The Church Missionary Intelligencer (February 1864)
The late Are of Ijaye.
A story is current in the interior Yoruba towns about this Chief, which shows, that though his character is stained by not a few of the worst sins, he was not unable to appreciate great affections or high principle in others.
When the Ibadans came and encamped before Ijaye, Are made it a law that every Ibadan prisoner taken should be beheaded with as little delay as possible.
In the Ibadan camp was a young man, the only son of his mother, who was a widow. The mother could not be prevailed upon to remain at home and allow her son to go to the camp alone : where he went she determined to follow.
In one of the battles this young man was taken a prisoner by the Ijayes. When the Ibadans returned to their camp he was missed, and, after the closest search, was nowhere to be found.
The inconsolable mother took the first opportunity of leaving the Ibadan lines, and entered the town Ijaye, and was soon brought before the Chief, whom she thus addressed — “ I have come to seek my son who was taken in the battle. If you have killed him, kill me. If you have beheaded him, behead me. If you put him into fetters, put me into fetters. Only let me be as he is, and I am satisfied.”
The Chief beheld her for a few moments with astonishment ; and then gave orders that she should be shown the heads of some who had just been decapitated.
She searched, but found not her son. She returned and told this to the Chief, who commanded those in fetters to be shown to her.
Here she saw, and, to her unutterable delight, embraced her son, who was still alive. She came and told this to the Chief, and begged to be put in fetters and placed near her son.
Hereupon he ordered the fetters of the young man to be struck off, and the captive brought before him; which, being done, the Chief, turning to the mother, said, “ I am delighted with you : you are a worthy woman. The son of such a woman must be good and brave.”
And taking his sword, and placing it in the young man’s hands, said, " Your life is spared, and I make you my sword-bearer .” — Iwe Irohin.
- Yoruba mother and child from The Church Missionary Gleaner (November 1874)