CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the study
Food is a basic necessity for man and animals respectively. Humans need to eat to survive and function in any aspect of the country’s sector. However, in the area under study (Egba and Egbado), agriculture is the mainstay of their economy. About 80% of their total land area is arable and suitable for producing food crops, cash crops and rearing animals. Before Abeokuta became a state capital, its villages and clans had proudly indulged in the cultivation and trading of food and cash crops internally and externally. Among their common food crops is maize. Maize production was on a large scale in the state as the soil and weather were very favourable for the crop. This food crop has multi-benefits which make it a powerful force to reckon with among other crops. Maize can be processed into pap, cornmeal, corn flour, starch, sugar, penicillin, oil, whiskey1 and some other useful finished products.
In this context, maize is important because it has aided the production of a particular snack that has put the people of Egba and Egbado in an enviable position of popularity in Ogun state. According to a Yoruba adage which says, “Inu Ikoko dudu ni eko funfun ti n jade (white pap originates from a black pot)”, Yewa North which is the least mentioned region in the political sector of Ogun state, turns out to be the source of the maize-based snack called Kokoro that has become a very important contributor to the state’s economy.
Snacks are light edibles which are not just crunchy, but also very easy to digest. The Kokoro(Nigerian Masa) which is the main subject of discussion in this study, is a snack which is rich in nutrients and it is very healthy for consumption. Now, it is pertinent to note that it is not as if Ogun state has no other edibles which it produces, but, the creative history behind its Kokoro is too important to be ignored. As small as the snack may seem, it has a deep-rooted background that cannot be ignored. This spurred my interest in the aforementioned study as I reasoned that it would be an historical error if the famous Kokoro Egbado is not documented in written history.
Although much hasn’t been written about this famous snack,it has been playing a vital role in the history of the state and it can no longer be ignored. This snack is cheap and very affordable for the average man and the nutrient it contains is enough to give strength to man to perform better in daily activities. Fresh but twisted is its background and strong is its source which will be carefully treated in this study. Kokoro is connected to two regions in Ogun State,i.e, Egba and Egbado. The Egbas are the ones who are settled in the present day Abeokuta North, Abeokuta South, Ifo, Ewekoro, Obafemi-Owode and Odeda local government areas of Ogun state. The Egbados, on the other hand, are settled in the present day Egbado North, Egbado South, Imeko-Afon, Ipokia and Ado-Odo/Ota local government areas.2
The Egbas have always been in the limelight in Ogun state because they have played important roles in the political sphere of the country. The Egbados became more important when they were connected to the making of Kokoro. Kokoro is produced majorly by three Yewa North tribes which are, Ibooro, Imashayi and Joga-Orile3. The Egbas are also affiliated with the snack production as they involve in its commercialization and consumption. Hence, the popular name, ‘Kokoro Egba’ is earned by the Egbas because they involve in its sales and they have more popularity than the Egados who actually gave birth to the snack. There are many interesting facts tied to the genesis of this snack which will be revealed properly in subsequent chapters.
1.2 Aims and Objectives of the Study
One of the aims and objectives of this study is to provide insight into the source of the maize based snack, Kokoro in details and to contribute to the limited available literature works about Kokoro. In addition, this study also deems it fit to provide us with information on the mode of operation of the Kokoro Egbado industry in the 20th century and how it has impacted the society from which it emanated. Not only does this study aim to discuss the Kokoro industry, it also intends to touch every useful piece of information pertaining to the people who are involved in the production, sales and consumption of the snack.
1.3 Significance of the Study
This study will make it easier for anybody who wants to focus on the Egba and Egbado regions of Ogun state and Kokoro in the future to have easy access to properly documented research about the regions and the indigenous snack.
Also, the knowledge of how Kokoro is produced which any reader can derive from this study can increase the number of self-employed Kokoro producers in the country. This will give a new face to indigenous products and earn it more appreciation by Nigerians and Foreigners. It will also make people think creatively about new methods of production, commercialization and even new products that can be made using maize and other natural resources which are available in Nigeria.
1.4 Scope of the Study
This study revolves around a snack called Kokoro. This study will be covering the Kokoro Egbado industry in Egbado specifically in the 20th century which marked the beginning of the industry. As it is very important in the discipline of History to know the people before knowing their products, the study will take off from an account of the history of the Egba (Abeokuta) and Egbado (Yewa) people of Ogun state who are the producers and sellers of Kokoro . This study will take into cognizance their migratory patterns, socio-economic, political and military dealings with each other which eventually produced the Gateway state in Nigeria.
More specifically, it is noted that there are three major villages that produce Kokoro in Yewa region of Ogun state. These three villages will be studied historically before moving to the core of the study which entails Kokoro production and commercialization. The study will lay more emphasis on the impact of Kokoro in the socio-economic, cultural, political spheres of Yewa and Ogun state at large; without forgetting its impact on the producers as well as the consumers of Kokoro.
1.5 Research Methodology
This study adopts a historical approach by making judicious use of primary and secondary source materials. Primary sources used by the researcher include the following; oral interviews, archival materials, unpublished works, selected speeches, newspapers. On the other hand, textbooks, journals, internet sources, thesis, among others are the secondary sources available to the researcher at the time of this study.
The libraries were the first place of visitation by the researcher. At the libraries, books on historical backgrounds of the Egbas and the Egbados were available but information about Kokoro was not available in books because it is a virgin topic4. As such, the researcher had to focus more on oral interviews than any other sources. Interviews conducted with very important Government officials, Chiefs and titled men in the region, Kokoro producers, market women, taxi drivers who convey Kokoro from the place of production to the markets were very resourceful for this study.