Sango, Osun, and Oba’s ears.

This is my absolutely favourite Yoruba mythology story. I first heard it in school and the story has never stopped ringing in my ears. Here’s my fun retelling:

So Sango had three wives. Osun, Oba, and Oya.

You know how people say you should not play favourites with family. Yeah, Sango did not hear word. Osun was Sango’s favourite. And Oba didn’t like that very much.

So Oba went to Osun and was basically like, “Yo! Osun. Not that I care or anything, but why does Sango love you so much?

“Because I’m awesome, duh.”

Oba thought about it for a minute. Then, “Nah, it can’t be.”

“It is, yeah.” Osun reiterated.

“Hair?” Oba had the common Yoruba “h” factor of sorts and a habit for mispronouncing y and h.

“No, yeah.” Osun repeated.


Osun rolled her eyes then thought about it for a minute. There was not a lot to do back then so sixty seconds was a reasonably long period of time to keep someone waiting for a reply.

“Yeah,” Osun said, joking. “I cut off a piece of my ear and cooked it. Sango has never stopped loving me since.”


“Really.” Osun said, about to tell Oba she was joking.

“Oh,” Oba said, “So that’s why you wear those ugly ass geles all the time.”

Osun gave a tight smile. “Yeah, that’s why I wear those ugly ass geles all the time”

“They really are dreadful, Osun. Like insanely bad. Sometimes I can’t bear to look at them.” Oba said, looking at the one Osun was wearing. It was a pink and yellow monstrosity and Osun loved it with all her heart.

Osun tugged on the gele self-consciously and stalked off, ears burning with embarrassment.

Oba was excited that the foolish Osun revealed her secret and did not have enough of a brain between her ears to think it through.

Her thought process was basically, what am I using my ears for anyway? Hearing? Pfft. When has good hearing ever helped anyone’s life? It’s no biggie. I’ll just chop them both up, and make some soup.”

She grinned from ear to ear at the thought of Sango loving her most.

So Oba sliced and diced her ears and made steaming hot, glorious pepper soup. Onions, pepper, cardamom, pepper, ginger, pepper and most importantly pepper. Oh, and human ears.

So she went up to Sango, the great love of her life and said, “Honey, sugar pie, ololufemi, olowo ori mi, honeybunch.”

And Sango wondered what the hell “sugar pie” meant because no body spoke English back then.

But he played along with his wife, and said, “Yes, sugar pie, whatever that means. I’m all ears”

“Your lunch is ready, my Lord.” Oba smiled.

Now Sango liked food, so he rubbed his palms together and said he was ready to eat.

Oba set a table before him, and uncovered the delicious smelling delicacy.

Sango dug in with gusto, the soup was quite delicious, but he couldn’t quite place where the meat was from.

“Oba, where did you get this meat from?” he asked, curious.

“Oh, you know… “ Oba said, adjusting the scarf covering her ears, shyly. “Ear and there.”

Sango chewed on a particularly crunchy, cartilaginous piece of meat. “Oh, but it doesn’t taste like hare or deer. I’ve eaten both many times, dear.”

“Oh it’s definitely ear from your dear.”

“Uhn?” said Sango, confused.

Oba smiled coquettishly.

“Tell me, now.” Sango said softly.

“I cant heeear you” Oba was talking a little louder than usual. Everything was a little quieter without ears.

“What meat is this na?” Sango was nearly halfway done by now.

Oba, dramatically removed her scarf in slow motion, Bollywood style.

“My ears, my love.”

“excuse me?” Sango could not quite believe his ears.

“I cooked my ears, ayanfe mi. Do you love it? Do you love me?”

“No!” Sango yelled.


“No, Jesus! No. ” Sango, the god of thunder screamed, flinging the bowl of soup and rose in anger. “Do I look like a cannibal to you? Christ!”

“Well,” Oya twiddled her fingers. “I don’t know what a cannibal looks like.”

But Sango might as well cut off his ears too cause he wasn’t listening anymore.

He was furious. He was angry. He was enraged. He was still hungry. He was a storm, thunder and lightning. And you know what happens when someone rains lightning on your house?

That’s right, you make an improvised lightning rod conductor. But if there’s no time for that, you run the hell away. And that’s what the three wives did.

Oba was scared, and rightfully so. But more importantly, she was angry with Osun, and maybe a little rightfully so. She was quite ready to box Osun’s ears off and bury her in a deep, dark grave.

So when she saw Osun, her entire thought process was, “This bitch will see werey (madness) today. Osun ran like the devil was behind her, but ‘twas not the devil but Oba, hot on her heels.

“I’m sorry. ” Osun screamed into the rain, looking back. “It was a joke.”

“I can’t…” Oba took off a shoe and threw it at Osun. “f**king hear you.”

Osun saw there was literally no way Oba would listen to her.

When Osun got tired, she fell and turned into a river (Boy I wish I could do that) and the river is called (super surprisingly) River Osun. And Oba tried chasing her and became River Oba. Till today, the two of them don’t see eye to eye and form turbulent rapids at their tributary.

Author’s note: I live in Osun state but I’ve never actually been to see the place the two rivers meet. And I wish I could say whenever I see river Osun, I remember my favourite mythology story and I am transfixed, but my thoughts are usually more in lines of “Jesus, please don’t let me fall in and die.”

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