Wednesday 3 May 2023


Solagberu was the first Yoruba Muslim convert. He was a very good friend of Afonja and played a great role as an accomplice to Afonja’s rebellion against Oyo. It was Solagberu who introduced Alimi as (Salih Janta) to Afonja. He was appointed as a reagent in Ilorin and took the post of Baale of one the cities conquered by Afonja in Oke Suna. This happened at the time when Oyo was reluctant to accept Islam and greatly restricted the practice of the religion. Most of the Yoruba faithful of Islam migrated to Okesuna and took Solagberu as their leader. He had his private militia and was also a warlord in his rights. Okesuna therefore could be described as the first muslim settlement in Yorubaland.

Afonja gave Alimi very special privileges. When he was out on campaigns, he let him rule in his place. A lot of Fulanis and Hausa people also migrated to Ilorin and pledged allegiance to him, very much as the Yoruba migrants that pledged alleigiance to Solagberu. Like most Fulani, including Usman Dan Fodio and Mohammadu Buhari. Ambitious Fulani leaders with a potential to be ruthless in their plot to subjugate others usually come across as meek people with no such intention. This remains the greatest weapon of the Fulani and the very secret weapon they have used to infiltrate and subjugate others. They are also very patient. They could take a decade or two to destroy the obstacle in their way of subjugation. As Afonja conquered many of the cities North of Oyo, He placed a few Governors loyal to Alimi as the ajeles.

Afonja’s love for Alimi greatly worried his friends. Most especially Onikoyi and Fagbohun. Both of them, he dismissed rather rudely when they expressed their concerns. When Fagbohun refused to be silent and kept the pressure on him to be careful of his trust for Alimi and the Jamas loyal to him, Afonja called a meeting of all the chiefs loyal to him with an intention to force him to repeat what he said in private (just as a Yoruba president in the late 70’s did to a fellow Yoruba man who warned him about the infrastructures he was concentrating in the North). Fagbohun caught wind of Afonja’s intention and kept away from the meeting.

Two very important warlords loyal to Afonja died at the time. One was his brother (Agborin) and the other was his head slave warrior (Lasipa). Alimi had them replaced with Fulani soldiers loyal to him. He had his security details infiltrated as well (very much as Danjuma did in the scheme to get rid of Aguyi Ironsi). This left him with only one loyal lieutenant, Bugure.

Not until then did Afonja suddenly realize that he had been set up and was surrounded by enemies loyal to a Jihadist loyal to the dream of his kinsmen to conquer to the shores and annex the whole southwest to the Caliphate at Gwandu. He sent for Onikoyi and some other powerful chiefs he was friends with to come to his aid. The message was intercepted after spies in his palace told Aimi of it. He also sent a message to Solagberu. Not only did Solagberu refuse to come to his aid, he also had Bugure arrested and detained at Okesuna to deprive Alimi of the much-needed help of his last surviving general.

This was the signal the Fulani had been waiting for, they launched a palace coup and laid a siege on his palace and smoked him out. Although he fought till his last breath. He was overpowered and killed with tens of arrows. The Jamas burnt his dead body to ashes. Alimi was proclaimed the new leader of Ilorin and his descendants rule the estate of Afonja’s great grandfather (Laderin) till today.

This was what Solagberu had been hoping for, a successful palace coup that would get rid of his friend (Afonja) and place a Muslim cleric as the leader. At this time, he was the only one in Ilorin with a militia and as such, real power would be in his hands (or so he hoped). Unfortunately Solagberu (very much like MKO Abiola and Bola Tinubu sooner or later learnt the hard way that the Fulani was so obsessed for power and believed such right to rule was reserved only for fellow kinsmen. Every non-Fulani, irrespective of religion was to be subjugated and relegated to second class citizens in their ancestral home.

Alimi was succeeded by his son and Toyeje of Ogbomoso succeeded Afonja as the new Are Ona Kakanfo. Just as Solagberu had predicted, the Fulani army greatly relied on him to retake Ilorin. Appealing to religious sentiments, Solagberu used his militia to help defeat Toyeje in his mission to retake Ilorin (Toyeje was a lieutenant in Oyo army and fought from the right wing when Afonja was Are Ona Kakanfo).

Over time, the Fulani emirate at Ilorin was able to build its private army as well as make new friends among the rebel warlords of Oyo. As such, they did not need Solagberu’s services anymore. A siege was laid on Okesuna by the order of emir Abdulsalam (son of Alimi). The people of Okesuna were reduced to famine and could not launch a successful resistance and they were forced to surrender. Alimi’s soldiers razed down the city and had Solagberu executed. In his last hours, Solagberu regretted his treachery towards his friend Afonja and felt sobered as the new ruling family he helped solidify their hold on Ilorin paid back his loyalty with disgrace.

Shortly after Solagberu’s exit, the new military under the Ilorin emirate plundered Yoruba nation and took many of its people as slaves to be sold to the merchants at Ijebu and Lagos who were the middlemen between the raiders in the North and the Portuguese. The new Sultan at Sokoto (Belo) however wanted Fulani domination beyond Ilorin and greatly obsessed for the day all of Yoruba nation-states would be overrun to the shores of the Atlantic. He hoped someday for Fulani annexation of the fertile lands and rain forests in Yoruba land. Above all, he dreamed of the day the caliphate would control the coastlines and sell slaves directly to the Portuguese.  Ibadan warriors intercepted them in 1840.

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