Ijebu People

Ijebu weaver at work, 1902
Ijebu weaver at work. Photo: The living races of mankind by Johnston et al.- 1902.

Ijebu people are Yoruba speaking tribe whose home is in the north-east of Lagos around the Magbon River. The Ijebu were known before the annexation of their territory by the British as proud, isolated and determined. Pre-colonial Ijebu had absolute faith in their religion and so their reaction was cool towards the warnings from colonial Lagos against their continued blockage of persons and goods from using routes that cut across their territory. Following the British 1892 expedition, which finally disabused their minds of this bloated self-appraisal, Christian missions had come into the land. By 1910, unlike anywhere else in Nigeria, the geographical occupation of ijebuland by Christian agencies was complete. Before this time, Islam had spread among the people through the activities of Hausa kolanut traders and a number of itinerant Muslim preachers travelling into Ijebu Ode from Hausa land.

Ijebu people dominated the commerce of Yoruba territory outside Lagos during the colonial period, the reasons for this, been attributable to their towns’ strategic locations on the boundary with colony province. They took advantage of the blockade of the produce trade which Ibadan/Oyo farmer entrepreneurs were carrying on with Lagos. They introduced the role of middlemen in the trade between coast and hinterland. For this reason, the Ijebu enjoyed great initial economic advantage.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer