Queen Moremi of Ile-Ife

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The legend of Moremi has been passed down from generation to generation by oral tradition. The story goes that Moremi was a maiden of great beauty who was betrothed and later married to Oranmiyan, King of Ife and later Oyo in the old Oyo Empire.

For much of her childhood, Moremi's people in Ile-Ife had been repeatedly raided and purloined by an enemy tribe. The people were in awe of these raiders who appeared to be spirits with formidable, inhuman appearances. Soon after she became Queen, Moremi enlisted the help of the river goddess to give her a strategy to help her husband overcome this relentless enemy of his people. She asked the goddess to name her price in return for victory.


In answer to her plea, Moremi was taken captive by the enemy tribe during a raid immediately following the Queen’s bargain with the goddess. Due to her beauty, Moremi was favoured by the monarch of her captors and she became Queen of the enemy tribe. This position of advantage put her in close proximity of the enemy war room and she soon discovered all their secrets and learned of their weaknesses.


After many years of gaining their trust, Moremi escaped from the courts of the enemy monarch and returned home to be re-united with her true King. Disclosing all she had learned in captivity to her husband, King Oranmiyan led his people in war to successfully vanquish the enemy raiders who never returned to Ile-Ife. The story’s tragic end was occasioned by the river goddess’ insistence on the life of Moremi’s son - Prince Oluorogbo, as the non-negotiable price to be paid for Queen Moremi's victory.

The morale of the legend (as with all Yoruba folklore) is that one should beware of making rash promises, especially to the gods.


Queen Moremi’s heart-breaking sacrifice is commemorated by the Edi Festival, which is celebrated to this day in Ile-Ife. A number of public places are also named after the Queen in contemporary Nigeria, including a female Hall of Residence at the Obafemi Awolowo in Ile-Ife, Oyo State as well as the University of Lagos, both distinguished institutions of learning in the Country of Nigeria.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 January 2017 18:08
Written by Strategydirector

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