There is excitement in the air at Joforo kingdom, Badagry, Lagos. The indigenes and residents are full of expectations because the stage is set for this year’s edition of Joforo Sangbeto Masquerade Festival, which is slated to hold in the first quarter of 2019.
Celebrated every three years, Zangbeto provides an opportunity for adherents to appease the gods, pray for the community and offer good wishes for all households in view of a bountiful harvest. According to a native of Joforo, Mendo Sewani, the Zangbeto masquerade in time past provided security for the community and ensured discipline. Though, the masquerade is no longer relied on to play these role, it is still cherished.
“The Zangbeto masquerade is clothed in Aso Gbeto, made from locally sourced palm fronds, and is dedicated to breathtaking showmanship, dazzling audiences with spirited and magical displays. During a Zangbeto performance, you are likely to see fire burn in dry sand or white cloth sprout from the ground. Watching the Zangbeto wade through the water, spinning and shuffling is a rare thrill in itself. Zangbetos never walk alone and are always accompanied by minders known as Kregbetos, whose role it is to guide the masquerade’s every step,” he revealed.
Sewani adds: “During the Zangbeto Festival, all uncircumcised girls and women are circumcised, rituals are performed on their behalf and the village is cleansed. Circumcision of girls and women is a critical requirement for all indigenes of Joforo and a must for all members of the royal families namely the Gbetoyo family, Zanmenu family, Fasinu family and Zannu.
“The festival helps to create fear and reverence. The festival attracts over 2,000 people in the coastal Joforo Kingdom of Lagos State. It is one of the most important events in the local religious calendar. Badagry is also noted for the voodoo widely practiced there. Zangbeto dates back to the 17th century.”