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BN Photo Stories: The Lagos Eyo Festival 2011



On Saturday 26 November 2011, Lagos was aglow once more with a sea of white apparels and wide-brimmed hats. It was the climax of the Adamu Orisha Play, otherwise known as the Eyo Festival, held in honour of the late Chief Yesufu Abiodun Oniru (1864-1984). Dating back to the nineteenth century, the festival is synonymous with Lagos State and is only staged in honour of a translated Oba (king), chief or a prominent Lagos indigene who has contributed to the progress and development of Lagos in his or her life time.

The traditional staff bearers of various Orisha groups heralded the week-long festival by making public appearances from the morning of Sunday 20 November 2011. Clad in white wrappers and bearing opambatas, this is kopajade, literally meaning ‘bring out the Eyo staffs’, they paid their respects to the Governor of Lagos State, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, the Oba of Lagos, the Oba of Iruland, White Cap Chiefs and other distinguished Lagosians. The five Orisha groups comprising in order of seniority: Eyo Adimu, Eyo Laba (or Alakete Pupa), Eyo Oniko, Eyo Ologede and Eyo Alagere took turns to appear from Sunday till Thursday. On any Eyo day, these are followed by the Eyo Iga, comprising of over 65 groups. Eyo Iga means Eyo groups from the chieftancy houses in Lagos. Apart from these two groups of Eyo Orisha and eyo Iga, there are also ‘Eyo Omo-Oloku’ i.e. Eyo from the deceased person’s family in whose honour the Play is being staged and Eyo Fancy. Whilst Eyo Orisha and Eyo Iga are clad in white attires, Eyo Omo-Oloku and Eyo Fancy are fancifully clad in coloured attires. All the groups thronged the streets of Lagos Island culminating in a grand parade in the Main Bowl of the Tafawa Blewa Square on Saturday 26 November 2011.

Prior to 2009, when the festival last held, the parades were held at Idumota. However, upon recommendation from the Oba of Lagos, Alaiyeluwa Oba Akiolu 1 and approval by His Excellency, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), the procession was relocated to Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS). This relocation was to better engage spectators within the safety and conveniences of the TBS and to make the occasion a family outing. Here are excerpts from Governor Fashola’s speech at the event “Whilst the Eyo festival provides as occasion to celebrate, it is also important for us to be introspective and remember the festival’s significance which is largely within the context of preparations and performance of formal acts by the Oba of Lagos and the elders of the craft. (It) is one of the foremost festivals which identify us as a people. The staging of the Eyo Festival is another opportunity for us to welcome our guests, visitors and tourists who have come to rejoice and partake in the festivities with us. The Adamu Orisha festival is a legacy we will continue to cherish and uphold from generation to generation… Eko o ni baje o!”

It would be noted that the first recorded Adamu Orisha Play was in honour of Chief Dosunmu Ashogbon on the 11th of September 1852 while the first recorded play for a translated Oba of Lagos was in honour of Oba Akitoye on 20th February 1854. Some of the distinguished guests this year include Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, his Father, Alhaji Ademola Fashola, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Sen. Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor, Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East Senatorial district).


P.S: We are sorry this post came in four days later than usual. We will be back to the regular Friday schedule for the next episode. Thanks for your understanding!


Bayo Omoboriowo is a freelance photographer and photo artiste. A double-finalist (Still Life & Lifestyle) at the maiden edition of the Nigeria Photography Awards in July 2011, his works have appeared on,, and in Y! Magazine. He loves documentary photography, though he also dabbles into events and portrait.
Twitter: @BayoOmoboriowo | Blog: | Facebook Page: Bayo Omoboriowo

Jide Odukoya, a graphic designer and (front-end) web designer, decided to build a career in photography barely a year ago after purchasing a Canon 550D with which he had experimented for a while. A Photoshop faithful, he dabbles into several kinds of photography, the top three being documentary, street, and wedding photography, in that order.
Twitter: @jideodukoya | Blog: | Facebook Page: Jide Odukoya Photography

Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at Bainstone Ltd./ When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. He believes in the inspirational power of words and pictures, which he explores in helping to make the world a better place. He writes from Makurdi, Benue State, where he is presently on the national youth service programme.

Twitter: @gbengaawomodu | Blog: | Facebook Page: Gbenga Awomodu


  1. olamibo

    December 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    If GOD can only be celebrated like this……..hmmm

    • tellingitasis

      December 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      Abi o!

    • Thelma

      December 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      you are so right. !!!

    • trickalist

      December 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      here we go again..with all the churches on every frigging block in naija…i still wonder why that hellhole is still as backward as it is. bloody hypocrites. the one una do every friggin sundya and every month blocking lagos ibadan express way to go to convention no do una?

    • Nk

      December 13, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      My sister or Brother!!!!!!!
      I hate it when people turn Culture into fetish,…Can u imagine? “if they can serve God like this”… what an ignorant talk!!…. close ur eyes lets pray, before we opened our eyes we were left with guns and a bible while they left with our wealth!!!.. don’t get me wrong there’s a supernatural being up there called God or Allah. but purleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!! we have good History and Culture lets celebrate it! Hypocrites (fuming) hissssssssssssssssssssssssssss

    • Abbey

      December 14, 2011 at 4:32 am

      abi 0!

    • Oro Pesije

      December 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      thimbs up

    • JoyGirl

      December 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm

      Love it! well said! Nigerians like to think they are religious!BS!

    • Wahl

      December 14, 2011 at 2:34 am

      I have no words for you. Don’t bring in Christianity into this. It’s unfair of you to neglect other religions out there to impose Christianity upon us. That says a lot about your intolerant judgmental extremism …..

    • Naija4life

      December 20, 2011 at 11:35 pm

      So true ! and the wise amongst us celebrate Him daily!

  2. Tiki

    December 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    SECOND!!!!!! 😀

  3. Qaudron

    December 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    You people and your over piousness and spirituality. All the crusade and vigils going on day an night in Nigeria is not celebration enough. Please dont bring religion into this, the people are celebrating history and culture, accept it, if you dont like it keep quiet. Before we say anything God, this and that and we are one of the most hypocritical nations in the world hding behind religion.

    • Jenny

      December 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm

      Speak it out! We are Africans and such are to be celebrated. we copy a lot of westernization. If it were to be something from the west, it would hv been applauded. Abeg Jare!

    • trickalist

      December 13, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Kpom! thank you

  4. Lue

    December 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    i just love it when culture is celebrated

  5. Ronnie

    December 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I’m proud to be yoruba, proud of my heritage but can’t ignore the suffering written on the faces of some people at the festival. Our leaders have failed and will give account to God !

  6. adenike

    December 13, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I had tears in my eyes all through…. Good job Bayo/Jide/Gbenga… May God reward you guys..
    I’m yet to understand why/how spirituality had to be brought into this though…

    • Baby Dee

      December 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      What tears did you have? on top wetin? You berra go and buy Visine

  7. love

    December 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    God is being celebrated darling. Who created all these people, and their culture, who created color and life. If you are not used to it, then simply enjoy the photos and smile.

  8. e-bukun

    December 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    @Olaminbo: I understand where you’re coming from as a Nigerian Christian if anything we have a tendency to be sanctimonious.
    Now as a Christian, who is also Nigerian I think this is a beautiful representation of our culture and I love festivals like these because they remind me that some part of our Nigerian culture is intact. We adopt other traditions and holidays (all you halloween folks :p), let’s take time to celebrate ours. You may not believe in it, but you can appreciate the preservation of history and culture.

  9. Ice

    December 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Brilliant Photography!!

  10. onyinye

    December 13, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    anywaz there are church concerts and traditional body said it is compulsory to abi?if you dont believe in celebrating culture pls stay inddors!nigerians and hypocrisy..mchew!anywaz this one everyone has HDcameras..lool NO BE EVERY BODY SABI TAKE PICTURE WITH AM O!NO MATA THE POSTURE FOR PICS TAKING..LOOOL

  11. Dara

    December 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Look at the area boys. Did anyone notice the tatoos on their bodies. Probably for the different cults they belong to. It’s very sad. Our young men need jobs.

    • mito

      December 15, 2011 at 10:11 am

      Provide them with one if going out to have fun mean jobless to you.

    • nija

      January 13, 2012 at 11:06 am

      thank you oh!!!!

  12. Beezy

    December 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    This is sinful but y’all would nack your halloween best, snap pictures & post on facebook abi?… Too funny…You lot are too funny…..

  13. madman

    December 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Up Yorubas! Up Fashola! Nigerian culture ROCKS! Awesome job to the bella naija team for showcasing.

  14. madman

    December 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Eko o ni baje ooo!

  15. MyView

    December 14, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Beautiful People.

  16. omoibo

    December 14, 2011 at 2:25 am

    celebrating our Nigerian heritage at its best, I like…………….;)


    December 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Dude/Sis, whteva, hw church or religion take relate for dis matter? simple cultural celebrations cannot in anyway affect hw or when you choose to worship. why not go to kebbi, and tell dem to stop their argungu fishing festival, or Durba in Katsina. when you have done dt, come back to Lasgidi, den we can discuss.

  18. Tope

    December 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    How i wish God can be celebrated and christ embraced. Most of us nigeraians are yet to understand what is behind the so called festivals. Festival!!! yet people dies, youth are ignorant. May our eyes be opened. Get something doing rather than sit down to celebrate festivals. Well we give to ceaser what is ceaser. God bless you Olamibo.

  19. Justsayin

    December 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Yeah, Eyo is cultural but its not simply that, Its deeply fetish as well. Its also true that people can be hypocrites. #justsaying…

  20. Ms. fabulous

    December 15, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Brilliant photography. lol @ the stoned looking guy with the Eyo tatoo

  21. JRT

    December 16, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Light camera action, so on point!

  22. Sodiq

    December 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Nice collection Dearies…..don’t mind these people. Religion is religion whether traditional or western and culture is culture. Even if i later become a pastor i will still commemorate with Traditional religious festivities

  23. stian

    December 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    because i have Jesus Christ as my saviour i would not participate in any form in this festival, but that does not give me the right to crticize it.. I dont believe in it like some of them who take ‘eyo’ as their own religion do not believe in Jesus Christ.

    Honestly God is… we have different ways of accessing Him.. I have chosen christ as my way and can only share what he has done for me… Its not right to criticize other peoples faith and anyways what difference does it make if thousands gather to worship God and still jump lights, drive on one way roads, steal and kill after on their way home???… psssssssssh! May God help us all…

  24. mekhi phifa

    December 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Am 100% IGBO n Very Christian But I looooooooove wen Nigerians celebrate their Culture n Heritage.
    As 4u hypocrites(protestants) blocking Lagos/Ibadan exp. way evry now n den I don’t hav a single word 4u wanabes oyibos

  25. asantewah

    December 21, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    i love this!! + am not pls what does “eko o ni baje mean?? “

    • nija

      January 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

      it is simply a praise of Lagos.

      literarily means” Lagos(city in Nigeria) will not spoil”

  26. dotmah

    December 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    talking abt culture, some pple dont understand it bcos in africa we av our own culture & oyinbo have their own. african is method of showcasing our forefathers heritages like EYO, EEGUNGUN, IGUNUKO and others is our own , islam & christianity are borrow religion. and to be sincere with you guys GOD will not jodge us by religion but by good things you do to your fellow humanbein. EYO MOYO FUN E, MOYO FUN RAMI.

  27. sururat

    January 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    this so good i love it so much this eyo cultureand it make people happy so much i shall never forgeteyo festival

  28. omo baba nla mila

    November 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    eyo is simply done for the remembrance of a prominent or king that contribute to the development of lagos. after his/her demise

  29. ruth

    December 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    nice work,jide

  30. Awoyale Mobolaji

    January 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    The Eyo festival is a celebrating festival in Lagos state and it is the most joyous festival, and it has adversely contributed to the growth and development in Lagos state. It is probably the most attractive festival for tourists in Lagos state and it has always been a major source of foreign investment. Its a beautiful festival.

  31. Badrudeen Sulaimon

    January 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    The Eyo festival has been going on for ages and it has always been lovely and exciting and demonstrating unadulterated Nigerian culture its no wonder its been receiving recognition from virtually everywhere. Kudos to the organizers..


    December 7, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    The Eyo festival is an important festival in Lagos and
    Nigeria as a whole, a display of the culture and tradition of the
    Yoruba ethnic group. A colourful event attended by the high and
    mighty in the society.Though quite fetish, it portrays the culture,
    gods, masquerades and dressings of the Yoruba people. even when a
    non Yoruba watches this event, he has an insight of the Yoruba
    clan. As important as Eyo festival is, the whites attend it; this
    is tourism in Nigeria. I am in support of the yearly Eyo festival;
    thumbs up to the governor Babatunde Raji Fashola for always gracing

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