It is an undisputed fact that communities graduated from various stages viz primitive to the sophisticated stage hence there is bound to be relationship between these communities and localities. The nature and type of relationship that exist between these communities differs as there is no water, light compartment be among the communities. This study intends to investigate and explore the nature of the relationship that existed between the Oyo-Yorubas and the Ilorins in the 19th century when the zeal for expansionist is very high among the imperial powers.Consequently, in order to get accurate and reliable information views of various authors on related literatures were consulted so also personal interviews were conducted to people who has first hand information about happenings in the 19th century.



Historians agreed that crises and warfare predominated in Yoruba during the 19th century. However, up till now, historians have not put all what happened in that century, under a common historical phenomenon. It is true that several writers dealt with different aspects of crises and wars, but only very few of them recognize and even timidly, that they are part of an essentially holistic global phenomenon imperialism.

Furthermore, this study intends to show all that happened in Yoruba land during the 19th century was the manifestation of imperialism arising out of state and individual expansionist as well as exploitative tendencies which was set in motion by -Yoruba group and subsequently nurtured. It as a result of the nature of its relations with Ilorin. However we shall examine the relations from political economic and socio-cultural perspective.

Before doing that, three issues require attention. The first is the justification for the adoption of the frame work of imperialism. It is imperialist inclination that spurred certain states to embark on territorial and power aggrandizement. In order words, not all states can be imperialist, hence the existence of mini states or segmentary societies.

Inspite of this, imperialism cannot be categorized into ancient and modern as some European writers do, while imperialism may be atavistic in the sense of being as old as the emergence of organized states, all imperialisms in whatever geopolitical environment have the same objectives of exploiting the human and the material resources of all conquered or weaker people in order to ensure their own survival, for instance old  empire and its -Yorubas successor states of Ibadan, Ijaye and new  as well as Ilorin in varying degrees had similar objectives.

Obviously, such objectives were mainly the product of internal dynamics within the imperialist states arising out of internal and at times external political and economic power differentiation. This invariably leads to expansion and domination for the imperialist state and individual member of the ruling class, such tendencies bring glory and prestige but exploitation to the subdued groups.

This development in turn creates two centrifugal forces. The first is intermittent struggles for position and power among the members of the ruling class of the imperialist state. The other is in the form of determination of the subject peoples to free themselves from imperial oppression and return their states to the status quo or launch their own imperialism on others. Under this circumstances, there is bound to be crises and wars not only between the imperialist states but also between them and the hitherto exploited groups. This is what happened in Yoruba land during the 19th century.

The second issue is relation. Relations between states or human grouping are as complex as they are between idealistic particulars. This is because they are the product and in many cases the consequences of intricately linked political, economic, socio-cultural as well as attitudinal factors. These factors are sot static, they change with time and situation. They are also not exclusive to one another, rather, they operate simultaneously, but often times at different qualitative levels. For example, two states at war can continue to allow trade between them. In the same way, socio-cultural exchanges can continue inspite of hostilities on the political level.

The name -Yoruba is the third issue. Obviously this name has been bused before by few historians but it has not gained enough currency. One may attribute this to the pervasive use of geographical and generic nomenclature. We find the latter inadequate for two reasons.

First is that several Yoruba ethnic groups are intermingled in the same geographical areas of northeast, northwest and central Yoruba land.

Second, it is necessary to avoid the use of qualitative reference to any Yoruba group as being either proper or true. -Yoruba which is based on ethno dialectal approach allows for the identification of different Yoruba groups. Consequently, apart from , we also hae Egba, Ekiti, Ife, Ijesa. Okun and Ondo Yoruba group. 

The -Yoruba formed the largest single unit bin Yoruba land during the 19th century. They are believed to be the descendants of Oranmiyan, the founder of old  empire and cram of his conquering army. Before the fall of that provinces of Ekun Otun (West of Ogun River) and Ekun Osi (East of Ogun River), Ibolo to the southeast of the latter and Epo to its southwest. Today, the group populate the presence  and parts of Osun state as well as Asa, Ilorin, Moro, Ofa and Oyun local government areas of Kwara state.


This study is aimed at having adequate knowledge of various activities and events that took place during the 19th century in Yoruba land. This involved the origin of Oyo people, and Ilorin their political relations in the 19th century and factors that dictated Ilorin’s imperialism with the area of expansion.

It also aimed at making available the reasons that determined old  empire’s reaction to the expansion of Ilorin to the interested readers and future researchers (especially History students) from various institutions of higher learning in addition to have adequate knowledge of the economic and socio-cultural linkages between  and Ilorin in the 19th century.


The scope of this study will cover the relations of -Yoruba and Ilorin in the 19th century. This essay will focus its search light on the origin of Oyo and Ilorin. The political relation of Oyo and Ilorin in the 19th century will be discuss and other activities that took place such as: economic and socio-cultural linkages between Oyo and Ilorin in the 19th century with their intergroup relations.

On the basis of the limitation, it is however necessary to mention the problem encountered on this study.

The major problem was that of distortion of facts and numerous versions of history, financial  constraints, also poses another problem in studying the relations fullest for this project.


This work would contribute to the existing body of knowledge in various ways because of its usefulness to the society as follows:

It is belief that project would be useful to the people who want to know more about the origin of  people, the origin and foundation of Ilorin, the political relation of Oyo and Ilorin  in the 19th century.

Also, the economic and socio-cultural linkages between Oyo and Ilorin in the 19th century and likewise their socio-cultural intergroup relations.

This project would also be of benefit to the older generation, a few who might have been actual witness to some of the events during the 19th century highlighted in the discussion it would certainly bring to their memories and serve as remainder of a golden age in Ilorin and  traditional history.

It is also believed that this project would correct people’s misconception about the formation of Ilorin and her relations with -Yoruba.

This work also shed lights to the factors that dictated Ilorin’s imperialism which are as follows:-

First, for the survival of the new polity, Ilorin needed to strengthen its military forces. This could only be achieved by producing large supplies of slaves, food stuffs and ammunition from other areas either through conquest or diplomacy.

Second, the possession of slaves by the members of the ruling class was a source of power and glory. Consequently they encouraged wars of expansion.

Third, Ilorin as an Islamic state, its territorial expansion and conquest necessarily involved the extension of Islamic culture and religion by both overt political action and other subtle means.


This study was carried out through investigation, by means of oral interview.

A random sample of individuals in were consulted for first hand information needed as regards the relationship that took place within Oyo and Ilorin based on personal observation.

Apart from this, printed materials were also used such as textbooks, archival materials for vital information about the relationship between -Yoruba and Ilorin in the 19th century.



Oral Interview granted by Mrs. Esther Babatunde on the 10th of February, 2015, Aged 75 years.

Oral Interview granted by Mr. Saheed Adewale on the 21st of February, 2015, Aged 57 years.

Nigerian Gazette Extra-Ordinary (1952) Volume 39 No 463


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