The Argungu Fishing Festival: A Celebration of Culture in Kebbi, NigeriaJul 24, 2023 10:00AM ● By Okechukwu Nzeribe
Image: Argungu Fishing Festival. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Commonly referred to as the Land of Equity, Kebbi State which was created out of the former Sokoto State on August 17, 1991, and located in the North-Western part of Nigeria, is a state known for its rich history and diverse ethnic representation cutting across several Hausa and Fulani tribes.
Located along the Sokoto (Kebbi) River within the meeting of roads from Birnin Kebbi, Gwandu, Sokoto town, Augi, and Kaingiwa lies the town of Argungu. While the town is known for its sale of tobacco, groundnuts (peanuts), rice, millet, fish, cattle, goats and sheep, its major event which highlights the uniqueness of the town is its famous Argungu fishing festival.
Every year in March, the town comes alive with a bee hive of activities in preparation for the fishing festival that will be taking place later within the month. The event is a celebration of tradition and skill, showcasing the mastery of fishermen who have travelled from various local governments within and outside the state, who have come armed with only a hand net to wade into the river, struggling with the currents and the ever-slippery fish.
This event, which dates back to history is a fishing festival that holds prominence in the lives of the locals. It used to be a single fishing event but has gradually evolved to accommodate various competitions as well as traditional rituals. This in turn has grown the festival to become a valuable tourist event that generates attracts revenue for the state through its capacity to receive visitors from all corners of the world.
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The major highlights of the festival in the fishing competition is where hundreds of fishermen gather on the banks of the Matan Fada River, awaiting the signal from the traditional horn to dive into the waters in search of the largest fish they can catch.
Whomever catches the largest fish caught during the event presents his catch to the to the Emir of Argungu as a token of respect. The catch is then weighed and the winner rewarded. In 2020, Abubakar Ya'u from Augie Local Government Area of Kebbi received N10 million, two new cars and two Hajj seats for catching the biggest fish weighing 78 kilograms.
The Argungu Festival also platforms several cultural activities amongst which are traditional dances, traditional music performances, horseback riding, amongst other spectacles. It also offers the opportunity for people from different communities to come together and present various traditional cuisines that locals and visitors alike can relish and enjoy.
Food stalls offering a vibrant array of mouth-watering dishes, such as tuwo shinkafa (local rice dish), miyan kuka (okra soup), and kilishi (traditional beef jerky). The tempting smells and tastes create a culinary experience that keeps licking their lips.
With the progress of time, the festival has embraced a touch of modernity. Alongside the fishing festival, visitors can enjoy several forms of art and trade exhibitions where locally made products are showcased. This way, the festival continues to retain a bit of the past and future.
The Argungu Fishing Festival has continued to put the state of Kebbi on the global tourism map as one of the potpourri of tourist destinations.
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Okechukwu Nzeribe works with the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, in Anambra State, Nigeria, and loves unveiling the richness of African cultures.
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