Voice of the Eyo Masquerade

**As the Eyo masquerades throng out in their thousands, onlookers and spectators come out yet again to watch the timeless grand procession of a cultural and traditional ceremony known as the Adamu Orisa Play.**

On the day of the Eyo festival in Lagos, the Eyo masquerades throng the streets, beautifully garbed in their flowing white Agbadas', spectacular and colourful wide-brimmed hats, with faces covered with the traditional aso oke and their Opambata held firmly in their two hands.

They move in a grand procession first for a visit to the reigning Oba of Lagos, and then onwards to the streets of central Lagos Island for the carnival like celebration of the Eyo festival.

From the point at which the Eyo wears his masquerade regalia and appears for all to see, he is seen as a spirit and regarded as one.

He becomes the representative of his ancestor who has come to earth to help cleanse the land of malevolence, and 'sweep away' with the Aropale any evil that may befall their descendants and the city of Lagos.

And as revered 'spirits', the Eyo masquerades pray for continued success, happiness, progress and prosperity for the land, and pleasant and peaceful coexistence amongst its indigenes’.

Traditionally, only tall men were admitted as masquerades, and that is the reason why an Eyo masquerade is called Agogoro Eyo, which literally means 'the tall Eyo masquerade'.

Today though, there doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rule about an Eyo's physical height.

Voice of the Eyo Masquerade

Because the masquerades are representatives of spirits of the dead, they speak in a strange way when they communicate verbally with observers and tourists, which isn't very often.

They engage in ventriloquism and speak with a voice that suggests that they are 'beings' from another world. When you greet an Eyo, it usually replies "Mo yo fun e, mo yo fun'ra mi". Translated into English, this means "I rejoice with you, I rejoice with myself".

What this means is that the Eyo masquerade rejoices with visitors and observers for being alive to witness the great day, and that it is in return filled with happiness for having the honour of taking the deified duty of cleansing the land on this Eyo Day.

© 2011 artsofthetimes

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