The Osun Osogbo Festival: Its Functions And Aesthetics

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

The Osun Osogbo Festival: Its Functions And Aesthetics


Chapter One


1.1 Introduction

Festival is an event usually set by a local community. It centres on and some unique Aspects of that community. It is a set of activities and practice designed to entertain the People of that particular community.

Among many religions, a ‘feast’ is a set celebration in honour of God or gods. A Feast and a festival is historically inter-related. Festival of many types serves to meet specific Needs as well as to provide entertainment. These types of celebration offer a belonging to Religious, social or geographical groups. Festivals also reminds people of their traditions and in resents times also helps in unity among family.

There are numerous types of festival in the world, though many have religious origin, Others have some cultural significance. Also, certain people celebrate their own festival to mark some significance occasion in their history.

Festival is also a set of activities and practice designed to educate and to entertain the People of a particular community through ritual performance, celebrations or social activities.

Ekpeyong (1981:31) opines that

Festivals are periodic re-occurring days or seasons of merry-making sets aside by a community, tribe, clan, for the observance of sacred celebration, religious, solemnities Or musical and traditional performance of social significance.

It is an occasion of public manifestation of joy. It can take the form of the form of religious celebration during which sacrifices are offered to the different gods having power over rain, sunshine, marriage, thunder, and good harvest.

Among the Yoruba, the indigenous religious have largely given way to Christianity and Islam, but the old festival still observed. Nigeria has many local festivals that date back before the arrival of major religion and which are still occasion for masquerades and dance.

Festivals in Yoruba land i.e. African society is a means of worshipping different gods which

Have significance and different roles. Sango, which is the god of thunder, Ogun the god of Iron and Osun, the god of water. These gods have roles they play in the African society. Orisha is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba spirit or religious system.

The Yorubas believe in Orisha, and their theogany enjoys a pantheon of orishas, these includes Aganju,

Obaluaye, Erinle, Eshu, Yemojs, Obatala, Oshumare, Ogun, Orunmila, Oshun, Oya, Sango and many countless other Orishas. The Yorubas also generates their ancestral spirits through Egungun, masquerades, Oro, Irunmole, Gelede, and Ibeji the orisha of twins which in no wonder since the Yorubas are officially known to have world’s highest rates of twin birth of any group.

Obatala is the father of human kind, divinity of light, spiritual purity and moral uprightness, Eshu is the messenger between the human and divine worlds under god of divinity.Eshu is recognised as a trickster and is childlike. Osumare is a rainbow deity, divinity of movement and activity, guardian of children and associated with the umbilical cord, Sango a god of thunder, warrior deity, fire, skyfather, represents male power and sexuality. Ogun is a warrior Deity, divinity of iron, war, labour, sacrifices, and technology e.g. railroads. Osun is divinity of rivers, love, feminine beauty, fertility and also one of Sangos lover and beloved of Ogun. These Orishas plays significant roles in the African society and the Yoruba’s belief in these Orishas.


1.2 The Concept Of Aesthetics In The Osun Osogbo Festival.

Herbert Zettl (1973) defines!

Aesthetics as a study of sense of perception and how these

Perceptions can be most effectively clarified, intensified,

Interpreted through a medium for specific recipients.

Aesthetics may be defined as the philosophical study of beauty and taste. It comprises of what is good and bad in any work of art.

It deals with nature and value of arts as well as those responses to natural objects that find expression in the language of the beautiful and ugly.

The word “aesthetics” was given by a German philosopher Alexander Baumnger in 1750, which he derived from the Greek word “Aesthetics” meaning “perception.” From here the adjective “Aesthetics” which means that which pertains to the sense of perception is formed. He gave the name aesthetics to what earlier philosopher called theory of beauty or the philosophy of taste.

The encyclopaedia Britannica 1 (p.115) has it that

Aesthetics is the study of beauty and to a lesser extents of it opposite, the ugly. It has often been defined as the science of the beautiful suggesting an organised body of knowledge of a special subjects matter. Its is usually concerned with the theoretical study of the beauty in work of arts, with effort to understand and explain them.

According to Hamlyn encyclopaedic dictionary

Aesthetics is recognised as a science in philosophy and it stand for That which deduces from nature and taste the rules and principles, The science of the beautiful.

Akpan and etuk (1990) defines

Aesthetics as the science or study of beauty.

Aesthetics, according to my own view is the perception of beauty. It is the appreciation of the beauty as well as the ugly in all parts of life including the arts. It comprises of what is good a and bad in any work of arts. The aesthetics in the Osun Osogbo festival includes: Drums, Dance, Music’s, Costumes, Languages, Audience and so on

These makes the festival more appreciated by the people and more colourful. The festival immense benefits to the tourist sector of Nigeria economy. The enables the community to sell its culture to tourist among others coming from within and all outside the country.

The Osun grove has been lifted as a world heritage site by UNESCO to accept Osun grove into the lists of cultural and natural properties which is going to be a great source of foreign revenue to the Nigeria government.

All these have inspire me in studying the Osun Osogbo festival and because the festival has immense societal benefits which include improved environmental sanitation, as every where is kept clean during the period of the festival as Osun is generally reffered to as god of purity.

Osun Osogbo festival also remains the strongest unifying factor in Osogbo land, irrespective of the different social, economic, and religious, political conviction of the people as they all comes together annually to celebrates.


1.3 Purpose Of Study

Osun Osogbo festival is the most important and significant components culture of Osogbo. The major purpose of this study us to analyse the aesthetics and functions in the Osun Osogbo festival and to look at the way the people of osogbo have been celebrating these festival in the past years and recent years, to look at the difference between the past years and recents celebrations. These work will also look at the way the people of Osogbo react to this festival despites the numerous of Africans that identify themselves as either Christianity or Islam, and ancients beliefs still have its plaxe in their lives. It will also look at the roles these festival performs among the people of osogbo.


1.4 Scope Of Study

This work is on the Osun Osogbo festival and it will limit itselt to bringing out the aesthetics, functions and importance of the Osun Osogbo festival in terms of its performances. These work begins with the history of the Osun Osogbo festival with the way the festival is being performed from the day one to the twelveth day which is the end of the festival, and the findings about the festival.


1.5 Methodology

The research methodology of this work is based on analysis of data and interviews which are gathered and showing relevant places of pictures taken during the festival of relevant places and people.

The data gathered and analysed which includes different people, both men and woman, old and young, who come for the festival and participates in the Osun festival whole heartedly.


1.6 Justification

The purpose of this study is to justify the assertion that indeed, the Osun Osogbo festival is full of aesthetics elements of dance, drums, musics, costumes, and so on, this study is to correct the image created by some Eurocentric scholars and Europeans that Africa has either history nor culture. The Eurocentric scholars belief that European culture is superior to African culture, and that African literature is primitive and as such noting can come out of African oral literature.


Chapter Five


5.1 Summary

Through the in-depth study of the osun osogbo festival, is shows that the review of African oral literature that the osun osogbo festival is a sharp contrast to the erroneous perception of the Eurocentric writers about African oral traditional values. Rather it combines excellence with performance, though it is not in written form like some Europeans works of art, we see that the festival is full of aesthetics elements of drums, songs, costumes, dance e.t.c. that is necessary to make a work of art in terms of festival valuable. These works aims to rebuild image created by some Eurocentric scholars that African has neither history nor culture. The Eurocentric scholars belief that European culture is superior to African culture, and that African literature is primitive, and as such nothing can come out of African oral literature.


5.2 Conclusion

Traditional festivals have strong influence on the community because of the power such festival commands, these festivals are most spectacular and are representative of any art form which calls for the highest participation in African indigenous life. Therefore, through traditional literature, social conscience and cultural wisdom are taught to the people. It can be seen that traditional performances play an integral role in the ceremony connected with the regulations of the spiritual, political, and social forces with society, such that activities which are seen as immoral and destructive to the society are looked at with disdain to the delight and satisfaction of the audience.


5.3 Recommendations

The listing of the osun grove as world heritage sites should encourage the protection and preservation of other sites of tourist attractions in Nigeria, so that they can be listed as a world heritage site in the nearest future. Much should also be done to increase its documentation for future generations, because this has a role in the propagation of cultural and intellectual products to ensure the continuity the refined and noble aspects of our tradition as well as transmitting to the audience to capture all aspects of the performance. However, records should be made available for peoples use at tourism boards, centre for arts and culture and in schools where literature is taught. African culture and tradition should be included in the educational activities of the country education sector and it should be made compulsory at all levels of education so that the young generation would learn the Africans way of life, culture and tradition as they grow. However, if all these are considered diligently as recommended, it will not only improve the festival but it will go a long way to help our country both economically and socio-politically.


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