ILORIN City according to different historians, is a derivative of “Ibi ti wọn ti n lọ irin,” meaning a place where metals were being sharpened. Another account said it is “Ilu awọn Eerin” habitat of elephants. Though, up till date there is a street closed to Taiwo Oke in Ilorin called Oko-erin (Elephant Forest or Bush”)
But a more realistic account is that of those historians who believed Ilorin was a derivative of “Ibi ti wọn ti n lọ irin,” meaning a place where metals were being sharpened. Because it was reported that there is a small stone (existing up till this moment) inside Bamidele Family Quarters before Idi-ape area where hunters and other people in the early nineteenth century or thereabouts did sharpen their metals.
The Emirate has four major Baloguns (Traditional Chiefs): Balogun Gambari, Balogun Alanamu, Balogun Ajikobi, Balogun Fulani. Others are Balogun Baare, Ajia, Sarkin Gambari and Sarkin Gobir. Ilorin is a melting pot for various tribes who share ancestral link with Fulani, Baruba, Nupe, Hausa, Kanuri, Kamberi and Yoruba.
Ilorin city is divided into two broad parts: Afin or Fada and Oke-imale.
Afin or Fada meaning palace in both Yoruba and Hausa languages respectively comprises Ilorin South, Ilorin East and a small chunk of Ilorin West on which the Emir’s Palace rests – these areas especially Gambari community are mostly inhabited by people of Northern origins such as the Kanuris (known as the Kannikes at Ojagboro), Nupes (at Ojagboro, Pataki, Karuma, Sakama) Fulanis (Emir’s Palace, Emir’s road, Ẹdun etc), Hausas (Ile Sarki, Ile Balogun, Agbede etc.), Kamberis around Awodi area and so on. Though, the people of Idi-Ape are purely Yoruba with ancestral link to Afonja.
Oke-Imale was said to mean the place where the Malians settled following their advent to the city of Ilorin hundreds of years back to spread Islam. It is predominantly occupied by the Yorubas. Though the Solagberus are of Kanuri extraction, the Olufadis are of Fulani origin as the Bature family at Oke-Apomu are Arab from Agadez in Niger Republic.
To the descendants of the reputed Fulani Cleric, Abdulkarim Al-salih Ahmad Janta otherwise known as Shehu Alimi, the city is referred to as “Ilorin Garin Alimi” (Ilorin the city of Alimi) while the descendants of the renown Yoruba warrior, Afonja refer to it as Ilorin Afonja (Ilorin the city of Afonja).
Ilorin is the capital of Kwara State, in the North Central Nigeria. According to the 2006 population census, it is the 7th largest city by population in Nigeria with 777,667 residents. It comprises four Local Government Areas – Ilorin West, Ilorin West, Ilorin South and Asa. Its Emir, Alhaji (Dr) Ibrahim Sulu-gambari is the Chairman of Kwara State Traditional Council. The Ilorin Emirate covers Five LGAs namely: Ilorin West, Ilorin West, Ilorin South, Asa and Moro. It is predominantly a Moslem City.
Garin Alimi is blessed with the following spiritual leaders: Sheikh Muhammad Bashir Salihu, the Chief Imam of Ilorin otherwise known as Imam Fulani, Imam Imale, Sheikh Abdulhamid, Ajanasi Agba, Sheikh Bature Mujtaba, Imam Gambari, Sheikh Sulyman Abdulaziz.
The city boasts reknown Islamic scholars such as Sheikh Tajudeen Al-adaby, Sheikh Tajul Mumin, Sheikh Abdullahi Adam Al-ilory, Sheikh Muhammad Kamaluden Al-adaby, Shazili Sambo, Sheikh Abdullahi Nda Salaty, Sheikh Abdullahi Rofogo, Sheikh Yahya Murtada, Sheikh Sulyman Dan-Borno, Sheikh Usman Sannu Shehu, Sheikh Belgore, Sheikh Ahmad Ikokoro, Sheikh Abdulraheem Abata, Sheikh Sulyman Farouq Onikijipa Almiskin.
The Emir is a descendant of the reknown Fulani Islamic scholar, Sheikh Alimi who migrated from Sokoto to spread the Mohammedan Faith. There is a lingering argument as to whether the city belongs in the South-west or Northern region.
Like other northern emirates, Ilorin holds its durbar festival on the second day of Eidul-Kabir. Durbar is a horse riding event in which the Emir moves round the city and finally retires to his palace.
Another interesting fact about the Islamic city is its state-of-the-art mosque which was renovated in 2007 is adjudged to be second largest in the country with a capacity to contain 20,000 worshipers at once.
Some of notable personalities of Ilorin origin are not limited to but include: Former Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Dr. Olusola Saraki, AbdulRazaq Ganiyu Folorunsho, Senator Sanni Okin, Yusuf Amuda Gobir, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Gbemisola Rukayat Saraki, Senator Ibrahim Yahya Oloriegbe, Turaki Saliu Mustapha, Ambassador Abdulfatahi Yahaya Sarki, Professor Abubakar Suleiman, Waziri Yakubu Gobir, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, Femi Adebayo, Salami Adebayo, Yomi Gold, Ahmed Abdulgafar (Cute Abiola) Maryam Apaokagi (Taooma), Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, Engr. Kale Kawu,