Updated: Apr 5
We closed our conference with a performance from Mara Menzies, author of the book Blood & Gold. Blood & Gold was one of The Scotsman’s books of the year in 2021 and explores the legacy of colonialism and slavery through legend, myth and fantasy.
Mara told us the story of Ochosi, the finest hunter that ever lived, and the Orisha, deities of the Yoruba religion of Southwestern Nigeria. Ochosi wanted to become one of the Orisha more than anything – and it just so happened that one of the Orisha, Elegba, came across Ochosi when he was cooking food in the forest. Elegba told Ochosi about a party happening in Orun, the spiritual realm. Ochosi promised to bring Elegba a bird with sparkling wings as a gift for Oludumare, the creator of everything. However, when Ochosi tried to capture the bird, for the first time in his life, all of his traps were empty. When he prayed for help, though, he later found the bird in one of his traps.
Ochosi kept the bird in his house. When he left to collect some grain to feed it with, his mother unexpectedly arrived at his house and saw the bird in its cage. She decided to kill the bird and cook it to show her appreciation for her son. After she had killed the bird, though, she realised that Ochosi didn’t have any spices to season the meat with. She left to collect some – and Ochosi returned home and realised that the bird was gone soon after. He panicked and prayed for another miracle. As soon as he did that, another bird with even more colourful feathers flew onto his shoulder.
When Elegba saw the bird, he insisted that Ochosi come with him to Orun. They climbed the ladder of light that led to Orun together and gave the gift to Oludumare. When Oludumare thanked Elegba for the gift, Elegba told him that Ochosi was the one who helped him get it. Ochosi was summoned before the creator and was made the Orisha of the hunt as thanks.
Oludumare told Ochosi that he wanted to give him a gift, but Ochosi had already gotten everything that he wanted now that he was one of the Orisha. However, he thought about the person who had stolen the first bird, and he drew his bow and asked for his arrow to pierce the heart of the culprit. Oludumare asked Ochosi if he was sure about his decision – when he said yes and released his arrow, his mother was struck down and Ochosi heard her dying cries. Ochosi begged Oludumare to bring her back, but Oludumare told him not to judge one action on one truth alone. Because of this, Ochosi also became the Orisha of justice.
The recording of Mara Menzies's performance will be available to all ticket holders until 31st May.