Pictures Courtesy of http://happylagosian.blogspot.com and http://naijablog.blogspot.com/
Splendour, as Lagos throbs to Eyo Carnival
By Nnamdi Inyama and Seye Olumide
LONG before the day, Lagos and even beyond, had been abuzz about the Orisa play also known as Eyo Festival.
There had been comments that this year's edition, organized in honour of the late Chief T. O. S. Benson, a prominent Lagosian and the nation's first Minister of Information, would be special, and indeed, it was.
All roads on Saturday led to the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Central Lagos, which was the venue of a spectacular display of colour, dance, culture and tradition by various Eyo groups at an event during which the state, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) declared that "the best of Lagos was yet to come."
Those living in the Lagos Mainland and outskirts , at one point on Saturday, began to wonder where everybody else had gone to, why there were so few commercial transport vehicles on the road and why the ones available charged such high fares.
The answer was simple: many people from all nooks and crannies of the state were heading to TBS to watch Eyo masquerades perform in a music and dance drama special to Lagosians.
Every available seat, by 9.00a.m., had been taken up at the TBS main bowl by gaily-dressed Lagosians from all walks of life, who had come to witness the Orisa play.
There were diplomats, who for a while, dropped the starchy formalities of their official duties, captains of industry and commerce , foreign tourists, young men and women as well as children, who arrived in very large numbers in the uniquely designed double-decker tourist buses called Eko Oni Baje.
The event began proper after the coordinated march of the various groups belonging to prominent families in Lagos and the adherents of five deities.
An obviously delighted Governor Fashola, who spoke after the march, said the Eyo Festival celebration was aimed at creating a family day for a very rich and proud festival and rich heritage of Lagos as well as develop opportunities to place it in its rightful position as an event deserving of international recognition and acceptance.
This year's Orisa play, he said, had promoted entrepreneurship through the various fabrics and hats that had been designed as well as the food and drinks provided.
Describing the event as " twelve hours of funfair and a whole family day," Fashola said it has also "shown the true colours of Lagos in terms of its dressing and culture as well as the fact that it is the ancestral home of festival and theatre.
Fashola added that the "Eyo masquerade is one of the richest and proudest statements of the colour, flamboyance and elegance of Lagos which must not die."
The governor explained that the objective of the innovation of a central viewing place was to provide for larger audience and greater number of viewers within a relaxed, safe and entertaining atmosphere without distracting from the delicate intricacies of the craft or elegance of the culture.
According to the governor, " in this way, families will get involved in what is usually a day of fun and splendor, and the children will connect with their heritage while the guests will understand the indigenes better".
Reiterating his ultimate vision for the festival, Fashola declared: "With pride tempered with humility, I have come to appreciate the festival and the need for it to be uplifted for the benefit of the state and as an addition to the world map as an international tourist destination".
He also said the uniqueness of the Eyo festival stems from the fact that it cannot be run by express calendar, saying: "Sometimes we have had five festivals in one year and there are times we have not had any in a number of years. But I think the most important thing is to let the people see what it portends".
The governor said the Eyo festival was " a festival of honour to celebrate great men, Lagosians, Obas of Lagos as part of their coronation rights and other Lagosians who have rendered sterling services and deserved to be honoured."
He declared that he felt good about the occasion and that Tafawa Balewa Square has come to stay as venue for the carnival.
The Eyo festival featured processions of colourfully dressed Eyo groups in their distinctive hats, robes and wrapper with the staff called opabatam.
The groups danced and chanted various songs while greeting people by touching them with the tip of the staff.
Among the Eyo groups that featured in the processions were Asogbon, Suenu, Bashua, Erelu Kuti, Egbe, Shaasi, Asajon, Eletu Odibo, Aromire, Obanikoro, Oshodi- Bukku, Onisiwo, Bajulaiye, Oloto, Onilado, Akogun Olofin, Olorogun Adodo and Onimole
Others were Bajulu, Olumegbon, Eletu Iwashe, Akitoye, Arobadade, Ogunmade, Onikoyi, Jakande, Etti, Oshodi, Ajiwe Forisha, Onisiwo, Salawe, Faji, Kakawa, Sogunro, Taiwo Olowo and Bajulaiye while the five traditional Eyo deity groups are Eyo Agere, Eyo Ologede, Eyo Oniko, Eyo Alakete Pupa and Eyo Adamu Orisha.
Prominent among those present at the occasion were the Deputy Governor, Sarah Adebisi Sosan, wife of the governor , Mrs. Abimbola Fashola , former Ogun State governor, Olusegun Osoba, Speaker of State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, Ambassador Dehinde Fernandez, foreign diplomats and members of the State Executive Council as well as members of the State House of Assembly among others.
Fashola: Why we revived Eyo Festival
By Nseobong Okon-Ekong, 04.26.2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, yesterday described the ÔÇśAdamu Orisa' Festival, better known as Eyo festival as "one of the richest and proudest statements of colour, flamboyance and elegance of Lagos which must not die."
Advancing the tourism potential of the Eyo festival, Fashola said his government appreciates the festival and the need for its upliftment for the benefit of the state and as an addition to the world map as an international tourist destination. He expressed fears that unless the festival is re-invigorated, the present generation would not understand its precepts and essence which may be lost in history and distortion.
Justifying the decision to stage the grand parade of the Eyo at the Tafawa Balewa Square instead of Idumota, he said the decision to relocate the festival was reached in consultation with the Oba of Lagos and some elders.
Fashola, who said the "best of Lagos is yet to come" was moved by the spectacle of the play. It was the second time in two weeks that the state made an impressive showing on the national culture and tourism centrestage. The Eyo play 2009 was in memory of the late Otunba Theophilus Owolabi Shobowale (TOS) Benson, an illustrious indigene of the state and Nigeria's first Minister of Information who passed on last year. Otunba Benson was the ÔÇśBaba Oba' (Father of the King) of Lagos.
Penultimate weekend, Lagos' tourism dream was kept alive when it hosted its first ever Beach Carnival at the Tarkwa Bay Beach.
The Eyo festival which was moved outside its traditional home on the streets of Lagos Island to an enclosed venue-the Tafawa Balewa Square-for the first time attracted the cream of Lagos state government officials, the Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos and his chiefs, foreign tourists and the teeming populace was supported by Glo, the telecommunications company, as main sponsor.
By doing this, according to the governor, the "intention was to provide larger viewership within a relaxed, safe and entertaining atmosphere without distracting from the delicate intricacies of the craft or elegance of the culture."
Fashola said he, Oba Akiolu, noted in his message that each time the Eyo festival is staged, it usually ushers in good tidings. He said, "it is my prayer that this edition will bring peace and prosperity to Nigeria.
This particular edition has exposed the Adamu Orisa play to international stage in the mould of Rio Carnival and the Argungu Fishing Festival in Northern Nigeria. It is my hope that the next edition will be more glamorous and fun filled."
Giving another reason for relocation of the festival to Tafawa Balewa Square, Oba Akiolu said it was intended to "reduce to the barest minimum, the illegal and criminal acts of some people which are not part of the Eyo tradition."
The last Eyo festival, according to Chief Taoridi Ibikunle, the Akinshiku of Lagos and head of all Eyos, was staged six years ago, in August, 2003 in honour of the Late Oba Adeyinka Oyekan II.