Traditionally, the people of Northern Nigeria have quite a number of unique values and customs. I have made a list of the biggest festivals in Hausa land.
Among the foremost traditions found in the state are the Festivals and Games inherited and passed from generation to generation.
The Argungu Fishing Festival is a way of life for the people of Kebbi State. The festival preserves traditions and encourages conservation. The yearly festival takes place in February and marks the end of the agricultural season and the fishing season.
Argungu town is located in Kebbi State, northwestern Nigeria, the town is the seat of the Argungu Emirate and home of the largest fishing festival in Africa.
The Argungu fishing festival began in 1934, marking the end of centuries old hostility between Sokoto Caliphate and Kebbi Kingdom. The festival quickly became a celebration of life and unity.
The festival is a four-day cultural event. It begins with agricultural shows, water sports demonstrations, traditional Kebbawa entertainment and ends with a spectacular fishing tournament on the Mata Fadan River.The Argungu fishing festival is one of the biggest festivals in Hausa land.
The word ‘Durbar’ comes from Hindi-Urdu ‘darbar’ -dar meaning door and bar meaning entry or audience. Durbar is the largest procession of colorful horses in the world. It has evolved with the history, culture and tradition of the people of Kano over a period of time.
Durbar is an annual religious and horse festival celebrated in several Northern cities, including Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Bauchi, Bida, and Zazzau. The festival signifies the end of Ramadan and coincides with the Muslim celebrations of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr.
It begins with prayers, followed by a colorful procession of the Emir and his entourage on horseback accompanied by musicians, and ends at the Emir’s palace.
Durbar is organized in almost all cities in northern Nigeria and has become a significant tourist attraction. In the north of Nigeria, the practice dates back more than 200 years. Durbar festival is also one of the biggest festivals in Hausa land.
The Jaci festival is a fishing festival. It is also one of the biggest festivals in Hausa Land. It was initiated by the late Emir of Katsina Muhammadu Dikko Jaci fishing festival around 1905 when he was the District Head of Mani. He was said to have developed interest for the site whereby he goes there annually for fishing and hunting in the dry season.
Jaci is a small village located in Mani LGA. It locates on a major waterway, commonly known as “Fadamar Jaci.”
After his death, his successor Alhaji Usman Nagogo (1944 – 1981) intended to continue with this tradition initiated by his father. Hence, he continued with the annual visit to the site for the fishing and hunting in company of British Colonial officials resident in Katsina.
During the annual gathering fishermen gathered at the site from different parts of the defunct Katsina Province and from the neighbouring Niger Republic. However, shortly before the death of Alhaji Sir Usman Nagogo the festival is said to have ceased temporarily until it was revived in the year 2000.
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Sharo or ‘Shadi’ is a traditional game associated with Fulani herdsmen who lived in Katsina and Daura areas as well as other part of Hausaland prior to the great jihad of Danfodio in 1804.
Sharo, which means whipping, is a festival of rituals from adolescence to adulthood. Young Fulani boys test their strength and stamina by whipping. Shocking as it may be, this is a festival that is quite cherished and celebrated by the Fulanis.
The game of Sharo takes place annually during ‘Kaka’ (post harvest time) in places like Shargalle in Dutsi Local Government of the State, Mashi town of Mashi Local Government Area, Batsari town in Batsari Local Government Area of the State, “Yandaki in Kaita Local Government Area of the State, and a host of other towns scattered around the State
The game of sharo involves beatings of the upper abdomen between two individual using a long stick called “lasol”. The purpose of the game is to afford young girls the opportunity to choose a potential husband.
Others include teaching the young the art of combat, self-defense, endurance, fearlessness and bravery. The rest include to preserve the age long cultural heritage and generally to unite the Fulbe (Fulani).
Sharo according to historical accounts is believed to have been introduced in Katsina State by the earliest settlers who arrived between the 17th and 18th century. It belongs to the class of one of the biggest festivals in Hausa land.
The Kalankuwa festival is purely a cultural holiday celebrated in the northern part of the state. It is a kind of thanksgiving holiday observed after the harvest season (November/December)
It brings young men and women coming together and entertaining themselves in an atmosphere of peace and friendliness.
It is a post harvest youth festival performed in many villages and town across the State to express happiness for a successful completion of cropping season and to celebrate the coming of ‘Kaka’, which is a time of prosperity in terms of food and increased economic and social activities.
It also provides an opportunity for the youth to choose marriage partners. However, the Kalankuwa in Katsina as we know it today is said to have started around 1935.It takes place annually in villages like Shinkafi, Dankanjiba, Dutsen Safe, Rimin Guza, etc.
One of the most important activities during the early stages of Kalankuwa is a kind of drama in which the youth imitate the Hausa traditional form of authority, which emphasize the role of Sarki (King) as the political head of the community as well as the custodian of the people’s culture.
The Kalankuwa festival is also one of the biggest festivals in Hausa land. In the Kalankuwa traditional wrestling, boxing, singing and dancing also takes place.
The Gani Festival is derived from the Hausa word ‘Gani’ meaning “meeting”.The Gani is one of the biggest festivals in hausa land. It is an annual cultural festival celebrated in the ancient city of Daura.
The occasion is celebrated with a colourful durbar(entry) led by the Emir amidst drumming, singing, dancing, acrobatic displays and comedy.
However, with the introduction of Islam, Gani festival took a new form of an Islamic festival of Eid-el Maulud to commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Gani is celebrated every 12th of Rabiul Awwal of the Islamic calendar. Other sides of attraction include a display of horsemanship, costumes, attires and historical artifacts.
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The Kokowa also known as traditional wrestling is regarded as one of the oldest traditional sport festival in Hausaland. The time it started is actually unknown, but it might have probably emerged as an integral part of the pre-Islamic informal education, which emphasize physical exercise and training as a vital tool for producing strong and healthy citizen.
Traditionally, Kokowa season is after millet harvest. During such time, wrestlers move in groups from one village to another in company of their drummers. Kokowa has always been part of activities like Kalankuwa and other festivals. It has also become one of the biggest festivals in Hausa land.
Special contest used to be organized to mark special occasions such as marriage or naming ceremonies, installation of new leadership or to celebrate the coming of important guests.
Today however, Kokowa has become a profession and could be organized at anytime or season of the year. “Yan Kokowa or wrestlers are found in all the local government areas of the State.
Polo is a sport in which players hit the golf into a goal using long handled hammers (sticks) like other games; two challenging teams of four players each play polo. It suddenly became one of the biggest sport festivals in the north.
Polo was introduced by a British called Sheridon in Katsina in 1921 during the reign of Emir Muhammadu Dikko. He was the introducer and the first instructor. The first players were Katsina princes and their associates such as Usman Nagogo, Ibrahim Galadiman Magani, Yusuf Lamba and Dandada. Others are Durbi Umaru, Sarkin Sullubawa, Sarkin Musawa Usman Liman, Magaji ‘Yanhoho, Alhaji Hussaini and Abdullahi Autan Dikko.
Within a short time the Katsina Polo Club was formed which later became the most popular in Africa.Katsina being the home of polo in Nigeria, boast of a polo ground of international standard. It was constructed in 1926.
The polo ground has excellent physical structures such as grandstand, popular stand, timekeeper stand, gymnasium, scoreboard, stable, main filed, club horse, a mosque and a modern gate.
The Katsina Polo Tournament is held every September. It has also become one of the biggest sports fesivals in Hausa land. It draws participants from all polo clubs in the country and beyond. The tournament opens the polo season each year.