Queen Moremi Ajasoro

Meji Meji Mama’s birth name is Moremi. She was named for the valiant Yoruba queen, Moremi of the 12th century.

At the time, Ile-Ife was being constantly raided by the neighbouring Ugbo tribe, known to them as the Forest people, because the clothing that they wore was made out of raffia leaves. The Forest people took numerous Ile-Ife residents as slaves at every raid. The residents lived in constant fear of these raids, but could not do anything about it as they believed the raffia-clad Forest people were spirits, and they did not want to further anger them.

Moremi was the wife of the Ooni of Ife at the time, King Oranmiyan. She was distraught at what was happening to her people and constantly pondered how to alleviate the attacks and the effects on her citizenry. This led her to the Esinmirin River, she promised the Spirit of the river anything it wanted if the Spirit could help her discover the strength and weakness of the Forest people attacking Ile-Ife. Esinmirin told Moremi to let herself be taken by the Forest people on their next raid.

Moremi was present at the central market at the next Ugbo raid. When the entire market dispersed, and the Ugbo people rallied the people that they had caught amidst the pandemonium, Moremi was amongst them. The Ugbos made their way to their town with their prisoners and other spoils of their raids.

Moremi was a very beautiful and skillful woman, and soon enough she won the favour of the king of the Ugbo people. He made her his queen, and she won his trust and that of the Ugbo people too. With their trust won, she familiarised herself with the military and their strategies. She plied the king with food and palm wine one fateful night, and asked for the secret of the Ugbo warriors. He told her how the garb the warriors wore was made of grass, and if a lit torch were to be thrown at them, they would be defeated.

With the information she needed, she escaped to Ile-Ife that same night. Upon getting there, she went to her first husband’s palace, and divulged everything she knew. The Ile-Ife warriors then devised a plan to set the Ugbo warriors on fire at their next raid. They were successful, and the Ugbos reign of terror on Ile-ife and its residents ended.

Moremi was true to her word, and she went to the Esinmirin River with large offerings of goats, sheep and cattle. None of which the river accepted, instead the Spirit asked for her first born son, Oluorogbo. Moremi was devastated, but she had made a promise, so she brought her son to the river Spirit, to fulfil her promise.

The whole of Ife mourned Oluorogbo’s loss with Moremi, and vowed to live as her children in acknowledgement of her sacrifice. Till today, Moremi’s sacrifice is still commemorated with the Edi festival in Ile-Ife.