A collection of praises (Oriki) for the Orisha Ogun. Some of these were included in a previous post, but are included again here to illustrate how different Oriki could be recombined in performance.

Ogun is one of the most popular Orisha, both in Nigeria and across the Caribbean and the Americas. Known as the god of hunting, iron and warfare Ogun is both a violent destroyer and a heroic leader who delivers strength and justice to society.

Ogun kills on the right and destroys on the right.
Ogun kills on the left and destroys on the left.
Ogun kills suddenly in the house and suddenly in the field.
Ogun kills the child with the iron with which it plays.
Ogun kills in silence.

Ogun kills the thief and the owner of the stolen goods.
Ogun-kills the owner of the slave—and the slave runs away.
Ogun kills the owner of thirty iwofa —and his money, wealth and children disappear. (1)
Ogun kills the owner of the house and paints the hearth with his blood.
Ogun is the death who pursues a child until it runs into the bush.
Ogun is the needle that pricks at both ends.
Ogun has water but he washes in blood.
Ogun do not fight me. I belong only to you.

The wife of Ogun is like a tim tim. (2)
She does not like two people to rest on her.

Ogun has many gowns. He gives them all to the beggars.
He gives one to the woodcock — the woodcock dyes it indigo.
He gives one to the coucal — coucal dyes it in camwood.
He gives one to the cattle egret — the cattle egret leaves it white.

Ogun is not like pounded yam:
Do you think you can knead him in your hand
And eat of him until you are satisfied?
Ogun is not like maize gruel:
Do you think you can knead him in your hand
And eat of him until you are satisfied?
Ogun is not like something you can throw in your cap:
Do you think you can put on your cap and walk away with him?

Ogun scatters his enemies.
When the butterflies arrive at the place where the cheetah excretes,
They scatter in all directions.

The light shining on Ogun’s face is not easy to behold.
Ogun, let me not see the red of your eye.
Ogun sacrifices an elephant to his head.
Master of iron, head of warriors,
Ogun, great chief of robbers.
Ogun wears a bloody cap.
Ogun has four hundred wives and one thousand four hundred children.
Ogun, the fire that sweeps the forest.
Ogun’s laughter is no joke.
Ogun eats two hundred earthworms and does not vomit.

Ogun is a crazy orisha who still asks questions after 780 years.
Whether I can reply, or whether I cannot reply,
Ogun please don’t ask me anything.
The lion never allows anybody to play with his cub.
Ogun will never allow his child to be punished.

Ogun do not reject me!
Does the woman who spins ever reject a spindle?
Does the woman who dyes ever reject a cloth?
Does the eye that sees ever reject a sight? (3)
Ogun, do not reject me!

from Yoruba Poetry (1959),
Gbadamosi and Beier


Footnotes

  1. Iwofa: A servant.
  2. Tim tim: A decorated leather cushion.
  3. These lines describe the reciprocal relationship of the devotee and their Orisha. The Orisha are maintained through the praises and offerings of their followers.