Sunday, July 4, 2010


Moremi is a figure of high significance in the history of the Yorubas of the Southwest Nigeria. Ile- Ife,a town located in South Western Nigeria, was at that time subject to fierce raids by the Igbos who were of such a fear instilling appearance in battles that the Ife people thought them not human but a visitation sent by the gods in punishment for some evil. In vain did they offer sacrifices to the gods, the raids of these strange beings continued and the land was thrown into a state of panic.
The heroic Moremi Ajansoro desiring to bring an end to this condition of affairs resolved to let herself be captured during one of the raids (slavery) so that she might be carried as a prisoner to the land of the Igbos and learn all their secrets. Bidding farewell to her husband and little son, she went to a certain stream (Esimirin stream), consulted it and promised the goddess of the stream that if her attempt was successful she would offer him the richest sacrifice she could afford.

As this self less and patriotic warrior planned, she was captured by the Igbos and carried away to their capital as a prisoner. For her beauty, she was given to the king of the Igobs as a slave and for her intelligence and noble heart she soon gained the respect of all and rose to position of importance and significance among the Igbos. Subsequently, she started learning all the secrets of her enemies and found that they were not gods but ordinary men and that on going into battles, they wore strange mantle of grass and bamboo fibre and this accounted for their unnatural appearance. She also learnt that because of these mantles of dry grass, they were much afraid of fire and that if the Ife people were to rush among them with lightened torches, they would quickly be defeated. As soon as she completed her assignment, she escaped from the palace and from the territory of the Igbos and returned to her own people. She was well received and celebrated by her people on her return and shortly afterwards, the Igbos were ultimately defeated by the trick Moremi had learnt and suggested.

Moremi now went back to the river and made a seemingly great sacrifice of sheep, fowls and cattle but alas! the goddess of the river was not satisfied and demanded the life of her only son, Oluorogbo. Sorrowing Moremi was forced to consent and sacrificed the handsome dude. The Ife saw this as a sad event and promised to be her sons and daughters forever to make up for the loss.

This spectacular gesture is today remembered in Ile- Ife annually during the Edi festival. The festival, which spans seven days is usually solemn with some clapping but no drumming. A wrestling match symbolising the struggle of the Igbo with the Ile Ife people is enacted in front of the palace of the Ooni, the king of Ile- Ife. On the seventh day, a goat is sacrificed to carry away the ills of the city and it is believed that this goat represents Oluorogbo and his sacrifice for the well being of the society.

Till date, Moremi remains a legendary warrior of the Yoruba race and celebrated for her courage, selflessness, patriotism, bravery etc (and one more thing, for her kamatos tos!)
 by Fatimah Oluwakemi Bello, MILEAD Fellow 2009/2010

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