By Peter Oriyomi
Ahead of the grand finale of the annual Osun Osogbo festival holding tomorrow (Friday), the state government has warned the participants not to drink water from Osun river.
Devotees led the participants during the festival usually celebrated in August to worship and receive blessings from Osun, the goddess of fertility, at the Osun sacred grove.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, who gave the warning on Thursday in a statement, said the rive water had been contaminated with mercury, lead, cyanide and other injurious elements poisonous to human health.
The commissioner said it was necessary to sensitize the participants, including tourists, devotees and visitors from all over the world attending the festival so as to keep them safe.
Disclosing that the river water had been contaminated by the activities of artisanal miners, he said: “There are radio jingles on the health hazard of drinking water from the Osun River due to contamination.
“However, this is a cultural thing and no matter how hard you try, some people will not oblige but we will continue to sensitise them. There may not be a quick fix to this pollution, but as a government, we will continue to do the needful.
“Government has taken cognisance of this pollution and is working really hard to prevent the activities of artisanal miners. It is a menace, it is very difficult, but we cannot fold our arms.
“Public health officials would be at the grove during the festival to further sensitise people on the dangers of drinking the water.”
Also, the curator of the Osogbo’s National Museum and Monuments and site manager of Osun Osogbo Grove, Fatai Adekunle, told journalists that a Geographical Information Analysis and Laboratory Tests carried out by a Non-governmental Organisation, Urban Alert, has confirmed the presence of heavy elements in the water.
Adekunle, who said over 60,000 devotees and tourists are expected at the Osun festival grand finale on Friday, said during the festival, tourists and visitors drink water from the Osun River because of its purifications and spiritual essence.