The Changing Role Of The Traditional Political Institution In Ibadan In The Twentieth (20th) Century

Project and Seminar Material for History

The Changing Role Of The Traditional Political Institution In Ibadan In The Twentieth (20th) Century

Chapter One

1.1 Statement of the Problem

The need to examine the changing role of Traditional Political Institution in Ibadan is considered to complement the existing literature on Ibadan as a polity. Indeed, various aspects of Ibadan history have been documented and by different scholar but a sequential appraisal of the changes witnessed by the Traditional Political Institution have been treated in passing. The desire to dedicate this project to the issue is to further illuminate an important aspect of Ibadan history.

Even though, the project focuses on the 20th century. The events before the period, where the Traditional Institution played prominent role, will be accommodated to provide an holistic appraisal of the changes witnessed by the Traditional Political Institution at Ibadan.

1.2 Objective of the Study

The objective of writing on this topic is to examine the different changes that occurred within the Traditional Political Institution of Ibadan in the 20th century.

Generally, change is the transformation of an event, a system, an object or a process. It may either be qualitative or quantitative or both. The concern of this essay project is primarily with the transformation and modification of an important event in the Institution of Ibadan society. These Institutions or units are the offices of the Traditional Ruler in Ibadan which bestows an identifiable status on the incumbent.

Although, many scholars both Historians and non-Historians have given considerable attention to the Period Colonial Administration, not only in Ibadan but also in the whole of Yoruba land.

Yet, there is no work which has studied the theme of this essay in the context of the changing role of the Traditional Political Institution of Ibadan in the 20th century.

Finally, it is the desire to investigate what changes that occurred in the Traditional Political Institution of Ibadan in the 20thcentury in general.

1.3 Scope of the Study

This study focuses on the events of the 20th century, that is to say from 1900-1999 but as an historical study, the need to apprise the period before the period of focus will provide necessary information that will illuminate the understanding of Ibadan history.

To follow the period before 20th century, a full focus will be on the period to appraise the changes recorded in both the status and role of the Traditional Political Institution in Ibadan.

The fact that the 20th century covered the period of colonial administration, the period when Nigeria became independent and under civil and military administrations, study of this topic will provide a better understanding of Ibadan history.

1.4 Research Methodology / Problem

As an historical documentation on a city like Ibadan, that is known to be the largest city in West Africa, a multi-disciplinary research methodology was adopted.

The study began with the study of available literature on various aspects of Ibadan history. This was followed with the visit to the National Archive at Ibadan and finally oral data collection was undertaken. Indeed, Questionnaires were prepared to obtain information on data based requirements.

Indeed, the experience is worth while. A lot of informant’s were not readily available and others gave several promises before they eventually made themselves available.

Finally, the land size of Ibadan, actually constituted another problem which directly overstress my financial provisions.

1.5 Literature Review

Since much has been written on the changes in the Traditional Political Institution in Ibadanland, they provide a good base for this study. For instance, books consulted like B.A. Awe: “The Rise of Ibadan as a Yoruba Power in the Nineteenth Century” and S. Johnson: “The History of the Yorubas” which agreed on the fact that Ibadan town was founded as a war camp in the 19th century and also, they agreed on the pre-colonial political setup of Ibadan based, as it were on the military.

According to P.C. Lloyd in his book titled “The city of Ibadan”, Ibadan, that “ethnographic anomaly” as Peter Lloyd tightly terms the Yoruba cities, unique as an Obaless Yoruba city which clawed its way to the top eluting the enables and sometimes mindless nineteenth century Yoruba wars, Ibadan today is the capital of the Western province of Nigeria, the largest city (though smaller than greater Lagos according to A.L. Mabogunje) in the country and one of the largest black African cities on the continent.

Also, according to I.B. Akinyele’s book titled “The outline History of Ibadan”, Ibadan was founded in the in the 16th century,. Around 1820, an army of Egba, Ijebu, Ife and Oyo people won the town during their wars with the Fulanis. After a struggle between the victors, the Oyo gained control in 1829. A system where the Baale line (civic) and Balogun Isoriki line (military) shared power was established by 1851, subject to a traditional council resenting both lines.

Akogun Lekan Alabi’s work titled “Ibadan Chieftaincy System”, stressed the point on the recognition of the Royal Family who are expected to be headed by a male member called “Mogaji”. Anyone selected or elected rather to be the Mogaji of his family must have the majority support of the family, but a unanimous support is ideal.

J.F.Ade Ajayi’s book titled “Background to Exalted Olubadan’s Throne” also gave a valuable information which shed more lights on the instability occasioned by the incessant wars which was one of the recurring themes in the History of Yorubaland in the Nineteenth century, and it was out of this morbid situation that Ibadan grew. He made use of oral Tradition that speak of three Ibadan.

First and foremost, Ibadan came into existence in 1829 when Lagelu, the Jagun (commander-in-Chief) of Ife and Yoruba’s generalissimo, left Ile-Ife with a handful of people from Ife, Oyo, and Ijebu to found a new city, Eba Odan, which literally means ‘between the forest and plains;. According to HRH Sir Isaac Babalola Akinyele, the late Olubadan (king) of Ibadan (Olu Ibadan means Lord of Ibadan), in his authoritative book on the history of Ibadan, “Iwe Itan Ibadan”, printed in 1911, the first city was destroyed due to an incident at an Egungun (masquerade) festival when an Egungun was accidentally disrobed and derisively mocked by women and children in an open market place full of people. In Yorubaland, it was an abomination for women to look an Egungun in the eye because the Egunguns were considered to be the dead forefathers who returned to the earth each year to bless their progeny. When the news reached Sango, the then Alaafin of Oyo, he commanded that Eba Odan be destroyed for committing such abominable act.

Secondly, Ibadan was historically an Egba town. The Egba occupants were forced to leave the town and moved to present day Abeokuta under the leadership of Sodeke when the surge of Oyo refugees flocked into the towns as an aftermath of the fall of Oyo kingdom. Ibadan grew into an impressive and sprawling urban center so much that by the end of 1829, Ibadan dominated the Yoruba region militarily, politically and economically. The military sanctuary expanded even further when refugees began attiring in large numbers from northern Oyo following raids by Fulani warrior. After losing the northern portion of their region to the marauding Fulanis, many Oyo indigenes retreated deeper into the Ibadan environs.

Thirdly, Ibadan according to him represented the culmination of certain development which started from the old Oyo empire. He asserted that the Fulani caliphate attempted to expend further into the Southern region of modern-day Nigeria, but was decisively defeated by the armies of Ibadan in 1840.

This work also examines the mutation of an institution in Ibadan society unit the office of the ruler nitrous of his role, responsibility and public image. The Ibadan Ruler in the colonial period was known as Baale and then he was nothing more than a primus Inter Pare (First Among Equal) at home, because of the Oligardiy rafure of the Ibadan Government. With the establishment of a colonial state, the Bale was curtailed both within and without Ibadan in the Twentieth century which did not satisfy his desire for more power.

Ruth Watson, ‘Civil Disorder is the Disease of Ibadan’: chieftaincy and civic culture in a Yoruba city. This book captures the complicated process of acquiring titles and becoming a chief in a competitive political environment where many individuals defined their lifetime ambition as acquiring honour through chieftaincy. More importantly, the book reveals how these titles actually ascribed civic status. The book shows how a civic political culture had to be created, and how powerful figures operated within it. Without a civic community, there would be no chiefs. And without chiefs, one may argue, a civic community of the type described in this book could not have been created. Merging two eras in history the Pre-Colonial and Colonial. Watson elaborates upon the relationship between city politics and chiefs.

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