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The Eyo masquerades and the significance of the Eyo festival

One of the most eye-catching and enduring celebrations in Lagos is the Eyo Festival, also known as Adamu Orisa.

The Eyo festival in Lagos Island [owlification]

The term "Eyo" is also used to describe the masquerades or costume dancers that perform at the Eyo festival.

The Yoruba term "agogoro Eyo" is used for the white-clad Eyo masquerades, which portray the ghosts of the deceased.

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Their origin can be traced to ancient secret societies. The masquerades walk and dance while wearing white robes, a veil covering their faces, and customary hats (Akete), each of which stands for the group to which the Eyo belongs and is distinguished by colour.

The Eyos carry an Opambata stick made of palm branches with different artistic writing on it. It is used to bless the populace or chastise festival law violators and greet elders.

There are five groups that are associated with the Eyos masquerades, though the numbers have increased. Anyone related to this groups can participate in the festival.

On the day of the Eyo festival, the procession begins from Idumota to the Iga Idunganran palace. It only happens on Lagos Island. The major road in the centre of the city (from the end of Carter Bridge to Tinubu Plaza) is closed to vehicles and people.

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This event is rare and exclusive because it only occurs on the island of Lagos without a particular date or time attached to it.

The Eyo festival is used to accompany the soul of a deceased Lagos King or Chief and welcome a new one. Eyos, or masquerades, honour a king or oba's life. Although, the Eyo Festival usually only happens during certain times like an Oba’s death, it can now be observed in honour of a prominent person's passing or an important occasion, like state visits.

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