The African country of Nigeria is the homeland of the Yoruba people, and the Forest, or the Igbo people. In the 12th century, the Igbo were known for raiding the Yoruba kingdom of Ile Ife, battling and enslaving the Yoruba people. The Igbo wore raffia palm tree leaves and costumes when raiding Ile Ife. Because of the leaves, costumes, and the severity of the raids, the Igbo were seen as spirits, leaving the Yoruba feeling helpless against the raids of the Igbo. Queen Moremi was one of the wives of Oranmiyan Omoluabi Odede, the heir to the Kingdom of Ile Ife. Queen Moremi was well-known for her beauty and courage, but she was also one of the citizens of Ile Ife who wanted to put an end to the raids of the Igbo. Queen Moremi pondered for days about a way to help her people defeat the Igbo. She then devised a plan that included visiting the gods of the river Esimirin to offer a sacrifice, in return, she would learn what the strength of the Igbo was and how to defeat them.
Queen Moremi visited the gods of the river Esimirin and promised to offer the greatest sacrifice she could, in return to learn the Igbo strengths and save her people. After promising her sacrifice, she left the river and traveled to the area of Ile Ife that was most frequently raided by the Igbo, sacrificing herself by allowing herself to be enslaved by the Igbo. She was then transported to the Igbo kingdom where she was initially kept as a slave. Queen Moremi’s plan was unfolding. The second part of her plan was to get captured by the Igbo so she could infiltrate their kingdom to learn their strength. Because she was astonishingly beautiful, the Igbo King noticed her beauty and quickly became interested in her. The third part of her plan was happening. She used her beauty, wit, and charisma to charm the king, he eventually fell in love with her, giving her his full trust.
After wooing the king, Queen Moremi was able to travel the Igbo lands learning why the Igbo were so powerful. Before going to battle with the Yoruba, the Igbo warriors covered their bodies with bamboo fibers and ekan grass along with incantations for their spiritualists. But the incantation had a weakness. If someone was to approach and pass through the Igbo warriors with a torch, the incantation would be released and the Igbo would be able to be defeated. After Queen Moremi gathered this critical information, she escaped the Igbo kingdom and returned to Ile Ife. She reunited with her husband and shared with the Yoruba army the secrets to the Igbo’s strength. With the information provided by Queen Moremi, the Yoruba went to war with the Igbo. They used torches to render the Igbo incantations useless. Now vulnerable to the attacks of the Yoruba, the Igbo were finally defeated, ending their warring and enslaving of the Yoruba. After the victory, the Yoruba people celebrated, but Queen Moremi had to keep her promise of sacrifice to the God of the Esimirin River. The life of her son Olurogbo was requested by the river gods. Because she did not expect the life of her son to be sacrificed, she pleaded with the river gods to ask for anything else but her son. The river gods only wanted her son. To avoid angering the river gods, she kept her promise and sacrificed her son. Because of her heroics and continued sacrifices for the freedom of her people, Queen Moremi is venerated and celebrated by the Yoruba people. The 4th tallest statue in Africa is dedicated to her, the Edi Festival was created to celebrate her, and a number of buildings in Nigeria are named after her. The legend of Queen Moremi lives on to remind us all that we have the power to change our lives, we just have to use it. To the legendary Queen Moremi Ajasoro, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
Click here to learn more about the OTSOG book series.
Click Here to join our mailing list