Moremi is a heroine in the legend of Ile-Ife, a town in southwestern Nigeria considered to be the cradle of Yoruba civilization. She lived around the 12th century and was married to the King of Ile-Ife, Oranmiyan. At that time, Igbo invaders (who are not related to the present-day Igbo ethnic group) regularly attacked the town. The invaders went to Ile-Ife and would harass the Ife people and cart them away as slaves.
Moremi wanted to do something about these invasions and restore peace to her people. She approached the river goddess for a solution. The river goddess said that she was willing to help Moremi at a price, which Moremi would pay after she had successfully delivered the people of Ile-Ife from the Igbo invaders. The river goddess advised Moremi to allow herself to be captured by the Igbos the next time that they invaded Ile-Ife.
So, the next time the Igbos came, Moremi let herself be taken away as a slave. Because of her beauty, the King of the Igbos took her as a wife. Living among the Igbos, Moremi soon discovered the secret of their attacks. The Igbos disguised themselves in raffia palms so that the Ife people thought that they were supernatural beings. Moremi discovered that the way to conquer the Igbo invaders was to set their raffia palms on fire so that they got burnt.
As soon as Moremi got a chance, she left the Igbos and went back to Ife and revealed the secret of the Igbo invaders. The next time the Igbos invaded, the people of Ife set them on fire. This marked the end of the Igbo invasions. After her victory, Moremi returned to the river goddess to fulfill her promise to pay a price. To Moremi’s utter shock, the river goddess demanded Moremi’s only son as a sacrifice and Moremi obliged.
Seeing the great sacrifice Moremi had made to deliver their town, the people of Ile-Ife instituted a festival to commemorate her called Edi festival. Today, there is also a huge statue of Moremi opposite the palace of the Ooni (King) of Ile-Ife.
By Iyeyinka Omigbodun
(Photo: Eat Tech Travel)