Saturday, May 6, 2023

History of Balogun Gambari


Balogun Gambari



Karara was the Balogun Gambari of Ilorin in the 1870's, a very intelligent Hausa man but very eccentric and unpredictable. He waged many wars against Yoruba people of the Ibolo province. He was hot headed and feared even by Emir Alihu of Ilorin (1866 – 1891). 

He was ruthless and unforgiving. His thirst for blood, even for a warrior was so high that people close to him described him as mentally ill. 1878, Ilorin joined in the siege against Ikirun to sack the city, led by one of its general called Ajia. 

They fought Ikirun from all sides and weakened the City. Ikirun sent to Ibadan for help and the Veteran general, Ajayi Ogboriefon came to the rescue. He intercepted the Ilorin army and broke the calvary ranks. 

Ogboriefon wrecked a lot of physical and mental damage. Ilorin soldiers escaped and Ogboriefon went after them in hot pusuit. Ogboriefon captured many of the top generals and took them back to Ibadan as prisoners. 

They fled towards the wooden bridge of the Otin river at Offa to escape back to their base. The people of Offa destroyed the brigge and when the soldiers got to the river, they had to jump in to swim to the other side to escape Ogboriefon’s pursuit. Thousands of Ilorin soldiers drowned in the river with their horses. The war was called ‘Ogun Jalumi’ because of the large numbers that drowned. 

 Karara raged with anger at at the news. Offa was a vassal state of Ilorin and should have protected Ilorin soldiers. He marched a large calvary to Offa and prepared to invade the city and burn it down. 

A regiment of Ibadan soldiers prepared to intercept him. Emir Alihu asked Karara to step down as he was negotiating the freedom of the senior generals Ogboriefon took to Ibadan as war captives. Karara cursed at his Emir and swore to reject his lordship and replace him with Emir Moma ( Moma has always been his preferred choice of Emir and he eventually had him installed in 1891). 

After a lot of persuasion, Karara was pressured to step down as Aare Latosa of Ibadan insisted that the siege on Offa must be removed before discussions of peace and release of Ilorin prisoners at Ibadan. 1894, few months after the Kiriji peace treaty, major armies of Ibadan, Ilorin, Ijesha and Ekiti dispersed and prepared to march back home few years after the Jalumi war, Karara marched his army to the Otin river and stationed them close to Offa. 

...When news got to Ibadan and Ijesha, they realized Karara was still determined to revenge. Ibadan generals feared he will invade Offa and burn it down if they left for Ibadan. Ibadan offered Karara compensation in exchange for Karara’s promise not to destroy Offa. Karara gave his word and told the soldiers of Ibadan to go home but refused to disband his army. Ibadan then sent word to Emir Moma to plead for Offa. 

The Emir assured them of Offa’s safety and told them to go back home. Ibadan people knew how eccentric Karara was and insisted that the Emir should call Karara home first. With the back and forth getting frustrating, Ibadan decided to go to war with Karara and force him to retreat. In the midst of the tensions, the Olofa died and Ibadan people installed Prince Adegboye as the new Olofa. This got the people of Offa offended. 

Ibadan people did not respect due process for installing an Oba at Offa. In response, the generals at Ibadan reminded them that they were about to engage in war and war costs a lot of money. Adegboye was a man of means. and would be able to finance the war. He also had the largest private militia at Offa. The elders at Offa rejected the views of Ibadan soldiers and showed open rebellion to them and the newly installed king. Some of them went to Ilorin and pledged allegiance to Emir Moma.

 This totally upset the people of Ibadan. Offa people did not understand the complications of the foreign policies of the region. They saw no reason to fight Ilorin for Offa when the people themselves have now pledged allegiance to Ilorin out of spite. Ibadan recalled its army and asked the new Olofa Adegboye to relocate Offa to a new settlement with subjects of the city loyal to him. 

Olofa Adegboye left the city at night with him wives and a large faction of the people who were with him, accompanied by Ibadan soldiers. He settled at a new capital known as Offa-Tedo. This is where Offa is located till today. 

 The next morning, elders of the city went to Karara’s camp to tell him his enemies had left the city and they have pledged allegiance to his Emir. Karara marched into the city, rounded the chiefs and elders, and had their throats slitted while prostrating like fowls. Thus, he had had his desire for revenge over the years for the death of Ilorin soldiers in the thousands because of the bridge destroyed by the people of Offa.

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