A HISTORY OF THE YORUBA NATION
Who are the Yoruba people?
A mayor of the British army, Alfred Burdon Ellis, who served in West Africa for about two decades, published a book about the Yoruba people in 1894, the same year that he perished of malaria fever.
“The territory now inhabited by the Yoruba tribes is bounded on the west by Dahomi, on the south-west by Porto Novo and Appa, on the south by the sea, on the east by Benin, and on the north by the Mohammedan tribes from the interior, who have within recent times conquered and annexed the Yoruba province of Ilorin, and whose territory may now be said to extend southward to about 8º 30′ N. latitude. The aggressions of these Mohammedan tribes commenced very early in the present century, and it was no doubt this pressure from the north that caused the Yorubas to move to the south and colonise the seaboard….
“Of the early history of the Yoruba-speaking peoples nothing is known, except what can be gleaned from Dalzel’s “History of Dahomey,” 1793, from which it would appear that, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, all the different tribes were united, and were ruled by a king who resided at Old Oyo, sometimes called Katunga. The kingdom of Yoruba also seems to have been more powerful than the other two great African kingdoms, Dahomi and Ashanti. Between 1724 and 1725 the King of Yoruba espoused the quarrel of the King of Ardra, whose kingdom had been overthrown by Dahomi, and sent a large army, chiefly consisting of cavalry, to invade Dahomi. By a stratagem  the Yorubas were routed, and the king [1. Ewe-speaking Peoples,” p. 285.] of Dahomi then diplomatically sued for peace, which was granted; but about September, 1728, a new quarrel having arisen, this time in the interests of the King of Whydah, a Yoruba army again invaded Dahomi, and a desultory war lasted until 1730, when peace was once more made. In 1738 another Yoruba army invaded Dahomi, defeated the king, and captured and burnt Agbomi, Kalia, and Zassa and from that time forward the Yorubas annually raided into Dahomi, ravaging the country, and retiring again at the commencement of the rains. This state of affairs was brought to an end by a treaty of peace made in 1747, by which the King of Dahomi undertook to pay a heavy annual tribute to the King of Yoruba. After this we hear no more of the Yorubas in Dalzel’s History, which is only carried to 1791, except that, in 1786, they interfered to prevent the Dahomis from attacking Porto -Novo; but the tribute appears to have been paid up to the days of King Gezo of Dahomi (1818).”
A. B. ELLIS. THE YORUBA-SPEAKING PEOPLES OF THE SLAVE COAST OF WEST AFRICA: THEIR RELIGION, MANNERS, CUSTOMS, LAWS., LANGUAGE, ETC.
***Notice that the British referred to present day Nigeria as the Slave Coast during Mayor Ellis’s time.
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