Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.B.23

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Nigeria has nominated Eyo masquerade festival (No. 01066) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The Eyo masquerade festival, also known as Adamu Orisa, is a communal event enacted so that the god Adamu may welcome the recently departed into the spirit world. The appointed head of the festival is the Adamu Orisa, usually a high-ranking or respected figure, who opens the festival with a white pigeon in his hand and journeys around Lagos throughout the celebrations. Festivities take place throughout the city with citizens from all strata of society celebrating in a spirit of camaraderie. Food and drink are dispensed to all and old disputes are settled. An important feature of the festival is the homage to the king, the Oba of Lagos. However, the festival’s most visible attribute is the Eyo masquerade dancers, disguised in flowing white gowns and veils surmounted with large straw hats. The dancers perform to a retinue of drummers while wielding large ceremonial sticks called opambata. Both the hat and stick are decorated with intricate designs associated with the family of the Eyo chieftain. The designs are passed down and refined through successive generations within the extended family. Everybody in the community plays a role in the Eyo masquerade festival, either as active participants or as bystanders interacting with the masquerade dancers.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   Rooted in the social and cultural fabric of Lagos and passed on from generation to generation, the Eyo masquerade festival is an event expressing profound spiritual beliefs that integrates all members of the community;

R.2:   Inscription of the Eyo masquerade on the Representative List could enhance visibility of the culture of peace embedded in intangible cultural heritage, promote dialogue between Eyo communities and others, as well as foster cultural appreciation and mutual respect;

R.4:   Eyo groups and custodians of the festival were represented in the nomination process by the Prime Minister of Lagos, Head of the Adamu Orisha in Council, as well as the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, the Eco Foundation and the Oba (King) of Lagos, who all gave their free, prior and informed consent;

R.5:   Since 2006, the Eyo masquerade festival has been included in the Inventory of Cultural Resources, maintained by the National Committee on Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage for Nigeria.

  1. Further decides that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criterion is satisfied:

R.3:   Apart from the strength of tradition and the kingship system, which together ensure the continued viability of the festival, the proposed safeguarding measures pertain to research and promotional activities that are not sufficiently elaborated and coherent; the participation of communities in their planning and implementation needs to be more clearly delineated, as well as the support of the submitting State for their implementation.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Eyo masquerade festival to the State Party and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
  2. Commends the State Party for resubmitting this nomination, which may contribute to intercultural dialogue;
  3. Further invites the State Party, should it wish to resubmit the nomination, to elaborate a coherent set of safeguarding measures and provide clear evidence of community participation in their planning and implementation;
  4. Encourages the State Party, should it wish to resubmit the nomination, to include well-drafted descriptions with better argumentation, avoid misplaced information and unnecessary repetitions, and provide a high-quality video recording;
  5. Recalls to the State Party that Article 12 of the Convention requires inventories to be regularly updated; the inscription of the Eyo masquerade festival in the inventory dating 2006 was expected to start to be updated in the second half of 2014.