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Civilisation — Effect of Superior Weaponry on Conquest, Colonisation and Preservation
A civilisation must embrace science, innovations, technology and epistemology towards not only building a sovereign nation but to sustain…
A civilisation must embrace science, innovations, technology and epistemology towards not only building a sovereign nation but to sustain and defend it against alien forces who will covet it.
In 2018, I watched Marco Polo for the first time. Recently, I watched it again along with The Fall of Constantinople featuring Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire. The Walls of Constantinople fell to the Basilic, also called the Ottoman Cannon, was a very large-calibre cannon designed by Orban (a Christian), a cannon engineer. It was the largest cannons in history during those periods.
In Marco Polo, when Kublai Khan was to conquer the Song Dynasty to unite China, Marco Polo drew the wheel and catapult machine for him. Marco Polo was a christian from Venice. The Wall of Constantinople was impenetrable before the cannons were produced, so also the Wall of Song empire was impenetrable before the catapult machine.
With this, my belief in the realisation that innovations, research and science, not spirituality, are primary to winning wars was reenforced. The conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire and his elite soldiers called the Jennisarie, and the conquest of Song Empire by Kublai Khan of Mongol Empire were accomplished with technology and the consequences of the conquest of Constantinople are still felt till today.
Likewise, superior weaponry and it’s relevant innovations especially European made guns were very essential in colonization across the world.
The subjugation of the Yorùbá Civilisation
Starting from the Òyó dynasty, across the expanse of Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá (the lands of the Yorùbá) and the various kingdoms that had been parts of Òyó dynasty, wars swept through the whole of Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá. As they did, they resulted in an array of demographic, economic, social and political developments and changes.
Concurrently, the legal abolition and gradual demise of the Atlantic slave trade opened up a new era in which they gradually drew the productive Yorùbá economy into that of Europe and the wider world. Also, European political influence grew, culminating at the end of the century with the imposition of European imperial rule over all the length and breath of Yorùbá, including its people.
The disintegration and collapse of the Òyó
Òyó was the last dynasty and one of the highest accomplishment of the Yorùbá civilisation and Ìlú Òyó (the city of Òyó) the main kingdom that served as its core and capital. Since it’s fall, none is yet to be successful in replicating its role of unity, protection, prosperity and leadership.
The wars generated by the process of its disintegration were not merely the first wars in nineteenth century Yorùbá history, but proved to be the precursors of wider storms of war that came to rage all over Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá for the rest of the century.
The disintegration of Òyó destroyed the pre-existing system of order and security in Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá and created a situation whereby all centers of power, old and new, had to scramble to establish a new hierarchy, systems and patterns that would guarantee order and security. Those efforts created conflicts and wars which we could not end until the European powers illegally intervened and imposed “their own system of order, security and peace”.
For two full centuries prior to the nineteenth century, Òyó had exercised powerful influences for peace cross Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá — both directly and indirectly. Indirectly, Òyó and other provinces amounted to a very substantial part of the empire under the reign of Aláàfin. As a part of Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá, Òyó comprises about half of the land area and probably more than half of the total population.
For two centuries, this extensive area under the reign of Aláàfin enjoyed orderly government, peace, prosperity, security, and pride. The domains under the Aláàfin were like a wide umbrella of peace and order, shielding and transmitting peace to the rest of Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá. In short, in an indirect, intangible, but very real way, the domains under the Aláàfin laid down the standard of order and peace, and thus encouraged and guaranteed order and peace in the rest of Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá.
Directly, widespread Yorùbá civilisation & traditions attest to the interventions by the Aláàfin in disputes within and between kingdoms beyond his own domains — interventions that usually maintain or restore peace.
When, therefore, in the course of the first decades of the nineteenth century, Òyó Kingdom and Ìlú Òyó disintegrated, the once proud state of the Aláàfin fell into dissolution, a major pillar of peace in the Yorùbá civilisation crumbled.
The 19th century Yorùbá civil wars
This can be divided into three stages:
The first stage 1813 to 1837
This period signalled the collapse and suppression of Òyó and the outbreak of the decade long Owu war between 1812–1822, which is the first of the many civil wars that will come to plague Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá. The Owu war was the precursor to the troubles Yorùbá civilisation faced. Suzerainty over the Bariba had been lost in 1783 and, in 1791, Òyó also lost its suzerainty over the Nupe. Province by province, the empire was melting down.
The second stage 1837 to 1878
The struggle to fill the vacuum left by the decline of Òyó characterized this period. This power rivalry was primarily between Ibadan and Abeokuta/Ijaye. Significantly, this period also marked the first direct intervention by the British in the affairs and civil war of the Yorùbá. Specifically, when Gov. Glover of the Lagos colony dispatched a regiment to repel the Egba from the siege of Ikorodu.
The third stage
This last phase was characterized by the rise of the Èkìtì–Parapo and other coalitions of Ijebu and Ilorin against Ibadan, which was already filling the vacuum of disintegrated Òyó.
Weaponry in 19th century and the effects on colonization
A series of internal internecine wars ravaged Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá during this period and resulted in weakening the empire to the delight of external vultures.
Like other instances of British conquest, Ile Yorùbá was ravaged in internecine warfare in the 19th century. These wars coincide with the age of colonization around Africa and Asia. Even before the abolishment of the slave trade, wars and turmoil had ravaged Ile Yorùbá, weakening it for vultures to devour into its current state. A state where a civilisation of such importance and accomplishments has been reduced to a tribe and its land split between three countries in West Africa with no sovereignty.
In Yorùbá history, the nineteenth century was a century of tumultuous happenings, of the coming and growth of powerful new external influences, and of profound, transformational changes. From about the middle of the century, Christian missions penetrated Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá and quickly spread all over. Christianity brought with it Western education, and thus inaugurated the emergence of a literate, Western-educated, elite.
The 19th century saw Yorùbá war and strife internally, without an end. This provided external influences easy access to dismember the civilisation by arming all sides and ensuring the war dragged on until they achieved colonisation from both the sea (through Lagos) and the north (through Ilorin) of the Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá.
The First Use of European guns in a Yorùbá war
As it was during the early periods of the Iron age where stone and bronze were eclipsed by the superior qualities of iron, so too did guns, rifles, and cannons change the face of warfare permanently.
The usually formidable Owu army marched out to meet the Ifè-Ijebu allies, but the allies proved to be stronger as the Ijebu army were armed with guns bought from European traders at the coast. Owu army fell back to their city, which was then besieged by the allies while the chiefs of Òyó who had gotten Owu into this situation could not help the Olowu, as they too were preoccupied with the troubles of their own across Ilẹ̀ Yorùbá. The meddlesomeness of indigenes of both sides resident in Lagos through supply of modern European weapons of warfare to their compatriots, especially the Ijesha indigenes in Lagos, protracted the war beyond expectation.
Apart from this source, the allied groups involved in these wars on all sides also had access to weapons and ammunition, such as flintlock guns with large muzzles imported through the Benin Kingdom. This increased their advantage over the Ibadan forces. It was not until the brutal, decisive defeat of Ijebu in 1892 did the Imagbon war between British and Ijebu came to an end. Despite Ijebu outnumbering the British, they were brutally defeated and left in a hopeless state because of the array of guns the British held.
Why were Europeans successful in their illegal conquests so far from home?
It’s simple, a significant use of what was at the time classified as modern weaponry was largely responsible for the crushing defeat of the Ijebu and others by the British. The introduction of the maxim gun, 7-pounder mountain gun, and rockets into the Lagos force changed the nature of the war to one which we and other civilisations across the world found difficult to cope with.
Despite having firearms imported from Europe, the implication of this evolution in warfare was lost on the Ijebu, who lacked any capacity to replicate, equate or negate this innovation. The Owu suffered the same fate at the hands of the Ife-Ijebu soldiers because they lack access to firearms, which Ijebu traded Europeans for.
Throughout history, reluctance to embrace the evolution in warfare, including weaponry and strategy, has led civilisations to be subjugated, colonised, assimilated, and in fact has resulted in the complete erasure of many such know and forgotten civilisations from the world.
The Aztecs were one such civilisation erased from the world by the industrial scale genocides carried out by the Spanish invaders. Today, the vestiges of the civilisation are used to prop up a unified Mexico, while its language, the Nahuatl language, is today spoken by a sum of 1.5 million people who reside mostly in mountainous areas in the states of central Mexico.
For different African civilisations that managed to survive against all odds to 2022, there are lessons to learn from the Jewish experience pragmatically without the need to repeat history. Either you’re Yorùbá, Igbo, Tiv, Ewe, Ashanti, Akan, or others, chasing economy prosperity without a corresponding investment in the proper means of violence to secure it is simply a fool’s errand. Today, Isreal is feared by all, including us. The Jews weaponised their past pains and sorrow and said never again. The Chinese too did the same.
It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
They have come to understand the benefits of sovereignty, success and strength is what the world respect and not postulations of a collective humanity. The fore purveyors of collective humanity are the first to truncate it the moment it proves itself useless to serve their interests. It has been repeatedly proven that the economic growth achieved over a century can be destroyed in less than a decade by intentional instigation of external forces. Security is most important and a lack of it is an impediment to a nation’s unity, statehood and interests.
Only we could not use our experiences, past and present, to forge a future for ourselves. Why do we not forge ahead and weaponise our past as the Chinese, Indians and others have done with their 19th century sorrows, tears and blood?
The experiences of WWII, the Holocaust, and others thereafter changed the fundamental understanding the Jewish people had about the world and its peculiarities. In response, they crafted Zionism to fulfil the need for a collective bond, the revival of Hebrew and their civilization, and the achievement of collective Jewish prosperity. They ensured the establishment of a Jewish homeland over which they will have perpetual security and complete control.
Even pariahs like North Korea among the committee nations will continue to exist no matter how much they are hated. Although they are hated, they are more so feared and tolerated because of the nuclear capabilities they possess by their siblings in the south and its allies. Likewise is Russia, China, Iran among others.
In the final year of WWII, despite being unnecessary, the USA dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This led to the US enforcing its near primacy and hegemony, which was perfected after the fall of the Soviet Union. China currently has developed not only the capacity of technology, innovation and nuclear deterrence but also made considerable achievements in next generation weaponry, including being the second nation after Russia to possess a fully function hypersonic weapon system.
[…] China’s industrial and technological achievement must neither be crippled nor destroyed. Also, Russia’s capacity as a giant in various sectors must not be shredded to pieces for pickings. These two nations among others including India and Iran, must be allowed to flourish. As challenging as this will be, this is a very difficult job which must be accomplished concurrently with other equally crucial tasks at stake — On Dragon-Bear and Multipolarity.
For the Yorùbá and other civilisations truncated by the illegal Berlin conference, we must, as a civilisation embrace science, innovations, technology and epistemology towards not only building a sovereign nation but also to sustain and defend it against alien forces who will covet it. We must develop all necessary advancements, including social, economy and technological, around a core of security. If we fail at this, we shall have no say amongst the committee of nations.
Beyond the Berlin Border — Restoring Africa’s Nations and Civilisations
Despite our struggles, we are still stuck in the 19th century and our souls continue to revolt in rejection of the…blog.thinkyorubafirst.org
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Author — Adejumo David Adebayo
Originally published on Asiri Oro