My dear river Ogun, my Ogun!

It started with a thought, oh! is it real? can it be real? before I knew it, voila! I am here.

River Ogun

The Ogun river has always gotten stuck in my head. Oh, my Yoruba teacher! she taught me well. it was Yoruba class and we had to learn about Yoruba mythology. River Ogun.

The river rises in Oyo state near Shaki at coordinates  8°41′0″N 3°28′0″E and flows through Ogun State into Lagos State. It runs through the heart of the old Oyo empire and empties into the lagoon. At one time, the river formed an important route for traders carrying goods by canoe between Abeokuta and the Lagos colony.

The catechist Charles Phillips, who later became Bishop of Ondo, wrote in 1857 that the Ogun River was generally worshiped by the people who live along its banks from its rise until where it empties into the lagoon.

River Ogun’s Myth

The river has since become a myth. According to myths, it is forbidden for a traditional ruler in Oke-Ogun Area to see. Why? are you asking? let’s find out!

Ogun, one of the wives of Okere of Saki. Her husband, Okere, a very powerful ruler, had a spiritual dress he used for his guidance and strength during wars or attacks which mustn’t be touched by a woman or beaten by rain. He called his wives and warned them sternly never to touch or take the dress.

One day, Okere went to the farm but before he left, he spread the dress outside to sun dry. Suddenly, clouds gathered, “its about to rain”, said Ogun, troubled that her husband’s spiritual attire was still spread outside and not wanting the attire to lose its potency, garnered the courage to pick it despite her husband’s strict orders. She got a stick which she used to pick the attire into the house. how smart!

Okere, who was at the farm, realizing it was about to rain, left the farm and headed home, only to find out that his clothes had been taken away from where he left it. Angry, shocked and scared, he shouted, ” Where is my cloth? who took it?”. Ogun, thinking she had done the right thing, came forth to him but he didn’t wait for her to explain to him why she did it instead he rained abuses and insulted her about her breasts. Ogun had an abnormal breast and had warned Okere never to insult her with it no matter the intensity of the annoyance. He knew he would get to her by the insults and this enraged Ogun so much. She had her powers also; a pot containing herbs which she used for her own protection, she went for the pot and ran away into the forest.

Okere chased after her and caught up with her, and there was a power tussle which led to the breakage of the pot. That point is believed to be Oyo-Igboho. The content in the pot flowed out and was believed to become what is now called River Ogun today. The River Ogun (where the goddess of Ogun, wife of Okere was alleged to inhabit) remains the source of River Ogun at Oyo-Igboho.

Since then, the Okere of Saki is said to be forbidden to see the river face-to-face. Hence, he must cover his face with a veil, if he has to cross or pass through the river.”

I am not Okere of Saki neither a traditional ruler in Oke-Ogun Area. I am just a tourist, who enjoys telling stories from my homeland. I don’t need a veil, neither do you. Whenever you find yourself in Oyo state or Abeokuta, Ogun state, take a good look at the river and see how beautiful our earth is. You are so beautiful!

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