All that my friend and I knew about Susanne Wenger, prior to visiting her house was the active part she played in restoring Osun-Osogbo Grove, matter-of-fact, I can say I’m quite lucky to have been to her House and the Grove, both tourist destinations were amazing!
Originally, this post was supposed to be published last week but then, Dr Rochelle Knight of Adventures from Elle was kind enough to share with us her answers to 17 interesting questions. So now you have two helpful blogposts at your fingertips!
After finishing from Genesis Art Gallery [get the full gist], my friend and I visited the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) in the Ataoja of Osogbo Palace. While there, I asked the Chairman few questions concerning tourist attractions and he mentioned the House, National Museum, Olumirin Waterfall and a few other places I’ll be visiting later.
blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.
Finding Susanne’s House…
Although Susanne’s House wasn’t on Google Maps, we easily located the place using the Chairman’s description. Just in case you’re visiting, it’s close to the Ataoja’s Palace and Osogbo City Central Mosque.
Getting there, a local informed the tour guide of our purposeful visit and after seeing us, the guide asked if we wanted a comprehensive tour of the premises or discuss one-on-one 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 that currently resides at the house and accommodates tourists during visits.
My friend and I climbed two flights of wooden stairs to the first floor before meeting with Chief (Mrs) Doyin, she was a bit busy with her records. Once free, she answered all of our questions about Susanne Wenger.
Chief (Mrs) Doyin spoke eloquently of Susanne often referring to her as Mama Susanne Wenger. According to Chief, Mama founded the New Sacred Art Movement and saved Osun-Osogbo Grove from endangerment.
Wayback in the 80s, Mama Susanne Wenger with the assistance of the New Sacred Art Movement and locals restored 75 hectares of the Grove which was originally two hundred hectares of rainforest.
Mama was popularly called “Adunni Olorisa” meaning “Adunni the idol worshipper” by yoruba folk. She’s known for working with figures such as His Royal Majesty Iyiola Oyewale Matanmi III, the former Ataoja of Osogboland. She also adopted and trained Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye in the Arts alongside 11 other children.
Fun Fact: There’s no restriction on taking photos of yourself or the artworks in Mama Susanne’s House.
Adunni Olorisa didn’t teach artists, instead she encouraged artists to practice African Arts, one of Chief Doyin’s most peculiar stories of Mama was when she groomed a blacksmith into a metalworks expert.
Why Mama Susanne Wenger’s House is the best Cultural Centre in Osogbo…
Mama Susanne Wenger was a versatile Australian artist who painted and practised wood carving, sculpting, writing, and batik to mention a few.
Fun Fact: Susanne Wenger’s House is a Brazilian style building in the capital city of Osun that houses over 400 artworks.
Mama with the New Sacred Art Movement contributed to many artworks in the Grove, 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.
Fun Fact: If it matches the aesthetics, you can feature your artworks in Mama Susanne’s House.
If you’ve been to Osogbo in the past, especially when it’s time for Osun-Osogbo Festival in August, you’ll see how important the Grove is to yoruba pilgrims from all over the world and yes! Susanne made all of that possible.
The Sum Up…
Historically, Mama Susanne was a foreigner in Osogbo who discovered the cultural significance in what our forefathers devalued. Presently, monumental structures in Osun-Osogbo Grove are maintained by the New Sacred Art Movement. Thanks to her for the preservation of the Osogboland heritage.
The age of Mama’s House was hard to say but I think it has existed for a long time, about six decades ago. It had ornamental doors, columns, walls and asthetics. Also, the tables, chairs and benches were mesmerising products of wood carving or metalwork and many artworks downstairs were exhibited for sale. I had an incredible experience at the house 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
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