Monday, December 5, 2011

Nigerians on Lagos Island Celebrate the Eyo Festival

My article on Global Press Institute

Nigerians on Lagos Island in southwestern Nigeria celebrated the Eyo Festival at the end of November. Originally known as Adimu Orisha play, the festival is unique to the island and is a tradition of the Yoruba ethnic group. It can be organized to mark various occasions but was traditionally used as a final burial rite after the death of a chief.
In recent years, the festival has honored the late Yesufu Abiodun Oniru, who was the chief of Lagos from 1934 to 1984. He contributed to the development of Lagos state and fought many battles to liberate the indigenous people of the Lagos colony from Great Britain.

The climax of the festival was the public parade on Nov. 26. Participants dressed up as Eyos, or masquerades, wearing white clothing. Each Eyo group wore a hat of a distinct color to symbolize the various ancestries of the island.

Streets were closed off, and everyone had to walk barefoot as a sign of respect. The parade terminated in Tafawa Balewa Square, where people from all over Lagos gathered to watch the festival.

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