An exemplary wife, “O to ro ro omi a le Ife. Ara yi to mu nibe ko wopo o” ‘clean and unnatural water full of purity and without blemish. Those who drink from it are few’.
Yeyemolu, the first wife & queen of Oduduwa, the progenitor of diverse independent royal dynasties in Yorubaland, ultimately the first Ooni of Ife.
Yeyemolu is also the revered wife, the first wife of all other Ooni and a legacy passed on by Oduduwa to every subsequent Ooni of Ife, down to the Incumbent king and the 51st H.I.M Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, ojaja II, although she is no more in the physical realm.
Yeyemolu was said to be the kindhearted, loving and supportive wife to Oodua. Oduduwa cherished her so much, but as fate would have it, she could not conceive, and could not give her husband “Arole” a heir despite all effort. Yeyemolu insisted that her husband, should marry a second wife who would bare him children peradventure. Oduduwa, at first did not like the idea, however he succumbed. The then Ooni therefore, married another wife who gave birth to a child, fortunately. Yeyemolu was so happy for the new blessing Olodumare (God) bestowed upon the family.
Shortly after the birth, Yeyemolu said to the king that she was about to surprise him; the king laughed and anticipated a surprise from Olori (Queen). Couple of days later, Yeyemolu went missing in the palace; no one could account for her whereabout. Alarming! Whilst in search for Yeyemolu, one of the Emese (king’s helper) found a strange sight in the palace; it happened to be a freshly dug well. He reported to the king with tremendous alacrity and he also sighted the well. The king found the well mysterious, due to the fact that, he had not ordered a well to be dug.
Therefore, the king invited Babalawo Orunmila (an Ifa priest) who in-turn consulted the oracle regarding the circumstances. Orumila bara egbon miregun, the Orisa (diety) of wisdom, knowledge and divination, who understands the human form and purity as the premodial diety (orisa abalaye), the eleri ipin (witness of fate) categorically explained to Kabiyesi how the well came about, instantaneously. “Yeyemolu had turned herself into the sacred living spring/well.”
Orunmila made it possible for the king to see and converse with his beloved wife. Yeyemolu said, “It was my wish to continue my life as a well so I could be a blessing unto the king and others. I would always be there any time I am needed; I promise to support you (the king) or whoever comes to ask me for a favour in good faith, I would remain a pillar of support forever.” All that needs to be done is to speak to Yeyemolu and also drink from the well; all problems are considered resolved by Olodumare through the living deity, Yeyemolu.
Ever since, Yeyemolu is the first contact of any Ooni in the Palace having ascended the throne of their fore-fathers and it is pertinent to perform some rights as would be expected of an Oonirisa to his beloved Olori on entering the palace. One of which is literally crossing the well. Also together as couple the king deliberates with his beloved wife Yeyemolu on his activities and decide on steps to be taken on a daily basis. The water from this well is said to be used to carry out all water-required activity of the Oonirisa in the palace.
Any other Olori(queen) who comes to the Palace of the Ooni must accord Yeyemolu the expected respect and would have to a take cue from her otherwise; she would be an unwelcomed guest at the palace. It is imperative that this supernatural being is celebrated every April, as she is “Oro” (a must do sacrifice).
One other wonderful thing about this well is that, it is uncovered and yet remains spotless clean/pure when drawn. It is the wish of Yeyemolu to be left open as she seeks to look unto God. From a source “an occurrence” was however recorded during the reign of Ooni Okunade Sijuwade. The well has remained uncovered for ages, and Ooni Sijuwade decided to cover it. The chiefs advised against that action, but the king said it was necessary for hygiene purpose. The Kabiyesi therefore gave the job to a carpenter.
A nice cover was constructed for the well. After finishing the work, as the carpenter was about to lower the lid, to cover the well, his hammer fell inside it. The incident was reported to Ooni Sijuwade, who paid the carpenter, and he left.
The following day, the lid that was attached to the well, and the hammer that fell inside it were seen on the ground, close to the well. Hence, the well has never been covered “
I had a wonderful time as I scooped from the water from the well into a cup and gulp for vitality then I rinsed my face with it.
Photos by @theadebayomi