Kiriji Stage performance to unite Yoruba, revive history, culture

Ogunsakin Mustapha
7 Min Read

The Stage Performance detailing Kiriji, the epic Yoruba war experiences in the 19th century and listed as one of the longest civil wars in human history is set to be relayed across the South West in the next few months.

The project is put together by Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN and Legendary Productions, an international art and culture concern. The Director of the project is a renowned artiste, Abiodun Abe whose footprints on Nollywood and International film festivals are some of the best in Africa.

According to a statement signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the Publicity Committee of the Project Mr Adewale Adeoye and Segun Balogun the project will draw no fewer than 50 top artistes from across the world with over 10,000 other participants at various levels.

The described the performance as a‘huge project scheduled to see artistes camp for months’ adding that the project will to lead to the establishment of the first Yoruba Museum of War History, the statement noted that ‘Kiriji War is the most significant political event in Yoruba history in the past 500 years. Not just for the fact that It was a battle for Federalism against a garrison state but also that it revealed the science, technology and political content of Yoruba historical struggles, over centuries for justice, liberty and an egalitarian society’ Adeoye and Segun Balogun said.

The media team said the project will lead to the establishment of the first Yoruba Museum of War History, bringing together artefact, the collection of currently dispersed and disorganised art, weapons and historic equipment and assets linked to the war.

‘The Yoruba have a long and amazing history of peace and war. From the primordial times, Yoruba history has been one of the most documented epic, reflecting a rich and remarkable civilization of an indigenous people dating back to the 9th century.

The reference to Yoruba history distinguishes Africa and the black race. This continues to form the bedrock of Yoruba dignity, respect and reckoning across the world’ the media team noted.

Ogedengbe Agbogungboro, the reknown leader of Ijesha warriors

The KirijiWar is one of such noble adventures of the Yoruba people adding that War is not the trade of poor and malnourished people; war has always been the preserve of brave, courageous and heroic people and nations that wage wars are accepted to have a buoyant and prosperous economy.

‘The Kiriji War which lasted from 1776-1886 is one of the most outstanding cultural, political, social, economic and political events in Yoruba history. War is traditionally the preserve of nations that have material and spiritual means.

The Kiriji war lasted for 16 years involving almost all the Yoruba ethnic and sub-ethnic groups.’ Speaking further the team said the Yoruba Nation did not borrow money to prosecute the war; the war had its own rules:

Children were never killed, pregnant women were spared, the aged were spared form the sword of battle while the parties to the war observed moments of cease-fire that lasted for many months, long before the United Nations, UN adopted the UN Convention on War. ‘Though the war led to loss of lives, there were some interesting contents and features of the war including but not limited to political unity, preference for Federalism, economy, culture, military science, diplomacy, intelligence gathering and stories of courage, perseverance and resilience of a people,’ the two said in the statement.

They noted that the Kiriji War also involved technological innovations, research and development. It involved creativity, in science, planning and administration, the warring parties’ explored science and technology in the deployment of their operations.

‘The war also involved military tactics and strategies, training in infantry, navy which often involved the study of plants and the behaviour of animals in developing war operational plans.

The warring parties imported weapons from Europe, specifically Hamburg in Germany which underlined the sovereign powers and prowess of the ancient Yoruba Nation’ they said.
Essentially, the signing of the peace treaty at noon on September 23, 1886 by all prominent Yoruba Obas, in Lagos revisited the Yoruba Nation with a new consciousness of brotherhood and common ancestry and affirming Lagos as pre-eminently a Yoruba dominion, leaving no one in doubt.

The War led to the loss of human lives, hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the defence of their beliefs and an expression of rare passion for their ancestral territory.

Where are the burial grounds of these heroes on both sides? Ancient Ibadan ran an infantry school and a school for primordial military intelligence that made the Ibadan Army one of the most formidable in Africa. Where were these schools located? What were the syllabus employed? Who were their instructors?

The parties in the war also employed weapons of war including local bombs and ballistic weapons, guns and artillery being products of local scientists; the importation of war weapons from Germany stood out the international dimension of the war and the impact on global diplomacy. This is not to forget that the British Army sent a certain Captain to spy on the warring groups, lessons of which were later incorporated in British intelligence and war expedition in Africa and Asia.

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