Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀ – not just a fairy tale after all!

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Sayo - Ogboju ode ninu igbo irunmale -2

Sayo Aluko

There’s a tale locked deep in Yoruba folklore, growing up, we were told about it.

That, long loun loun time ago, there used to be an “igbo irunmale”! A grisly forest of demons, ghoul and goth, where neither hunter nor layman could scavenge for game.

But that there was a braveheart who dared this forest! They called him “Ogboju Ode ninu igbo irunmale“. This meant a savant hunter in this dreadful forest of ghoulish demons and monsters.

Ogboju ode ninu igbo irunmale - book cover

Well, this folklore is actually from a book originally written and published by the great David. O Fagunwa in 1938 with the same title “Ogboju Ode ninu igbo irunmale“. It was the first full-length novel published in the Yoruba language. It was then translated into English language in 1968 by Kongi as “The Forest of a Thousand Daemons“.

Forest of a Thousand Daemons

Today, I entered that forest. LOL.

See, D.O Fagunwa actually wrote another novel titled “Igbo Olodumare” – Forest of the Supreme God. And another, “Irinkerindo Ninu Igbo Elegbeje” – Mysterious meander through the maniacal Forest (I think I’m trying with this translations sha, my non-Yoruba friends, nor vex abeg).

So yeah, Fagunwa had a thing for the forest. He was a laureate of loosely constructed picaresque fairy tales containing many folklore elements. He was specifically fond of spirits, monsters, gods, magic, and witchcraft.

And, today, actually it was yesterday, I got to know that the forest that bore Fagunwa’s fictional fantasies wasn’t a fantasy after all, a stretch of forest located in a place called Oke-Igbo in the southern district of Ondo state.

Today, I entered the forest, fearlessly, yeah, I’m Ogboju like that…The mountainous ridge in the background of these pictures aren’t made of rocks, they are thick folds of tropical forest….trees, herbs, and maybe, demons a lá Fagunwa.

Sayo - Ogboju ode ninu igbo irunmale

Chai, Ondo is sitting on a lot of wealth!!! If only this state knew what this means in tourist currency.

The forest is still fiery, but civilisation don bash am small.

My friends from Oke-Igbo, from one of the okes (tops) in Oke-Igbo, I hail oh!!


If you’re in Nigeria and would like a copy of this book, it seems Sunshine Nigeria still have copies. Every home should own a copy because the writing style is impeccable, the story, ageless. Shop here >>

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Although the story was woven around the character of Akara Ogun the central hero in the book It was actually a tale about 7 brave hunters each one symbolic of the ideal character traits of the ideal hero in his journey through life Akara Oogun, Eifoye, Imodoye, Kako Oni kumoekun, Olohuniyo, Aramanda Okunrin and Elegbede Ode

    • Oh Yeah. …and Mr. Wole Fatunde takes us deeper into it.

      Thank you!

      Kaaaaakooooooo Oni kumoekun actually was my favorite….just for the coinage of his name alone. 😃😃😃

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