There is no doubt that in the history of Nigerian tribes, serving their traditional gods is part of their day-to-day activities and is a predominant source of their culture. However, these gods have history, and they are an important part of people’s heritage.
Research has shown that in each family, they worshipped a particular god in the past and these are passed from one generation to another. Also, families who worshipped these gods had a significant reason for it. Thus, before the advent of colonization, when Christianity and Islam were introduced, families were representatives of their gods, and sometimes they dedicated a part of their courtyard and resources to show their loyalty and commitment to their gods.
A supreme being is a concept that permeates every civilization, religion, and school of thought. This appears to have benefited in achieving one’s life goals and realizing one’s place and function. It also helps with letting go of things that science and rational thought are unable to help the human brain and understanding imagine.
Some of these gods include Ogun, Sango, Esu, Orunmila, Ifa, Oluweri, Amadihoha, etc. They are a part of the cultural heritage and some people still serve them to date.
One such god in the Yoruba culture is Ogun. Ogun, also known as the god of iron and war, is a tremendously revered and feared deity in the Yoruba pantheon of deities. Also, he is renowned for his creativity and destructiveness, which contributes to the aura’s misunderstanding of its true nature.
Ogun made an attempt to ascend to the throne following the death of Obatala, who ruled twice, before and after Oduduwa, but was driven from power by Obamakin (Obalufon Ogbogbdonrin), which forms the central theme of the Olojo Festival. Ogun was a powerful spirit of metalworking, rum, and rum making, in addition to being a warrior.
Furthermore, Ogun also goes by the name “god of iron” and is a part of the Yoruba, Haitian, and West African Vodun religions.
According to the Yoruba faith, Ogun is a primordial orisha in Yoruba land. Some legends believe in another story that he is claimed to have used a metal axe and a dog’s help to clear a way for the other orisha to enter Earth. Osin Imole, which means “first of the primordial Orisha to enter into Earth,” is one of his praise names, or oriki, in honour of this. Thus, he is often referred to by the Yoruba people as the metal and war god.
Ogun is credited with becoming the first king of Ife during his earthly reign. After they refused to treat him with reverence, Ogun slaughtered some of his subjects with his own sword. He promised to assist anyone who calls on his name before vanishing into the earth at a location known as Ire-Ekiti.
Ogun’s admirers think that rather than passing away, he has vanished beneath the surface of the earth, according to his followers. He is also known as Onire because it is believed that he fought for the Irish people throughout his earthly life.
Ogun, the god of iron, is celebrated in Ogun, Ekiti, Oyo, and the Ondo States. Also, history reveals that iron, the dog, and the palm frond are Ogun’s three main emblems. They stand for Ogun’s function, mediation, and transformational role. Therefore, Ogun’s major symbol is iron. Iron artefacts are displayed and used in Ogun altars and rituals both in Yoruba communities and beyond the African diaspora.
Furthermore, Ogun festivals display knives, guns, blacksmith tools, scissors, wrenches, and other everyday iron objects. Followers of Ogun wear chains made of iron. In the Yoruba culture, Ogun is the traditional deity of warriors, hunters, blacksmiths, technologists, and drivers. By “kissing a piece of iron in the name of Ogun,” ancient Yoruba believers can promise to tell the truth in court. To prevent car accidents, drivers wear an amulet of Ogun.
Ogun is a violent god, but despite this, he is good and will aid those who pray to him. Yoruba blacksmiths regularly offer dogs as sacrifices to Ogun, and they also organize an annual three-day celebration in his honour.
For Ogun, meat is sacrificed, and his disposition is viewed as “doglike”: forceful, capable of facing danger, and forthright. History has it that dogs are the traditional hunting partners. The spitting cobra (blacksnake), which exhibits aggressive and fearless behaviour, is another animal sacrificed in Ogun. Blacksnakes’ mating rituals are not to be eaten or observed by hunters or blacksmiths.
Other predominant materials offered to Ogun include alligator pepper, kola nuts, palm wine and red palm oil, small rats, roosters, salt, snails, tortoises, water, and yams.
Ògún méje logun mi,
Ògún alára ni n gb’aja,
Ògún onire a gb’àgbò,
Ògún Ikọla a gb’agbín,
Ògún gbengbena oje ìgí nìí mu,
Ògún ila a gb’esun iṣu,
Ògún akirin a gb’awo agbo,
Ògún elémono ẹran ahùn ni jẹ,
mákindé ti dogun lẹyin odi,
Bi o ba gba Tapa a gb’Aboki,
A gba Ukuuku a gba Kèmbèrí.