Nature of Ibadan Traditional Institution Before 1936



Ibadan. The city of rusctic roofs.

     The traditional political system of Ibadan differs from that of other Yoruba towns. Ibadan has no sacred king – a fact which may be explained by the peculiar origin and early growth of the town. Men, usually the Mogaji of their lineages, are appointed by the chiefs to vacant titles of the lowest rank. As each chief dies, those ranked below him rise in theory one place, thus creating a vacancy at the bottom (in practice some leap frogging of place is recorded).  At the top of the ladder is the office of the Bale since 1936 termed Olubadan. Between 1820 and 1850, the structure of government reflected the dominance of the military. Maye took thew title of generalissimo, OLuyedun took the title of Are-Ona-Kakanfo, being the title of his late father, Afonja of Ilorin and Oluyole took the title of Bashorun from Alaafin Atiba in 1839. By 1851, a republican system of Obaship had emerged Oyesile Olugbode became the Bale while Ibikunle became the Balogun, Sunmola Laamo was the Otun Bale while Ogunmola became the Otun Balogun.

       Beside the Balogun that headed the military line, the Bale was the head of the civil line. The younger and unproven men had their own line, which is headed by Seriki, a young warrior of distinction. A fourth line was created and represented women. The women line is civil, headed by Iyalode. The Ibadan traditional council, before the advent of the colonial administration, was the supreme organ of state while in the exercise of power; the bale was the chief executive. Its membership line was made up of high chiefs from Bale line and Balogun and council decisions on most important issues were final. Among the most important issues deliberated upon was diplomacy, war, custom duties, appointment, promotion and discipline of chiefs, military and security.

            Before 1850, when the three major Yoruba groups namely the Oyos, Egbas, and Ifes, who occupied the city in 1820 were still struggling  to evolve an acceptable system of administration which referred to as transition period, the political organization was largely confined to the city itself and its surroundings farmlands. The situation changed dramatically when Ibadan Army invaded and subdued the entire Ekiti country and much of South-Western Oyo to create the “Ibadan Empire”. Ibadan Administrative region up to 1893 therefore, extended over a land area of about one-third of Yorubaland. Its population as early as 1890 was estimated to be over 12, 00013. The establishment of British Administration in 1883 brought to an end the control of which Ibadan exercised over the Ijesha and Ekiti territories of Yorubaland. The Ibadan administrative region was therefore drastically reduced to encompass only Ibadan Province, which was made up of Ibadan Division, Osun Division and Ibarapa Division.    

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Brief History of Chieftaincy System in Ibadan  


The history of chieftaincy system in Ibadanland is dated back to the reign of Maye Okunade (1810-1831), soon after the second break-up of the settlement. Maye became the generalissimo; Labosinde became the Baba Isale while Lakanle became the leader of the Oyos.

    However an open inter-class struggle in 1801 between Ifes and Oyo-Yoruba escalated into war between the Ifes who attracted support from Edun-abon and Ipetumodu, and the Yoruba who also received assistance from Ijaiye, Ede and Iwo, where there otrher pockets of refugees resided.              
    The Oyo-Yoruba won, and Ibadan then became Oyo-Yoruba. It was after this war to as (Gbanamu war) in 1833 that the warlords resolved to make Ibadan their home and arranged for a settled government and took titles. Oluyedun the son of Afonja became the Bale and he was given the title of Are-Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland.

    However, a republican system of Obaship did not start until 1842 when Oluyole took over the leadership of Ibadan.

The innovation became a regular feature whereby there evolved two separate chieftaincy lines, namely Bale Line and Balogun-Seriki Line. The Bale title gave the holder mainly civic responsibilities while the Balogun-seriki line comprising war chiefs, held purely military titles.

    Further recognition of two lines was strengthened during the formation of Ibadan Traditional Council (Egbe Igbimo Ilu) in 1879 by Resident F.C. Further. The council was made up of 11 senior chiefs, five chiefs from Bale line and six chiefs from Balogun line. Principal additional titles were introduced by Fijabi 1 (Bale 1893-1895): Fajimi (Bale 1897-1902); and Apapa (Bale 1907-19120). A few of the present junior titles have been created since 1910. 

    Besides the two main line of obaship, the younger and unproven warriors had their own line that was headed by <strong>Seriki</strong> (a young warrior of distinction). 

    A fourth line was created to represent the women folk. The women line was civil and headed by <strong>Iyalode</strong>. Once a family had a chief of any importance, that family will acquire some sort of prestige in the society. 
    The chief’s successor (which as a rule in pertained) is recognized as <strong>Mogaji</strong>, a Hausa word meaning heir. 

    The Mogaji needs not be the first son of the late Mogaji, more often the eldest man in the family is chosen, but ability and character are usually considered.  

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