Myth: The story of Oluronbi and Iroko Oluwere, the spirit tree (A must read)
A mighty tree in the forest in a certain ancient village in Yorubaland, Ajangbe, where people would go to beg the spirit of the tree for different favors is called Iroko Oluwere.
The Iroko Oluwere tree was so kind, it grants people their desires and they must pay back with gifts.
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In the history of Ajangbe, there were many barren women. They desperately needed children and decided to ask the Iroko tree for help.
They went to the tree to plead with the Iroko spirit for help. The Iroko tree asked each of the women who showed up what she would give in return for bearing a child. And woman after woman promised the Iroko tree spirit goats, yams, handwoven cloth, or whatever it was she sold for a living as many of these women were traders who sold their wares at a weekly market in an open field.
One of the women who was named Oluronbi also approached the Iroko tree for help.
When Olurombi got to lroko Oluwere, she pleaded with the tree to give her a child. She vowed to return the child back to the powerful tree if her request was granted. Iroko was pleased with the pledge made by Olurombi because other women that have been coming before her had never made such vow.
Some months later Olurombi became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was so happy and she named the child Aponbepore meaning “the one as red as palm oil”.
Aponbepore started to grow up but the mother, Oluronbi, forgot to fulfill the promise she made with lroko Oluwere. So, when lroko Oluwere had waited for a long time without Oluronbi fulfilling her promise, the spirit- tree decided to go to her house and take Aponbepore. On getting to the house, the spirit tree gripped Aponbeore’s hand and began to drag her away. The villagers started singing to serve as a reminder for everyone seeking for favour.
Since then this song has been sung to remind people of Oluronbi’s story:
Onikaluku jeje ewure (everyone promised to offer a goat)
Ewure, ewure (goat, goat)
Onikaluku jeje aguntan (everyone promised to offer a sheep)
Aguntan bolojo (A fleshy sheep)
Oluronbi jeje omo re (Oluronbi promised to offer her child)
Omo re apon bi epo (Her child who is as light-skinned as palm oil)
Oluronbi O! (Oluronbi O!)
Jo’in jo’in (make that up)
Iroko (a mighty tree in the forest)
Jo’in jo’in (make it up)
Oluronbi O! (Oluronbi O!)
The story of Oluronbi and Iroko Oluwere teaches us never to make a promise or vow that we cannot fulfill. Broken vows are like broken mirrors. They leave those who held to them bleeding and staring at fractured images of themselves. To make a vow is easy to fulfill it is a greater privilege.
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