Osun-Osogbo Festival: Gov’t Warns Against Drinking From River, Devotees Defy Warning, Drink


Osun State government has advised tourists, devotees and visitors to the grand finale of the annual Osun Osogbo Festival on Friday not to drink water from the Osun River because of contamination.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Rafiu Isamotu, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Osogbo.

He said government embarked on the sensitisation to discourage people from drinking the water during the festival as it had been contaminated by the activities of artisanal miners and was not good for human consumption.

Isamotu said public health officials would be at the grove during the festival to further sensitise people on the danger of drinking the water.

The Osun Osogbo Festival is an annual event usually celebrated in August at the Osun Sacred Grove, in worship of the goddess of fertility. The festival is usually attended by tourists from all over the world, as well as Osun devotees.

During the festival, tourists, visitors and devotees drank from the Osun River for its perceived divination, while some take the water home to bathe with.

According to the Curator and site Manager of Osun Osogbo Grove, Mr Adekunle Fatai, no fewer than 60,000 devotees and tourists are expected at the grand finale on Friday.

The river is said to have been heavily contaminated with mercury, lead, cyanide and other injurious elements that are poisonous to human health.

A geographical information analysis and laboratory tests carried out by a non-governmental organisation, Urban Alert, also affirmed the presence of heavy elements in the water.

However, Devotees of the Osun deity were on Friday spotted drinking from the Osun River despite warnings from the Osun State Government that the water had been contaminated by activities of artisan miners.

As the Osun-Osogbo festival comes to a climax on Friday, August 12, thousands of Osun devotees and visitors had converged on the Osun grove.

Theforesight reports that many of them were seen fetching water from the river in different containers and also drinking the water on their way out of the grove.

Devotees and visitors, who had trooped out to the riverside in their white attires and beads, were seen singing and dancing to traditional songs.

The Osun State Commissioner for Health, Rafiu Isamotu, speaking earlier with journalists, said public health officials would be at the grove during the festival to further sensitise people on the dangers of drinking the water.


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