Osun Osogbo: Nigeria draws global attention to tourism Sacred Groove as World Heritage Site

By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor

Nigeria, through the Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has started intensification of global attention to the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove as a World Heritage Site while pushing for UNESCO’s enlistment of similar other sites in Nigeria. 

From right: Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Dr. Obawale Adebisi, Commissioner for Tourism, State of Osun; and Adekunle Fatai, Curator and Site Manager, Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove during the minister’s tour of the grove, a World Heritage Site.

This was started on Tuesday 17 December 2019, when the minister made a tour of the Sacred Grove, accompanied by the media and officials of the state arts, culture and tourism ministries.

Addressing the media after touring the grove, the minister said: 
      “We have just concluded a tour of the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, one of Nigeria’s two world heritage sites. 

The other is the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa State. You will agree with me that this is indeed an extraordinary site, worthy of its declaration as a world heritage site.”

The minister and his entourage also visited the Governor of Osun State, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola, in his office. 

In his brief speech, the governor re-affirmed the huge potentials tourism, driven mainly by arts, culture and sites such as Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove, has for a country’s economy.

The minister said the purpose of the visit was to renew national and global attention on Osun Osogbo Grove, and to formally announce Nigeria’s plan to pursue the enlistment of more sites as world heritage sites by UNESCO. “As you are aware, Nigeria has many veritable sites that meet the requirements of being declared World Heritage Sites. We are taking immediate steps to first enlist the sites on the tentative list, after which they can be inscribed as World Heritage Sites.”
The minster listed few of the sites whose enlistments are being sought. 

They include the ancient Kano City Walls; The Brazilian Baracoon Museum/Point of No Return in Badagry, Lagos State, where slaves departed Nigeria to the Americas; The forests in Oke-Igbo, Ile Oluji Axis of Ondo State, which was the inspiration for D. O. Fagunwa’s book, ‘Igbo Olodumare’; The Gashaka-Gumti National Park, Nigeria’s largest national park, located in the eastern provinces of Taraba and Adamawa, close to the border with Cameroon; and the Ogbunike Caves in Anambra State, for its natural significance.

The list, said Lai Mohammed, is endless.

 He revealed that last month, the ministry successfully obtained court order restraining persons encroaching on the Kano City Walls and Associated Sites.

“A World Heritage Site,” said the minister, “is a landmark or area which is selected by the UNESCO as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. Such sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity. They are considered to be of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’.

“The World Heritage Site list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 “states parties”.

“The fact that the General Assembly, comprising the entire 193 states parties, last month elected Nigeria into the UNESCO World Heritage Committee is a positive development for our quest to have more sites designated as World Heritage Sites.

And we shall use our presence on this committee to fight for enlistment of many more sites from Nigeria into the World Heritage list, because Nigeria is really blessed with a lot of potential sites.
“In the meantime, we are planning a similar visit to the Sukur Cultural Landscape. 

Fortunately for us, our gallant men and women in uniform have succeeded in repelling the attempt by the Boko Haram terrorists to destroy the Sukur Cultural Landscape.

“Now that we are here, let me use the opportunity of this visit to warn the land grabbers who are threatening the buffer zone around the Osun-Osogbo Grove, which is also a national monument. We will do whatever is possible within the law to keep encroachers at bay.

The minister thanked the Government of Osun State for all it is has done and is still doing to maintain the World Heritage Site.

 “As you can see, the access road to the grove is well tarred and the environment is kept clean and safe.

Thank you also to our guide today and to all those who are working here.”

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