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All You Need To Know About Eyo Festival Of Lagos State

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The Eyo Festival, otherwise known as the Adamu Orisa Play is the TRADITIONAL PLAY OF LAGOS. It is a day’s festival staged for the Final Burial Obsequies of an Oba or a Chief, and in honour and memory of a deceased person who had contributed to the progress and development of Lagos; hence the play is not staged for any less important event.

This year’s Eyo will be in memory of  Immediate Past Elegushi of Ikateland, late Oba Yekinni Adeniyi ELEGUSHI  Kusenla II who reign from 1991-2009. The play coincides with the celebration of the 50 years creation of Lagos State taged #LAGOSAT50.

The late Oba ALAYELUWA Yekinni Adeniyi Elegushi, the 20th Oba Elegushi of Ikate land would forever be remembered in the annals of the history of Ikate land, nay the entire Lagos state, as a ruler who transformed the rural dukedom of ancient Ikateland into a modern royal kingdom. His son is the present Oba of the Kingdom (HRM Oba Alayeluwa Saheed Ademola Elegushi, Kusenla lll, The Elegushi of Ikateland).

Date And Area Of Performance

The Adamu Orisa Play is always staged on a Saturday that falls on the day after the Badagry Market Day, that is known as the “ABO AGBADAEGI” The play takes place only on the Street of Lagos Island and does not extend beyond the boundaries of (Eko Carter Bridge entrance and Macgregor Canal) of Lagos Island. It is forbidden to stage the play beyond these boundaries.

Origin Of The ORISAS

The Adamu Orisa, in whose name the play is staged, Orisa Ogunran Adimu were originally brought to Lagos by Alase Odu, Chief Olorogun Agan while Elegba Opopo was brought by Segbeni, Chief Olorogun Igbesodi from Benin during the reign of Oba Ado, over 400 years ago. While Orisa Ogunran is a male Adamu on the other hand is a female.

Both Chief Olorogun Agan and Chief Olorogun Igbesodi settled at Oju-Olokun Street, Chief Olorogun Agan towards the mater side and Chief Olorogun Igbesodi at the beginning of Oju-Olokun Street, which is today known as Abegede, where the Elegba Opopo‘s shrine is installed.

The Authorities Of Staging “ADAMU ORISA PLAY”

Whenever the Adamu Orisa Play or Eyo Play is to be staged, both the people of “Ita- Ado” and the people of Agbede” must come together for arranging and effectuating the staging of the outing. Only these two families of Olorogun-Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi are the sole authority on the performance of any Eyo play from the time immemorial and announcement by the reigning  AKINSIKU OF LAGOS  who is by Right and Tradition the Head of “ADIMU CULT” in this country.

The name “ADAMU ORISA” rings much bells to the hearing of people than the name “OGUNRAN”which is relatively unknown to many, this is so because the Orisa Ogunran is too powerful and too expensive to stage as a play, “ritualwise: hence the Orisa comes out once in a Blue Moon.

How The ORISA Finally Settled At ISALE- EKO

It must be noted however, that when Adamu Orisa was brought from Benin in 1630, the Orisa was settled at “Okepa” with the consent of Oba Ado of Lagos. It was at this Okepa the Oba of Lagos and his Chiefs would go and witness the performance of the Adimu Orisa; but the venue changed during the reign of Oba Ologunkutere of Lagos, because he (Ologunkutere) did not support the idea of the Oba of Lagos and his Chiefs, leaving the Island of Lagos to watch the performance of the Adamu Orisa. He therefore decreed that the Adamu Orisa be brought down to Lagos Island.

With his order, Chief Olorogun Agan IV, in 1772 brought down the Adimu Orisa to “Dunmojokun”? otherwise known as “ITA ADO“, where the “AWE ADIMU” (The Conclave) has remained ever since. The performance of the “Adamu Orisaâ is traditionally called the “EYO PLAY”. They introduced Eyo in to it to make it more glamorous

Procedure For Staging ˜ADAMU ORISA” Play or Request For Eyo Masquerades To Represent A Family

Any person or family that can afford the expenses of staging an Adamu Orisa play, or any family that wants Eyo Masquerades in the name of their house, must first consult the families of Olorogun Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi to formally inform them of such a desire thereafter. The two families will then direct the person or family to the reigning Oba of Lagos; whom it is believed, is in better position to know whom and who had contributed to the progress and development of Lagos; hence, the play (Adamu Orisa Play) is not staged for less important person or family.

The Oba will then direct that person or family, who can afford the expenses of staging an Adamu Orisa Play to the traditional owners of Adimu Orisa play, that is the Olorogun Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi families at AWE-ADIMU, situated at Ita-Ado, Isale-Eko, Lagos. The person or family will be led to the Awe-Adimu with the King’s official staff (Opa-Oba), SUKU, and accompanied by two white capped Chiefs. At the Awe-Adimu, such a person or family will be issued with IKARO (all the articles and cash requirement for providing certain things for the Obsequities etc). Until all the “IKARO” agreed upon are supplied to and accepted at the Awe-Adimu, the Adamu Orisa Play or Eyo Play WILL NOT be publicly announced or staged.

It is pertinent to note that no other family or families is or are allowed to be present at the presentation of the “IKARO” at “AWE ADIMU” by the family or person wanting to stage Adamu Orisa Play, than the two families of Olorogun Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi, that is “Ita- Ado” and “Abegede” families. No other Orisa family or Eyo Iga family than the two families aforementioned.

Announcement Of Date Of PLAY

The Awe-Adimu is virtually responsible for announcing the date of performance: After consulting the Ifa, “Oracle” and other “Rituals” were performed and permit to stage the festival obtained from the Lagos State Government and after the Ikaro is accepted and the Ifa is consulted and a date is assured, the Elders of Awe-Adimu will send message to the other four groups of Eyo. These are The head of red cap Eyo {Olori Eyo Onilaba or Alakete Pupa}, the head of family of Orisa Oniko (Raffia), the head of family Orisa Ologede (Banana) and Olori Eyo Agere (Stilt). It must also be noted that only two out of the four groups are known to be having Orisa. They are Orisa Oniko (Raffia) and Orisa Ologede (Banana) which means that we have only THREE ORISA in the Adamu Orisa Play or Eyo Play.

Eyo Alakete Pupa or Okolaba is not an Orisa in anyway, but they are known and referred to as “Eyo Olori Eyo”. The person who is chosen by any Reigning Oba to lead the Eyo Onilaba or Alakete Pupa is known as (OLORI EYO ONILABA) which means that, the Eyo Masquerades following their leader, chosen by the reigning Oba are known to be “Eyo Olori Eyo Onilaba” only.

The Present OLORI EYO ONILABA is Prince Adeshina Oshodi.

The Bag, made of Skin, Hung on Somebody among the followers of Onilaba Masquerade or Alakete Pupa (Red Capped) Masquerade is called “LABA”.

The “Laba” is a symbolic Bag, symbolizing them (the Eyo Onilaba) that they are from the Oba. The symbolic Bag, otherwise known as Laba is the property of any Reigning Oba of Lagos; and this “Laba” is rotational to different houses; for it is not stable to any house or person, but it is given out according to the wish of the Reigning Oba, after the Laba must have been blessed by the Elders of Awe-Adimu.

Ageree (Stilt) too is not an Orisa, but mere fancy. He is only recognized for the jewelries he is putting on, with his dancing on a long stick. The only Orisa we have as the Traditional Supreme Head and Leader of all Orisa is the Orisa Adimu followed by Orisa Oniko (Raffia) and Orisa Ologede (Banana).

The Eyo Onilaba or Alakete Pupa is placed second in the row, simply because of any reigning Oba whose symbol they are putting on; as the Oba are known to be second in command to Orisas, (Oba Alase Igba Keji Orisa).

Owners Of ORISA

It must be noted with strong emphasis that these Orisas are the Properties of Certain House or Families in Lagos. And these families are the Custodians and Owners of these Orisas. These Orisas perform Assigned Traditional Functions in connection with the performance of Adamu Orisa Play.

It is an approved Custom and Policy that Leader of the house of Orisa should be a recognized person from the direct lineage of their Forefathers, who brought the Orisa into the Town of Lagos.

The families and owners of the Orisas are as follows:

a) ORISA ADIMU and ORISA OGUNRAN Belongs to Olorogun Agan and Olorogun Igbasodi Families respectively: and only these two families of Olorogun Agan and Olorungun Igbesodi or ITA-ADO AND AGBEDE have the SOLE AUTHORITY on the performance of any Eyo Play since the time immemorial in Lagos

b) ORISA ONIKO” is the property of AJILU OR ONIGEMO FAMILY.

c) “ORISA OLOGEDE” is the property of OLUGBANI FAMILY.

d) The symbolic Bag called “LABA” is the property of any Reigning Oba of Lagos.

e) AGEREE (Stilt) is the property of BANTE-SEDA

f) The Eyo Masquerade coming out on the day of Adamu Orisa Play from different Palaces (IGA) are under the control of the reigning white-capped Chief in that Palace or the head of the family of that Chieftaincy Family.

FUNCTIONS

Each “Orisa” has traditional functions which it must perform and as directed by the Supreme Head of all the Orisas, the Orisa Adimu?, including the Eyo Onilaba known as the Eyo Oba or Eyo Alakete Pupa.

a) Eyo ONILABA ( EYO OBA): They are the “Police” of the Orisa Adimu Administration. They are to ensure and maintain maximum discipline among the Eyo groups. They must ensure that Eyo groups keep to the rules and regulations of Adamu Orisa Play or Eyo Play. They take directives from Awe-Adimu and maintain regular contact with Awe-Adimu throughout the preparation period and Adamu Orisa Play Day.

b) “ORISA ONIKO” The outing of this Orisa during the midnight/ early morning of Adamu Orisa Play Day is to ensure that the devil and other evil spirits are driven away from the town. The Orisa must choose some of his followers, whom is believed would be taking part in the Adamu Orisa Play, to lead Opa Procession for the announcement of Adamu Orisa Play Day.

c) “ORISA OLOGEDE” Similarly, the above mentioned functions of “Orisa Oniko” must be performed within different time of the early morning of the Adamu Orisa Play Day. The purpose of Orisa Ologede’s outing at this time is to ensure peace, Tranquility and Safety to the performance of the day. The followers of Orisa Ologede also lead ‘Opa Procession’ for the announcement of Adamu Orisa Play Day.

d) ‘EYO AGERE It has no special functions to perform than to entertain the spectators on the Adamu Orisa Play Day. And they are among the Eyo groups to lead Opa Procession for the announcement of Adamu Orisa Play.

All these four groups and the Eyo Igas, act on the directives of Awe Adimu, on staging of Adimu Orisa Play. Similarly, no Orisa can prescribe or inflict punishment on any other Eyo group without first obtaining the approval and consent of the Supreme Head (Awe Adimu).

The Orisa Adimu is the traditional Supreme Head and Leader of all ORISA?. No Eyo must come out before Orisa Adimu? and its Eyo are on the streets.

It is worth knowing as well that all the white-capped Chiefs having Eyos (Eyo Iga the Palaces Masquerades) get permissions from Awe Adimu, the Sole Authority on Ikaro Ope Eyo.

The Oba of Lagos himself, if he wishes to give Eyo Masquerade to any house or to any of his white-capped Chiefs, must take permission from the Awe Adimu, where the families of Olorogun Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi will give their directives on whether to be or not to be; Provided Conditions are satisfied. For instance, the Lagos State Chiefs of ONIFILA-FUNFUN {White cap chiefs} AKARIGBERE, IDEJO, OGALADE AND ABAGBON got their Eyo Igas from the families of Olorogun Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi, and NOT from any Oba or their Co-Chiefs.

EYO ORU” Apart from the Day time Adamu Orisa Play being staged, there is what we call the ˜Eyo Oru {The Mid-night Eyo Play}, this is staged within the late hours of 12am to 5am to honor a deceased person by the family or a person, that cannot afford the expenses of the Day time Adamu Orisa Play; which is believed to be more expensive than the ˜Eyo Oru.

During this time, No Orisa must come out, but only few Eyos from Eyo Adimu, about Twelve (12) Eyos.

Eyo Onilaba, Eyo Oniko, Eyo Ologede and Eyo Agere, who will supply eight (8) members each of their Eyo group or as wish by the Elders. The movements or Eyos are limited to certain areas of the environments, where the play is taking place. And all the ˜Ritual” performed are known and done by the Elders of Awe Adimu only.

Announcement (OPA PROCESSION)

For the Public to know and believed that Adamu Orisa Play would be staged, there must be public display of the King’s staff “OPA PROCESSION” throughout the Street of Lagos Island, by the Five groups ie of Eyo Adimu, Eyo Onilaba, Eyo Oniko, Eyo Agere, Eyo Ologede, a week before the Adamu Orisa Play Day.

IMOKU

Between the midnight of Thursday and Friday morning the IMOKU” will be performed, which is the Symbolic Corpse of the deceased person who is being honour, is laid in State for public viewing to pay the last respect and to the traditional weeping for the departed deceased.

IKARO

It should be noted that Head of the Family of the Orisa Oniko, Orisa Ologede, the Olori of Eyo Onilaba, and Eyo Ageree, must before the day of performance of the Adimu Orisa Play as part of the preparation for the play, attending meetings on invitation at AWE-ADIMU for the purposes of receiving and collecting their respective requirement for their various rites, which each of them is by Tradition, required to perform in connection with the Play. These requirement and in perquisites are known as ˜IKARO; and must be collected before the day of the play at Awe-Adimu.

Rituals For The AGODO Construction

At about or before twelve noon (12pm) on Friday, the Elders of Awe-Adimu will send for the Olori Eyo of Eyo Onilaba or Alakete Pupa; who on the instruction of these Elders, will go and construct the ˜AGODO” or ˜PARA” (an enclosure constructed with mats on the eve of Adamu Orisa Play Day along Enu-Owa Street, now Iga Idunganran Street to house the Drummers).

This mats are supplied by the Awe-Adimu and carried away by the leaders of Eyo Onilaba on the instructions of the Elders of Awe-Adimu he will have to return with the remains of the mats used to construct the Agodo, including the sticks he used, to the Elders of Awe-Adimu; where the usual thank you for a job well-done and breaking of Kolanuts by the Elders of Awe-Adimu.

He will then be re-instructed to go back and keep watch of the Agodo, until the Elders of Awe Adimu are therein to perform some rituals and declare the ˜Agodo open for certain Hours of that Mid-night and early morning of Saturday of the Adamu Orisa Play Day. Nobody must be inside that ˜Agodo or ˜Para before and when rituals are being performed except the Elders of Awe-Adimu, who will lead a procession in white robes and carrying long staff (Opan Bata) with the Drummers behind and following them in procession to the Agodo or Para.

Inside the Agodo or Para, where the rituals are being performed the Drummers are a little bit far away from the Elders of Awe Adimu, that are performing the rituals; only a white-capped Chief on the instruction of the Elders of Awe-Adimu in person of Eletu Odibo as a representative of the Oba will be present and must also be far away from where the rituals are being performed.

After the process, the Drummers can then beat the drums and ˜Arigo on the instruction of the Elders performing the rituals.

After the ˜Agodo is declared opened that early morning of Saturday only the elders of Awe Adimu, leaving behind the drummers inside the Para or Agodo, will go to the Oba’s Palace, to pray for him, then to Imoku, where another rituals are performed in favour and memory of the dead, in whose name, the Adamu Orisa Play is about to be staged.

It is only these two families of the Olorogun Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi who have been performing these rituals from time to immemorial up to date.

In the early hours of the performance of the Adamu Orisa Play Day, the Orisa Oniko (Raffia) must first go round the area of the Agodo but not the whole of Lagos Island. This takes place around 2am in the morning of the day of performance; and the purpose of this special outing is to drive away ˜the devil and other ˜Evil Spirit in the town.

The Orisa Oniko will report back to Awe Adimu where he receives blessings and likewise, and then ordered back home to off his load of Raffia by the Elders of Awe Adamu, and be keeping watch of when the Traditional Supreme Head (ADIMU ORISA) would be out for the day’s Play.

After the Orisa Oniko (Raffia) have returned from his special outing, the Orisa Ologede (Banana) will also come at around 3am on the same early morning, and would go round the same area as well. The significance of his own outing is for the purpose of adding ˜Peace and Trandquility to the performance that will take place later on that day both the Orisa Oniko and the Orisa Ologede will report to the Adimu Orisa at Awe-Adimu in turn; and it is after this that the ADAMU ORISA, the Supreme Head, will lead his own Eyos out for the public performance of the day.

Before Adimu Orisa is out for the day’s play about eight (8) of her Eyo’s would be send out to Imoku, and no Eyo of other Igas (Palace) must be met by them when going or when coming back from Imoku.

This takes places about 4.30am after the Eyo Adimu, must have returned from Imoku, they will go and off their dresses (the Paraphernalia of an Eyo) in their own meeting place; because the EYO ADIMU and ORISA ADIMU are not staying and must not stay in the same place. This is forbidden. (Ewo ni).

The Orisa herself has her own abode or citadel at No 33/35 Alagbeji Street, Ita-Ado, Isale-Eko, Lagos; while the Eyos ( Eyo Adimu) they all have their gathering or meeting place at No 45 Alagbeji Street, Isale-Eko, Lagos. But whenever the Adimu Orisa is ready for the day’s Adamu Orisa Play Day, the Adimu Orisa will consult or send for her Eyos to be out. It is the two families of Olorogun Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi that are having control of both the Orisa Adimu and Eyo Adimu.

It is after all these preparations and rituals that the ADIMU ORISA herself will come out; for the gods have done a good job, and there is an assurance.

It must be stated that there is no fixed time for Adimu Orisa to come out on the day of Performance but it could be between the hours of 5-6.30am depending on the weather.

However, as the Traditional Supreme Head and Leader of All Orisas, no Eyo must come out before Orisa Adimu and her Eyos are out on the streets.

The Strong Traditional form of co-operation between the two families of Olorogun-Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi is borne out by the fact that on any occasion of the Eyo Play, when the Adimu Orisa leaves her conclave, the traditional home she goes to pay homeage to Olorogun-Agan and thereafter she goes to the OLOKUN  before she proceeds to the Shrine of Elegba-Opopo at Abegede; at the beginning of Oju-Olokun Street to pay homage

Both Chief Olorogun-Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi are First Class Chiefs of the ‘AKARIGBERE’ class.

It is after visiting all these Shrines and sites that the Orisa Adimu can happily proceed to ‘Agodo’ at Enu Owa? now Iga-Iduganran Street, then to Imoku, before visiting Oba and his Chiefs and afterward she pays homage to notable personalities in the town, Lagos Island only. The ‘Adimu Orisa‘?, having passed through “Certain Purity Processes” over a period of weeks and days, is endowed with Special Powers which the Orisa is out to use for Blessing the Citizens of Lagos and those who came out to pay homage for Peace of Mind, Progress and Prosperity.

But no other Eyo group crosses the path of the route and very near of Orisa Adimu and her Eyos.

The Evening Procession from family houses, through Igbosere, Tokunboh, Bamgbose, Broad Street, and Nnamdi Azikwe Street, terminates at Idumota, where the Oba, Chiefs, Top Government Functionaries and other Notable Personalities gathered.

The Orisa Adimu is a Peaceful and in fact it is a unifying Play. Immediately after the Adimu Orisa and her Eyos leave the stand at Idumota, that action signifies the traditional end of the Adimu Orisa Play. The Orisa Adimu then proceeds to Agodo and demolishes the “Para” (structure housing the Agodo), the Orisa then return home.

Administration

The Spiritual Head of all the Orisa is the ORISA ADIMU. The natural and traditional residence of the ˜Orisa Adimu is the house owners, the Palace of Iga, Chief Olorogun-Agan, which is situated at No 33/35, Alagbeji Street, Ita-Ado, Isale-Eko, Lagos. The Administration Head Quarters of Adamu Orisa Play is known as Awe Adimu and no other Orisa must use the word “AWE“, to name or signify their meeting place; because, no other meeting place is known as “AWE” than “AWE ADIMU” from time immemorial. The sole authority Administrator and National Head of the Adimu Orisa Play is known and designated as “AKINSIKU” of Lagos; Recognised and Accredited by the Oba of Lagos.

The Akinsiku is advised by a council of Elders (Awon Agbalagba) who are versed in the knowledge of rites and performance (Rules and Regulation, etc of Adimu Orisa Play), and have administrative experience of performance of Adimu Orisa Plays of not less than “Eighteen Performance” each.

This Administrative Council endowed with the knowledge of performance of Adimu Orisa Play and have come from the families of the Orisa Adimu owners, from generations dating back to the reign of Oba Ado, 1630-1669 A.D ( Over 250 years). It is a pride and note-worthy to mention that owners of the Orisa Adimu and Awe Adimu had and still consistently administer the preparations, disciplines and staging of the Adimu Orisa Play in this modern era, dating from 20th February 1854 to 12th October 1985 (131 years).

With remarkable success on each occasion; because these families have kept continuously and strictly obey the laid-down traditional rites and customs of their Ancestors, in staging Adamu Orisa Play.

Advantages or Benefits

Some of the benefits derived from a performance of the Adamu Orisa are the publicity given to the Family of person, at whose expense the play is being staged; since otherwise, many people may never have the privileged of knowing that family.

It will also impact positively on the economy of the State especially Lagos Island as traders are bound to make more sales during the period.

The pregnant women will deliver without problems and there will be general Happiness in several homes, particularly the homes where several Eyo comes from.

As narrated by: Kunle Oduah

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