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The story of an African warrior princess sold into slavery and her exploits before freedom came, its a story of determination ,courage and perseverance in the face of deceit.
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A hot noon, in an archaeological dig site in Osun state, south west of Nigeria, Dr. Phyllis Woodard was dusting some archaeological finds; she heard youthful laughter afar, she knew students of the university will be on a field trip to the area as she had been notified by their faculty dean.
Six of the students came to her camp site, she beckoned them to join in the dusting of some artifacts she had dug-up, in the process of dusting the finds she told the students that she was from the United states and that she was an associate professor at Stanfield University, and that this particular campsite and dig area important to her.
She showed the students some of her finds; she offered them cold drinks and asked them why they were studying archaeology as a course? They each gave various reasons for choosing and studying the course.
Lanre asked Dr. Phyllis why she studied the course, she told them that it was a personal choice and because she had a very inquisitive mind and nature, and that the love to unravel the many mysteries of nature contributed to it.
She asked them if they knew that this particular area now turned dig site was once a very flourishing capital town that had governance structure, beautiful and proud people, a very resourceful and well-fortified city. They answered her in a chorus a thunderous NO!
And so she began the story about the civilization that was once there, the people and their traditions.
Ilaa-osumare was a very beautiful and peaceful kingdom that all other surrounding towns and villages pay tribute tax to, they had a big and strong army, beautiful houses built with bamboos and cake mud, well laid out streets and markets.
The people of Ilaa-Osumare were ruled by King Ile-ola and his wife Queen Aduke, along with the royal chiefs, various law makers and warriors. It was a time of peace and prosperity in the land, King Ile-ola was well off in age but still a great man of war, crown prince Aderibigbe, the heir apparent to the throne of the kingdom took ill and succumbed to the illness, a period of mourning was declared throughout the kingdom.
King makers and lawmakers prevailed on the king to try for another child since Queen Aduke can still bear children, if not, Aremo the kings younger brother will take the throne should the king die without an heir. Queen Aduke became pregnant after a season but her fears grows daily that she was carrying a female child, She visited the Ifa Oracle and the Oracle foretold that the queen was indeed carrying a female child, that the child will be a great warrior, defender of the people and the kingdom, but will be conspired against to lose her throne and kingdom. The law and culture of the land says that only a male child can aspire to the throne, but the oracle foretold the priest that the child was a female and will be unacceptable to the king makers and lawmakers, but the child will be King!
The queen put to bed, only the king, the Ifa priest and priestess and the queen knew that the child was a female but was announced as a male child to the kingdom. There was wild jubilation and celebration to herald the birth of the prince in all quarters of the capital city and surrounding kingdoms.
The four made a blood covenant to keep the secret, secret. Peace was all around the kingdom and neighboring towns, the prince was named Aderongbe.
The prince was raised as a warrior, skilled in the art of war, hand to hand combat, and was raised to love and respect people.
Aderongbe was privately tutored by the king on political matters and diplomacy, while the Ifa priest “baba yeye’ tutored him on the use of herbs to heal and cure various ailments, Aderongbe however was more interested in physical combat and the arts of war, he grew into a well-respected teenager but was guarded all the time, he really did not have friends save his personal guards and his tutors. He was always been asked if he had seen blood on him and his response was always no, on his 15th birthday he had a terrible stomach pain and walking was very painful the night before, as he slowly woke up , he felt he had wet his bed , his thought initially at his age! But it smelled different ,on getting up from bed he found out it was blood and it was from him, shocked and confused he screamed for the King, who called in the queen to explain why the young prince had flow of blood, he was then told the secret why he had to have his hair shaved every week and raised as a warrior, without much interactions with other children of the high chiefs and law makers, and that He was indeed a female and they had to raise her as a male child since the queen cannot give birth to another child and produce a heir to the throne.
Baba Yeye was summoned to the palace to tell her that it was very dangerous for her to let people know that she was indeed a female, and that Baba Yeye will make sure that she ascends to the throne when the time was right.
Aderongbe was furious with the lies and deception of her parents on the kingdom; he tried to make them realize that they had indeed made his life more difficult as He can’t take a wife when he becomes king! And the inevitable is that he might have to confide in someone later!
Fate played a terrible hand on the kingdom, the queen took ill and died, the Ifa priestess soon died afterwards, 3 years after, a war broke out with their neighbors. The king being a man of war went to war with his army and they won the war but with major casualties. He lost quite a lot of soldiers and good hands; it was time to rebuild the army and settle down to ruling the people. The lawmakers and chiefs wanted the king to take a new wife, the king refused them and told them that he wants to live out the rest of his life in peace.
Aderongbe became the kings confidant on all matters and his opinions on matters was always sound and well thought out, he was appointed to lead a trade team to Ajase kingdom to exchange goods on barter with the Ajase people. The journey took a whole week, on the 3rd day they came across a deserted settlement with some strange objects that littered the cleared settlement, the prince ordered the objects packed and was handed over to him. In his carriage he examined the objects one after the other, of the objects were three bottles in different shapes and sizes ,cans of packaged food and bullet shells, he was fascinated and troubled at the same time. He was fascinated because the objects intrigued him, troubled because he had never seen them before and never heard anyone talked or mentioned them.
They got to Ajase kingdom and according to tradition; Aderongbe visited the palace to pay homage and respect to the king.
Three days after a successful barter trade the delegation set on returning back home, Aderongbe heard whispers of sightings of white people in very big Boats on the sea but his interest wasn't there but on the strange objects, according to most people in town the boats and the people were fiction of mischief makers.
The journey back home was faster and without any strange occurrence. Once home, the prince went straight to the king, the king summoned the Ifa priest, the priest was shown the strange objects, he brought out his Okpele and consulted Ifa, after a few minutes he sighed and said this is the beginning of the end of things as we know it my king! The white people never ventured hinterland and their business was always with the people of the riverine countries. He said that a dark cloud is brewing and it’s going to be raining despair, pain, agony and destruction! The king was perplexed at this and he asked for clarification and explanation from Baba yeye, he just said that everyone should be at alert to ward off the impending doom and not entertain strangers to the kingdom, the prince said that the message was vague, not specific but the king told him to be still.
Baba Yeye left the palace via the secret entrance ,he hadn't gone far when his apprentice noticed the prince running after them, he caught up with them and asked Baba Yeye as a matter of fact, what manner of evil was coming and how exactly were they to prepare for the impending doom? Baba yeye drew the prince closer and whispered in his ears be prepared my king! He continued on his journey without looking back.
Aderongbe was more troubled and confused than he was before meeting Baba yeye, this disturbing question crept into his mind, is father's sickness terminal ? Because Baba Yeye had never referred to him as my King before today.
That night the prince couldn't sleep at all, at dawn he was out on the palace grounds training with guards and orderlies. Deinde came in to discuss the days hunting trip they had planned for the weekend that saw the prince go to Ajase kingdom to trade and barter. The prince was glad to see Deinde as he was the only close friend he had, Deinde wasn't surprised to see Aderongbe on the pitch training as that's his routine whenever he comes back from any official duty where there was no avenue to train and get physical. Want to sweat a bit for your heart? Aderongbe asked Deinde, he replied in his usual joking manner, so that you can hang me like an antelope? Freshen up and let's plan our hunting trip, my prince, teased Deinde!
Aderongbe, Deinde and Tomiwa with three other hunters entered into the thick Ilaa forest, Tomiwa found a trail of a grass cutter and decided to follow, while Deinde and the three hunters said only the head of a buffalo will be a worthy prize for this hunt.
Aderongbe said that he was in the hunt for fun and to clear his mind off a lot of issues and concerns, they hadn't gone far on their trail of a buffalo when they heard Tomiwa screamed and they all started running in the direction of his voice on getting to him they found him mortally wounded, he said that he was attacked by a Gorilla who snatched his grass cutter from him as soon as he said this he fainted, Deinde and one of the hunters volunteered to take him back to town for treatment, Aderongbe however was determined to hunt the gorilla, one thing that was out of place here was that gorillas do not attack people and take their hunt, gorilla’s avoid humans as much as possible.
The prince and the two hunters started tracking the gorillas, they came to a particular clearing known to be the major gorilla habitation in the forest but the hunting parties were surprised as there were no signs of the gorillas. They continued with their tracking further into the thick forest, suddenly the hunter in front was thrown by a swift figure on to a tree trunk and the hunter died instantly.
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