Igunnuko cult is a Tapa cult from Pategi in Niger State of Nigeria. It was brought down to Lagos by Yaisa Ayani, the great grandfather of Aleje in 1805.
Yaisa Ayani's people saw what other tribes were doing with their own cults during a festival and this motivated them to put pressure on their man to go and bring their own cult which is used not only for festival performances, but also to appease the gods. A ritual performance is done when they sense that an outbreak of any disease or war is approaching.
In 1814 Yaisa Ayani went to his home town in Pategi, Niger State and brought the Igunnuko Cult to Lagos. It first settled at Odo-Oba (Oju-Oto), his residence. He bought some ingredients with which some rituals were performed, it was after these rituals that it started coming out.
Later when this place could not accommodate them again, Yaisa Ayani went to Chief I Oshodi Tapa, a Nupe man and an important war chief in Lagos, to appeal to him to give him a place to be used as (IBASOSHI) Igbo-Igunnu which Chief Oshodi Tapa joyfully gave to him and which is known as "IGBO-IGUNNU EPETEDO" till today. It was from this place that Igunnuko cult spread all over modern day Lagos State. This place is also known as the origin of Igunnuko in Lagos State.
Chief Abiodun Thomas, the Idaso of Igunnuko (head of the Igunnuko cult) in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos, says that the festival is done between January and February each year and the festival lasts for fourteen days. When it is time for the festival or an occasion calls for its ritual performance, a ritual performance is first done for the pot drum before anyone beats it. To perform the festival or ritual ceremony, the following are required: - one native goat, duck, pigeon, snail, hen, rooster, black turtle, cotton wool, calabash, kolanut, bitter kolanut, natoive wine, hot drink, three yards of white cloth and some other useful items.
The festival starts when all these are ready. The young and old men (alone) will go to uproot a living tree. This is called kuso and when they are returning from kuso, any place that trees are dragged or passed with means a lot.
When the festival is on, the igunnuko masquerades are seen. The igunnuko dresses in robes on stilts, it is a very tall figure and is also a secret cult used to hunt witches. It parades the streets and visits important people. On sighting an igunnuko one has to remove his hat and shoes. The tall, graceful shape of the masquerades, their ability to telescope into any height at all and their other amazing display of agility in spite of their height, make these masquerades and their performance a fascinating sight. A companion of the igunnuko is the Salumogi, a very short masquerade that holds a whip and clears the way for the Igunnuko.
*culled from www.nairaland.com