By Chiazo Ogbolu
No fewer than 50 people embarked on an excursion to the famous Osun-Osogbo Grove to learn about its rich maritime heritage.
The excursion is part of the ongoing Creative Writing Bootcamp organised by The Maritime Writes Project (MWP).
Mrs Ezinne Azunna, Project Coordinator/Convener, Maritime Writes Project, made the disclosure in a statement in Lagos on Wednesday.
Azunna said that the excursion provided an opportunity for the participants to know about the Osun goddess and how the first dwellers in Osogbo were captivated by the mystery of the marine environment.
The over 600-year-old Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization world heritage site with a meandering river dotted with sanctuaries and shrines, sculptures and artworks in honour of Osun and other deities.
The grove covers over 75 hectares of land.
As part of efforts to preserve Nigeria’s maritime heritage via creative writing, the MWP 2023 participants were guided through the Osun-Osogbo Grove regarded as the abode of the goddess of fertility, Osun, one of the pantheon of Yoruba gods.
Azunna said that the participants went on sightseeing of various parts of the dense forest of the grove and learnt about the traditional gate and its symbolic artifacts.
She added that the participants toured a suspended bridge built in 1935 and a special river where prayers were still made to the river goddess, and the water regarded as medicine.
“Participants also learnt that fishing, bathing and swimming are prohibited in the river; the tour guide posited that there have been reported cases where fishes caught in the river never got cooked.
“Meanwhile, as a result of climate change, rainfall and flooding, the sacred river, which has a sculpted mermaid and a fish base, has overflown its boundary in recent years,” she said.
She quoted the Principal Museum Education Officer, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Mrs Tolulope Raji, as saying that the grove was the second-listed world heritage site in Nigeria.
“Osun grove was listed in July 15, 2005, as a world heritage site, but it has been a national monument since in 1965.
“Preserving a national monument like this is very important because it tells our history.
“What would have been told as the history of Osogbo people if this monument wasn’t preserved over the years?
“How would their story of moving from Ipelomu to Osogbo have been captured?
“They had their first and second palaces here, in this location. They also had their first market here. If this place wasn’t preserved, how would we have remembered these stories?” Azunna quoted Raji as asking.
Azunna also quoted Raji as saying that some Nigerian and African historical accomplishments were going into extinction because of lack of record-keeping.
According to Azunna, the Head of Faculty of MWP, Dr Taiwo Nolas-Alausa, described the excursion as one that would enable the participants to develop more creative story angles.