Isakole and the transformation of agricultural land conflict in colonial Yorubaland


  • Felix Oludare Ajiola University of Lagos, Nigeria



Isakole, Tribute, Land conflict, Cocoa cultivation, Taxation, British colonial capitalism, Idanre-Akure, Yorubaland


This paper, with a focus on the people of the Nigerian towns of Idanre and Akure, (re)considers the genesis of land conflicts in eastern Yorubaland of colonial southwestern Nigeria. The historical method was deployed. Primary sources, notably archival records from the National Archive, Ibadan, the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Owena, and farmers’ unions in the two communities, were used. Memories of the descendants of cocoa farmers were collected, paying attention to the growth of cocoa cultivation and the historical relations between Idanre and Akure people in the pre-colonial period, in addition to secondary sources which were subjected to historical analysis. The expansion of cocoa farms and the ensuing rivalry over the collection of Isakole, an indigenous form of tribute or ground rent, instigated acrimonies among Idanre and Akure Chiefs throughout the colonial period. The animosities culminated, however, in unresolved inter-community disputes and land conflicts between Idanre and Akure. The imbroglio, which affected the rhythms of agricultural life in the two communities, was not only a subject of protracted litigation and arbitration; it claimed an immense number of lives and valuable properties on both sides in the colonial period. The paper argues that the land conflicts were fuelled by unmitigated competition for Isakole between Idanre and Akure chiefs, but the divisive posture of the British colonial authorities over the jostling exacerbated the conflict.


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How to Cite

Ajiola, F. O. (2021). Isakole and the transformation of agricultural land conflict in colonial Yorubaland. Southern Journal for Contemporary History, 46(2), 68-88.