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History of Sango (The god of Thunder)

Sango Olukoso

Sango is historically a royal ancestor of the Yoruba as he was the third Alafin (king: owner of the palace) of the Oyo Kingdom, born Arabambi(and according to some sources he was also known as “Olufiran” to Oranmiyan, founder of Oyo and Tapa (Nupe) Princess Torosi.

Some would rather say he was the second Alaafin after his elder brother Ajaka was dethroned, due to the fact that Oranmiyan never officially assumed the title of “Alaafin” before going back to Ile – Ife (Osun State)

Sango married at least three wives known as Oba, Osun and Oya. Oba was his first wife who controlled his household as the Iyale. Osun his second, a woman of immense beauty, Sango had used his dancing to attract her, and Oya his last, was his companion at battle, although he didn’t pay her bride price..she had just run away from her cruel husband to Sango’s arms. Why this might seem against everything traditional, it is believed that both Sango and Oya were destined to be together as Ifa had revealed through Orere, the greatest Babalawo of that time.


Torosi, his mother was given by her father known as Elempe to Oranmiyan as a result of the treaty between them. At this time, Oyo-ile was at war with the Bariba of Borgu who wanted to subjugate the new City still under construction. Orangun Ajagunla of Ila, Oranmiyan’s elder brother stormed in with his men to assist.

Not long after the war was won, Oranmiyan welcomed a son Ajuwon Ajaka, much later Arabambi was born by the woman he received from Elempe Tapa, It is believed that the name “Sango” was given by his maternal grandfather or He adopted it from the local name for the God of Thunder, Either way the royal family was devoted to The Spirit of Thunder.

At a young age Arabambi played with Leopard cubs, and developed a wooden axe he carried around everywhere.
At a time he left the palace with his mother and stayed in a place later known as Koso. He became an entertainer, dancing with Masquerades. He even had his own personal drum(Bata) and drummer, he wouldn’t dance to the beat of other drummers, everywhere Sango went his drummer followed him even to a fight. One day Arabambi was teased by the spectators for giving his usual tricks having nothing new to show, he decided to go to his mother’s people , they gave him ingredients to make fire out of his breath.


After Oranmiyan left Oyo to the hands of his son Ajaka and the Oyomesi things became bad for the people, Owu had developed into a fine kingdom with the best military around and they sought to conquer Oyo. One day Ajaka was captured by the Owu soldiers , the Oyo generals were confused and a tug of war began between them, to prevent a state of Anarchy the Oyomesi invited Arabambi. Immediately he took charge he set all the generals to their place, joined the army himself and led the rescue mission to Owu, he brought Ajaka back but the Oyomesi dethroned him and made Sango the new Alaafin.

As Alaafin he was unlike his brother who was weak and let his generals roam without order, Sango placed each of them in strategic locations to keep the Owu in check , he also made successful campaigns to liberate some villages from Owu.
Everyone feared Sango, his wives and even the Oyomesi feared him. Seeking more power he went to the Babalawo for way to make his enemies perish instantly, a charm was prepared with a fine stone that with it Sango could conjure lightening and thunder, this charm known as “Edun ara” is still made today. That is what people use to consult the spirit of thunder whenever something is stolen.

Sango had become possessed by the spirit of lightening and thunder (Arira). A fighter, Head of the Sango cult, King, dancer, military strategist he was a Legend best at everything he did, he made everything he laid his hands on to prosper.

Oya his wife found out his secret, how he was able to just bring up lightening when she found his hidden Edun ara stones, she stole some and used them for herself. When Sango found out, he confronted Oya but unlike usual he met her stand up to him, running back to the Babalawo he advised to let her be, and from then on she became his companion at battle. Oya herself was a priestess of the rain spirit having her craft and together they could bring up storms during battle

Downfall Of Sango

During the late reign(7th year) of Sango, he had two generals: Timi Agbale Olofa-ina who could shoot arrows of fire and Gbonka who was equally powerful. After disobeying his direct order not to match on Owu in Battle, Sango follows Oya’s advice to get rid of them and sent them to govern the border towns of the Empire. Timi obeyed him and left for Ede but Gbonka stayed back in Oyo to pose further treat.

Sango in his quest to destroy them both: sent Gbonka to Ede to capture Timi which he did. Sango who believed that the match in Ede was staged asked for a re-match in Oyo and Gbonka defeated Timi. Sango then ordered that Gbonka should be burnt to ashes. Mysteriously, he appeared after three days giving Sango ultimatum to vacate the throne for his infidelity. Sango angrily requested for his Edun-Ara from Oya, He found it wet and stained with blood from her period.

He left the palace to a high rock facing the palace to re-affirm the potency of his thunderbolt. The thunder he created stroke the palace and burnt it down. Oba and Osun; after losing everything to the inferno, left the palace angrily blaming one another for allowing Oya such access to Sango and fearing for their lives, returned to their homeland Osun to Igede and Oba to Igbon where they were immortalised into Rivers by their people, Oya on her part after hearing of Sango’s death went back to the forest in Nupeland where Sango found her and possibly drowned in the Niger river later named after her.

At the disaster which extended to large parts of the city caused by Sango, some groups began a riot, cursing Sango and demanding his removal, heartbroken he left the City followed by the chiefs and members of his royal cult known as Baba-Mogba persuading him not to leave.

After an unyielding persuasion, the chiefs went back as they approach an Ayan tree in the place called koso with the news that the king has hanged. But another story told by only a few of the Baba-Mogba who did not go back:

Sango was attacked by Gbonka but Sango unwilling to fight varnished into thin air only to appear in the sky to destroy Gbonka and those peddling the rumors that he hanged.

– Hence the popular saying OBAKOSO OR OLUKOSO meaning the king did not hang.

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