Owu, a Yoruba Retelling of the Trojan War

“The Women Of Owu” tells the story of a war that started because of a beautiful woman and two men who felt cuckolded.

Sound familiar? That’s maybe because it is. A similar story
happened between the Trojans, the Greeks and the horse. You know, the
solution to every love triangles is always war. This love triangle was between Dejumo, Maye and, a beautiful woman who went by the name, Iyunloye.

It is a tragic story about three people whose sex life caused a whole war, massacre, death. It was written by Femi Osunloye and is one of my favourite plays — despite the death, massacre, and worst of all, the love triangle.

It all started with a woman called Iyunloye. Maye Okunade loved Iyunloye with all his heart. That made sense because she was his favourite wife. Sadly, his love didn’t keep her from being captured by the Owu soldiers when they invaded the Apomu market. The young prince Dejumo saw her beauty and took her as his wife.

Remember this, folks. Love won’t save you from kidnapping.

So, of course, Maye was furious. I would be, too, if anyone stole my wife. He was a craftsman who made the best fabrics. But after this maddening heartbreak, Maye became a man of violence, a man of war, the liquid metal. He officially changed his name to Femi (no, he didn’t. ) Maye gathered the allied forces of Ife, Ijebu, and Ijesha (I’ll call them Ifejebujesha from now on) to end the tyrannical reign of the king of Owu, Oba Adejobi. This was because he didn’t want to use his whole mouth to say that he was fighting because of a woman. Especially when he heard rumours that Iyunloye had fallen in love with her captors (beauty and the beast style).

Oba Adejobi as Jasmine

Now the Owu City had tall walls. I would say they had walls taller than the city of Jericho, but I don’t know because I was not there. So, as you might know from any history book, tall walls are a good recipe for a long siege.
One important part of protecting your city during a siege is having sufficient resources to feed your people. So luckily for Owu, they had a famine three years into the siege. So, there was hunger, hardship, and all that good stuff in Owu. But the people kept sacrificing to the gods, hoping for salvation.

Outside Owu, life was pretty boring. The allied forces of Ifejebujesa had gathered for war. There wasn’t much to do except try poking at the wall and watching grass grow. So seven years into the siege, the city of Owu woke up to see that the allied forces of Ifejebujesha had left after seven years of futility. The people were overjoyed. Little did they know that it was a very Trojan-horse tactic. A very Trojan-horse tactic, I tell you.

So the Owu people were like, “it’s so cool that we aren’t at war now. This peace will last for ages. Oh, wow, my house is on fire now.” That was when the first of the flaming arrows came along. They came in droves setting fire to everything. The people screamed and ran to the gates. “The gates, the gates, open the gates.”

They axed down the city gates, to escape death. And they ran straight from frying pan to fire. Or rather from fire, to the hands of the Ifejebujesha warriors, who I will like to imagine, were cackling maniacally, like fire nation warriors.

The warriors had hidden in the forest and attacked now with newfangled devices, like guns, that they had gotten from Lagos and trading with Europeans.

A night before, Oba Adejobi and some of his chiefs had escaped sneakily through secret tunnels, leaving their people to the mercy of the war.

So, the seven years of war ended. Iyunloye, the woman at the centre of this love triangle was taken back by the Ifejebujesha warriors. The sufficiently bloodthirsty Ifejebujesha warriors went about slaughtering every man who was still alive, starting with the Owu royalty themselves. They let the women stay alive though. Because of course, while a man can transmit his nationality or tribe to her child, a woman cannot. (Go misogyny!) So what happened to the Women of Owu, after going through such trauma, such sadness? You can find out in the next instalment of this series – Owu. In two week’s time. Have the patience of the Ifejebujesha warriors.

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