How the Fulani Took Over Ilorin from Afonja Yoruba
Ilorin use to be a town that is being led by Yorubas and even its a part of Yoruba land that was controlled by the old Oyo empire, but nowadays its traditionally led by Hausas even though the population of the Yoruba people is still far bigger than that of the population of Hausas, So the decision of a man to ditch his loyalists for unknown strangers led us to this story of How the Fulani Took Over Ilorin from Afonja
The title of the traditional ruler of Ilorin remains an Emir who is a subject of the sultan and as well takes orders from the sultan of Sokoto. This change happened after misunderstanding and power tussle happened among the Yorubas while Afonja found himself alone to face the war.
Who is Afonja?
Between the year 1700, particularly 1750, there was a man who is a hero, fierce and a fearless warrior in the old Oyo empire and its kingdom, He goes by the name Afonja.
He fought so many battles and wars and defended the whole Oyo Empire and its surroundings with anything even at the expense of his own life. All this great impact and some other factors are the reason why he was named and crowned with the title of Aare Ona Kakanfo for the whole of Yoruba land, This is the region now known southwestern part of Nigeria.
What does the title of Aare Ona Kakanfo stand for
The Aare Ona Kakanfo title means the greatest and highest warlord for the whole Oyo empire which captures the whole of everywhere Yoruba is being spoken (all the southwestern part of Nigeria and some part of Cotonou, Abidjan, Togo and Benin republic where a lot of Yorubas were present as well) and tradition is being practiced.
Some sources said that the influence of the old Oyo empire extended to the Benin kingdom as well but later Benin went independent such that they share parts of Owo which is why the main Owo town is now small but still independent and serves as the border between Oyo empire and Benin kingdom (Edo).
In a modern-day expression, Aare Ona Kakanfo can also be named as the commander in chief of the armed forces and he must not be living in the same town with Alaafin who is the supreme King of the empire to prevent any sort of power tussle, but Alaafin is still superior to the Aare Ona Kakanfo in all ramification and Alaafin as well is the one to choose whomever he wants to become the Aare Ona Kakanfo
Afonja is one of the greatest heroes in Yorubaland whose impact can never fade away because of some of his decisions, actions, and incidents that happened during his rule, and the consequences of these things are still present in Ilorin and this history determines a lot in the landscape of Kwara State politics
The Life Story of Afonja :
A man Laderin who is a son of Alugbin, This Alugbin is the son of Pasin. This Laderin is Afonja’s father.
Afonja hail from a town called Jabata, a small town in the old Oyo empire, very close to Ilorin. Afonja became Aare Ona Kakanfo during the rule of Alaafin Abiodun ( i already explained the meaning of the Aare Ona Kakanfo title) up till the time of Alaafin Aole. Alaafin Aole is the son of Alaafin Abiodun and he was this same Aole was the one who killed his father Abiodun.
Due to the fact that the warlord Aare Ona Kakanfo don’t stay in the same town with the king Alaafin, Afonja moved to the northern part of the empire and established himself in a town known as Ilorin not too far from his place of birth ”jabata”
After sometimes, a fight came up between Aole and Afonja, it was so much that Afonja had to make Fulani strangers as his allies and he was betrayed which led to the conquering of Ilorin and the leadership was taken away from the Yorubas to the Fulanis under the Sokoto caliphate while they take orders from Sultan. how did this happen?
The cause of the fight between Afonja and Alaafin Aole
1. Before the murder of Alaafin Abiodun, he had an oath with his warlord Afonja which he (Afonja) never wanted to betray. This was suspected to be the reason why Afonja has disobeyed Aole’s order to wage war on a small town known as iwere ile . Iwere ile is Alaafin Abiodun mother’s village, Aole commanded Afonja to go there and burn it into ashes but Afonja refused because
2. Alaafin Abiodun had laid a curse on any warrior whoever wages war on iwere ile, and that such warrior will encounter a shameful death by doing so. No one knew the oath between Afonja and Alaafin Abiodun but it is being said to be one of the reasons why he has refused to obey that particular war order from Aole.
3. Alaafin Aole pretended like everything is ok, So he sent Afonja to wage war on Apomu in the year 1795. Apomu is under the control of Ife kingdom and waging war on a town like that can cause military repercussion more than anyone can think of, because there has been rivalry and beef of who is greater between the Ife Kingdom and Oyo empire and both parties usually avoid the avoidables in anything that can cause serious friction between them.
4. Afonja carried obeyed this order and got victorious, but he got to know that Alaafin Aole actually wants him dead, so he abdicated the throne willingly. Aole poisoned himself and that was what led to his demise.
5. Afonja returned to Ilorin and declared it as an independent kingdom that is no more under the control of Oyo empire and they are going to be deciding their fate politically, socially and economically independent as from then on
5. A lot of kings were crowned as Alaafin after Aole’s death but they didn’t live long which was alleged as a result of spells and powers of Afonja until the year 1802 when Alaafin majotu was crowned. Alaafin Majotu’s rule was revolutionary and it took control of the Oyo empire and overall external and internal interrupting forces constituted by Afonja who was looking for all ways to increase his powers and expand his territory.
The fall of Afonja: Afonja’s first mistake that enabled the Fulani to take Over Ilorin from Afonja
A Fulani man who is an Islamic priest named Shehu Alimi immigrated into Ilorin and Afonja gave them land to propagate their endeavors (religious, farming and others), This man has his security protocols or those we can call soldiers he brought to Ilorin, but they weren’t operating any form of military action as they are under the tenets of another man’s accommodation.
Afonja started believing that the Fulani soldiers are more competent and Hausa slaves are so stronger than the Yoruba ones, this was why he made friends with this Islamic priest known as Shehu Alimi.
Afonja disengaged and dissolved his own army made up of Yoruba men and recruited Hausa soldiers into his Army
After the death of Shehu Alimi, Abdulsalam who is a son of Shehu Alimi took advantage of his language to convince them into launching an attack on Afonja in 1817, and he was killed in a merciless way.
In the year 1824 which was 7 years after Abdul salam has been controlling Ilorin, he declared himself as the Emir of Ilorin, and declare Ilorin as a subsidiary of the Sokoto caliphate/empire which the supreme leader is the sultan of Sokoto. Since then, Hausas took over the leadership of Ilorin from Afonja Yoruba, The power slipped off the hands of the Yorubas, and up till today, the Yorubas are still trying so hard to get the power back again.
The Aftermath of the Event and Its Effect the Today Politics of Ilorin and Kwara State
Even though an excerpt of this history was reformed and twisted such that it was used to influence people against Bukola Saraki while his oppositions claimed he is not Yoruba (we are not siding or against any politician, just an illustration ). This is the reason why our history is necessary because whether we like it or not it is useful and history is like a sword, if we don’t tell it by ourselves, others can tell it against us and use it to harm us.
So that’s How the Fulani Took Over Ilorin from Afonja, I hope you can relate this with what is going on in our country today and why we all should be careful.
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