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Ozidi, Driven by His Grandmother, Fate


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(Ijo/Nigeria)

Ozidi is a mythic hero.

Ozidi is confronted by impossible tasks. He completes the tasks because of his own extraordinary abilities and his courage, but also because the gods are with him, including the almighty god, Tamara. He is guided by his grandmother, Oreame, a supernatural being who is his fate. The epic tells of the posthumous birth of the general's son, the extraordinary manner of his growing up under the magic wings of his grandmother, Oreame, and of the numerous battles the hero engages in with all manner of men and monsters to regain for his family its lost glory. In this process, as J.P. Clark notes, he oversteps the natural bounds set to his quest, and it is not until he has received a divine visit from the Smallpox King that he emerges purged and is received back into the society of men. Ozidi is a supreme warrior who has to perform a number of seemingly impossible feats to reach a destined end. Together, they spell out a mission arising out of a personal sense of wrong, the settlement of which determines the future course of public affairs in a powerful state. There is a period of tremendous preparation and initiation to pain, terror, and despair in their most naked forms. But it is not simple human power and courage that takes Ozidi triumphantly through his trials. Each of his opponents possesses these attributes, a good number of them to a greater degree. Ozidi overcomes them all because the gods are with him, including Tamara the almighty, and they are with him because of his filial piety, a devotion to duty. He is an instrument of justice, and wielding him all the time is his grandmother, Oreame, of the supernatural powers, who is fate as well as conscience driving him on. When Ozidi later forgets his true role and overreaches himself in a series of excesses, he is visited with divine punishment, and this time not even the supreme being his grandmother can save him. It is here that, by one quick turn of irony, humanity comes back into its own in the emergence of Ozidi's mother, Orea. She brings innocence and simplicity to the rescue of her heroic son so that, when he recovers purified, there is a general sense of relief and rejoicing that natural order has at last been restored.

Subjects: Religion.


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