TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN OMU-ARAN DURING
THE COLONIAL ERA
Omu-Aran is the most populous and largest town in igbominaland of kwara state. The town was originally called “Omu” but was later changed to Omu-Aran about 1400 when the people moved finally to the present site.1
The name “Omu” was derived from Omutoto, the woman whose children established the first settlement at Odo-Omu between the 13th and 14th century.2
Indeed, it was largely in recognition of Omu-Aran’s historic importance in igbominaland that the town was chosen as the headquarters of the former igbomina-Ekiti local government authority in 1968.
It also became the headquarters of Irepodun local government area when the former Igbomina-Ekiti local government was split into two on the 24th of august 1976.3
The people speak Igbomina dialect or Yoruba language and their customs are in many ways similar to those of the other Yorubas.
Their occupation was largely influenced by the vegetation of the area. Thus, they are predominantly farmers, producing such crops as yam, maize, guinea corn, cassava, beans and vegetable for consumption. While kola nut, palm products, cocoa and coffee in very small quantities are economic crops.4
Omu-Aran is famous in handicraft such as basket making, blacksmithing, carving, dyeing, cloth weaving, wood carving and pottery.5
1.2 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:
The aim of this research work is to discuss traditional institutions in Omu-Aran during the colonial era.
Objectively, it seeks to examine the impact of colonial rule on the traditional institutions in Omu-Aran.
The work intends to look at how traditional institutions were able to survive and co-exist with the incursion of the Europeans and the advent of colonialism.
It explores the activities of traditional institutions prior to colonial rule and how British administration interfered with these institutions. By this, making available to the public and the academic world, an analytical research work on traditional institutions and their survival in the face of foreign domination.
1.3 SCOPE OF STUDY:
The research work covers three eras i.e. pre-colonial, colonial and post independence. It seeks to make one understand the distinct roles played by the various indigenous local administration in the area laying emphasis on their evolution and hierarchical organization and sphere of influence. It is to be noted that Omu-Aran as a whole has generated interest from historians, scholars and others but there have been some wrong notions and interpretations made as regard the local administrative set-up of the area and this project seeks to correct such distortions.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY:
Omu-Aran was chosen because of her historic importance in Igbominaland, much have been written about Omu-Aran town and Igbominaland in general but researchers have paid little or no attention to the place of traditional institutions and their role in bringing about social and political development to their area.
Also there have been wrong notions expressed about leadership among the people of Igbominaland and so I have decided to bell the cat and in doing this, I will take pains to properly conceptualize and delineate my work.
The essence is to know the traditional institutions that existed, how they operated, and their relationship with the people and also to try and know the problems the encountered in dealing with external overlords.
That is to say that what happened when the traditional way of existence faced challenges from foreign incursion.
1.5 RESEARCH PROBLEMS AND METHODOLOGY:
A research work of this nature naturally depends on both oral and written sources so the two approaches were employed to enhance a credible and worthwhile endeavor in the form of this work.
In the course of this research, people of diverse origin and background were interviewed, those whose antecedents are from the area under review. Those who are not from the area but work there. Those who are witnesses or offspring of witnesses, who could narrate with pleasing exactitude, the time of arrival of colonial masters and the effect that their coming had on these institutions.
On written documents, there are no sufficient materials to lay hands on and so materials used include library materials either private or public library, articles, thesis as well as existing projects.
Meanwhile, the major problem faced in the course of this research is non-availability of materials as not much had been written on the area.
Also, there was reluctance of the informants in giving out information and so they had to be cajoled and in most cases interview had to be rescheduled.
1.6 LITERATURE REVIEW
Various written works were consulted in the course of this research although there are not specific written works on traditional institutions in Omu-Aran during the colonial era but there were some books either written on the whole of Omu-Aran, Yoruba land or Igbominaland.
On the early history and traditions of origin of Omu-Aran, AfolabiFatai’s book “Igbominaland land in the context of Yoruba history” was consulted. Also consulted on the early history of Omu-Aran was “the chronicle of Omu-Aran, Oduduwa age to 2002”.
On the traditions of origin of Omu-Aran, “the history of the Yoruba” by rev. Samuel Johnson; “Gazetteer of Ilorin province” by K.V. Elphinstone, Robert Smith’s, “kingdoms of the Yoruba” were consulted.
On the activities of traditional institutions in Omu-Aran during the pre-colonial era, “Omu-Aran-Ilorin relations” by Afolayan J.A, “Yoruba warfare in the 19th century” by Ajayi and Smith were consulted.
On the impact of colonial rule; N.A.K 324/1917, Northern and southern provincial boundary, “power and diplomacy in Northern Nigeria 1804-1906” by Adeleye, R.A. were consulted.
However, as useful and important as the above works are, they still leave gaps that are readily filled by learned journals, national dailies and news articles like Atoka Igbominae.t.c.
AfolabiFatai’s work “Igbominaland in the context of Yoruba history” proved useful on the early history and traditions of origin of Omu-Aran. The work not only shed light on the circumstances surrounding the founding of Omu-Aran but also talked about the settlement they initially stayed before moving to their present site.
“The chronicle of Omu-Aran, Oduduwa age to 2002” also proved useful on the origin and development of Omu-Aran before and after colonial rule.
“Yoruba warfare in the 19th century” by Ajayi and Smith as well as Afolayan, J.A’s “Omu-Aran-Ilorin relations” were useful to this work as they proved invaluable on the political terrain in Yoruba land and Ilorin before the advent of the colonial masters.
The work is categorized into four chapters;
Chapter one is mainly introductory. It contains subtitles such as aims and objectives, scope of study, significance of study etc.
Chapter two goes deeper into the history of the area; it includes the geographical description of Omu-Aran, traditions of origin, political set- up and administrative organization.
Chapter three deals with the evolution and various functions of the traditional institutions. This will be analyzed under pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence eras laying emphasis on their inter and intra relations within the context of the study.
Chapter four discusses the impact of colonial rule on traditional institutions and the chapter concludes with a brief review of the points raised in the work.
1.8 NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. N.A.K-ILORPROF file 223oA: Letters between Government Officials 1908-1918, p.3
2. O.D.A Memorandum on the grading of Oba Olomu 1978, p.4
3. Afolabi, F. “Igbominaland in the context of Yoruba history” 2006, p.223
4. Afolayan, M.O. “evolution of Omu-Aran from the earliest time to 1930” B.A. history dissertation, University of Ilorin, 1980, p.2
5. Interview with chief Asanlu, Omu-Aran, December 19, 2010TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN OMU-ARAN DURING THE COLONIAL ERA