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            Oral literature is an unwritten relation that encapsulates African values and aspiration through which their philosophy, customs, beliefs, history etc. are preserved and transmitted from one generation to another by word of mouth. The critical examination of festivals in Nigeria presents highly Aesthetics performances, debunking the Euro Centric assertion that Africans have no literature. The focus of this research work is to attempt/investigate the aesthetic value of Osun festival celebrated by the osun people through the invocation rendered during the festival, which makes it magical in nature. This falls under the category of Religious poetry.



Table of contents                                                                                           


1.1.    Introduction                                                                                           

1.2.    History of Osogbo                                                                                 

1.3.    Osun Osogbo annual festival                                                                 

1.4.    Purpose of study                                                                                                

1.5.    Justification                                                                                            

1.6.    Scope and delimitation                                                                          

1.7.    Methodology                                                                                         

     END NOTES                                                                                            



2.1.    Introduction to Oral literature                                                               

2.2.    Forms of oral poetry                                                                                          

       2.2.1 Proverbs                                                                                         

       2.2.2 Praise poetry                                                                                    

       2.2.5 Funeral poetry                                                                                

       2.2.6 Religious poetry                                                                             

               END NOTES                                                                                  


3.1.    Aesthetics of Osun Osogbo festival                                                                    

3.2.    Invocation poem in Osun Osogbo festival                                                       

3.3.    Analysis of the magical poetry in Osun Osogbo festival                       

      END NOTES                                                                                           


4.1.    Findings                                                                                                              

4.2.    Recommendations                                                                                 

4.3.    Summary and Conclusion                                                                        

      END NOTES                                                                                           




It is said that literature reflects life, whether in oral or written works of art. The Eurocentric scholars believe that African is with neither culture nor history which leads this research into some scholar’s definition of culture

Harris (1971, p1) says “culture refers to the learned, socially acquired traditions of thought and behaviors found in human societies “

Taylor (1871:1) holds the view that culture:

… Taken in its wide ethnographic sense is that

complex whole which includes knowledge, Believe,

 arts, morals, law, customers, and any other Capabilities

 and habits acquired by man as a member of

 society.                                                      (Taylor 1)

            The beauty of our culture can never be underestimated because; it is part of what makes up literature. African literature is classified into two parts; the traditional or oral literature and written literature. Oral literature, which is the focus of this study can further be classified into three parts; oral prose, drama and poetry. The oral poetry, the main focus of this study, is forms which are either chanted on sung. There are different forms of oral poetry; praise poetry, religious poetry, occupational, Lullaby, public funeral, poetry. Invocation is one of the sub-parts of religious poetry, which is the focus of this research work on the Osun Osogbo festival.


            Osogbo is situated about 96 kilometers by rail and 96 kilometers by road north–east of Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state. It is 237 kilometers or approximately three hours drive from Lagos, the Nigeria’s economic nerve– centre.

            Osogbo’s situation has tremendously changed Osun state since she became the capital city of osun state on 27th of August 1991. Her area of operation of law has been expanded, there by carrying out the capital territory. The town has become a tourist centre for her famous Osun festival, the celebration of which attracts people from far and near places every year. The other tourists attractions include Osun shines and Susan Wenger’s  cultural activities which include, the staging of plays for devotees and visitors that come to pay Osun visit in her house, at Oja Oba, in Osogbo. And generally educating people about Osun. Although a Britain, Wenger was one of Osun devotees.

            The history of origin Osogbo begins with both Olutimehin and oba Larooye, who were Ijesa men. They formerly lived in Ipole(Omu) a village which is about ten kilometers from present site of Ibokun, a town in Osun state. They had to migrate from Ipole(Omu), because of the serious and devastating droughts there, and find solace in another place. Timehin and other hunter courageously took up the challenge and moved out in search of a better place.

            After some bold explorations, Timehin discovered Osun River and went back to oba Larooye. On hearing the news, oba Larooye gave orders that all the remaining people should immediately move to the bank of river Osun which had earlier been found by Timehin and his entourage. They kept moving until their dilemma was solved after a consultation with ifa oracle, which admonished them to move up to the present site now known and called OSOGBO


Osun Osogbo festival is an annual event where Osun is worshipped and beseeched for blessings and healings. It is believed that Osun has powers to treat any barren woman, if properly approached

            It was said that when Olodumare created the sixteen Irunmole (Premarital deities) and sent them on earth, Osun was excluded on account of her being a female. Osun reacted by gathering unto herself the women on Earth and formed the iya mi cult (witches). The consequence of this was total chaos, which engulfed the whole Earth. The male irunmole went back to Olodumare to inquire about the female member of the group and was told of her exclusion by the male irunmole. Olodumare advised them to go back and make peace with Osun, which they did, there after peace and normalcy returned to Isaluaye (Earth)

            Osun, in her lifetime as a human, was one of the wives of Sango, a former trouble shooter and Alaafin of Oyo. Oya and oba (now river oba ) were the other two wives of sango. Oya was sango’s favorite, which made oba and Osun to be always jealous. Osun has been described as a very beautiful humane, kind hearted, motherly and highly respectful woman. She was powerful and a great fearless warrior among women.

            Sango was exiled from Oyo, a quarrel occurred on their journey, when both oba and Osun told sango that they could not go along with him because Oya is his favorite. Oba and Osun went their different ways after ward. Osun as a human did an aquatic transmogrification on herself, when she made up her mind, she could not live without her husband, and that neither would she die. In order to continue her assistance of barren women and the needy, she transformed into Osun River.

            The Osun Osogbo festival is the most pronounced, popular and prominent among the other festivals in Osogbo. It has of recent attained international recognition and standard for tourism. The Federal government of the democratic republic of Nigeria recognized it as an important fund raising and remarkable festival that attracts international attention. The annual celebration spans over twelve days usually held in the early August of every year. Rituals are performed on some of the days leading to the grand finale of the festival.

IWOPOPO (Matching through a road called popo)

            This usually falls on Monday, twelve days prior to the finale, and therefore the first of the twelve–day festival. The king, chief, iya osun, (Osun priestess) Aworo (Osun priest), princes and princesses, devotees and well wishers proceed to Gbemu through other streets and then return to the palace, with the act of singing and walking. This gives the people who want to pay homage to the king and his entourage the opportunity to do so. This act represent the traditional clearing of the town’s main road of weeds, dirt, stagnant water and other things, that may obstruct free movement on the last day of the festival. Also the clearing reflects the removal of any obstacle in the spiritual realms that may hinder the success of the festival.

ATUPA OLOJUMERINDINLOGUN:- {sixteen- point lamp}

It was initially a spirit’s lamp {Osanyin}, a deity in charge of healing. The lamp is about 17 centimeters high with sixteen lamps points on it. It is believed that both Larooye and Timilehin found the lamp in the forest, when they first

settled at ontoto, which is now a street in Osogbo. The lamp is ignited at about 7:00pm on Thursday, the king dances around it three times before he is joined by his wives, chiefs, particularly the iwefa {Priests in the palace} and devotees. Iya Osun and her companion do the singing and dancing until the next day which is Friday. It is a taboo to allow the lamp to burn out before the stipulated time

OJO AJO- OBA {Ataoja committee’s day}

            This is a day; Ataoja feasts his chiefs, princes, princesses, other family members and friends. He also gives alms to beggars and other indigent people. This occurs on three days after the igniting of the sixteen-point lamp.

            The following Monday is set aside for sacrifices to the beaded crowns and heads of Osogbo king. This is the day Ataoja calls into reminiscences the lives of his ancestors and former kings. All the beaded crowns are assembled at a place, inside the palace and sacrifices are offered to them.

            The next sacrifice comes before the last day of the festival. Its holds on Thursday, The Alare (a chief that attends to visitors, when the king is either not around or busy) on behalf of Ataoja receives and entertain guests in the palace. These guests include the ogboni group {a cult group that serves as a police force} and other well wishers. The king himself remembers and offers sacrifices to the past Ayaba or Olori {wives of his Predecessor}.

OSUN FESTIVAL FINALE                                                                                       

Osun festival finale often falls on the second Friday of August in every year, except there are very important unforeseen and unexpected incidents or circumstances. This is one of the greatest and remarkable days in Osogbo, when the town receives very important personalities and visitors both from within and outside Nigeria, who came to watch and add to the glamour of the festival. It is indeed a historic day. Many visitors, well wisher, inquisitors, particularly barren women from all over the world, who fervently prays for children are always found on the road that leads to the groove on the day of the festival.

            It is also characteristic of the day to see excited young men, carrying cane stick in their hands thrashing one another with abandonment. This serve as an exhibition of valor. Young ladies or damsels dance around the town in groups. They sing praises to Osun, the kind hearted and philanthropic spirit of the water. She is acclaimed to be general and kind, giver of children to barren women. The glorious day witnesses, the thrashing feasts, gunshots into the air and regular supply of pulsating rhythms from native and artistic drummers, singing to the process of the great celebrant, which serve as prelude to the arrival of Arugba (votary maid)

            There are two sacrificial places in Osogbo where Osun is appeased. One in the groove, the lower part of Osun river, while the other takes place in the palace of Ataoja. There is a house at the palace of Ataoja of Osogbo where, an image of Osun is created, surrounded by other antiquities that depict her chiefs

aides, and messengers when she was alive. The statue of Osun is surrounded by cowries which indicate that Osun was a wealthy woman in her time. There are guns and sword made of brass around her to depict how powerful and mighty she was there are also a mortar made of brass and soup pots to symbolize her legendary motherly attributes. The ritual is performed by Iya Osun (Osun priestess) who is helped and supported by other Osun devotees.

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