Carnival is a festive season that occurs immediately before Lent (the last celebration before lent); the main events are usually during February. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations, which mark an overturning of daily life.
The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the largest carnival in the world, according to the Guinness World Records, with two million people per day on the streets. An example, been our very own Lagos Carnival which takes place within the Lagos Heritage Week.
Origins of Lagos Carnival
During the 1850’s there was a large influx into Lagos of educated Africans who had earlier been sold
as slaves, from Sierra Leone, Brazil and Cuba. The Sierra Leoneans were known as Akus or Saros, the Brazilians and Cubans as Agudas.
In the 1880s there were four distinct groups in Lagos, the Europeans, the educated Africans (Saros), the Brazilians and the indigenes. The town was physically divided into four quarters corresponding to these groups. The Europeans lived on the Marina, the Saros mainly west of the Europeans in an area called Olowogbowo, the Brazilians behind the Europeans, their quarter was known as Portuguese Town or Popo Aguda or Popo Maro – and the indigenes on the rest of the island – behind all three. By 1888 there were 3,221 Brazilians in Lagos. A prominent member of the Brazilian group was Placido Adeyemo Assumpçao who later changed his name to Adeyemo Alakija.
Fanti Carnival (also known as Caretta) was brought to Lagos Island by these Brazilians who settled around Campos area in Lagos State and on Lagos Island to be specific. It was introduced by the Da Souza and Kanaku families. The masked rider and the horse are aspects of Brazillian ranch life. Some of the men dressed like cowboys and they are known as FASUTINI and they rode bicycles while their leader rode a horse. At these times, women did not partake in the dressing up in masks and different clothing, but they were allowed to go around with the different actors and the carnival came up three times in a year, Boxing Day, Easter Monday (the first celebration after Lent and Easter Sunday) and on New Year’s Day.
As time went on, the people living in Lafiaji area, also on Lagos Island,
started participating in the carnival. Later still, other areas of Lagos, such as Obalende, Surulere, Yaba amongst others caught the carnival bug. Until recently, Lagos was the only part of Nigeria that hosted the carnival.
The carnival was a time of fun, laughter and merriment. However, from the 1970s to the early 2000s, the great Lagos festivals of Carnival, Eyo and Egungun were marred by roughhousing between youths from different sections of Lagos or groups of masquerades.
Thus, the Lagos State Government, headed by Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), decided to get involved in organising the Carnival and Eyo Festival in order to ensure that activities are conducted in a safe and secure environment and that it serves as a means to attract