African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Ogun

Ogun Passed Through Ilogbo Town

Previous poems about Ogun, the Yoruba god of blacksmiths, hunting and warfare (see A Salute to my Ogun and Ogun, God of War 1 & 2) have praised the Orisha as a terrible but necessary god. Terrible in that he is the personification of war with all its accompanying violence, horror and death. Necessary in that he represents victory through conflict and that as patron of blacksmiths and hunters is responsible for many of the innovations that make civilisation possible.

The following poem is an extract from an ìjalá performance by Raaji Ogundiran Alao on a ritual occasion in his hometown, Eripa in Osun State, Nigeria. The translation is by the famous scholar of Yoruba ìjalá, Adeboye Babalola.

It is now high time for me to say as follows:
It is the god Ogun that I worship…

The Asipade

Iremoje are a Yoruba corpus of poetic chants sung at the funerals of dead hunters. The activities of hunting and warfare fall under the providence of the Yoruba god Ogun, and thus Iremoje also emphasise the virtues and talents associated with this Orisha. See also A Salute to my Ogun, Ogun, God of War i, and Ogun, God of War ii.

Ogun is said to have spent half his life in the forest and the other half in the townships bringing civilisation to mankind. This contrast between the wildness of the forest and the order of the townships is often referenced in Iremoje.

Ogun, Chief Lakaaye
Chief Osin Mole…

A Salute to my Ogun

Another set of praises (Oriki) for the Orisha Ogun. 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. (See also poems for Ogun, God of War 1 & 2)

Now I will chant a salute to my Ogun:
O Belligerent One, you are not cruel…

In Praise of Areogun

An Oriki in praise of Dada Areogun, one of the most famous Yoruba carvers in wood (1880-1954). Born in the village of Osi, now known as Osi-Ilorin in Ekiti state. See the Ere-Yoruba site for more information about Dada Areogun. We’d also like to thank the Yoruba-Culture website where we first came across this oríkì.

The artist’s real name was Dada, a traditional name Yoruba peoples reserve for a new born with abundant curly or knotted hair. Àrẹògún is a shortened form of Àrẹògún-yànnà, and means ‘one who makes money with the tools of Ogun, and spends it liberally’. Ogun is the Yoruba deity of iron, and thus the patron god of all professions that employ the use of metal tools, including blacksmiths, warriors, hunters, carvers, etc. See also the poem, Ogun, God of War.

Dada, who has Ogun’s money to spend.
The end of his cloth is knotted like an infant’s umbilical cord…

Ogun, God of War II

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, God of War

A Yoruba Praise-Poem from Nigeria. Ogun is the God of iron and metallurgy. He is pictured as a blacksmith, but presides over every activity in which iron is used – hoes for cultivating, cutlasses for reaping, guns for hunting, cars for travelling, and so on. He therefore becomes the God of creativity and of harvesting, of hunting and of warfare, of invention and exploration and destruction.

African Poems