The gods Are Not to Blame is a 1968 play and a 1971 novel by Ola Rotimi. An adaptation of the Greek classic Oedipus Rex, set in an indeterminate period of a Yoruba kingdom, the story centers on Odewale, who is lured into a false sense of security, only to somehow get caught up in a somewhat consanguineous trail of events.
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The book the gods are not to blame is the dramatic tale of a man Odewale born with a destiny he tried to run away from. At birth when his Parents took him to the village diviner the Ogun priest to tell his future, they met sadness amidst their joyful thronging of drums and dancing; their first son was destined to kill his father and marry his mother and the only way to avert this was to kill him.
However, unable to balance understanding of his assignment coupled with love for the new born baby, the messenger Gbonka who was sent alone to dispose of the child in a forest found a foster father for the child and went back to his place of service.
The foster parents Ogundele and Mobike who had no child happily took the child as their own and only a few people knew that the child was adopted but did not know the true parents of the child as Gbonka had left the two men in the bush without saying much.
As an adult, Odewale’s uncle told him the truth of his destiny but failed to mention that his real parents were not known. Because of this, he ran away to far away land where he bought a farm at the place where the three foot paths meet and he worked hard to own a good living. Sometime later an old man came to the farm land he had suffered to get and keep and claimed the land to be his and called him a thief but Odewale did not react to all of this until the old Man insulted the village they both thought he came from and that was something Odewale could not take. He tried to use his mystic powers against the old man but the old man’s powers seemed to be more potent than his so in a last attempt to save his life, he struck the man with a hoe and he died.
Odewale then ran from town to town for months until he got to Kutuje where they had just lost their king and the enemy took advantage of this to attack them, but Odewale in his hot temper led the people to war against their enemies and conquered. Due to respect they broke protocol for him and made him King of their land which meant he had to marry the wife of the late king( his mother) therefore fulfilling the whole prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother.
However, all this was yet unknown to the king until he promised to find and punish the man who killed the former king of the land whose perturbed spirit was the cause of the terrible disease that plagued the people of Kutuje; the priest accused him of being the man he was looking for, and his old friend Alaka paid him a visit and old stories were told with a new meaning to them.
Soon, Odewale saw a conspiracy between the son of the late king Adetusa and the Ogun priest and for this he swore never to set eyes on Aderopo again. When the chiefs pleaded with him to disregard the words of the priest he almost turned against them also until the queen mother, his wife told him of her first son who the priest had asked to be thrown away in the bush because he was destined to kill his father and marry his mother and that the king was reportedly killed by armed robbers. Many others bits of stories were told to confirm that old age had gotten the better of the priest and he could no longer be trusted.
When it came to the issue of the former king being killed by robbers, Odewale got interested and asked for the eye witness to be brought unaware that the same messenger who had handed him over to Ogundele was the same eye witness to the murder.
Gbonka, now grey with old age was helped by Alaka to make more sense of the stories and he finally told the truth; that Odewale was the abandoned child, the son of the late king and the son of the queen mother whom he now called wife and who was the mother of his four children. Unable to bear the truth, the queen killed herself and the king in order to fulfill his promise to the people of Kutuje plucked out his eyes and gave an order for the proper burial of the queen and banished himself with his children after mending the wounds he had created in his relationship with his brother Aderopo.
WRITTEN BY ETTEH IMA-ABASI
Originally published: 1971
Original language: English