Last Updated On November 4, 2020.
Everything I thought I knew about Mama Susanne Wenger came into question after my friend, Steve and I visited her home in 2019.
Before then, I got to learn about the active role Mama played in restoring Osun-Osogbo Grove also located within the confines of the capital city of Osun, Nigeria.
Fun Fact: Susanne Wenger’s home is a Brazilian style building and it houses over 400 artworks.
Today, the grove measures several acres of land and it is a UNESCO world heritage site and place of worship for Osun deity followers.
All thanks to Mama Susanne Wenger!
Originally, this article was scheduled for earlier but then, Dr Rochelle Knight of Adventures from Elle got kind enough to speak on her travel blog journey, chasing waterfalls and balancing work with blogging.
Her interesting conversation with me comes first.
So, now you have two exciting blogposts at your fingertips! If you are a blogger who’d like to read Dr Rochelle’s interview, you can click on the link below. 😉
Also, keep scrolling for my entire trip to Susanne Wenger’s house.
Okay, let’s get seriously underway.
Finding Susanne’s House…
After concluding our Genesis Art Gallery tour [get the full gist], Steve and I visited the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) in the Ataoja of Osogbo Palace.
Inside, we met with the Chairman who had memorized many tourist attractions during his service in Osun state. He advised us to see the National Museum, Olumirin Waterfall and a few other exciting destinations.
Still talking, I asked him what he knew about Susanne Wenger’s home and he went ahead to share directions with us.
Apparently, her home was very closeby.
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Now, Susanne Wenger’s house wasn’t on Google Maps at the initial time of writing but it was super easy to find using the Chairman’s directions.
blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.
When you visit, try to locate the Ataoja Palace or Osogbo City Central Mosque (see below, they’re both on Google Maps), ask locals for directions from here or look for the Osun University road.
What’s Inside Susanne’s House…
Getting there, a local informed a young tour guide of our purposeful visit and after seeing us, he inquired about our intentions, asking if Steve and I wanted a comprehensive tour of Susanne Wenger’s house or a one-on-one discussion with Chief (Mrs) Doyin, Mama Susanne Wenger’s protege.
Ask for both!
Fun Fact: Chief (Mrs) Doyin Faniyi is one of Susanne Wenger’s adopted children, she is an Oshun Priestess who currently resides in the house.
We climbed two flights of wooden stairs to the first floor before meeting with Chief (Mrs) Doyin Faniyi but she was a bit busy at the time, entertaining her guest and taking down some important notes.
After her work, Chief answered all of our questions about Susanne Wenger.
She spoke eloquently of Susanne often referring to her as Mama Susanne Wenger.
And according to Chief, Mama founded the New Sacred Art Movement many decades ago and saved Osun-Osogbo Grove from endangerment.
True story, wayback in 1980s, Mama Susanne Wenger alongside the New Sacred Art Movement and Osun indigenes restored seventy-five hectares of the Osun-Osogbo Grove which was originally two hundred hectares of rainforest.
Susanne Wenger was popularly called Adunni Olorisa which means “Adunni the idol worshipper” by yoruba folk.
She’s known for working with exemplary figures such as His Royal Majesty Iyiola Oyewale Matanmi III, the former Ataoja of Osogboland.
In her lifetime, she adopted and trained Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye (now founder of the largest art gallery – Nike Art Gallery, Lagos in West Africa) with eleven other children.
Related: A GUIDE TO VISITING NIKE ART GALLERY
Fun Fact: There’s no restriction on taking photos of yourself or the many artworks in Mama Susanne’s House.
And like Chief says, Adunni Olorisa didn’t teach artists. Instead, she encouraged common men and women to practice African Arts.
One peculiar story from Chief Doyin still rings a bell and it’s about Mama finding and grooming a regular blacksmith into a metalwork icon.
Why Mama Susanne Wenger’s House is the best Cultural Centre in Osogbo…
Mama with the New Sacred Art Movement contributed to many artworks in the Grove, and she is known for naming a bunch of them.
Today, artworks credited to the New Sacred Art Movement are showcased in the National Black Theatre in New York.
If you’ve been to Osogbo in the past, especially when it’s time for Osun-Osogbo Festival in August, you’ll discover how important the Grove is to yoruba pilgrims from all over the world and yes! Susanne made all of that possible.
Just think about this for a second.
Historically, Susanne Wenger was a foreigner in Osogbo who discovered the cultural significance of what our forefathers had greatly devalued – the Grove.
In today’s world, monumental structures in Osun-Osogbo Grove are maintained by the New Sacred Art Movement. And again, all thanks to Mama for her preservation of Osogboland’s heritage.
Finally, the age of Susanne’s home was hard to guess but from tinny bits of research, I think it has existed for a long time, about six decades ago.
The building has ornamental doors, columns, walls and asthetics. Also, the tables, chairs and benches are mesmerising products of wood carving or metalwork and many artworks downstairs are actually exhibited for sale.
I had an incredible experience at the home of the art maestro!
“She is not dead. She lives through her works. She only has become an Orisha. She only slept, she didn’t die.” – Susanne Wenger Follower
Susanne Wenger currently rests within the marvels of Osun-Osogbo Grove.
Have you ever been to Susanne Wenger’s house? Kindly share in the comments.
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