Map of 1817

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This year marks the start of the protracted decline of Oyo, which began with the Muslim slave uprising in Ilorin. In 1817, Afonja, the commander-in-chief of Oyo’s provincial military at Ilorin, had ambitions of taking the throne from Alafin Majutu, who reigned in Oyo from 1802 to 1831. Afonja provoked a Muslim rebellion in the large, provincial military based at Ilorin, which Robin Law has argued “greatly increased the intensity and territorial extent of the disturbances within the Oyo kingdom.” On the map, the yellow polygon reflects the uprising spreading out from Ilorin. The geographical extent indicated therein is a matter of dispute. How to reflect the increasing number of undocumented revolts and disturbances in specific wards of provincial towns is highly uncertain. Nevertheless, Ilorin and surrounding towns asserted independence from Oyo.

Meanwhile, Ife, Ijebu and Ijesa formed a coalition against Oyo and Owu between 1817 and 1822. This war arose following the trade disputes at Apomu. The precise chronology for the Owu War is debatable. Some scholars argue that it began in 1820 and ended in 1827. However, Law’s periodization, which I have adopted, dates the conflict between 1817 and 1822. In order to represent the duration of conflict, red dots are used for the two main Owu towns, Owu Ogbere and Owu Ipole, although there were many more towns not mentioned in the primary sources.

In 1817, seven documented ships departed, six for Brazil from unspecified ports. Another went to Sierra Leone from Ouidah. Total documented and estimated departures, which differed only by two people, was just over 1,700 individuals during this year.

For citations see: Henry B. Lovejoy, "Mapping Uncertainty: The Collapse of Oyo and the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, 1816-1836," Journal of Global Slavery 4, 2 (2019): 127-161. (Open source access).

Documented Slave Voyages in 1817

Voyage ID Name Departure Arrival Individuals
40476 Santana Flor da África (1817) Unspecified Brazil 273
41826 Lucrécia (1817) Unspecified Brazil 183
41827 Lusitânia (1817) Unspecified Brazil 239
46777 Destino (1817) Unspecified Brazil 119
46779 Bonsucesso (1817) Unspecified Brazil 239
49949 Nova Sorte (1817) Unspecified Brazil 239
7677 Esperança Fortuna (1817) Ouidah Sierra Leone 457

*Ship totals with the same number based on imputted data. See Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (