If you commute around Lagos on foot, there is a 60% chance you’ve been stopped by Masquerades known in this part of the world as Egun, not because your face looks familiar but just for money.
The festive season means it’s time to see 50 shades of strange and my brother my sister, these masked guys are out there with their coat of many colours and scary looking whips.
Just last Sunday, I was returning from my place of worship with my friend and we met one of these masquerades.
He had this multicoloured costume with little seashells dangling at both sides. We were so lost in our conversation that we didn’t notice until he was up close and we couldn’t dodge him. With his croaky voice he said in Yoruba, “ fine boy give me money” I signalled to him with my hand that I didn’t have money to give and he shouted back “ they won’t flog you with a diabolic cane o” I showed I was serious about not giving him money so he left to find some other victim.
Most people are frightening by this guys so let’s run through things you should do if you encounter them.
What To Do
- Don’t Panic. Why else would someone walk on the street with a cane? Obviously, it is to intimidate, so as soon as they see fear in you, you are game! Try as much as you can to remain calm, if you are calm, you most likely won’t catch their attention.
- Find Alternative Route. If you think being calm might be impossible, then be on the lookout for an alternative route. This though would mean that you’d have to be observant so yes, cut down on using your phone while walking, don’t let it kill you like your mother said it would
- Be Respectful. Most times, nobody wants trouble, so if you can’t avoid these masquerades and they eventually approach you, be respectful. You don’t have to start telling them how wrong what they are doing actually is or how jobless you think they are. If you don’t want to part with your money, a simple no will do rather than trying to prove a point.
- Avoid Body Contact. Let me warn you, these guys will try to touch you. Yes, I see them do this and it is freaking annoying. They’d try to hold your hand, or even put their arm around your neck. To avoid this, insist on keeping your distance even when they are speaking with you, my brother, it is December o. You’re better safe than sorry.
- Avoid Physical Confrontations. We would honestly advise you to avoid physical confrontations. Please and please, no shoving, no punches, no slaps. Trust me, you don’t want to do it. Yes, they claim to have diabolic powers, while we can neither refute nor confirm that claim, we warning against trying to find out. You just may sadly end up playing yourself.
You definitely would know when masquerades are on a ceremonial procession or have simply gone rogue, but like with every other thing in Lagos, smart thinking saves us a lot of stress.
It’s the festive season guys, it’s another time to stay sharp. If you’ve had an encounter with these masquerades do tell us in the comment section below.