Skip to main content

June and July is the time for Egunguns come out to pay homage to their King

Osogbo, headgear of an Egungun
Osogbo, headgear of an Egungun
Black shiny skulls top the colourful red-caped outfit of a human powered costume, the one of an Egungun which embodies the ancestral spirit of a family. The person in charge of giving life to the Egungun under that costume is at some point possessed by the spirit and fall into a trance while dancing at the beat of the drums. Egunguns are said to be unpredictable during their trance and possibly wild.
However, in normal times, I have seen some keen to accept cash that they collect with their gloved hands.
the guardian of the Egungun dancing at the palace of the Oba in Osogbo
the guardian of the Egungun dancing at the palace of the Oba in Osogbo
The costume is kept in a room and can have some additions or repairs over time but it is mostly a relic with some extremely old parts. Some charms are sewn over it and the face is replaced by a tightly woven net for the Egungun to see without being seen.
Egunguns are always accompanied by a guardian who will follow them and dance with them.
no drums, no party in Yorubaland
no drums, no party in Yorubaland
In June and July, Egungun festivals take place in several towns in Yorubaland. During that period, corresponding to the beginning of the small rainy season, each family go with their Egungun to pay their homage to the Oba or the King of the place (for instance the Oba of Osogbo or the Alaafin of Oyo).
an Egungun paying his homage dance to the Oba of Osogbo
an Egungun paying a homage dance to the Oba of Osogbo

Every town has a good number of Egunguns so the festivities last over several week and can culminate in a show where all Egunguns congregate as it is the case in Oyo at the end of July. In Osogbo, it seems that the presentation to the Oba is made on an ongoing basis. We happened to witness the opening of the festival with two similarly clad Egunguns, one much taller than the other.
Osogbo, the two Egunguns opening the festival
Osogbo, the two Egunguns opening the festival


Popular posts from this blog

Underground party on the rooftop of City Hall in Lagos Island

Friday night, 7.30PM, Lagos Island is buzzing with road-side lamp-lit by ambulant merchants, suya sellers and other food items. Pedestrians are dashing to their destination through cars, kekenapes, okadas, hawkers. For some it is time to get home, for others it is the beginning of party time. As we approach the City Hall building, which is now used for offices and to host functions, voices become louder, vehicles are queuing-up to climb-up the ramp leading up to the entrance hall of the building with its façade adorned with squared column and glass protected by stylised irons grids. Cars are parked along the ramp and security staff is pressing car drivers to move on immediately after having disembarked their passengers. The main hall is hosting a wedding reception, luxuriously decorated. The music blares and a strong smell of fish is filling-up the whole place.

I am going to another function on the rooftop, but to do this I must cross the wedding entrance all and  slip past a cloth c…

the fish market of Epe

Epe (pronounced Ekpe in yoruba) is a small city located on the narrow stretch of water that separates the lagoon of Lagos from the one, further in the east, known as Lekki lagoon. It is built on the small hills that border the water. It is connected by a bridge to the Lekki peninsula.
The town is famous for its fish market located on the water side. It is the place to buy fresh water fish, some of them still alive. They are kept in plastic buckets but also directly in the lagoon water in woven baskets.
Many more is for sale such as crayfish, crocodile, turtle, monitor lizard, big snails.  Game meat is also available coming from the nearby forest of the Omo reserve. We saw two wild cats with white spotted black fur and a strong scent; As we left we saw antilope legs arriving to the stall.
Some fishes are particular, one is sending electricity shocks when you touch it, another one was looking like a prehistoric fish with a sort of dinosaur like shell; there was also one with giant scal…

2017 Lagos Biennial - Living on the edge

Ebutte Metta, Apapa road, Saturday afternoon 2PM. Residents go about their business as usual. Road-side shops are waiting for their customers, mamas sell fish, tomatoes, pepper, and so on. An empty bus breaks down in front of us. Its driver attempts to push it by himself but to no avail. None of the walkers-by offer assistance, actually they have got their own business to mind and the sight of a bus breaking down is nothing extraordinary. Considering that we are standing and not about to move, my driver decides to go and help him push the vehicle on the side of the road. We are now able to restart our progression and we turn into the road leading to the railway compound which is closed by a large two way gate. Vehicles have to alternate through one of the lane for security reason.
The railway compound is a residential area abundantly provided with buildings that used to serve the railway industry back in the days. A firemen place, the headquarters of the railway company, warehouses, …