Origin of IbadanLand


Lola Tomori

Going by the historical accounts in the outline history of Ibadan by late Oba Isaac Akinyele, Ibadan was founded in the 16th century at a time when there was no title of Aare Ona Kakanfo. This timing coincided with the period when some eminent adventurers migrated out of Ile-Ife to found their own settlements according to the respected Ife historian, the late Chief (DR,) M.A. Fabunmi, the Odole Atabase of Ife.

Ibadan by then was surrounded by Egba villages like Ido, Ojoo, Ika and Owu town of Erunmu. This location gave the impression that Ibadan was one of the Egba Gbagura settlements. The first Ibadan was destroyed by the Oyo Army as a result of the unfortunate incident during Egungun festival when the secret of the masquerades was exposed. Before the death of Lagelu, he and his children left Oke-Badan Hill near Awotan Market and migrated to “Ori-lyangi” which was later renamed Labosinde market. During the reign of Basorun Oluyole, the name was changed to Iba-Market and had remained so till today. The second settlement witnessed the influx of Yoruba tribes from different parts of Yoruba land such as Isheri, Owu, Ijebu, old Oyo and Ife.

The influx of people changed the character of the town. One of the most important migrants was the Owu group led by Olowu Akinjobi after the destruction of Owu town by the allied army made up of Ijebus and the Ifes as a result of slave trade conflict at Apomu. The reigning Olubadan gave her only daughter (NKAN OMO OLUBADAN) out in marriage to Olowu to strengthen the friendship between the Owus and Ibadans but Olowu Akinjobi sacrificed Olubadan’s daughter to appease the goddess of River Osun. Consequently, the Olubadan invited the Allied Army from their camp at Iperu led by Maye Okunade, an Ife General, and Lakanle, an Oyo Leader, to avenge the death of Olubadan’s daughter. This marked the end of the second Ibadan.

Thus, Ibadan was again re-peopled around 1820 not by the original founders of the town but by the allied Army consisting of Egbas, Ijebus, Ifes and the Oyos. Maye Okunade from Ife became the Baale assisted by Labosinde as Baba-Isale and Lakanle as leader of the Oyo group. The Oyos and Ifes settled at Oja-Oba, the Ijebus around Isale-Ijebu and the Egbas at Yeosa. The Egbas resorted to Ibadan which proved to be the rallying point of the Yorubas and later the bulwark of their defence against the Fulanis. However, as a result of interclass among the settlers, the Egbas withdrew in a body from Ibadan to Abeokuta led by Sodeke, in 1830. Between 1830 and 1833, the political supremacy of the Ifes was shattered after “Gbanamu” war between the Ifes and the Oyos around 1833. The Ife Army was defeated by the strong Military power of the Oyos in Ibadan. This was followed with the destruction of Erunmu, Ikija, Ojoo and other Egba and Owu villages. Olowu was captured and killed in Erunmu and was buried at the confluence of Odo-Oba and River Osun. This incidence forced the Owu settlers to Abeokuta to join the Egbas on December  25, 1834. After the fall of Erunmu, an Owu vassal town, the Oyo War chiefs returned to Ibadan with the rest of the people who joined the war as volunteers. “At a public meeting held to consider their future course, the war Chiefs resolved that as they now intend to make Ibadan their home, they should arrange for settled government and take titles”.The above historical events became necessary to correct the impression created by many writers that Ibadan was founded in 1829. 

The present crop of Ibadan rulers did not gain control of Ibadan Administration until after the Gbadamu war with Oluyedun as the first Oyo-Ibadan Baale followed by Oluyole who was later installed Basorun by Alafin Atiba in 1839 after Eleduwe war that marked the total collapse of the Old Oyo Empire. However, the republican system of Obaship was firmly established in 1851, when Oyesile Olugbode succeeded Opeagbe as the Baale of Ibadan and Ibikunle became the Balogun, Sunmola Laamo became the Otun Baale while Ogunmola was installed ‘the Otun Balogun’. The innovation became a regular feature whereby, there evolved two separate Chieftaincy lines namely: Baale line and Balogun Isoriki line. The Baale title gave the holder mainly the civic responsibility while the Balogun line comprised of war Chiefs held purely military titles. According to Rev. Johnson, “a strong government thus emerged not only because Ibadan continually engaged in warfare but partly because those who flocked to Ibadan completely identified themselves with the new town”. The Traditional Council (Igbimo Ilu), before the advent of the colonial administration was the supreme organ of State while in the exercise of power, the Baale was the Chief Executive. Its membership was made up of High Chiefs from both Baale line and the Balogun line, and council decisions on most issues were final. Among the most important issues deliberated upon were; Diplomacy, War, Custom, Duties, Appointment, Promotions and Discipline of Chiefs, Military and Security. The Council had no staff of its own, rather, it relied on those of the ruled for administrative functions, on the masses for mob actions (e.g. the devastation plundering of compounds of offenders). The Council had no treasury; the wealth of the state was kept in the private purses of political elites. 

As a strategy of effective administration, the colonial government inaugurated the Ibadan Town Council in August 1897. The main objective was to make use of the indigenous Chief in the administration of their town, though they were functioning under the authority of the British Administration. Between 1897 and 1901, the Council comprised the Baale, Otun Baale, Osi Baale, Balogun and eight (8) to twelve (12) other High Chiefs traditionally regarded as the most powerful. A number of changes were introduced in 1901 as a result of the Native Council Ordinance of 1901 initiated by Governor (Sir) William MacGregor. The Baale became the president of the Council while the Resident was only to advise when necessary. Three educated elites were also allowed to be members of the Council namely; The Right Reverend James Okuseinde, Messrs Foster and Adetoun. Rulers of Ibadan were generally referred to as Baale until 1936, when the title of Olubadan was resuscitated and substituted for that of Baale because the title of ‘Baale’ was common and did not befit the ruler of an important town such as Ibadan.

In 1946, the Ibadan Native Authority made a declaration under the Native Law and Custom regarding the appointment of a new ruler of the town that Balogun eventually ceased to be the only successor to the Baale. Part of the Declaration made in 1946 read thus: “The holder of any title in either the Olubadan line or the Balogun line in the rank of senior Chief shall be eligible for the post of Olubadan, but the two lines shall succeed in turn. In the event of a vacancy occurring, Chiefs in the line from which the late holder was promoted shall not be eligible”. The Chieftaincy declaration was incorporated into the Chiefs Law of 1957 section 4 (3) and it went further to treat the eleven members of Olubadan.