A very long time ago before the advent of Christianity or Islam in Yorubaland, aborigines depend on Babalawo (Ifa Oracle Priest) to proffer solutions to their problems.
This was the same for Arira, a young man in search of a bride and Osoro, also a young and beautiful lady who was looking for a husband. They both consulted the oracle from two different Babalawo (Ifa priests). This was revealed in the corpus of Ifa (Ofun Otua) which says:
Agbe Omo ori igba kaleOfun Otua of the Ifa Corpus
Omo ori igba won gun rege
Adi’fa fun Arira
Arira n sunkun
Pe oun o la’ya
Esinsin ni o pate ileke
Firifiri lo’ja ejigboro mekun
Adifa fun Osoro
Osoro n sunkun
Pe oun o lo’ko
The above literally refers to two individuals; a male and a female. They were both looking for different but similar things. Arira was crying for not having a wife while Osoro was crying for not having a husband.
They both consulted the Ifa oracle from two different Babalawo. As a form of sacrifice, Arira’s Babalawo instructed him to take a sheep to Ejigboromekun market and sell, while Osoro’s Babalawo instructed her to take a ram to Ejigboromekun market and sell.
They both got to Ejigboromekun market, and at the same time, even came across each other but didn’t pay attention to each other unlike the sheep and the ram. Osoro’s ram wanted to mate with Arira’s sheep, of which Arira didn’t approve. His Babalawo instructed him to sell the sheep, so he must protect the sheep from the fierce ram eager to mate with his sheep. He took a rod, ready to hit it on the ram so as to save his own sheep. When Osoro saw this, she sprung forward to save her ram from Arira’s harmful rod.
So a quarrel broke out between the two. Arira was ready to preserve his docile sheep and Osoro was determined to protect her agile ram. On seeing this, people at the market approached them to make peace. Each was asked about the cause of the quarrel.
Arira explained how he got to the market to complete the required sacrifice for him to put an end to the issue of not having a wife. Osoro also narrated how his Babalawo instructed her to sell a ram in the market for her to put an end to the issue of not having a husband.
Surprised, the concerned peacemakers exclaimed and said: “wo’ko wo’ko pade wa’ya wa’ya, wa’ya wa’ya pade wo’ko wo’ko, peki se peki niyen!” This literally means: “a lady looking for a husband met a man looking for a wife, a man looking for a wife met a lady looking for a husband; they’ve both seen what they are looking for!” On hearing this, they both set aside their differences and decided to become friends. They had a very soothing and agreeable discussion so they both started dating each other.
Ejigboromekun market, a very popular and populous market had various inns for people from far away places. After a while they both met again at Ejigboromekun market in one of the inns, one thing led to the other and they both consummated their newfound love. Unknown to them, the copulation led to pregnancy and unfortunately, Arira died shortly after this.
By the time Osoro discovered she was pregnant for Arira, Arira was already dead. Osoro would go to Ejigboromekun market, looking Arira without knowing Arira died already. After looking for Arira in Ejigboromekun market without any success, she gave up after a while. Nine months later, Osoro gave birth to a baby boy she named Ojodu.
A few years after the incident, Osoro married another man with whom she was living together with Ojodu. Osoro gave birth to children for this new husband who was a farmer. Ojodu was very troublesome, whenever his mother and stepfather go to the farm, they would leave him at home to care for his step-siblings. Rather than do that, Ojodu would beat them and eat all the food alone.
This infuriated Ojodu’s stepfather. He spoke harshly to Ojodu, saying: “I’m not your father, why do you want to kill my own children, is it now a crime to give a fatherless boy shelter?” This made Ojodu think about his life and went to inquire about his father from Osoro, his mother. Osoro told Ojodu everything she knew about his father, Arira. She also told him Arira didn’t even know he got her pregnant.
Ojodu asked her mother to help in finding out where Arira’s town is. After a while, Ojodu got the name and directions to Arira’s town. Determined to know his lineage, Ojodu together with his mother went to Arira’s town, asking for Arira’s house from people living in the town till they got to Arira’s house.
Unknown to Osoro and Ojodu, Arira was from a chieftaincy family, he was the only prince of that town. Arira’s father who was the king of the town just died. Arira family members were lamenting how Arira could have been the one to be coronated as appropriate in their dynasty.
Unfortunately for Arira family members, Arira the only legitimate son didn’t just die untimely, he died without leaving an heir behind. The family had previously consulted Ifa Oracle on the issue and they were told to be patient, an heir is coming.
When Ojodu and Osoro got to Arira’s house and they described who they are, members of Arira family didn’t believe them. They accused them of being an imposter, only greedy enough to think they can usurp Arira family’s long heritage and rights. So they asked them to come back in seven days’ time, so they can test and know if Ojodu is truly Arira’s son. Ojodu and Osoro had nothing to fear, so they agreed to come back in seven days’ time.
On the seventh day, before the arrival of Ojodu and his mother, the members of Arira house already loaded a gun. Determined to shoot Ojodu if it turns out that he was an imposter who only wants to Usurp the chieftaincy title.
To test and enquire if Ojodu is truly legitimate, they put open a cola nut that can be split into four in each of his hands after which they told him he’ll pour the cola nuts (Obi Olojumerin) in both his hands on Arira’s grave.
The outcome of the cola nut divination will determine Arira’s legitimacy. If the cola nut divination acknowledges Ojodu as Arira’s son, he will be welcomed into the family, or else he will be shot to death on the spot.
Ojodu, although a bit scared and uncertain, trusted in his mother and despite hearing he might be shot dead, went ahead with the cola nut divination. Fortunately for Ojodu, the cola nut landed on Arira’s grave with four of a splitted one-quarter of the cola nut facing up and four facing down; a success and acknowledgement of Ojodu as Arira’s son by the divination, hence the rightful heir to the throne.
So as not to waste the gunpowder used in loading the local rifle they wanted to use in shooting Ojodu if he was an imposter, the gun was pointed into the skies and shot into the air. So from that moment, it became a tradition throughout Yorubaland that during the coronation, they must load a local rifle and shoot into the skies.
They all sang the song before as the local rifle was being shot into the skies:
Ojodu de omo arira
Ojodu is here, the legitimate son of Arira
Awa mondupe ore obi toyan
We are grateful for the acceptance Kola.
Since then, up till date; the shooting of guns into the skies became a custom in the Yoruba cultural setting during any coronation.
Amosun Ifakorede Abiola
Traditional spiritual consultant
and Physiologist (Bsc)
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