Many years ago, there lived a great and powerful king called Sango. He was bestowed with power by his Mother’s people in Nupe. His Grandfather gave him thunderbolt stones which he used to summon thunder from the sky. This power made him known as the god of fire and thunder. Whenever he got angry, fire came out of his mouth.
When he became ripe for marriage, his mother advised him to always respect every beautiful woman that came his way. Oba was the first woman that ever came his way. She was young, vibrant and could dance just like Sango. They fell in love and got married.
After years of barrenness, Sango wanted an heir. He asked his wife if he could find a concubine and she agreed. One afternoon, he was coming from his friend’s place when he passed a hut. The aroma of the food from the hut made him knock. A beautiful lady came out and that was the beginning of relationship between him and Osun.
Sango eventually took Osun home. Oba didn’t have issues until Sango declared that Osun would be the only one cooking for him. She felt he had won her heart and loved her more than her. Osun never liked Oba, she felt her children would be the heir.
Sango went to buy yam on market day and saw the most beautiful lady he had ever seen. The market was congested so he couldn’t talk with her. He followed her to the entrance of Ira town and saw as she put on her fur to become an Antelope before running off. He was shocked so he went to see Orunmila.
He narrated what he saw to him. Orunmila listened attentively then consulted Ifa Oracle. Ifa revealed everything about the lady to Orunmila. He took Sango to his inner room.
“My son, that Antelope-lady is very powerful and blessed. She controls the wind and earth.”
Sango was stunned till his jaws dropped. He never believed someone would be powerful like him.
“I want her. How can I get her?” Sango asked.
“Get her fur and she will be yours but please, make sure she never get angry. Her rage is terrible.”
On the next market day, Sango hid behind a big rock to wait for Oya. An Antelope approached sooner, looked around before turning to a woman. She hid her fur inside the bush before entering the market. Sango came out of his hiding and grabbed the fur. He ran home with the fur to hide it in his sacred room.
When Oya back to the bush, she didn’t find her fur. She knew it was impossible for her to enter without her fur. She began to cry. Sango came at the right time and consoled her. Eventually, he took her home.
Yoruba people believe Oya was Sango’s third wife even though he didn’t pay her dowry. The other wives hated her deeply.
The news about Sango’s strength and power spread all over Yoruba land and got to Oyo kingdom. The Alaafin of Oyo, King Ajaka sent for Sango. He told him about his cousin, Oluwo of Owo and his wicked mission to take over the Yoruba kingdom. He had an agreement with Sango that whenever he needed him, he would come. He gave him cowries before he left.
Sango was so happy, he felt Oya was his good luck charm. He slept more in her room to the dismay of the other wives.
Oba and Osun pestered Sango about Oya. They wanted to know about her. After a while, he gave in and told them the full details. After the information, every time Oya passed the other wives, they sang to mock her.
”She eats and drinks like human but she is an animal and her fur is in the sacred room.”
One quiet morning, she was lazy on the bed when the music played in her head. Sne sneaked to the sacred room and found her fur. She became so angry.
Sango was coming back when an Antelope ran very fast passed him. He suspected it was his wife so he ran inside to check and found out it was missing. He ran to Orunmila’s house.
Oya ran to Ira kingdom to meet her parents. They were pleased to see her again. After eating, she told them all that happened and her new husband. They got angry because he didn’t pay her dowry. It led to an heated argument and the matter was taken to the king.
The king told her it was an abomination in the land to marry without dowry. Oya insisted the deed was already done which infuriated him. He banned her from kingdom. She looked at her parents face and the tears got her angry. She stormed out and became a tornado headed towards Sango’s house.
Sango fortunately met Orunmila in his shrine, he narrated what happened to him. He implored him to go home immediately to make beans cake which he would use to appease her. He then warned him to be careful of the other wives.
He quickly rushed home to make the food. His other wives watched in fear as he did. Immediately he finished, he went outside and saw the tornado coming towards his house. The roofs of the houses she passed got blown, trees got uprooted from their root. That was the first time Sango got very scared.
As soon as she saw him, she turned to a Buffalo and charged towards him. He quickly offered her the beans cake. The aroma softened her heart and she broke her horns and gave to him. Then she ate the beans cake. They both apologized to each other and went inside. She instructed him to hit the horns together whenever he needed her help.
Some weeks later, Olowu sent his soldiers to kidnap King Ajaka in Oyo. The council of elders quickly alerted Sango and he went after the soldiers. When the fight got tough, he hit the horns together and Oya appeared as a storm. They both defeated the soldiers and returned the King home.
As soon as they got back to Oyo, the council of elders dethroned Ajaka and enthroned Sango as the fourth Alaafin of Oyo. Ajaka was then sent on exile.
King Sango and his wives were feared all over the land. He built different houses for his wives in the palace and slept in their houses as he pleased.
Oba noticed that Sango still preferred Osun’s cooking and it was obvious she was her favorite so she approached her to tell her how to get the love of their husband. Osun tricked Oba, she told her she used to cook his favorite soup by adding pieces of her ear.
She fell for it and convinced Sango to allow her cook for me. She thought if he could love her with parts of her ear, he would love her more by preparing his soup with her full ear. She chopped her left ear and made soup with it. He saw the ear floating on the soup and thought she wanted to poison him. He chased her out of the palace. She ran off and rested on a tree stomp. She cried till she became a river goddess (goddess of matrimony). She is presently known as River Osun in Osun State, Nigeria.
Sango found out about Osun’s mischief and chased her too from the palace with so much rage. She ran till she fell and became a river goddess (goddess of fertility) in Osun State, Nigeria.
Oya became the only wife of Sango and eventually gave birth to twins. The naming ceremony was the biggest ever in Yoruba land. Kings came from east, west, north and south to celebrate him. The night of the naming, Oya pressed his husband to reveal his source of power to him. He was in a very good mood and he told her about the thunderbolt stones. She hid them for a while before she eventually opened up to him but they were still in her custody.
During his seventh year as the king, he appointed two generals. Timi Agbala (a master in shooting arrows with fire) and Gbonka. They were equally as powerful as Sango. Oya was scared.
She told Sango to get rid of them. He ordered them to guard the two border towns. Later on, he planned to kill both of them so he set them up. Gbonka killed Timi before he realized they were set up by Sango so he challenged him for the throne.
Sango had to prepare. He called his wife to collect the thunderbolt stones. He found out they were moist with her period which is a taboo in Yoruba land. He climbed on a nearby rock to test the potency of the stones, thunder struck and burnt down the palace killing his children and some of his guards.
The people of Oyo were angry with Sango so they chased him from the kingdom. He took Oya and some of his trusted chiefs with him and headed towards Nupe.
They had to pass through Oya’s hometown, Ira so they could get to Nupe before dawn. When they got there, she felt reluctant to pass through and not see his parents so he took excuse.
After Ira, they got to Koso land, Gbonka was already there to challenge Sango.
The fight was so brutal, they both disappeared inside thin air with Gbonka having the upper hand. Some of the chiefs ran back home to inform them about the demise of Sango. Meanwhile, Sango killed Gbonka with thunder and burnt him to ashes.
Oya heard of the demise of his husband and committed suicide. As she fell to the ground, she became a river goddess called odo-oya (river Oya). Sango went back to find his wife and heard about her death.
He was so sad and angry. He wanted to burn down the whole Yoruba land with fire and thunder. The ancestors saw this and knew it would be the end of the race. The earth opened up and swallowed him. That was the end of Sango and his 3 wives.
Till today, they are deities and have worshippers around the world. River Oba, Osun and Oya still exist.