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 Wenger’s most complex and sensitive architectural creations.
‘Like the rest of Susanne’s architecture, this building fully stands up to her own ultimate test: it forms part of the forest, it grows like a spectacular tree, and in spite of its unusual shape this building does not impose itself on its surroundings. Rather it is like a concentration, a heightening of the atmosphere around it.’ (The Return of the Gods, Ulli Beier, 1975, page 80)
The centrepiece of Ilédì Oǹtótóo are the powerfully sculpted high posts that support the roof and symbolically protect the inner sanctum of the shrine. These magnificent carved wooden columns were created by Kasali Akangbe, Buraimoh Gbadamosi, Saka Aremu, Lamidi Aruisa and Rabiu Abesu. Each artist has his signature style. Kasali Akangbe’s sculptures have lean, elongated facial features. Buraimoh Gbadamosi figures have large bulging eyes that also appear in his stone sculptures which are dotted throughout the Groves. Rabiu Abesu’s works feature pronounced jowls and a strong sense of tranquility. Saka Aremu carved small, rounded heads with compact features.