Though westernisation has eroded many cultural heritages and modernisation has sub-merged some, Eyo Adimu Orisa, the iconic traditional play of Lagos remains preserved, relevant and highly celebrated. Adamu Orisa Festival, also, known as Eyo or called Adamu Orisha play is a heritage performance that celebrates the belief that god admits the souls of the departed into the spirit world.
This glamourous festival that is dated as far back as 1630 is staged on a Saturday that falls on the day after the Badagry market known as “Abo Agbadaegi”. It is seemingly sacrilegious to host the festival outside Lagos Island. Its geographical scope of celebration borders between Carter bridge entrance and Macgregor canal of Lagos Island.
To stage the Adamu Orisa play, the interested participants must consult the families of Olo-rogun Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi, the First-Class Chiefs who played significant roles in organising the festival. Thereafter, the families direct the intended participating individuals or families to the reigning Oba of Lagos who is to ratify the proposal based on the contributions of the interested parties to the progress of Lagos. To grant permission on Adamu Orisa play in Lagos, the Oba of Lagos himself, if he wishes to give Eyo masquer-ade to any house must take permission from Awe Adimu.
Then, the families of Olorogun Agan and Olorogun Igbesodi will give assent on consent or otherwise. The Awe Adimu is almost outrightly responsible for announcing the date of performance after the required rituals, Ifa consultation and subsequent approval from Lagos State Government. From this Awe Adimu is the head of “Adimu Cult” in Lagos who is the reigning Akinsiku of Lagos “the Alawuro Eyo of Lagos”, he is saddled with the responsibility of announcement.
The eve of the festival is characterised by an all-night vigil that features the beating of the Aya-Ekun drum from 9.00 p.m. to 1.00 a.m. and llu-Agodo from 1.00 a.m. till the arrival of Adamu around 6.00 a.m in the morning. The vigil is usually an exciting occasion where people play, eat, and drink in a toast to their friendship.
Once the Adimu blesses the Agodo and dances to the drum, the festival is declared open and other Eyos follow suit. On the day of the festival, the procession moves from family houses, through Igbosere, Tokunboh, Bamgbose, Broad Street and Nnamdi Azikwe Street. It terminates at Idumota where Oba of Lagos, Chiefs, top government officials and other dignitaries gather.
Typically, Eyo masquerades are kitted in white, the clothing colour associated
with the dead. Their outfit is made up of the hat (APE), the robe
(AGBADA) and the loincloth (AROPALE). They hold a characteristic staff
(OPAMBATA) which they wield as a sign of felicitation to the crowd or as
an expression of anger or as a magic wand for prayers.
The masquerades appear in distinct groups. This includes Eyo Alagere,
Eyo Onilaba, Eyo Oniko, Eyo Ologede. The Spiritual Head of all the Orisa
is the ORISA ADIMU. The administrative headquarters of Adimu Orisha
Play is referred to as Awe Adimu.
An Eyo is a ventriloquist who pronounces blessings on passerby; MO YO
FUN E, MO YO FUN RA MI (I rejoice with you and I rejoice with myself).
After all the “gyrations”, once Adimu Orisa and her Eyos leave the stand
at Idumota, that action signifies the traditional end of the Adimu Orisha
Adamu Orisa performance is a unifying festival that gives publicity to the
families on whose account the play is being staged.
Eyo festival remains one of the leading heritage events with a huge tourism
value. It is a local stage for global relevance. It is a veritable platform
to showcase Lagos and Nigeria heritage to the world, and it
possesses tremendous potential for economic gains.