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The Ondo Road Eastwards Of Lagos

During the first six decades of the nineteenth century, practically all the trade of the Yoruba country with the Europeans on the coast was done by the western Yoruba peoples – Egba, Egbado, Ijebu and Ibadan. The chief trade routes passed through Egbados, Abeokuta and Ijebu near the coast, and Ibadan in the further hinterland. Moreover, Christian missionary activity spread along these routes, and the two developments – European trade and Christian evangelism – gradually changed the face of the western parts of the Yoruba country.

In this, the eastern Yoruba provinces presented an Important developments were indeed also taking place there. For instance, Ilorin invasions and Ibadan conquest of its northern parts (the Ekitis, Ijesa, Igbomina and Akoko territories) were producing a social – political revolution in this area; while, southwards, the Ondo Kingdom, which had long established order over a large forest country, had wielded much influence over the Ikale and Mahin neighbours in the south, and had a fair amount of trade with its Ijebu neighbours in the west, was badly disrupted by a prolonged war with its Ife neighbour in the north, a war lasting from the 1840s till 1870s.

The point, however, is that these areas remained outside the main streams of European trade and Christian missionary activity – until about 1870, when J.H Glover, then the Administrator of the British Colony of Lagos, began to take steps towards opening a route to the Mahin, Ikale and Ondo territories.

Essentially, J.H Glover saw this new route as a means of promoting more strongly the trade of Lagos with the western Yoruba country. It would give Ibadan (for with J.H Glover expressed a preference over the Egba and Ijebu with whom it was frequently at war) a new route to Lagos, independent of both Egba and Ijebu, seeing that trade was being diverted from their country to the new route, would be compelled to be more inclined to yield to J.H Glover’s appeal for freer access through their country. As it turned out, however, the route did not become merely an instrument for strengthening the western trade.

Copied from J.H Glovers Papers: An undated summary of J.H Glover’s views on the problems of the Lagos hinterland from 1867 to 1872


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