THE FIRST ATTEMPT TO RECOVER ILORIN FROM THE FULANIS: THE BATTLE OF OGELE
The personal animosity between Aare Afonja and Alaafin Aole degenerated to show off strength between the two leading figures in the administration of the Oyo Empire. This culminated into the summary termination of Alaafin Aole and declaration of independence for Ilorin.
Aare Afonja’s effort to consolidate his power and position as the supreme authority in Ilorin dictated two major actions that eventually played key roles in the historical changes witnessed in Ilorin.
One of such actions of the Aare was his contact with Shehu Alimi through his friend Sholagberu. The second was the Aare’s decision to recruit slaves who ran to Ilorin from their masters in Oyo town, after Ilorin had been declared independent of Oyo, into his army.
The first of the Aare’s steps was to seek spiritual support for his new position and status. He, therefore, persuaded Shehu Alimi to migrate into Ilorin town from Kuwo (a suburb of Ilorin) where he had then settled.
This was after Shehu Alimi’s Islamic evangelical mission to parts of Yoruba land, such as Oshogbo and even Oyo Ile. It was for Aare’s persuasion that Shehu Alimi eventually migrated to Ilorin town.
On the recruitment of the slaves who ran to Ilorin as a sanctuary, the Aare saw their presence in Ilorin as an advantage to have soldiers who do not have any relations with the local environment.
Therefore, the question of betrayer would be out of the way, given the circumstances of his declaration of independence for Ilorin from Oyo. Aare’s confidence and high regards for the slave soldiers soon result in its abuse.
The slave soldiers saw themselves as an important element to the survival of Ilorin as an independent entity. Therefore, they resorted to committing atrocities and rapacity that Fagboun, the left-wing commander (Osi Kakanfo) of the Aare’s army had to call Aare’s attention to the implications of the excesses of the slave soldiers, who were commonly referred to as Aare’s servants.
Aare Afonja’s efforts to restructure the army with the aim of preventing further damage by the slave soldiers for their rapacity mobilized the slave soldiers to organize a mutiny, eventually resulted in Aare Afonja’s death.
The tragic end of Afonja the Kakanfo by the hands of his Jamas had long been anticipated by thoughtful men who deprecated their formation and had predicted the worst for the nation when slaves became masters.
The death of the Kakanfo struck the whole nation with such awe and bewilderment that it took the people nearly a whole year to bring them to their right mind. Seeing that the fate of the whole nation was trembling in the balance as it were.
All the people united to avenge the death of Afonja, while in the meantime, the crafty Fulani had been strengthening himself for the conflict. He had studied the Yorubas and knew how to circumvent them.
Toyeje the Baale of Ogbomoso and commander of the late Kakanfo’s right (Otun Kakanfo), was promoted to the post of Kakanfo, and the whole nation was united under his standard to expel the Fulanis from Ilorin.
In 1824, they encamped at a place called Ogele (which is why this battle is referred to as the battle of Ogele in history), where they were met by the Fulani horse aided by the powerful Yoruba Moslem Chief Solagberu of Oke Suna.
A sanguinary battle was fought in which the Fulanis were victorious. They routed the Yorubas and followed up their victory, which resulted in the desertion or destruction of a great many towns in the then Ibolo province.
The only important towns left in that part were Offa, Igbona, Ilemona, Erin, and a few others. The refugees could only carry away much of their personal effects which could be snatched away in a hasty flight.
As the Fulani horse kept hovering in their rear. They found temporary refuge in any walled town where a powerful chief happened to be, there, it may be, to await another siege by the conqueror.
The distress caused by this calamity cannot be described. Aged people who could not be carried away were left to perish. The doleful lamentations of parents who had lost their children, and of thousands of widows and orphans were heartrending.
Bereft of everything, without money, or anything that could be converted into money in such hasty and sudden flight, they were reduced to abject misery and poverty among strangers.
They could only support life by doing menial work by procuring firewood or leaves for sale and such like. A people who until recently lived in what for them was affluence and plenty.
They were oppressed with want and misery brought about by the want of foresight, and the vaulting ambition of their rulers.
On Woven History next week Wednesday, anticipate for: The Second Attempt to Expel the Fulanis and Recover Ilorin: The Mugbamugba War, a continuation of this first attempt; The Battle of Ogele
- Vanessa Eniola and Mofeyisade Adeyemi; Conflict as a driving instrument of progress and progression: The Ilorin case
- Chief Oyebisi Okewuyi (JP.) 2013, Ogbomoso in the Early Times, Modern Era and in Today’s Contemporary World, Published and printed by Johnny Printing Works, Beside Okelerin Court Area, Ogbomoso, Nigeria
- Samuel Johnson; The history of the Yorubas, Lagos, CSS Limited; 1921; pg. 126-128
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