Ibadan Insider History: Oyesile Baale of Ibadan (3)
Hello folks, hope you are having a wonderful Thursday. Thanks for always stopping by to read our articles on the History of Ibadan and the positive comments. If you have been following our history of Ibadan leaders, you will remember that in the last piece, we promised to bring you the story of Balogun Ibikunle, a great Balogun of Ibadan. Here is his story and I hope you enjoy it
Ibikunle Balogun Of Ibadan 1851-1864
The accretions of Balogun Ibikunle’s birth have mostly been lost to myth, but we do know a bit about it. According to historian and academic, Saidi Ologunro, Ibikunle was born sometime around 1809 0r 1810, to Ijade an extremely skilled blacksmith of unknown origins who found himself in Ogbomoso at the time. Since it was a time when wars were common, blacksmiths especially skilled ones were highly appreciated given that they are the ones that made weapons for soldiers, the leader of Ogbomoso in order to prevent Ijade from entertaining thoughts of ever leaving Ogbomoso decided to give his daughter Aina’s hand in marriage. That union produced Ibikunle.
Ibikunle was born at the time when the Fulani started make incursions into and to devastate parts of Yorubaland and Ibikunle, being of royal blood did not like that very much. The young Ibikunle soon joined the Ogbomoso army and proved to be an extremely brave and keen warrior, becoming the lynchpin of the army as a result. Ibikunle became such a capable warrior that by the 1830s when he was only in his twenties, he had become an influential member of the war council in Ogbomoso. However the young warrior soon discovered that the Ogbomoso army was too lethargic in getting rid of the Fulani menace and at any rate the army was too small to contain the Fulani effectively, he made up his mind to leave Ogbomoso and come to Ibadan, which at the time had the highest concentration of warriors in Yorubaland.
When Ibikunle arrived in Ibadan, Basorun Oluyole was the ruler of the city. He first stayed at Oke Oluokun but for some reason, he left. He then moved to Isale Ijebu, but he soon became dissatisfied as well and moved to Ayeye. It was at Ayeye that he met an Ibadan Warchief known as Toki Onibudo. The much older Toki Onibudo was extremely impressed with Ibikunle’s antecedents as a young warrior and soon made him the head of his own personal army. Historians also say that Toki was the Seriki (roughly like the head of the Calvary army) then, which means he would have been very rich. However Toki at the time he met Ibikunle was already very old and could no longer attend the Ibadan ruling council meetings, so the task of attending the meetings fell on the young commander of his army. Thus Ibikunle became familiar with the way the Ibadan war council worked. When Toki died Ibikunle naturally took over all his property and became the Seriki in his place. As the Seriki Ibikunle continued to prove himself as a very capable warrior. For instance in The First Ijaye War of 1844, he played a major role in ensuring Ibadan did not lose the war and that he risked his life in difficult battles coming close to being captured by the Ijaye army (perhaps that was where he cultivated the respect he had for Aare Kurumi, which made him reluctant to fight the second Ijaye war when it was declared by the Alaafin).
Due to the wars and the purges engineered by Basorun Oluyole, by the time of Oluyole’s death, almost all the chiefs whose military might be equal to Ibikunle’s had already died and thus when Balogun Oderinlo died, there was no other warrior who could match Seriki Ibikunle’s wealth and military might (which were pretty substantial because of the fact that He had not only acquired some measure of wealth prior to his arrival in Ibadan, he also inherited enormous resources from Toki his former master, add that to the booty during wars and raids that accrued to him as Seriki and you are looking at a man who became possibly the wealthiest ruler to have led Ibadan). Thus Ibikunle became Balogun of Ibadan. Even though Oyesile was the Baale and theoretically the leader of the city, there was no doubt that Balogun Ibikunle was in charge of the city. At any rate, he was richer than Oyesile and had more men under his command, he was also the general who led the army to battle so he was feared more than the actual Baale.
However Balogun Ibikunle was known to be a gentleman who did not allow his wealth and status to get to his head, He was often the voice of reason in the Ibadan war council often having to keep his second in command Ogunmola in check (as the latter was extremely hot-headed and impulsive and prone to making rash decisions). Even though he was also a capable warrior who was not afraid to fight, He also knew the value of being a peacemaker, as it was he who tried to broker a peace between Ibadan and Ijaye before the second Ijaye war. Balogun Ibikunle felt that the Yoruba generals should be uniting to push the Fulani out of Yorubaland instead of fighting among themselves and was thus reluctant to fight an accomplished Generallisimo like Kurumi. When Ogunmola murdered all the five sons of Kurumi in a particular battle during the 2nd Ijaye war, Ibikunle was appalled and gave him a severe reprimand, which further confirmed that he believed that even prisoners of war should be treated with respect.
As Balogun of Ibadan, Ibikunle was an extremely good battle planner and an extremely astute tactician During Ibikunle’s tenure as Balogun, Ibadan fought nothing less than six large-scale wars against big towns in Yorubaland and under BalogunIbikunle’s guidance they won them all. Ibadan simply became unstoppable under Ibikunle. In our next edition of Ibadan Insider History, we shall discuss further some of the exploits of Ibikunle as Balogun of Ibadan and also conclude the Balogun’s story. Keep watching this space.
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