By Niyi Tabiti: Three guys wearing the full ‘Eyo’ ragalia accosted me that day as I walked briskly to the tent provided for important dignitaries at Idumota,Lagos Island. It was in the morning of May 19,2001.
The Governor of Lagos,Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu was not on seat yet, while the then Oba of Lagos, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan was not there for traditional reasons, I guess.
The first Eyo that approached me gave me a hit back to back with his opambata. The other one raised his own stick…as I was dodging it, the first guy hit me again. It was a painful experience but I couldn’t cry. I only tried to run.
I screamed ‘afaro eyo’, (A way of appealing to the Eyo to hold his stick).One of the eyo then opened his face. “Niyi!”, he shouted my name. It was then I knew he was a childhood friend. According to him, he was just joking with me.
I managed to laugh too as we exchanged pleasantries but deep inside me I was calling him “werey, oloriburuku”.I can’t translate.(laughs). He called beating with opambata, play. Iya e!
That year, the Eyo Adimu Orisa play took place at the open ground in Idumota. Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), who took over from Tinubu as governor later changed the parade ground to Tafawa Balewa Square.
This particular one was in honour of a notable figure, Chief John Oludare Holloway from Olowogbowo area of Lagos Island. Holloway passed away in London in 1996. In 2001, The Oba of Lagos, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan and Lagosians decided to honour him with the Adimu Orisa Play. Holloway, a notable member of Wesley Cathedral Church,was also the Olori Oluwo of Reformed Ogboni Franternity. He succeeded Justice Adetokunbo Ademola, who held the position before he passed on.
Holloway is believed to be the second person to have held the position of the Olori Oluwo and District Grand Master (English Constitution) concurrently. The first was Sir Adeyemo Alakija.
Holloway was also very active in the Freemason. He became their District Grand Master of Nigeria (English Constitution), the Bobagunwa of Lagos and the Chairman of Eyo Adimu.
As the Chairman of Eyo Adimu cult, Holloway took over from Justice GBA Coker. The Eyo that was done the previous year was in honour of the late Justice Coker. I remember talking to his sister, Madam Oye Williams (now late), wife of Pa Akintola Williams. She was very happy that the late judge was being honoured just like their father, George Baptist Babajide Coker who was honoured with the same Eyo Parade in 1964.