How The Yorubas Gave The Fulanis A Bloody Nose In Oshogbo

Alaafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Adeyemi
Alaafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Adeyemi

After the Fulanis systematically captured and made Ilorin their territory, they sacked the old Oyo Empire in 1835/1836.

Small & Medium Businesses In Emerging EconomyThey were still not satisfied with their victory; they wished to extend their rule deep into the heart of Yorubaland. Thus in 1840, they set to capture Osogbo , a Yoruba town. The Fulanis, under the command of Ali, the Hausa balogun of Ilorin, laid siege on Osogbo.

When the king of Osogbo realized that the Fulanis were too strong for the Osogbo army, he summoned the Ibadan arny for help. Ibadan immediately sent some auxiliaries to Osogbo under the command of Obele – alias Mobitan – and Alade Abimpagun.

fulani warriors
fulani warriors

As this force could not stop the Fulanis, another contingent was sent to Osogbo under a more experienced leader. But, still, the Fulanis won every battle and gained more ground.

When Ibadan realized that the Fulanis were becoming more threatening to Yorubaland, they sent a large and stronger force under Balogun Oderinlo to crush the intruding forces and Jammas of Ilorin. When Oderinlo and his men arrived at the battlefield, they realized that things had gone worse than they thought.

They could not show their faces in the open field for the fear of Fulani horses, and for about 20 days after their arrival at Osogbo, they could not fight outside the town thickets. Oderinlo suggested that Elepo, a brave Ibadan warrior, was badly needed at the war-front. Elepo had been rejected by the war-chiefs of Ibadan for his actions at the late Agbamaja expedition.

As soon as the message from Oderinlo reached Ibadan, the Bashorun wished he could send Elepo to Osogbo but could not go against the wish of other war-chiefs. The Bashorun gave Elepo a cow to worship his god and pray for the victory of Ibadan at the war-front.

At the war-front, the Ibadan could not attack the Fulanis during the day because Osogbo was practically on the plains and their horses might have an advantage over them with disastrous results.

They decided to attack at dusk when the Fulanis would no longer be able to use their horses. In the afternoon of the said day, the well-prepared Ibadan army left the gate of Osogbo for the battlefield. They were to keep a strict watch and arrest anyone suspected to be a spy.

Yoruba warriors
Yoruba warriors

About a mile from where the Fulanis camped, they halted and arranged the order of the attack.

The Osogbo army and the earlier auxiliaries were to handle the centre of the battlefield; Chiefs Abitiko and Labuju were to command the right wing, Balogun Oderinlo with the rest of the Ibadan war-chiefs were to form the left wing of the army. The Fulani camp was then attacked at midnight. The watchword was “ Elo ni owo odo? ” (How much is the ferry fare?).

The reason this watchword was chosen was because the River Osun had to be crossed before entering Osogbo from the south, and anyone who could not tell this was likely to be an enemy.

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Stampede engulfed the Fulani camp as the Ibadan army set it on fire. The Fulanis could not offer the slightest resistance; they were smoked with the gunpowder of Ibadan guns.

This attack was a success for Ibadan. Some war-chiefs from Ilorin were captured in the attack. Prominent ones were:

  1. Jimba the head slave of the Emir;
  2. One of the sons of Ali, the commander in chief;
  3. Chief Lateju;
  4. Ajikobo, the Yoruba Balogun of Ilorin.


yoruba warrior 2The first two were released while the latter two, being Yoruba by birth, were regarded as traitors and were executed. This was a huge victory for the whole of Yorubaland, courtesy of Ibadan. After the Osogbo victory, Ibokun, an Ijesa town not far from Osogbo, was taken by Ibadan for being an ally of Ilorin.

After this war, Ibadan became a veritable force, building a formidable war machinery that later prosecuted many other wars with resounding victories.

Notable among the wars was the Kiriji War where Ibadan warlords formed a historic alliance with the Igbajos. Even though Igbajo became the location of a great war for many years, it was never captured by the raging Ekiti parapo warriors. Rather it was a place where many of them met their Waterloo.

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Notable among the warriors were Fabunmi Okeemesi, Ogedengbe Agbogungboro of the Ijesas, Apasikoto Pasigegele of Igbajo and Latoosa of Ibadan to mention a few. There were many more great warriors of the time.

It’s worthy to note that the Kiriji War was the last war in Yorubaland.

Since then, Yoruba people have continued to build strong bonds among themselves and they have sustained the peace.

We must continue to tell our children the history of the Yoruba people and the bond which our father had built so that we can continue to see ourselves as one. If the Ibadan people can sacrifice their lives for the people of Osogbo in other to save other towns and villages in Yorubaland and, in essence, the death of innocent people were prevented, then, we as modern Yorubas have no reason to divide ourselves for political reasons or any reason at all.

yorubas of South West
yorubas of South West

Our leaders must continue to put their lives in the forefront to safeguard the land from all aggression.

And we, the followers, have the responsibility to support, to advise and to pray for all our leaders irrespective of the political divide.

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