Sango

Sango staff; one of the several woodworks; Sango Wand or Ose. Photo: Ulli Beier

Sango was the fiendish Alaafin of Old Oyo, the era of whom the popular Yoruba chant, Kabiyesi, meaning “He who is answerable to no one,” is probably originated. The practicability of the Kabiyesi chant was ironically put to test a few times in Shango’s reign, but not without consequences. Sango was a brother to Ajaka, who was dethroned because of his perceived weakness. As the Alafin, he displayed magical abilities that conclusively ended Olowu’s temporary superiority to the Oyo throne. This same ability subsequently earned him notoriety among his subjects and his reign ended tragically after an experimentation that went awry. He caused his own palace to burn in error, leading to the death of his beloved while trying out a new magic. The sober people of Oyo thereafter recalled the Alafin’s brother, Ajaka, whose ousting had paved the way for Shango’s seven years reign.

Shango’s inability to leave a heir averted all possible crises at the end of his brother, Ajaka’s second reign, and Ajaka’s son, Aganju became without controversy, the fifth Alafin of the old Oyo Empire. Sango is being venerated by some people of Yoruba origin. A high budget epic movie on Sango was produced in early 2000s with Obafemi Lasode of the City University, New York acting Sango.