Ozidi saga [of the Ezon (Ijo) in the delta of the river Niger]

[underlinings are used, as per the orthography in this book, instead of underdottings or undercommaings (cedilla), for the vowels transcribed with special (non-Latin) signs in the International Phonetic Association alphabet]

pp. xx-xxiii synopsis




revolt "by a group of war-lords in the city-state of Orua against the brothers Temugedege, who is king, and Ozidi, the leading general of the state."

"the posthumous birth of the generalís son, ... the numerous battles the hero does with all manner of ... monsters".

"When Ozidi later ... overreaches himself in a series of excesses, he is visited with divine punishment".


"The story of Ozidi opens with the ancient city-state of Orua casting about for a candidate to fill its fatal vacant throne. It is the turn of the seventh and last ... to present the candidate. ... Ozidi ... would rather his family waived their turn; but his idiot elder, Temugedege ... is granted ascension by the Olutu ..., the city lords".

"Ozidiís young widow Orea ... is contemplating suicide, when her mother Oreame ... flies in on her magic fan. ... mother and daughter fly from the hostile city-state Orua for their own town of Ododama."


"the premature birth of the younger Ozidi in ... a storm, followed by his growing up, his return to ... where his idiot uncle cowers decrepit under a silk cotton tree, his discovery of the assassins through their ... boastful wives, the grand running spectacle of ... monsters, finally, ... his eventual visitation ... by the Small-Pox King."


"list of Olotu, ...

Ofe the Short,

Ogueren of the Twenty Toes,

Azezabife the Skeleton Man, and

Agbogidi of the Naked Parts."


"champions ...

Engbesibeoru the Scrotum King and

Tebesonoma of the Seven Heads".


"temptation ... arises from the ... traps of enemies ...

the lap of the temptress wife of Odogu, ... and ...

the brink of Azemaís seven pots, kept always on the boil for human meat."


"the retired wizard Bouakarakarabiri ... invests the young Ozidi with the master charm of mortar and seven cauldrons that, boiling over at every fight, fill all opponents with fear. Because the cunning old magician also passes the same secret and power to a second client, namely, Odogu the Ugly, ... both men clash over the favour of one women."


"the Smallpox King goes off ..., followed by his entire royal entourage of Migraine, Fever, Cold, Cough, Spots and Maggots."

pp. xxv-xxvi language




"the Ijo of Tarakiri Clan own the saga of Ozidi".


"Ijo is unique among West African languages ... in that its tone system subordinates word tones to larger tone patterns so that syntax determines ... tone groups."


there are various Ijo stylistic features shared with Fon narration :



allusion, etc.

p. xxxiv taboos

"Ozidi is forbidden the knowledge of woman ... .

Odugu, ... whose wife tempts him, may not see a new-born child.

Others are forbidden the sight of

new-laid eggs,

unglazed pots,

fresh fish".

pp. xxxv-xxxvi dramatis personae


persons appearing in the epic


10. Frigrinfin / Sigirisi the Net-Man


26. Ewiri the Tortoise, the Amananaowei or Mayor of Orua

27. Tamara or Oyin, the Mother Almighty and Creatrix of All

28. Engbesibeowei the Scrotum-Carrier

39. Tebekawene the Head-Walker

pp. 6-10 Ozidi is killed

p. 6

"a male lizard" was omen to Ozidi, but was ignored by him.

p. 9

Ozidi is beheaded : "when they cut down coco-yam leaves and covered his face, ... they cut with ease".


"Azeza snatched up the head to place it on his own head, ...

p. 10

Ofe ... a ... midget ... snatched up Ozidiís head to place on his own head".

pp. 14-16; 20-22 transformations of Orea-me while feigning to "go to stool"

p. 14

"she ... changed into a hillock"

p. 15

"she changed into a leopard"

p. 21

that hillock left termites

p. 22

that leopard "sped away"

p. 23 a dead iroko was chopped and split into firewood by the boy

pp. 28-30 animals which were successively triturated (with mortar & pestle) by the boy




male monkey




male lizard



p. 51 the boy Ozidi (son of the first Ozidi) disguised himself as a stump {cf. stump-disguise of Sioux spider-god (Inktomi)}

p. 55 Ozidi sent 2 wives as messengers to their husbands

"Deliver that message to Azeza, and then ... fall wide apart. ... Azezaís wife rushed out there, all pieces cutting through the air."

Ofeís wife : "After saying come and do battle with him, ... fall down splintered."

pp. 65-67 Agbogidi

p. 65

"Agbogidi of twenty hands, of twenty feet, ... tied on some" amulets. {cf. the 100-handed Hekaton-kheires, who rapidly untied knots}

p. 67

Agbogidi is "the sponge liana."

pp. 71-95 Azeza

p. 74

"Azeza plunged straight into water." {waterspout?}

p. 75

"Azeza on his one leg, with ... one leap from here ... he vaulted, ... his one eye ... looked".

p. 80

"Azeza ... spinning around ... steadied his one eye".

p. 91

"Azeza ... sent on ... a mermaidís whirlwind".

pp. 182-188 Sigirisi ["Also known as Frinkrifin" (p. 206, n. 18)]

p. 182

"Sigirisi, his body all iron and nothing but iron". {cf. [Yoruba] Ogun}

p. 188

Fingrifin is the nut-palm.

pp. 194-200 Ofe

p. 194

"After being mown through, he formed into a new thing. After being carved up, he emerged a new creation." {cf. the re-assembling of the body-parts of the dismembered Osiris} {Nara-ayana slew the Asura Indra-damana, and "had cut off his head, hands, and other limbs, which returned anew to their places." ("BANA&V" 4)}

p. 196

the taboo {cf. Irish geisa} of Ofe : "dig up a mandrake. ... Next a plantain, pluck its fresh budding front. Then, the head of a rat, ... put all these things into the pot".

"BANA&V" = INDIAN ANTIQUARY, vol. 4 (1875). Vassilief : "Biographies of As`vaghos.a, Nagajuna, Aryadeva, and Vasubandhu". http://www.sacred-texts.com/journals/ia/banav.htm

pp. 210-228 the Scrotum King ["The Ijo. name is Engbesibeoru, with the variation Engbesibowei, one meaning "the Scrotum-Carrying God", and the other "The-Scrotum-Carrying-Man"." (p. 268, n. 4)] {personified ailment of scrotal elephantiasis; cf. [Bauddha god] Kumbha-an.d.a}

p. 210

"puffing at his pipe" {cf. pipe-smoking Maya god}

p. 224

"he rocketed off, straight for a kukuru tree."

p. 226

charm for overcoming the Scrotum King : "When youíve caught the frog, then go and catch a lizard. ... go next and pluck that ... ripe plantain ..., having tied this to those creatures, put this into the left hand".

p. 229 "And now the spirit of the Scrotum King entered into him".

pp. 232-235 Odoguís wife

p. 232

"there was Odoguís wife washing up ... . And as she was washing up, he [Ozidi] saw that she was most beautiful."

p. 233

Odoguís wife said : "the husbands we have, with shins like buttress roots." ["Odoguís shin spread ... like a buttress. ... his eyes, both were like those of the mudskipperís" (p. 286)]


"Soon Ozidi was sitting on her outstretched legs."

pp. 237-266 Tebe-sonoma

p. 237

"Seven heads he had to himself."

p. 242

"a man took out a male vulture ... and cut his own leg." {cf. South American tropical forest myth of man who cut off his own leg}

p. 247

Egberigbelea ["One not touched by a dispute" (p. 268, n. 26)] was sister of Tebe-sonoma.

p. 248

"Ayanma our father is fire and burns up men."

p. 249

Tebe-sonomaís sister 2nd name was Anetorofa ["The one without sight" (p. 268, n. 27)].

p. 255

iroko tree fell upon husband of Tebe-sonomaís sister.

p. 256

Tebe-sonomaís sister stated : "I was already past child-bearing when I grew big with child." {cf. the same situation with S`arahís bearing her son Yis.h.aq}

p. 260

Tebe-sonoma proposed to Ozidi : "So letís be allies."

p. 266

"only the cock on his head was left." {cf. Maya gods having birds atop their heads}

p. 267

"And the fowl was ... craning his head to peck at the grains of corn."

pp. 279-293 Odoguís wife again

p. 279

Odoguís wife falsely accused Ozidi to her husband : "He tried to rape me but in vain. Iíve been struggling with him ... . ... [Ozidi] couldnít be taken prisoner in another personís house, and like lightning he was off". {cf. Pot.iparís wifeís falsely accusing Yo^sep}

p. 283

"But when he [Odogu] tried to grab him [Ozidi], ... his body was ... okra, all slippery".

p. 284

"Oreame flew on and on, and taking the woman [Odoguís wife] with them, she touched down on home ground." {cf. the carrying off Rama-candraís wife Sita in a flying vimana}

p. 287

"What the female organ looked like, he [Ozidi] had no idea."

pp. 289-290

Odoguís wife required, as a prae-condition of sexual intercourse with him (p. 290), that he tell her (p. 289) "what makes you so strong? ... whatís the secret?" {cf. Dlilahís requiring of S^ims^o^n the secret of what made him so strong}

p. 291

"taking the sword, ... he slept beside her till daybreak without making further advances." {cf., in Norse saga, a sword between a man and a woman while they slept together, to keep them from sexual intercourse}

p. 294

Ozidiís secret "thing is so heavy that, as I approach the doorway, youíll have to come out fast to take it yourself." {cf. the carrying away, by S^ims^o^n, of the city-gates}

pp. 296-306 Odoguís mother

p. 296

Odoguís mother Agonodi : "Both her eyes were set in the middle of her head. And upon her head fire smouldered".

p. 299

"Smoke-clouds belched out of her head in regular curls."

p. 300

"this boy, Ozidi seized the two hands of Odoguís wife, and held both her legs up in the air. ... The woman hung out there, her parts swinging in the air."

p. 305

Oreame "overflew Odoguís mother ... . When Agonodi heeled around, she let her hand drop" the magical resuscitating herb. ... "And Oreame snatched the herb."

pp. 320- 337 Tebe-kawene ["He who walks on his head" (p. 324, n. 16)]

p. 326

"In came Tebekawene ... on his head, and levering himself upon his hands firmly on the ground, ... his head to the ground, his feet in the air." {[Maori god] Tane is standing upside-down}

p. 330

Tebe-kaweneís wife Ekrepo added pepper and salt to food. {cf. [Aztec goddess] Huixto-cihuatl and Lo^t.ís wife}

p. 331

Tebe-kaweneís wife : "her head was bald ... . Her teeth were like blocks."

p. 335

"Tebekawene ... picked him [Ozidi] up."

p. 336

"And off, off Tebekawene bore him." {cf. the carrying off of the infant Kr.s.n.a by Trin.a-vartta}

pp. 344-358 Azema & her son [p. 346] Azema-roti

p. 344

"this woman Azema, her teeth were all scarlet with blood. She fed only on men."


"In these seven pots they crammed and cooked themselves human beings.:

p. 351

"a swim" : "Racing to the stream, they threw themselves in. Both broke into free strokes, roaring through the water for several laps. These two, child and mother, played".

p. 353

"Then he went and brought water ... and poured it lingeringly over her head before both splashed back into the stream."

p. 355

Azema-rotiís town was Gbekebo

p. 357

Orea-me "perched as a fly upon Azema. ... Next, Oreame took out needles and stuck them ... all over her head. {cf. acupuncture} It was a bundle of spikes that Oreame stuck into her."

p. 358

While chewing, Azema "sounded like a woodpecker at work."

p. 362

"Her decapitated head was still pulsating with life so that the teeth kept on grinding." {cf. the head of Medousa, effective even after beheaded}

p. 368

charm for slaying Azema-roti : fresh unripe plantain, a tadpole, a red birdís egg.

p. 370

"the mother immediately turned into a skeleton." {cf. [Aztec living skeleton goddess] Mictlanca-cihuatl}

p. 374

Ozidi murdered his uncle Temugedege by "choking".

pp. 375-386 smallpox-god

pp. 375-377

In order to punish Ozidi for having murdered his own uncle, Anglese [the smallpox-god (p. 390, n. 40)] arrived in a boat and afflicted him with smallpox.

p. 384

miraculous cure of Ozidi from smallpox by Orea-meís herbal medicinal-bath "frothing all over."

p. 386

Ozidi "chopped up Engradon [smallpox-god (p. 30, n. 50)] himself along with his men, cutting up the boat into bits and pieces."

J. P. Clark (collector & translator from the Ijo) : The Ozidi Saga. Ibadan U Pr, 1977.

{is /oZIDI/ = /ZaYDI^/ religious denomination of Yemen?}