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Suzanne wenger’s groove



Suzanne wenger’s  groove

Suzanne Wenger was an Austria born artist who was renamed Adunni Iwinfunmi Olorisa on her relocation and initiation to the Yoruba Traditional Religion. She was not just an artist to the Yoruba People of Nigeria but also a Priestess of the Osun River Goddess.


Unlike her white counterparts who saw to the decline of the Yoruba tradition. Suzanne was responsible to the restoration of the Yoruba Tradition that was going into extinction. She likewise encouraged the Yoruba race to embrace their culture that was becoming defunct because of the influence of the western culture. This made her restructure the lost tradition of the Osun River and turning it into a celebrated tradition and tourist attraction.


The dense forest of the Osun Sacred Grove, on the outskirts of the city of Osogbo, is one of the last remnants of primary high forest in southern Nigeria. Regarded as the abode of the goddess of fertility Osun, one of the pantheon of Yoruba gods, the landscape of the grove and its meandering river is dotted with sanctuaries and shrines, sculptures and art works in honour of Osun and other deities.


The sacred grove, which is now seen as a symbol of identity for all Yoruba people, is probably the last in Yoruba culture. It testifies to the once widespread practice of establishing sacred groves outside all settlements. A century ago there were many sacred groves in Yorubaland: every town had one.


Most of these groves have now been abandoned or have shrunk to quite small areas. Osun-Osogbo, in the heart of Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, founded some 400 years ago in southwest Nigeria, at a distance of 250 km from Lagos is the largest sacred grove to have survived and one that is still revered. The 1950s saw the desecration of the Osun-Osogbo Grove: shrines were neglected, priests abandoned the grove as customary responsibilities and sanctions weakened.


Prohibited actions like fishing, hunting and felling of trees in the grove took place until an Austrian, Susanne Wenger, came and stopped the abuse going on in the grove.


The Osun-Osogbo Grove is among the last of the sacred forests which usually adjoined the edges of most Yoruba cities before extensive urbanization. With the encouragement of the Ataoja and the support of the local people, “Wenger formed the New Sacred Art movement to challenge land speculators, repel poachers, protect shrines and begin the long process of bringing the sacred place back to life by establishing it, again, as the sacred heart of Osogbo, “Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove.”


The restoration of the grove by artists has given the grove a new importance: it has become a sacred place for the whole of Yorubaland and a symbol of identity for the wider Yoruba Diaspora.


The Grove is an active religious site where daily, weekly and monthly worship takes place. In addition, an annual processional festival to re-establish the mystic bonds between the goddess and the people of the town occurs every year over twelve days in July and August and thus sustains the living cultural traditions of the Yoruba people.
The Grove is also a natural herbal pharmacy containing over 400 species of plants, some endemic, of which more than 200 species are known for their medicinal uses.
The Osun-Osogbo Grove was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

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