The story of Queen Moremi Ajasoro . The virtuous. Heroic and beautiful Queen Of the great Yoruba kingdom of Ile-Ife.
Queen Moremi who hailed from a royal family as a princess of Ile-Ife was married to Oranmiyan the great king of Ile Ife. As at that time the people of Ile-Ife were been terrorized by masked men dressed as masquerades, known as the “Igbo people” literally meaning the forest people. To the people of Ile-Ife the men were from the underworld sent by the gods to punish their lands.
These men invade their homes, took their wives and children and made their men slaves for themselves. The land was in shambles. The people lived in fear daily. The women stopped frying their cassavas and grinding their millets.
They said ” who do we do them for?? When our husbands are taken daily without return”.
The men had stop sitting under palm trees to drink palm-wine and discuss the news of the town crier. The town crier who now had only news of woes?? The children sit by their mothers feet in the huts at night and watch the oil lamps burn out without stories to listen to.
The land was in agony. The people feared their sins had caught up with them and the gods were angry with them. They cried and wailed making sacrifices daily to appeal to the gods to save their land but all to no avail. The king was distressed. But, more so his queen was devastated by the pity women all around her crying for their husbands to return home and their land to be restored back to sanity. She was moved with so much empathy she decided to do something to alleviate her people of their pains.
So, she set out to the stream to pray to the river goddess “Esimirin” to give her solution to the problem in the land. The goddess instruct her to let herself be captured by the “Igbo people” when next they come fighting. She then made a deal with the goddess that if she is victorious she would come back with her most expensive gift to repay for the kindness.
On the next invasion, the Queen let herself to be captured. While abducted as a slave, the king of Igbo Kingdom got attracted to her beauty and got married to her.
Now married to the king, she was particularly loved and favoured by the king amongst his other wives. She then pester the king to tell her the secret of his army that invades her land. Out of love the King revealed the secret of the mysterious forest people to her. That they were mere mortal men only dressed in grasses and face mask to look like masquerades, and if they get close to fire they would burn and run for survival. With this secret Moremi returned to Ile-Ife to liberate her people.
On her return to Ile-Ife she gathered the warriors of the land and prepared them for war with torch of fires to burn down their enemies when they come to abduct them as usual. With this act, the people of Ile-Ife were able to defeat the “Igbo people” .
Moremi returned to the river goddess “Esimirin” with expensive wares, cows and goats to make sacrifices to repay the kindness. The goddess refused her offer and rather request for her only Son “Olurogbo” . This made the queen mourn and utterly sad. The people of the land heard of her distress and came to comfort her. They promised her they would be her sons and daughters till eternity. That’s why till this day in Ile-Ife, the Edi festival is being celebrated yearly to celebrate the great queen and her sacrifice to her people.
The statue which stands at 42 feet tall is located in the city of Ile-Ife Osun State, Nigeria, at the actual place where the Queen Moremi lived during her time. It’s the tallest statue in Nigeria presently and the 3rd tallest in the whole of Africa. On 21st of November 2016 the magnificent statue was unveiled by the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II.
The torch she holds is significant of the weapon of war the people of Ile-Ife used to burn dowb the masked attires the invaders camouflaged in as evil spirit to attack them. Today Moremi Ajasoro is celebrated as a great heroine of the people of the yoruba land. She has been named after many other little statues and places in the yoruba land. It is however believed that “Olodumare” that is God, took pity of Moremi’s grief and brought back her son “Olurogbo” back to life. Who later ascended back to heaven on a leader where he now lives. The people of also believe that “Olurogbo” would come back one day to Ile-Ife and benefit from the good deeds of his mother while she was on earth.
NB : The “Igbo people” mentioned here are in no way related to the people of the eastern part of Nigeria. But, have been traced to the “Ugbo people” of Ondo State, Nigeria.
Would you like to visit this place?? Let me know…**cheers** 😊