people, size, ambitions, visions, all these make plenty of things to tell about Nigeria, the land of plenty
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the sacred grove of Osogbo
Osogbo is one of the few touristic destinations in Nigeria to be highlighted in western travel guides. This is because an austrian artist, Suzanne Wenger, came to Nigeria in the sixties and decided to stay in Osogbo for the rest of her life as she became a yoruba high priest under the name of Adunni. She worked with her then boyfriend Ulli Beier to create concrete and iron sculptures in the sacred grove of Osogbo, a wood on a hill traversed by a river. The place is a sacred place of worship to Yoruba gods.
Oshun along the river
Suzanne Wenger passed away in 2009 but the grove is still standing. Her work has been restored recently and is attracting visitors from around the globe. There is a festival in the last week of August with traditional celebrations that gathers most of the tourist in the year.
The grove hosts a palace with a thatched roof and walls of mud painted with basic shapes in white, yellow and dark red. A mix of dots, curved lines and simple representations of living creatures. The roof is supported by the walls and a series of pillars creating a covered outer pathway. On the front side, the pillars are replaced by wooden column sculpted with Yoruba gods piled one on top of the over. The palace is not opened to visitors. The surrounding walls of the palace grounds is decorated with figures, faces, body shapes, representations of gods of the Yorubas. Inside the ground were shrines for rituals to specific gods.
I am the wall
Outside the palace grounds were several groups of sculptures designed by Wenger.
Roland Ogiamien is a renown wood carver. He is now retired in his home town of Benin City and is now in his 80s. We met him in his simple workshop, a barn opened on the surrounding greenery. A part of the studio is used to store wood pieces and make sure they are well dried. He is using a collection of german ustensils to carve and polish the wood. He spent most of his career working out of Lagos before relocating to Benin.
Roland was explaining that the wood he uses today is different from his early days. Ebony has become rare and wood carvers have had to switch to other types of wood. Traditional heritage is a large part of his inspiration which he translates on wood with his own particular style, exploring various techniques for the finish of his pieces. History
Ogiamien is the name of an important royal family in Benin Kingdom. Towards the end of the Ogiso dynasty (12th century), Ogiso Owodo did not have a son to succeed him, his brother Evian therefore took over after Owodo…
Epe (pronounced Ekpe in yoruba) is a small city located on the narrow stretch of water that separates the lagoon of Lagos from the one, further in the east, known as Lekki lagoon. It is built on the small hills that border the water. It is connected by a bridge to the Lekki peninsula.
The town is famous for its fish market located on the water side. It is the place to buy fresh water fish, some of them still alive. They are kept in plastic buckets but also directly in the lagoon water in woven baskets.
Many more is for sale such as crayfish, crocodile, turtle, monitor lizard, big snails. Game meat is also available coming from the nearby forest of the Omo reserve. We saw two wild cats with white spotted black fur and a strong scent; As we left we saw antilope legs arriving to the stall.
Some fishes are particular, one is sending electricity shocks when you touch it, another one was looking like a prehistoric fish with a sort of dinosaur like shell; there was also one with giant scal…
Chief J. Agbo Ooye had been waiting in the shade of a large tree, in front of the National Museum of Esie, dressed in ceremonial costume with a velvet hat incrusted with crystal beads sown in the shape of his title and his name. He was sitting next to his wife on a bench, expecting our arrival. His wife, he would tell us later, was his best friend and she was actually demonstrating it by guiding his frail body from one place to another and guiding his hand when it came to sign autographs of his books. Chief Agbo Ooye is the author of two booklets on the Esie Stones. The first one, called A Personal Account of the Esie Stones is giving an overview of the differences between the scientific and the traditional interpretation of the Esie Stones. The second one is called the History of Esie and gives a brief account of Esie's history from the early settlement of Yorubas in various groups (Esie, Oro, Eku Apa, Igbonla, Edidi, Igbesi, etc...) to the present day. Those groups, who lived o…