Argungu Fishing Festival: Local Peace Anniversary Becomes Global Frenzy
The 60th and 2020 edition of the Argungu Festival is described as historic because of the number of visitors it attracted to Kebbi State, North-West Nigeria. Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari attended in person. Thousands of visitors from within and outside the country participated in the event.
The festival began in the year 1934, as a mark of the end of the centuries-old hostility between the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kebbi Kingdom. This festival has brought a huge progress to the development of the state as a whole.
The festival has many purpose which include: for fishing, unity, fun and entertainment
It is usually called a Fishing-Frenzy Festival. The festival is celebrated to mark the beginning of fishing season in Argungu, a river-side town in Kebbi State. It is celebrated between February and March every year.
In the 2020 Argungu Fishing Festival, the individual who caught the biggest fish weighing about 78 kilogramme was awarded with N10 million, two new cars and two Hajj seats, second position and third positions were also awarded. Over 50,000 fishermen participated in the annual festival held in Kebbi State and the winners were graded based on the weight of the fish caught. The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari visited the 2020 Argungu Fishing Festival The festival in 2020 was the 60th edition after 10 years of being on hold according to the governor of the state Abubakar Bagudu.
The The Argungu Fishing Festival or Argungu Dance Festival is an annual four-day festival in the state of Kebbi, in the north-western part of Northern Nigeria. The region is made up of fertile river areas of (matanfada, mala with much irrigation and orchards (lambu in Hausa). The majority of fishermen are the followers of Islam and also predominantly farmers. Kanta Museum is the main historical centre in Argungu for visitors across the globe. People from around the world travel to Argungu just to witness the occasion. The main purpose of the Argungu fishing festival is for fishing and unity. The festival usually takes 4-days of cultural event
In 2005, the winning fish weighed 75kg, and needed four men to hoist it onto the scales. In 2006 the festival banned fishing due to safety concerns relating to the low water levels. The importance of the festival to the economy has led the government to conserve fish stock by prohibiting use of gill nets and cast nets. The Zauro polder project, an irrigation scheme in the Rima River floodplain to the south of Argungu, has been criticized because the reservoir threatens to flood the traditional site of the festival.
On the final day of the festival, a competition is held in which thousands of men line up along the river and at the sound of a gunshot, all of them jump into the river and have an hour to catch the largest fish. The winner can take home as much as $7,500 US dollars. Competitors are only allowed to use traditional fishing tools and many prefer to catch fish entirely by hand (a practice also popular elsewhere and known as “noodling“) to demonstrate their prowess.