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

The Ogiamien family in Benin City: about wood and history

Roland Ogiamien is a renown wood carver. He is now retired in his home town of Benin City and is now in his 80s. We met him in his simple workshop, a barn opened on the surrounding greenery. A part of the studio is used to store wood pieces and make sure they are well dried. He is using a collection of german ustensils to carve and polish the wood. He spent most of his career working out of Lagos before relocating to Benin.
Roland was explaining that the wood he uses today is different from his early days. Ebony has become rare and wood carvers have had to switch to other types of wood. Traditional heritage is a large part of his inspiration which he translates on wood with his own particular style, exploring various techniques for the finish of his pieces.
Ogiamien is the name of an important royal family in Benin Kingdom. Towards the end of the Ogiso dynasty (12th century), Ogiso Owodo did not have a son to succeed him, his brother Evian therefore took over after Owodo&#…

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…

The mysterious stones images of Esie

Chief J. Agbo Ooye had been waiting in the shade of a large tree, in front of the National Museum of Esie, dressed in ceremonial costume with a velvet hat incrusted with crystal beads sown in the shape of his title and his name. He was sitting next to his wife on a bench, expecting our arrival. His wife, he would tell us later, was his best friend and she was actually demonstrating it by guiding his frail body from one place to another and guiding his hand when it came to sign autographs of his books. Chief Agbo Ooye is the author of two booklets on the Esie Stones. The first one, called A Personal Account of the Esie Stones is giving an overview of the differences between the scientific and the traditional interpretation of the Esie Stones. The second one is called the History of Esie and gives a brief account of Esie's history from the early settlement of Yorubas in various groups (Esie, Oro, Eku Apa, Igbonla, Edidi, Igbesi, etc...) to the present day. Those groups, who lived o…