Olugbo unveils other side of Moremi
The expansive Obamakin Osangangan Royal hall in Ode-Ugbo, Ilaje local council of Ondo State was filled to capacity with jubilant sons and daughters of the ancient town for an unusual ceremony to teach a lesson in history and set records straight.
To the hundreds of gaily-dressed women and men, decked in white attires and red caps to match, their joy climaxed as the Olugbo of Ugbo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Fredreick Obateru Akinruntan publicly revealed Ugbo version of the history of Moremi Ajasoro, a wife of Olugbo and Ife heroine to the whole world.
Not only was the story told, but also a diminutive and submissive statute of Moremi as a wife of Olugbo was also unveiled. The effigy portrays Moremi kneeling down to beg for forgiveness from her estranged husband.
Gracing the event, which Olugbo said would be celebrated on every eighth day of August, were many Yoruba traditional rulers, academic Historians and students of Obafemi Awolowo (OAU) Ile-Ife and Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo. They were allowed to ask questions for further insight into pre-Oduduwa era of Yoruba land.
If Moremi was being celebrated in Ile-Ife as a goddess and liberator of her people because of her unusual courage in sacrificing herself to be captured by Olugbo warriors, who were in war of supremacy and ownership of the land with Oduduwa descendants, to Ugbo people, she was a traitor and a classic example of how not to be a wife.
That Moremi has become a goddess in Ile Ife is not in doubt, what with the many tales, folklores and songs dedicated in reverence to her. Indeed, in November 2016, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi unveiled a 42-foot effigy to commemorate her importance in Ife history.
However, to Ugbo people, such celebration was to further distort history and underplay her role as Olugbo’s wife.
Oba Akinruntan said: “I stand for the truth and I am ready to prove that truth to all lovers of truth. We should stop telling lies that have been causing confusion in our land. For many years, one side of
Yoruba history has been told, and this is the time to let people know those areas people have been silent about.
“Yoruba did not start with the arrival of Oduduwa at Ile Ife. He met 16 communities that Olugbo Obamakin Osangagan was ruling over. But unknown to many, the Moremi that many people have ignorantly deified as a goddess did not descend from heaven. She was Olugbo’s wife. She gave birth to our forefather, but later betrayed her husband.
“The story of Moremi is a story of betrayal. She was a story of a woman that wasn’t virtuous, because if she had not betrayed her husband, the story today would have been different. Moremi was not the kind of wife any man should pray to have.
“We are using the statue of Moremi to warn our women of the present time that as they ask for more roles in politics and governance, they should not see position of power as an opportunity to betray their husbands, but to remain loyal and faithful.
“As for us in Ugboland, we have learnt a lesson on why we should not marry a woman like Moremi, and I pray that such calamity would not befall any Yoruba man again.”
On the significance of erecting Moremi effigy near his palace, Oba Akinruntan said: “It is a taboo in Yoruba land for a monarch to divorce his wife, and that is why I brought Moremi back to her husband’s home.
“The people of Ife were tired of the incessant Ugbo warriors’ raids, which rendered them hopeless. At the consultation of Ifa, they were instructed to leave a fair, pretty virgin at the market for the Ugbo warriors to capture, which they did. Moremi was captured along other slaves.
“On arrival at the Ugbo Oke-Mafurangan transit camp, the Olugbo, Obamakin Osangangan sighted the beautiful damsel and asked that she be brought to him and not taken to the slave quarters. Moremi
became the beloved wife of Olugbo and took advantage of his love and affection for her to find out the secret behind Ugbo warriors’ gallantry. Without thinking twice, due to his trust in her, the Olugbo told Moremi that the supposed spirits that raided Ife Market were mere mortals. He went further to disclose how they could be disarmed.
“On hearing this, Moremi ran away with the child she had for the Olugbo, Obamakin Osangangan. On her arrival at Ife, she disclosed what she learnt from her husband, which made Ugbo warriors to become vulnerable and demystified, as a result of which seven of the 16 warriors stayed back in Ife and nine resolved to return to Ugbo.”
He continued: “A lot has been distorted, omitted and twisted in the pre-Oduduwa history, and not just the story of Moremi. We must correct these for the sake of generations unborn. There is no reason to suppress the history of a people. This has been done for too long. But we have started to let people know that the history of Yoruba people did not begin with Oduduwa. I sit on the foremost traditional stool in Yoruba land and that must be recognised. Many traditional rulers in Yoruba land will attest to this.
“A lot of people will, however, believe that the Olugbo and Ugbo people should be hostile towards Moremi, but this is not the case. There is no event without its lesson. Moremi taught the Ugbos a lesson, and one of such is the fact that Ugbos do not marry fair women, as she was very fair.
Also speaking at the event, a Professor of History from the OAU, Prof Akin Alao commended the monarch for his efforts at promoting the historical facts of Yoruba land and Ile Ife.
He said there are many empirical facts to support the assertions made by Olugbo about pre-Oduduwa era, which scholars have not explored well.
He explained that he had carried out some research into the Ugbo/Ife history, and he discovered that a lot remained untold. He urged students at the occasion to take advantage of this and go deep into research to unfold the truth.
For another Cultural Historian and Provost Adeyemi College of Education, Professor Otukoya Oghe, the event was part of a process to deepen knowledge for people to know the other side of Moremi, as history has many sides.
He said: “A coin has two sides. A side of Moremi has been well narrated, and it is equally good for people to know her other side.”
Professor Oghe stated that he did a research on the Ugbo Ilaje history and discovered that they occupied the pre-Oduduwa history of Ile-Ife. He corroborated the Olugbo’s account and urged students at the event to take up the challenge to correct history.
Oba Sunday Adejinmola, Amuseghan, Lawe 11, Kalasuwe of Apoiland, said he had always been of the opinion that “there should be a pre-Oduduwa history of the Yorubas, since Oduduwa came in from the east.”
He added that he was happy that history was being put right with the event and other facts unfolding.
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