GODS AND HEROES
Book 1: Itan - Legends of the golden age.
GODS AND HEROES is the first volume of the ‘Itan – Legends of the Golden age’ trilogy about the 1000-year story of the Yoruba people. It starts with the establishment of Ile-Ife by Oduduwa and the great sacrifice of the heroine, Moremi. The ancient gods of Yorubaland, Obatala, Orunmila, Ogun and Olokun all play their part, as well as the great heroes and heroines of antiquity - Oranmiyan, Sango, Oya, Oba Esigie of Benin and Obanta of Ijebuland. The author uses the genre of the historical novel in a refreshing and imaginative fashion to present the whole tableau of Yoruba history. The result is a vast and rich panorama enlivened with traditional myths and legends, seen through the eyes of a single Yoruba family and the Old Woman, the fabled storyteller.
GODS AND HEROES, BOOK 1 OF THE HISTORICAL NOVEL TRILOGY 'ITAN - LEGENDS OF THE GOLDEN AGE' WAS PUBLISHED AUG 1, 2018 BY XLIBRIS BOOKS, USA. IT IS AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN HARDCOVER, SOFTCOVER AND E-BOOK FORMAT FROM XLIBRIS.COM AND ALSO ON AMAZON, BARNES AND NOBLES AND OTHER BOOKSELLERS WORLDWIDE.
A captivating blend of fantasy, history and myth..."
- Dominic Jone, avante-garde filmmaker and contributor to D Magazine.
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'GODS AND HEROES'.
EXCERPT FROM 'GODS AND HEROES':
THE STORY OF THE LAST EPOCHAL BATTLE OF THE OYO EMPIRE IN WHICH THE LAST EMPEROR OF THE YORUBAS, ALAFIN OLUEWU LOST HIS LIFE. FROM CHAPTER 9: 'THE LAST OF THE HERO-KINGS.'
The end for Oyo, when it came, was swift and brutal. While Alafin Oluewu, the Yoruba king and his chiefs parleyed and delayed in Ogbomosho, Shitta, the Emir of Ilorin, had his spies amongst them. Some of the Yoruba princes, who were in secret conspiracy with the Emir, sent messages to Ilorin to inform them of the movements and intentions of the Oyo army. Thus, as soon as Alafin Oluewu, with Eleduwe of Bariba in tow, departed from Ogbomosho for the north, the Ilorin cavalry was waiting for them. But devising a ruse, the Emir sent the cream of his cavalry east towards Kabba where they hid behind a hill near Ilorin awaiting a signal from the treacherous Yoruba princes who were in league with Ilorin to betray their king. The allied armies of Oluewu and Eleduwe easily defeated the infantry force sent to meet them on the road to Ilorin. Pressing his advantage and oblivious of the trap that had been prepared for him, Oluewu gave a general order for his Balogun, with himself in the center, to lead the march towards Ilorin which they intended to capture in one mighty final effort. So determined, they made a fast and heady headway, capturing the hamlets of Aduin, Jayin, and Ogele on the road to Ilorin. Soon, they had the city walls of Ilorin in their sights. They now encamped in the farm of a man named Ajiya of Ilorin, planning to take the city the next day. Osogbesan counselled that the two kings should stay in the rear with the warriors guarding the camp while allowing the Balogun, osi, otun and their allied princes to lead the attack in front. But Alafin Oluewu would have none of that.
‘I am not going to hide behind my men like a coward now that the big prize of the conquest of Ilorin is within our grasp,’ he said haughtily. The very idea of placing his own safety above that of his men was distasteful to the brave, but haughty Alafin.
The liberation of Yorubaland and the defeat of the Fulani usurpers in Ilorin, the Alafin told Osogbesan, would not be undertaken by a leader who would ever be described as timid or cowardly, He, Oluewu was a warrior king like the great Ajagbo and many of his famed ancestors.
But while the Alafin rested his horses and men and planned his strategy for the next day’s decisive battle, the rebel princes sent a message to the ruler of Ilorin. On receiving the signal, Emir Shitta quickly sent orders to his concealed cavalry to launch the long-planned counter attack. But he did not have his cavalry attack the Yoruba invaders in a frontal engagement. The Fulani horsemen made a long detour away from Ilorin to hit the allied forces from the right flank and the rear. In this way, the vanguard of the Fulani cavalry, seizing the element of surprise, had already cut off the Yoruba army from the rear and had set fire to their camps before the startled Alafin knew that anything was amiss. The rebellious princes, who had been placed on the right flank of the king who commanded the center, had simply given way to let the Fulani through. They then rode away from the field of battle without firing an arrow or striking a single blow.
The two kings were completely cut off from their camps and the supplies they needed for fresh horses and reinforcement. Due to the treachery of those princes and false allies who now deserted the field, the plans and hopes of the Oyo monarch were dashed to pieces like a poorly fired clay pot in a hot kiln. What was left of the combined Oyo and Bariba army was completely surrounded. They were hopelessly outnumbered and outmatched. Osogbesan stood with the Alafin and fought valiantly with his king. But it was a hopeless cause. And within a few hours, it was clear that they would be overwhelmed.
It was at this moment that a horseman was seen galloping towards the king. The horse’s pace was frantic, even frenetic. The rider was obviously agitated. As he drew near, they saw it was Prince Odumewo, Alafin Oluewu’s eldest son. He had managed to break through the ring of Ilorin cavalry and had come to fight and die with his father. He had killed many of the enemy in his desperate and bold dash through their ranks. The prince drew in his reins and jumped down from his horse. Osogbesan looked at his eyes. What he saw there was despair etched in the tired face and the furrowed brow of that brave young warrior. But Osogbesan also saw in that countenance a grim and desperate determination. The prince prostrated before the king, and made the familiar and customary obeisance to his father. His eyes were wild but focused, and there was grime and dried blood on his cheeks. Then he stood erect and spoke these last words.
‘Iba mi, my father, the end is here. But I am determined to give an account of myself on this day of tragedy. I have come to take my farewell until we see in that land on the other side of the river, on the journey of which there is no return. O di gbere o.’
Then the prince was off. In the distance, they saw that he was soon surrounded on all sides by horsemen bearing the black and green standards of Ilorin. The odds were stacked against him, and so he fell in the thick of battle. His body, covered with wounds, was thrown into a pile of fallen warriors from both sides, later to be buried in a mass grave. He was embraced in death, on all sides, it was said, by the corpses of those he had slain.
Alafin Oluewu knew that this indeed was the end. But he was a brave king and a true hero in the line of Oranmiyan and Sango. Still on his horse, for a transient moment, he was seen to pose with his back held erect and straight. He had his left hand firmly on the reins of his horse. The right hand was raised high, holding his blood-stained saber up towards the heavens. Then, he recited these lines, not to Ogun and Sango, those deities so beloved by generations of Oyo warrior-kings, but to Olorun, the great, universal god himself.
‘Great god,’ he said, ‘I stand on the bank of the great river. Take me across. Guide my way. And let me see you on the other side.’
Then, beckoning King Eleduwe of the Baribas to his side, he gave the order for one last charge. The battle soon engulfed them. And although they gave a good and heroic account of themselves, killing many of the enemy, both kings were slain. Eleduwe, king of the Baribas, the last of the great hero-kings of his country, and Oluewu, the last Alafin and emperor of old Oyo. And this would be the last time an emperor of the Yorubas would die leading his men into battle. With the death of Oluewu, the great age of heroes was at an end.
Years later, when the descendants of these brave Oyo warriors had become attuned to the white man’s ways, they adopted his strange but effective system of fixing and remembering moments in time according to the calendar of years dated from the birth of his god. They listened to the accounts of the aroken and reconciled the stories of eye witnesses including those who had fought beside the two kings. They fixed the date of that battle that sealed the fate of the two kings as the year 1830. But the old Oyo empire was not declared officially over until six years later in the year 1836. This was twelve years from the day this catastrophe was irrevocably set in motion by the death of Afonja in 1824. To many of our people, it was the fulfilment of the curse of Aole.
COPYRIGHT 2018 OLADELE OLUSANYA.
NO PART OF THIS EXCERPT OR ANY OTHER EXCERPT ON THIS WEBPAGE OR ANY OTHER SOURCE CONTAINING ANY PARTS OF THE 'ITAN - LEGENDS OF THE GOLDEN BOOK' TRILOGY MAY BE COPIED, TRANSMITTED, REPRODUCED OR PUBLISHED WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF DR OLADELE OLUSANYA, WHO IS THE OWNER OF THE COPYRIGHTS THEREOF.