the title Jagun as the ‘war chief’.

69 Asongba, R. Les réalités tribales, p. 11; Àbíssí, A. Les responsables des dynasties princières (ms).

70 Awę, Bólánlé, The Ìyálóde in the traditional Yorùbá political system. In: Schlagel, A. (ed). Sexual Stratification: A Cross Cultural View. New York (1977) pp. 331-349.

71 Argyle, W.J. The Fon of Dahomey, pp. 63-65.

72 Ediku, L. Les rois du Jagou de Dassa-Zoumé, p. 3.

73 Awę, Bóláńlé. The Ìyálode, op. cit.

74 Oral interview: Àbíssí Albert, 28/9/78; see also Hutchet, R.P. Les Dassas, p. 3.

75 See Hutchel. Origines des nom, on the growth of Gbedewo.

76 The expansion of Òyó had been due largely to the possession of a cavalry during the reign of Ajíbóyèdé in the sixteenth century. Akínjógbìn, I.A. The expansion of Òyó and the rise of Dahomey, pp. 385-389; 395-399.

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 5. Western Yorùbá trade routes in the 19th century (Aşíwájú, 1976, p. 24)
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