Built in the late 1960’s and early 1970s on the site of an abandoned school, Ilédì Oǹtótóo is the assembly point for the Ògbóni, Yorùbá traditionalists associated with the Earth deity. This remarkable structure is composed of three enormous roofs which rise against the sky like giant lizards, representing the forces of the earth before mankind.

It is one of Susanne Wenger’s most complex and sensitive architectural creations.

This photo shows the sloping roof of the left wing of the Shrine with a sculpture of the unique greeting gesture of the Ògbóni Society members. Arms are extended placing the left (feminine) fist on top of the right (masculine) fist. The Ògbóni salute each other and the earth by bringing their clenched fists together three times, with the thumb concealed in the palm of the hand. Next to it on the left is the alluring sculpture of a waterlily.

All the exterior walls are elaborately sculpted with “rapturously emotional scenes” - to quote Wenger - depicting interactions with the deities. The interior of the Shrine is richly decorated with wall-paintings, a symbolic visual art form of the Yorùbá that communicates messages to the Gods.
This Shrine was collapsing in 2012. But in a major effort, 23 people worked on this complex restoration led by Adebisi Akanji - Wenger’s artistic collaborator on all her major monuments - and Sangodare Ajala, artist, leader of the restoration work in the Groves and adopted son of Wenger. Sadly, Saka Aremu, one of the first artists to be mentored by Wenger, passed away during this long restoration.


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