The Oyo and Benin grew powerful because of the slave trade. The men of Oyo and Benin fought and captured the men of other tribes and sold these captives as slaves to the European.

Through these slave wars, Oyo and Benin were able to conquer more territories. The third state, the Fulani state grew important because of religion of Islam.

Many Muslims in the Fulani state fought to defend their religion. Through such wars the Fulani state became bigger and more powerful. They defeated first, the Hausa nations, then the Southern people.


When the Yorubas first moved into the West Africa they probably came from the East. They conquered the state of Ile Ife. In Ile Ife there were already artists and craftsmen. We know this because many pieces of sculpture have since been found there.

The strong group of these Yorubas lived at Oyo, north of Ile Ife; their chief was the Alafin of Oyo. The Oyo were a strong people and famous soldiers. They began conquering other states and soon the Oyo state covered all Yoruba land (ie Oyo, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Illorin, Ekiti, part of Benin and even a part of present-day Dahomey).

The Alafin Land stretched as far as Borgu, Nupe and Dahomey. From these States the people brought him tribute (tribute means gifts paid by a state that has been conquered).

All men had to fight in the army, unless they were old or sick, and each dry season an army army went out to conquer new states. However, If the army was beaten, the soldiers were not allowed to return to Oyo.

Oyo became a great and wealthy state. Much of the wealth came from the slave trade. The men of Oyo captured men of other tribes and sold them as slaves.

But towards the end of Century, the governors and chiefs of the provinces of Oyo became dissatisfied because the Alafin was a cruel, harsh ruler and took all the wealths from the provinces for himself.

They wanted a share of this wealths. The people of these provinces also wanted to rule their own lands and not be subjects of Alafin.

The Fall Of The Great Oyo Empire:

In the 19th century, the chiefs of the provinces rebelled against the Alafin. The war between the different provinces lasted for a long time and gradually the great Oyo empire broke up, weakened by disputes within and attacked by stronger nations.