10 August 2018

Nigeria: Extolling the Virtues of an Amazon

The wife of the Ogun State governor, Mrs Olufunso Amosun, was recently equated with legendary Queen Moremi Ajasoro, an influential and brave queen of the Yoruba race, who fought a violent war during her time to save her people from prowling attackers. This tribute was made by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, at the unveiling of a book titled, "Queen Moremi Ajasoro", dedicated to her. Mary Nnah who witnessed the event reports

Ile Ife, an ancient Yoruba city in south-western Nigeria, located in the present day Osun State, was recently agog when its traditional ruler, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi played host to an array of personalities from all walks of life at the Oduduwa Hall of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife in Osun State. The occasion was the unveiling of a historic book, "Queen Moremi Ajasoro", which vividly re-echoes the virtues of Queen Moremi, most especially in saving the people of Ile-Ife from recurrent invasions.

Dedicated to wife of the Ogun State governor, Mrs Olufunso Amosun, the book is basically about the legendary Queen Moremi Ajasoro, an influential and brave queen who fought a violent war during her time to save her people from prowling attackers.

The venue of the event was filled to capacity with royal fathers, monarchs, government officials, members of the academia, and cultural enthusiasts from far and near.

Unveiling the book, the Ooni of Ife described Mrs. Amosun as a jewel whose deeds and merits are written in gold.

'Moremi of Yorubaland'

The enthralling story of legendary Queen Moremi Ajasoro of the ancient of Ile-Ife appropriately exemplifies sacrifice and passion for the survival of the Yoruba race, bearing in mind her invaluable contributions in the 12th Century, which served as the harbinger of hope for the people and this, according to Oba Ogunwusi, is what Mrs. Amosun stands for in the present day Yoruba race.

The monarch described the Ogun State First Lady as an Amazon in the likeness of the legendary queen. While extolling Mrs. Amosun as a woman in the character of the legend, the Ooni of Ife described her as a courageous, intelligent, beautiful, humble, soft-spoken and selflessly useful to the society, just like Queen Moremi served in her time.

Ogunwusi said Mrs. Amosun's generosity, humility and magnanimity in service made her a role model, while as a caring mother she remained a strong pillar in the sustenance of democracy in Ogun State, behind her husband, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, governor of the state.

"Olufunso Amosun has immensely supported cultural agenda in Ogun State, Nigeria and beyond. Her merits have been written in gold and she has become a heroine in Yorubaland", the Ooni said.

Interestingly, the story of Queen Moremi, the beautiful wife of Oranmiyan, the Ooni of Ife, Obalufon Alayemore, summarises the heroic deeds of a woman, who dared the odds to save her people from extinction following external invasion of Ile-Ife.

The invaders were said to have appeared so weird to Ife people on the battlefield that they were thought to be spirits. As the invasion persisted, the land was enveloped by perpetual fear.

Moremi, who shared in the worry of her husband, Oba Oranmiyan, and the discomfort caused the people by the development, made a bold attempt to work out a solution to the problem by expressing her readiness to offer anything as sacrifice to the goddess of River Esimirin. This was with a view to discovering the secret and strength of the enemies that killed and maimed her people in their thousands.

When the enemies came calling again, she was said to have been taken as a slave by the people and due to her beauty, the then invading king married her. Exploring her wit as a woman, she was able to extract the truth about the warriors from her husband.

After acquainting herself with the secrets of her new husband's army, she escaped to Ile-Ife and revealed this to the Yorubas who were able to subsequently defeat the invaders.

According to the Ooni, Moremi's legendary feat brought peace that the monarch's royal home and the entire Yoruba race enjoy today.

Oba Ogunwusi maintained that the attributes of Moremi, which were exhibited by Amosun, compelled him to dedicate the book to her and also proclaim her as the Moremi of Yorubaland.

Heritage

The book, "Queen Moremi Ajasoro", written and produced by Princess Ronke Ademiluyi in collaboration with Oduduwa Foundation and Obafemi Awolowo University Centre for Cultural Studies, was launched as a historic book in preservation of Yoruba cultural heritage.

The 80-page book, published in both English and Yoruba languages, is a monumental documentary of the feats of the famous Yoruba Amazon, "Queen Moremi Ajosoro" who fought wars, sacrificed so much for the emancipation of her people. The book will be used in schools as a history book.

The global heritage ambassador for Queen Moremi Ajasoro (QMA) brand, Aderonke Ademiluyi, explained that Queen Moremi Ajasoro initiative was established by the Ooni as part of the House of Oduduwa Foundation.

"As the custodian of Yoruba culture, Oba Ogunwusi is committed to the promotion of the rich narrative of the legendary Queen Moremi Ajasoro of which he has demonstrated in various ways of keeping alive her rich legacy", Ademiluyi said.

She disclosed that one of the projects in honour of Moremi was the construction of the 42-feet Moremi statue of liberty, which is the tallest statue in Nigeria. So also is the cultural pageant, which empowers young women and beauty queens into becoming future employers of labour with the sum of N5 million impact investment fund dedicated to this cause.

Women Emancipation

Addressing the gathering, the chairman on the occasion, the Olugbon of Ile Igbon, Oba Olusola Alao, said, "This is the time for women to be actively involved in government as Moremi had set the pace centuries ago. Moremi, through her historical feat stood for justice and liberty. This is a clarion call that women should be involved in governance in our nation. Women should take over the mantle of leadership."

Mrs. Amosun, in company of her husband, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was the cynosure of all eyes at the hall as tributes and accolades were bestowed on her by numerous speakers.

In his remarks, Governor Amosun said, "Our tradition, custom and heritage must not be forgotten. We must not forget our heroes. We have to thank the Ooni of Ife and others involved in this book launch for keeping our culture alive," stressing that religion and civilisation should not erode African culture.

Mrs. Amosun said in the history of the Yoruba, the power and strength of a woman was aptly demonstrated by the great Heroine, Queen Moremi Ajasoro.

She stated, "She rose against all odds to save her people from harassment and invasions; it took her intuitive intervention and strong will, to restore peace in Ile Ife and save the entire Yoruba race from further intimidation and destruction.

"Ultimately, she had to sacrifice her most prized possession to save her people from further oppression, misery and torments from neighbouring adversaries. The continuous recognition and celebration of this great Amazon sincerely gladdens my heart."

She added, "It is essential to constantly acknowledge, remember and celebrate all heroes in whom we are well pleased. I am immensely humbled, grateful and appreciative of this honour bestowed on me today, knowing fully well that I am not worthy to hold a candle to the magnanimity of the heroine being celebrated here today.

"I therefore take solace in the belief, that this dedication is a celebration of all women especially those that believe in and promote the core values of womanhood, women that exemplify and promote integrity, dignity, courage, hard work, sacrifice, contentment, justice, humility and love.

"The story of Moremi is constantly re-enacted in our contemporary world today and a good number of mothers, sisters and daughters seated here in this auditorium are good examples of this."

Mrs. Amosun described Queen Moremi as a forerunner and trail blazer for a number of other great Yoruba icons like Madam Efunroye Tinubu, Mama Funmilayo Ransome Kuti and a host of other great amazons who fought for women emancipation and paved the way for the traction gained in women's liberation today.

While appreciating Oba Ogunwusi for finding her worthy of recognition with the Queen Moremi book dedicated to her, she said, "Kabiyesi, I wish to assure you that I do not take this with levity neither do I take it for granted, I can only pray that God will assist me to live up to the expectations that formed this decision.

"Needless to say, dedications like this provide platforms for us to reflect on who we are and how we are living, it serves as a constant reminder to all of us that whatever we do today, is what becomes history tomorrow, may posterity record each and every one of us favourably."

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