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A COMMUNITY THAT MAKES FISHING FUN

People have different activities they consider fun, and this community in Nigeria has a unique way of having fun. The Argungu community in Kebbi, Nigeria, comes together annually to perform their fun activity together. This activity is called the Argungu fishing festival. The Argungu fishing festival is an annual festival that takes place in Kebbi state. It is one of the major festivals in the Northern part of Nigeria, and the festival has grown so big that tourists from the diaspora come to the community to witness the festival.

The festival holds in February to mark the end of a farming season and usher in the fishing season in the community. The four-day event is a way of preserving culture and tradition in the community. The people come out in numbers to partake in the festival, and they do this joyfully because the festival is not just an event to them, it is a lifestyle. The fishing competition takes place in the fifty feet deep Mata Fadan River.

Men fishing during the competition

The Argungu festival is not a 21st-century event as it has been in existence for a long time. The festival started in 1934, and the story behind the emergence of the fishing festival is spectacular. The festival is celebrated every year to mark the end of the centuries-old hostility between the Sokoto caliphate region and the Kebbi kingdom in the northern part of Nigeria. The festival was initially done in form of religious rites within the families and community. However, there have been a few modifications through the years.

The festival starts with a river sacrifice. The sacrifice is done by the custodian of the river ‘Sarkin Ruwa.’ The purpose of the sacrifice is to ensure that the river is safe for competition and to gain permission from the river oracle. During the fishing contest part of the festival, over 30,000 fishermen gather to win the grand prize. They come to the river with their fishing materials such as fishing nets and traditional gourds made with calabashes. At the sound of the gun, they all race towards the river to fish for the biggest freshwater fish.

Fishermen with their fishing nets

The spectators are entertained by the traditional drummers as they await the emergence of a new winner for the competition. The drummers filled their eardrums with the sweet rhythm of authentic Kebbawa music. The women are not allowed to participate in the fishing competition, but they are not left out in joining the drummers to beat their drums made of cow skin.

The traditional drummers

The fishermen are also entertained by the drummers while they carry on with the quest to win the competition. The fisherman with the largest fish wins the competition and gets a cash prize for winning. The award is presented by the Governor and other dignitaries present at the festival. The largest fish caught to date is the 75kg fish caught by a fisherman in 2005.

some of the fish caught during the competition

The Argungu festival has gotten so big that tourists from the diaspora, presidents, and Governors are always present at the festival. The festival has gone international, and it has helped with the socio-economic growth of Kebbi state.

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