Long before the white men settled on the shores of West Africa.
There was a great warrior and wrestler in the Benin kingdom.
His name was Joromi.
Joromi was tall, young, very handsome, the desire of all the maidens.
His ambition was to be the chief bodyguard of the Oba of Benin.
So he showcased his strength at every opportunity he got.
Joromi’s father was a farmer who had large acres of farmland where palm trees grew.
There was a mysterious palm tree that his father always warned him about.
“My son, don’t you ever climb on this palm tree!”
But Joromi was a stubborn man.
One bright morning, he climbed the tree and tapped it.
Immediately he saw seven Spirit beings hovering around the tree.
The spirit beings had seven heads each.
Joromi challenged them to follow him to the wrestling arena.
They followed him.
He was happy that he finally had a chance to prove his power.
Joromi’s sister turned into a fly and followed him to the wrestling arena.
She perched on his right ear and began to sing to him,
“Kri kese, kese, Joromi o…Jomijo, Krri kisi kisi”
It was an ominous tune admonishing Joromi, “Don’t wrestle with these ones Joromi, don’t wrestle with these ones!”
The elders assembled and shook their heads disapproving of the fight.
But Joromi was adamant, he cut off the head of one of the spirits with his machete and began wrestling with them in the ring.
The whole kingdom gathered to watch the fight.
Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed across the sky and a heavy rain came pouring down.
A thunderbolt struck Joromi on his head.
He fell down and laid flat on the ground.
His body suddenly disappeared from sight alongside with the spirits.
Everybody fled the arena.
The tale spread through the kingdom and across the other seven kingdoms.
Several centuries later, in the present day Nigeria an Edo musician Sir Victor Uwaifo saw Joromi in his dream one rainy night.
In the dream, Joromi told the musician to record a song about him.
The next morning Victor Uwaifo wrote the song.
He recorded it and performed it with his guitar band.
The song became a hit highlife song across the country and West Africa.
Several years after, Joromi appeared to a Yoruba girl on a street in Lagos one rainy night.
Her name is Simisola.
She saw him and fell in love with him instantly.
He smiled at her and disappeared from sight.
She ran back home and couldn’t sleep that night.
The next morning she went to the studio and recorded a song,
“Joromi, I want you to love me
Joro baby take my number
You know you can call me later
Me I want to be your lover
Oh baby call me later”
The song became a hit single.
The legend of Joromi continues till this day.
Nobody knows where or to whom he will appear to next.
He may appear to you tonight.
Iniobong Leroi Umoh is a storyteller, a satirist and creative writer. He blurs the line between reality and fiction and seeks to create a connection with the reader through engaging content. His works have been featured across various online and offline platforms. He hopes to one day travel around the world on a luxury yacht, sipping expensive wine and documenting all his experiences in a journal.
You can send him a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.