HISTORIC FRIDAY - EYO FESTIVAL



The Eyo festival is a unique festival celebrated at the Island of Lagos State, Nigeria. Lagos is known for her fast growing economy and large contribution to the GDP of Nigeria. It is the commercial nerve center of Nigeria. The word “Eyo” refers to costumed dancers, also called masquerades that come out during the festival and believed to be the spirits of the ancestors. History has it that the festival is observed in event of the death of a monarch or the coronation of another. It is also observed in honour of a dignitary who has contributed immensely to the growth and development of the state or on request by the governor who pays certain fees.

The Sunday before the festival, the most senior Eyo processes round the city, this signifying that the festival will kick off the following Saturday. Next are four other Eyo: Làbà (red hat), Ónikó (yellow hat), Ọlọgẹdẹ (green green), and Ageré (purple hat) who oversee other groups. They take turn to process around the city between Monday to Thursday.

On the morning of the deal date, the Làbà (red hat masquarade) processes around the city. The festival commences with the Eyo setting out of the palace of a ruling family, robed from the head with a white flowing gown down to the legs and wrapped underneath with an extra clothing. He also puts on a hat which colour depicts that of the palace from where he proceeded and holds a palm branch; heading to the shrine.

Procession to the place of display and exhibition commences from Idumota and culminates at the official residence of the Oba of Lagos, a site for tourist attraction, on Lagos Island.

Here, displays and exhibition by all the various Eyo and their groups characterizes the scene. The show of inherent culture and highlight of the Lagos heritage, natural endowments and richness is the main show of the day.  

An Eyo does not move alone. He moves with other members numbering up to 50 and 100. In hierarchy, there is the most senior Eyo, who does not move with the other members. He is referred to as the Eyo Adimu Orisa, he wears a different hat from the others, mostly black, and must be an elderly and spiritually advanced male. He leaves the shrine after every other members have left. The other four are Eyo: Làbà (red hat), Ónikó (yellow hat), Ọlọgẹdẹ (green green), and Ageré (purple hat) all of whom oversee other groups.
BY IFEANYI KONYEHI

(source: https://hotels.ng/guides/activities/eyo-festival/)

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