When you think about Yoruba culture, festivals and tradition preserved as they have been in ages, Osun State, Nigeria, comes to mind! Interestingly, a visit to anywhere in the state without getting to Osogbo—the state capital, is simply incomplete. Lying just 46km (maximum 65km depending on the route you use) from Ile Ife the acclaimed original home of the Yoruba people, Osogbo occupies a prominent position in Yoruba history and civilization. This is where Uthman Dan Fodio’s jihad which was sweeping through and wiping out Yoruba cities and century-old tradition was defeated in 1840. The city is home to the revered Osun River, host of the renowned Osun-Osogbo Festival; it is located on coordinates 7°46′ North 4°34′East with an area of 47kmsq.
Osogbo is the economic and administrative hub of Osun state; it is also its most cosmopolitan city. Its approx. 180,000 residents are its main asset. These peace-loving people are characteristically hospitable, providing in essence a good complement to the cities’ other attractions all of which make Osogbo a destination of choice for tourists. Although residents are predominantly Muslims, there is a significant presence of Christians and traditional faithfuls as well.
The city’s spiritual and traditional head is the king. He is referred to as the Ataoja of Osogbo and his Palace is a beehive of activities in the town.
Osogbo has a tropical climate with the rainy season (March – November) and the dry season (November – February) alternating yearly. It is a cool, quiet place, ideal for relaxation and fun.
Osogbo is home to ancient arts, traditions, culture, monuments and festivals! While in the city, ensure you visit the Susan Wenger centre. The monument housing the centre is itself worth a sight, while the 400 carvings and artworks housed therein are breath-taking. Years ago, Susan Wenger invited local experts to carve out different gods, these carvings and others from different sources are preserved in this centre. There is also the Nike Art Gallery and the training centre. The gallery is where you can buy great art and crafts or simply savour the beautiful product of creative minds in Osogbo and beyond. The National Gallery of Art, African Heritage Gallery owned by Jimoh Buraimoh, and Genesis Gallery offer great works as well. Do not miss the Osun Osogbo Sacred Groove. The revered Osun River where the renowned Osun-Osogbo festival holds is located here. You will see gaping structures at the groove too; just ensure that you have a guide to tell you the history and figures which each statue represents.
While continental dishes are available in leading hotels and bars around the city, the secret of local stomachs are known at the canteens. Stop by anyone or ask any local motorcycle rider to take you to one close by; ensure you order for Amala and Abula soup! The amala is a starchy food made from yam flour while the Abula is a blend of two sauces: ewedu—a local vegetable and gbegiri—a sauce made from beans. Beef is popular, but ask specifically for well-prepared bush meat! Eko (pap made from corn) and vegetable sauce is equally a popular meal in Osogbo, locals enjoy it mainly at night. You can also enjoy other staple food such as rice and stew, beans, starchy food such as yam, pounded yam, Eba and Fufu.