Moremi remains my wife forever — Oba Akinruntan

The statue of the legendary Moremi unveiled by the Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Akinruntan.

Last week, the Olugbo of Ugboland in Ondo State, Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan, brought back the legendary Moremi Ajasoro whom he declared as ‘his wife’, to Ugboland. MONICA TAIWO, who was at the event, reports the relevance of the occasion.

There are certainly two sides to a coin; this could be said of the story of Moremi Ajasoro, who, to the Ugbos, will forever remain a treacherous wife who betrayed the trust her husband, the Olugbo, had in her by selling out to her people (Ile-Ife) the war secret of the Ugbos, thereby putting an end to the war supremacy of Ugbo over the people of Ile- Ife.

To the people of Ile-Ife, the treacherous Moremi of Ugboland remained a heroine, a saviour who sacrificed a lot to liberate her people from the Ugbo warriors.

A lot of controversies however surround her story and history, which is why according to the Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan, he decided to set the record straight by bringing his “wife” Moremi back home where she belongs. Not literarily though, but by unveiling a massive effigy of a kneeling and submissive Moremi at the palace of the Olugbo, which signifies a posture of plea and appeal to be forgiven of her treachery and betrayal.

Oba Akinruntan in his opening remark at the event, which took place last week at the Obamakin Osangangan hall, Olugbo Palace, which had in attendance sons and daughters of Ugboland from far and near, professors of History from remarkable institutions of higher learning, students of History from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile –Ife and the Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo and many royal fathers, stated that a traditional ruler does not leave his wife, no matter what she did. Although Moremi betrayed the trust and love of her husband by selling out to the people of Ile –Ife, but she remained the wife of the Olugbo and no one else.

The Olugbo went further to say that he had heard a lot of other accounts regarding the story of Moremi, but history should be set straight and corrected because of generations unborn especially documentation.

The traditional ruler said the fact that Moremi was captured with other slaves during one of the Ugbo warriors’ raid at the Ile-Ife market is undeniable and of course her presence at the market during the time was according to the dictates of Ifa.

“The people of Ife were tired of the incessant Ugbo warriors’ raid 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. On arrival at the Ugbo Oke-Mafurangan transit camp, the Olugbo, Obamakin Osangangan sighted the beautiful damsel and asked that she should 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 the Ugbo warriors’ gallantry. Without thinking twice as a result of the trust he had in her, the Olugbo told Moremi that the supposed spirits who raided Ife market were mere mortals; he went further to disclose how they could be disarmed.

“On hearing these, Moremi took to her heels, running away with the child she had for the Olugbo, Obamakin Osangangan. On her arrival at Ife, she disclosed what she learnt from her husband and as a result, the Ugbo warriors were demystified as a result of which seven of the 16 warriors stayed back in Ife and nine resolved to return back to Ugbo,” he said.

Oba Akinruntan (middle) and other guests at the event.

Oba Akinruntan said that some accounts stated that Moremi remarried, “this is not true, Moremi did not remarry and she remains Olugbo’s wife till date.”

According to him, “today’s event has become history and Moremi will be celebrated in Ugbo every eighth day of the eighth month, because on this day years ago, she betrayed the trust her husband had in her.”

The Olugbo went further to state that, a lot has been distorted, omitted and twisted in the pre-Oduduwa history, not only the story of Moremi alone. He however, reiterated his commitment to correcting these facts when he said, “I stand by the truth, and I am ready to prove these to all truth lovers. We must correct these for the sake of generations unborn.

“A lot of people will however, believe that the Olugbo and Ugbo people should be hostile towards her, but this is not the case. There is no event without its own lesson. Moremi has taught the Ugbos a lesson and to date one of such is the fact that Ugbos do not marry fair women because she was very fair.”

In his remark at the occasion, Professor Akin Alao of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, stated that he had carried out some research into the Ugbo/Ife history, saying that he discovered that a lot remained untold. He urged students present at the occasion to take advantage of this and go deep into research to unfold the truth.

Professor Olukoya Ogen, Provost, Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, 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 account of the Olugbo and urged students present at the occasion to take up the challenge to correct history.

Dr. Ajayi, Head of the Department of History at the Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, was not left out. He stated that the trend of research from his senior colleagues on the history of the Ugbo/Ilajes and the pre-Oduduwa period of Ile-Ife opened a new trend in research. He urged all students of history to tap into this as he has personally learnt a lot.

In his own word, 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, we learnt, came in from the east.” He added that he was happy that history was being put through with the event and other facts unfolding.

Guests at the event were entertained with various cultural displays by the Ugbo Ilaje people.

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