CHANGO AND OYA
Many years ago, Chango was embroiled in one of his unending wars. He had fought for many days and killed many of his enemies, but, more came than he could kill. He found himself surrounded by his enemies in the middle of the forest.
“Enchile,” he shouted, but his famous magical horse had become lost during the fighting. Chango was afraid to yell again. He might be found. He heard his enemies beating the bushes and shaking the trees to find him. If they did, they would kill him.
Without Echinle, Chango had to scurry through gullies and cover himself in river mud to hide from his enemies. Days passed. His implacable enemies did not rest. They did not eat. Chango, tired and hurt, had to keep on running without sleep and without food.
He ran and he ran until he reached the place where Oya lived. It was very deep in the woods. Very few people there knew that Oya was Chango’s wife.
Chango came to Oya’s house and pounded on the door. She opened it and saw Chango bruised, cut and panting.
“What has happened to you?” cried Oya.
“Oya, they have me surrounded,” panted Chango. “They want to hang me from a tree.”
“Come in, quick.” said Oya, hustling Chango into her house.
“My lightning is not effective against my enemies today,” He told Oya.
“That’s because you lack the courage to fight,” she scolded. Oya gave him water and a bite to eat.
“It’s not courage I lack,” said Chango. “I’m very tired.”
“What do you want from me?” asked Oya.
“If I could escape my enemies’ deadly circle, I could rest and sleep.” said Chango. “I would recover my strength and destroy my enemies.”
“Why is it that you only come to see me when you need help?” asked Oya.
In those ancient times, Chango was used to fighting by himself, but he swallowed his pride.
“Help me, Oya.”
Oya thought for a moment and then turned to her husband.
“When night falls,” she said. “You will put on one of my dresses. The disguise will let you escape.”
“They will still recognize my face,” said Chango.
“I will cut off my hair and put it on your head. That will complete the disguise.” said Oya. “I will cut off my hair to save my king’s life.”
They waited until night. Oya lit no fire. She was afraid that the smoke from her chimney would be noticed by Chango’s enemies and draw them to the house. When the sun had gone down, but before the moon had risen, Oya cut off her beautiful hair and pinned it to Chango’s head. Chango did not know what to do with woman’s hair. It fell across his eyes. It tangled in his ears. Oya had him sit down and wove the hair into two long braids.
“Here’s a dress,” she said. “Put it on quickly, before the moon comes up.”
Chango managed to tangle himself up in Oya’s dress. “Stand still,” she said. “Just stand still and let me dress you.”
Finally, Chango was dressed as a passable imitation of Oya. She went to the door and peered out.
“Hurry,” she said. “There’s no one around.”
Chango stepped outside, imitating Oya’s dignified walk. He walked until he reached the forest and came across the line of searching men. He greeted his enemies with an imperious tilt of his head and crossed their line. He did not speak to them because his voice is very deep. It would have given him away.
This is the way Chango was able to escape his enemies’ trap.
Once he was far away from the forest, he made camp. He rested and slept and ate and regained his strength and his will to fight.
Echinle managed to find his way back to his master. Chango fed him and groomed him.
A few days later, rested and healed, Chango mounted Echinle.
“It is time to kill,” said Chango to his horse, and galloped off to find his enemies.
it was dawn when he reached his enemies’ camp. He came rushing at them. His fury was terrible to behold. Lightning flashed from his hands. He shouted wild warrior cries. He was still dressed as a woman.
“Oya has turned into Chango,” his enemies shouted when they saw the screaming apparition bearing down upon them, long hair flying and a gown flapping in the wind. They panicked.
Behind them, Oya came striding out of her house, fully armed, and began hacking right and left with her ax. Her short hair bristled and shot out electric sparks.
“If Oya helps Chango, there is victory,” she shouted, cutting off arms and legs.
Chango and Oya were victorious. Since that battle, Oya has been Chango’s inseparable companion in war. With Chango’s thunder and Oya’s storms, they are invincible and remain so to this day.