Crucial Culture: The Osun-Osogbo festival 2021: By Adetolani Davis

Random Photo Journal

The Yoruba culture is an ageless heritage. A great example is the festival of Osun-Osogbo which is crucial to celebrate in other to re-establish the connection between humans and the divine: This sacred practice has gone on for several years. In Yoruba cosmology, Osun was said to have metamorphosed into a river as a result of a misunderstanding between her husband, Sango, and her co-wife, Oya.

The source of Osun water comes directly from Igede-Ekiti, she flows through Ilesha to Osogbo and then finally empties her bowels into the Atlantic Ocean. A drink of her purest water is believed to have healing, divination, protective and fertility powers, but it is also believed that the goddess inhabits the grove while the river meanders within the grove called the “Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove”. When she accepts offerings Osun offers benevolence to the community and in return, the commune vows to honour her. 

The history of the Grove dates back to a time when The early Osogbo people were faced with unbearable living conditions of drought which prevented them from engaging in agricultural and domestic practices. This condition forced them to migrate for a better living. In search of a better life, a renowned elephant hunter discovered the grove during one of his expeditions. Having discovered the grove, he reported back to the King and suggested a new Kingdom in the Grove.

This particular indigenous Yoruba religious tradition is one of the ten largest religions in the world with millions of followers as it is believed that Osun gives a safe passage to those who seek something within themselves or those looking to connect with themselves. For our Journal Project, we spoke to Adetolani Davis, a Nigerian visual artist who visited the Grove on assignment for Boy Brother Friend

Hello Adetolani and welcome to Random Photo Journal! Briefly introduce yourself, what you do and what got you started on your photo-documenting journey?

Hello Random Photo Journal, thank you for reaching out! My name is Adetolani Davies, a 21year old visual artist and creative based in Lagos, Nigeria. I am also still a student. I love creating images that tell stories as it is; I am invested in documentary photography and cinematography because I feel it plays a crucial role in the posterity of our history as human beings.

Tell us quickly what it felt like to be at the Osun-Osogbo festival, was it your first time attending it?

Well, attending the festival has been one of those things I’ve always wanted to do for a while now and, I feel fulfilled to be able to do that and also to, at the same time, document such crucial culture. Being at that festival is a feeling that I can barely describe. it was me experiencing and seeing for the first time a tradition that was known to me firsthand and, it made me understand how valuable my tradition is, it was a moment that reconnected me with what I had read in books; it was awesome.

What message do you intend to get across to the general public with your visual work?

Well, I believe my work has a direction that is presenting things unfiltered and the way they are.  I believe it is one of those factors I intend to build my work on; I love and appreciate my life as a young creative and I am confident in exhibiting my art in its original form; I think this is one of those messages I want to embed into my work and also; pass onto my audience sub-textually.

How long have you been a visual artist?

I started making pictures in 2018 after my love for images finally took over my other interests; I enjoy the thoughts I have in my head and the process of visualizing them. The world is made up of all kinds of images and, it occurred to me that I will be creating my own universe, a world made up of my creativity and imagination; I believe everyone wants that because it is a beautiful thing.

Are there other African photographers whose work you enjoy or love to take references from? 

When it comes to inspirational sources, I believe I don’t have a particular person; I appreciate almost every creative I come across, and I try to learn from every work that resonates with my narrative.

In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?

In my own opinion, creativity has evolved into multiple dimensions and, it will continue to evolve till the end of time, So I’ll say In my personal opinion what makes good photography is a great subject, proper composition and a good narrative.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you will like everyone to know about or show us where to find more of your work? 

Oh yes, I have some lined-out projects I want to share with my audience; I can’t just point out a specific one at the moment but, there are lots of great projects I’m working on, so please be on the lookout. My website is under construction at the moment but, I put some of my works on Afripedia.