Nigeria

Efunsetan Aniwura of the 19th Century: a Powerful Ibadan Heroine and Notorious Slave Owner

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Efunsetan Aniwura was born in Ikija-Egba in the 1820s,  Aniwura’s family was a migrant from Egbaland in the present-day Ogun State and moved to Ibadan after the fall of Ikija in the 1820s. Her father, Chief Ogunrin, was a warlord from Ikija while her mother was from Ife.

Her Position

Efunsetan Aniwura was the second Iyalode of Ibadan and one of the prominent slave traders in the 19th century in Ibadan. This was an era of the slave trade. She was a shrewd businesswoman and was venerated for her wealth. Her sphere of influence spanned politics, religion, military and the economic life of the people.

Her entrepreneurial drive was reported to have begun when she was a child. She accompanied her mother, a petty trader, to the market to sell her wares.

Aniwura lost her only daughter at birth. The situation later changed the way she related to people, especially her workers.

She was credited for having over 2,000 slaves and multiple farms, Aniwura left Egbaland to Ibadan, as a way of expanding her trade. Ibadan, then, was a more enterprising town for businesses than any other town in the region.

Economic Activity

She sold agricultural produce, tobacco, slaves, local cosmetics and kijipa cloths a special Yoruba cloth woven with cotton. She traded with people from Port Novo, Badagry, Ikorodu and even Europeans.

Aniwura was industrious in her trade, she also faced stiff competition and the instability of the era influenced her leadership style. She became highhanded.

In spite of her autocratic, she became the second Iyalode of Ibadan in the 1860s and also the patron of the Anglican Church of Ibadan for her involvement in strengthening Christianity in the region.

On May 1, 1874, Aare Ona Kakanfo Latoosa removed her as Iyalode of Ibadan for politically motivated allegations. She was fined and she paid all the fines levied against her.

Her Death

Nonetheless, Latoosa was still not pleased with her because she was held in high esteem by the high chiefs and within the community. She also held a very strong political view against Aare Latoosa.

Meanwhile, Latoosa felt menaced by Aniwura’s affluence and power, so, on June 30, 1874, he organised with Kumuyilo
Aniwura’s adopted son and two other servitudes to murder Aniwura in her sleep.

During her epoch, Aniwura assisted to build and defending Ibadan against her enemies. Ibadan’s army depended on her for military equipment, which they got on credit from her.

Subsequently, Egba chiefs heard of Aniwura’s death and demanded an inquiry. After the investigations, the two slaves were executed, while Kumuyilo was removed as the head of Aniwura’s family.

Aniwura’s statue is at Challenge Roundabout in Ibadan.

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