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THE YORUBA-SPEAKING PEOPLES

OF THE

SLAVE COAST OF WEST AFRICA.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.

THE portion of the West African coast occupied by the Yoruba-speaking peoples is situated in the eastern half of the Slave Coast, and lies between Badagry, on the west, and the Benin River, on the east. The extent of sea-board held by them is thus smaller than that occupied either by the Tshi or by the Ewe tribes; but the Yorubas are really an inland people, and it was not until the beginning of the present century that they moved to the south and colonised Lagos and the adjacent littoral.

The territory now inhabited by the Yoruba tribes is bounded on the west by Dahomi, on the south-west by Porto Novo and Appa, on the south by the sea, on the east by Benin, and on the north by the Mohammedan tribes from the interior, who have within recent times conquered and annexed the Yoruba province of Ilorin, and whose territory may now be said to extend southward to about 8 30' N. latitude. The aggressions of these Mohammedan tribes commenced very early in the present century, and it was no doubt this pressure from the north that caused the Yorubas to move to the south and colonise the seaboard.

Yoruba country at present comprises the following states, or political units:--

(1) The British colony of Lagos, which covers the whole sea-front between the meridian of the Ajarra Creek and the Benin River, and has absorbed the former native kingdoms of Appa, Pokra, Badagry, Lagos, Palma, Lekki, Ala, hin, Ogbo, and Jakri.

(2) Ketu. This is the western state. It is bounded on the west by Dahomi, on the south by Porto Novo, and on the east by Egba. Its northern limits are undefined.

(3) Egba. It lies east of Ketu and south-west of Yoruba proper. Its capital is Abeokuta, "Under the Rock."

(4) Jebu. This is the south-eastern kingdom, and is divided into two provinces, called Jebu Remo and Jebu Ode. Jebu Ode has for its capital a town of the same name, that of Jebu Remo is called Offin. The river Odo Omi is considered the north-western boundary of Jebu, and, roughly speaking, the territory of the Jebus may be said to extend inland to a distance of some fifty miles from the lagoon.

(5) Ekiti Tribes. These tribes, which form a confederation, lie to the north-east of Jebu Ode.

(6) Ibadan. It lies north of Jebu Ode.

(7) Yoruba proper. This kingdom, whose capital is Oyo, lies to the north of lbadan and Egglxt, and towards the west its boundary trends southward to within some twenty-five miles of Abeokuta.

(8) Ijesa, capital Ilesa. This state is situated to the sbuth-east of Yoruba proper.

(9) Ife, capital of the same name, lies south-west of Ijesa.

(10) Ondo. This kingdom, capital Ondo, is situated south-east of Ife.

In addition there are several small states, or rather independent townships, consisting of a town and a few outlying villages. The principal are Egbado, Okeodan, Ado, Awori, and Igbessa, all of which lie south of Egba. Their inhabitants are Egbados, or Southern Egbas (Egba-odo, Egbas of the coast).

The inhabitants of all these states speak one language, the, Yoruba. They are called Nagos by the French, and by the English are named after their political divisions, as Egbas, Ibadans, Jebus, &c.

The lagoon system, which in the last volume of this series was noted as commencing a short distance to the west of the Volta River, on the Gold Coast, extends along the whole sea-front of the territory occupied by the Yoruba-speaking tribes, and affords a continuous waterway from Porto Novo to Benin. The extension of the continent in a southerly direction, which was mentioned in the last volume as typical of the western half of the Slave Coast, and which may doubtless be attributed to the action of the Guinea current in closing with sand the openings to former indentations which existed in the coast-line, is also equally noticeable in this the eastern half of the Slave Coast; and, generally speaking, the country is open, flat, and devoid of stones. Jebu is an excep tion, being thickly forested; but it appears that less territory has been won from the sea south of Jebu, and cast of Lagos generally, than in the districts to the west, between Lagos and Dahomi. To the east of Lagos the old coast-line seems to have been almost conterminous with the northern shores of the Kradu and Lekki lagoons, and the water-way which connects them by way of Epi, while to the west it appears to have trended back northwards bevond the lagoons of Oluge and Porto Novo. It is only after crossing the narrow lagoon or creek called the Ajarra Creek, which runs in a convex curve from the Porto Novo lagoon to the Okpara, that stones are found in the soil; and about twenty miles to the west of this there appears to have been at one time a great bay, the northern limit of which was the Ko, or Great Marsh, of Dahomi, thirty-five iniles from the present coastline. The dotted line in the accompanying map shows the probable position of the ancient coast-line between the Volta River and Lekki.

Northward of the old coast-line the Yoruba country rises very gradually in a succession of low-lying plateans. traversed by a few lines of low hills, or undulations in the groand; but a chain of mountains, whose general direction is east and west, extends, at about eight degrees north latitude, from Dahomi to the northern border of Ijesa, where the country is rugged and difficult. Isolated and densely-wooded hills, from 800 to 1,200 feet high, are also found in Ife and Ondo.

In some parts, as at Sakiti, north of Ajarra, and at

Abeokuta, isolated masses of granite afford evidence of great denudation. In fact the whole western coast of Africa, between the Isles de Los, seventy miles north of Sierra Leone, and Lagos, and probably beyond those limits, shows traces of an enormous denudation. The table-topped Kofiu Mountain, which rises sheer from the plain north of the.-Melikuri River to a height of 2,000 feet, is the sole remnant of a vast cap of sandstone that doubtless at one time covered the whole of that part of the country; and the Krobo Mountain, an isolated and precipitous mass, 800 feet high, situated in the Krobo plain on the Gold Coast, together with the table-topped mountains with vertical cliffs in the Ataklu district, to the north of the Quittah (Keta) lagoon, will probably, when geologically examined, prove to be other vestiges of the same sandstone formation.

Of the early history of the Yoruba-speakino, peoples nothing is known, except what can be gleaned from Dalzel's "History of Dahomey," 1793, from which it would appear that, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, all the different tribes were united, and were ruled by a king who resided at Old Oyo, sometimes called Katunga. The kingdom of Yoruba also seems to have been more powerful than the other two great African kingdoms, Dahomi and Ashanti. Between 1724 and 1725 the King of Yoruba espoused the quarrel of the King of Ardra, whose kingdom had been overthrown by Dahomi, and sent a large army, chiefly consisting of cavalry, to invade Dahomi. By a stratagem[1] the Yorubas were routed, and the king

[1. Ewe-speaking Peoples," p. 285.]

of Dahomi then diplomatically sued for peace, which was granted; but about September, 1728, a new quarrel having arisen, this time in the interests of the King of Whydah, a Yoruba army again invaded Dahomi, and a desultory war lasted until 1730, wlien peace was once inore made. In 1738 another Yoruba army invaded Dahomi, defeated the king, and captured and burnt Agbomi, Kalia, and Zassa[1] and from that time forward the Yorubas annually raided into Dahomi, ravaging the country, and retiring again at the commeucement of the rains. This state of affairs was brought to an end by a treaty of peace inade in 1747, by which the King of Dahomi undertook to pay a heavy annual tribute to the King of Yoruba. After this we hear no more of the Yorubas in Dalzel's History, which is only carried to 1791, except that, in 1786, they interfered to prevent the Dahomis from attacking Porto -Novo; but the tribute appears to have been paid up to the days of King Gezo of Dahomi (1818).

Governor Dalzel informs us, however, that when the "Eyeos"[2] (Yorubas) were dissatisfied with a king, they sent a deputation to him with a present of parrot's eggs, and a message that they considered he must be fatigued with the cares of government, and that it was time for him to rest and take a little sleep. Upon receiving this inessage, the king forth with retired to his apartment, as if to sleep, and then gave directions to his women to strangle him,

[1. Ewe-speaking Peoples," p. 294.

2. The Yorubas were called Eyeos or Oyos by old writers, after the name of their capital, Oyo.]

which they accordingly did.[1] In 1774, the then king declined to take the hint, and returned the parrot's eggs. The chiefs tried to support the custom by force, and Ochemi, the prime minister headed a rebellion, which was, however, crushed, and Ochemi, and all his numerous family were put to death.

The reason of our having such meagre information of this great West African kingdom is that the Yorubas did not inhabit the territories on the sea-coast, the Ewe tribes occupying the coast-line as far east as Badagry, and the Benin tribes the portion from Badagry to Benin. The Ewe tribes had in fact spread along the sea-shore from west to east, and the Benin tribes from east to west, till they met, and covered all the sea frontage of the inland territory occupied by the Yorubas. This neglect on the part of the Yorubas to push down to the sea may have been partly due to superstition, for Dalzel says that "the fetiche of the Eyeos was the sea," and that they and their king were threatened with death by their priests if they ever dared to look upon it. Slave traders and others, who frequented the Slave Coast during the last century, were thus not brought into contact with the Yorubas, and consequently we hear but little of them; while the literature concerning Ashanti and Dahomi, which, like Yoruba, were originally inland powers, but whose invasions of the coast kingdoms brought them into contact with Europeans, is ample.

As far as can be ascertained, the chief strength of Yoruba lay in its cavalry, which was said to number

[1. This custom remained in force until quite recent times, if, indeed, it is yet altogether extinct.]

100,000, a manifest exaggeration, for horses have never been numerous in the few districts of West Africa in which it is possible for them to live. The report as to the number of cavalry reached the traders through the coast tribe, who owned no horses, and who were no doubt greatly impressed by the spectacle of a few score of mounted men. According to tradition, the following was the method of determining the number of men required for a military expedition. An ox-hide was pegged down in front of the general's tent, and the horsemen made to ride over it in succession between two spears. When, by this process,. a hole had been worn in the hide, the number of men was thought sufficient for an ordinary campaign. For serious operations two ox-hides were used, one placed over the other.

Although as we know from Dalzel's History, Oyo, or Yoruba, was a powerful kingdom at least as early as 1724, Yoruba traditional history carries us back no further than the end of the eighteenth century, a fact which shows what little reliance can be placed upon the traditions of nations who are unacquainted with the art of -writing. The first king of whom the arokbi, or chroniclers, have any knowledge is Ajagbo, who appears to have reigned soon after 1780, and whose name is preserved in the metrical sentence which fixes the rhythm of the ogidigbo drum, as follows: Gbo, Ajagbo, gbo oba gbo, ki emi, ki osi gbo.[1]

[1. "Grow old, Ajagbo, grow old king, grow old, may I also grow old." Each drum has its own measure or rhythm, which is proper to it, and, in order to preserve this rhythm, sentences are invented to call it to mind. In this case the rhythm is--

Gbo | Ajegbo | - | gbo | oba gbo | - | ki emi ki osi | gbo.

]

In the days of Ajagbo the kingdom of Yoruba consisted of the four following states.

(1) Yoruba proper, whose capital, Old Oyo, or Katunga, was situated some ninety miles to the north of the present town of Oyo. The king of this state, whose title was Alafin, or Alawofin, literally "One who owns the entering of the palace," was the ruler over all the Yoruba-speaking tribes.

(2) Egba, which lay to the south and west of the above kingdom. Its chief town was Ake, and from it the chief took his title of Alake, "One who owns Ake."

(3) Ketu. This was then, as now, the western province. Its capital was Ketu, and from it the chief took his title of Alaketu, "One who owns Ketu."

(4) Jebu, which lay south and east of Yoruba proper. It was divided into Jebu Remu and Jebu Ode, each having its own chief, but the ruler of the latter, called the Awujale, was considered the chief of the whole.

The rulers of Yoruba, Egba, and Ketu styled each other "brother."

Ajagbo was succeeded by Abiodun, who is said to have enjoyed a long and peaceful reign, so that the reign of his brother and successor, Arogangan, can scarcely have commenced before 1800. It was during the reign of Arogangan that the Yoruba kingdom commenced to break up. The Fulas, it seems, overran the territory of the Hausas, and the latter, driven southward, sought refuge in the northern provinces of Yoruba. Arogangan had appointed his nephew, Afunja, governor of Ilorin, the north-eastern province, which contained a large number of Hausa refugees, and Afunja, being ambitious, conceived the project of utilising the Hausas in order to dethrone his uncle and make himself Alafin. His plans being matured, he raised an insurrection, which met with a measure of success, for Oyo was besieged, and Arogangan, in order to avoid falling into the hands of his nephew, poisoned himself; but Afunja was not able to secure the throne, as the elders of Oyo elected to the monarchy Adebo, the brother of Arogangan, and Afunja had to retire to Ilorin, where he maintained a semi-independent position. These events are supposed to have taken place about 1807, and it was about the same time that some of the Yorubas first pushed to the south and colonised Lagros. The first chief of Lagos was named Ashipa, and is said to have belonged to the family of the Alafin.

Adebo only reigned about four months, and died suddenly, from which it was supposed that he was poisoned. He was succeeded by Maku, who endeavoured to make head against the Mohammedan tribes who were now pressing in from the north, but he was defeated in a great battle, and committed suicide, after a reign of about only three months. An interregnum now ensued, during which the reins of power were held by the Oba-shorun, or prime minister, and it was not until five years had elapsed that a new king, named Majotu, was elected. He reigned about seven or eight years, committed suicide on account, tradition says, of the misbehaviour of his son, and was succeeded by Amodo.

Afunja had, since 1807, remained in possession of Ilorin, where he had sought to strengthen himself by encouraging Mohammedans to settle, and, about 1825, while Amodo was engaged with the invading tribes from the north, he again made war upon Yoruba. He captured and destroyed a number of towns, and was apparently about to carry all before him, when, for some reason that has never transpired, he was conveyed back to the town of Ilorin by those very Hausa mercenaries through whose aid he had hoped to become Alafin, and publicly burned alive. The Mohammedan party had for some years been dominant in Ilorin, and now, declaring that it would no longer recognise a pagan king, it elected a Mohammedan to the supreme power, and severed the connection with Yoruba.

Ilorin now took the lead in the Mohammedan invasion of Yoruba, and the Yorubas seem to have been invariably worsted. In 1830, when it was visited by Lander., Old Oyo was still the capital of Yoruba, but between 1833 and 1835 it was captured and destroyed by the Mohammedans, and the Yorubas, flying southwards, founded their present capital Oyo, about ninety miles south of the old one. The Egbas, taking advantage of the overthrow of Yoruba, declared themselves independent, but the Yorubas, as soon as they were settled in their new territory, attacked them with vigour, and drove them out of all their northern towns. A desultory war then lingered till about 1838, when the Egbas abandoned their territory, and moving to the south, founded their present capital, Abeokuta. The new town was divided into several distinct quarters, or townships, which were named after an equal number of towns that had been destroyed in the war, and one of them, Ake, still preserves the name of the old Egba capital. Although these events occurred so recently, they have already become clothed with myth; and Lishabe, the chief who led them to Abeokuta, is believed by the Egbas to have been a giant and a demi-god.

About the same time, Ibadan, a town of the old province of Egba, situated some thirty-five miles south of Oyo, declared itself independent of Egba; the original Egba inhabitants having been driven out by the Jebus, and the latter, in their turn, by Yoruba refugees. Other secessions took place, and by 1840 the Yoruba kingdom had split up into the following independent states.

(1) Yoruba, south of Old Yoruba, capital Oyo.

(2) Egba, south and west of Old Egba, capital Abeokuta.

(3) Ketu.

(4) Jebu.

(5) Ibadan, a small state south of Oyo. It owned a nominal allegiance to the Alafin, because its inhabitants were Yoruba refugees, but was really independent.

(6) Ijesa, a small state south of Ilorin. The ruler was styled the Owa.

(7) Ife, a small state south-west of Ijesa. The ruler was styled the Oni.

The former Yoruba province of Ilorin was now inhabited by Fulas, Bornus, and Hausas, and was said to have a population of 300,000, 80,000 of whom were in the town of Ilorin. The Fulas were the dominant race, and the government was in their hands.

Shortly after 1840 the Ekiti tribes, as they were afterwards termed, that is, the inhabitants of the various towns lying between lbadan and Ijesa, and the adjoining territory to the south, formed a, confederation, which was soon joined by Ife and Ijesa, the ruler of the latter state being elected bead of the confederation. The Mohammedans of Ilorin were the first to take alarm at this coalition, and attacked the confederates, destroying or annexing several towns while Ibadan soon followed suit, and after a time succeeded in conquering and annexing Ijesa. The result of these various conflicts was that the confederation was entirely subdued, one half passing under the rule of Ilorin and the other under that of Ibadan. Before long, however, the inhabitants of the towns which had been annexed to Ilorin applied to Ibadan for assistance, and another war ensued, which resulted in the expulsion of the Ilorins, and the establishment of the rule of Ibadan over the whole Ekiti confederation. This was about 1858.

While these events were taking place in the interior, Lagos, which, as we have seen, was colonised from Yoruba at the beginning of the century, had become a place of some note as a slave emporium. The wars in the north, which had been almost incessant since the rebellion of Afunja about 1807, had resulted in the capture of many thousands of prisoners of war, of both sexes and all ages, and the dregs of these, the men who were of no local importance, and the women who were no longer attractive, were, in accordance with the usual practice, sold to the slave-traders. Lagos was the most convenient port, and they were therefore inarched. down there in gangs to await shipment. This traffic in slaves, which brought Lagos into some notoriety commenced about the year 1815, and soon attained very large dimensions.

In 1836 a struggle for the succession broke out in Lagos, and resulted in Kosoko, the legitimate pretender, being expelled the kingdom by his rival Oluwole, who secured the throne for himself. Oluwole died in 18{???}, and was succeeded by Akitoye, who was foolish enough to invite Kosoko, who was still alive and in banishment, to come and live in Lagos. Kosoko readily accepted the invitation, soon began conspiring, and before long found himself sufficiently well supported to rebel. In the struggle which ensued the town of Lagos was burned, and Akitoye driven into banishment. He found a refuge at Badagry, and, in order to induce the English to espouse his cause, promised that, if he were reinstated at Lagos, he would help to suppress the slave-trade. This negotiation coming to the knowledge of Kosoko, he despatched a force to Badagry to attack Akitoye, which burned the town, killed an English trader named Gee, and destroyed a great deal of property belonging to British subjects. The senior naval officer upon the station thereupon determined to support Akitoye against Kosoko, and H.M. sloops Philomel, Harlequin, Niger, and Waterwitch, with the gun vessels Bloodhound and Volcano, assembled off the Lagos bar in -November, 1851, and on the 25th all the ships' boats, towed by the Bloodhound, entered the lagoon and proceeded towards Lagos Island. As the British Consul, who was with the flotilla, had hopes that Kosoko would submit to a display of force, flags of truce were kept flying; and although, on rounding the first point, a heavy musketry fire was opened by the natives, the fire was not returned, and the flags were not lowered till the boats were within a mile of the town. At this point several guns opened on the boats, so the flags of truce were hauled down and the fire returned. The fire from the boats had, however, but little effect on the natives, who were well covered by stockades and mud walls, and a party of one hundred and sixty men was accordingly landed. They found themselves in a maze of narrow streets, from every corner of wh_ich they were fired upon by concealed enemies, and after losing two officers killed and several men wounded, they were compelled to retreat to the boats.

This failure led to a more determined attack in December, on the 26th of which month a considerable force, under the command of Commodore H. W. Bruce, entered the lagoon in boats. The natives offered a stubborn resistance, and had in position several guns, which were exceedingly well served. The Teazer got aground abreast of a battery, upon which her own gun could not be brought to bear, and to save her from destruction it became necessary to land a party and carry the battery by assault. This was done in gallant style, but with the heavy loss of one officer and thirteen inen killed, and four officers and fifty-eight men wounded. The other vessels and boats had in the meantime kept up a vigorous bombardment, which was maintained all that day, and continued next morning from daybreak until about 11 a.m., when a magazine on shore blew up and set fire to the town. The flames, fanned by the sea-breeze, spread with remarkable rapidity, and the heat was so intense that the fire of the natives gradually slackened and then finally stopped. Next morning, Kosoko and his followers havinu abandoned the place, the British landed. They found the beach strongly stockaded, and an enfilading piece of ordnance at every promontory. Fifty-two guns were captured, but the victory was dearly purchased, as the total loss during the two days' operations amounted to two officers and fifteen men killed, four officers and sixty-eight men wounded, many of them very severely.

Akitoye was now reinstated, and on January 1st, 1852, signed a treaty, undertaking to suppress the export slave trade, and to expel all Europeans engaged in the traffic. About September of the same year some Portuguese slave traders, who had been expelled under this treaty, returned to Lagos, and, with the assistance of some of the chiefs, secretly renewed the traffic. Akitoye, being informed of what was going on, strove to stop it, whereupon the Portuguese incited the chiefs to rebel, and in August, 1853, Kosoko returned from Epi, where he had taken refuge, to head the movement. The British naval autborities again interfered in favour of Akitoye; a party of seamen and marines was landed to support him, and on the 13th of August, after a sharp skirmish, defeated Kosoko and his adherents, who once more fled to the east.

Akitoye died in September, poisoned, it was said, by the slave trade party, and his son Docemo was, through British influence, appointed his successor. Kosoko, who had again found an asylum with the chief of Epi, refused to accept this arrangement, and continued to harass Docemo and the Lagos people until by an agreement made in January, 1854, he was recognised as King of Palma and Lekki, on condition of renouncing all claim to the sovereignty of Lagos. In August, 1861, Docemo ceded Lagos to the British in consiaeration of a pension of 1,000 a year, and Lagos thus became a British possession; but it is doubtful if the cession was altogether voluntary on Docemo's part, for during the first few years succeeding the signature of the treaty he made several protests against it.

In 1860 a new war broke out in the interior. Ijaye, an important town of Yoruba, declared itself independent of the Alafin, who called upon the Ibadans to assist him in reducing it to allegiance. The Ibadans complied, whereupon the Egbas sided with Ijaye; but these allies sustained a severe defeat at the hands of the Yorubas and lbadans, losing, it is said, 40,000 in killed and prisoners, and Ijaye was destroyed on March 17th, 1862.

Up to this time the Egbas had been considered the protéges of the British, and great interest had been taken in the welfare of Abeokuta, which was regarded as the bulwark of Christianity in West Africa. This interest dated from about 1838, when a number of Egba slaves, who had been liberated at Sierra Leone from captured slave vessels, returned to Abeokuta and asked that missionaries might be sent to them. A Protestant mission was established there in 1848, and when an attack on the town was threatened by Gezo, King of Dahomi, in 1850, Mr. Beecroft, the British Consul for the Bights, and Commander Forbes, R.N., were sent to Agbomi to endeavour to persuade the king to abandon his design. The mission completely failed, and Gezo attacked Abeokuta on March 3rd, 1851, but was repulsed with some loss.[1] The British occupation of Lagos in 1861 put an end to the friendly feelings of the Egbas, who resented the protection granted by the colonial authorities to fugitive slaves from Abeokuta, and objected to the stoppage of the export slave trade, in which they had been largely engaged. They seem also to have had some suspicion that their independence was threatened, for when in May, 1861, it was proposed to send some trained gunners of the 2nd West India Regiment to Abeokuta to instruct the people in the use of some guns that had been presented by the British Government, and to lend aid during another attack that was now threatened by Dahomi, the Egbas made excuse after excuse, and finally declined to receive them. In 1862 they further displayed their ill-will by molesting, and plundering several native traders from Lagos, and, as they refused reparation, the Governor of Lagos, in 1863, blockaded all the roads leadina to Abeokuta.

In 1863, Kosoko, chief of Palma and Lekki, desired

[1. "Ewe-speaking Peoples," pp. 315-6.]

to return to Lagos, and, in order to obtain permission, ceded Palma and Lekki to the British. The Possu, or chief of Epi, raised objections to this cession. He had, it appeared, certain territorial rights over these places, and their cession, moreover, shut him off from the sea. As he refused to cede his rights, an expedition, consisting of three officers and 124 men of the 2nd and 3rd West India Regiments, proceeded in H.M.S. Investigator to Epi, where the troops and a rocket party of one officer and fourteen seamen landed. The natives offered a strenuous resistance, and the expeditionary force suffered a loss of three men killed and three officers and twenty-eight men wounded, but the town was destroyed. After this the chief renounced all further claim to territory south of the lagoon. In July, 1863, the chiefs of Badagry likewise ceded all their territory to the British.

The war between the Egbas and Ibadans caused by the affair of Ijaye had been carried on in a desultory manner since 1862; but in 1864, after the repulse of the Dahomis from before Abeokuta on March 15th,[1] the Jebus, who had hitherto adopted the policy of excluding all strangers from their territory, and had lived in complete isolation, shut off by their forests from the rest of the tribes, joined the Egbas, and the war was prosecuted with more vigour. The Jebus of Ikoradu, a town at the northern extremity of the Lagos lagoon, refused to join their fellow-tribesmen in the alliance with the Egbas, their reason being that their interests were identified with those of the people

[1. "Ewe speaking Peoples," pp. 322-324.]

of Lagos, and that they had suffered equally with them from the cessation of trade caused by the maltreatment of traders by the Egbas. In revenge, the Egbas, early in 1865, despatched to Ikoradu an army of 12,000 men, which besieged the town, and, after the native fashion, threw up two entrenched camps against it. The Colonial Government, alarmed at the near approach of this force, and appealed to by the Ikoradus for aid, warned the Egbas to desist, and ordered them to return to their own country. The Egbas sent insulting messages in reply, and a force of some 280 men, consisting of the 5th West India Reaiment and the Lagos Police, was accordingly sent against them, which stormed the camps and routed the Egbas with heavy loss, on March 29th, 1865. This affair of course only served to widen the breach between the British and the Egbas, the latter, besides, conceived that the Colonial Government encouraged the annual raids of Dahomi upon Egba territory; and, in 1867, they expelled all the missionaries from Abeokuta, and cut off all relations with the British.

It seems that a letter, purporting to be signed by a hostile chief, fell into the hands of the Egbas, who knew that the chief could not write, and fancied they recognised the handwriting as that of a Protestant missionary who had formerly lived in Abeokuta. The missionaries in Abeokuta were thereupon accused of betraying the Egbas to their enemies; there was a popular tumult, and the mob howled for their blood. It was only with great difficulty that the chiefs and elders succeeded in saving the lives of the accused, who were immediately expelled from the town, and their houses and churches destroyed. In 1880, the French Roman Catholic missionaries obtained leave to establish a mission in Abeokuta, which thenceforward fell more under the influence of the French.

The interior continued to be disturbed by inter-tribal wars until about, 1870, when affairs calmed down, but in 1877 the Egbas plundered some Ibadan traders, and the Ibadans sent an army to avenge the outrage. Upon this the Jebus renewed their former alliance with the Egbas, and Ijesa and the Ekiti tribes, which had now been under the rule of lbadan since 1858, seized the opportunity for rebellion, a step which was soon followed by a declaration of war against Ibadan by Ilorin. The Mohammedans of Ilorin rapidly invaded the country and laid siege to Ofa, a town situated some twenty miles to the northeast of the city of Ibadan, and the Ibadans were obliged to withdraw their army of invasion from Egba in order to defend their own territory, which was now threatened from three sides. The Egbas, however, did not follow up the retreating force, and, indeed, took no further part in the war, they being held in check by the fear of leaving Abeokuta unprotected against Dahomi, which power had been in the habit of making annual demonstrations in its vicinity for some years past; and the struggle was continued between Ibadan, on the one side, and Ilorin, Ijesa, the Ekiti tribes, and Jebu, on the other.

Ibadan secured the support of Modakeke and Ife, two populous towns situated on hills on the opposite sides of a small stream, to the south-west of Ijesa, and the war continued for some years without any great advantage being gained by either side. The Modakekes were staunch allies of the Ibadans, but the sympathies of the Ifes were rather with the Ijesa and the Ekiti tribes, with whom they had been in alliance during the war which terminated in 1858. Their situation, however, made them afraid of coming to an open rupture with Ibadin, so, in response to the demand of the Ibadans, they sent a contingent to the Ibadan camp, but at the same time also secretly sent an equal force to the camp of the Ijesas and Ekitis. This double game could not long escape detection, and in 1882 the Modakekes, assisted by a force of lbadans, attacked Ife, and the town, which was regarded as holy, and the cradle of the Yoruba race, was destroyed. The Ifes now openly joined the enemies of Ibadan, but most of the tribes had by this time become heartily sick of the prolonged struggle, and in 1883 a body of Jebus who were encamped on the Omi River made peace with the lbadans on their own account, and returned home. The Awujale of Jebu Ode, paramount chief of the two Jebu provinces, was so alarmed at this event that he fled from the town of Jebu Ode, which he was by law forbidden to leave, and took refuge at Epi. Here he was invited by the Jebu elders to commit suicide; he proved docile, and a new Awujale was elected by the peace party. His election, however, was not approved by the war party, and a strong force of Jebus, under the seriki, or second war chief, still kept the field against Ibadan.

The war, which was really only a succession of skirmishes at long intervals, dragged on till 1884, when the Governor of Lagos was asked to mediate and secure a peace. In 1886 this request was renewed by all the combatants except Ilorin, and the Governor accordingly acted as mediator, with the result that representatives from the different tribes assembled at Lagos, and on June 4th an agreement was signed, of which the following were the chief points:

(1) Ibadan, Ijesa, and the Ekiti tribes to respectively retain their independence.

(2) The four Ekiti towns of Otan, Tresi, Ada, and Igbajo to be ceded to Ibadan, on the understanding that the present inhabitants Were at liberty to leave them.

(3) The town of Modakeke to be reconstructed on territory, between the Oshun and Oba rivers, to the north of its then situation; such of the inhabitants as elected to pass under the rule of lbadan moving to the new site, and those who preferred to become subject to Ife living in Ife territory, but not in Modakeke, which was to be dealt with by the Ifes as they thought fit.

The belligerents were at this time established in six large camps, the chief being those at Kiji and Oke Afesi, situated about a mile apart upon opposite sides of a mountainous valley in the north of Ijesa, the former occupied by the Ibadans and the latter by the Ijesas and Ekiti tribes. The lbadalis had another camp at Ikirun, about fifteen miles west of Kiji, between the two arms of the Erinle River, where they confronted the Ilorins, who were encamped at Ofa, eighteen miles to the north. The Modakekes, with an Ibadan contingent, were at Alodakeke watching

the Ifes, who, with the Jebu force under the Serikei, were encamped about two miles to the south. In accordance with the terms of the agreement, Commissioners were sent to the interior by the Government of Lagos to take steps to break up the camps. These proved to be towns rather than camps, since they consisted of the ordinary mud-walled houses of the natives, were defended by loop-holed mud walls, and contained many thousands of women and children. The Ibadan camp at Kiji, which had been in existence for seven years, was estimated to contain between 50,000 and 60,000 inhabitants, at least two-thirds of whom were non-combatants, and the Oke Mesi camp 40,000. These two camps were evacuated and burned on September 28th, 1886, their occupants returning to their former homes; but an unexpected obstacle was now offered by the Modakekes, who first asked for a delay, and then positively refused to carry out the agreement and quit their town, alleging that they could not leave the spot where their forefathers were buried. The fact was they feared that if they remained on the soil of Ife, the Ifes would revenge themselves upon them for the destruction of the holy city, and that if they moved to lbadan territory the lbadans would enslave them; and after some further delay, the Commissioners, finding there was no prospect of the Modakekes keeping their promise, returned to Lagos. The Ilorins had not been parties to the agreement of June 4th, but the Commissioners endeavoured to arrange a peace between them and the Ibadans, and induce them to abandon their camps at Ofa and Ikirun; this, however, did not succeed, and the war between these two tribes continued.

In the meantime, while the interior had been disturbed by these protracted native wars, the colony of Lagos had received further extensions, Ketonu, a district on the eastern shores of Lake Denham Waters, having at the request of the natives, who feared French aggression, been declared British in January, 1880; while Appa, which lies between Ketonii and Badagry, was placed within the British jurisdiction in 1883. By Letters Patent, dated 13th January, 1886, Lagos was made a separate colony, independent of the government of the Gold Coast.

In 1888, in consequence of the reported intrigues of the French in Abeokuta, who were said to have offered to tolerate slavery, and to pay an annual subsidy, if the Egbas would place themselves under French protection, efforts were made to have the limits of British and French territory and spheres of influence defined, with the result that articles of arrangement for the delimitation of the English and French possessions on the West Coast of Africa were signed at Paris, on August 10th, 1889. The fourth article defined the territories and spheres of influence on the Slave Coast, the line of demarcation being the meridian which intersects the territory of Porto Novo at the Ajarra Creek, and extending from the sea to the ninth degree of north latitude. By this arrangement the eastern half of Appa, with its capital, and Pokra, became British, while the western half of Appa, together with Ketonu, became French. Egba and Okeodan fell within the British sphere of influence, and Ketu within that of the French.

The war between Ibadan and Ilorin still lingered on, and, in 1889, Mr. Millson, the. Assistant Colonial Secretary, was sent to the interior to endeavour to arrange a meeting between the Governor of Lagos and the belligerents in order to bring these hostilities to an end, but, as the chiefs declined to enter into any negotiations with the Commissioner, the mission failed.

Although Abeokuta had now been definitely placed within the British sphere of influence there was no improvement in the relations between the Egbas and the Lagos government. In January, 1891, a great political meeting was held at Abeokuta, at which the old charge that the government connived at or encouraged the annual inroads of Dahomi was revived, and some European missionaries were expelled. A Commissioner from the government was sent to Abeokuta in August, but achieved no results, and in January, 1892, the Egbas declared all their trade routes, both to the coast and to the interior, closed, and ceased all commercial relations with the colony. A further attempt on the part of the government to open negotiations was made in the following month, but completely failed, and at a meeting of Egba chiefs, held on the 13th of April, the proposal to reopen the trade routes to Lagos was unanimously negatived.

While affairs had been in this unsatisfactory state in the western portion of the sphere of British influence, a dispute with the Jebus had sprung up in the east. The Ejinrin market, situated about ten miles east of Epi, was closed by the Awujale of Jebu Ode on account of some disagreement with the people of Lagos; and though, in October, 1890, in consequence of representations made by the government of Lagos, it was formally opened by the Governor and representatives sent by the Awujale, the Jebus made this concession unwillingly, and had no intention whatever of departing from their policy of excluding foreigners from the interior of their country. Consequently, when, in May, 1891, the Acting Governor, Captain Denton, C.M.G., left Lagos with an escort of Hausas to proceed on a mission to Jebu Ode, with the object of coming to some agreement for the opening of the country to commerce, the Jebus refused to allow the party to enter their territory, on the plea that they feared hostile action. The Awujale not only refused to treat, but rejected the presents offered on behalf of the British Government, fearing, no doubt, that to accept them would entail some concession on his part.

Upon this affair being referred to the Home Government, the Governor was instructed to demand an apology from the Jebus for the so-called insult offered to the Acting Governor, and to insist upon a free right of way through Jebu country. The Awujale was to be informed that, if these terms were not complied with, force would be used. In December, 1891, this ultimatum was conveyed to the Awujale by an officer of the Lagos Constabulary, and the Awujale then consented to send to Lagos representatives fully empowered to make the apology and sign a treaty.

In January, 1892, the representatives arrived, and on the 21st made a formal apology, and signed an agreement to maintain a free and unrestricted right-of-way for persons and goods through Jebu territory; the Government of the Colony undertaking to pay the Jebus an annual sum of 500 in compensation for the duties they had been accustomed to levy on goods.

For a short time the Jebus observed their treaty engagements, and one member of the Church Missionary Society was allowed to pass through Jebu Ode on his way to the interior; but when, soon afterwards, in the month of February, another missionary attempted to pass through the capital he was ill-used and sent back. A party of Ibadan carriers, who sought to pass through from the north, was also turned back. The Awujale asserted that the Ibadans had been insolent, but it was evident that the young men of the tribe were determined to maintain the old Jebu policy of isolation. The Jebus were a turbulent and proud nation, and they considered it disgraceful to observe engagements which had been extorted from them by threats. In consequence of these breaches of the treaty, the Inspector- General of the Lagos Constabulary was sent to the Awujale to ask for explanations. He landed at Itoike, but was not allowed to proceed any further, the Awujale sending to say that he did not wish "to palaver" with the Lagos Government.

The Home Government now authorised the employment of force. Special-service officers were sent out from England, two officers and 155 men of the Gold Coast Constabulary were ordered from Accra, and three officers and ninety-nine men of the 1st Battalion West India Regiment were despatched from Sierra Leone. These, with 165 of the Lagos Constabulary, and an lbadan Contingent of 100 men, making a total combatant force of about 500, left Lagos, under the command of Colonel F.C. Scott, C.B., on the 12th of May, and disembarked at Epi without opposition on the day following. On the 16th the column advanced from Epi; there was a slight skirmish at Pobo on the same day, another at Kpashida next day, and on the 18th the force encamped at Majoda.

Next morning the Jebus were found in position, ready to defend the passage of the Oshun River, and an action commenced at 7 a.m. The fire of the Jebus not only swept the ford, which they had deepened by digging out the bed of the stream, but also the narrow bush-track which led to it, and was exceedingly heavy and well sustained. It was reported that they had offered a human sacrifice to the goddess of the river, to enlist her aid against the invaders, and this had so powerful an effect upon the superstitious minds of the constabulary, that for a full hour they could not be induced to enter the stream; and it was not until the West Indians, who had been held in reserve, were ordered up to lead the way across the Oshun, that the enemy's position was carried. Between the river and the village of Magbon, which the victors entered shortly after 10 a.m., was found the camp which the Jebus had occupied the previous night. It was estimated to have accommodated from 5,000 to 6,000 persons, and as about half the occupants of a native camp are women and non-combatants, the passage of the river was probably disputed by about 3,000 men. The Jebu losses were supposed to be severe, but the British force lost only three killed and twenty-four wounded, exclusive of carriers.

On the 20th of May the advance was resumed soon after daybreak, and, being met by a flag of truce, the force occupied the town of Jebu Ode the same day without resistance. It was about four miles in circumference, defended by a mud wall, and contained in time of peace about 15,000 inhabitants, all of whom, with the exception of the Awujale and his immediate following, had now fled. On the 25th, the Governor arrived from Lagos to conduct the negotiations with the Awujale, who made complete submission, alleging that the young men had fought contrary to his wishes and orders; and, on the 30th and 31st, the expeditionary force, with the exception of three officers and 140 men of the Constabulary, who remained in occupation of Jebu Ode, left for Lagos, one column marching through Sagamu and Ikoradu, and another through Itoike.

The trade routes on the east were now opened, but those through Egba country still remained closed, and for some time it was thought that a military expedition against Abeokuta would be necessary. The ease with which the Jebus, who were considered a very powerful tribe, had been punished, had, however, made a profound impression upon the native mind, and many British subjects of Egba descent at Lagos, fearing that, if the chiefs of Abeokuta maintained their unfriendly attitude, the independence of Egba would be lost, strongly impressed upon their compatriots the necessity of coming to terms. In consequence, the Egbas declared their willingness to receive the Governor, Mr. Carter, and come to some arrangement, with the result that oil the 18th of January, I893, a treaty was signed at Abeokuta. The Egbas undertook to refer all disputes between themselves and British subjects to the Governor for settlement, to establish complete freedom of trade between Egba country and Lagos, and to close no trade route without the consent of the Governor. They also promised to abolish human sacrifice, and not to cede any portion of Egba territory to a foreign power without the consent of the British. On the other hand, Great Britain guaranteed that the independence of Egba should be fully recognised, and no annexation of any portion of it be made without the consent of the Egba authorities.

There is a considerable difference between the Yoruba-speaking Peoples and the Ewe-speaking Peoples. We still find the characteristics which were dominant among the latter, namely, indolence, improvidence, and duplicity, but they are no longer so pronounced, probably, almost certainly, because life and property are more secure. The Yoruba has more independence of character tban the Tshis, Gas, or Ewes, and servility is rare, He even has the sentiments of nationality and patriotism, and though these are regarded with disfavour by the Colonial Government, they are none the less tokens of superiority. He is a keener trader, is more sociable, and is in all respects socially higher than the tribes of the other three cognate groups. This is in a great measure due to the physical characteristics of the country. There being but little forest, except in the eastern districts, communication is easy, and the territory is moreover opened up by several rivers. Instead, then, of being dispersed in a number of inconsiderable hamlets, which are mere specks in a vast and impenetrable forest, the Yorubas have been able to live in towns, each of which is within easy communication of others. No doubt their superior social instincts first caused them to congregate in towns, and now many generations of town life has further developed them. There is even a certain amount of loyalty in the Yoruba, a quality for which one might look in vain among the Ewe tribes. Without saying that the Yorubas are more intelligent, we can safely say that their intellect is more cultivated; the asperities of savage life are softened, the sharper angles are worn down by frequent intercourse with their fellowmen, and at the present day they are certainly the leading people in West Africa.


Next: Chapter II: Chief Gods.