Friday 8 July 2022

British and Foreign State Papers v.41 1851/1852 Badagry, September 3, 1851

Sir, I, Obba Shoron, second to the King, and Commander-in-Chief of the forces of all Abbeokuta, salute you, and wish you long life. I was glad to see your face and tell you what is in my heart ; however, I thought I must put my words on paper, that you may not forget them.

I and my people are the Egba tribe of the Yoruba Nation. Our fathers were farmers and lived peaceably in many towns, but war broke their towns and drove them from their homes ; and so they and we, their children, built all at one place, that is, Abbeokuta, which is now a large town with more than 80,000 people. We are all farmers and traders, and do not wish for war, but we have many enemies, and to defend ourselves we must fight.

Dahomey is our enemy. We have done him no wrong, but he is jealous of our large town, and thinks we shall get too strong, and so he came with a large army in the beginning of the year to destroy our town and make slaves of us, but we defeated him ; and now he promises to try again in about 4 months.

Kosoko at Lagos is our enemy, because we are more friendly to the English than to Portuguese. We did not drive the English from our town as he wished us to do, but seek still more friendship and trade with English. He is our enemy, because we are Akitoye's friends. Kosoko spends much money all about to set the people against us, and so to defend ourselves, we are obliged to engage in war.

Kosoko is the cause of the war at Badagry. He bribed the Popos to kill and to catch Akitoye's people, and to drive (or kill) the English from this place ; but the Popos lost the war. Kosoko long desired to shut the road between Badagry and Abbeokuta, that we should not be able to trade with the English any more ; and therefore as soon as we heard of the war here, and that this town, our only port, will be spoiled, I came down with the people to help in defending the town against Kosoko, who sent many large canoes with many people and big guns in them, to destroy this place. 

They have many times fired at the town, but they are now afraid of the big guns the white people have here (which they fire at them because 1 white man was killed by Kosoko's agents), and so they attack the people travelling on the Abbeokuta road. Twice they have fired at parties, and kidnapped several persons. 

The King of Porto Novo is our enemy, and as Kosoko's friend joins him to make war upon this town. I therefore have sent some of my forces to chastise him, and thus compel him to make friendship and open the road, that the merchants here may get palm -oil ; and if you could only grant our desire to destroy Lagos, secure that wicked man Kosoko, and bring back Akitoye to Lagos, then we fear not, the whole country will enjoy peace ; and if the Slave Trade is put down at Lagos there will not be much more war in the country.

But the particular word I mention to you this morning is, that I and all the Chiefs and people of Abbeokuta are most anxious to make friendship with you and all the English. We bow before your Queen and Government, and pray you to make a Treaty with us. We promise to keep the law you give us by your help, for if we have English trade we do not want Slave Trade. 

Hoping our petition will be granted, and wishing you peace, 

I remain, &c. 

Obba Shoron

*Olumo Rock of Abeokuta, 1880s -

By Kehinde Thompson

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