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Osogbo is known as a quiet and rather rustic town, with the ambience of a small village. However, underneath the calmness is one of the most artsy and spiritual spaces in Nigeria. Known for its indie art, and famous for its grove and annual festival, Osogbo is everything but boring.
One of the most comfortable and homely hotels in town, Nike Guest House is a work of art in itself, with wide lawns, beautiful gardens and a respectful staff. They also serve a variety of meals, both local and continental. To get a real taste of the town, try their akara and ogi for breakfast. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and you can take a quick tour of the grounds.
One of the most famous landmarks in Nigeria, the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Restored by Susanne Wenger, alongside other Nigerian artists, the grove has become a rallying point for the renaissance of Nigerian traditional religions. The grove itself is located within one of the last sacred forests in the country, usually located on the outskirts of most Yoruba towns, and is banked by the Osun River. Within the grove are several shrines dedicated to different gods of the Yoruba, not to mention the fantastic art, sculptures and architecture that dot the boundary of the grove. You can also visit the Osun River and learn about Osun spirituality.
Susanne Wenger’s first home was at the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove and you can take a tour around it. An artifact in itself, Susanne Wenger’s final home, in Osogbo town, is also a sight to behold; its fence, doors, pillars and staircase all carved in different images. It is full of intricately crafted metalwork and sculptures, and there are also beautiful paintings and wall hangings made from adire.
Primarily designed to educate women and empower them with skills that can be a source of income, the Nike Centre for Arts and Culture has expanded to accepting art students from all walks of life. Learning a skill at the centre is as simple as walking into the workshop. You can choose the skill you wish to acquire and apprentice yourself to a master artist in textile, painting, sculpting, dancing and drumming. You can also witness the dye pits, people making art, and you can even try your hands at one or two crafts.
Take pictures of quaint, old-style homes, explore the market, buy art and fabrics, watch women make soap (ose dudu), or relax at one of the many joints scattered around the city.
To soak up the history and cultures of the Yoruba people, one of the best places to visit is the Osogbo Museum of Arts. The different media of expression are richly represented and you can either wander around or take a guided tour.
Also worth your time is a tour of Ataoja’s Palace, where you can take magnificent photos, and don’t forget to visit the Nike Art Gallery, where the best art by local and international artists is on display.
After a long day, take a breather by returning to the Nike Guest House and taking a stroll around the grounds. After that, enjoy an early dinner and join the dancers and troubadours that entertain guests.