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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Elite Slaves in Ilorin in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Author:O'Hear, Ann
Year:2006
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Volume:39
Issue:2
Pages:247-273
Language:English
Geographic term:Nigeria
Subjects:slaves
Ilorin polity
social status
social history
History and Exploration
Urbanization and Migration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40033860
Abstract:Ilorin is situated in northernmost Yorubaland in the Middle Belt of Nigeria. Formerly it was a southern frontier of the Sokoto Caliphate and was ruled by Fulani emirs. The author argues that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the roles and status of the elite slaves changed drastically. They did increase their power in the nineteenth century by military exploits and their key role as intermediaries ('baba kekere') providing access to the emirs. Gradually they were sucked into and exploited the competition between the emirs and the four 'balogun', or major military chiefs. Gradually their inheritance of land led to the draining of the emirs' power of patronage, inexorably weakening the central power. Some still managed to hold on to power in the initial years of colonial rule but the British showed a distaste for them. Their prestige ebbed and nowadays people generally deny their slave origins. The matter of slave ancestry is now such a delicate subject that the lists of slave titles were removed from an Ilorin provincial file before it was sent to the National Archives in Kaduna in the 1960s. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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