Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, Osun State
Updated: Aug 8, 2022
The Òsun-Osogbo sacred grove is regarded as the home place of the Yoruba goddess Òsun, who is associated with water, purity, fertility, love and sensuality. It is located along the banks of the Osun River on the outskirts of the city of Ososgbo, Osun State. This 75 hectare protected forest is the last of its kind and is dotted with shrines, sculptures and artworks. It is a representation of a once widespread occurrence, where a sacred grove existed for almost every Yoruba community. It was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 because of its cultural value and global significance - legally protected by international treaties.
In the 60's, Austrian-Nigerian artist, Suzanne Wenger (Adunni Olorisha), collaborated with local artists to revive the grove. Her quirky art style combined with Yoruba symbolism created some very interesting sculptures and carvings. The scale of the project is quite mind blowing and with her attention to detail, she is able to depict ancient folk lore with intriguing results.
It is heavily vegetated, with over 400 species of plants (200 of which are medicinal), providing a very cool, breezy atmosphere. You can hear the birds singing in the trees. A lot of the ancient architecture is maintained, built with clay, wood and cement. The grove opens up into a massive courtyard that houses the first palace in Osogbo, an amphitheatre and the Òsun river bank. The river goddess is believed to emphasise inclusivity as she is depicted to welcome people of all races/tribe/beliefs.
The grove is an active religious site, with prayers and offerings given to the different deities (Sàngó, Ogún, Èsù, Sòpòná, etc) daily, weekly and monthly. A lot of the statues had evidence of food items that could not have been older than a few days. Òsun priestesses are also present, and they offer prayers and good tidings (in Yoruba) to guests for small monetary tokens. You know we had to get in on blessings!
I would recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes and carrying insect repellant and water for your visit.
Although you could get away with making bank transfers, it would be easier if you carried some cash with you.
You can purchase bananas outside the grove and feed the local primate community, who are attracted by human activity. Bring some snacks.
This is a protected space, so do not harm the wildlife or the vegetation and pick up your trash!
Outside the grove is a small art market where you can get interesting carvings, paintings, textile and metal work. A lot of these things are quite interesting and you are encouraged to visit as this helps the local community.
I highly recommend a visit to the grove as nothing compares to embracing the culture and telling the story of the Yoruba heritage from one of the original sources.
We used a tour guide, her name is Folasade and you can reach her on - +234 803 358 2130
Entry fee per person costs N500 ($1.36)
Camera fee costs N3000 ($8.15), Phone cameras cost N500 ($1.36)
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