The partial disbandment of modakeke

The Partial Disbandment of Modakeke(

During this period, British Colonial administration was still a fledgling. Its primary objective was
not to bring about lasting peace, but to create an atmosphere which would facilitate the
exploitation of available resources. Its divide and conquer policy meant that it had to hurt one to
please the other. In drawing up the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Commerce intended to bring
an end to the fratricidal war among the Yoruba, the British Colonialists inserted a clause that
Modakeke had to be disbanded. That is to say, the conqueror had to be disbanded to please the
vanquished. This treaty, made in 1886 could not be implemented until 1909 because it was met
with a very stiff opposition. Most of the signatories to the so-called treaty did not understand
what they were made to thumb-print. They were simply hoodwinked. It is rather curious that a
thriving community had to be disbanded because of a decaying community that had been defeated
in war and was in a second exile. The disbandment of Modakeke was pursued with utmost vigor
by Ooni Adelekan Olubuse (1894-1910) who made several trips to Lagos to give the finest of the
ancestral works of art in Ife to Governor Carter and him immediate successor. He continued the
pressure even on Governor Magregor, but he did not succeed with any of them because they
realized the implications of such an action.
Governor Carter visited Modakeke and Ife from August 24-26, 1894 and observed as follows in
his letter of August 30, Ref:CS.10/1/14 “Ife is simply a collection of ruins but Modakeke is a
large and prosperous-looking town within extensive and well-kept farms all about it . … The
Modakekes originally refugees were kindly received by the Ifes who some 80 years ago gave
them land to settle. In course of time, disputes arose and the Modakekes appear to have been
harshly treated by the Ifes. The Ifes ultimately attacked the Modakekes but were badly defeated
and a large number of Ifes were captured as slaves who were afterwards released as they
(Modakekes) did not wish to show ingratitude for the kindness originally shown them. The result
of the quarrel between the two towns and the complications with other neighboring tribes was
that Ife was totally destroyed and the inhabitants had to retire to remote towns (Isoya, Oke Igbo)
… It was not right to expect Modakekes to quietly abandon their town(50-60,000 population)
and leave the conquered Ifes to enjoy the fruits of the their(Modakekes) labor and just step into
their houses and farms…”

It was during the tenure of Governor Walter Egerton that Ooni Olubuse secured the collusion of
the District officer whose actions and inactions facilitated the partial dispersal of Modakeke.
Although most of Modakeke people left the town, quite a good number of them did not leave
their villages. They kept on going to their farms from their new locations viz. – Odeomu,
Gbongan, Ikire, Apomu, Ikoyi, Ede, Ipetumodu, etc.




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