The story of Moremi; How She Helped The Yoruba People To Defeat The Igbo Raiders in Ile-ife

Queen Moremi Ajasoro was the wife the king of Ile-Ife, Oranmiyan, who was the son of Oduduwa. Ile-Ife was a prosperous town then, and the people lived in peace and harmony until the Igbo raiders came. The Igbo raiders (who are not in any way connected to the Eastern Igbo people of the current day Nigeria) always attacked Ile-Ife dressed like masquerades and spirits. They wore raffia palms that covered their whole body, and their ankles were decorated with beads and shells that made scary noises as they walked.

The people of Ile-Ife were helpless against these raiders because they thought they were spirits from the underworld due to the way they were dressed. Oranmiyan the king was very troubled and sad by this because they had made many sacrifices to appease these so called spirits, but the attacks didn’t reduce.

Queen Moremi, on seeing how sad her husband was vowed to help him bring an end to the madness of the Igbo raiders. Being a brave woman, Moremi was known to be fearless and daring. So, she went to the river Esinmirin as directed by the oracle to find a solution.. On getting to the river, the river goddess promised to help her if she could sacrifice something precious to her. As a Queen, Moremi felt there was no cause for alarm because she had access to all the riches of her husband who was lord over the land of Ile-Ife. She agreed to the terms of Esinmirin, and the goddess told her that she had to make sure that she was captured by the Igbo raiders in the next raid when they come. Moremi went back home and relayed the message to her husband who blatantly refused at first, but later had to agree because he knew Moremi was capable of returning from the land of the raiders.

With the help of some women, Moremi was planted in the village market, and when the raiders came, they captured her easily. Seeing she was a very beautiful woman, and one of the most beautiful in the whole land, she was given to the Igbo king as a wife to marry. It was during her time as a captured slave there that she discovered that the raiders were not spirits, but that they were humans who wore raffia straws as disguise. On learning this, Moremi snuck back to Ile-Ife and gave her people the news. The people of Ile-Ife were very happy, and Oranmiyan was proud of his beautiful wife. Immediately, the king ordered a new war tactic, and the people of Ile-Ife prepared adequately for the next raid. When the Igbo raiders came again, the people of Ile-Ife had readied their torches, and they burnt the raiders who were wearing dry raffia palms as disguise. Most of the raiders died from the fire while others scampered back to safety with various degrees of injuries. The people of Ile-Ife had at last conquered their biggest enemy, all thanks to the bravery of Queen Moremi Ajasoro.

After the victory, Moremi went to river Esinmirin to give thanks for helping her on her journey. She carried lots of cows and offered cowries, but was surprised when the river rejected all. Upon inquiry, Moremi was told by the river goddess that the river wanted her only son Olurogbo as sacrifice. A dejected Moremi pleaded for the river to change its mind, but the river refused, and Moremi had no choice than to sacrifice her only son to the river. When the people heard about the incident, they became sad and wailed for Moremi their hero. Out of gratitude for the sacrifice she made for them, the people of Ile-Ife all promised to serve as sons and daughters for Queen Moremi, the woman who sacrificed her daughter so they could live without fear.

Salaudeen Olayinka

A lover of history

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