Nigerian Folktales

The story of Oluronbi and Iroko Oluwere, the spirit-tree

The story of Oluronbi and Iroko Oluwere
The story of Oluronbi and Iroko Oluwere

A mighty tree in the forest in a certain ancient village in Yorubaland, Ajangbe, where people would go to implore the spirit of the tree for different favours is called Iroko Oluwere.

The Iroko oluwere was kind, grant people their wishes and they must reciprocate with gifts.

In the history of Ajangbe, there were many barren women. They desperately wanted children and decided to ask the Iroko tree for help.

They went to the tree to beg the Iroko spirit for help. The Iroko tree asked each of the women who showed up what she would give in return for bearing a child. And woman after woman promised the Iroko tree spirit goats, yams, handwoven cloth or whatever it was she sold for a living as many of these women were traders who sold their wares at a weekly market in an open field.

One of the women who was named Oluronbi also approached the Iroko tree for help.
When Olurombi got to lroko Oluwere, she pleaded with the tree to give her a child. She vowed to return the child back to the powerful tree if her request was granted. Iroko was pleased with the pledge made by Olurombi because all the other people that have been coming before her, no one had ever made that kind of vow.

Some months later Olurombi became pregnant and had a baby girl. She was so happy and she named the child Aponbepore meaning “the one as red as palm oil”.

Aponbepore began to grow up but the mother, Oluronbi, did not remember to fulfill the vow she made with lroko Oluwere. So, when lroko Oluwere had waited for a long time without Oluronbi fulfilling her promise, the spirit- tree decided to go to her house and take Aponbepore. On getting to the house, the spirit-tree gripped Aponbeore’s hand and began to drag her away. The villagers started singing so as to serve as a reminder for everyone seeking out for favour.

Since then this song has been sung to remind people of Oluronbi’s story:

Onikaluku jeje ewure (everyone promised to offer a goat)
Ewure, ewure (goat, goat)

Onikaluku jeje aguntan (everyone promised to offer a sheep)
Aguntan bolojo (A fleshy sheep)

Oluronbi jeje omo re (Oluronbi promised to offer her child)
Omo re apon bi epo (Her child who is as light skinned as palm oil)

Oluronbi O! (Oluronbi O!)
Jo’in jo’in (*make that up*)

Iroko (a mighty tree in the forest)
Jo’in jo’in (*make it up*)

Oluronbi O! (Oluronbi O!)
Jo’in jo’in

Jo’in jo’in

This story of Oluronbi and Iroko Oluwere teaches us never to make a promise or vow that we cannot fulfill.

Thanks for reading,

Bofias; OldNaija editorial board

Cite this article as: Teslim Omipidan. (September 6, 2018). The story of Oluronbi and Iroko Oluwere, the spirit-tree. OldNaija. Retrieved from


  1. The issue is not just about making promises but doing so out of desperation and a terrible sense of loss. Her tragic story amplifies double losses where in an attempt to fill a vacuum a grater greater void is created. How sad!

  2. thank’s alot u made this holiday more at ease .that the problem with human it not about making the promise . It all about fullfill it. A good example are our leader were seeking for power . Will be promise heave and earth . I thank god this generation we see through those lies

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