Ilorin Emirate

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Ilorin Emirate
Ilorin Emirate is located in Nigeria
Ilorin Emirate
Ilorin Emirate
Location in Nigeria
Coordinates: 8°30′N 4°33′E / 8.500°N 4.550°E / 8.500; 4.550Coordinates: 8°30′N 4°33′E / 8.500°N 4.550°E / 8.500; 4.550
Country Nigeria
StateKwara State
 • EmirIbrahim Kolapo Sulu Gambari

The Ilorin Emirate is a traditional state based in the city of Ilorin in Kwara State, Nigeria. It is considered to be one of the Banza Bakwai, or copy-cats of the Hausa Kingdoms.

At the start of the 19th century Ilorin was a border town in the northeast of the Oyo Empire, with a mainly Yoruba population but with many Hausa and Fulani immigrants. It was the headquarters of an Oyo General, Afonja, who rebelled against the empire and helped bring about its collapse with the assistance of the Fulani.[1] The rebellion was powered by Nupe and Bornu Moslem slaves.[2] Afonja had been assisted by Salih Janta, also called Shehu Alimi, a leader of the local Fulani. In 1824 Afonja was assassinated and Alimi's son Abdusalami became Emir.[3] Ilorin became an emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate.[1]

For some time Ilorin was a major center of the slave trade. In the past slaves had mainly been sent north across the Sahara, but now they were being sent south via the Yoruba lands to the coast to supply demand from the USA, the West Indies, and Brazil. Slaves were taken from the Igbo lands to the east and from conquered Yoruba towns, as well as from areas further to the north, and were traded for cloth and other goods. Ilorin continued to expand southward until it was checked in the 1830s by the growing power of Ibadan, an Oyo successor state. The Ilorin cavalry were ineffective in the jungle to the south, and by the 1850s Ibadan had access to guns from European traders on the coast.[1] The capital was occupied by the Royal Niger Company in 1897 and its lands incorporated into the British colony of Northern Nigeria in 1900, although the emirate continued to perform ceremonial functions.[4]


Rulers of the Ilorin Emirate:[5]

Start End Ruler
1824 1842 Abdusalami dan Salih Alimi
1842 1860 Shita dan Salih Alimi
1860 1868 Zubayro dan Abdusalami
1868 1891 Shita Aliyu dan Shittu
1891 1896 Moma dan Zubayru
1896 14 January 1914 Sulaymanu dan Aliyu
1915 November 1919 Shuaybu Bawa dan Zubayru
17 February 1920 June 1959 Abdulkadir dan Shuaybu Bawa
30 June 1959 1991 Zulkarnayni Gambari dan Muhammadu Laofe Dan Bawa "Aiyelabowo V"
1992 August 1994 Malam Aliyu dan Abdulkadir
1995 Ibrahim Kolapo Sulu Gambari


Due to Ilorin's unique history, first as a Yoruba imperial outpost, then as a Fulani vassal of the Sokoto Caliphate, it has a kingmaking tradition that is a blend of traditions taken from both sources. Whenever the throne of the emirate (which is vested in the Fulani descendants of Shehu Alimi) is vacant, the holders of the Yoruba chieftaincies of the Mogaji Aare, the Baba Isale, the Balogun Gambari, the Balogun Alanamu and the Balogun Ajikobi, along with that of the Fula Balogun Fulani, both elect and install a new emir, subject to the approval of the governor of Kwara State.


  1. ^ a b c Paul E. Lovejoy (2004). Slavery on the frontiers of Islam. Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 55ff. ISBN 1-55876-329-5. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  2. ^ Rex Seán O'Fahey (1995). Arabic literature of Africa: the writings of the Muslim peoples of Northeastern Africa, Volume 3. BRILL. p. 440. ISBN 90-04-10494-1. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  3. ^ "Ilorin". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  4. ^ "Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Illorin" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 312.
  5. ^ "Traditional States of Nigeria". Retrieved 30 September 2010.