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 dress like cowboys and they are known as FASUTINI and they ride bicycles while their leader rides a horse.
It is important to stress that, in the early days women did not partake in the dressing up in masks and different clothing, but they were allowed to go around with the different actors.
The carnival comes up three times in a year, Boxing Day, Easter Monday (the first celebration after Lent and Easter Sunday) and on New Years 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, like Obalende, Surulere, Yaba, etc caught the carnival bug. Until recently, Lagos was the only part of Nigeria that hosted the carnival.