Nigeria Before Colonialism (Pre-Colonial Administration in Nigeria)

Ever before the commencement of colonialism, the people of what later became known as Nigeria were living under different administration or political arrangements. However, thepre-colonial Nigeria symbolises the methods or ways by which Nigerians govern themselves before the advent of colonialism. It means traditional systems preceded the era of colonialism.
From the same position, the pre-colonial Nigeria varies from one region the the other because the ethnic and ethno-linguistic differences. For instance, while some political systems are centralized or chiefly society (e.g Yoruba pre-colonial system and Hausa/Fulani), others were decentralized or chiefless society (like the Igbo clan system which was acephalous in nature). Interestingly, indirect rule would not have been possible without the already established pre-colonial system.

yoruba

YORUBA PRE-COLONIAL SYSTEM
It was generally believed that the Yorubas migrated into Nigeria from upper Egypt under their powerful father, Oduduwa. They occupied the Western part of Nigeria and the system of government practiced was monarchical in nature regarded as centralized administration ruled by king with the assistance of other chiefs. It is important to note that Yoruba pre-colonial administration was not highly centralized compared to Hausa/Fulani system. The reason being that the Oba is not an absolute ruler and there is the principle of checks and balance. Examples of Yoruba kingdoms include the Oyo kingdom, Ijesha, Ilesa, Ijebu, Abeokuta, etc. In this case, Oyo empire is normally being taken as case study.

POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS OF YORUBA KINGDOM/OYO EMPIRE
The Oba is the highest authority in Yoruba kingdom though not an absolute ruler. He is both political and spiritual head of the Oyo kingdom popularly known as Alaafin of Oyo. Also, the Oba must be the eldest son of deceased king and a member of the royal family. He is well respected by the subject and this explains why some have regarded him to be the ‘working companion of gods’ (Alase Igbakeji Orisa). Not only that, Oba can be addressed as ‘Kabiyesi- Ka bi o ko si’ (Nobody to challenge your authority), yet, there is the principle of checks and balanc. Oba can checked by other institutions like Oyomesi, Ogboni cult, warlords, etc. The argument is that Oba must always respect the views of the people in the society. This, perhaps made Yoruba kingdom to be more democratic. Oba ruled with the assistance of chiefs called Ijoye like Otun, Iyalode etc. With these chiefs, Oba can exercise judicial, legislative and executive power particularly over serious cases like land dispute, crimes etc.
Oyomesi can be regarded as king makers. They are prominent chiefs comprising seven notable individuals within the community. Specifically, Oyomesi are the institutions charged with the responsibility of appointing the king from a royal family. It is headed by Bashorun. However, the consent of the Oyomesi is required before any reasonable decision could be taken by Oba. It is important to stress that the principle of checks and balance in Yoruba kingdom makes it possible for the Oyomesi to check the excesses of the king. For instance, the Oyomesi (kingmakers) may compel the king to open calabash (it is an order to commit suicide) if the king is dictatorial and arbitrary in rulling the people.
The Ogboni cults on the other hand is often regarded as secret cult because their activities are much hidden to the public. They perform rituals on behalf of the society, and also check the excesses of both the Oba abd king makers. The group of Ogboni therefore is headed by Oluawo.
Esos or warlords is a group of people that provides adequate security in the Yoruba kingdom. They helped to protect the life and properties as well as preventing the community from both internal and external aggression. It is headed by ‘Aare Ona Kakanfo’ who provides military support to the king. He is abnormally powerful and that explains why he stays outside the community. More importantly, Aare Ona Kakanfo is expected to commit suicide if he losses any battle which means he must not be defeated at the war front. Nevertheless, he check the excesses of any institutions by withdrawing or neglecting military responsibility.
Yoruba pre-colonial systems, Oyo empire as case study was centralized though with the principle of checks and balance.

Dedicated to Isiaq A.A (Lanko Theory) for his inspiration, commitment and impartation.

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Nigeria Before Colonialism (Pre-Colonial Administration in Nigeria)

  1. rabiuiliyasu

    Nigeria Before Colonialism (Pre-
    Colonial Administration in
    Nigeria)
    Ever before the commencement
    of colonialism, the people of
    what later became known as
    Nigeria were living under
    different administration or
    political arrangements. However,
    thepre-colonial Nigeria
    symbolises the methods or ways
    by which Nigerians govern
    themselves before the advent of
    colonialism. It means traditional
    systems preceded the era of
    colonialism.
    From the same position, the pre-
    colonial Nigeria varies from one
    region the the other because the
    ethnic and ethno-linguistic
    differences. For instance, while
    some political systems are
    centralized or chiefly society (e.g
    Yoruba pre-colonial system and
    Hausa/Fulani), others were
    decentralized or chiefless society
    (like the Igbo clan system which
    was acephalous in nature).
    Interestingly, indirect rule would
    not have been possible without
    the already established pre-
    colonial system.
    YORUBA PRE-COLONIAL SYSTEM
    It was generally believed that the
    Yorubas migrated into Nigeria
    from upper Egypt under their
    powerful father, Oduduwa. They
    occupied the Western part of
    Nigeria and the system of
    government practiced was
    monarchical in nature regarded
    as centralized administration
    ruled by king with the assistance
    of other chiefs. It is important to
    note that Yoruba pre-colonial
    administration was not highly
    centralized compared to Hausa/
    Fulani system. The reason being
    that the Oba is not an absolute
    ruler and there is the principle of
    checks and balance. Examples of
    Yoruba kingdoms include the
    Oyo kingdom, Ijesha, Ilesa, Ijebu,
    Abeokuta, etc. In this case, Oyo
    empire is normally being taken
    as case study.
    POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS OF
    YORUBA KINGDOM/OYO EMPIRE
    The Oba is the highest authority
    in Yoruba kingdom though not
    an absolute ruler. He is both
    political and spiritual head of the
    Oyo kingdom popularly known
    as Alaafin of Oyo. Also, the Oba
    must be the eldest son of
    deceased king and a member of
    the royal family. He is well
    respected by the subject and this
    explains why some have
    regarded him to be the ‘working
    companion of gods’ (Alase
    Igbakeji Orisa). Not only that, Oba
    can be addressed as ‘Kabiyesi- Ka
    bi o ko si’ (Nobody to challenge
    your authority), yet, there is the
    principle of checks and balanc.
    Oba can checked by other
    institutions like Oyomesi, Ogboni
    cult, warlords, etc. The argument
    is that Oba must always respect
    the views of the people in the
    society. This, perhaps made
    Yoruba kingdom to be more
    democratic. Oba ruled with the
    assistance of chiefs called Ijoye
    like Otun, Iyalode etc. With these
    chiefs, Oba can exercise judicial,
    legislative and executive power
    particularly over serious cases
    like land dispute, crimes etc.
    Oyomesi can be regarded as king
    makers. They are prominent
    chiefs comprising seven notable
    individuals within the
    community. Specifically, Oyomesi
    are the institutions charged with
    the responsibility of appointing
    the king from a royal family. It is
    headed by Bashorun. However,
    the consent of the Oyomesi is
    required before any reasonable
    decision could be taken by Oba.
    It is important to stress that the
    principle of checks and balance
    in Yoruba kingdom makes it
    possible for the Oyomesi to
    check the excesses of the king.
    For instance, the Oyomesi
    (kingmakers) may compel the
    king to open calabash (it is an
    order to commit suicide) if the
    king is dictatorial and arbitrary in
    rulling the people.
    The Ogboni cults on the other
    hand is often regarded as secret
    cult because their activities are
    much hidden to the public. They
    perform rituals on behalf of the
    society, and also check the
    excesses of both the Oba abd
    king makers. The group of
    Ogboni therefore is headed by
    Oluawo.
    Esos or warlords is a group of
    people that provides adequate
    security in the Yoruba kingdom.
    They helped to protect the life
    and properties as well as
    preventing the community from
    both internal and external
    aggression. It is headed by ‘Aare
    Ona Kakanfo’ who provides
    military support to the king. He is
    abnormally powerful and that
    explains why he stays outside
    the community. More importantly,
    Aare Ona Kakanfo is expected to
    commit suicide if he losses any
    battle which means he must not
    be defeated at the war front.
    Nevertheless, he check the
    excesses of any institutions by
    withdrawing or neglecting
    military responsibility.
    Yoruba pre-colonial systems, Oyo
    empire as case study was
    centralized though with the
    principle of checks and balance.
    Dedicated to Isiaq A.A (Lanko
    Theory) for his inspiration,
    commitment and impartation.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Pre-colonial Kingdoms  – thecyd

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s