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Ire Èkìtì: Full Story of Ògún, Yorùbá God of War



In Yorùbá narrations, there are actually two different, prominent people bearing the name Ógùn. This but reinforces that Ògún was a popular name in those days but probably stopped using as main name, but prefix after the apotheosis of Ògún Lákaaye, also known as Ògún On’Irèé (Ògún, founder of Iree). At no point of discussion do the Yorùbá mixes these Ògúns, as each couldn’t possibly be same person. Let’s discuss the other two.

Except the Ìṣòoro in Ọọni’s Palace, nothing is known of Ògún, the third Ọọni of Ìfẹ́. He was the Ọọni after Ọsangangan Ọbamakin and before Ọbàlùfọ̀n Gbongbodirin.

It should be note that the name Ọbàlùfọ̀n too seem a common name then, e.g Ọbàlùfọ̀n Ogbogbodirin, Ọbàlùfọ̀n Aláyémọrẹ and M’Ọbàlùfọ̀n Ade (Ọmọ Ọbàlùfọ̀n Adé). The last being the founder of Ifọn Orolu in Osun State.

On the second Ògún, popularly known as Ògúnláàni, we have extensive details, as his story is told thus: there are two blacksmiths created by Olódùmarè, one in Heaven and one on Earth. Kọbáàwo is given as the former name and Láàni.

He was said to have ‘come from heaven’ to Òótu Ìfẹ́ where he started teaching people art of blacksmithing and war, the former was obviously alien to this people. He eventually settled down among people and got married.

As it is in human nature, people soon found pretext and conspired against him. But all efforts to subjugate him both physically and spiritually failed. Ultimately, they bribed his wife to reveal his secret. Like Delilah of old, she told them that Ògúnláàni was at his weakest when taking afternoon nap, hence could be killed then. His food mainly was cooked or roasted yam with palm oil poured upon and Palm Wine. He is said to love this delicacies because palm oil was the anciently-known Oil, used for diversed purposes; even in his job as a blacksmith. Also, it was the fuel used for Àtùpà. Yam could be burned in the smithery’s furnace. Thus, the two could be said to be choice due to availability.

On the agreed day, the killers come for Ògúnláàni while taking nap. They are said to try strangle him but he subdued them by superior force. And when he subsequently knew how he was betrayed. He despised corruption of mankind, left them and ‘returned to heaven.’ Till date, he is worshipped at a shrine dedicated to him by the Ìṣòoros as one of deities worshipped 364 out of 365 days in Ilé Ìfẹ́.

Scientifically, Ógùn Lákaaye didn’t go to ‘heaven’, he simply migrated to Iree-Ekiti.

According to an article titled, “Ire-Èkìtì: Town Where Ogun, Yorùbá god of Iron, ‘Disappeared’ ” inter alia: “Ogun was a warrior during his lifetime and he fought for our ancestors. We celebrate him because if we don’t, he will be angry and start killing our people.

“He migrated from Ile-Ife, Osun State, to settle in Ire-Ekiti. Here, he became Ogunnire, meaning Ogun of Ire. I am a descendant of Ogunnire. He disappeared into the earth at Iju, Iju Are is his home and he commanded us to be calling him at that spot whenever we need him.

“The story of Ogun’s sojourn from other parts of the Yoruba land to Ire-Ekiti is known in details by almost every son and daughter of Ire-Ekiti and they are very proud to tell it.

“Ogun at a time in history settled in this town after fighting wars all over the Yorubaland. But he was approached to fight war for the people of Ondo land. He left his son, Ire, to hold brief as the traditional head of this town till he would come back. Ire, was in charge of this town for a long time that Ogun was away fighting the war of Ondo people. The time was so long that the Ire-Ekiti people thought Ògún had probably become too old to return home or pass on and wholeheartedly, they accepted Ire as their leader.

At last, Ogun returned home from wars and made effort to see his family and the chiefs he left behind. Understandably, Ire town had become much bigger than he left it. There were many more people and chiefs in the town. There was a set of prominent chiefs headed by one chief named Olomodire.

As it was tradition in those days, during coucils of chiefs’ meetings all forms of Communication must be non-verbal. It was after their meeting and after they had eaten and drunk palm wine that they would talk and greet themselves.

So, when Ogun finally returned from the war front, he arrived at the place where the chiefs were already holding their meeting. He greeted them, but they didn’t reply him, he asked them of his son, Ire, but the chiefs still didn’t reply him. He then examined the gourds with which they were to use to drink palm wine after the meeting but found no wine therein. Ogun became very angry at that point and unsheathed his sword and began to behead the chiefs at the meeting. At this critical point, the chiefs began to rush out of the venue of the meeting so they could speak up, as some of them went out they explained to Ògún that they were having a meeting of which they have sworn not to speak but use sign language. They also told him that many of them were children of Ire, his son, who was leading the town. They further explained to Ògún that they didn’t mean to disregard him by not speaking to him during the meeting but were only adhering to the rule of the meeting to use sign language.

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Feeling terribly guilty for his impatience and undoing, Ógùn swore never to see his son, Ire, after realizing that he had killed his grandsons and other chiefs in anger. He then turned back to the where he was coming from. It was when he was leaving Ire that he met an old man on his way. The old man sensed that he was a warrior and very important person but troubled in his spirit, he then appeased him with a piece of yam and palm wine and succeeded in calming him down.

What the old man did to Ogun in Yoruba is called “Sipẹ” (appeal) and so the man’s lineage is till today called Elepẹ (one who appeased Ogun). When Ogun had eaten the yam and taken the palm wine and calmed down, he touched the earth with his sword and made some declarations that he was going to enter into the ground at that spot.

He ordered Elepe to go to Ire and continue to appease him there but should never set his eyes on his son, Ire, the same way he, Ogun, would not be seeing his son again. Ogun also told Elepe to tell his people in Ire to summon him whenever they were to go for war that he would fight for them. Ogun then disappeared into the earth with his crown and weapons of war at that spot which is called Iju in Ire-Ekiti, till date.

Elepe returned to Ire and relayed Ogun’s message to the chiefs. He became the one who appeases Ogun seasonally but never sees the king of Ire till death. Till date, the Elepe chief in this town never sets eyes on the king till death parts them.

People of this Ancestry, mostly blacksmiths and Òndó people in general, are regarded to as Iremogun Ancestry. Connection with Òndó was obviously due to his long years of war therein. So, bard (Chief) Suleiman Ayilara Ajobiewe’s rendering of Òndó people as Iremogun Ará Ìlàgbẹdẹ is no mistakes.

On the day Ògún was made a deity (apotheosised) it’s said there was downpour. Thus “eeji wẹ́rẹ́ kò jẹ ki n na’jà Sabẹ, tótó wẹli kò jẹ ki n na’jà t’Iree; eeji dá, tótó dá kò jẹ ki n na’jà Iremogun kalẹ”

And, it is worthy of note that history is silent about Ògún descendence from ‘heaven’. Using Odùduwà’s case as example, it could be said Yorùbá used ‘heaven descendency’ as a style of humor marked by broad improbabilities with little regard to regularity or method for strangers whose origins were unknown.

Ògún Lákaaye,
(Ògún, the omnipresence,)
Ọsin mọ́lẹ̀.
(the genie half-buried in soil.)
Ògún aládà méjì;
(He had two cutlasses;)
Ò fi ọkàn ṣánko,
(He used one to cut grass,)
Ò fi ọkàn yẹ’na.
(the other to pave/clear way.)
Ọjọ́ Ògún ń tí orí òkè bọ
(When Ògún was descending from the mountains)
Aṣọ iná ló mú bo’rà
(He covered himself with garments of fire)
Ẹwu ẹ̀jẹ̀ lọowọ́
(He wore clothes of bloods)
Ògún onílé owó
(Ògún whose house is full of money)
Ọlọ́na ọlá
(Whose way is full of wealth)
Ògún onílé kangùn kangùn Ọrùn
(Ògún has house built in Heaven)
Olómi nílé f’ẹ̀jẹ̀ wẹ
(He had water at home yet bathed with blood)
O láṣọ nílé f’imọ k’imọ borà
(He had clothes at home yet clothed himself with palm fronds)
Ògún apọn lẹ́yìn’ju
(Ògún with furious, red eye balls)
Ègbé lẹhin ọmọ òrùkan
(Staunch supporter of orphans)
Ògún méje lógún mì
(Seven are the genres of my Ògún)
Ògún Alára ní n gb’ajá
(Dog is sacrificed to Ògún of Alára)
Ògún Onire a gb’agbo
(Ram is sacrificed to Ògún of Iree [Èkìtì])
Ògún Ikọle a gb’a ìgbín
(Snail is sacrificed to Ògún of Ikọle)
Ògún Ìlà gb’ésún ìṣù
(Roasted Yam is sacrificed to Ògún of Ikọle town)
Ògún Akirin a gb’awo àgbò
(Ram’s horn is sacrificed to Ògún Akirin)
Ògún Ẹlẹmọna Ẹran ahun níí jẹ
(Tortoise is sacrificed to Ògún Ẹlẹmọna)
Ògún Mákinde ti d’ògún lẹ́yìn òdì
(Ògún Makinde that’s concealed at the outskirts of town)
Bi o bá gbà Tapa a gb’Abokí
(Either Tàpá or Haúsá)
A gbà Ukú-ukú a gba Kẹmbẹri
(Whichever Foreigners is accepted by him)
Ǹjẹ́ níbo láti gbé pàdé Ògún?
(Where can we encounter Ògún?)
A pàdé Ògún níbi ìjà
(We meet him at where fights take place)
A pàdé rẹ níbi ìta
(Where confrotations are happening)
A pàdé rẹ níbi agbára ẹ̀jẹ̀ tí ń sàn
(We meet him where blood flows as water)
Àgbàrá ẹ̀jẹ̀ tì ń d’ọrùn bí òmì àgó
(Blood has gotten to the heavens like water in the kettle)
B’ọmọdé bá ń dalẹ, ko máse da Ògún
(If a child is a betrayer, admonish him not to betray Ògún)
Ọ̀rọ̀ Ògún leewọ
(Ògún matters are sacred)
Ará Ògún kàn gó gó gó!
(Ògún is forever vexatious)

Edited by Jimoh Taofik Adekunle (Jimson Jaat Taofik)
The MAD Writer: Pen Priest
Facebook: Jimoh Taofik Adekunle
Twitter: @jimsonjaat01
Phone: 08144510532

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