Ijaiye

Ijaye here appearing at the middle of this map of Yoruba kingdoms in South West Nigeria ceased to exist after the war.
Ijaye here appearing at the middle of this map of Yoruba kingdoms in South West Nigeria ceased to exist after the war with Ibadan in 1862.

Ijaiye was an ancient military town in the northern fringe of the Egba forest in South West Nigeria that was ruthlessly destroyed by Ibadan in war. In its day, Ijaiye was an important market town where Oyo traders exchanged slaves and clothes for food and European items from the coast brought by the Egba. Though originally a peaceful Egba Agura town, Ijaiye became militarized when refugee soldiers encamped in Oke-Adan entered it in 1831 c. Kurunmi, after displacing a rival General, became the sole authority and enacted an autocratic rule in the town. Because of the high handedness of their lord, Ijaiye, as attested by Bishop Vidal, a C.M.S. missionary visitor in 1855, was kept in excellent order. “A police is needless,’ he said, ‘for crime or depredation is hardly ever committed.”

In the decade prior to the brief rise of the Ibadan Empire, Ijaiye was a rival to Ibadan. Kurunmi nursed suspicion of Ibadan’s motives and was jealous of the leadership role it was taking among Yoruba towns. When in 1854 a peace accord supervised by Balogun Ibikunle of Ibadan was reached on behalf of all Yoruba territories, Kurunmi was disconcerted the hosting of a conference of such import had eluded his own town, Ijaiye. Instead of pursuing the peace that was agreed should be the policy of Yoruba kingdoms, Ijaiye began preparations for a war with Ibadan, which it believed, would avert the inevitable future that it would be sacked to complete Ibadan’s dominance.

Opportunity to confront Ibadan presented itself with the diplomacy of Ibadan towards Oyo, which reflected a change in paradigm. Also, Ijaiye had been requested to give up parts of its land to the benefit of Oyo. Although Balogun Ibikunle tried to avert war, he assented to it to prevent a civil war at his own doorsteps. Ijaiye saw the war between 1859 and 1862 that ended in it is complete annihilation. A large part of Ijaiye population moved to Abeokuta and its former territory was annexed by Ibadan.