Another in our series of Modern Poetry in the Oral Manner, this one about one of the most prominent Orisha, Sango, also known as Shango (see also In Praise of Shango) or Xango in Latin. The following poem not only addresses his encounter with the Owu people, now concentrated in Abeokuta, but also portrays Sango’s personality ranging from his birth, life and wives, to his controversial end.

Jakuta, son of Aganju, (1)
Violent ruler, grandson of Oduduwa; (2)
Who rescued Alaafin Ajaka
When he was being sent for by the Owu people,
So that he fought till he was made Alaafin. (3)
He who screams with thunderbolt.
He who kills but is not killed.
The dragon that consumes other dragons with fire.
Sango, yes he is Sango!
Sango, the third Alaafin of Oyo.
Beat him Omele, you are in trouble,
Beat him Iya-ilu, you are doomed; (4)
Bata drum is his favourite.
Sango, the god of thunder and lightning,
Betrothed to Osun, Oba and Oya —
Oya, the rain-making deer-woman,
Favourite of Jakuta;
Hence Sango, the husband of Oya.
When thunder claps, it is his handling
When lightning strikes, Sango makes it so;
Hardly will you see that, without the downpour of Oya.
He who waves his double-headed axe;
The fiery son of Obatala.
The king did not hang himself,
He killed the stubborn Gbonka with his ferocious fire.
The king of Koso, (5)
Husband of Oya, I hail thee.

by Aremu Adams Adebisi
University of Ilorin
Ilorin, Kwara state.


  1. Jakuta: Another name for Shango
  2. Grandson of Oduduwa: While some argue he is the son of Aganju, the Orisha of Antiquity, others maintain he is son to Oduduwa, forerunner of the Yorubas.
  3. Alaafin: The title of an Oba in Oyo
  4. Omele, Iya-Ilu: Kinds of local drums.
  5. Koso: History suggests Sango was killed by Gbonka, but many opine that Sango hung himself at a place called Koso. Hence he is the king of Koso.