The Olokun (or Olukun) Festival, particularly its current duration, season it takes place, and impact on Bini traditions or customs [NGA36455.E]

No current (1999-2001) references to an Olokun festival being held in Nigeria could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

An Afro-Trinidadian organization dedicated to traditional spiritual African beliefs reported that the 2000 Olokun festival would be held on 12 February at a beach in Trinidad (Egbe Onisin Eledumare 1999), while an Afro-American organization in South Carolina with a similar purpose reported that the 2001 Olokun Festival, described as a "Yoruba Festival," was to be observed on 25-27 February (Oyotunji African Village 1 Mar. 2001).

Please note that Olokun is reported by various sources as the water-goddess of the Yoruba and the Edo (or Bini) ethno-linguistic group. Two documents found provide detailed descriptions of traditional Edo religion and rituals.

One of these documents, a compilation based on a study originally published in 1910, states that among the Edo people, "every village or each quarter had seasonal celebrations all of which were subordinate to the supreme deity called Osa or Osalobua3/4the creator of the world" (Edo Anthropology 6 Mar. 2000). The document states that "under Osa several Ebo like Ake, Ochwaie, Olokun, Ogun, and others existed3/4numbering 201," adding that "all over Biniland there were Egwaibo (temples) dedicated to various deities" and "annual sacrifices were offered and people came from far and wide to partake in these festivities" (ibid.). However, the source states that "the further away one went from Benin-City the fewer Ebo were worshipped3/4although Osa was a consistent feature," "some Ebo became depersonalized," and "more emphasis was placed on medicine and less on personal Ebo" (ibid.).

The document also provides the following information:

The Cult of Ake at Idumowina: The Egwaibo to the cult of Ake at Idumowina was about 50 years old at the time of Northcote Thomas's [1910] investigation. It was decorated with many images of deities like Osa, Olokun, Ogun and others along with lesser figures. The local practice was to worship Ake annually for a 14-day period in April. There were also some smaller shrines at which sacrifices were also offered. The procedure was as follows: ...In conclusion, the priest would stand in front of the shrine with the knife and make three strokes vertically each time calling "Osalobwa" (God). After this the priest would offer sacrifices to Ogun, Olokun, Ake and his Idion (elders and ancestors) before retiring to a shrine of Ake in a private home for further sacrifices. After this the whole procession would go to the shrine of Akenilo about half a mile away....Olokun is a sea or river Goddess worshipped by women in many Bini and Urhobo communities. Just as men would go to the camp of Ovia, women would go to the camp of Olokun. Its emblems included pots containing water, chalk, peeled rods and white cloth (ibid.).

Another report published by the same source provides the following information:

The god Olokun is to the Binis as Athena is to the Greeks. It is the god of the sea3/4giver of good luck, riches and children. It is also called EZIZA. The Olokun worshipping is more for the women folk. It is worshipped throughout the year; but its annual festival is regular during which period, the priest/priestess and worshippers pray for peace and plenty for the society, and the women pray for children and money. Its worship is done with songs accompanied with drums (ema olokun), maracass (ukuse) and gongs (egogo), to summon the attention of the god. The Priest/Priestess or worshipper dances to inspiration point and starts visionizing and telling the future (Edo Religion 9 Mar. 2000).

An undated and uncorroborated guide to Edo festivals states

In Bendel State there are as many festivals as there are villages. Examples of such festivals are Igue in Oredo, Ebomisi in Orhionmwon. Olokun in Ethiope [a river area in Southern Nigeria], Ugogon in Owan, Urapelame in Sapele, lyerin in Ughelli, Uaogri in Isoko, Okiroro in Warri, Kalanama-Oge in Burutu... ( n.d.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Edo Anthropology [Albany, NY]. 6 March 2000. Mowamagbe Austin Omoigui. [Accessed 1 Mar. 2001]

Edo Religion [Albany, NY]. 9 March 2000. Segun Toyin Dawodu. [Accessed 1 Mar. 2001]

Egbe Onisin Eledumare, Trinidad. 1999. Olokun Festival 2000: Returning to the Source. [n.p.]. n.d. "Edo." (Google) [Accessed 2 Mar. 2001]

Oyotunji African Village [Sheldon, SC]. "Yoruba Festival Calendar 2000." [Accessed 2 Mar. 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

The Guardian [Lagos]. Searchable Archives.

Encyclopaedia Britannica [Chicago].

IRB Databases.

The Post-Express [Lagos]. Searchable Archives.


This list is not exhaustive. Country and subject-specific publications available at the Resource Centre are not included.