Posted by Olaniyi Abodedele on Thursday, January 23, 2014 Under: Tourism, Travels & Tours
The Argungu Fishing Festival is an annual four-day fishing, music and dancing festival celebrated in Argungu, the capital city of Argungu Emirate Council in the north-western Nigerian state of Kebbi. The festival usually takes place in mid February every year.
The geo-physical nature and characteristics of the festival site in Argungu are river areas (Matanfada, Mala, Gamji), irrigation, and ocherds (Lambu in Hausa). The majority of fishermen are followers of Islam and predominantly farmers. Kanta Museum is the main historical centre in Argungu for visitors across the globe. People from different destinations from around the world converge on Argungu to celebrate and also enjoy the beautiful sights and loud sounds of the festival.
The festival fishing activity begins with the sound of a gun. Seasoned and amateur fishermen would dive into the narrow mouth of the river and leap into the water. They have just one hour to catch the biggest fish. The Matan Fada River is small, but it is well stocked with variety of fish. Fishermen only go there once a year on the day of the festival.
The competitors lined up the stone steps displaying their catches as they wait to have their fish tagged and weighed. At stake is a brand new 34-seats passenger bus and one million naira ($7,500, £4,000). The Argungu fishing festival was first celebrated in 1934 and was used to mark peace accord between the former Sokoto Caliphate and the Kebbi Kingdom.
The fishing festival takes place to the beat of drummers who move through the surging water on their canoes. The annual competition is growing in size. It is often difficult for some of the fishermen to find space to enter the water. At the end of the hour, the fish caught are piled up at the foot of the weighing machine. The current record winning fish weighed 75kg. Four men were required to hoist it onto the scales.
The festival has already benefitted the local economy particularly through influx of tourists locally and internationally and the growth of hospitality industry. A noisy night market operates throughout the event - which also includes donkey and camel racing and water sports.
Festival organizers say they are determined that next year's event will be bigger still.
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