'GODS AND HEROES' may be the first step in placing the myths of the Yoruba people in the list of epics that make up the world of legends.
-PACIFIC BOOK REVIEW
'Gods and heroes' is a captivating blend of fantasy, myth and history.' - Dominic Jones, Film-maker, contributor to 'D' Magazine.
Dr Oladele Olusanya has written a masterpiece. ‘Gods and Heroes’ is a historical novel which narrates the story of a thousand years of the Yorubas and their interaction with other tribes, in a way which grips and transports the reader to that era.
The story begins with the epic journey of Lamurudu and his clan from Nubia between Sudan and Egypt to a far away promised land, at that time not revealed to any of them by their god, Osa Oke. In those days, men were nor far from spirits and their gods, and Lamurudu regularly consulted his god, for the journey was perilous. They fought pitched battles with strange turbaned men on camels as they crossed mountains, forests and inhospitable deserts. Many died on the way including Lamurudu. The mantle of leadership fell on Oduduwa, a sprightly young man who was the wisest and strongest of Lamurudu’s sons. It was to him that Lamurudu had revealed the vision of the new land. Four years after the journey began, they crossed the mighty river and after a while the oracle revealed that they had reached the promised land. They called it Ile-Ife, for it was the place they finally found comfort and rest. Oduduwa became ruler of the land, the first Ooni of Ife.
Many years after Oduduwa’s demise, when the people of Ile-Ife had forgotten the hardship that forged the creation of their kingdom they became careless with their defense. Strange spirit-like beings in masks started raiding Ile-Ife, carrying the citizens into slavery. The story of how Moremi, the beautiful wife of a prosperous farmer and trader exhibited exemplary bravery and sacrifice and rescued Ile-Ife from the ‘Forest people’ is told in ‘Gods and Heroes.’
Seven Oduduwa sons left Ife to establish kingdoms all over Yorubaland, and they were granted beaded crowns. Oranmiyan, a grandson of Oduduwa was a strong and heavily built man with a wandering bug. He was well schooled in the art of war. The story is told of how he travelled to Ile-Bini, the land of Binis, prevailed in a war against a usurper to the throne and was crowned the ruler of that land, the first to use the title Oba of Benin. After many years on the throne, he left his son Eweka on the throne and resumed his journey with his loyal army of supporters, and established the Oyo kingdom, becoming the first Alaafin of Oyo or Owner of the Palace. The reader is regaled with the story of Sango who became an Alaafin of Oyo at a young age, his many exploits, how he became a ‘fire-spitting’ king, and his wives, Oya and Osun who walked alive into rivers and became goddesses.
Many more stories of chivalry, intrigue and daring-do are recoded in ‘Gods and Heroes.’ This book is a page turner and anyone interested in African history and mythology should read this book.
-Dr Dare Demuren, Author of ‘The Kingmaker’, ‘The long road to Damascus’, and 'Behind the mask.'
REVIEW OF THE SACRED RIVER IN ‘GODS AND HEROES.’
I find the chapter ‘The sacred river’ particularly amazing. The reader is taken through a fascinating journey from the royal beginnings of the hunter, Obariwaju, to his ambition to establish a kingdom, through his solitary existence and meeting with the beautiful Aarin, ending in her transmutation into a priestess and a goddess. The journey of this couple through " Igbo Irunmole" , the Forest of Demons, their arrival at the coast, culminating in their becoming heroes and deities of the land of Ikenne, is one of the great epics of mythology. Captivating to the end, the last section in this chapter is the ultimate achievement of his kingdom by Obariwaju, who has now become the priest, Agboniwo. Altogether this is a beautiful story crafted by a physician who has become a master storyteller. This chapter leaves the reader with a feeling that he now knows how the town of Ikenne in Yorubaland was founded. For me, it was something of a spiritual excursion as all the mythical figures of Yoruba Mythology become flesh and blood, complete with feelings, moods and personalities. ‘Gods and heroes’ is a brilliant effort, representing superb story-telling in the grand tradition. We welcome Dr Oladele Olusanya to the league of master pen craftsmen.’
-GEORGE B. WELLINGTON, CRITIC, MARYLAND
A short review of 'Gods and heroes' Book 1 of 'Itan - legends of the golden age' by Femi Olugbile.
Oladele Olusanya is a medical practitioner of Yoruba descent who grew up in a family of powerful female figures that have presented him with an unusual link to the past history of the Yoruba race. Starting from ‘The Old Woman’ – and coming up to the recent past and his experience of growing up under the care of his grandmother who loved to tell stories, and then a mother who left Ijebu Ode to settle in Lagos, the connecting link is a love, to tell the story of the family.
This epic trilogy represents Oladele’s response to this family tradition of compulsive story-telling. ‘The Old Woman’ lived her life in Ikenne, in the heartland of Ijebu Remo, but her origins go back to Ile Ife and the Oyo Empire. Her forbears, from her recollections, which come from a mixture of direct experience and ‘dream’-revelations, participated intimately in some of the most dramatic events in the history of the Yoruba people. One such ancestor, a man named Osogbesan, was sent by the Oyo Mesi on a mission to Afonja – the estranged Aare Ona Kankanfo in Ilorin, to seek to reconcile him with the Oyo Empire and rescue him from the impending threat of treachery and annihilation by his erstwhile friend Alimi and his al majiri, who had a different agenda. Osogbesan’s efforts would prove futile, and coming back from a trivial assignment in Offa, it would fall to him to free the dead Aare Ona Kankanfo’s body from where it had been impaled upright by the spear of Abdusallam, Alimi’s son. Abdusallam would go on to become the first Emir of an Ilorin that had been effectively excised from Oyo Empire by sword and subterfuge, with its residents given a choice to convert or depart to other parts.
Oladele has written a trilogy telling the story of his family, and also the story of the Yoruba, from an interesting, human angle perspective. His writing makes the figures of history, and also some well-known events, come alive. The work belongs to the genre of ‘faction’, in the tradition of works such as Alex Haley’s ‘ROOTS’. Actual historical events are fleshed out with details ‘as they might have happened’.
With Chapter titles such as The Heroine, (a reference to the mythical figure Moremi), Apotheosis of Sango and Oya, Death of Afonja, and Kiriji, the trilogy holds out an exciting promise of self-discovery for every Yoruba reader, as well as an epic yarn for those readers who just love a good story.
It is a reading experience that will stay with the reader long after the last page has been turned.
-FEMI OLUGBILE, AWARD-WINNING NOVELIST
In this 500-page trilogy novel cast in the genre of historical fiction, Oladele Olusanya marries extensive historical research with lots of fictional imagery and characters to weave an engaging treatise that tells stories from 1000 years of Yoruba history. Factual historical events are presented in a lucid manner interspersed with creativity using a mix of his own family stories in a vivid style akin to Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace,,
- BUNMI ONI, LAGOS
'Takes you on a journey to the glorious past of the Yoruba people... An outstanding ride.' - OLIVER AKAMNONU, AUTHOR OF 'SUPPER OF MANY DISHES' AND 14 OTHER NOVELS.
'A powerful evocation of the past glory of a people... A triumph!' - Dami Ajayi, award-winning poet.
Gods and Heroes is the first volume of the Itan—Legends of the Golden Age trilogy about the thousand-year story of the Yoruba people. It starts with the establishment of Ile-Ife by Oduduwa and the great sacrifice of the heroine Moremi. The ancient gods of Yorubaland, Obatala, Orunmila, Ogun, and Olokun all play their part, as well as the great heroes and heroines of antiquity—Oranmiyan, Sango, Oya, Oba Esigie of Benin, and Obanta of Ijebuland. The author uses the genre of the historical novel in a refreshing and imaginative fashion to present the whole tableau of Yoruba history. The result is a vast and rich panorama enlivened with traditional myths and legends seen through the eyes of a single Yoruba family and the Old Woman, the fabled storyteller.
About the Author
Oladele Olusanya was born in Ibadan, Nigeria to Yoruba parents. Educated at the University of Ibadan medical school, the United Kingdom and the United States, he is an accomplished artist, poet, music enthusiast and a passionate advocate of the revival of the history and culture of his Yoruba people. He lives in Dallas, Texas, where he takes time off from writing to run a busy medical practice.