Last updated on May 13th, 2020; Published on December 10th, 2017
For as long as I can remember, I have been very fascinated by the Yoruba legend. The legend of Sango and his wives has always been my favourite. I have dreams of completing a modern tale based on this legend. Sort of like what Marvel has done with Thor.
I mean, if you think about it, Thor is actually the Caucasian Sango. They both share similar traits; Sango has his oxê, which is a double-edged axe, while Thor has his hammer. They are both the gods of thunder… It’s only right we have our own modern twist of this legend.
You can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across some stunning images by Atlanta-based photographer and Noire 3000 Studios CEO, James C. Lewis depicting the African (Yoruba) gods and goddesses. I’ll share a few of them here (with his permission).
But first, let me tell you the story of the legend of Sango and his wives; and don’t worry, this is unlike the story of The Legends of Knights of Kajuru – which you should read, by the way.
PS: There are differing accounts about this Legend. I suspect that this may be partly attributed to oral storytelling.... If you think about it, Thor is actually the Caucasian Sango. Click To Tweet
The Legend of Sango & his Wives
Legend has it that there lived a great god called Sango. He was the fourth Alaafin of the Oyo Empire and the god of thunder and sky. (Edit: some texts list him as the third Alaafin of the Oyo Empire). He had three wives, Olori Oba, his first, Olori Osun (Oshun) and Olori Oya.
Of all three wives, he loved Osun the most because she was the best cook.
Oba, wanting to regain her spot as Sango’s favourite decided to ask Osun how she managed to keep Sango so happy with her meals. Now, Osun didn’t want to lose the special affection Sango had for her to Oba. (seems quite reasonable to me…)
She also despised the older wife because, as the first wife, Oba’s children were to inherit Sango’s kingdom. So she decided to play a trick on her. She told Oba that the reason why Sango loved her so much was that she cut off a piece of her ear many years ago and cooked a meal for him with it.
Oba was pleased and thought Osun to be foolish for disclosing such secret to her. She thought to herself ‘If Osun is getting so much attention by cutting only a piece of her ear, how much more she would get if outdid her rival?’ So when it was her turn to do the cooking, she cut off her whole ear and put it in the food she had prepared, which she presented happily to Sango.
Not long after he started eating, Sango noticed a piece of ear floating in his soup. He became furious and accused Oba of trying to poison him. He was so mad, that he rained thunder down on his household causing the women to flee.
As they ran, Oba fell, and she became the River Oba. Osun also fell and became the River Osun. (I’m not sure what happened to Oya) but these two rivers exist today in Oyo and Osun States. It is said that they form turbulent rapids at their tributary. (I can’t be the only one that finds this fascinating!)
This is certainly something I would like to see for myself, so I’m hoping to visit these states again, this time, to know more about the legend and hopefully get enough material to help me with my book.
PS: James, the owner of these amazing photographs, has more images on his website. If you’d love to see more or purchase any of them, here’s a link to do so: James C Lewis
Are you as fascinated as I am with African folklore and legends? What are your favourites?