The Medieval Yoruba warrior is a hunter. To remain sane and strong, he plunges himself into the deep forests where the rarest animals dwell. For weeks, he is away from his family. He has his seasons, therefore he is not alone in the wild. He is a member of a large group of hunters who replay the real life situation of war. He learns stealth, he learns to aim perfectly. He learns to take blind shots at a fast moving animal and not miss. He dares not miss. Hurt animals often turn back on them. Such animals can make his waiting family wait for life. If his aim misses, the wounded animal can gore him down to transport him to the place beyond the great beyond.

He has his gun, his camouflage leader jacket, a long cap, a dangling bag pumped full with charms. He has a cache of amulets, bullets and cartridges. And he has a bow and a quiver of arrows. He also belongs to a society founded upon strict codes of honour and respect. Like the knights of the British empire, he is in perpetual service to the Army.

Like you would expect, there are myths and legends that have trickled down to modern times of warrior-hunters that possessed extra ordinary powers with which they did great exploits. One particular story leaves a difficult taste on your tongue. The story the hunter who kills elephants with his cap. Yes it went that far. The warrior-hunter; he wakes up in the morning to sell his catch.

It would be a nocturnal operation. For twenty days, the Ibadan battalions had watched the Fulani camp with fear and disdain.

The horses pranced under their owners in mockery of the enemies. By now the Fulanis had made a significant advance on the front but they knew that total victory would be costly still. That was all they know.

The Generals gave an order to the troops concerning the future of the battle and what it will look like. Blind shots, stealth, nocturnal operations, accuracy and unwavering confidence, the Yoruba warriors decided to remove the horses from the list of worries. It will be a night operation when the horses would be useless.

At about afternoon, the army moved to a few miles from the enemy camp. Dusk has fallen. The Ibadan Army would command the left position and the rest of the Osogbo forces would man the center and right positions.

One last thing, the Army derived a code for passage in case the enemy decides to flee. The famous Osogbo River was behind the front lines to the south. Therefore, you must cross it to be around the perimeters of the battle. If you have had to crossed it before, you must know the cost of ferrying. Therefore, the sphinx kills you if you missed his riddle. The million dollar question is "how much is the ferry fare?". 

The Ibadan Army entered into an oblivious sleeping camp and set it on fire. Instantly, there was a huge stampede. Smoked out of the tents, the Ilorin-Fulani soldiers fell in the face of booming Yoruba guns. The Fulanis could offer no resistance. The soldiers who managed to reach the horses kept burying their feet into the static horses. The horses were tettered already at dusk to prevent them from wandering off. The angry Yoruba infantry caught the soldiers in the middle of their confusing and slaughtered them.

In a few hours, the camp had been captured and destroyed. By dawn most of the Fulani soldiers and their allies have been dispersed, captured or killed. The war was over. Islamic rule over Yoruba land (under an Emir) would never be possible. The dream of the Sokoto Caliphate about burying a copy of the Qur'an inside the Atlantic Ocean is over never to come alive again.


Perhaps there is a more decisive battle you are thinking about in our country's history, think again. Had the Ibadan Army failed, the future of the geographic definition, which today is known as Nigeria, would, no doubt, be different from what we know today. A difference no imagination can correctly capture.

Any Yoruba monarch can claim to be an emir (after the order of the Fulani Emirates), but he is only a fool and his folly is tangible. His claim remains a claim and nothing else.

Still today, Ibadan remains what it was. A tolerant city without tribal laws and still loving its democracy. A city with many hills and the jewel of Nigeria.

Photograph source: hutbay.com

Ojo Aderemi, President of the University of Ibadan Students Union (2016/17 session) can be reached via email ojderemi@gmail.com and his articles appear on his website platinumderemi.com
Follow him on twitter @oj_deremi

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