Thursday, May 23, 2024

Queen Moremi: Legend of the Yoruba heroine


Queen Moremi is well known today due to her act of valor as far back as the 12th century, which solved an age long worry of the Ile-Ife kingdom.

Queen Moremi Ajansoro was the wife of Oranmiyan, the heir to the King of Ife and Founding Father of the Yoruba tribe, Oduduwa, she was also the youngest and favourite Queen of the king.

At a time in ancient Yoruba land, the people of Ile-Ife people were constantly troubled with attacks from a neighbouring tribe called the Ìgbò (forest) people. These Ìgbò were considered to be as powerful as demi-gods because they conducted regular raids on the people of Ife, raped women openly, enslaved women and children, rich and poor. This made the people of Ife seek out help and offer sacrifices from animals to virgins to their gods in order to conquer the Igbo was effortless.

The Ooni of Ife, after contacting the chief priest was informed that the solution to their problem would be a woman volunteer who would be willing to pay a great price.

The Ooni had revealed this to Queen Moremi in one of their discussions, then she made a move prior to the King’s knowledge to visit the chief priest, who directed her to the river goddess.

Moremi visited the Spirit of the river Esimirin and vowed to make the greatest sacrifice if she could discover the strength of the Forest people and save her people.

The river goddess assured her she would be victorious, but she would have her only son as a sacrifice for her success and liberation of Ife people, she tried to bargain with the river goddess, but the goddess refused to collect anything other than her son.

Moremi allowed herself to be captured in one of their attacks in Ile-Ife. Eventually, her beauty attracted the Ìgbò ruler who made her his Chief Queen. Her confidence and skills helped her so it was not long before she won the trust and affection of the King and people in Ìgbò land. This gave her the opportunity to study the war antics of their warriors and discover their secret. After discovering their secret, she escaped to Ile-Ife and disclosed it to the Ooni and the yoruba warriors. This secret helped the army in overcoming the Igbo people in the war.

Moremi’s statue at the Ooni’s  palace

Queen Moremi is well recognized and celebrated among the Yoruba people with the Edi festival, in recognition of her act of valor and selflessness, most importantly because she gave up her son, Olurogbo, to the Esimirin deity in order to fulfil her promise.

Moremi statue of liberty

Queen Moremi has been immortalized in several ways with books about her, public places named after her and a statue of her erected in 2017 by Oba Ogunwusi in the Ife palace. The 42 feet statue, popularly known as the “Queen Moremi Statue of Liberty,” it is the tallest statue in Nigeria, and the fourth tallest in Africa.

Moremi Hall, a female hostel located in OAU just a few meters away from the Faculty of Science Building was also named after her. The hall was built between the year 1973 and 1974 with capacity for 1,228 students.

Moremi’s statue at Moremi hall, OAU

At the entrance of the hostel the statue of Princess Moremi is strategically placed for any passerby to see.

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