If you are one of those who thinks there is no fun in the north, then you need to reevaluate your stand. The Argungu festival is a major cultural event in the northern part of Nigeria and the country as a whole. Featuring a whole lot of events and activities, most of which involve the river. Argungu festival presents an opportunity for the different tribes in the north to unite and compete healthily for fun. It is important to note that while the fishing event or competition is the main event of the Argungu festival, there are also other exciting events that take place during the 4-day festival.
There are several important facts you should know about the festival, whether or not you might be planning to attend the next edition.
While rumoured to have started in 1934, it is argued that this was rather when the festival was exposed to the country and International community. Argungu festival begun as four different religious rites serving as a communal affair prior to the time of Surame Gungu of Kebbi Kingdom. The four rites were: Gyaran Ruwa, The Fashin Ruwa, The Gyaran Gari and The Shan Kabewa and Fura. These rites eventually gave way to the present day Argungu fishing festival. The progress of the festival seems to be in lieu of the development of Kebbi state(where it is hosted) as a whole. The modern-day Argungu festival has become more stylish and elaborate, with the continuous addition of more exciting events to the thrill of the public.
In the duration of four days, the festival grounds resonates with different activities and events for the entertainment of the public. Some of the events held at the festival include;
On the final day, the main event begins by over 5000 fishermen and women gathering close to the river. At the sound of a gunshot, they all dive into the river to hunt for the biggest fish. Gourds made of the calabash and traditional nets are used as fishing equipment. Modern fishing equipment is not allowed. They are later joined by canoes filled with drummers, while some men rattle huge seed-filled gourds to drive the fish to shallow waters. From the giant Nile Perch to the peculiar Balloon Fish, you can see nets flying in different directions and catching different types of fishes. Awarded to the person who catches the largest fish is a huge cash prize.
Afterwards, everyone sings, dances and drinks into the night.
Over time, the festival has grown to become one of the most popular festivals in Nigeria and beyond. Important to note is the fact that it attracts a whole lot of none Argungu dignitaries. After the memorable visit of Sultan Dan Mu’azu in 1934, the festival began to attract a steady flow of interested visitors from all over the country. Tourists and guests for the occasion trooped in large numbers from Europe, Britain, United States, Russia, South East Asia and neighbouring African countries like Niger, Benin Republic, Cameroon, etc.
The Argungu Fishing Festival has contributed highly to the infrastructural and socio-economic growth of Argungu town and its surrounding environs. Not to mention the fame and acclaim, both national and International. It has brought to the Argungu Emirate, Sokoto and Kebbi States, and also for Nigeria as a whole. Argungu festival has placed the concerned states as one of the major reputable tourist destinations in Africa.
In all, the Argungu fishing festival remains a notable and phenomenal Nigerian cultural festival.