Friday, September 11, 2009

The 180th good thing about Lagos: Another festival day in Badagry

On Saturday, our second day in Badagry, it was the culmination and final day of their annual Folk Festival. We got a late start to the morning, as it was environmental Saturday and no cars were allowed on the road till after 10:30. We went over to the festival grounds, but nothing was happening yet, so we went over to take a look at the Badagry market. Markets in Nigeria are always a feast for the eyes.

On our walk from the main square to the market, we passed scenes of daily life -- selling sugar cane and fruit by the road (the boy in the back was getting water from the well, but stopped to watch the white people passing by) and the "barbing salon" at this house. I love the colorful signs painted on buildings here.

There's always children ready to smile for the camera here.

I liked the scarf seller and her mobile shop. The group of women in the next picture had stopped their shopping and selling (notice the shirt seller in the back of the group with her stock hanging down from the round disk balanced on her head) to listen to what we assumed was a street preacher. (The preacher was speaking in a tribal language so we couldn't know what she was saying.)

Lots of bulk foods, vegetables and fruits (those are stacks of dried banana or plantain slices in the picture by the bananas),

and there's even a place to charge your cell phone.

Then we went back over to the festival grounds where we spent the afternoon. After a while the Akran of Badagry showed up, along with other dignitaries. They laid the symbols of their authority on the table, along with the ever-present cell phones.

There was lots of speechifying and award giving and other festivities not so thrilling, but it was an overcast, relatively cool day and we had comfortable seats under the tent beside the chief's tent, so I didn't mind the boring parts. There was some ceremonial entrances by various groups, and more bowing before the chief. And then there started some pretty wild celebrating.

The "haystack" masqueraders showed up again, as well as several people on stilts who did some kind of "so you think you can dance" competition on stilts. The procession of market sellers and performers passed in front of the chief's tent and then came over to show us their dance moves, musical skills, coconuts, chickens, and other goods and talents.

We were glad to be under the tent when it started to rain, but it didn't stop the performers.

The "dancing haystacks" did an act that was a big hit with the crowd. They would do their dancing and twirling thing and then their handlers would tip over the haystack to show the crowd what was moving the costume. At first, there was a small child under the costume, then, after more dancing, a tiny dog came out. Then after more dancing and costume tipping, a flopping fish was shown to be doing the dancing. By this time the crowd had totally lost any control and was crowding around the masqueraders. There were a couple more magic dancers, judging by the crowd reaction, but the dancers were surrounded and we had no way of seeing the action.

There were more masqueraders that we had seen in the festival the preceding day. The dancer with the big costume did some kind of contest with the crowd where they were all holding sticks and kind of beating each other with them.

And looming over the festival -- on the program cover and on signs (in between the ever-present MTN festival sponsor signs) was the recently deceased Michael Jackson. This year, the festival was dedicated to him.

Yes, even in Nigerian festivals in remote locations, you can't get away from Michael Jackson tributes.

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