Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Nigerian Eyo Festival

Eyo Festival Parade
Photo Credit: Bruno Chatelin

The Eyo Festival is a Yoruba festival and masquerade held annually in Lagos, Nigeria. On the day of the Eyo festival, throngs of Eyos fill the streets, moving in a procession in which participants dress up in white clothing, veils and hats. The festival is held to honor the memory of a a highly regarded chief or prominent person who has greatly contributed to the development of Lagos Island during his/her lifetime. It is considered the highest honor given to the departed. 


You can watch a clip of the Eyo festival here.

Eyo Masquerade Jumping (Source)

Known as Eyo masquerades, the male costumed dancers represent the spirits of their ancestors. As a representative of his ancestor, the Eyo helps sweep away any evil that may befall his descendants with the dance. The flowing white agbada covers the entire body, including hands and feet, while the veil conceils their face. The different colored wide brimmed hats, the fila, represent different igas - groups that represent chieftaincy houses and royal families. There is a hierarchy to the igas, and the groups often try to outdo each other. The Opambata are specially decorated sticks are used as part of the dance and to bless people as they pass by. As a sign of respect to the departed spirits, when an Eyo approaches you, you must take off your shoes and jewellry; and women mustn't have their hair covered or wear pants. 


It is widely believed that the revelry during the Eyo festival is a forerunner of the modern carnival. 

Eyo Festival (Source)

Map used was sourced from: The World Factbook 2013-14. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013 .
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html

6 comments:

  1. Very interesting costumes...they do look like spirits!

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    1. I saw a photograph before learning about the festival, and frankly they looked frightening - especially with those sticks! Context definitely helped :)

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  2. I think Africa must be the continent which is the furthest away from us English in terms of culture. This year is going to be a huge learning experience for me. Thanks for explaining it all so clearly!

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  3. You know those costumes look slightly spooky to me.

    Oh, and I misread Yoruba and read Youtube instead, that didn't quite make sense.

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    1. I agree, but I suppose as they are representing departed ancestors, spookiness is to be expected!

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