The following Iremoje was part of the dirges chanted at the funeral of a deceased hunter, Ogunjinmi, whose name means “the god Ogun blesses or favours me”. See also The Asipade and Iremoje for Pa Ogundele for previous examples of this genre.

The Iremoje funeral rites are held at night, outside the house of the deceased hunter, and will continue until dawn. As Ogun is regarded as the Orisha who brought the knowledge of metallurgy to mankind, other members of the community who use iron implements such as farmers, blacksmiths, barbers, drivers and weapon-smiths also join the hunters family and friends in attending the ritual. The audience forms a circle around the ritual space. At the center of the ring, the hunters tools are arranged around an effigy of the deceased including his hunting clothes, tools and weapons.

To live in the forest the hunter must master various skills, carpentry to build his hunting lodge, knowledge of medicinal plants to heal his wounds, knowledge of culinary plants for cooking, and tailoring so that the hunter can weave clothes to keep him warm and disguise himself from his prey. The following Iremoje was chanted by Lamidi Abonikaba at Oyo in 1975. During the dirge Lamidi holds up the needle that the hunter used whilst in the forest.

Ogunjinmi, you have caught your father’s dog. (1)
A needle that falls into a pit is lost forever.
A fallen heedle will never give a loud sound.
Here is the hunter’s needle,
With which he mends his clothes in the forest
Attending hunters awake
Here is the hunter’s black thread,
Attending hunter’s awake.

Collected and translated by Professor Bade Ajuwon,
from his essay Ogun’s Iremoje: A Philosophy of Living and Dying
taken from Africa’s Ogun: Old World and New Edited by Sandra T. Barnes


Footnotes

  1. The hunter is praised as possessing the stealth and hunting skills of a dog.