Oro, Egungun and Women

Fine Art America

By Yusuf Gemini

After the creation of the earth, gods were moulded by Ajalamopin, the potter of the pantheon. Every god has its own shrine and distinct nature, they all lived in accord and oneness. None interfered with the activities of another, instead they became helping hands for one another.
Among the 201 gods was Oro and Egungun. They were quite mutual than any other, perhaps due to the distinct quality of mask upon them. Most communal even have the belief that they were ancestors who returned from the grave, to serve as a light for the land.

As the ages progressed, Obatala organised a festivity to mark his own essence. It was the talk of the town for days. Oro and Egungun were disturbed by this and resorted to organising a festival for their selves. It was predictably a great day in history, as the aims was to beat the galore of Obatala’s recent event.

So they all went to their separate homes and informed their wives of the plan. Egungun’s wife immediately kicked off plans with the cowries given to her. She kept the best of her man’s attires under the mat so as to get as smooth as the skin of a deer, she got preparations in place to proffer well woven and silky wears for her husband.

Oro’s wife on the latter was a very dazzling woman, who took pleasure in appearing attractive and appealing always. Her skin was continuously painted with camwood, she put cowries in place to get the best of coral beads, headgears  and consulted the best hairdresser to weave the alluring of hairdo upon her. The two women who were also friends met at times and discussed about how glamorous the event would be. None revealed her plans to the other.

The town crier gonged round the communal, creating anxiety in the residents. The expectation was massive. Everyone was set to be present. Days became weeks, weeks became months and the event rolled in. Blares resounded, drums rolled, the palm wine quenched the thirst of all guests present, even Ijapa ate to his fill. Egungun stepped out in his majestic attire and it was obvious he captivated all. The excitement was overwhelming, Egungun set to the beats of the drum :

_Iya mi je n fe’legun o jare_
_Felegun !_
_To’dun ba de, maa k’egba dani_
_To’dun ba de,maa k’ero leyin o_

The news reached Oro, of the grand festivity. He hastened up from his shrine to his home, to get into his attire and flood the borders of the land. But he was met aback by a zero preparation on ground, he could only see a woman who had spent all the cowries on her personal appearance. He looked through his window and saw throng of crowd, awaiting his stepping out.
His countenance changed instantly. He has never been bedevilled with such humiliation before. He made an oath that night with the fireflies and bumble bees :
“Never shall a woman be sighted in my festival, for it shall be done deep in the night. Not even my wife. If any woman dares to, Sango should strike daylight out of her!”
This germinated the evergreen saying :
“Awo Egungun ni obinrin lee se. Bi obinrin ba f’oju kan Oro, Oro aa gbe” which implies ‘a woman can only be initiated into the Egungun. If she sights the Oro, she shall meet her waterloo.’ This has been a culture passed on from generation to generation.

This myth is a necessity at a period where extravagant spending is cherished than frugality, in all sectors even outside matrimony.


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