Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Adamu-Orisa Eyo. A play of the masquerades


Mo yo fen e Mo yo fun ra mi


The Eyo festival is celebrated only by the Lagos people. It is also said to be the precursor of the present day Brazil carnival. All the main roadways are blocked on the Eyo day to allow the procession pass freely. The masquerade starts from Idumota to Iga Idunganran. Those who take part in this festival, pay homage to the Oba of Lagos. Eyo festival is mainly held on the last burial rites of an eminent chief, but is also held when time demands it.

A DAMU Orisa was introduced to Lagos by Ejilu and Malaki brothers to Olugbani, the Olori to Oba Ado. Oba Ado was the first ruler of Lagos to have his seat of government at Iga Iduganran.

One source stated that Ejilu and Malaki first visited Lagos during the funeral of Oba Ado and as their contribution to the funeral; they brought their set of Adamu Orisas (that is, Adamu, Oniko and Ologede) to take part in the funeral rites.

History had it that Oniko was first brought to Lagos, because it was reputed to have spiritual powers like, the Elegbara of Esu, as well as those of Ogun (God of Iron) and, therefore, capable of driving away all evil spirits and forces on their routes.

Ologede came next because it is also a representative of Elegbara, sharing powers as stated above with Oniko. However, in the hierarchy of Adamu Orisa cult, the Oniko takes precedence.

Adimu Orisa or Adamu Orisa, Orisa for short was the last to be brought to Lagos, but, however, was regarded as being more sacred than the other two and the eldest.

In the early days, the Adimu was usually kept in a boat on the Lagoon to parade the shore for people to view and pay homage. It was at this stage of its history that it acquired the appellation of Orisa Oko.

The order upon which three Orisas were brought to Lagos has since been the order of their outing on each, Adamu Orisa play day. It is a taboo for Adimu to come out without due notification that Oniko and Ologede have paraded the streets, and visiting the various shrines in the early hours of an Adamu Orisa Day.

In fact, it has become a practice for the Oniko and Ologede to call at the conclave of Adimu which today is at Ita-Ado on their return or homeward journey which usually is around 5 or 5.30 in the morning. At the conclave, the Orisas would be received by the elders of the Adimu Cult where prayers and necessary rituals would be exchanged.

It is necessary to state, for the avoidance of doubt, that what Ejilu and Malaki introduced or brought to Lagos were the three Orisas (that is, Adimu, Oniko and Ologede) excluding the Eyo, the masquerade, that wears the flowing gown (Agbada) with an over flowing cloth, carrying the Opambata stick.

The name Adimu Orisa or Adamu Orisas

The name Adimu simply means one with blocked nasal passage (with blocked nose) while Adamu suggests obstructed nose. But the names are applied to suit each occasion, if you have an Adimu, then you can pick the voice when it speaks. But if you have the Adamu, then it does not speak of himself but by demonstration or through the aide de-camp, is the Laba (bag of mystical powers) bearer.

The other Orisas while retaining their district name and characteristics became identified with the name Adamu Orisa.


It is also an historical fact that Ejilu and Malaki established an "Irele," conclave of Awo Opa cult at Idunmagbo, which is known as Irele Oke Ipa or Irele Ita Ado.

It is interesting to note that the story of Awo Opa and its brother Egungun is stated in Ife in the Odu Okanran-Ogunda and its origin is tied to the very, very early Oyo settlement. Evidence of contact with Oyo by Ejilu and Malaki would be seen when we examine the Igbo songs for the Orisas.

It is not certain if they were the first set of people to introduce Awo-Opa to Lagos. The Onikoyi Chieftaincy Family claimed that their ancestor, one Adeyemi, a former Onikoyi at Ikoyi, Ile in old Oyo, who migrated to Lagos at the time of Olofin brought Awo-Opa to Lagos. However, it is to be noted that the Eletu Awo owned the Irele Ishagbe which is regarded as the headquarters of Awo-Opa in the whole of Lagos State.

Two other Lagos chiefs, the Modile and Onisemo, both Ogalado chiefs owned and maintained an Irele each. Namely, Irele Offin at Olowogbowo in Lagos and Irele Agege Omi at Pedro Village, Shomolu. It is to be observed that the Ijebus, particularly within the Lagoon area have adopted the Awo Opa and today it appears as if Awo-Opa originated from the Ijebus. The involvement of the Awo-Opa Cult in the Adamu Orisa plays shall be mentioned later in this article.

Camping the Orisas

It was the belief in the ancient time that the dress, the head carvings, and all instruments for the staging of the Orisas should not be kept within dwelling houses or within urban communities.

Therefore, it was the practice to create camp for them in villages of scheduled places to protect their sacredness. History had it that the Orisas were kept at places like Ibefun, Oke Ipa and even near Iperu. It was, therefore, common in the past for people to say that Eyo was coming from Oke-Ipa or at the close of Eyo Day, people would say Eyo, was going to take a boat to Iperu.

I have already mentioned the fact that the Irele, Awo Opa's Cult House established by Ejilu and Malaki is still called Irele Okepa up until today. Oke-Ipa is a village across the Lagoon beyong Ikoyi. It was because of lodging the Adimu in various places for safe keeping that you have it today at Ita Ado, though it is stated that there is a blood relationship through marriage with the Abegede group.

In fact, the Adimu was once kept with a Chief Olumegbon. The fact, therefore, remains that keeping the Orisas in any particular place does not change its ownership or origin.

The origin and family of Ejilu and Malaki and the Orisas

Ejilu Malaki and Olugbani their sister were said to have come to Lagos from Benin at the time of Oba Ado.

The descendants of Ejilu and Malaki subscribed to the above history because of their testimony at the inquiry into the Onilogbale Chieftaincy. The second opinion as advocated by the late Chief Aminu Kosoko is that they (that is, Ejilu and Malaki came from Ibefun to Lagos to ask for their sister Olugbani. It is, however, to be noted that Benin Influence covered a larger area of the Water side, the Lagoon Area of Lagos State.

Benin influence has been noted in Ikorodu, Baiyeku, Ibefun and a host of towns and villages within Lagos State.

Ejilu is said to have died without chidren while Malaki had two sons and one daughter. They were Kulugbe (male) Olasoru (male) and Ibiye-Oroye, The following Igbe song attest to the history:

Mo mi lo gbo itan fun a wa Itan Ile Ejilu, Oji Mala, O bi Kulegbe Iba Adamu O bi Olasoru o to enia O fi Ibiya - roya fi mo Ifanu On ni noe Iye Abgemi Ogbe. The song can be translated as follows: Let me bring forth to you the history.

The history of Ejilu family. He begot Kulugbe, Father of Adamu. He begot Olasoru who became great. He had Ibiye - roye as the last issue. Ibiye-roye married the Oba of Ibefun and begot Ogunmade for the Oba. The Oba of Ibefun thus became the father-in-law to the Ejilu family and the Lagos Royal House through Eralu Kuti. Part of the Oriki for the Ogunmade family states:-

Omo Ibefun, Abe be Joye

Omo Olowojoye meji ogbe iketa ha enu.

The above is a clear proof that the Ogunmades belonged to the Royal House of Ibefun while being part of the Ejilu Malaki family. Today, the various Orisas are kept by descendants or relations of Ejilu, Malaki and Olugbani. Oniko is kept by the Onigemo family who are descendants of Adamu or Sogbo. The Ologede is maintained by the people of Erelu Olugbani (Olori to Oba Ado) at Idunmagbo.

The Adimu is maintained by the Abegede group of the Olorogun Igbesodi or Olorogun-Ntebo and the Ita Ado Group who are also descendants of an Akarigbara Chieftaincy. It is claimed that Chief Kebo or Olorogun-Atebo, brought Adimu and Esu from Benin to Lagos. The Akinshiku, the titular hard of the Adimu Cult is usually appointed from the Abegede Group. The Adimu is called, Mole Ejilu, Mole Malaki. The Oniko is called Mole Ejilu, Mole Malaki, Egungun Onigemo. The Ologede is called Mole Ejilu, Mole Malaki Egungun Olugbani.

Agere as an Orisa

Agere was created an Orisa in the present century. It ranks last on the list of Orisas. It is, indeed, a modern edition to the play. One Bante Seda is said to be the first Agere.

Inclusion Of Eyo

The Adamu Orisa play continued in Lagos after Ita establishment with the three Orisas as the only set of masquerades.

In order to protect the Orisas and control the surging crowd the idea of the Eyo in white flowing robes (Agbada) was conceived.

With the approval of the Oba, the idea was implemented and a number of Eyos in white Agbadas came out on the Adamu Orisa Day at the Oba's Palace and six each were allocated to each Orisa for its security. The Eyo Group became known in later years as Eyo Oba, Eyo Oniloba or Eyo Alakoto Pupa.

The Eyo group thus became the fore-runner of all Eyos and was made the leader and Police with a carrier of "Loba", a bag containing mystical powers of juju to enable the group punish both Eyos and individuals who might break the rules and regulations governing the Adamu Orisa Cult and play.

After sometime, the Orisas and later the chiefs were granted permission to constitute a group of Eyos in their conclave of palaces.

Thus, you have Eyo Adimu, Eyo Oniko, Eyo Ologede and for the chiefs you have Eyo Eletu-Odibo. Eyo Ojore, and Eyo Egbe, Eyo Saba etc.

From the above, it clear that Eyo Laba is the fore-runner of all Eyo groups and hence it is right to call the group the "Olori Eyo." It has to be stated that the Eyo Laba Group is attached to the Akala Cult and most of the leaders of the group in the past belonged to the cult.

The Adimu Cult has some interaction with the Osugbo Cult due to the involvement of late Apena Ajasa, who held the offices of Akinshiku, the Apena of the Osugbo Cult and that of Olorogun-Atabo, all at the same time.


zuri said...

Thanks for the education. A little explicity would, however, be welcome.

Anonymous said...

Please just try to give us details of the eyo dance and other lagos traditional dances we have please.