The History of the Yorubas By Samuel Johnson

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The author of this classic work is not to be confused with Samuel Johnson (1709-84), the English essayist, poet, and lexicographer usually known as "Dr Johnson". This Samuel Johnson (1846-1901) was an Anglican vicar of African descent. He was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, but spent his adult life in Nigeria. His peace-efforts in the 1870s contributed to the eventual end of the Yoruba wars in 1886.

In 1880 Samuel Johnson became a deacon and was ordained a vicar in 1888. Claiming Yoruba ancestry, he was concerned that his people were losing their own history and completed the original manuscript of his history of the Yoruba people from his notes in 1897. Whether by accident or design, this completed manuscript was sadly lost. However, after his death, his brother, Dr Obadiah Johnson, produced this work from his notes. It was at last published in 1921. Unfortunately, Obadiah died in 1920 so neither he nor Samuel saw the finished product.

This book remains a key resource for the understanding of Yoruba history.

Any student of political history will be forced to acknowledge the explicit and almost accurate records collected by Samuel Johnson in this book. The book has a vivid picture of a generation of Yoruba Nationhood within Nigerian Nationality, prior to the British invasion and colonalization of Nigeria, Yoruba had been a Nation with an institutionalized government and there is no better place to understand and assess this form of government except in this book, the book is a bag of history, politics and culture of a nation called The Yorubas, it is one of the best book to describe the politics of government in which history defines the terms and culture of power dictates the order.

This is one of my favourite books. It is illuminating and engaging and strangely funny in its quaint often sententious tone. I would recommend it as must-read text for all Yorubas and indeed all interested Nigerians, Beninois and Brazilians. It reminds us of the beauty, pain, violence and resounding relevance of Yoruba culture (easily mirrored in other African ethnicities).  This pioneering volume brought together various oral and recorded accounts of Yoruba history, describing not only political history but also social customs, language and laws. This volume remains the standard reference for the history of the Yoruba people.

The first part of the book discusses the people, their country and language, religion, government, land law, manners and customs. The second part is divided into four periods, dealing first with mytheological kings and deified heroes; with the growth, prosperity and oppression of the Yoruba people; the time of revolutionary wars and disruption; and, finally, the arrest of disintegration, inter-tribal wars, and the coming of the British.
There are two appendices, on dealing with treaties and agreements, the other giving tables of Yoruba kings, rulers, and chiefs. The book also includes an index and map of the Yoruba country.

AUTHOR'S PREFACE pp vii-viii

EDITOR'S PREFACE pp ix-x

Contents pp xi-xviii

1 - INTRODUCTION pp xix-xxii

2 - THE YORUBA LANGUAGE pp xxiii-xxxii

3 - A SKETCH OF YORUBA GRAMMAR pp xxxiii-lvi

PART I - THE PEOPLE, COUNTRY, AND THE LANGUAGE pp 1-2

CHAPTER I - ORIGIN AND EARLY HISTORY pp 3-14

CHAPTER II - THE ORIGIN OF THE TRIBES pp 15-25

CHAPTER III - RELIGION pp 26-39

CHAPTER IV - GOVERNMENT pp 40-78

CHAPTER V - YORUBA NAMES pp 79-89

CHAPTER VI - YORUBA TOWNS AND VILLAGES pp 90-94

CHAPTER VII - THE PRINCIPLES OF LAND LAW pp 95-97

CHAPTER VIII - MANNERS AND CUSTOMS pp 98-140

PART II pp 141-142

CHAPTER I - THE FOUNDERS OF THE YORUBA NATION pp 143-154

CHAPTER II - HISTORICAL KINGS pp 155-160

CHAPTER III - THE KINGS OF OYO IGBOHO pp 161-167

CHAPTER IV - A SUCCESSION OF DESPOTIC KINGS pp 168-177

CHAPTER V - BASORUN GAHA AND HIS ATROCITIES AND ABIODUN'S PEACEFUL REIGN pp 178-187

CHAPTER VI - THE REVOLUTION pp 188-196

CHAPTER VII - THE RISE OF THE FULANIS TO POWER pp 197-205

CHAPTER VIII - CONSEQUENCES OF THE REVOLUTION pp 206-216

CHAPTER IX - FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE ANARCHY pp 217-222

CHAPTER X - SPREAD OF THE ANARCHY pp 223-233

CHAPTER XI - THE REVOLUTION IN THE EPO DISTRICTS pp 234-246

CHAPTER XII - WARS FOR THE CONSOLIDATION AND BALANCE OF POWER pp 247-257

CHAPTER XIII - THE LAST OF KATUNGA pp 258-268

CHAPTER XIV - THE INTERREGNUM pp 269-273

CHAPTER XV - THE NEW CITY, NEW GOVERNMENT, ILORIN CHECKED pp 274-292

CHAPTER XVI - FRATRICIDAL WARS pp 293-307

CHAPTER XVII - SUBJUGATION OF THE IJESAS AND EKITI'S SOCIAL REFORMS pp 308-327

CHAPTER XVIII - A GLORIOUS END AND A GORY DAWN OF TWO REIGNS pp 328-354

CHAPTER XIX - SEQUELS TO THE IJAYE WAR pp 355-364

CHAPTER XX - THE CLOSE AND THE OPENING CAREERS OF TWO HEROES pp 365-382

CHAPTER XXI - TWO ADMINISTRATIONS OF OPPOSITE POLICIES pp 383-395

CHAPTER XXII - A NEW REIGN AND EVIL PROGNOSTICATION pp 396-412

CHAPTER XXIII - THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE 16 YEARS' WAR pp 413-426

CHAPTER XXIV - CONFLICTS IN THE NORTH pp 427-449

CHAPTER XXV - IBADAN AT ITS EXTREMITY pp 450-461

CHAPTER XXVI - FAILURES AT RECONCILIATION pp 462-478

CHAPTER XXVII - A RIFT IN THE CLOUD pp 479-493

CHAPTER XXVIII - THE REV. J. B. WOOD AND THE A.O.K. pp 494-507

CHAPTER XXIX - THE INTERVENTION OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT pp 508-537

CHAPTER XXX - DISPERSAL OF THE COMBATANTS BY SPECIAL COMMISSIONERS pp 538-560

CHAPTER XXXI - DISTURBANCE IN EVERY PART OF THE COUNTRY pp 561-583

CHAPTER XXXII - ABORTIVE MEASURES TO TERMINATE THE WAR pp 584-605

CHAPTER XXXIII - THE DARK BEFORE THE DAWN pp 606-625

CHAPTER XXXIV - THE END OF THE WAR pp 626-637

CHAPTER XXXV - THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BRITISH PROTECTORATE. THE SEQUEL pp 638-650

APPENDIX A - TREATIES AND AGREEMENTS pp 651-668

APPENDIX B pp 669-672

INDEX pp 673-684

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