Oluyole Club, Lagos


Ibadan: From War Camp to Emerging Mega-City

Olukunle IYANDA

The establishment of a new settlement in Eba Odan (near the grasslands) is generally credited to Lagelu, an Oyo warrior, hunter and generalissimo who left Oyo with a few of his warriors and people. Oral history often gave convenience as the reason for Lagelu’s exit from Oyo. As a warrior, it was more convenient to go back on expeditions from a settlement nearer the war zones than to return to Oyo in-between such expeditions.

There has not been an agreed date when Eba Odan was founded. Oba Isaac Babalola Akinyele claimed the town was founded in the 16th century while many other sources usually put the date of the town’s establishment to around the 1820s. Perhaps the uncertainty is created by the fact that there had been three settlements. The first credited to Lagelu was established at Eleyele much earlier than the often cited date of 1829. The first Eba Odan settlement was ordered destroyed by the Oyo military forces of the Alaafin Sango because of the disrobing of an Egungun masquerade in the marketplace, thus subjecting the egungun to the derisive jeers of women, a cultural abomination. The settlers then moved to another location said to be near the current location of The Polytechnic Ibadan and the University of Ibadan. The third settlement was established by Iba (Iba being a short form of Bashorun) Oluyole near Mapo Hill. The Bashorun then established a market which is now called Oja`ba. During and after the Yoruba wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, more and more warriors and people from Oyo, Ife, Ijebu and other Yoruba towns found Eba Odan more attractive and migrated to the town. Again, convenience and safety were major factors attracting the inflow of new settler. The earlier warrior settlers attracted other warriors, with their followers attracted by the prospects for wealth through the booties from the spoils of war. Safety was assured in the new settlement by the prowess, reputation and military invincibility of Ibadan. Settling in Ibadan offered protection from the inter-city wars of the 19th century. By the end of 1850s, Ibadan had become and urban settlement with a population of over 100,000 and dominated the Yoruba country politically, economically and militarily.

The rapid growth of Ibadan was also rooted in Yoruba mythology. It was claimed that the section of the Ifa oracle that established the city is Ose Meji which foretold the enormous and almost limitless growth and expansion of the city. Through the political headquarters of the famous Oyo empire was in Oyo, its military headquarters was in Ibadan. The Alaafin in fact depended on the military forces of Ibadan and Ijaiye for sustenance. By 1893 when Pax Britannia was signed, Ibadan has conquered most of the Yoruba towns and established its authority through the Ajele system over all conquered towns. One could see from the inception of the town that it had all the ingredients for growth into an urban centre. After the cessation of wars resulting from the Pax Britannia, the warrior settlers invested their energies into agriculture. Thus, they moved to cultivate the adjoining territories around the settlement. The big warrior chiefs took possession of the immediate surroundings and engaged their slaves captured during the wars to cultivate the land. Lesser chiefs moved further out of town to establish their own farms. This explains the dual settlement pattern of Ibadan indigenes who always have a city abode as well as a village abode. The village abode is an integral and inseparable part of the city and is subject to the same authority controlling the city.

The growth of a city can be measured in three dimensions: population, geographical size/spread and physical facilities. The data on each of these three dimensions indicate a trend towards the emergence of Ibadan as a mega-city.

Ordinary General Meetings of the Club are held on the second Sunday of every month in Lagos or Ibadan as may be the choice of the host except in December which is for the preparation of our Annual party/ Lecture/ Bursary Awards.

Textile Labour House, 10, ACME Road, Ogba Industrial Estate, Ikeja, Lagos.



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