Africa is considered the El Dorado of intoxicatingly beautiful nature and untamed wildness. Explorers and writers about the continent have often written almost exclusively on the natural aesthetics of the continent, describing it with flowery words so sweet you can almost taste them off the pages.
Often, when people tour Africa, it is these things they are focused on. They want to experience the wildness, the waterfalls, the diversity of its flora and fauna. This accommodates the construction of only one narrow narrative. It is seen as the place to go to be closer to nature, to find oneness with the elements. Most times, this is all the reach of this narrative.
More than its physical allure, Africa is a place of history. It has seen the birth of civilizations, witnessed the dawn and night of great empires that left the world with great art and, their people, a colourful heritage to identify with. Its history is entrenched in sweat and grit. It is punctuated by wars, and stories of wars, conquests, mysticism and ancient wisdom. And we know how well tough and unstraight journeys make for great stories. They entertain, but they are also very important in understanding history, to make sense of our past and forge our future with clarity breasted by the gift of retrospection.
Nigeria holds within its borders, a fine amount of everything: nature, beauty, stunning art, landmarks and very rich culture and history. Whether you’re looking to be immersed in the natural aesthetics of this place, are simply trying to get a slice of the Nigerian experience, or looking to better understand and appreciate the country and the stories that have shaped it, here is one of them:
Osun Sacred Grove
This UNESCO world heritage site is believed, by natives of this place, to be home to the goddess of fertility, Osun. The Grove covers about seventy-five hectares of land and is located at the outskirts of Osogbo, Osun State, along the banks of the River Osun. Every year, there’s a festival to celebrate the goddess.
The strength of this place is the amount of culture, folk history and legends it holds. There are numerous captivating, bizarre but beautiful sculptures of deities, supernatural beings and whatnot. It is nearly impossible to find a wonder there that does not have an interesting story that stretches far back in time.
Perhaps you have other inclinations and are not as titillated by the prospect of discovering the stories behind all the unsung masterpieces it is home to, it might excite you to know that the groove is home to over four hundred different plant species of medicinal value.
Osun State, where this Grove is located, is home to the Yoruba people of Nigeria.