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Iwo: A reevaluation of refugee integration, intergroup relations, and the scenography of power in a 19th-century Yoruba city

Iwo : Une réévaluation de l’intégration des réfugiés, des relations intergroupes et de la scénographie du pouvoir dans une ville yoruba au XIXe siècle
Akanmu G. Adebayo

Résumés

Cet article s’intéresse à Iwo, une ancienne ville yoruba qui prend ses racines dans l’Ile-Ife, et qui a accueilli, hébergé et intégré des réfugiés de diverses parties de l’aire yoruba au cours du XIXe siècle. Il explore les concessions faites par des membres de la classe dirigeante Iwo pour accueillir l'afflux de populations militaires et civiles de diverses parties de l’ancien Empire Oyo en voie de désagrégation. L’article utilise des ouvrages publiés sur l'urbanisation en Afrique et des traditions orales recueillies par l'auteur entre 1978 et 2018. Bien que limités en quantité et en importance, des récits de voyage de missionnaires occidentaux et des archives sont également mobilisés. À bien des égards, l’histoire d’Iwo a été similaire à celles de plusieurs villes Yoruba du sud et du centre au XIXe siècle, comme Ede, Osogbo, Ogbomoso, Ibadan et Abeokuta. Elle est liée aux pressions que les réfugiés et les habitants déplacées ont exercé sur les institutions sociales, les relations de pouvoir et l'évolution de l'économie politique. Cependant, l’histoire d’Iwo est également unique. En plus des facteurs explicatifs concernant des changements dans l'agencement de la ville, de ses cantons et des villages périphériques, l’article examine la scénographie du pouvoir parmi l’élite dirigeante, ainsi que l’avènement et l’impact de l’islam à Iwo.

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A version of this paper was presented at the Seventh European Conference in African Studies, Basel, Switzerland, June 29–July 1, 2017. My participation was supported in part by my university’s conference travel funding. I would like to thank my co-presenters on the panel as well as anonymous reviewers for Afriques. In addition, I thank Roberto Zaugg, Clélia Coret, Gérard Chouin, and Olutayo Adesina for their close reading of earlier drafts of the paper and their helpful suggestions. Their comments and recommendations have helped improve the paper. Finally, I thank Oumar Cherif Diop for assisting with French translations.

Introduction

  • 1 A.L. Mabogunje, J.D.O. Cooper, 1971; A. Mabogunje, 1962; A. Mabogunje, 1968; P.C. Lloyd, 1959, p. 4 (...)
  • 2 Falola’s works on Ibadan belong to and dominate this category. Examples include T. Falola, 1989; T. (...)
  • 3 An example is D.Z. Olupayimo, 2017.

1The justification for this paper rests on two interrelated questions. First, why should 21st century scholarship be concerned about Yoruba 19th-century urbanization? Second, why Iwo? Regarding the first question, urbanization in Africa has continued to attract attention. While scholarly interest in urbanization in Yorubaland is not new, this interest has also not abated. As early as the 1950s, geographers, anthropologists, and historians carried out several studies, which yielded significant conclusions on the architecture, planning, and modernization of Yoruba traditional cities. They include pioneering works by such scholars as Akin L. Mabogunje, Peter C. Lloyd, John D. Omer Cooper, Bolanle Awe, J.S. Eades, Eva Krapf-Askari, and G.J. Afolabi Ojo.1 In the succeeding decades, several more studies were conducted focusing on political and economic issues affecting Yoruba towns, such as development, the rise of new elites, and crafts and industries.2 More recently, within and among major cities, oral traditions have been used in interesting new ways to stake claims to titles or positions in royal succession disputes, chieftaincy seniority and legitimacy, and boundary disputes.3

  • 4 S. Johnson, 1921, p. xix.

2The term “Yoruba” refers to the group of people who speak mutually intelligible dialects of the Yoruba language. Principally, they inhabit the southwestern part of Nigeria, as well as the southern and middle parts of the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Togo. Samuel Johnson described Yorubaland as the region lying “between latitude 6° degree and 9° North, and longitude 2° 30’ and 6° 30’ East.”4 As a result of the slave trade, the Yoruba language, people, and culture subsequently spread into the Diaspora, most prominently in Brazil and the Caribbean.

  • 5 W. Abimbola, 1998, p. 32. As this notion of a “preference” for city life may suggest, the Yoruba di (...)

3Existing literature clearly demonstrates that the Yoruba were (and remain) highly urbanized. According to Wande Abimbola, Yoruba preference for city life is an integral part of their myths and religion.5 While the “preference” might have had historical origins, by the 19th century it had become a necessity. Existentially, the city was better able to provide security for its population than the villages. Also, as city life became more sophisticated, city dwellers began to look down on village inhabitants, and “ara oko” (“bush man” or “bush person”) became a harsh pejorative reserved disdainfully for the unrefined and the uncultured. Moreover, in Abimbola’s view, cities were the location of periodic and annual traditional religious observances, such as egungun (masquerade) festivals. Subsequently, cities were the zones of activities for the spread of Islam and Christianity, both of which made converts in cities before spreading to the villages.

  • 6 J.D.Y. Peel, 2000, p. 507.

4In his review of half a century of writings on Yoruba cities, J.D.Y. Peel reached a conclusion that is similar to the above—that Yoruba urbanization is exceptional. He opened his paper thus: “Yoruba ‘towns’ (ilu) are well known as an exceptional case within African studies, as showing the highest level of pre-colonial ‘urbanization,’ that is of the proportion of the population living in large, dense nucleated settlements, in the whole continent south of the Sahara.”6 Yet, Yoruba urbanization is not homogeneous—while some were similar in structure to the city-states, others exhibit features of a different kind. Peel summed this up thus:

  • 7 J.D.Y. Peel, 2000, p. 507.

The Yoruba meet so many of the criteria that Hansen has built into his ideal-types of “city-state” and “city-state culture” that it is not surprising that their ilu have sometimes been compared to the poleis of Classical Greece. Yet the most interesting thing about Yorubaland is not that it makes a neat typological fit, but that its communities and sub-region are so diverse—some of them fit the ideal type closely, others hardly at all [...].7

  • 8 O. Vaughan, 2000, p. 142-146.
  • 9 A. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 3.

5For most of Yorubaland, the city was the center of a kingdom over which a crowned monarch ruled. While they resembled city-states structurally, as indicated by Peel, the tendency in most of Yorubaland was the kingdom. This tendency later became so strong and gripping that what scholars used to hold up as “exceptions” have joined the mainstream. Specifically, by the end of the 20th century, rulers of cities such as Ibadan and Ogbomoso had pressured the Oyo State Government into granting them beaded crowns.8 In Mabogunje’s view, Yoruba urbanization operated like a system where scores of villages dotted the countryside and served large and medium-sized cities that were at once centers for manufacturing, commerce, and other economic and cultural exchanges, and seats of political and religious power.9

6In the 19th century, however, Yoruba civil wars put this system under pressure. Several cities (Owu, Old Oyo, Iwere, etc.) were razed by war. New cities (such as New Oyo, Ibadan, and Abeokuta) emerged and thrived, but some, such as Ijaye (also spelled Ijaiye), collapsed shortly after founding. Warlords and brigands, fleeing from their own towns, seized other towns and forced reigning monarchs to make far-reaching administrative and economic concessions. Thus, cities such as Ilorin, Iwo, Ile-Ife, Ogbomosho, Ede, and Osogbo made adjustments to accommodate the influx of refugees and migrants. Towns located near the coast or along the trade routes, such as Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, and Ondo, also experienced changes.

  • 10 Iwo has been mentioned in many studies but often as brief and passing references. A few anthropolog (...)
  • 11 A.G. Adebayo, 1998, p. 91-98.
  • 12 Consequently, the Oluwo of Iwo, HRH Oba Abdul Roshid Akanbi, who was installed on November 9, 2015, (...)

7While most of the cities mentioned in the preceding paragraphs featured in scholarly studies of Yorubaland in the 19th century, Iwo has not been the subject of many scholarly articles, monographs, and book-length studies.10 The second question posed at the beginning of this introduction—“why Iwo?”—becomes pertinent here. Why has Iwo not been the subject of sustained scholarly/research attention? How much more can a focus on Iwo elucidate about the events of 19th-century Yorubaland? In other words, what unique experiences of Iwo served Africanists interested in 19th-century urbanization? Important narratives are presented in the rest of this paper to answer these questions. It should be pointed out, however, that several contradictions did not help the image of Iwo and did not endear the city to scholarly attention. Firstly, by location, Iwo was on the southeastern fringes of the Oyo Empire. Before the 19th-century wars, Iwo was literally in the shadows of the Oyo Empire and Owu and Ife kingdoms; throughout the 19th century, Iwo was overshadowed by Ibadan, its most recent and powerful neighbor. While Iwo’s location boosted trade and communication, the political impact of the location was small. Iwo was frequently overlooked and, since there were no records of Iwo ever being attacked, there were no serendipitous mentions of Iwo in historical accounts on neighboring Yoruba kingdoms. Secondly, as the 19th-century wars raged, Iwo managed to remain non-belligerent and relatively peaceful.11 The kingdom did not officially declare war on any entity and did not pay tributes or taxes to any state. Moreover, Iwo did not come under Ibadan’s de facto imperialism of the 19th century. Iwo’s neutrality was an oddity, being so close to Ibadan and new Oyo and to the theater of many wars. While many Iwo warlords and warriors sought fortunes by migrating to Ibadan, Iwo’s leadership elites protected the autonomy of the kingdom through diplomacy. Their war-boys, who included slaves (going by Iwo’s oriki), served in civil defense capacities and kept the peace within the city. Perhaps these factors were responsible for the scholarly lack of attention to Iwo.12 On the other hand, and this is the third point, a focus on Iwo can yield significant lessons about managing and maintaining peace during a crisis. Iwo should be the kingdom of study for anyone interested in how a 19th-century Yoruba city managed peace amidst war. Essentially, while warlords who sought adventure and fortunes (slaves and booty) in war went to Ibadan, Iwo was the moderately sized city and a relatively peaceful kingdom to which many came for refuge from the 19th-century wars.

8Historical data about Iwo are scarce. Archival holdings are limited, what is available in the archives on Iwo is mostly irrelevant to this topic, and other written primary sources are about the 20th century, not much earlier. This paper relies on oral history which I have conducted in Iwo at various times since 1978, including more recent interviews in 2018 and 2019. In addition, the paper benefits from publications by local historians; W.H. Clarke’s missionary travelogue, especially the report of his week-long sojourn in Iwo; and cross-references to Iwo in colonial narratives. The main questions addressed in this paper are the following: How far-reaching were the changes occasioned by large-scale movement and resettlement of refugees in the 19th century? How did the wars affect Iwo and other cities in the 19th century? What was urban scenography like: how did city planning and architecture operate in the context of conflicts, insecurity, economic needs, political change, and efforts to secure peace?

  • 13 HRM Abdul-Roshid Adewale Akanbi, Oluwo of Iwo, Personal Communication, April 3, 2019.

9Among other things, the paper finds that 19th-century wars and movements of refugees promoted population expansion in Iwo and contributed to the expansion of Islam in the city. By the end of the century, Iwo had come to be regarded as a “Muslim town.” This subject is discussed further later in the paper. It should suffice here to say that Iwo’s oriki (praise poetry) includes the line “Iwo ilu afaa,” meaning “Iwo the city of (many) Muslim clerics.”13 The visible signs were numerous: mosques (including a central mosque adjacent to the palace), the position of Alkali (or Qadi) to adjudicate in Islamic matters, and the presence of several Islamic madrasas (or schools). There was also a visible presence of Hausa and Fulani settlers in the population. While some were enslaved war captives, brought back from wars by their captors or purchased by Iwo nobles and the king, other Hausa and Fulani settlers came into the city to propagate Islam. Many were Islamic medicine men offering cures for various diseases or were migrant workers skilled in digging wells and pit latrines.

  • 14 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96.

10In addition, the paper finds that the process of refugee resettlement had implications for historical memory and the scenography of power. Powerful refugee leaders from beleaguered Yoruba kingdoms were allowed to settle in separate villages, such as Ile-Ogbo, Kuta, Oluponna, Obamoro, and Asa. The settlements have since grown into large townships and a few have subsequently challenged the paramountcy of the Oluwo (the title of the king of Iwo). In particular, the paper finds that refugees were settled predominantly in three of the town’s four quarters—Gidigbo, Oke Adan, and Molete. The fourth quarter, Isale Oba (meaning the “King’s Quarters”), was reserved exclusively for the lineage of Iwo princes and princesses. This had several implications. Firstly, although candidates for the Oluwo throne came from Isale Oba, many of the kingmakers were from the other three quarters—a sort of balance of power. Secondly, since the 19th century most of the omo oye (candidates or contestants for the Oluwo throne) were from the same Ogunmakinde Ande lineage, foreshadowing several major chieftaincy disputes in the latter half of the 20th century as hitherto by-passed princely lineages (Adagunodo, Gbase, and Alausa or Alawusa) found their political voices. Thirdly, although all quarters experienced expansion, the insularity hurt Isale Oba more than any other quarter. As Isale Oba became overcrowded, compounds were clustered more tightly together than in other more spacious parts of the city—a situation that Clarke observed in 1856.14 Overall, and as will be demonstrated, the experiences of Iwo underscored the continued importance of lineage and kinship to political power in Yoruba cities.

Yoruba Cities: A Review of the Literature

  • 15 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 1.
  • 16 J.C. Monroe, 2018, p. 387-446.

11Yorubaland has the highest concentration of towns and cities in sub-Saharan Africa. This fact has attracted scholars’ attention to Yoruba urbanization. According to Akin Mabogunje, “the degree of urbanization in Yorubaland is unique in Tropical Africa. [...] In Yorubaland large urban agglomerations predate the advent of Europeans.”15 It is important to unpack this statement; the latter part of the statement is not unique to Yorubaland. In his extensive review of the literature which, ironically, does not include the works of Akin Mabogunje, Cameron Monroe has shown that cities existed in many other parts of West Africa before colonial rule.16 Monroe discussed the existence of cities in the savannah and the rain forest regions of West Africa. He relied on archaeological evidence and historical narratives. Nevertheless, the observation by Mabogunje and other scholars concerns the frequency with which towns and cities occurred in Yorubaland. The estimated size of these cities is depicted in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Yoruba Cities by Population Size, Various Years

Cities

1952 Census

1931 Census

1921 Census

1911 Census

1890s Estimate by Governor Moloney*

1856 Estimated by Bowen

Ibadan

459,196

387,133

238,094

175,000

--

70,000

Lagos

267,407

126,108

99,690

73,766

--

20,000

Ogbomosho

139,535

86,744

84,860

80,000

--

25,000

Oshogbo

122,698

49,599

51,418

59,821

60,000

--

IIe-Ife

110,790

24,170

22,184

36,231

--

--

Iwo

100,006

57,191

53,588

60,000

60,000

20,000

Abeokuta

84,451

45,763

28,941

51,255

--

60,000

Oyo

72,133

48,733

40,356

45,438

80,000

25,000

Ilesha

72,029

21,892

--

--

--

--

Iseyin

49,680

36,805

28,601

33,362

--

20,000

Ede

44,808

52,392

48,360

26,577

--

20,000

Ilorin

41,000

47,412

38,668

36,342

100,000

70,000

General source: A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 1. Source: G.I.O. Olomola, 1998, p. 375.

12Except for the last column, Table 1 emphasizes the changes in the population of Yoruba cities in the 20th century. Colonial census figures were not reliable, but they gave a picture of the changing demographics. Figures for the 19th century were estimates which Eva Krapf-Askari further discussed thus:

  • 17 An American missionary of the Southern Baptist Mission, Thomas Jefferson Bowen was a pioneer missio (...)
  • 18 T.J. Bowen, 1857, p. 218.
  • 19 H. Clapperton, 1829, p. 67-92.
  • 20 E. Krapf-Askari, 1969, p. 35-36.

T.J. Bowen17 who visited Yorubaland in the 1850s, quotes 60,000 for Abeokuta; Bowen’s figures in general are evaluated by Bascom as ‘conservative.’18 He estimates Ibadan at 70,000, Lagos at 20,000, Ogbomosho at 25,000, Iwo at 20,000, and Oyo at 25,000. This takes the record of the principal Yoruba settlements back to the middle of the 19th century. Earlier evidence, where it exists, is non-numerical. […] Clapperton and Lander, arriving in 1825, visited ‘Katunga’ (Old Oyo):19 but this is not identical with the Oyo described by Bowen as containing 25,000 people around 1850; the latter was not founded until about 1831. In any case, these large population estimates given by the nineteenth-century travellers must not be taken too literally; they neither can, nor for our purposes need, be interpreted as meaning anything more accurate than ‘a very large number of inhabitants.’20

  • 21 A variation to this is ilu Alaafin (the Alaafin’s emporium) in reference to Oyo, which may be the c (...)

13Given its centrality to this paper, it is important to ask: what were cities and towns as far as the Yoruba were concerned? Is it possible to define towns/cities in the context of the 19th-century usage? It is already apparent that this paper uses towns and cities interchangeably. This is in part because the Yoruba language does not differentiate between the two but does differentiate between them (towns and cities) and villages. The generic term for a town or a city is ilu, while the generic term for a village is ileto. Yoruba language also does not have plurals; the spatial size of cities is determined in the context of the narrative and any descriptive term that might have been employed by the speaker. Thus, ilu nla (big town) refers to a big town; ilu to l’oba (lit. city with a king) could refer to a city or kingdom;21 ilu kereje (small townships) might be a descriptive term for a collection of small towns. On the other hand, several terms are used to describe a village (ileto), based on size, remoteness, and the number of its inhabitants. In no particular order, they include oko (farm-village), aba (barn), ago (camp-site), and abule (also abule-ko, farmstead). For dwelling places, some of these had temporary huts or permanent buildings ranging from a few houses to hundreds. The population of the villages also ranged from a family or two to hundreds of people. J.D.Y. Peel further clarified thus:

  • 22 J.D.Y. Peel, 2000, p. 508.

Before colonialism, ilu were the main political units, there being no other term that can be translated as “state,” “kingdom,” “nation” or “country” in a political sense. […] In this conceptual unity of town and kingdom—the defining mark of the city-state—Yoruba ilu differs from most of the other West African kingdoms with which they are often compared.22

  • 23 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 3. See also A.L. Mabogunje, 2017, p. 2-3.
  • 24 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 1.
  • 25 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 1.
  • 26 J.S. Eades, 1980, p. 37.
  • 27 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 4.

14There is already a lively debate on whether African cities may be considered urban in the strictest, sociological sense. Some use population size. According to Mabogunje, Britain used 3,500, the United States 2,500, the Soviet Union 1,000, South Korea 40,000, India 5,000, and China 2,000. Nigeria used 5,000.23 However, population size is not sufficient. Other scholars emphasize other factors for urbanism, such as “engagement in non-agricultural occupations,”24 “a greater complexity of economic activities,”25 and “increased social mobility, a complex division of labour, and the breakdown of primary relationships.”26 Many Yoruba (and African) cities of the precolonial times lacked some of these features, or possessed them in varying degrees. Mabogunje submitted that “Yoruba urbanization is due to largely non-industrial factors,” and that “Yoruba urbanization has been based firmly on social cohesion as expressed by the importance of the lineage system in the social, political and economic life of the town.”27

  • 28 J.S. Eades, 1980, p. 37.
  • 29 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 3.

15Indeed, all studies agree that in Yorubaland the connections between the city and the countryside are fluid, seamless, and continuous. Eades concluded that “a large proportion of Yoruba townsmen appeared to be farmers, while residence appeared to be organised on the basis of patrilineal descent,”28 thus stressing the continued influence of kinship ties. And Mabogunje concluded that Yoruba cities met the requirement for “a greater complexity of economic activities” through the presence in those cities of administration, trading, and crafts. Yoruba precolonial cities had an “elaborate system of administration.” They also had markets—morning, evening, and periodic markets—where minor and major trading activities took place. Craftsmen and craftswomen engaged in weaving, dyeing, and sewing. Other activities such as leatherwork, blacksmithing, silver- and brassworking took place only in towns.29 While these features may be replicated in many other West African cities, attention is called here to the distinction between cities and villages, and to the world class that some Yoruba products had—such as Ife glass beads and Oyo calabash carving.

  • 30 J.S. Eades, 1980, p. 44-55.

16Most scholars agree that Yoruba urbanization before 1900 was unique in scale and proportion. Several factors have been proposed to explain this phenomenon. The issue is also complicated by colonialism, since many of the studies were conducted in the period of decolonization or the immediate post-independence. It was difficult to ignore the changes that had taken place under colonial rule or to account for the ways Yoruba cities had been affected by colonial officials and African educated elites. According to J.S. Eades, P.C. Lloyd’s sociological explanation was very influential—that the patterns of Yoruba urbanization, and the differences between the various city structures, may be explained by kinship relations. Lloyd had proposed that cities developed differently based on whether kinship relation was agnatic or cognatic.30 In this study, I rely on Eades’ proposal of a historical explanation for the character of Yoruba cities. In his view,

  • 31 J.S. Eades, 1980, p. 38-44.

Yoruba urbanism only assumed its characteristic form as a result of the nineteenth-century wars, and it was these historical factors that have produced the diversity of settlement patterns rather than differences in kinship organization as Lloyd suggests. [...] Ibadan, Ogbomoso, Osogbo, Ife, Iwo, Abeokuta, Oyo, Ilesa, Iseyin, Ede and Ilorin—were either founded during the nineteenth century or grew rapidly during it with the influx of refugees from the devastated areas around. […] It seems more plausible to relate the differences in settlement pattern to historical events. In Oyo, Ife and Egba, the nineteenth-century wars resulted in the destruction of large number of smaller settlements and the concentration of the remaining population in a relatively few large towns.31

17This paper stands on the platform established by Eades to attempt a conflict analysis of Iwo, a Yoruba town in the context of the 19th-century wars. In the next section, the paper reviews the impact of 19th-century Yoruba civil wars on Yoruba cities.

Yoruba Cities and 19th-Century Wars

18Although most Yoruba kingdoms had centralized, hierarchical political organization, Yorubaland itself was not a cohesive, united polity. Peace in Yorubaland before the 19th century was precarious at best. The most powerful kingdom was Oyo, which had grown into an empire and had enjoyed prominence in the 18th century. Its prominence was due to trade which, at first, was with its northern neighbors before the Atlantic trade opened up in the south. The northern trade provided Oyo with horses with which it established a cavalry, while the trade with the Europeans supplied Oyo with modern weapons. For these articles of trade, the Oyo Empire exchanged captives from its wars. Other prominent kingdoms were Ile-Ife, Ilesha, and several Ekiti city-states to the east, and Owu, Iwo, Ijebu-Ode, Ondo, and Lagos in southern and central Yorubaland.

19Several crises were brewing towards the end of the 18th century. For one thing, Oyo was engaged in incessant wars to procure captives for its trade while its vassals, Dahomey, Fon, and Borgu, were also becoming stronger. The opening decades of the 19th century brought crises that were outside the control of any Yoruba state or kingdom: the European struggle to end the slave trade and the beginning of the jihad in Hausaland. In the rest of the 19th century, Yorubaland was engulfed in frequent, intractable, and internecine wars. The nature of the civil war may be outlined: Oyo Empire and others attacked Owu, Owu fell; jihadists attacked Oyo Empire, Oyo collapsed; refugees fled Oyo, regrouped, settled in other Yoruba cities, and/or picked a fight with other city-states. Interstate rivalries over control of trade routes between Ibadan and Ijebu led to war. Intra-state leadership struggles led to violence. Efforts to shake off Ibadan and New Oyo imperialism also led to war. The wars continued with varying degrees of vehemence until the British conquest of Yorubaland at the end of the 19th century.

  • 32 The Yoruba civil wars are a well-worn subject. For the interesting debate that has developed on man (...)
  • 33 The jihads in the south have also been studied. For details, see P. Morton-Williams, 1968, p. 1-24.
  • 34 A. Adediran, 1998, p. 349-362.

20Owing in part to the political and constitutional troubles in Old Oyo,32 and in part to the jihad in Ilorin,33 many Yoruba cities in the savanna, including Oyo, were deserted. These refugee populations pressed to the south, partly to swell the population of existing cities and partly to found new settlements—but not to live in villages, as villages could not guarantee safety and security. The new urban centers used a different set of rules. In some areas, the main measure of power was no longer the crown but militarism. Biodun Adediran has shown that in the latter part of the century Yoruba obas had lost their clout and the power base had shifted to the military class.34

  • 35 On Owu war, see A.L. Mabogunje, J.D.O. Cooper, 1971.

21Thus, with the exception of new Oyo transformed from Ago Oja (i.e. Oja village) to a new metropolis because of the presence of Prince Atiba—who later became the Alaafin (emperor of Oyo Empire)—all the major cities that emerged in the 19th century (Ijaye, Ibadan, Abeokuta) were primarily military camps. In these new cities, the success of the rulers rested more on the possession of ammunition than on any mythical Oduduwa crown. Indeed, some of the pre-existing crown heads faced internal rebellion (the fate of Oba Lamuye, the Oluwo of Iwo) or had their settlement destroyed (the fate of the Olowu of Owu).35

  • 36 A. Akinjogbin, 1966, p. 81-86.
  • 37 R.C.C. Law, 1970, p. 211-222.
  • 38 T. Falola, 1995, p. 83-105.

22The chronology of Yoruba wars in the 19th century was a subject of scholarly debate and controversies. Principal participants in these disputes were I.A. Akinjogbin36 and R.C.C. Law.37 The chronology presented here (Table 2) is built on the one provided by Law for the early 19th century. Law grouped the many theaters of war in Yorubaland early in the century into northern and southern campaigns. It is clear from Table 2 that many contemporary cities in the north and south became engulfed in war, siege, and destruction. The parallel conflicts in the northern and southern parts of Yorubaland had repercussions for the rest of the region and beyond. The cities’ populations came under siege or became refugees. Those with some military strength and following among the displaced fell on other towns and cities, asserted themselves, and either took control of a settlement from its previous rulers (e.g. Ibadan seized from the Egba) or caused political and other troubles in the countryside. This situation of war, instability, and brigandage38 characterized the rest of the century, right down to 1893. The wars also changed the patterns of settlement in Yorubaland.

Table 2: Chronology of Yoruba Civil Wars in the Early Nineteenth Century

NORTHERN CAMPAIGNS

SOUTHERN CAMPAIGNS

Dates

Events

Dates

Events

1789

Death of Abiodun; accession of Awole

c. 1811/2

First Owu-Ife War

c. 1796

Coup d’etat against Awole

c. 1816/7

Second Owu-Ife war; siege of Owu

c. 1796/7

Reigns of Adebo and Maku; Afonja in revolt

c. 1821/2

Fall of Owu

c. 1797-1802

Interregnum

1822

Fall of Kesi

c. 1802

Accession of Majotu

1826

Fall of Ikereku

c. 1817

Afonja allies with the Fulani and incites a revolt of Hausa slaves

1829/30

Establishment of Ibadan as a war camp

1821

Destruction of Osogun

1830s

Ibadan attacks on Abeokuta; Samaro and Ota campaigns

1823/4

Death of Afonja

c.1833

Gbanamu War

c. 1824-25

Ogele and Mugba Mugba campaigns

c. 1833-1835

Erunmu, Owiwi, Oniyefun, Arakanga, and Iperu Wars

c. 1825-30

Pamo and Lasinmi campaigns

c. 1835

Fall of Ota

c. 1830/1

Death of Majotu; accession of Amodo

c. 1839

Blockade of Ado begins

c. 1831-33

Fulani sack of Oyo; Kania, Ikoyi, Gbogun and Akese campaigns

1844

Batedo War

c. 1833/4

Death of Amodo; accession of Oluewu

1861-1862

Ibadan-Ijaye War

c. 1834

Battle of Gbodo

1851-1864

Egba-Dahomey War

c. 1835

Siege of Otefan

1880s

Dahomey raids; Fulani siege of Ofa; Ijebu raids on Ibadan

c. 1835/6

Death of Oluewu; abandonment of Oyo Ile

1877-1893

Ekitiparapo/Kiriji War

c. 1839

Installation of Atiba as new Alaafin at New Oyo

1892

British-Ijebu War (battle of Imagbon

c. 1840

Osogbo War or Jalumi War

Sources: R.C.C. Law, 1970, p. 218 and 222; S. Johnson, 1921.

  • 39 G.O. Oguntomisin, T. Falola, 1998, p. 381-398.

23The patterns of settlement and type of government varied widely. Reviewing the ways the 19th-century wars affected the structure, layout, and governance of the cities, earlier scholars have identified two broad models: the first was the traditional monarchical style, represented by Ijebu and Ile-Ife, where kings and their council of chiefs commanded affairs; the second was the “republican” style, represented by Ibadan, with a deliberate avoidance of the monarchy.39 Instead, this paper finds six different styles or models.

  • 40 J.A. Atanda, 1973, p. 28-44. Also, S. Johnson, 1921, p. 274-284.

24The first model was re-creation. This settlement style applied principally to New Oyo, which was built up as a replica and replacement of the Old Oyo capital. New Oyo emerged from Ago Oja, a pre-existing small village or camp. The new town was the handiwork of Alaafin Atiba and the aristocracy, as well as soldiers, commoners, and slaves that followed him from Old Oyo. In this new capital, the Alaafin continued to enjoy the direct stewardship of towns in western Yorubaland and Upper Ogun, such as Saki, Kishi, and Igboho.40

  • 41 O. Akanji, 2010, p. 197-208.

25The second model was separation. This applied to Ile-Ife in relation to Modakeke. As Oyo refugees moved into Ife kingdom, the Ooni (paramount ruler of Ile-Ife) decided to separate the newcomers from the Ife population and settled them at Modakeke, a location that was about five miles southwest of Ile-Ife.41 The ensuing twin cities grew towards each other and the distance between them shrank until there was hardly a noticeable boundary. The Ife–Modakeke model yielded two towns that developed separately, each maintaining its sub-ethnic traditions. This model also reveals the risks of separation, and these could be observed in the protracted Ife–Modakeke conflicts that have characterized communal relationships, with conflagrations at various times since the 19th century.

  • 42 “Co-creation” in this context refers to the imagined goals of the members of the leadership elite a (...)

26The third model was co-creation, and Ibadan was its prime example. Ijaye would also have been an example of co-creation but for two issues: the conflict between Ijaye’s principal leaders, Kurunmi and Dado, and the utter destruction of Ijaye by Ibadan in 1862. The “republican” structure and emphasis of Ibadan probably played a role in its emergence and success as a military camp of Oyo refugees. The co-creation model also allowed innovation to thrive. Co-creation promoted competition and, ultimately, merit; all refugees had a role to play in the development, security, and stability of the city.42 Scholars of Ibadan have revealed that the lineage system guaranteed access to land and eligibility for a chieftaincy title. According to Falola:

  • 43 T. Falola, 2012, p. 12-13.

Ownership and control [of land] were instead exercised by the few military chiefs, brave men, and other idile heads who roughly divided the small town into neighbourhoods. These earliest or “original” owners of the land within the town were few and most of them were influential men. They had their ile ile or idile (family’s land) which they in turn gave to their relatives, followers, and retainers free of charge. There were no landless individuals since everybody belonged to or was attached to a compound and each compound had sufficient land to give its members.43

  • 44 P.C. Lloyd, A. Mabogunje, B. Awe, 1967, p. 5.

27Lloyd had explained the connections of this pattern of development to Ibadan’s burgeoning bureaucracy and political power: members of the lineage “elect from among the male members a mogaji who represents their interests in the traditional governing councils and who aspires to a chieftaincy title, setting him on the ladder towards the highest political offices.”44

28Another aspect of Ibadan’s co-creation was militancy. In her analysis of a murder case in early colonial Ibadan, Ruth Watson laid out the connection between domestic politics, imperial relations, and military interactions in Ibadan in the 19th century. Her point was that, even in their rivalries for power and influence at home, and in their fierce competition for military laurels in various battles, Ibadan warlords and “war-boys” collaborated for the common good. According to Watson:

  • 45 R. Watson, 2000, p. 28. Also, see R. Watson, 2003, and Toyin Falola’s review of Watson’s book in Af (...)

State formation actually occurred on the battlefield, where competing warrior chiefs and their followers transformed their rival military households into the “Ibadan army.” Collective warfare was a practical way to win greater spoils; it was more effective than numerous raiding bands.45

  • 46 B. Awe, 1967, p. 19; see also T. Falola, 2012, p. 217-224.

29Ibadan’s co-creation also promoted a republican system, which operated relatively smoothly by rotation and promotion and ensured that only the tried and tested would emerge at the top of the administration. Although a promotion did not occur unless there was a vacancy, and the vacancy was by the death of the occupant, in the 19th-century context many did not have to wait too long. Vacancies occurred relatively quickly, due to untimely deaths at war, internal Ibadan violent conflicts, or an epidemic.46

  • 47 S.O. Biobaku, 1957, p. 4-18.

30The fourth model was confederation. Abeokuta was the prime example of this. As in the co-creation model, all immigrating refugees and lineages were important in city governance and defense. In Abeokuta, however, the groups of refugees gave support to their respective sections of the city and each section was organized as a kingdom headed by its own monarch. For collective security and to wage war, the sections came together to present a united front.47

  • 48 E.A. Ayandele, 1992, p. 3.
  • 49 O. Oshin, 1998, p. 53-64. The conflict so affected Ondo that Rev. Charles Phillips, who travelled t (...)

31The fifth (rejection) and sixth (integration) models were on opposite ends. They were the options available to pre-existing Yoruba cities that did not suffer a direct attack. Examples of rejection were Ijebu Ode and Ondo, non-Oyo cities which rejected refugee resettlement en masse. In the case of Ijebu, there was a long-standing law that barred other groups from trading inside Ijebuland: no “stranger,” including members of other Yoruba groups, should ever enter Ijebu territory. Instant death awaited any stranger who contravened this law.48 Despite this law and attitude, there was probably some infiltration of Oyo refugees along the border villages but not in sufficient numbers to change the culture or alter the composition of the leadership elite. Ondo’s location deep in eastern Yorubaland made it unattractive to Oyo refugees. As Olasiji Oshin has shown, probably the only Oyo elements that saw Ondo in the 19th century were Oyo mercenaries engaged by Ile-Ife in the conflict between Ondo and Ife over Oke-Igbo.49

32In the sixth model (integration), which applied to the Yoruba cities located in central Yorubaland, the leadership admitted and resettled the refugees and provided them safe havens. The cities included Iwo, Ogbomoso, Osogbo, and Ede. The population of those cities grew rapidly. The initial encounters put pressure on housing and food supply, but altogether integration was successful.

  • 50 S.O. Biobaku, 1957, p. 7.
  • 51 The old article by S.O. Biobaku is very useful in explaining this confederation. See S.O. Biobaku, (...)

33The categories in this typology overlap. Categories 3 and 4, for instance, were refugee resettlements or military camps, but they were different. While administration in Ibadan was centralized in the Bale or Olubadan, administration in Abeokuta was diffused in a confederal arrangement featuring four sectional kings, with the Alake of Egba as the primus inter pares. According to S.O. Biobaku, the Alake’s authority over the Egba began in the Egba forest and continued after the people’s migration to Abeokuta. This authority was “judicial rather than executive. [...] Ake was the venue of the highest court of appeal and the Alake the ultimate or chief judge of all the Egba.”50 The three other rulers at Abeokuta were the Olowu of Owu (ruling over refugees from Owu War), Oshile of Oke-Ona, and the Agura of Gbagura.51 Also, while Category 3 and Category 6 were integrative, the people and their leaders in Ibadan (Category 3) were refugees attempting to carve out a new settlement, while in Iwo (Category 6) the pre-existing royal authority remained intact to accommodate new arrivals.

34The paper now turns attention to Iwo as an example of Yoruba cities that favored integration. The section discusses the founding of Iwo and its changing political structure. It explains how the traditional society used town planning to establish the landscape of power and to track the settlement, movement, and integration of refugees in the 19th century.

Iwo and the 19th-Century Yoruba Wars

  • 52 The late Chief Rufus Adepoju, the Balogun of Iwo (Personal Communication, 1978), provided a traditi (...)

35Iwo was already a moderately sized kingdom by the beginning of the 19th century. Its chronology is challenging at best, in the absence of hard archaeological evidence. Oral traditions collected from the Oluwo of Iwo and several chiefs in the late 1970s, in 1993, and again in 2018 attach (or graft) Iwo’s chronology onto that of Ile-Ife and trace the history of Iwo to Adekola Telu, son of Luwo Gbagida, the female Oni of Ife who is often believed to have reigned in the 11th century. At some point, Telu migrated out of Ile-Ife like many other Ife princes to found a new kingdom. The date of his migration was unknown, though it is often assumed to be the 11th century. Traditions are silent about what happened to him and members of his original entourage until the narrative picked up again at Ogundigbaro. Telu and his entourage eventually arrived at Ogundigbaro, located at the confluence of the Osun and Oba Rivers. Traditions do not say when they arrived at this location, but there were indications that they were at Ogundigbaro through the 17th century.52

  • 53 Igbo Oritaa has been identified to be a location and a grove along the modern highway to Ibadan. A (...)
  • 54 Ifa had directed the search party to look for the place where parrots congregated. Thus, the parrot (...)
  • 55 Symbolically, the current Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, chose Telu I as his reigni (...)
  • 56 The Iwo Cultural and Historical Association and other civic groups have been working with geologist (...)

36While the migrants’ time at Ogundigbaro was indeterminate, their condition was probably unpleasant. Besides smallpox, oral traditions speak of struggle with wild animals and the overall environment. The location was too humid and too densely forested for their livelihood. They left Ogundigbaro, migrated northwards, and settled at Igbo Oritaa, a location that was only a few miles from Iwo’s present location.53 Telu had been long dead, but his descendants had assumed the leadership of the group. Oral traditions mention the reign of three of them in succession at Igbo Oritaa. They were Rounmu, Oganfenumodi, and Jikanmu. It was during Jikanmu’s era that the group decided to move again. The leadership sent out search parties under the guidance of Ifa oracle, which led them to the present location.54 Jikanmu did not make it to the present site, however. He died as the group was crossing a small stream subsequently named Adeeke (short for “Oba dake” or “the king died”). Upon Jikanmu’s death, the mantle of leadership fell on his son, Parin. He led the group to the final destination, which was named Iwo. Thus, while Telu was the founder of the monarchy and the dynasty,55 the founder of Iwo was Parin. This final settlement was probably sometime in the 17th century.56

37Iwo’s present (permanent) location was about 35 miles west of Ile-Ife. At the time of its founding, there were not many other sizeable towns around. Its nearest neighbors were Ile-Ife, Apomu, Owu, and several Egba villages. Iwo must have felt the imperial influence of Oyo Empire, but Old Oyo, the imperial capital, was far away. Ibadan did not yet exist. Neither did new Oyo city. Iwo’s autonomy and its location on the trade routes linking Oyo with Ile-Ife, Apomu, and Owu worked to its advantage.

  • 57 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96.

38The center of the city, which was the location of the Oluwo’s palace and the main commercial centers, was on a hill that sloped gently in every direction. At the bottom of these slopes were small streams, wetlands and, ultimately, the Oba River. The American missionary, W.H. Clarke, who visited Iwo in 1856, passed some judgments on the environmental quality of Iwo. In his view, “the locality of Iwo was the most unfavourable to health that could have been selected.”57 He further noted as follows:

  • 58 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96. It must be noted that Clarke was not the most consistent in his observati (...)

[Iwo] is nearly surrounded by creeks and branches; in some places low and inclined to be marshy, and overrun throughout the whole town by woods and grass which, on the close of the rains, can but be prejudicial to health.58

  • 59 Professor O.O. Ladipo, Personal Communication, March 27, 2017.
  • 60 Today, the hill continues to serve that spiritual purpose. Many “spiritual” or “African” churches a (...)

39The highest peaks ranged from 700 to 900 feet above sea level. That location served Iwo well, particularly in troubled times of slave raids and wars. In the rainy season when the Oba River was inundated, it was very difficult to cross, which could stop an army at least temporarily. The smaller streams provided water for domestic use, while the wetlands were ideal for producing vegetables in the dry season. In the direction of Ile-Ife and Osogbo, rocky hills and escarpments provided an additional natural defense. One of these hills, Oke Oore, served spiritual purposes as well. Traditions maintain that Orunmila lived in Iwo and carved Odu Ifa (“books” or verses in Ifa literary corpus) on the rocks.59 These are still visible today. Moreover, the Oluwo and others in the city offered sacrifices to various gods and goddesses whose shrines were established on this hill.60

  • 61 In addition to the mention of a gate in Clarke’s report, two locations in Iwo have “Bode” as part o (...)
  • 62 On a few occasions, this paper has made passing references to slaves. Slavery is not a central part (...)

40Four trade routes entered Iwo. They were from Ijebu-Ode and Egba villages (one of which would later become Ibadan) in the south, Ife/Owu in the east, Ede and Osogbo in the northeast, and Oyo in the northwest. It is not clear if Iwo was a walled city. W.H. Clark, the European traveler who visited Iwo, spoke of a gate (“bode”) and gatekeeper (“onibode”), but he did not mention a wall. Is it possible to have a “gate” without a wall? Recently, Adisa Ognfolakan has been undertaking archaeological research in Iwo. His study may hold some answers to this conundrum. It should be understood, however, that the oriki of Iwo ridicules the need for a massive deployment of security.61 Instead of a lock, boasts the oriki of the town, Iwo used slaves62 to guard and protect the city. Below are the relevant verses.

  • 63 Excerpted from Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, “Oke Agba,” Siky Oluyole SKOLP 027, 1980. Translated by the (...)

Iwo Omo Olodo Oba

Omo Oba Telu mere

Iwo tio ni’lekun

Tio ni kokoro

T’oje eru wewe

Ni won fi n dele ni Iwo63

Iwo the owner of [located beside] Oba River

Descendants of King Telu

Iwo that had no doors

That had no locks [no defenses]

But [with warriors away] employed slaves

To police/protect the city

  • 64 The late Rufus Adepoju, Balogun of Iwo, Personal Communication, February 4, 1979. Prior to the arri (...)

41Iwo slowly emerged as an urban center and a kingdom within a few generations after the original migrants had settled down.64 Urbanism entailed the expansion of population, provision of food, establishment of markets, and the provision of non-agricultural goods through manufacturing. Smaller townships and villages grew around Iwo, established by Iwo princes and powerful aristocrats and occupied by migrants and farm laborers. Iwo kings (see Table 3 for a list of kings) exercised their control over these villages, appointed Bales (village heads) over them, and collected tributes and taxes from the inhabitants.

Table 3: Iwo King List

(Unknown dates)

Parin

(Unknown dates)

Olayilumi

(Unknown dates)

Adegunodo

(Unknown dates)

Gbase

(Unknown dates)

Alawusa

(Unknown dates)

Ogunmakinde Ande

mid-1800s–1906

Monmodu Ayinla Lamuye

1906–1909

Sunmonu Osunwo

1909–1929

Sanni Alabi Abimbola I

1929–1930

Seidu Adubiaran

1930–1939

Abanikanda Amuda Akande

1939–1952

Kosiru Ande

1953–1957

Raifu Ajani Adegoroye

1958–1982

Samuel Omotoso Abimbola II

1982–1992

Interregnum [chieftaincy dispute in court]

1992–2013

Asiru Olatunbosun Tadese

2013–2015

Interregnum [chieftaincy dispute in court]

2015–

Abdul-Roshid Adewale Akanbi

Oral traditions do not give precise dates before 1906.

Source: Compiled by author from interviews.

Urban Scenography: Political and Economic Changes in Iwo in the 19th Century

  • 65 P. Howard, 2002, p. xix.
  • 66 P. Howard, 2002, p. xix.

42Pamela Howard described scenography as “the creation of the stage space.”65 Scenography originated probably in the 18th century and was applied initially to a number of movements in the arts, including theater and performance, painting and sculpting, and architecture. Howard further opined that “scenography is the joint statement of the director and the visual artist of their view of the play, opera or dance that is being presented to the audience as a united piece of work.”66 Urban scenography is of great relevance to this paper; the following statement by Howard establishes this point:

  • 67 P. Howard, 2002, p. 9.

Within a city are other spaces that are also a part of the cultural life of its people. Some spaces are public, in squares and streets, and others, less obvious, are used for sports, social and religious events that take place inside buildings. Alongside their public arenas, cities are also full of empty marginal spaces that sit unloved, forlorn and forgotten, where performances and events are just waiting to happen. Sometimes the city itself becomes a theatre, its surrounding buildings the scenery or the background for projections. Against its structures the collective memories and aspirations of its populace are played out in dramatic or celebratory ways. Space is a vital ingredient of scenography and dramaturgy—the ways in which dramatic experience is seen and given shape. With the addition of colour, image and words, space becomes charged with life and action, engaging through direct address and dialogue with an audience.67

43Using this model of urban scenography, this paper paints a picture of Iwo in the 19th century. But it is not a static picture; rather, it is a dynamic picture since it was a dynamic century full of “drama” and changes. The discussion is organized around four major themes: the layout of the city; succession disputes and political and economic changes; war and resettlement of refugees; and the rise and impact of Islam.

City Planning and Architecture

  • 68 G.J.A. Ojo, 1968, p. 14-17, 70-72. See also S. Johnson, 1921; A. Asojo, 2016, p. 34-38; J.M. Vlach, (...)
  • 69 The position of the Ogun shrine symbolized Iwo’s connection to Ile-Ife. In 2017, however, the prese (...)
  • 70 Pa D.A. Adeniji (Personal Communication, February 10, 1979) estimated the Oluwo’s palace grounds to (...)
  • 71 J.B. Falade, 1990, p. 47-56.
  • 72 Oral history and local historians do not know when the first central mosque was constructed in Iwo.

44From Parin’s era, the establishment of Iwo’s spatial and governing institutions began. The layout of Iwo was similar to the form and function of Yoruba architecture earlier described by G.J. Afolabi Ojo68 and reflected the location of power. The king’s palace was at the city center, next to which was the shrine of Ogun69 and the Oba’s nightly market. The palace occupied a massive amount of space, though that size has shrunk owing to encroachments since the 20th century.70 Like many Yoruba palaces, certain important buildings and sites were located within the grounds. They included the king’s living quarters and audience halls (some public but others private), an open courtyard for events and festivals, the former kings’ wives living quarters (known as sare, meaning “enclosure”), gardens for vegetables and medicinal plants,71 burial sites for former kings, a stable, and shrines for Ogun and other major gods/goddesses. As the 19th century progressed, the central mosque72 was located immediately outside the palace, a few meters from the Ogun shrine, thus giving visibility and prominence to Islam.

  • 73 These lineages are also listed on the Oluwo of Iwo Chieftaincy Declaration, aligning them to the fo (...)

45Located close by were the homes and audience halls of princes and chiefs who, by virtue of their position, had to visit the palace daily or periodically to counsel the king. The earliest of these chieftaincy titles were Babagidigbo, Aro, Osolo, Molosanowo, Odu, Olaside, Olosii, Oosa, Jagun Oro, and Olukotun. Princely families/lineages also had their titles and positions, and their homes were established in the inner core of the city next to the palace. They were identified by their “Omo” prefixes, short for “Omo oba” (lit. king’s son or daughter), which was later shortened to “Mo.” Among them were Molasin, Motunini, Moluberin, Mojuade, Molafe, Mosinola, Mogbede, Mogbelerin, Mosinowa, Mojibere, etc. As a patrilineal society, sons of these princely lineages may ascend the throne.73

46Each princely or aristocratic lineage occupied a compound, or agbo ile, and each compound had important parts similar to the king’s palace but on a much smaller scale. They included the audience halls for the chief or lineage head (bale); an open courtyard for lineage sons and daughters to play and for adults to hold meetings; shrines for the lineage cult; and “apartments” or separate houses for married adults. An akitan (refuse dump) that served the lineage was located at a short distance from the homes.

  • 74 A. Amoo, 1996.

47The rest of the townspeople were commoners, recent settlers, or slaves. They built their homes on the outskirts, outside the immediate power circle. For a variety of reasons, the Oluwo conferred honorary chieftaincy titles on warriors and influential women among the commoner class. The frequency of such conferment increased in the 19th century with the onset of Yoruba civil wars. Adunade Amoo has examined the origin of Iwo chieftaincy titles. He submitted that the main titles emerged organically and progressively as Iwo developed. Others emerged in the 19th century as the Oluwo rewarded his supporters (men and women) among the refugees and immigrants.74 Slaves lived with their masters, but some lived outside the city, on their masters’ farms.

48The dynamics of the four quarters were a major aspect of Iwo’s 19th-century urban planning; they have had a great significance for the present. The four quarters are Isale Oba, Gidigbo, Oke Adan, and Molete. As a result of the integration strategy of the leadership elite, each of the quarters experienced the 19th century differently. With the exception of a few slaves and servants who lived with their princely masters in Isale Oba, prominent new immigrants were settled among chiefs and commoners in Gidigbo, Oke Adan, and Molete, possibly to protect the power and pedigree of the princely families. In fact, all Hausa and Fulani were settled in Sabo (short for Sabongari, a Hausa term for “new town”), which was located in Molete. Molete grew into a vibrant quarter, the place to purchase, train, and keep horses, donkeys, and camels. Further down from Sabo was the abattoir for slaughtering cows, sheep, and goats, and for preparing halal beef for the market. Thus, Molete handled what the city needed from the basic to the luxurious.

  • 75 In his insistence that he should be addressed as “Emir,” Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi pointed to this tu (...)

49Isale Oba did have a unique and powerful position: the Alkali, or Muslim jurist, the head of the Islamic court, who adjudicated in cases involving Muslims. The existence of a Muslim jurist in a traditional Yoruba town was unparalleled. It was an indication of the room the Oluwo had allowed Islam in the exercise of judicial powers. The number of Muslims was hardly the justification for this, although that number consistently rose throughout the 19th century. It was also probably a reflection of the diffusion of powers in this Yoruba city. Subsequently, the position of Chief Imam was added to Iwo chieftaincy titles. Subsequently, too, the coronation of a new king in Iwo involved the crowning and a turbaning—the latter performed by the Chief Imam.75 Long before the sharia entered into the Nigerian constitutional language, Iwo had had an Islamic court to settle domestic, marital, and other disputes, a by-product of the 19th-century wars and Islamization.

  • 76 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 95.
  • 77 Clarke complained about this and “a place dry, secluded and comfortable” was provided. Furthermore, (...)

50The foregoing describes the public spaces of Iwo’s urban scenography. In addition to the public spaces, according to Howard’s conception of urban scenography, Iwo was also “full of empty marginal spaces that sit unloved, forlorn and forgotten.” Top on the list here were spaces deliberately left empty as buffers or no-man’s-land between compounds, groves for the cultivation of medicinal herbs, and akitan (refuse/waste dumpsites). W.H. Clarke reported about one such refuse dump. According to him, the Oluwo delivered him “into the hands of one of his subjects” (possibly a chief) to provide the white man “quarters befitting a guest.”76 The accommodation turned out to be “damp and disagreeable” and was in front of a refuse dump—which Clarke called “a hog-sty.”77 These “empty marginal places” have since been cleared and built upon. It is unlikely to find one that dated to the 19th century.

51How did city planning and architecture change as a result of conflicts, insecurity, economic needs, and political change? My research found that by the 19th century, the influx of refugees to Iwo had made the city’s architecture and administration more complex. For one thing, the city had expanded spatially. The new arrivals, mostly refugees from various wars, had immediate and longer-term needs. To meet these needs, they were assigned to “patrons,” chiefs and well-to-do families from among the original inhabitants; the new settlers obtained accommodation and access to farmlands. Through this patron–client relationship, the refugees began to settle down to fairly normal lives. Tradespeople among them were able to set up their business. Many began converting their farm settlements into permanent places of abode. Some of these villages grew into large townships but others have disappeared, the inhabitants having moved into better or larger locations. Throughout this process, historical traditions were recorded and transmitted. Subsequent generations kept the records or revised them to suit their political needs. The bases of power began to shift. While prior to the 19th century power had rested with the Oluwo and his council of chiefs, after the 19th century power became more diffused throughout the city and its environs. The challenges to the Oluwo’s powers are further discussed in the next section.

Chieftaincy, Succession, and the Scenography of Political and Economic Development

  • 78 The late Oba S.O. Abimbola, Oluwo of Iwo, Personal Communication, October 14, 1978.
  • 79 There were many challenging aspects to this tradition. First, there was no mention of Oyo’s conques (...)

52Pamela Howard’s model also conceives of scenography as people’s aspirations and memories. “Sometimes the city itself becomes a theatre,” she noted. Iwo presented several occasions of this. As a Yoruba kingdom, Iwo’s political organization placed the Oluwo (king of Iwo) at the head, assisted by a host of princely, aristocratic, and religious leaders. Succession to the Oluwo was often keenly contested, resulting in interregna and constitutional crises on a few occasions. One such crisis was the origin of several traditional and honorary chief titles soon after Oba Parin’s death. According to a narrative of Iwo chieftaincy traditions,78 three princes, sons of Oba Parin, were at the heart of the events. They were Tadese, Olaparu Eboade, and Layilumi (short for Olayilumi, which meant “the honor (the position) devolves on me”). This name would prove significant as the story unfolded. The most popular of these accounts remembered Tadese as a hunter who had yielded the throne to Eboade. To complete the rituals of kingship, Eboade had to travel to Oyo for the insignias of office. Layilumi went with Eboade on this fateful journey, which was a bad sign—you do not send two princes on a mission where only one of them was to be crowned. When Eboade died en route, Layilumi proceeded to Oyo rather than return to Iwo to report the incident. At Oyo, he informed the Alaafin of the death of the Oba-elect, whereupon the Alaafin asked for his name. He replied “Layilumi.” On that basis the Alaafin affirmed him as the Oluwo, saying wittingly and quizzically, “ola yi lu o naa nuu,” a play upon the meaning of his name.79

53Upon the return of Layilumi to Iwo as the crowned brother, Tadese and many people in Iwo suspected an assassination. Tadese challenged Layilumi, and what started as a conflict among princes soon divided the town, with chiefs and commoners taking sides in the fights that ensued. Layilumi prevailed and, consequently, he rewarded his supporters with chieftaincy titles. They included Julusin who bagged the Agoro title, Bamgbola the Eesiki, Itiola the Orunto, and Akintan the Asape. The rest of Layilumi’s reign was peaceful, and the titles he bestowed on his supporters have since become permanent and “traditional” within the families. As a consequence, the Tadese line of Iwo princes was passed over many times and did not rise to the Oluwo title until 1992 when Oba Asiru Olatunbosun Tadese ascended the throne.

  • 80 The main narrative of the rebellion was provided by the late Rufus Adepoju, the Balogun of Iwo who (...)
  • 81 Ali is sometimes also spelled “Alli.”
  • 82 The etymology of the title Seriki was the title “Sarki,” which meant “king” in pre-jihad Hausaland. (...)
  • 83 Oba Lamuye was remembered as the longest reigning Oluwo. Many believed he reigned for 100 years, st (...)
  • 84 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96.
  • 85 W.H. Clarke (1972, p. 96) again provided evidence of how much Ali enjoyed his role as patron of the (...)

54This crisis was clearly related to the scenography of power—the polarization of the city, the emergency at the inception of the reign of a new monarch in a nascent kingdom, and the emergence of new chieftaincy titles. A similar crisis, indicative of the scenography of power, occurred at the beginning of the reign of Oluwo Lamuye in the mid-19th century. This was called the “Ali Iwo Rebellion.”80 The main characters or participants in the crisis were Oba Monmodu (Mohammed) Ayinla Lamuye (ca. 1858–1906) on the one hand, and Ali81 the Balogun (military commander) of Iwo and Gbadamosi Ajigbagun the Seriki82 on the other hand. Oba Lamuye probably ascended the throne in 185883 and the crisis occurred soon after his ascension. We do not know much about Seriki Ajigbagun, but Clark left a very good description of Ali. He described Ali as “six feet tall, well proportioned, light coloured (with) keen black eyes, winning address and commanding appearance (and) his power was evidently felt through the whole city.”84 He was well beloved and, with royal blood through his grandmother who was a daughter of Oba Parin, he held ambitions to become the Oluwo and probably also resented Lamuye’s ascension. Moreover, under the previous king (Oba Ogunmakinde Anide or Ande), Ali used to enjoy preeminence as Balogun and as a leader or patron of Muslims.85 He still held the title of Balogun, but since the new Oluwo Mohammed Tadese was a Muslim, Ali could no longer be the preeminent leader. The Seriki’s issue was economic. Under Ande he used to collect tributes from Oke-Osun, a group of villages and small townships that were subsidiary to Iwo. He kept much of the tributes rather than remit the funds or in-kind payments to the palace. The new Oluwo Lamuye would not allow such a practice to continue.

  • 86 For the rest of the story regarding Ali’s life and the founding of Ali-Iwo lineage/compound in Ibad (...)

55The simmering crisis blew open when Oluwo Lamuye attempted to end Seriki Ajigbagun’s illegal enterprise at Oke-Osun. When Ajigbagun’s agents beat up the Oluwo’s tribute collectors, Oba Lamuye thought he had seen enough. The crisis raged for two years, the traditions recall, with shootings and ambushes across the city. While Oba Lamuye had his supporters, the conspirators were formidable. Ironically, Ali, the more powerful of the two principal conspirators, was away at war fighting on the side of Ibadan against the Ijebu. His lieutenants, as well as Ajigbagun’s supporters, bore the brunt of the rebellion. Principal among their supporters were Sanusi, Ali’s son, and Tairu Afojugbagi and Akinboro, Ajigbagun’s friends. Oluwo Lamuye and his supporters prevailed. The insurrection having failed, Ali, the principal conspirator, decided to settle in Ibadan86 after participating in an (unidentified) Ibadan war. In addition, he was believed to have founded a new settlement named Lagun, which has grown into a sizeable town on the Iwo–Ibadan road. Neither the Oluwo nor Ali would forget the insurrection. Gbadamosi Ajigbagun fled to Oyo, from where he pleaded with the Oluwo for pardon. Believing he had been pardoned, he returned to Iwo but was killed as he was alighting from his horse. Having settled in Ibadan, Ali held Oluwo Lamuye in contempt. His chroniclers created the following song that derided the Oluwo and praised Ali.

  • 87 D.A. Adebayo, 2012, p. 29.

Eyin ero to n lo Ilu Iwo

Travelers going to Iwo

E ki Lamuye wipe

Deliver my [Ali’s] sympathies to [Oba] Lamuye

Oku ahoro ti o n gbe.

Concerning the hut that he called a palace.

Ali mole e lojo, o si ro

Ali has built his castle and roofed it

Ojo weli weli ni Ali mo ile.87

Incredible as it sounds, he built it in the rains.

  • 88 For more information on this crisis, see A.G. Adebayo, 1982, p. 59-81.

56The point of this detailed narrative regarding the scenography of power in Iwo was the emergence of new families and lineages into political prominence and into new or renewed chieftaincy titles. Oluwo Lamuye suspended the Balogun title and downgraded the Asape title. Furthermore, he rewarded his own supporters with chieftaincy titles. Odutoyeje became the Olukosi, Akingbade became the Jagun, and Akinlusi became the Olukotun.88

War and Resettlement of Refugees

57A major aspect of urban scenography in many parts of Yorubaland during the 19th century related to the impact of Yoruba civil wars. While Iwo managed to avoid a direct invasion, its warriors and war chiefs went to serve in the Oyo army led by Ibadan, which saw action in Yoruba wars at Ijaye, Ijebu, and Ekitiparapo, as well as against the Ilorin jihadists in Osogbo. While they were away, other military leaders stepped up to provide security and maintain law and order in Iwo and its environs. So peaceful was Iwo that refugees flocked to it from all over Yorubaland. The oral history of many lineages in Iwo makes references to having migrated from various war-torn places, many of which have since disappeared from the maps or, if they still exist, are a mere shadow of their former self. They included Owu, Iresa, Ikoyi, Iragberi, and Onko. Populations from these cities migrated to and settled in Iwo during the 19th century.

  • 89 A. Amoo, 1996, p. 19-20. A variant of this appellation was “O dapo mo Fulani ko see yanju,” meaning (...)

58Because of its proximity to Ibadan and strategic location on the trade route linking Ibadan with Osogbo and the north, Iwo played an important role in the wars to stop the expansion of Fulani jihadists. While Iwo was not named as a combatant in many of the wars, warriors from Iwo participated in several Yoruba wars. Many returned with war booty, others moved on and settled elsewhere. Okunmade Ali was already mentioned in connection with the civil strife upon the ascension of Oba Lamuye. He subsequently settled in Ibadan. Ali’s compatriot was Alade Abinupagun, who participated in the Ijaye and Jalumi wars. Ojo Agunbanbaru, the only surviving son of Bashorun Gaha, also settled in Iwo. After his conversion to Islam, he specialized in Islamic charms and supplied his contemporaries who were warriors with charms and amulets to make them invincible. Orowusi was a warrior from Ogbaagba (a township under Iwo). He sought adventure in Ibadan, led the Ibadan army in its conquest of Ilesa, and rose to become the Bale of Ibadan. Similarly, Ayorinde from Kuta (another township under Iwo, peopled by refugees from Owu) rose to become the Osi Balogun of Ibadan and led the Ibadan army against the Ekiti and Akoko regions. Abimbola, Oba Lamuye’s son, was not only a warrior but also an undercover agent. According to Adun Amoo, “Abimbola, by dressing like a Fulani spearman, was able to disorganize the Fulani army after observing them for some time. It was his participation in this war that earned him the appellation: “O dapo mo Ilorin ko see yanju, Abimbola omo Lamuye,” meaning “He mixed with Ilorin so well that it was difficult to tell him apart, Abimbola the son of Lamuye.”89 He later ascended the throne and became Oluwo in 1909.

59Demographically, incoming refugees swelled Iwo’s population. They contributed to the defenses of the city and elevated its status among Yoruba kingdoms. The Oluwo received credible information from his network of spies and intelligence from refugees and from the battlefield. He passed on good counsel to Ibadan chiefs and warlords. This helped Ibadan’s military at critical moments. The Oluwo also conferred important chieftaincy titles on notable immigrants.

60In addition, prior to the 19th century powerful princes, priests of the major deities, chiefs, and other titleholders located their homes near the palace for collective protection of the leadership elite and also to have less distance to walk to the seat of power. The 19th century changed this. Many well-to-do noblemen needed bigger compounds, and land was available on the outskirts. They also had horses in large numbers, while others had donkeys and camels. Going to the palace on horseback was swifter and more stylish; it was also intimidating to less well-to-do chiefs. The new compounds, the horses, and the musicians that accompanied them everywhere they went—these demonstrated visibly where wealth and political power resided.

The Rise of Islam in Iwo

  • 90 E.D. Adelowo, 1981/1982, p. 128-137.
  • 91 T.G.O. Gbadamosi, 1978.

61Ironically, the same wars, refugees, and captives played important roles in the Islamization of Iwo. The inception and development of Islam in Iwo was similar to the experiences of many Oyo-Yoruba cities. In the words of E. Dada Adelowo, the inception of Islam within Oyo Empire and its environs “could hardly be fixed with precision. [...] [it] was unplanned and unannounced.”90 Among the older studies on the subject is T.G.O. Gbadamosi’s book-length study entitled The Growth of Islam among the Yoruba.91 While Gbadamosi did not resolve the question of origin, he did call attention to the influence of traders and missionaries from Oyo’s neighboring kingdoms and states, such as the Hausa states, or long-distance trading empires such as Mali and Songhai before the 16th century. Abdul Kabir Solihu’s recent study is focused on the earliest versions of translations of the Qur’an into Yoruba language. Yet, Solihu explored the position of scholars and writers on the inception of Islam in Yorubaland and concluded thus:

  • 92 A.K.H. Solihu, 2015, p. 10-37.

The exact date that Islam first reached Yorubaland remains unclear. It has been suggested that the Yoruba people had their earliest contact with Islam in the fifteenth century, although the active Islamisation of Yoruba culture took place much later. According to Shaykh Ādam ‘Abdullāh al-Ilūrī (d. 1992), a prolific Yoruba scholar of Arabic and Islamic studies, Islam first came to Yorubaland sometime between the tenth and thirteenth centuries AD. He drew on the fact that Yoruba Muslims were known (and are still known) as Imale, in reference to Mali traders who introduced Islam to the region via commercial contact with Yorubaland. In contrast, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther (d. 1891) dated the arrival of Islam back to the seventeenth century. Whatever the case, the existence of Islam was later reinforced by the rise of the Sokoto Caliphate led by Uthman Dan Fodio (1754–1817) in the early nineteenth century.92

  • 93 On the kola nut trade, see P.E. Lovejoy, 1980. Also, on the 20th century progress of the trade, see (...)
  • 94 J.D.Y. Peel cited figures indicating that the population of Muslims in Oyo Province, of which Iwo w (...)

62The significance of the events of the 19th century for the Islamization of Yorubaland cannot be overemphasized. The impact of those events was ironic and contradictory in the sense that Islamization was taking place among the Yoruba when, ipso pacto, a major reason for the Yoruba wars was to prevent Ilorin jihadists from overrunning Yorubaland. Adelowo might be correct after all—that, prior to the 19th century, Islam came into Yorubaland peacefully and quietly. That changed with the jihad and the establishment of the Ilorin emirate. The initial shock of the conquest of Ilorin by the Fulani did seem to have adversely affected the pace of quiet conversion, at least in the short run. In the long run, however, as trade interactions expanded, the pace of conversion also seemed to have quickened. While they might not have been missionaries and scholars, and while they might not even have been Muslims, Hausa traders played direct and indirect roles in the spread of Islam in urban and rural Yorubaland. For example, throughout the 19th century, Hausa kola nut traders with Arab/Islamic names roamed Yoruba villages and towns and interacted with Yoruba kola nut growers and resellers.93 Ultimately, many Yoruba farmers, merchants, and warriors converted or at least took Islamic names. For instance, Latosisa the generalissimo of Ibadan and the Are-ona-Kakanfo of the new Oyo Empire, took Muhammad (Momodu) as his Muslim name; so was his son, Shittu, who became the Bale of Ibadan in 1914. Many others returned from the wars having converted to Islam. Others made slaves of the Hausa, Fulani, and Ilorin jihadists that they captured in battle, but ended up embracing their captives’ faith.94

  • 95 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 97-98.
  • 96 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 99.
  • 97 In March 2018, in a widely unpopular move, the Oluwo of Iwo Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi announced that (...)

63For Iwo, the evidence for Islam’s presence and influence was apparent in the names of its rulers and military leaders, and in its Islamic infrastructure and organization. The longest-reigning, 19th-century Oluwo of Iwo was Monmodu (Muhammad) Lamuye. Indeed, only one Oluwo of Iwo, Samuel Abimbola in the 20th century, was a Christian. By the middle of the 19th century, Iwo had been celebrating Islamic holidays in grand style. W.H. Clarke, an American Southern Baptist missionary, left an eye-witness report about the state of Islam in the city in 1856.95 He reported witnessing one Eid el-Adha holiday in Iwo in 1856. According to him, at ten o’clock “an immense concourse of people densely packed was entering the town through the eastern gate […]. Very slowly and measuredly, the crowd approached and passed into the city.”96 Obviously, that crowd of worshippers was returning from the early morning Eid prayer, which the Yoruba call Yidi, on the outskirts of the city. Subsequently, the morning’s event would be followed by an evening gathering and dance at the palace. Iwo had become a sizable Muslim city, but there were no indications that it was an emirate.97

  • 98 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 97.
  • 99 Pa D.A. Adeniji, Personal Communication, February 10, 1979.

64The rise of Islam did not seem to have affected the practice of traditional religion much. In this regard, also, the evidence from W.H. Clarke was significant. During his stay, he noted, he “stumbled on an old priest of Ifa, who, with his bowl and palm nut, was making his manipulations with all the earnestness and gravity of a minister, and apparently in good humor, scarcely noticed me […].98 The belief in, and worship of, other orisa (divinities, gods and goddesses) remained strong well into the 20th century. A prominent orisa was Ajangele, an Iwo version of the agricultural/fertility deity, orisa oko, whose festival coincided with the new yams.99

  • 100 At the end of his visit, W.H. Clarke presented the Oluwo with a “Yoruba translation of one of the g (...)

65On the other hand, Christianity did not have the same amount of success as Islam in Iwo. Unlike the successful efforts recorded in Lagos, Badagry, Abeokuta, Ibadan, and even Ogbomosho, Christianity was slow to gain ground in Iwo. Throughout the 19th century, foreign missionaries visited or simply passed through the town.100 It was not clear how many, if any, Iwo indigenes converted to Christianity prior to the 20th century. In the 20th century, however, the spread of Christianity was advanced in Iwo by the opening up of permanent mission stations by various churches (Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, and Anglican denominations), the establishment of primary schools, and the relocation of the Baptist College to Iwo to train teachers and catechists.

Conclusion

66This paper has situated Iwo’s urban scenography within the larger context of Yoruba urbanization. To make the scenery more complex, the paper also layered the 19th-century wars, movement and resettlement of refugees, and the advent of Islam on top of the existing physical, socioeconomic, and political terrain. Actors (royalty, nobility, the common people, itinerant preachers, and missionaries) could be observed as they played various, dynamic roles. A number of conclusions may be drawn from the study.

  • 101 Recently, social media began circulating the interview by the Oluwo of Iwo, HRM Abdulroshid Adewale (...)

67Firstly, like many other Yoruba cities, Iwo was peopled through a series of migrations. The first of these migrations connected the Iwo crown to Ile-Ife, the sine qua non for a ranking within Yoruba oba-ship.101 Other migrations brought different populations at various times, but the most challenging was the immigration and settlement of thousands of refugees in the 19th century. Traditions traced Iwo royal family to Ile-Ife through Adekola Telu, son of Luwo Gbagida, a female Ooni of Ife. Information is scanty on the migration until one of Telu’s descendants, Parin, led the group to Iwo. The myth surrounding the migration and settlement is typical of many Yoruba narratives of origin.

  • 102 T.J. Bowen, 1857, p. 218.
  • 103 Iwo has continued to maintain this serene, peaceful, nonplussed atmosphere, with the exception of o (...)
  • 104 For the exploration of “hospitality” and “hostility” as concepts in refugee reintegration, see T. F (...)

68Secondly, Iwo experienced growth in the 19th century. There were no censuses or other reliable estimates, but Bowen estimated the population of Iwo to be 20,000 in the middle of the 19th century.102 Thirdly, by its location and stature, Iwo enjoyed an unparalleled autonomy. It did not come under Oyo suzerainty, was not a battleground during the Yoruba wars, and was not overrun by another power the way Ekiti city-states were overrun by Ibadan or Ile-Ife was overrun by Modakeke.103 Finally, when faced with a large-scale refugee crisis in the 19th century, Iwo’s leadership elite chose “hospitality” and integration over “hostility” and separation.104 One of the enduring impacts of this choice was the gradual, peaceful infiltration of Islam into Iwo.

69This paper sought to answer three important questions. The first was: How far-reaching were the changes occasioned by large-scale movement and resettlement of refugees in the 19th century? On this, the paper found that the changes were massive and far-reaching indeed. With the sacking of the emporium of Oyo Empire and its subordinate towns and villages, members of the ruling class and their dependents became refugees. As in all wars, the women experienced the worst of it. Many who fled beleaguered cities were captured and sold into slavery. The rest of Yorubaland had to respond, but there was no collective, common response. Different kingdoms did what they thought best for their own populations. It was apparent that members of the nobility and royalty did better during migration than the ordinary people. Secret societies and a network of spies served the leadership elites. Food and shelter were scarce, but the more affluent refugees could obtain these and pay for protection against brigands. They could also purchase arms, recruit soldiers, become brigands, and maraud hapless towns and villages.

70On the second question (the impact of Yoruba wars on Iwo and other cities), the paper painted several complementary (or is it contradictory?) pictures of hardships and opportunities. As already stated above, unlike several Yoruba cities that disappeared or shrank, Iwo survived and even thrived during the 19th century. Iwo’s leadership elite shared in the credit, especially its astute king, Monmodu Lamuye. Iwo’s relationship with Ibadan was also significant for trade and diplomacy.

  • 105 The late Pa D.A. Adeniji, University of Ibadan, Personal Communication, February 10, 1979. A fish p (...)
  • 106 W.H. Clarke experienced this when he was departing Iwo for Ijaye in 1856. He explained his experien (...)

71The paper presented a great deal of material on the third question: urban scenography in the context of conflicts, insecurity, economic needs, and political change. The most obvious thing relative to urban planning was Iwo’s physical location. The center of the city was located on a relatively higher elevation that sloped in every direction for about one kilometer, at the base of which were streams and wetlands. The streams provided water for domestic uses. In particular, from the Yanyanun stream, palace slaves fetched water for the king and his large household daily, supervised by the king’s eunuchs.105 There was no indication that the city grew further than these streams until the 20th century. However, city gates were located a kilometer or two across these streams but, as indicated in the paper, archaeological excavations might help to locate the ruins of the city walls. Various families cultivated land beyond the built-up areas, providing fresh vegetables and other food for the immediate use of city dwellers. At its nearest point to the city, the Oba River was about three kilometers away. It provided some sort of natural defense for the city. Whenever it rained heavily, the Oba River was in full flood and one needed a “ferry” to get across.106 As already discussed, the abundance of water led Clarke to conclude that Iwo was damp, humid, and unhealthy, as it harbored malaria fever. On the other hand, European administrators and Baptist missionaries that arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries found Iwo’s topography agreeable. They located the headquarters of their operations on one of the higher elevations (known as Oke Odo, i.e. “the upper banks of the Aiba stream”) overlooking the city.

72Finally, the paper discussed the Iwo “script” vis-à-vis actors and scenes in the development of the city. Perhaps because of his long reign as Oluwo of Iwo, members of Lamuye’s lineage—the Ogunmakinde Ande ruling house—occupied the throne during most of the 20th century. Other players on the Iwo scene were chiefs and warriors who secured the city and governed it, but who also participated in civil strife and conflicts that nearly tore the city apart. In the midst of all these events, Islam quietly spread.

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Notes

1 A.L. Mabogunje, J.D.O. Cooper, 1971; A. Mabogunje, 1962; A. Mabogunje, 1968; P.C. Lloyd, 1959, p. 45-63; P.C. Lloyd, A. Mabogunje, B. Awe, 1967; G.J.A. Ojo, 1968, p. 14-17, 70-72; P.C. Lloyd, 1953, p. 30-44.

2 Falola’s works on Ibadan belong to and dominate this category. Examples include T. Falola, 1989; T. Falola, 2012; S.J. Salm, T. Falola, 2005. See also J.D.Y. Peel, 2000, p. 507-517.

3 An example is D.Z. Olupayimo, 2017.

4 S. Johnson, 1921, p. xix.

5 W. Abimbola, 1998, p. 32. As this notion of a “preference” for city life may suggest, the Yoruba did have the inclination to identify with the city. Probably dating back to the pre-19th century, the identity of a Yoruba man or woman was enshrined in the city which was often the headquarters of a kingdom. They might spend much of the year in the village, but they had a sense that they belonged to a city.

6 J.D.Y. Peel, 2000, p. 507.

7 J.D.Y. Peel, 2000, p. 507.

8 O. Vaughan, 2000, p. 142-146.

9 A. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 3.

10 Iwo has been mentioned in many studies but often as brief and passing references. A few anthropological studies have referenced Iwo. There have been several undergraduate “long essays,” self-published general histories, and community-based publications. The first sustained historical-sociological study focused on Iwo was O. Olurode, 1984. Olurode has also conducted studies on elites, politics, and religion in Iwo. Akanmu Adebayo contributed a chapter on Iwo to a major study of the 19th-century Yoruba wars. See A.G. Adebayo, 1998, p. 91-98.

11 A.G. Adebayo, 1998, p. 91-98.

12 Consequently, the Oluwo of Iwo, HRH Oba Abdul Roshid Akanbi, who was installed on November 9, 2015, created quite a stir by his public utterances, which have brought him into controversy with the Alaafin of Oyo, the Ooni of Ife, and several Yoruba leaders of opinion. People were not used to having an outspoken oba on the Iwo throne. For instance, he claimed Iwo princes had legitimacy to be Ooni of Ife, made a crown for his wife, named his son “Oduduwa” after the famed primogeniture of the Yoruba people, danced publicly, led Islamic Jummah and Eid prayers, and courted the Emir title. These symbolic gestures and utterances departed from the image of Iwo as a supremely peaceful and boring city, but those things drew both positive and critical attention to Iwo. More than ever before, there is interest in learning about Iwo’s history and its relations with Ibadan, Oyo, Ife, and other cities.

13 HRM Abdul-Roshid Adewale Akanbi, Oluwo of Iwo, Personal Communication, April 3, 2019.

14 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96.

15 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 1.

16 J.C. Monroe, 2018, p. 387-446.

17 An American missionary of the Southern Baptist Mission, Thomas Jefferson Bowen was a pioneer missionary of the Baptist faith in Yorubaland. He traveled through Yorubaland and helped to found many churches. Although he included Iwo in the list of cities he proposed to spread the gospel in, it is unclear if he ever visited. The Nigerian Baptist Convention named their university after him in recognition of his service and ministry. Bowen University is located in Iwo. See T.J. Bowen, 1857, p. 351.

18 T.J. Bowen, 1857, p. 218.

19 H. Clapperton, 1829, p. 67-92.

20 E. Krapf-Askari, 1969, p. 35-36.

21 A variation to this is ilu Alaafin (the Alaafin’s emporium) in reference to Oyo, which may be the closest Yoruba language came to designating an imperial capital.

22 J.D.Y. Peel, 2000, p. 508.

23 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 3. See also A.L. Mabogunje, 2017, p. 2-3.

24 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 1.

25 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 1.

26 J.S. Eades, 1980, p. 37.

27 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 4.

28 J.S. Eades, 1980, p. 37.

29 A.L. Mabogunje, 1962, p. 3.

30 J.S. Eades, 1980, p. 44-55.

31 J.S. Eades, 1980, p. 38-44.

32 The Yoruba civil wars are a well-worn subject. For the interesting debate that has developed on many issues on the fall of Oyo Empire, see I.A. Akinjogbin, 1965 and J.F. Ade Ajayi, 1977.

33 The jihads in the south have also been studied. For details, see P. Morton-Williams, 1968, p. 1-24.

34 A. Adediran, 1998, p. 349-362.

35 On Owu war, see A.L. Mabogunje, J.D.O. Cooper, 1971.

36 A. Akinjogbin, 1966, p. 81-86.

37 R.C.C. Law, 1970, p. 211-222.

38 T. Falola, 1995, p. 83-105.

39 G.O. Oguntomisin, T. Falola, 1998, p. 381-398.

40 J.A. Atanda, 1973, p. 28-44. Also, S. Johnson, 1921, p. 274-284.

41 O. Akanji, 2010, p. 197-208.

42 “Co-creation” in this context refers to the imagined goals of the members of the leadership elite and their clients and dependents. It does not mean everyone was working together in unison, or that everyone agreed on directions of policies, decisions to go to war, or where to import weapons, etc. Co-creation meant that everyone had a role to play, from warlords to their slaves.

43 T. Falola, 2012, p. 12-13.

44 P.C. Lloyd, A. Mabogunje, B. Awe, 1967, p. 5.

45 R. Watson, 2000, p. 28. Also, see R. Watson, 2003, and Toyin Falola’s review of Watson’s book in Africa, 2005, p. 621-623.

46 B. Awe, 1967, p. 19; see also T. Falola, 2012, p. 217-224.

47 S.O. Biobaku, 1957, p. 4-18.

48 E.A. Ayandele, 1992, p. 3.

49 O. Oshin, 1998, p. 53-64. The conflict so affected Ondo that Rev. Charles Phillips, who travelled through the area in the 1880s (shortly after the war), estimated the population of Ondo to be a mere 1,500. See G.I.O. Olomola, 1998, p. 375.

50 S.O. Biobaku, 1957, p. 7.

51 The old article by S.O. Biobaku is very useful in explaining this confederation. See S.O. Biobaku, 1952, p. 35-49.

52 The late Chief Rufus Adepoju, the Balogun of Iwo (Personal Communication, 1978), provided a tradition which suggested that the migrants were in Ogundigbaro not earlier than the 16th century. According to Chief Adepoju, the descendants of Telu left Ogundigbaro as a result of the outbreak of smallpox. Smallpox began to feature in West Africa upon the arrival of the Portuguese and other European traders. Moreover, while Chief Adepoju called it smallpox (sonponna), the disease could have been any number of fevers (yellow fever, typhoid, etc.) brought on by the unhealthy, humid, and densely forested location. W.H. Clarke made a similar comment about Iwo’s unhealthy location thus: “it was clearly to be ascertained that the locality of Iwo was the most unfavourable to health that could have been selected” (W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96). Furthermore, sonponna (smallpox) could not have spread this far into the hinterland until the 17th century. Archaeological research is vitally required to locate Ogundigbaro and to provide dates through careful excavation and thorough analysis.

53 Igbo Oritaa has been identified to be a location and a grove along the modern highway to Ibadan. A sawmill and several other small industries sited nearby have encroached on the land. Moreover, Iwo had expanded in that direction, with homes and a farmers’ market also located nearby. The Iwo Cultural and Historical Association has been working with the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulroshid Adewale Akanbi, to preserve the location.

54 Ifa had directed the search party to look for the place where parrots congregated. Thus, the parrot has been adopted as Iwo’s bird. HRM Abdul-Roshid Akanbi, “The Oluwo of Iwo”, BBC News video, May 2, 2019, URL: https://www.bbc.com/yoruba/afrika-48130708 (consulted 16.11.2019).

55 Symbolically, the current Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, chose Telu I as his reigning name.

56 The Iwo Cultural and Historical Association and other civic groups have been working with geologists and archaeologists at the Obafemi Awolowo University to conduct an archaeological study of Igbo Oritaa. The study began in 2018 “with a reconnaissance visitation” followed by “a geophysical survey” of the location identified through oral tradition. In their report, Olorunfemi, Ogunfolakan, and Oni (2019, p. 535) noted thus: “The magnetic survey revealed anomalies of dyke-like features (central magnetic low [negative] flanked by low amplitude positive shoulders), linear depressions with prominent negative amplitude magnetic lows, and a moderately high amplitude magnetic anomaly coinciding with an old trench and several anthropogenic mounds. The resistivity survey also indicates the presence of subsurface archaeological features, including ditches and walls.” With the support of the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi, a follow-up archaeological excavation was conducted in January and February 2019. In their published report, the team of archaeologists stated: “The excavations uncovered dense deposits of potsherds, animal bones, shells, beads, iron slag fragments, a human premolar, metallic objects, a flute, and an architectural feature, possibly the foundation of a house. The geophysical survey and the test excavations confirm that Igbo Oritaa was an ancient settlement, consistent with the oral traditions.” For more information on the geophysical survey and archaeological excavation, see M.O. Olorunfemi, B.A. Ogunfolakan, A.G. Oni, 2019, p. 535. Also, in my interview with him on March 21, 2019, Professor Ogunfolakan explained that the potsherds were excavated from several layers. The layers near the top looked like Oyo pottery styles, while the bottom layers appeared to resemble Ife pottery styles. These might be indications of a possible change in political allegiance, trade, and/or artistic influence. It had been hoped that the analysis would reveal the dates of the migrants’ sojourn in and departure from Igbo Oritaa, but that has not yet been determined.

57 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96.

58 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96. It must be noted that Clarke was not the most consistent in his observations about the environment. His judgment could have been colored also by the report that there was a fever scourge in Iwo just a few months before his arrival. Upon his departure from Iwo, Clarke had to return to Ijaye by a route that took him across the Oba River. Here, Clarke took his passing shot at Iwo and its fevers thus: “In traveling to the river I learned the cause of the terrible fevers that sometimes rage in the city. The many creeks and branches, the fertile soil, the excessive vegetation, the flatness of the country, and the contiguity to the Oba, are the causes that would be expected anywhere to produce sickness” (p. 98-99).

59 Professor O.O. Ladipo, Personal Communication, March 27, 2017.

60 Today, the hill continues to serve that spiritual purpose. Many “spiritual” or “African” churches are located on or around the hill. It is believed that the location gives potency to prayers. Six churches have permanent or semi-permanent buildings on or around the hilltop. They are Cherubim and Seraphim (C & S) Church, Oke Awoye; C & S Church, Temidayo; C & S Church, The Root of Light; Joy Baptist Church; Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), God of Truth; and CAC Oke Kajola. In addition, as many as six other churches periodically come to the hilltop for their special prayer services. Pastor Adeniran, Personal Communication, May 3, 2019.

61 In addition to the mention of a gate in Clarke’s report, two locations in Iwo have “Bode” as part of their names. One is an extensive neighborhood known as Oke Bode, which may be the location of the gate Clarke spoke of. The other is a township (now the headquarters of Ola Oluwa Local Government) known as Bode Osi.

62 On a few occasions, this paper has made passing references to slaves. Slavery is not a central part of this paper but, as in many Yoruba kingdoms, slavery existed in Iwo and feature in the oriki of the town. While the extent of Iwo’s participation in the slave trade has not yet been studied, it is noteworthy that the Oluwo of Iwo tendered an unreserved apology for the slave trade “on behalf of the ancient [Yoruba] kings.” The apology was “to the past and existing victims of slave trade in Sub-Saharan Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean.” See A. Adeniyi, 2018.

63 Excerpted from Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, “Oke Agba,” Siky Oluyole SKOLP 027, 1980. Translated by the author.

64 The late Rufus Adepoju, Balogun of Iwo, Personal Communication, February 4, 1979. Prior to the arrival of Parin and his entourage, two hunters, Babagidigbo and Olaside (and their families) had already settled in Iwo. Traditions did not indicate any struggles between these men and the newly arrived descendants of Telu. Instead, according to the late Rufus Adepoju, they bowed to the crowned head from Ife and were among the new nobilities. Other traditions also included them in the narrative as having splintered from Telu’s group, or that they had gone ahead to scope the land.

65 P. Howard, 2002, p. xix.

66 P. Howard, 2002, p. xix.

67 P. Howard, 2002, p. 9.

68 G.J.A. Ojo, 1968, p. 14-17, 70-72. See also S. Johnson, 1921; A. Asojo, 2016, p. 34-38; J.M. Vlach, 1976a, p. 48-53, 99.

69 The position of the Ogun shrine symbolized Iwo’s connection to Ile-Ife. In 2017, however, the present Oluwo of Iwo, HRM Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi, had the shrine of Ogun removed from the front of the palace. He claimed Islamic fervor, repeatedly asserting that he ranks higher than the gods and idols, that he is “alase lori orisa,” authority over the deities, not the former appellation as “alase ekeji orisa,” second to the deities. While his rhetoric was not popular, the removal of the shrine was well received among the town’s large Muslim population (as well as the Christian population) while, surprisingly, the traditionalists did not seem to protest the removal. See Jeremiah Oke, “I welcome idol worshippers but I can’t worship with them, says Oluwo,” J. Oke, “I welcome idol worshipers but I can’t worship with them says Oluwo”, Daily Trust, October 17, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/i-welcome-idol-worshipers-but-i-can-t-worship-with-them-says-oluwo.html (consulted 16.11.2019).

70 Pa D.A. Adeniji (Personal Communication, February 10, 1979) estimated the Oluwo’s palace grounds to be in excess of 20 acres and densely forested. During the 20th century, parts of the palace grounds were used for the construction of the Native Administration (later Local Government) offices, Town Hall, Post Office, Customary and Magistrate Courts, a commercial bank, and telephone exchange station.

71 J.B. Falade, 1990, p. 47-56.

72 Oral history and local historians do not know when the first central mosque was constructed in Iwo.

73 These lineages are also listed on the Oluwo of Iwo Chieftaincy Declaration, aligning them to the four declared ruling houses: Adegunodo, Gbase, Alawusa, and Ogunmakinde Ande.

74 A. Amoo, 1996.

75 In his insistence that he should be addressed as “Emir,” Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi pointed to this turbaning ceremony at his coronation as evidence of Iwo’s emirate status.

76 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 95.

77 Clarke complained about this and “a place dry, secluded and comfortable” was provided. Furthermore, he stated that “the compound in which I made my sojourn was one of the largest I had ever seen, being a collection of courtyards and extended from one street to another.” See W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 95, 97. It should be noted that refuse/waste dumps are invaluable to archaeologists as a great site for historical artifacts.

78 The late Oba S.O. Abimbola, Oluwo of Iwo, Personal Communication, October 14, 1978.

79 There were many challenging aspects to this tradition. First, there was no mention of Oyo’s conquest or domination of Iwo. Alaafin Obalokun did carry war southwards into Egbado in the time of Oba Parin in Iwo, but there was nothing in Oyo tradition that the empire ever conquered Iwo, which was not near Egbado. Second, for the very reason that the prince might come to some harm, the candidate for the throne would not have had to embark on a journey of several hundred miles. Instead, the Alaafin’s messengers would have brought the insignia to the city. Third, Obajoko, the location typically selected as the spot where Eboade died, is much nearer Iwo than even the (New) Oyo and is not in the direction of Old Oyo. The tradition possibly conflated New Oyo with Old Oyo. In any case, a version of this story narrated by Prince Abdulai Alawiye Tadese (Personal Communication, December 29, 1978) contradicted some of these details. Prince Tadese insisted that his ancestor (Tadese) did not give up his birthright to the throne.

80 The main narrative of the rebellion was provided by the late Rufus Adepoju, the Balogun of Iwo who was a great grandson of Balogun Ali Iwo. His bias was palpable as he regaled with the story of his ancestor. Chief Rufus Adepoju, Personal Communication, March 5, 1979. Pa D.A. Adeniji (the late culture historian at University of Ibadan’s Institute of African Studies, Personal Communication, August 21, 1978, and February 10, 1979) provided a similar version of the story of Ali Iwo rebellion.

81 Ali is sometimes also spelled “Alli.”

82 The etymology of the title Seriki was the title “Sarki,” which meant “king” in pre-jihad Hausaland. It was adopted in many Yoruba towns but was stripped of its royal meaning. Instead, the Seriki was a titular head of something which is determined in context. In the context of the Ali Iwo rebellion, Ajigbagun was Seriki (head or patron) of a group of villages. Interestingly, a compound in Molete is named “Ile Seriki.”

83 Oba Lamuye was remembered as the longest reigning Oluwo. Many believed he reigned for 100 years, starting from the early 1800s. However, the evidence from W.H. Clarke did not support this claim. Clarke was in Iwo in 1856. He met the Oluwo “two or three” times and formed a great impression of him, but he did not identify him by name. However, Clarke noted that “in consequence of infirmity, the power and direction of government rested for the most part in the hands of the war chief.” It is probable that the ailing king on the throne in 1856 was Ogumakinde Ande (or Anide). If he died shortly thereafter, Monmodu Lamuye probably ascended in 1858, giving him about 50 years on the throne. See W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96.

84 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 96.

85 W.H. Clarke (1972, p. 96) again provided evidence of how much Ali enjoyed his role as patron of the Muslims. On the Eid Al-Adhan, which Clarke observed in Iwo, Ali rode into town on a horse, surrounded by his bodyguards.

86 For the rest of the story regarding Ali’s life and the founding of Ali-Iwo lineage/compound in Ibadan, see D.A. Adebayo, 2012.

87 D.A. Adebayo, 2012, p. 29.

88 For more information on this crisis, see A.G. Adebayo, 1982, p. 59-81.

89 A. Amoo, 1996, p. 19-20. A variant of this appellation was “O dapo mo Fulani ko see yanju,” meaning that “in his disguise Lamuye resembled a Fulani warrior.” To many Yorubas in the latter part of the 19th century, Fulani and Ilorin were synonymous.

90 E.D. Adelowo, 1981/1982, p. 128-137.

91 T.G.O. Gbadamosi, 1978.

92 A.K.H. Solihu, 2015, p. 10-37.

93 On the kola nut trade, see P.E. Lovejoy, 1980. Also, on the 20th century progress of the trade, see A.G. Adebayo, 1991, p. 94-111.

94 J.D.Y. Peel cited figures indicating that the population of Muslims in Oyo Province, of which Iwo was a part, rose from 13% to 50% between 1921 and 1952. See J.D.Y. Peel, 1967, p. 292-306.

95 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 97-98.

96 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 99.

97 In March 2018, in a widely unpopular move, the Oluwo of Iwo Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi announced that he would thenceforth adopt the title of “Emir.” He made the statement at the installation of Sheikh Yahquub Abdul-Baaqi Mohammed as first Waziri of Yoruba land. The Oluwo was quoted as saying: “The occasion of the installation of Waziri Yorubaland is another great opportunity to create the necessary awareness and promote to the entire world the deep Islamic culture and heritage in Iwo.” See Wale Odunsi, “‘Call Me Emir of Iwoland Henceforth,’ Oluwo Drops Oba Title,” Daily Trust, March 31, 2018. Also, see Gbenga Olarinoye, “Yoruba Oba drops title, becomes Emir,” Vanguard, March 31, 2018; and Farooq Kperogi, “ ‘Emir of Yorubaland’: A sociolinguistic analysis of the term ‘Emir’ ”Daily Trust, April 8, 2018, Retrieved from https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/emir-of-yorubaland-a-sociolinguistic-analysis-of-the-term-emir.html (consulted 16.11.2019).

98 W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 97.

99 Pa D.A. Adeniji, Personal Communication, February 10, 1979.

100 At the end of his visit, W.H. Clarke presented the Oluwo with a “Yoruba translation of one of the gospels, not that it should be esteemed as a charm, but as a memento of a visit of peace and glad tidings to be shown to those who might come afterwards” (1972, p. 98). Clarke also noted the presence in Iwo of a Sierra Leonean missionary family who gave him a meal.

101 Recently, social media began circulating the interview by the Oluwo of Iwo, HRM Abdulroshid Adewale Akanbi, at which he explored this Ife connection. Never one to shy away from controversy, Oba Akanbi made the bold claim that Iwo royals have a right to be king in Ile-Ife and that they should be willing to be a contestant for the Ooni position whenever the throne becomes vacant. See HRM Abdul-Roshid Akanbi, “The Oluwo of Iwo”, BBC News video, May 2, 2019, URL: https://www.bbc.com/yoruba/afrika-48130708 (consulted 16.11.2019).

102 T.J. Bowen, 1857, p. 218.

103 Iwo has continued to maintain this serene, peaceful, nonplussed atmosphere, with the exception of occasional violence and civil strife triggered by electoral politics.

104 For the exploration of “hospitality” and “hostility” as concepts in refugee reintegration, see T. Falola, 1985, p. 51-68.

105 The late Pa D.A. Adeniji, University of Ibadan, Personal Communication, February 10, 1979. A fish pond was later constructed on this stream in the 20th century.

106 W.H. Clarke experienced this when he was departing Iwo for Ijaye in 1856. He explained his experience thus: “After the delay that may be always looked for whenever there is an appointment with a native, we were safely ferried across in the peculiar Yoruba manner—of course on a huge calabash.” W.H. Clarke, 1972, p. 99.

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Akanmu G. Adebayo, « Iwo: A reevaluation of refugee integration, intergroup relations, and the scenography of power in a 19th-century Yoruba city »Afriques [En ligne], 11 | 2020, mis en ligne le 15 décembre 2020, consulté le 24 octobre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/2797 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/afriques.2797

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Auteur

Akanmu G. Adebayo

Professor of History, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, United States

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