Eyo Festival

This Yaroba festival is unique to Lagos and is traditionally performed on Lagos Island.

The Eyo masked dancers, dressed in white, represent the spirits of the dead who return to cleanse Lagos and pray for its prosperity and sometimes to honour a respected public figure. It has now become a largely tourist attraction.

The first event was held in 1854 to celebrate the life of Oba (or King) Akintoye who ruled from 1841-45 although its traditions go back to the 18th century. Akintoye is best known for his efforts to ban the slave trade, but he was overthrown by his nephew before he was then reinstated with the help of the British, who had by then abolished slavery throughout the empire.

The Yaroba ethnic group comes from southwestern Nigeria and southern Benin. Most of the Yarobas – there are about 35 million – now live overseas in either the USA or the UK.

For more details about the festival.

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