The economic history of Ilorin in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries : the rise and decline of a middleman society
This thesis surveys some of the most important aspects of the economy of Ilorin in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The aspects surveyed are (1) the involvement of Ilorin Town in long-distance trade; (2) three of its major industries, namely, the production of lantana beads, narrow-loom cloth, and pottery; and (3) the town’s agricultural hinterland, called the “metropolitan districts” in colonial times. The initial general impression gained by a student of the Ilorin economy is one of great importance and prosperity in the nineteenth century, followed by a marked decline and failure to redevelop during the colonial period. Thus, a major theme of this thesis is an examination of this impression, with regard to the three aspects named above. Ilorin’s commitment to an intermediary role is of particular importance to an understanding of its prosperity and decline, and this role is examined in the chapters on trade and the metropolitan districts. Further themes include the following: the economic continuities between Old Oyo and Ilorin; the role of the slave trade, slaves and other dependants in the Ilorin economy; the part played in this economy by members of the Ilorin elite; and the similarities and differences between major industrial groups. Prior to the discussion of these themes, a brief outline of the political and administrative history of Ilorin provides necessary background information and an introduction to names and terms.