It appears the western and eastern gods no longer appeal to some Nigerian natives of the Yoruba tribe as the annual Osogbo festival of the river-goddess Osun has had increasing participation by the year.
Surprisingly, thousands of people attended this year’s festival at the sacred grove to seek Osun’s blessings. The turn out is reported to have surpassed that of the previous year.
With fasting and prayers not seeming to bring prosperity, healing and blessings amongst the citizens of an economically crawling country ravaged by corruption and mismanagement, some people have given up on the wait for a heaven promised after death, to seek the earthly blessings of the once charitable river goddess.
The goddess, despite being abandoned by her people when foreign gods were enforced on them could have been more than happy to receive back her lost flocks.
The followers were reported to scramble down to the river’s edge in the sacred grove, to drink of its water and be blessed by the white-robe-wearing priestesses of the dust-brown river.
It is rather Ironic that the priestess of the goddess is someone whose people had come between the goddess and her people in the past. The 94-year-old Austrian who has lived in Osogbo for 58 years and has become a high priestess of Osun was glad to see the natives scuttle back to their original deity.
The followers at the shrine offered sacrifices of goats, cows, chickens, rams, palm oil, yam tubers, kola nuts and everything they could offer at the feet of wooden built statues of the spirits in the grove.
The goddess main blessing is said to be fertility and children who were born after sacrifices were made to her were brought back to the river for baptism.
As the offerings were made, people cleansed themselves of bad spirits by passing their hands over their heads and clicking their fingers while professing good tidings on themselves.
A native servant of the shrine took the offerings to the waters’ edge and tipped them in. The people screamed in excitement because it meant that their connection with the spirit world was renewed for another year. They could now hope the ritual will guarantee them prosperity and success.
So if the social system, political and economic policies favour the masses and brings about prosperity, their prayers would have been answered.