Lagosians defy early morning downpour to celebrate Eyo Festival

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Lagosians in their thousands, on Saturday, defied the early morning downpour but trooped out to welcome their own “Adamu Orisa’ popularly called Eyo festival.
The festival is part of the activities to celebrate Lagos @50 marking 50 years after Lagos State was created from the old Western Region on May 27, 1967  by the then Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd).
He appointed Brig.-Gen. Mobolaji Johnson as the first military governor of the state.
The residents, who did not open shops, described the rainfall as a sign that the gods of the land were pleased with the celebrations and with the present administration of Lagos state led by Governor Akinwumi Ambode.
They said that rainfall during “Eyo” masqueraders’ parades was a sign that the heavenly beings or the gods were at peace with the land.
The masqueraders, in their immaculate white regalia and accompanying palm frond and caps to match, danced round Lagos Island in the downpour that had been drenched and stained from red mud and erosions from floodings.
Mr Jacob Kehinde, an indigene of “Eko’ the Yoruba name for Lagos city, said that the array of white regalia and costumes was a true replica of the culture and traditions of the indigenes of Lagos Island.
According to him, the festival was a theatrical display and pageantry that highlights and showcases the rich indigenous history of the people and Lagos city.
“Every thing done in this festival is showcasing what we have as a people and what our culture entails.
“Lagos is a tourist attraction centre and we must use this medium to showcase sites while we celebrate Lagos as a state,’’ he said.
Also, Mr Taofeek Adebisi, a freelance journalist, advised Africans and the general public to seek knowledge rather than attributing Eyo festival to a fetish practice.
“I was born and breed as a Muslim on the mainland of Lagos and over the years I have been made to believe that Eyo masquerade dance is diabolic.
“On the contrary, it is not true because I have been going around town with the guys dancing since 10p.m. on Friday night and I have not seen anyone pouring libations to any deity.
“Eyo is all about fun and nothing else, but, pure fun,’’ he said.
The  Festival which started several decades ago was invented as part of the regalia for the purpose of wading off undesirable elements.
From the beginning, the festival depicted by the image of masqueraders in flowing white apparel has grown for a rural festival to an internationally acclaimed event, he said.
Several shop owners and other vendors around the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) and on Lagos Island expressed delight, following bumper sales they recorded during the celebration.
The vendors said that they were happy with the organisers of the Golden jubilee of the creation of Lagos State. 
They said that the annual festival always attracted an influx of tourists from across the world to Lagos Island in particular and Lagos State in general, hereby boosting the state’s socio-economic activities.
The Eyo Festival, which had been in existence for decades, was invented by the founding fathers of Lagos as part of efforts to ward-off undesirable elements from the city as well as afford Lagosians the opportunity to relax among themselves.
During Eyo festival, youths from various families from Lagos State usually addressed as “Eyo’ masqueraders would cover themselves from head to toe with immaculate white clothes, a flat local cap to match and a decorated palm frond called “Opabata’’ in their hands.
These are the costumes or regalia that each masquerader must adorn and their activities are restricted to Lagos Island between 8a.m. and 7p.m.
They would dance round Lagos Island singing and praying for the Oba of Lagos, the white cap chiefs, the residents and visitors that had come to grace the occasion.
“Eyo’’ festival is celebrated on special occasions like this, or as a mark of respect for an illustrious son or daughter of Lagos State following the approval of the Oba of Lagos.
When Eyo festival is being celebrated, men were forbidden from putting on caps, women must not wear head ties while both must not wear shoes of any kind on Lagos Island as marks of respect to the celebration.
Mrs Funmilayo Rasheed, who operates a kiosk on Lagos Island, said that she always looked forward to the Eyo Festival because of the large sales she usually recorded then.
“I usually use such proceeds to augment daily sales from other days. The festival is always a welcomed idea for us in Lagos. I usually sell double of what I sell on a daily basis during the festival,” she said.
Also, Mrs Aminu Balogun, a food vendor, said that the Eyo Festival had always remained a significant cultural heritage of the people of Lagos.
Balogun said that the festival was a sign of good tidings and blessings to come in the later parts of the year.
Mr Femi Adewale, a bar operator, said that sellers always increase the prices of their commodities by a fraction of  in other to make quick profits.
“There is usually numerous people in attendance during the festival which forces an increase in the prices of commodities.
“When there is a lot of demand for goods, the prices of goods automatically increase in other to preserve existing stock or make more profit, ” he said.
Adewale said that he had to increase a small bottle of  alcoholic drinks that was selling for N150 on ordinary day to N200 and a bottle of table water sold for N70 instead of the normal N50.
Vendors of souvenirs such as fez caps, T-shirts, handkerchiefs with the inscription“ Lagos @50’’ on them; made brisk sales during the festival, despite the heavy rain during the early hours of the day.

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