Ilorin:How much of our origin do we know?

Ilorin:How much of our origin do we know?

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.For what is the worth of human life,unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

As a student of communication,sociology and history as well as a worker in the vineyard of “Ilorin Project”, I always think that we(those of us who are in the middle-age and blessed with the privilege of literacy,particularly western education) owe the younger and in-coming generations of the people of Ilorin Emirate a lot of information about the past of our community!! But the question is, can one give what he does not have? I think the answer is capital “No”!!!

The above reality, compels me to urge you and I to find out more about our origin so that we can be fathers and mothers, in truth and in fact, to the younger generations. Now is the right time to begin the escavation, extraction and distillation of that area of knowledge as we still have some of our illustrious elders around before it becomes our era. We must act now “ki yanyan o to tan” when those born in the 1960s or thereafter would assume family headship as it is now the case in some families!

Those who are versatile in the history of Islam, particularly of the period of the four rightly-guided Caliphs would recall the intense pressure Sayyidina Uthman(the third Khalifa)exerted on Sayyidina Abubakar before he (the first Khalifa) directed the compilation of the Holy Quran into a single book form. And when the initiator (Uthman); eventually found himself in power, what he did to ensure the standardiisation of the compilation are still in record to appreciate, which the succeeding generations of Muslims and non-Muslims now enjoy and would continue to enjoy till the end of time.

How do I mean? What am I saying? What is the bone of contention here? I believe most of us are not unaware of why our dear country,Nigeria, was so named. It was a “sunna” given to our country by a woman who was later known as Mrs.Flora Lord Lugard.She used the expression (Niger area later shortened to Nigeria) to describe all the territories around the great River Niger( within the sphere of British imperialism), which was the major geographical and economic object of attraction to the British explorers.

Many of us may also be too busy to know or be familiar with the reason behind the renaming of our dear “State of Harmony” as “Kwara”. Many of our illustrious heroes and founding fathers were said to have expressed objection to the name-(West Central), initially given to the State by General Gowon’s administration when it was created in 1967.The same way the majority of the people of Ilorin Emirate frowned at the initial location of the headquarters of Ilorin East Local Government elsewhere as announced by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in his August,1991 broadcast to mark the 6th anniversary of his administration.The resentment then led to its change to Oke-Oyi.

It was the late Alhaji Yahaya Madawaki,MFR,OBE,DLL(1907-1998), a seasoned educationist and outstanding administrator, who was also the first Madawaki of Ilorin,pioneer Regional Minister of Health in the old Northern Nigeria and maternal grandfather to the incumbent Honourable Commissioner for Tertiary Education in Kwara State,Hajiya Saadatu Modibbo Kawu, as a Member of the Committee, which worked on the choice of the capital and most preferred name for the then new State, who suggested the name “Kwara”. Kwara was the Fulani name for the great River Niger, the most conspicuous and extremely significant geographical enigma, criss-crossing most part of the then new State.

I need not to stress the reasons why the Emirate is referred to as Ilorin.Three major postulations were propounded. The most plausible was the reported activities of hunters of various backgrounds, but most especially from Yorubaland, on a big stone located at Idi-Ape area, which was used by those itinerant hunters to sharpen their hunting implements and hence the name, I-lo-i-rin.

What about our “agbo-ile”, “adugbo” and “etile” (country homes)? How many of us care to investigate the historical genesis of those exciting identifications? The names were not just given; they were arrived at based on a reason or a number of reasons.

As for me, my restlessness earned me the facts that accounted for the renaming of my ancestral compound at around Pakata Roundabout, Ilorin, as Ile Agor.It was so named because of the erection and survival of a temporary shed (agor)on the territory by itinerant Fulanis during their migration from towns and villages across the northern segment of Yorubaland into Ilorin prior to and upon the eventual settlement of Alfa Alimi and his contemporaries in Ilorin.

My great grandfather was said to be a son to Alfa Abdullahi Olateju.His father,Abudu Lateju, a scion of the Basorun lineage of Oyo, was the first Magaji Abudu of Ilorin.
The progenitors of my family at Pakata were said to have met the remnants of the Fulani architectural-shaped shed(Agor) at the location when they relocated to Pakata from Ile Abudu for a more comfortable space circa 1860 and so their neighbours called their new home as an home built where there was a temporary shed(Ile Agor).

As regards the historic origin of the name “Pakata”.Four different reasons were cited. But the most plausible (to me) was the fact that most of the place now called Pakata was a vast natural plantation of calabash-bearing trees even before the integrenum that claimed the life of Aare Ona-Kakanfo Afonja.The big calabash was and still called “igba Pakata” amongst the core Yoruba people of Western Nigeria.The material was said to be so much invaluable for transportation of items from one location to the other in those days and it was from that area that it was always found in large quantity and enduring quality. The tremendous availability of the item in that segment of Ilorin was said to have accounted for the establishment of the about two-centuries- old-market in that axis as “Oja Pakata”. It was the only place where the item could be gotten in large number and across the entire Yoruba speaking land! The saying that “anlo oja ti won ti nta igba Pakata” gave my “adugbo” the name it bears till date.The fact that it is the only sub-community called “Pakata” within and beyond Yorubaland gives credence to that assertion.

Your own compound and Quarters (“adugbo”) have reasonable reasons behind the names they bear. Our compatriots from Adabata,Kuntu,Erubu, Asunara, Isale-Maliki, Okelele, Pataki, Gurumon, Ita-Ogunbo, Baboko, Okeleru, Abayawo, Adangba, Masingba, Okekere, Alore,Adeta and others should educate us on the historic origin of the names of their homestead. Similar service is also anticipated from our compatriots from Lanwa,Efue,Malete, Alapa, Afon,Iponrin,Agbeyangi, Ogele and Ballah,among others. They should find time towards finding out and educating their younger ones and the rest of us on why such places are so called.

Knowing more about modern knowledge is not only essential to be equipped for generation of a means of livelihood and possibly stand-out among contemporaries ; but it is also important and fascinating to know our past as much as possible.Those who are informed about their origin are always more confident about themselves,particularly in the midst of their colleagues from other cultures.This is because history is the bridge or umbilical cord, which connects the past with the present and to the future.The more we know our origin the more united and prepared we are for the future. Our younger ones are more inquusitive. It is their right to know and we must be prepared to afford them such for our collective greatness.
Such knowledge is required for you and I, for we are not going to remain children for ever. Those who don’t know why they are who they are, are clearly children, intellectually-speaking, their age and other material possessions, notwithstanding!!!

I am sure the perusal of this piece has taken much of your time. Therefore, I am pleading that you should please accept my unreserved apologies for bothering you again and again. But I would not round-off until I plead with you to carefully consider my advocacy with a view to playing your own part in the overall development of our great community.No one needs to be a professional historian or communicator to know his past as everyone reading this piece was, at one time or the other, taken into the historical exploration of his course of studies.If we could do that for a meal ticket, we should be able to exert effort at also doing so again and again for the propagation and preservation of our peculiarities and cultural heritage.I am dead sure that our children would sooner or later require the information from us because they are,no doubt,blessed with Socratic capacity.

Please the earlier we begin to do that the better for us.You should take it up.If not today, it could be the next day or week or even next month but never say never.


Imam is the National Publicity Secretary of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.

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Abu Imam