Legend of Inachalo River whose fish can’t be cooked

Deborah Dzifa Makafui November 03, 2022
Image via Facebook/Yoruba Nation/Nairaland.com

The cursed Inachalo River in Idah, Kogi state, is one of Nigeria’s most intriguing locations. It is said that if you capture a fish from the Inachalo River and try to cook it for consumption, the fish will always remain raw, regardless of how much heat you apply.

Apparently, they’re not your standard tilapia or catfish, but rather a species of monstrously malformed fish, at least according to some other accounts. Neither the locals nor visitors to the area partake of the fish. Some people think the Inachalo fish bones are poisonous and one can never get well if hurt by the bones.

Natural and tourist attractions of the Idah Kingdom include the Inachalo River and the statues of two ancient queens. During the Igala-Jukun conflict, Princess Oma-Odoko was buried alive, whereas it is well-known that Princess Inikpi gave her life to ensure the survival of her people during the Igala-Benin fight. 

The Oma Odoko shrine, located on the bank of the cursed Inachalo River, is tied to both her death and the conflict. Since that time, nobody has been able to capture or kill fish from the Inachalo River for human consumption. Seafood from Inachalo is always served raw. The villagers neither catch nor consume the fish. There is a statue of Princess Oma-Odoko there to honor her for her heroic efforts to keep the Igala culture alive and their heritage intact. The Ifala people continue to honor Omodoko, who is regarded as a legendary hero.

Similar to Inikpi, tradition has it that Princess Oma-Odoko requested to be interred alive with some slaves. Tom Miachi writes in The Incarnate Being Phenomenon in African Culture that the Igala, or Igala-aided medical men, poisoned the Inachalo River, killing many invading Jukun soldiers. Many Jukun were killed, and the Igala gained an advantage, according to legend, when Hausa mallams from Bebeji, in modern-day Kano state, aided the Igala by contaminating the river.

The supernatural fish are said to exist because the Jukuns turned into fish and escaped down the Inachalo River. Miachi adds some interesting commentary, suggesting that, in Igala oral history, not much is known or told about Oma-Odoko. There is no mention of her in any historical or anthropological works written by authors from other countries. However, the Ifala people hold Oma-Odoko in the highest regard as she is considered a mythical person with a long history of adoration.

Princess Oma-Odoko was the child of Attah Idoko, ruler of the Igala Empire, who was sacrificed to save her fatherland during the struggle between the Igala and Jukun kingdoms. Oma-Odoko, who shares Inikpi’s historical perspectives, readily agreed to be buried alive with the other nine girls in order to preserve the Igala kingdom from the Jukun Kingdom amid the inter-tribal war.

In 1834, astrologers sacrificed Princess Oma-Odoko at Inachalo River, Idah, using a medieval chemical device weapon in an intertribal conflict between the Jukuns and the Igala-Kingdom. The Jukun Kingdom is still poisoned by the Inachalo River!!!

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