Traditional Histories and Historical Reconstruction of the Origin and Early History of Ilorin: A Reexamination

  • Ismail Otukoko Salihu Kwara State University
Keywords: Etymology, Ilorin, Iron, Legends, Traditions


Since the 1950s when African and Africanist historians began to use oral evidence as a veritable source for historical reconstruction of Africa’s pre-colonial past, traditional histories have continued to occupy a central stage in modern African historiography. In spite of its limitations, no serious historical inquiry into the past of Africa’s non-literate societies would ignore traditional material. The use of traditional accounts of the origin and early history of Ilorin has continued to pose serious challenges to historians and non-historians. Some reasons may be responsible for this including Ilorin’s multiethnic and multicultural configuration; inexhaustive analysis and interpretation of various versions of Ilorin’s traditional history in existing attempts at reconstructing its origin and early history, and the fact that much of Ilorin’s history up to the 1820s has not been reconsidered in the light of historical and archaeological evidence from various parts of the Old Oyo Empire and the entire region within which context the origin and early history of Ilorin is located. This paper adopts a multidisciplinary approach to reexamine the traditional accounts on the “origin” and “early” history of Ilorin and posits that various elements in the traditions suggest different phases in the historical evolution of Ilorin and of the developments before the late 18th century.