Trip to: Osogbo, Osun State
Date: July 26-27 2003
It was a misty dawn start, 20 souls in 7 cars left in convoy from Ikoyi – destination Osogbo. For the uninitiated the drive was the beginning of the adventure. Cars and trucks of all ages on the road, beside the road or arriving head on added to the spice of potholes and police controls. We tackled Ibadan head on and won our way through. Towards noon we arrived at the gates of Nike’s guesthouse to a rousing E’Kaabo from Nike and her acolytes. The international mix of the participants made for interesting lunchtime conversation. The afternoon’s events started with a drum/dance welcome at Nike’s workshops where were introduced to the arts of hand painted adire, appliques and quilts. Indigo dyes predominated and are manufactured on the spot. A wood carver explained the meaning of the central pole in the lodges. We then toured Nike’s gallery where we were able to see the finished products coming from the workshops. Each artist signs his/her work. A masquerade dance routine showed Yoruba culture and the athletic prowess of the dancers. Colour was not lacking. The NFS children danced along, when they could be coaxed to do so.
Before heading back to the guesthouse we drove to a Fulani village. The headman, an Al-haji, introduced us to his wives. The accommodation was basic, but clean and remarkably cool inside. Each wife and children of marriageable age had their own house. The cows were not home but their flies were. Then back to the guesthouse to wash off the day’s dust and begin the search for beer. Dinner was a fine collection of local dishes, including grass cutter. It was a tasty treat.
The after dinner entertainment was fantastic. Enthusiasm abounded with interpretive and athletic talent in abundance. Who will ever forget the drums or the fire-eater? Several people having arrived without a name were relieved to receive one – a Yoruba name, of course. After such an event filled day, sleep was welcome.
Sunday started with breakfast in the garden together with the barnyard animals and the tortoises. First stop of the day was the Osun Grove. Reputed to be the first settlement in the area and held sacred to the Yoruba to this day. An Austrian artist, Susanne Wenger, was inspired by the Grove and has worked many sculptures throughout the area yielding a strange, otherworldly display of imagination. The walk through the jungle revealed monkeys to some, butterflies to others or even a millipede. The Osun River site was well worth the visit. A highlight of the trip was a visit with the artist herself in her home in Osogbo. And what a home! Museums would be jealous. Age brings wisdom to some and this was manifest in the words of this octogenarian who has managed to live her dream.
To get to lunch we tackled for one last time the difficult road back to the guesthouse. The good-bye was as enthusiastic as the welcome. The trip home was blissfully uneventful. For this greenhorn traveler the experience was definitely to be repeated.