One very notable festival in the Northern part of Nigeria is the Argungu Fishing Festival. It is an annual festival celebrated particularly in Kebbi State.
The people of Argungu are majorly Fishermen and Muslims. The Argungu Festival is so popular that tourists travel all over the world just to witness the occasion. The main purpose of the fishing festival, as the name implies, is for fishing and unity.
The festival began in the year 1934 to mark of the end of centuries-old hostility between the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kebbi Kingdom.
It is often celebrated in February after the end of all farming activities. Argungu Fishing Festival was set up in the form of religious rites. Also as a communal affair but over the years, the festival has enjoyed various modifications.
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On the final day of the festival, a competition takes place in which thousands of men line up along the river. At the sound of a gunshot, they dive 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 by hand to prove their prowess.
In 2005, the winning fish weighed 75 kg 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 the use of gill nets and cast nets.
The Argungu fishing festival is more than a sport but one activity that brings its indigenes, far and wide together, thereby fostering unity and oneness.
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