Balogun Kuku

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Balogun Bello Kuku was an liberal and accomplished Ijebu warrior and businessman who was involved in major events concerning war and peace in Ijebuland during the latter part of the nineteenth century. He was also a controversial figure to some Ijebus especially during the state's conflict with Ibadan.

Kuku, an Ijebu man originally enjoyed commercial success in Ibadan selling arms in an age of war and iron, and had a good working relationship with the then Ijebu military leader, Balogun Onafowokan and the Awujale, Fidipote. However, during the Ekitiparapo war, the Ijebu leadership took an anti-Ibadan stand and and as a war chief, he had to join in the war and support this anti-Ibadan policy led by the Awujale Fidipote. However, the Awujale whose major policy was a blockade of the major trade routes from Ibadan to Lagos had to contend with the growing power and importance of prominent military chiefs who controlled arms, among those were the Balogun Onafowakan and Seriki Kuku, later Balogun. Both Ijebu chiefs led by Kuku sought diplomatic approaches to Ibadan during the Ekiti parapo war and were sometimes sympathetic to Ibadan, they also wanted top relax the economic blockade against Ibadan.

An alliance of Ijebu traders and military personnel opposed to the blockade later led to the deposition of Fidipote.

Between 1886-1892, Kuku found himself at variance with popuar sentiments in Ijebu. By the time, the colonial authorities had annexed Lagos and were seeking means to promote legitimate trade between the coast and the hinterland, a situation supported by Ibadan and Kuku. However, the Ijebu traders and leadership policy was the control of the trade routes between the coast and Ibadan and Oyo and exclujding strangers from profiting in their land. Kuku during the period was seen as a saboteur to the monopolistic role in the trade with Lagos and was later exiled to Ibadan.

In 1892, when the colonial authorities launched a successful expedition against Ijebu, Kuku became a key figure in negotiations between the British and Ijebus. By then, Kuku had most likely been exposed to Islam along with a few wealthy Ijebu traders stationed in Ibadan where a place called Isale Ijebu was close to the Hausa quarters called Onigambari. In 1902, he publicly became identified with Islam.