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The Rift Between ALAAFIN & AFONJA Revealed!


•How The Clash Made Some Places In ILORIN Important

At the start of the 19th century, Ilorin was a border town in the Northeast of the Oyo Empire (Oyo-Ile), part with a mainly Yoruba population, but with many Hausa and Fulani immigrants. Ilorin served as the headquarters of Afonja, the sixth Are-Ona-Kakanfo (generalissimo) of the Oyo army and successor to Are-Ona Oku of Jabata. Afonja later rebelled against the empire and helped bring about its collapse with the assistance of the Fulani. The rebellion was powered by Nupe and Bornu Muslim slaves. Afonja had been assisted by Salih Janta, also called Shehu Alimi, a leader of the local Fulani.

At the period of creation, Ilorin was administered by Afonja and it was from this outpost that Afonja carried out military functions for the then Alaafin named Aole, the son of Alaafin Abiodun.

Aole reigned between 1789 and 1796. It was during this period that Shehu Alimi, a Fulani cleric arrived Ilorin with some of his ethnic men and were all welcomed and accommodated by Afonja.

After a while, conflict broke out between Alaafin Aole and Are-Ona Afonja. Alaafin Aole had ordered Afonja to attack a town named Iwere-Ile, which to Afonja was a suicidal mission and he adamantly refused.

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Iwere-Ile was the hometown of Aole’s paternal grandmother and a former Alaafin named Ajagbo had placed curses on any Kakanfo who attempt to attack Iwere-Ile. These were the reasons Afonja disobeyed Alaafin Aole’s orders.

While still in disagreement, Alaafin Aole, also called “Arogangan” (roughly translated the mean one), ordered Afonja to attack Apomu, a prominent town close to Ile-Ife. That was in 1795. The disagreement degenerated to the point that both sides resorted to violence to resolve the issue.

At that point, Afonja sought the support of Shehu Alimi who had both spiritual and military power. On his way from the Apomu expedition, Afonja stopped at Oyo-Ile to deal with Alaafin Aole. Afonja sent an empty calabash to Aole, signifying his rejection as the Alaafin and according to the customs of Oyo; he was to commit suicide an act, which he did.

Unfortunately, in 1824, Afonja was assassinated and Salih’s son Abdulsalam, became Emir. That development made Ilorin became an emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate.

The rift between Alafin Aole and Afonja remains significant in the annals of history of the Yoruba Kingdom. What happened during and aftermath of the war gave much prominence to some places in Ilorin. Whenever you visit Ilorin or you are passing by these places or hear them being mentioned, stop and reflect over their historical significance.

Geri Alimi/Garin Alimi: Geri Alimi is a very prominent place in Ilorin. Hardly would you travel or commute within Ilorin without passing through the place. It is like a gateway to the city of Ilorin. It was named after the famous Islamic Cleric, Shiekh Alimi, who was the first Fulani to settle in Ilorin. Geri Alimi was the place the scholar who later claimed Ilorin from Are Afonja settled. Geri Alimi is translated to mean Alimi’s place. Some people refer to it as Land of Knowledge. It is where Sheikh Alimi, the leader of the Fulanis settled and began propagating Islam.

Okesuna: This is the place the renowned Islamic Scholar Mallam Solagberu and his followers settled when they got to Ilorin before Sheikh Alimi came into Ilorin, Oke Suna was referred to as an outskirt of Ilorin. Solagberu was the first Yoruba man to convert to Islam in Ilorin. He was a very good friend of Afonja and played a great role as an accomplice in Afonja’s rebellion against Oyo. It was Solagberu, who introduced Alimi (Salih Janta) to Afonja. He was appointed a reagent in Ilorin and took the post of Baale of one the cities conquered by Afonja; Oke Suna. This happened at the time when Oyo was reluctant to accept Islam and greatly restricted the practice of the religion. Most of the Yoruba faithful of Islam migrated to Okesuna and took Solagberu as their leader. He had his private militia and was also a warlord in his rights. Okesuna therefore, could be described as the first Muslim settlement in Ilorin. Later Okesuna was to house the first primary school in Ilorin, Okesuna Primary School founded in 1915.

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Idi Ape: this is where Afonja and his younger brother, arrived at on their journey from Otefon. Idi Ape was about 2.5 kilometres to Dada (Okelele), where Emila, Afonja’s great grandfather stayed.

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