Argungu international fishing and cultural festival

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Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture & National Orientation (Nigeria), 2015

Every year in the north-west of Nigeria, communities gather to participate in the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival near the Matan Fada River. The four day festival, which runs between late February and March, features kabanci – a series of water competitions including hand fishing, canoe racing, wild duck catching – as well as other traditional practices, such as the local style of wrestling and boxing. Men and boys participate in the contests, while women provide the encouragement performing songs and dances. The Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival, which dates back to before Nigeria’s independence, is considered a contributor to participant sense of identity and is also used as a means of maintaining peace between the Argungu and neighbouring Sokoto community by enjoying shared cultural practices together. Knowledge passed on within participating chieftaincy-holding families by the Sarkin Ruwa (who manages the river’s santitation levels) and Homa (chief of the Argungu fishermen) concerning the river’s water quality and fish stocks, has been an important factor in the festival’s continuity. Skills involved in festival activities are transmitted to younger generations formally and informally. Training occurs, for example, via apprenticeship particuarly in the case of specific fishing techniques or within families by demonstration.

Emir and his entourage being ushered to the venue of the fishing festival by Durbar horse riders and entertainers
Artistes from various guilds entertaining participants at the festival
Bori performers at the fishing festival
Participants at the duck catching side event
Fishing nets being prepared in readiness for the competition
Contestants at the river Manda Fada
Participants keenly watching the contestants while entertainment was on by artists
Participants demonstrating different skills to catch the biggest fish
Fish caught during the contest
Presentation and demonstration of the biggest fish caught at the event