Eyo festival In Lagos, Nigeria.

The Eyo festival in Lagos
Participants sing and dance during the Eyo festival in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, April 25, 2009. The Eyo festival is the foremost cultural event in Lagos and it is a play of pageantry, grace and beauty in honour of a prominent citizen or a deceased monarch. Picture taken April 25, 2009. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA ANNIVERSARY SOCIETY)

Important Things You Should Know About The Eyo festival In Lagos, Nigeria.

The Eyo festival in Lagos
The Eyo festival in Lagos

The Eyo festival in Lagos is an annual festival in Lagos State held, as part of the final burial rites, to escort the spirit of a departed Lagos King or Chief.

The Eyo Festival, otherwise known as the Adamu Orisha Play, is a Yoruba festival unique to Lagos, Nigeria. In modern times, it is presented by the people of Lagos as a tourist event and due to its history, is traditionally performed on Lagos Island.

But over time, the ceremony has been expanded into an amusing ritual to also commemorate the installation of a new head of an Iga (palace) or when a new Oba is installed.

And due to the westernization of things, there is now a possibility for a governor or a political leader to request that the festival be organized to add colour to an occasion for a fee.

Eyo, who is believed to be a representative of the ancestral spirits, is a masquerade that comes out only on the Island of Lagos. It is usually costumed from head to toe in white flowing cloth.

The attire consists of an ‘Agbada,’ which is worn on top and the ‘Aropale,’ the bottom that is wrapped around.  The Eyo also wears an ‘Akete’a hat that bears the colours and shield of the Iga from which he comes.

The Eyo festival in Lagos
Participants sing and dance during the Eyo festival in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, April 25, 2009. The Eyo festival is the foremost cultural event in Lagos and it is a play of pageantry, grace and beauty in honour of a prominent citizen or a deceased monarch. Picture taken April 25, 2009. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA ANNIVERSARY SOCIETY)

Eyo masquerade, the most respectable festival of Lagosians would feature about 53 groups (Iga) in this year’s festival with five groups of the Orisas as the head of all. The Adimu, (Orisa baba Nla Mila); Okanlaba Ekun (Alakete pupa), the Olopa Eyo; Eyo Orisa Oniko (Abara yewu, egun onigemo); Eyo Orisa Ologede (Olugbani) and Eyo Orisa Angere (Agere Mo Lokun) respectively. The festival is used to mark memorable events and funeral ceremonies.

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Oftentimes, it is done in honour of the demise of an Oba, a Chief, or a notable Lagosian who has contributed immensely to the development of Lagos. Its popularity stretches beyond the shores of this country, it can be concluded that the Eyo masquerade itself represents Lagos. The unique feature of this event is its infrequent staging, the Eyo does not hold on an annual basis like the popular Lagos carnivals ofOlowogbowo, Oko-Faji etc. There have been times in the past when for 21 years, the event did not hold, also there have been years when Eyo was staged, three, four and five times in a single year: 1903, 1906 and 1909 respectively.

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Expectations of those who are yet to witness the Adamu Orisa Play might be limited to the already familiar masquerades with an attire of different colours and whips but the Eyo masquerade is by no means similar; the flowing white poplin (aropale), the decorated hat (Ape/Aga) which differentiates one Eyo group from the others and the Eyo staff (opa eyo) used to extend the blessings of the Adamu Orisa Play by touching an individual, is an inimitable feature and a beauty to behold.

Adamu Orisa originated from Benin. Eyofestival has had a lot of impact on tourism right from the time the Portuguese first set foot on Eko and christened it Lagos, the Island has attracted foreigners on account of its many advantages as a seaport.

Vanguard  learned that Eyo Orisa Onikowas next to Eyo Orisa Adimu in rank but that Oba Adele, during his reign asked for Okanlabato to assume the second position and it has been like that since then. It was also confirmed that Eyo Okanlaba has no Orisa but ‘Laba (symbolic Bag), which is the property of the reigning Oba. Meanwhile, Vanguard can now reveal that Okanlaba’s second position in the orisa group has remained like that and will be so forever. Meanwhile, each “Orisa of Eyo” has traditional functions which must perform as directed by the Supreme Head of all the Orisas, “Orisa Adimu”, including the Eyo Onilaba known as the Eyo Oba or Eyo Alakete Pupa. Laba is the “Police” of the Orisa Adimu administration. They are to ensure and maintain maximum discipline among theEyo groups.

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They must ensure that Eyo group keep to the rules and regulations of Adamu OrisaPlay.

They take directives from Awe-Adimuand maintain regular contact with Awe Adimu throughout the preparation period and Adamu Orisa Play day.

“ORISA ONIKO” The outing of this deity during the midnight – early morning of Adamu Orisa Play day is to ensure that the devil and other evil spirits are driven away from the town. The Orisa must choose some of his followers, who are believed would be taking part in theAdamu Orisa Play, to lead “Opa Processions” for the announcement ofAdamu Orisa Play day.

 

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