This study attempt to investigate the various cultural festivals in Lagos and its impact on the people of Lagos. Most especially the Fanti carnival which has become the part and parcel of the people of Lagos Island. To achieve its aims, the study examines most of the cultural festivals that being celebrated by the people of Lagos. The study reveals the various cultural festivals observed in Lagos and the Fanti carnival celebrated annually in Lagos Island. Also, where and how the carnival is mostly observed is also reveals. The paper conclude with suggestions that the cultural festivals including the Fanti carnival should be embraced and celebrated annually in Lagos Island and the Mainland in order to embrace the Lagos cultural values.

















Table of Contents


Chapter One - Introduction

Background to the Study Statement of the Problem Aims and objectives Research Questions

Scope and Limitation of the Study Significance of the Study Research Plan

Research Methodology

Definition of Terms



Chapter Two Introduction

Literature Review



Chapter Three Cultural Festivals in Lagos State


Major Cultural Festivals Observed in Lagos

Origin of Eyo Festival

Observing Eyo Festival in Lagos References

What is Culture Importance of Culture Cultural Festivals?

Chapter Four Introduction

Fanti Festival in Lagos State

Fanti Carnival in Lagos Island

Factors That Contributed to the Fanti Carnival Observation of the Lagos Fanti Carnival Renewed Lagos Carnivals



Chapter Five









Nigeria is very rich in culture. Various ethnic groups in Nigeria have their own culture which is been communicated through cultural festivals. Many cultural festivals date back to the time before the arrival of alien religions such as Islam and Christianity. Today cultural 'festivals are still being celebrated by the people in various annual ceremonies such as masquerades and carnivals. In some other areas, it is extended to cover an enormous range of events, such harvest festivals, and betrothal festivals, to the investing of a new chief and funerals as well as demonstration of ethnic prowess.

In Northern Nigeria Durbar festival is being celebrated by the region that symbolizes strengths and dexterous skills in riding of horses. Durbars are called up during religious festivals like Id el' Fitri and Id el Kabir. They are also called up during installation ceremonies of the Emirs. They are also called up during installation ceremonies of the Emirs. The Durbars serve as entertainment for very important visitors. Durbars are also called up during the anniversary of the birth of Prophet Mohammed (al el Mauled). The horses are colorfully adorned and the horse riders are in procession. The riders are dressed in aristocratic regalia blowing bugles and trumpets accompanied by drumming and dancing. They make displays in riding the horses and come to abrupt bait to salute and pledge loyalty to Emirs.

Also in Kano and Kats there is the Kalankwa   Festival, which usually comes at the end of the harvest season. At the Kalankwa Festival, traditional boxing, wrestling, music and dances of different types are performed.

In the present day Benue state, the Tiv Day is a national day for the Tiv all over the country. During the festival the people send delegates from other town to converge at the TIV palace for deliberations on developments strategy among the TIV local government areas. At the same time old and offensive laws are abrogated and new ones made for the people for peace and progress. New traditional titles are conferred on the sons and daughters of the land. It is held annually on the 19th of September to coincide with the day the first Tor TIV was installed in 1946.

In the same vien, the Eje Alekwu Festival is an annual festival celebrated to relate with the ancestral gods of ldoma land, Benue state. Before the Eje Aiekwu masquerades appear, sacrifices are offered to the gods to appease them and appeal for protection for the future. The festival is celebrated by different masquerades to represent various ancestral characters and spirits of the ancestors.

In Bonny, River State we have the masquerade group known as Owogbo. Each of the major houses in. the Bonny Kingdom has their end of the fishing season masquerade festival locally known as Fungus. The masquerade is the traditional way of paying homage to the sea gods. During celebration, they carry a carved shellfish with masquerade dressed in brightly colored locally made fabrics. Both men and women take part in the dancing.

Among the Efik and some Ibibio tribes of Cross River and Akwa Ibom States of Nigeria, the Ekpe Secret Society occupies a significant position and functions as an instrument for law and sorder. Mention of Ekpe brings fear and terror to the people that have not been initiated. The word Epke literally means leopard and its masquerade are so named for its muIti-colored Membership of Ekpe Society is seen as a status symbol.

Among the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria, Cultural festivals play an important role in the social cohesion. There are such festivals as the Ofala and the new yam festival. The spices of these festivals are cultural dances and drama while masquerades add mythical splendor. The Atilogu dances are a very popular form of cultural display in Igbo land. It comprised of series of systematic acrobatic dance actions like twisting, somersaulting and building of human pyramids. During joyful occasions the dancers dress in bright colors but on sorrowful occasion they' dress in dark attires and their movements are slow and mournful. Because of the rich mix of ethnic in Ondo state. It presents a wide variety of culture and festival. Prominent among them are the Beta Dance, the Itilum Maiden Dance, Ajabore Igogo, Oluwa and Ogun festivals. Animals such as dogs are offered to the god of iron, "Ogun" during the celebration. The Akoko and Ekiti areas are well known for cloth weaving while Owo is popular for its special cloth of royalty.

The Benin Kingdom the best known center of in the pre-colonial days, has the Oba as the traditional head. The Igue festival is celebrated annually in December for the Oba and his subjects. It is a combination of nine principal ceremonies during which animals especially goats are sacrificed. The celebrants dress in their finest attires and join in songs and dances.

In Lagos State, the Eyo masquerade is of traditional importance and it has a historical background. It is the pride of the Oba, Chiefs and people of Lagos. It was first performed in Ikoyi in the 18th century as a traditional play. It now features during special ceremonies. Eyo is hooded and. robed in flowing white gowns. These cover his hands and feet. It carries a special staff known as the Opabata. The Eyo is barefooted and spectators who want to see the Eyo must be barefooted in order not to incur the anger of the masquerade. The offender is beaten with Opabata.l0 unpopular in Lagos state but very likely, is no longer been observed regularly and glamorously in it a native community.

In this vein, this study will delineate the importance and significance of cultural festivals to Lagos state and its people using Fanti Festival as a case study. The study through descriptive and observatory survey will present the various electrifying features of the Fanti festival and its role in branding and disseminating the cultural values of its commemorators. Further, the study will identify the factors that are' contributing to the dwindling love for observing cultural festivals like Fanti Carnival in Lagos State.



Cultural festivals owe their origin to the traditional religions of Nigeria. The festivals are being celebrated with the practice of the major traditional religions in Nigeria. The various cultural festivals in Nigeria are celebrated throughout the year and are celebrated with gaiety. These Nigeria festivals are denotative elements of Nigeria culture.

However in recent times, cultural festivals are declining and the memories of their significances are fading. One of the documented con1ributory factors to the decline in cultural practices is the adoption and embracing of foreign religion. The emergence of Christianity and Islam has led to a massive shift in belief and attention of existing belief systems which has led to a sporadic decline in the commemoration and celebration of cultural festivals in Lagos state and Nigeria as whole. Other researchers opine that colonization, civilization and globalization bas led to a shift and superimposition of cultural values and this has led to loss ·of interest in cultural heritage and festivals especially among youths in this part of the world. One of such festival that is unpopular in Lagos state is the Fanti Festival.

The Fanti festival is usually observed by the Lagos indigenes that are residing in the Lagos Island. Fanti Carnival was widely accepted and practiced annually by Lagos However, there is a loss of zeal for this once electrifying and-admirable occasion.

The concern of this study is to contribute to the much needed literature on cultural festivals in Lagos state with special emphasis on the Fanti Carnival. The study will examine the rationale behind the carnival, its significance and feature of the carnival. The study will also identify the factors that have led to the decline in the number of observers and the regularity of the festival.



The goal of this research work is to examine the introduction and celebration of Fanti Carnival by Lagos Islanders and the significance of the festivals to natives of Lagos Island as well as Lagos state as whole. This will be achieved under the following specific objectives

i.                   To examine the various cultural festivals in Lagos and their significances

ii.                 To investigate the origin and importance of Fanti Carnival

iii.              To examine if the Fanti Carnival and other cultural festivals are widely accepted in Lagos state

iv.              To understand the factors that contributes to decline in the participation in cultural festivals as well as dwindling love for commemorating our cultural heritage.



Keeping in focus the above objectives this study will ask and answer the following research questions:

i.             What are the various cultural festivals in Lagos State and what are their significances?

ii.           Where is Fanti carnival originated from and of what importance is Fanti Carnival?

iii.        Is the Fanti Carnival and other cultural festivals are widely accepted in Lagos state?

iv.        What factors con1nDute to decline in the participation in cultural festivals as wen as dwindling love for commemorating our cultural heritage?



The horizon of this study covers the· cultural festivals in Lagos State and their Significances with special emphasis on the Fanti Carnival in Lagos. The study will also present theoretical and empirical underpinnings of the relevance of cultural festivals to a nation. A descriptive and observatory survey will be carried out in some selected areas of Lagos Island that have been associated with the Fanti carnival.

This study is based on the use of few primary and secondary data. Thus, a major limitation was the paucity of literature and h materials on the subject matter.

In addition, the study bas the following limitations:

Tune: the academic schedule of the researcher limits the extent at which the research can be carried out. A research of this magnitude requires adequate time. In fact it would have been more suitable if the researcher carried out the research during the festive period.

Finance: the institution does provide grants for undergraduate research work. The research requires a large amount of finding for it to be carried out extensively. Documentaries and. unearthing of historical and archival data would have helped in covering a reasonable scope of the study. Thus, the research approach was restricted to interviews, questionnaire administration and observation due to lack of funding

However the outcome of the research is tenable and reliable.





The different uses of festivals in cultural life have been able to popularize in many parts of the world where all members of tile religion society are involved, into segmented events for specific audiences through selective procedures. The research is important because it focuses on the Fanti Carnival in Lagos. This will help in giving explanation on how the carnival is been observed and how it was introduced to Lagos. The perceived audience that will benefit from the outcomes of this research work includes:

Schools: Schools will encourage their students to organize such festivals which can cultivate a sense of acceptance of the cultural elements of their own and the others too. It will bring to mind that a cultural loss is a national loss in fact, a loss of the entire mankind. This necessitates an effort to protect it from extinction by drawing attention of the people towards their culture

Policy Makers and leaders-will see the Visions of culture, wording, cultural identity, cultural heritage, globalization, multiculturalism vs. transculturally; cultural diversity, civil society etc. must be well defined in Cultural Policy of the nation. This is the main uniting and encouraging guides for the people and artists to organize cultural festivals.

The society; Not only People of Lagos state or Nigeria as a nation but the whole world get an open opportunity to understand and realize the sublimities of the glorious tradition of the culture exhibited in during the festival. Hence, the prestige and pride of people are enhanced and expanded in the world by the documentations in this study. Also national integration is strengthened.

Host Communities: The natives, residents and organizers of the Fanti festival to rebrand the festival in such a way that it opens a new prospect for the due recognition of arts, artifacts and artists in the world This expands opportunities for cultural exchanges.

Tourist managers and facilitators; They will see the opportunity to attract more foreign tourists to the host Communities and the Fanti carnival and this will result in foreign income earning by the widening of opportunities for export of the art and handicraft pieces.



This study is segmented into five chapters, chapter one introduce the topic of study, statement of problems, aims and objectives, research question, scope and limitation of the study, significance of the study, research plan, research methodology and concluded with definition of terms.

Chapter two of the work is where the literature review of the study is located. In the chapter some existing world related to the course of study is review, so also some related concepts like culture and some socio cultural festivals are review.

Chapter three focuses on the cultural festivals in Lagos State and how they are being observed.

Chapter four review the origin .of the Fanti Carnival in Lagos and where and how it’s being observed in Lagos State.

Chapter five involves summary, conclusion and recommendation.



The research methods and procedure adopted in collection of data for this study was carried out to make an historical overview of cultural festivals in Lagos most importantly the Fanti Carnival.

Secondary sources of data collection were used for the study. These were extracted from academic journa1s, annual reports, annual workshop/seminal papers, internet. Browsing and various textbooks on cultural festivals in Lagos.



Culture: according to Edward Taylor (1871), he stated that "Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, arts, morals, customs, laws and other capabilities including tools acquired by man as a member of the society". Culture is also a developed understanding of literature, art, music etc.

Festival: The word 'festival' comes from the Latin word 'festivus'. The word 'festivus' is explained as lively, say, festive, joy gladsome and merry. A festival is defined as "a specia1 day or period, "finally in memory of a religious event, with its own social activities, food or ceremonies, or an organized set of special events, such as musical performances or plays, usually happening in one place". In a festival there are a series of presentations, or a gathering of exhibitors in one or more of the fine arts, or craft, or such a gathering based on a central theme food, season etc.

Fanti Carnival: Fanti is a cultural even the Carnival that takes place four times a year on Lagos Island.

Lagos State is an administrative division of Nigeria, located in the southwestern part of tile country. The ~ in area of Nigeria Lagos State is arguably the most economically important state of the country, containing Lagos, the nation's largest urban area. The actual population total is disputed between the official Nigerian Census of 2006, and a much bigger figure claimed by the Lagos State Government.

Lagos Island is the principal and central local government area of the Metropolitan Lagos in Nigeria. It is part of the Lagos Division. According to the preliminary 2006 Nigerian census, the LOA had a population of 209,437 in an area of 8.7 km2. The LOA only covers the western half of Lagos Island; the eastern half is under the jurisdiction of the LGA of Eti-Osa.


Falassi, A. (eel) (1987) "Time out of time": Essays on the festival. University 'of New Mexico Press. P 2

Nkeitia, J.H.K. (1975) The Music of Afiica.London, Vtctor Gallancz Ltd.

Ajayi J.F.A. and Aldntoye S.A (1980) in Groundwork of Nigerian History. Ibadan, Heinemann Educational Boob (Nigeria) plc.

Layiwola, Dele (1989) Dante and Society in Mutual Interpretation: The Case of Nigeria in ODU, A journal of West-African Studies O.A.U, Ile-ife, New series No.3S s.


Horton, R.(1967) "African Traditional thought and Western Science", Basil Blaclcwell press. P·32

Lagos State Ministry oflnformationand Cu1ture (1991), focus on Lagos Island.

Ojuede ,Jeleel(l997) The Secularimtion of Bata Dance in South-Western Nigeria: A Study of some,Bata Dance Theater Groups. Unpublished M.A. Dissertation. 'Institute of African Studies, University ofIbadan, Ibadan.


Adesigbin Bisi and Akindoyin Lere, (2001) in Itan flu Ifetedo. Ayus Publications Ibadan. P 3S

Ajetunmobi, R.O (2003), "The Evolution and Development of Lagos State", Lagos, A-Tried Associates, 2003, P 184

Gbenga Sonuga(ed), "Lagos State Life and Culture", Yaba, Lagos, Gabumo Publishing Co Ltd, 1987, Vol 1, P 96

Ajayi, J.F.A. and Aldn~ye S.A (1980) in Groungwork of Nigerian History. Ibadan, Heinemann Educational Books Nigeria plc.



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