UNMASKING EYO TO THE WORLD


3476064137_760b4d1d92The Eyo festival (Adamu Orisa), by tradition is staged in memory of an illustrious deceased person but this year’s edition was a double pronged. It was celebrated in honour and memory of late Otunba Theophilus Owolabi Shobowale Benson, Nigeria’s first information minister who died nearly a year ago and the event was also to draw in foreign social tourists. TOS was also known as “Baba of Oba” of Lagos was an eminent Lagosian that contributed to the development of Lagos during his life time.

3475985213_c67600e8d6This year’s festival held at the Tafawa Balewa Square on the 25th of April, 2009 beginning from 8 a.m, rhythmic drum beats and white silhouettes traipsed the streets of Lagos Island. It was a unique blend of culture, history, pomp and pageantry.

The festival for the first time since its inception was moved outside its traditional home – the streets of Lagos Island to the Tafawa Balewa Square which attracted the State government’s officials, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu and his retinue of chiefs. Africa’s telecom major, Glo sponsored the landmark event.3476844626_bef3c16501

Masquerades numbering nearly a thousand commenced their stunning dance at Isale Eko-the heartland of Lagos arriving TBS at noon to entertain the long tarrying crowd who were being entertained by a handful of notable local artistes. Meanwhile commercial activities were grounded to a halt on the ever busy Lagos; one of several strict rules of the ancient ritual show is no commercial traffic about the masquerades. Other rules include: no flip flops, no head gears, no pictures, etc. Any smart alecs who dared break the golden rules received the brazen cat-o-nine stamp on the back-no kidding, like one brave lady found out. The masquerades weren’t only ones involved in the disciplining business. The police were not left out of the event; over a thousand cops were deployed to monitor the event with a brief to contain hoodlums who posed apparent security threats.

So did the Foreigners show up? Your guess is as good as mine; a good number did. A Canadian told our reporter that the festival was rich, a statement of colour and style. In company of his wife, both held their foot wears in their hands but couldn’t understand why the crowd held their fingers over their heads (this was done to ward away evil when the Eyo embarked on any of its several incantations).

To Kei, Japanese who has been in Nigeria for six months said the festival was interesting but too crowded adding in Japan festivals are done in small groups; nonetheless he walked bare foot holding up his footwear and snapping away gleefully.3476754220_78bf7abe6b

Over 300 buses were positioned at strategic places like Epe, badagry, Ikorodu,Oshodi to convey passengers between 6:30 am and 2:30 pm to and fro the Tafawa Balewa Square.

The occasion rounded off before 6:00 pm, as the hordes of spectators left the venue, festival officials could be heard over loud speakers ordering the tired masquerades not to flog anyone “we invited them” they shouted.

3476828150_c0bb839732The Eyo festival takes place whenever occasion and tradition demand, but it is usually held as the final burial rite given to a prominent Lagosian.

The goal of the eyo festival according to its organizers is to re-invigorate the present generation not to forget but rather understand the precepts and essence of being a citizen of Lagos state.

Benny, CONNECTAFRICA

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One Response

  1. its absolutely lovely

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