Thursday, 1 March 2012

Eyo Festival 2011… In Honour of Abiodun Oniru

After touring Nigeria from the beginning of the year, documenting festivals and  great tourists' attractions, it was a greater fun for OYASAF crew to return to Lagos and had a feel of the most popular festival in West Africa's busiest commercial and business nerve centre.

 Arguably one of the most colourful cultural events in Nigeria, Eyo Festival is celebrated in Lagos.

The 2011 Eyo Festival tagged Adamu Orisa Play, and held in November, was in honour of late Chief Yesufu Abiodun Oniru [1864-1984]. Usually a one-day festival, the 2011 edition culminated in a rally at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos Island as the attendance included domestic and international tourists from different parts of the world.
  
In masquerades form, the Eyos are considered to be the spirits of the dead who return to cleanse Lagos of evil and to pray for the state’s continued prosperity and peace. The festival holds from dusk to dawn.

As a leading cultural event of the people of Lagos State, it is widely anticipated and attended by Lagos indigenes and settlers. In fact, some Eyo enthusiasts travel to Lagos, from within Nigeria and the Diaspora, to witness the event, every year.
Eyo masquerades during the Eyo festival 2011 at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos.  PHOTO: OYASAF DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER ARIYO OGUNTIMEHIN

 Its splendid and expansive theatrical displays and pageantry showcase the aboriginal history of the denizens of Lagos. Through a picturesque array of regalia and costumes, the Eyos form parades around Lagos Island.

The festival is largely regarded as a day of joyous splendor and gaiety. It has evolved over three centuries, and is usually held to celebrate the life and times of the Oba of Lagos and his white cap chiefs. It is also organised in commemoration of the passage or ascension, to the throne, of the Oba (king).

Eyo Festival could be staged in the memory of worthy and illustrious people who must have contributed immensely to the progress and development of Lagos. It is deemed as constituting the highest honor that Lagos can give a departed citizen of eminence. Despite its origin being ritualistic, there have also been incidents when the Eyo Play has been performed to coincide with the honoring of foreign or state dignitaries.

Traditionally, the Oba of Lagos fixes the date of the Eyo Festival; there is no customarily fixed time for the staging of the event. So, the anticipation and excitement across Lagos and beyond is immense when the date for its performance is announced.

 The festival encompasses a series of activities, culminating in a striking procession of thousands of men, clothed in white and wearing a variety of coloured hats called Aga and hold  a piece of wooden staff known as Opa Mbata. The procession includes dancing through various locations and landmarks across Lagos island, beginning from the Oba's Palace. 
Royal Eyo? Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi (left) and Omooba (Prince) Yemisi Shyllon during the 2011 Eyo Festival in Lagos. PHOTO: OYASAF DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER ARIYO OGUNTIMEHIN
               

1 comment:

  1. Adeniyi Abiola, Mass communication, Caleb university.

    I witnessed the festival cause it took place quite close to my house and it was just as you described in this well written piece. The Eyo festival is truly something to behold as it imbibes what the Lagos tradition is all about, its energetic, invigorating and always is and always will be a spectacular eye- catcher that receives international recognition time and time again.

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