Importance of Eyo Festival | Yoruba Culture

Eyo is a part of the masquerades in Yoruba Land that comes out during a special event in Lagos.

 Masquerades in Yoruba Land are regarded to as the spirits from the dead. 

The Eyo masquerade, also known as “Adamu Orisha’s play”, has five Orisha (deity).  

They are usually identified using their “Aga,” which usually vary from one group to another.


The festival is the most popular event in Lagos and was staged at Oke Ipa to honor the late king of Lagos, Oba Akintoye, in 1854 (the first documented event).

Like every other part of Yoruba Land, farewell rituals must occur for a monarch that has just passed on as a divination process, according to the Yorubas belief. 

In Lagos, the ritual used to be a little different from how it is done with the rest of the Yoruba monarchs.

When Eyo first started, it use to be staged after the demise of a king of Lagos. There are a lot of claims on how the cultural festival started.

Historians believe that Eyo was inherited in Ibefun, Ogun State, after the former king of Lagos, Oba Akinsemoyin, consulted the Eyo Orisha (deity) for help.

Importance of Eyo Festival | Yoruba Culture

Oba Akinsemoyin had consulted the deity to help his childless younger sister, Erelu Kuti, so that she can bear a child.

With the help of Eyo deity, Erelu was able to bear two children whose line to date determines who the Oba of Lagos is going to be in Lagos.

Eyo festival was first staged in Oke Ipa in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Oke Ipa became where the king of Lagos (obas) and important dignitaries unite to watch the Eyo play, and sometimes back then, it takes some essential dignitaries days by foot to get there.

The Eyo play became so crucial to the Lagosians that it became a cultural festival that has been modified over the years.

Eyo Regalia

The Eyo full regalia includes a white gown covering the hand and feet, a headgear (Aga), and a stick-staff called Opanbata. The stick is used by the masqueraders to greet one another.

The Eyo staff is called Opanbata, and it is made of palm fronds and a stick.

The festival uses to be staged in honor of the king of Lagos that has just passed on, and it was later modified to include notable personalities in Lagos.

A request must first be put forward to the head of the Eyos ( Akinsiku of Lagos), who will request for “Ikaro” (offerings) that will be distributed among the other Eyo deities.

Following the offerings, a ritual also occurs at the sacred sanctuary of the “Awe Adamu,” (One of the Eyo orisha). It is when the plans and what masquerade will stage the Eyo play will be determined.

On the eve of Eyo day, One of the senior five of the Eyo group called Eyo Laba group performs a vital rite where the Oba of Lagos officially gives his blessings. This rite is called Agodo Erection Rite. Following that, Gbale rites are observed, which symbolizes sweeping away of evil.

On the festival day, the Eyo gather in numbers in full regalia and move towards the Enu Owa, (a ceremonial crowing place of the Obas). From there, they proceed to the Obas palace at ILA Idunganran before moving to the street of Lagos Island through the Tinubu Square. It is where thousands of people and tourists will receive them and join in the festival.

Source: Dakingsman

Categories: History

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