Omodoko is another Princess from Idah who is believed to have sacrificed her life for the safety of her people.
This is a story about a brave Princess, a river and some uneatable breed of fish.
Many of the accounts of historical events in Nigeria are told orally and passed down through generations. For this reason, there are many versions of the story and parts of the stories are usually missing.
This is the case of the Igala people. In Idah Kingdom, there are many natural and tourist attractions, which include the Inachalo river and statues of two ancient princesses.
While it is known that Princess Inikpi sacrificed herself for the safety of her people in the Igala-Benin war, Princess Oma-Odoko was buried alive during the time of the Igala-Jukun war. Her death and the war are also closely linked to the cursed Inachalo river whose bank is home to the Oma Odoko shrine.
You can find Omodoko’s statue near her shrine to commemorate the Princess’ braveness and her role in the preservation of the Igala people and culture.
What is the legend of the Princess?
As the legend goes, Princess Omodoko asked to be buried alive alongside some slaves, just like Inikpi.
According to Tom Miachi in The Incarnate Being Phenomenon in African Culture, “The Inachalo river was poisoned by Igala or Igala aided medicine men, leading to untold death of the invading Jukun forces.”
It is also said that Hausa mallams from Bebeji in present day Kano state, had helped Igala by poisoning the river, ultimately leading to many Jukun casualties and leading to Igala people to have the upper hand.
As for the fishes in the river, the inhabitants of the area believe that any fish that is caught from Inachalo can never be cooked, no matter how long it is boiled or cooked — Inachalo fish will always be raw. However, a source says that the fish are not the regular tilapia or catfish, but are a breed of terrible-looking, deformed fish. People in the area do not catch or eat the fish.
Legend also goes that the supernatural fishes are a result of the Jukuns used the Inachalo river to escape by transforming into fishes and swimming away.
Some believe that if you’re injured from the bones of the fish, the injury will never heal.
Miachi also says something of note: “There is not much that is known and told about Oma Odoko in Igala oral history. None of the foreign authors mentions anything about her in any history and ethnographic literature either.”
Omodoko is a legend among the Ifala people and is a very celebrated figure.