“Wole Soyinka: A Modern Reincarnate of OGUN”

1144 views | Sesan Johnson | July 15, 2019

Within the remix of concocted and convoluted myths in Yoruboid cosmogony, OGUN is a mysterious figurine with multi-dimensional capabilities. He erupted as Yoruboid Pantheon with seven lives. He’s known for his scientific understanding of the underpinning technologies behind warfare, hunting, music, drama, blacksmithing, road construction, and designs & modelling. Beyond Ogun’s spiritualism; he understood spiritual economics and state ideation and cultural sociation. He initiated his protegees into healing from the etu ibon. He introduced into the society the efficacy of swearing or vowing with his technological manufactures. No wonder, he was deified.

On the one hand, OGUN used the technology of iron and metallurgical innovation to create paths for all the irunmoles in their transduction from immortality into humanity. He was a hunter that hunted not only for animals but for new settlements, ideas, dramatisation and literary repertories including chants (ijala ode). On the other hand, as a reincarnate, Wole has in his repertories all the technologies that OGUN utilised (poems, ibon, drama, forests, etc). Like other Yoruboid Pantheons, Ogun’s ideation had critical imports on the thought system of Wole. You can see this in his disquisition in Dawn, Death in the Dawn, Abiku, Idanre, Hunt of the Stone and Ogun Abibimah.

Ogun affects are trans Atlantic. It’s myths, worship, genre of music, his hunting skills and alagbede-metallurgy have been globalized; from Southwestern Nigeria to Benin Republic to Brazil and to Haiti. Who can deny the trans-nationalism and trans-territoriality of Ogun as a concept, what I refer to as “Ogunism”? Ogun is called ‘St. George’ in Rio de Janeiro and ‘St. Anthony’ in Bahia, Brazil. For those in Trinidad it is ‘St Michael’.

What about Wole Soyinka’s genres? No one can argue its globalization.

Akínwáandé Olúwolé Babátúndé Sóyíinká is a literary god. “The Trials of Brother Jero” is his first book that made lasting impact on the way I reflect on the society. His muse and writings on OGUN, his beloved Yoruba Pantheon also shape my rethinking of the scientific past of the Yoruba nation.

If you do a historical diagnosis of some of the gross inaccuracies and nuances, as well as skepticisms inherent in colonialist discourse of the early half of the twentieth century regarding the inability of Africans to produce great poetic verses and profound literary works, you will concur with me that Wole Soyinka played one of the leading roles in demystifying and debunking these prejudiced premises.

For me, Wole Soyinka is a living African Pantheon – a modern archetype of OGUN.

Kongi, like Ogun, you are a path finder. Happy 85th birthday, SIR.

Sesan Michael JOHNSON is an OAU-Ife trained historian. He’s been published nationally and internationally.

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