Before he died earlier this year, 86-year-old great-grandfather Mr Ibaru decided he had finally had enough of Lagos’ annual carnival. “It’s become boring,” grumbled the fine-boned man with a halo of white hair, tapping his cane impatiently. “When our forefathers used to do it – that was real dancing! And we had better costumes before.”
When Ibaru began sewing outfits for the parades seven decades ago, the festival was closer to its origins in 19th-century rural Brazil. The annual street party arrived in Lagos via freed slaves’ descendants who returned to their ancestral homeland, including Ibaru’s own grandmother. “On the streets everyone here spoke Portuguese and ate Brazilian food,” he recalled, sitting beneath a bronze plaque of an ox’s head – the symbol of the folk festival which was transplanted to Nigeria.