A Journey to Osun Osogbo


Akpobasaha Oghenemaro a documentary photographer and photojournalist based in Benin City, Edo State Nigeria set out to document one of Nigeria’s finest festivals, the Osun Osogbo festival this August and He made these amazing documents of the event.

The story

Osun Osogbo festival is a 14days annual event that happens in Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. It is a time set aside to celebrate and pay obeisance to Osun, the goddess of fertility, several activities mark the celebration but it usually climaxed with a procession to the Osun Osogbo.

This festival is said to be over 700 years old. Historically, it is believed that an ancestral occurrence led to the celebration of this festival. It is said that a group of migrants led by a great hunter called Olutimehin settled on the bank of the Osun river to save themselves from famine. One day, on the riverside, Yeye Osun the river goddess appeared from the water in front of Olutimehin and requested him to lead people to a special place (the present-day Osogbo town). The goddess promised to protect the group and bring them prosperity in return for an annual sacrifice to her. The group accepted the proposition, and today the annual sacrifice to the Osun River Goddess is still celebrated as the Osun-Osogbo Festival[1]

The festival is said to renew that agreement between humans and the divine (Yeye Osun) and as part of the procession, an Arugba (a female virgin) the acclaimed most important individual in this festival leads the walk. This young virgin of royal lineage carries a calabash of sacrifices through the streets down to Osun Osogbo a sacred grove along the banks of the Osun river just outside the city of Osogbo,

The calabash is thought to have been passed over to the ancestors of Osogbo through Yeye Osun (The river goddess). As she moves from street to street, believers of Osun see her as a consultant to Yeye Osun, they say positive prayers and cast their troubles into the calabash which is being taken to the river. At the river, the believers in Osun, fetch water from the Osun Osogbo river for drinking, and for bathing. They believe that it will purify and or wash away negativity from their lives and make them fertile thereby.


The concern

A recent report expressed some fears of possible water contamination by artisanal miners around the river which they feel may pose a serious health challenge for the worshippers. A Geographical Information Analysis and Laboratory Tests carried out by a Non-governmental Organisation, Urban Alert affirmed the fears. They said there is the presence of poisonous elements like mercury, lead, and cyanide, in the water. (NAN)[2]

But the people still conducted their rituals. We just hope their health does not fail them.


This is a contribution by Akpobasaha Oghenemaro a documentary photographer and photojournalist who believes in catching emotions with light and also sharing them with the world.

He currently documents Betsy Bene Obaseki (the wife of the governor of Edo state) and her projects.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osun-Osogbo

[2] https://www.nannews.ng/2022/08/11/osun-govt-warns-devotees-tourists-against-drinking-from-osun-river/