The argungu fishing festival is a traditional festival held in the Kebbi State of Nigeria. The argungu fishing festival takes place for four days during February each year and includes many cultural events, as well as traditional wrestling, boat racing and tug-of-war games. This traditional festival is marked by dance and music.
History of Argungu Fishing Festival and its Significance
In April 1925, the then district head of Danke Hassan Dan Mu’azu learned that Seriki Nkebbi Muhamadu Sama of Kebbi had set up camp for a night at the outskirt of his district headquarters. He was going to Kaduna to attend a Durban in Honour of HM king Edward the VIII. Despite the hostility between Sokoto and Kebbi he paid a visit to him and a strong bond of friendship developed between the two leaders after that gesture.
In 1931, Mallam Hassan Dan Mu’azu became the 16th Sultan of Sokoto and in 1934 paid a visit to his friend 28th Emir of Argungu hosted a large reception to receive his friend which is now known as the Argungu fishing festival.
However, it didn’t start as a fishing festival. It was a first a ceremony of dance and music, sporting competitions and exhibits of arts and crafts. Then later it was decided that it wasn’t enough to receive the emir and a fishing competition in grand style was added where all fishermen will go into the river and source for the biggest fish.
After the Emir of Kebbi died shortly after the visit from the Sultan and was succeeded by his son, His son decided to return the visit which his father could not do. During the return visit they discovered this festival helped to reduce tension between the two kingdoms and they decided to extend the invitation to other emirs and which has led to the grand traditional festival. A celebration of peace, friendship and reconciliation and till date it has been celebrated over sixty times.
How is the Argungu Festival Celebrated?
Today the festival is carried out in four different locations within Argungu. The Fishing festival event takes place at the Matan Fada River, the agric show at the towns stadium, the water display at the river side by the brudge and archery and camel race at the fishing village.
There is usually a ritual done at the river by the river custodian by the river custodian. This is to enable approval for success from the spirit of the rivers. It is said that, the custodian performs a ritual that creates an invite for near by fishes in other rivers to come for the event and to also tell the crocodiles in the river to move into their then until after the ceremony is over. Any fish that arrives late won’t be allowed to enter the river and can only watch from a distance.
So at the sound of a gun all participants rush into the river with their local tools ike gourds and net and the try to catch the biggest fish.