Ondo City has been in existence for over 500 years and several individuals attained cult hero status. Stories of these legends were not well documented but passed from one generation to another through oral tradition. It is worthy to note that some of the facts or parts may have been lost. In a chat with Famakinwa Sunday a son of the Jomu dynasty. He narrated the story of first JOMU and was our primary source for this piece.
Aigho, the son of Pupupu (the progenitor of Ondo), was sent to Benin Kingdom to learn about local administration. Benin Kingdom during that period was an institution where you learn about governance and kingdom administration.
After Aigho completed his training programme, Jomu a Benin warrior was assigned to accompany Aigho safely back home due to the hazards associated with traveling through the forest and navigating the thick bushes.
Immediately Pupupu’s died, Aigho was enthroned as the new king. Jomu his confidant and right hand man was made the Prime Minister of Ondo Kingdom. Ondos felt being a non-indegene and a powerful warrior he can oust the King and assume the throne. There was a major kick against the move and Lisa was made the Prime Minister.
Shortly after Aigho’s coronation, civil war started in Yoruba land which ravaged many towns and amulets. Jomu was saddled with the responsibility of leading the war and protecting the Ondo territory. During that period an old man visited him in rags and sores the old man had initially visited other High Chiefs and was rejected due to his appearance. Jomu gave the old man a warm reception and had dinner with him.
The stranger was impressed with this treatment, when everyone retired to bed, he decided to bless Jomu with spiritual powers that made him immortal to successfully prosecute the civil war.
Jomu fought so many wars, destroyed neigbouring towns like Aiye and Oka, Oka in Ondo was a deserted place until recently that people started building houses. He fought towards the Ikale lands, Ijebu lands and towards the Niger River.
One of the feats, though mostly disclaim as myth, was Jomu’s soldiers crossing a river with the aid of his penis. Oral history said Jomu got to a big river and there was no means to cross to the other side but had to conjure a medium by using his penis as the bridge for his warriors to cross the river. His popularity and fear was immense that no kingdom dare wage war against Ondo.
Anytime Jomu was on the battle field he covered his ear drum with wools to enable him concentrate on the battle. On one occasion, he fought towards Ondo killing so many people and had to stop when he realized he was in Ondo by the songs rendered by his wives.
When he got back from the successful prosecution of the war, the Osemawe told Jomu to make a request that would serve as compensation for the numerous victory recorded. He requested that the JOMU chieftaincy title must be solely reserved for his blood line. This is the reason for the rotation of the Jomu title between the five ruling houses Arowobaye, Owurojoye, Ayotilerewa, Ajilaran and Ayetileroja.
Jomu’s popularity, respect and powerful figure made other cabinet members of the Osemawe plot his death. There was an instance he was invited by the LISA, for a function but a big pit was dug under the chair reserved for Jomu something quite similar to the tortoise folk tale “A fi Erin Joba” to eliminate him. Luckily, it was his dog that preceded and died in his place. This scheme made Jomu swear not to visit the Lisa in his lifetime.
Jomu brought so many fruits and foods to Ondo due to his sojourn to other lands. Notable one is okro, during his lifetime the wives were always given okro for free in the market.
If you know the story of some Ondo Legends kindly invite us for a chat using firstname.lastname@example.org.