HISTORY OF ILORIN — Hundreds of years ago, there was a forest called Oko-Erin, there were many elephants in this bush, that was why it is called Oko-Erin [elephant forest], only the brave and powerful hunters live in this forest. Òjó Oníṣekúṣe [Ojo the promiscuous], who was from Ijesha, was the first hunter to arrive Oko-Erin he was a brave and powerful hunter. Ẹ̀mìńlá from Ìlá- Ọ̀ràngún also came and met Òjó Oníṣekúṣe in this forest; he was a powerful hunter too.
Both Òjó Oníṣekúṣe and Ẹ̀mìńlá do not live at Oko-Erin, they only hunt for a while and return to their family. Ọláderin arrived Oko-Erin after Ẹ̀mìńlá and Òjó Oníṣekúse. Ọláderin has a hut in this forest; he was the leader of all the elephant hunters at the time and he was the first settler at Oko-Erin. He was from Oyo Alaafin. Whenever his co-hunters returns from hunting, they took some rest at Oladerin’s hut, Oladerin was so powerful that both humans, elephants, and other animals fear him. Laderin has a big pot of concoctions, when he enters this pot, he can turn into any type of animal he desires. That was why he was referred to as Ola di erin[Oladerin.] There was a stone used for sharpening their machetes at Oladerin’s hut, whenever their machetes got blunt; they took it to Oladerin’s hut to sharpen it on this particular stone. while heading to Oladerin’s hut to sharpen their machete, if anybody asks them where they are going, they would say “mò ń lọ lọ irin mi lọ́dọ̀ọ Láderin” [I want to go and sharpen my machete at Laderin’s place] they used to call this stone Ìlọ irin [a sharpener]Ilorin derived its name from this stone.
The stone they used for sharpening their machetes is still at Bámidélé house in Ilorin today. Ojo onisekuse was said to have fled Oko-Erin because of his promiscuity, he was fond of sleeping with his daughter and family, and this act is forbidden when he was caught, he had to flee Oko-Erin. Eminla went back to Ila-Orangun, while Ojo onisekuse fled to Ojoku near Offa where he later died.
People started coming to Ilorin from villages around Oyo to live with Laderin, some of the hunters too decided to settle at Ilorin with Laderin that was how Ilorin started to expand. Laderin was the first chief [baálẹ̀] in Ilorin; there was no other tribe in Ilorin at this time aside from the Oyo indigene and its environs.
After Laderin’s death, his son Pàsín took over as the second chief [baálẹ̀ ] during Pàsín reign as baálẹ̀ in Ilorin, Bashọ̀run Gáà was disrupting the peace of Oyo, Pàsín interfered in the issue because he was not pleased with the way Bashọ̀run Gaa was tormenting the people of Oyo; this was what led to Pasin’s death. Bashorun Gaa killed him in an open space. After Pasin’s death, Àlùgbìn the son of Pasin became the next baale in Ilorin. During Alugbin’s reign, Ilorin has become a big town.
After Alugbin’s demise, his son Àfọ̀njá became the new baale in Ilorin. Afonja was brave, courageous, and fearless; he was a warlord who possesses supernatural powers.
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Afonja became baale in Ilorin during the reign of Alaafin Abíọ́dún Adégoólú in the Oyo kingdom. After the demise of Alaafin Abiodun Adegoolu, another king was crowned in Oyo, his name was Aólẹ̀ Aróganganlóyè; he was a powerful king. Before Aole was crowned a king, Afonja has become so powerful that he was feared by everyone in Yoruba land, he has waged war against many Yoruba villages, waged war against some villages near Ilorin, overpowered them, and rule over them; he has waged war against few villages like Ìdòfìàn, Òkè-Òyì, Ìbẹ̀rẹ̀-Igbọ́n, Ẹlẹ́rínjàre, and many villages close to Ilorin. Many villages near Ilorin are no longer in existence due to Afonja’s war against them. Some of these villages see Afonja as their god. Most people no longer fear the Alaafin, the only person they fear and dread was Afonja; they often say “Bí Aláàfin ó bá bínú kó bínú, bí Àfọ̀njá ò bá sáà ti bínú àbùsebùse” [If Alaafin like he can get angry as long as Afonja is not.]
Nobody dares question whatever Afonja does. Aole has heard of Afonja before he became the king that he is more like a devil. After Aole was crowned as the Alaafin, Ọyábí was the Ààrẹ ọ̀nà kakaǹfò [the Yoruba generalissimo.] After Oyabis’s death, Afonja insisted that he would be the next Yoruba generalissimo [Aare ona kakanfo] meanwhile, Afonja’s mother was from a royal family in Oyo, they told Afonja that becoming the Yoruba generalissimo is ridicule to him, and the royal kingdom, but Afonja insisted that he must be the next kakanfo. Alaafin Aole agreed to make him the Kakanfo and this was the genesis of the problem in Yoruba land.
It was customary in Yoruba land that whenever a new kakanfo is chosen, the Alaafin must send him to war to ascertain how powerful the new kakanfo is, the warrior would ask the king to tell them who his enemy is, and whoever or a town the Alaafin declares as his enemy would turn to ashes my the armies. Afonja and his armies were expecting the Alaafin Aole to send them to war, but Aole did not. There was a reason why Aole did not send Afonja the new kakanfo to war; he knew that whatever war he sent Afonja, he will win, and he doesn’t want Afonja’s supremacy to keep spreading in the Yoruba kingdom, he believed that Afonja was a rascal. Afonja suspected that Aole does not like him, and Aole sees Afonja as his enemy and the major threat to his throne. He thought to himself that Afonja might want to overthrow his throne. One day, the Ọ̀yọ́mèsìs who was the head of chiefs in the Oyo kingdom that advises the king asked the Alaafin Aole to tell them who his enemy was so they can tell the armies to wage war against his enemy.
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They said it is an abomination to elect a new kakanfo without sending him to war to know how powerful and capable he is. Alaafin Aole opened up to them that his only enemy was Afonja the new kakanfo that forced himself on him; he said his enemy is powerful than he is. Moreover, they are from the same royal family and he is confused about what to do.
The Oyomesis told Alaafin Aole that they know what to do; they assured him that he would conquer Afonja, they agreed to send Afonja to a war that he won’t return. It is forbidden for any kakanfo in Yoruba land to reject any war that Alaafin sent him, and it is necessary that kakanfo win the battle or never return. They connive to send Afonja to wage war against Iwere. No one has ever dare wage war against Iwere in the history, this was as a result of two things, firstly, Iwere was located on the hill, it is difficult to wage war against them. Secondly, the mother of both Alaafin Abiodun and Aláàfin Àjàgbó who reigned in the year [1587-1624] was from Iwere, Ajagbo was the one that established the kakanfo, and it was in their agreement that no kakanfo will ever wage war against Iwere.
They believed that if Afonja wages war against Iwere, he would be killed. Peradventure he won at Iwere, another plan was for the Oyo armies to kill Afonja on their way. Their plan was not to disclose to Afonja that he is waging war against Iwere, they planned to lure him to the battlefield before telling him that Alaafin Aole wants him to wage war against Iwere.
One of Afonja loyalist went to him and disclosed their plan to get rid of him, after the plan has been revealed to Afonja, he pretends as if he doesn’t know their plan. On the day he was to go for war, he was set with his armies to do the order of Aole, the Aole’s armies were leading him to Iwere, when they got to Iwere border, Afonja wage war against Alaafin Aole armies and killed them all. Afonja returned to Oyo with his armies, when he got to Oyo border, he sent a message to Alaafin Aole that their secret has been opened, he said he should commit suicide or he Afonja would wipe out his entire family.
Aole knew he has no option than to do afonja’s wish; he went into his room and brought out a pot with six arrows in it; he shot one arrow to the east, one to the south, one to the north and one to the west. He started to curse the entire Yoruba race with strong incantations as he shoots the arrows. Part of his curse was that the Yorubas will never agree on one thing and they will never love one another, he said the Yorubas would become slaves under the tribes they have ruled over, and whomever the Yorubas helped will always pay them back with evil. After all the curses, Aole lifted the pot and smashed it, the put brakes into pieces; he said no one would be able to revert his curses. After the curses, Aole poisons himself and die.
After Aole’s demise, Adébọ̀ was crowned as the new Alaafin in Oyo, there was turmoil in the whole of Yoruba land during this time, Afonja withdrew Ilorin from the authority of Oyo, and he said they no longer wanted to be part of Oyo. No one dares question Afonja, except the one who wants to die prematurely. Afonja was looking for all means that the authority of the entire Yoruba race would be under him so he can rule over the entire Yorubas. It seems Aole curse was working faster on him. Afonja neglected Alaafin completely, he never takes any order from him. Afonja has the enormous armies in the entire Yoruba race then.
He began to wage war to all Yoruba villages and towns; this makes him be more dreadful. Afonja wanted to rule over the Yorubas, he then sent for a man called Álímì who was a Fulani man and alfa from the north to be his herbalist who will fortify him with more supernatural powers. While Alimi was coming to Ilorin, he came with his entourage who are Hausas and most of them were his slaves. Afonja also sent for one of his rich friends called Sọlágbẹrú to settle with him at Ilorin in other to achieve his aim. Solagberu also came and settled at Òke-Súnà in the outskirt of Ilorin; Afonja was ruling over them. Some slaves will run away from his or her master and run to Afonja, and no one dares to question him that he snatches his or her slave. Most of the Muslims stay with Solagberu because he was a devoted Muslim who is rich and wise.
After Adebo’s demise, a new king called Máàkú was crowned as Alaafin Oyo, they sent a message to Afonja that a new king has been crowned in Oyo. Afonja asked them the name of the new king, and they told him his name is Maaku [Don’t die.] Afonja replied that “ìgbà wo ni máàkú ò ní kú” [he would eventually die].
Afonja began to recruit the Fulani and Hausa armies into his armies and everyone address them as Afonja armies, they call these armies Jànmọ́ọ̀ [comrades] . They wage war against Ìgbómìnà land; Afonja’s name started spreading across Yoruba land. The janmoos after waging war to towns and villages return with foods and different possessions of the people they wage war against; they were increasing in numbers as time. Whenever they don’t go to war, they torment the people of Ilorin by stealing their livestock. These Fulani armies were so enormous that Afonja himself don’t know their numbers, no one dare report this janmoo armies to Afonja. At a time, Fágbohùn who was the baálẹ̀ of Jàbàtá confronted Afonja that his Janmoo was disrupting the peace of the people and if care is not taking, the Fulanis and the Hausas he was shading will destroy Ilorin. Afonja sent for Alimi to consult for him if what Fagbohun said was actually true. Alimi told him that The Fulanis and the Hausas were gods sent to assist him, he said the Yorubas are planning to destroy Ilorin. Afonja was so furious, he wanted to kill Fagboun, but Fagbohun quickly runs for his life.
This issue led to a quarrel between Afonja and his friend Solagberu because he advises Afonja to send these Hausa and Fulani armies out of Ilorin because Alimi is a hypocrite and he has compromised. Fagbohun vowed to support Afonja on this; he also told Afonja that Alimi has hypnotized him.
Afonja was happy that he has nothing to fear because he has more than enough armies, he doesn’t know that they were not faithful to him. These janmoos knew that Afonja been a Yoruba might decide that they should leave Ilorin and it’s environed any time, Afonja armies who were Hausas and Fulani went to Alimi and told him to be their godfather and Alimi accepted their offer.
It was too late before Afonja got to know that they were planning to overthrow him. He was preparing for war to correct his wrongs, he wanted to set Ilorin free from Janmoo, he told Alimi to leave Ilorin with his men, Alimi refused, he said they can’t leave Ilorin, Alimi joined hand with the Janmoo to fight Afonja, the war broke out between Afonja and Alimi his close friend.
Afonja sent for Oníkòyí and some other warriors to come and assist him but they denied his request. He sent for Solagberu at Oke-Suna, but he did not answer him, he said he started it alone so he should finish what he started. Before Afonja knew what was happening, the war he was preparing for was already with him. They started to shoot their arrows at him. The arrow found on Afonja’s body was more than five hundred thousand. Afonja died standing on his foot, they were scared to move close to him thinking he might be performing some magic; the arrows were all over his body that there was no space on his body without an arrow; it was the arrows that don’t allow Afonja to fall. The brave one amidst them moved close to him and shot him another arrow; it was then that he was certain Afonja is dead. All the Yoruba armies have fled, no one to render assistance to Afonja.
They took Afonja’s corpse and burnt it after which Alimi went to Afonja compound and lure them that there was a little misunderstanding between him and his friend Afonja, that he was very sorry for what happened. Alimi rebuilt Afonja’s house, took the post of baale away from Afonja’s family, and became a baale. He was the first baale of their tribe.
Alimi later killed Solagberun that said he is not interested in the war between Afonja and Alimi, he beheads him in the open.