The historical origin of "Oshogbo" recalls the tale of a hunter who freed his people from slavery and famine by turning to the goddess of the river Osun for assistance. The hunter would subsequently construct a settlement along the river's bank, which would eventually grow into a full town.

Oshogbo has developed into a significant hub for the expansion of traditional arts and crafts in Yoruba territory throughout the years. The town is affectionately referred to as "Osogbo-iluaro" because it is well recognized for its traditional craft of "Adire" or Tie and Dye. The "Adire" has become synonymous with the town as a result of the unique indigenous production methods.

Beyond the town's appealing "Tie and Dye," many other types of art and craft may be seen in and around Oshogbo, including carvings, beadwork, calabash and gourd creation, traditional drum making, not to mention art performers and other traditional forms of entertainment and fashion.

 The Osun River, which is on the outskirts of the city, is the location of the sacred shrine to the goddess of fertility, fashion, style, and healing known as the Osun. Osun was a wife of Sango, the Alaafin of Oyo, who ultimately hanged himself and came to be revered as a divinity by his followers. The Osun River historically served as a line of defense and a means of escape for the Yoruba inhabitants of that area during the invasion of the Fulani/Nupe slave raiders in the 18th and 19th centuries.

75 hectares of unaltered forest surround the river, combining with the Osun River to create a grove that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
As part of an annual festival of rites, traditional rituals, devotion, and celebration, Osun devotees and traditional worshipers congregate in the forest area of the Osun River to adore the goddess. Prior to the arrival of an Austrian artist by the name of Susanne Wenger and her husband Ulli Beier, the sacred grove had been neglected and left in a horrible condition as a result of inadequate maintenance and monitoring. Wenger offered a powerful form of art that sparked a chain reaction of changes and artistic growth that restored a sense of community and appreciation for the sacred forest environment.
 After her initial visit to Oshogbo, the Austrian artist was so moved by the river and its beauties that she chose to stay and restore the decaying grove while also inspiring some of the locals to support her mission of sustainable art development.

She founded the "New Sacred Art" Movement in about 1958. In order to rebuild the Osun-Oshogbo grove, this movement brought together individuals from various walks of life to form a coalition of art enthusiasts who drew their inspiration from Yoruba culture, mythology, folklore, and traditional way of life to create a diverse series of art. Most importantly, these individuals produced bodies of work that would later revolutionize the Nigerian art sector, which continues to this day.
A prophecy was finally fulfilled when Susanne Wenger showed up to the Sacred Grove. With the assistance of the local priest and skilled craftsmen from the city, she completely reconstructed the sacred grove's surrounding region. Nature and the enticing inspiration drawn from the "Osun" river served as the muse for the beautiful, astounding artworks that cover the grove. The Austrian artist would eventually adopt the title "Adunni Olorisha," which is appropriate given her status as both a Saponna initiate and a high priestess of the Osun cult.

One of the largest undeveloped expanses of land in Africa is the Osun-Oshogbo Sacred Grove. On the 75 hectares of consecrated territory, fishing, farming, and hunting are prohibited. The sacred forest perfectly encapsulates Mother Nature's full power. The uncommon kinds of antelopes, monkeys, and other exotic creatures that can be seen strutting around the grove and enjoying random people who come to admire the aesthetic beauty and also enjoy the traditional splendor of the sacred forest serve as evidence of this.

One of the rare places in the nation where well-preserved, unspoiled forestry coexists with steadfast cultural and traditional values is the Sacred Forest.
The wonderful legacy Susanne Wenger left behind brilliantly captures the mystique of the Osun-Oshogbo Grove, and moreover, the blueprint she drew years ago is being meticulously conserved by her adopted children and the school of artists she mentored. The Susanne Wenger Adunni Olorisha Trust, an NGO tasked with looking after Susanne Wenger's legacy, advocates for ongoing restoration and protection of the sacred grove.

The Osun-Oshogbo grove is more than just a place of worship; it also serves as a living example of how nature and culture can coexist peacefully if the proper conditions and commitment are fostered.

credit: Pethra Udeh/ToluRock