Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 177
Publication Date: 1894
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THE portion of the West African coast occupied by the Yoruba-speaking peoples is situated in the eastern half of the Slave Coast, and lies between Badagry, on the west, and the Benin River, on the east. The extent of sea-board held by them is thus smaller than that occupied either by the Tshi or by the Ewe tribes; but the Yorubas are really an inland people, and it was not until the beginning of the present century that they moved to the south and colonised Lagos and the adjacent littoral.
The territory now inhabited by the Yoruba tribes is bounded on the west by Dahomi, on the south-west by Porto Novo and Appa, on the south by the sea, on the east by Benin, and on the north by the Mohammedan tribes from the interior, who have within recent times conquered and annexed the Yoruba province of Ilorin, and whose territory may now be said to extend southward to about 8º 30' N. latitude. The aggressions of these Mohammedan tribes commenced very early in the present century, and it was no doubt this pressure from the north that caused the Yorubas to move to the south and colonise the seaboard.
Yoruba country at present comprises the following states, or political units:--
(1) The British colony of Lagos, which covers the whole sea-front between the meridian of the Ajarra Creek and the Benin River, and has absorbed the former native kingdoms of Appa, Pokra, Badagry, Lagos, Palma, Lekki, Ala, hin, Ogbo, and Jakri.
(2) Ketu. This is the western state. It is bounded on the west by Dahomi, on the south by Porto Novo, and on the east by Egba. Its northern limits are undefined.
(3) Egba. It lies east of Ketu and south-west of Yoruba proper. Its capital is Abeokuta, "Under the Rock."
(4) Jebu. This is the south-eastern kingdom, and is divided into two provinces, called Jebu Remo and Jebu Ode. Jebu Ode has for its capital a town of the same name, that of Jebu Remo is called Offin. The river Odo Omi is considered the north-western boundary of Jebu, and, roughly speaking, the territory of the Jebus may be said to extend inland to a distance of some fifty miles from the lagoon.
(5) Ekiti Tribes. These tribes, which form a confederation, lie to the north-east of Jebu Ode.
(6) Ibadan. It lies north of Jebu Ode.
(7) Yoruba proper. This kingdom, whose capital is Oyo, lies to the north of lbadan and Egglxt, and towards the west its boundary trends southward to within some twenty-five miles of Abeokuta.
(8) Ijesa, capital Ilesa. This state is situated to the south-east of Yoruba proper.
(9) Ife, capital of the same name, lies south-west of Ijesa.
(10) Ondo. This kingdom, capital Ondo, is situated south-east of Ife.
In addition there are several small states, or rather independent townships, consisting of a town and a few outlying villages. The principal are Egbado, Okeodan, Ado, Awori, and Igbessa, all of which lie south of Egba. Their inhabitants are Egbados, or Southern Egbas (Egba-odo, Egbas of the coast).
The inhabitants of all these states speak one language, the, Yoruba. They are called Nagos by the French, and by the English are named after their political divisions, as Egbas, Ibadans, Jebus,
The lagoon system, which in the last volume of this series was noted as commencing a short distance to the west of the Volta River, on the Gold Coast, extends along the whole sea-front of the territory occupied by the Yoruba-speaking tribes, and affords a continuous waterway from Porto Novo to Benin. The extension of the continent in a southerly direction, which was mentioned in the last volume as typical of the western half of the Slave Coast, and which may doubtless be attributed to the action of the Guinea current in closing with sand the openings to former indentations which existed in the coast-line, is also equally noticeable in this the eastern half of the Slave Coast; and, generally speaking, the country is open, flat, and devoid of stones. Jebu is an exception, being thickly forested; but it appears that less territory has been won from the sea south of Jebu, and cast of Lagos generally, than in the districts to the west, between Lagos and Dahomi. To the east of Lagos the old coast-line seems to have been almost conterminous with the northern shores of the Kradu and Lekki lagoons, and the water-way which connects them by way of Epi, while to the west it appears to have trended back northwards beyond the lagoons of Oluge and Porto Novo. It is only after crossing the narrow lagoon or creek called the Ajarra Creek, which runs in a convex curve from the Porto Novo lagoon to the Okpara, that stones are found in the soil; and about twenty miles to the west of this there appears to have been at one time a great bay, the northern limit of which was the Ko, or Great Marsh, of Dahomi, thirty-five miles from the present coastline. The dotted line in the accompanying map shows the probable position of the ancient coast-line between the Volta River and Lekki.