Alaafin hosts Sango festival



Who was Sango?


Many different accounts of Sango exist. The things we know for sure are:

-He was half Nupe, half Oyo

-He was a ruler of Oyo

-He could “make lightning ” i.e. create electricity

-His death was tragic

“Sango was the fourth King of the Yorubas, and was deified by his friends after his death. Sango ruled over all the Yorubas including Benin, the Popos and Dahomey, for the worship of him has continued in all these countries to this day. It is related of him, that being a tyrant he was dethroned by his people, and expelled from the country. Finding himself deserted not only by his friends, but also by his beloved wife Oya, he committed suicide at a place called Koso. His tragic end became a proverb and a by-word, and his faithless friends were ashamed on account of the taunts cast upon the name and fame of the unfortunate King. To atone for their base action in deserting him, as well as to avenge the insults on his memory they went to the Bariba country to study the art of charm-making, and also the process of attracting lightning upon their enemies’ houses. On their return home they put to practice with a vengeance the lessons they had learnt. From the too frequent conflagrations which were taking place, as well as deaths from lightning strokes, suspicions were aroused, and enquiries were set on foot. Then Sango’s friends said that the catastrophe was attributable to the late King taking vengeance on his enemies on account of the indignities they had heaped upon his memory. Being appealed to, to propitiate the offended King in order that he may stay his vengeance upon the land, his friends offered sacrifices to him as god, and hence these intercessors became the ” Mogba ” (advocate) and priests of Sango ; and to this day their descendants hold the same office. The emblems of worship representing Sango are certain smooth stones shaped like an axe head commonly taken for thunder bolts.” – The History of The Yorubas From The Earliest Time To The Begining of The Protectorate , Samuel Johnson (this book is in the public domain)


“Sango’s life was so filled with terrible battles and surprising victories that his subjects and enemies alike credited him with supernatural powers. Sango died in the prime of his life. One of the supernatural powers which he claimed himself was the power to make lightning. According to Oyo traditions, while demonstrating this power to his chiefs and courtiers one day, he accidentally burnt down the palace. Either out of embarrassment or out of fear of his subjects, he took his own life. But his people, out of gratitude for all he had done for their kingdom, deified him, giving his name to the god of thunder and lightning and set up shrines and rituals for his worship. The cult of Sango became the special cult of Oyo-Ile kings, unlike in most Yoruba kingdoms where the cult of Ogun (god of iron and war) was the royal cult.” – A History of the Yorub People- Adebanji Akintoye



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Sango in Oyo, Nigeria during the Sango Festival
Arugba on the way to the river





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