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The Lady of Osogbo

Pierre Guicheney

2007 / 77 minutes / Production : 24 images

The Lady of Osogbo
mp4 - webm

In the month of November 2005, UNESCO registered the sacred forest of Osun Osogbo in Nigeria as a World Heritage Site. This recognition endowed by the highest cultural authorities in the world, to a site cherished by the Yoruba tradition is the fortunate conclusion of half a century’s fight led under the command of African Gods by an Austrian artist aged 90 when the film was shot (2005): Susanne Wenger (†12 January 2009)settled in Nigeria for about 60 years.

The artist was initiated into the highest levels of the mysteries of the Yoruba cult. She was accompanied in her battle by a group of artists and priests who restored and recreated with her the temples of the forest dedicated to the Orisas, the force-entities in the Yoruba tradition.

The sacred woods of Osun Osogbo are the final torchlight of the primary forests in Nigeria (75 hectares only), one of the last sacred sites in Western Africa to be preserved intact, a place of pilgrimage and of renaissance of the Yoruba culture and the symbol of an incredible encounter between contemporary European art and one of the strongest African traditions.

The preservation of this forest is the fruit of an unyielding love of one person with an extraordinary destiny, whom one can only compare to the Tibetan Alexandra David Neel, as much for her spiritual integrity as for her capacity to act and the force of her conviction.

Portraits and stories of an artist, of her black family and of one of the last sacred woods on the planet.

The project has obtained writing grants from Région Pays de la Loire and support from CNRS (National Center for Scientifical Research).