Flood, insecurity deepen Argungu Fishing Festival’s woes

Posted: November 11, 2012 in travel & tourism

Annually a top tourism draw to the people and government of Kebbi State, the unprecedented incidents of flooding that wreaked havoc across the country recently, may have taken a toll on Kebbi further compounded the already precarious state of the most prominent fishing and cultural festival in the region.

The Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival which for three year running has been plagued by cancellations largely brought on by dearth of funding from the corporate sector that had backboned the festival for years now, has suffered the flooding blow which now threatens next year’s edition following the yet another cancellation of this year’s event last March.

Although observers believe the reluctance on the part of the corporate sector to provide the much-needed funding to drive the event, they also posit that this situation was hinged largely on the general level of insecurity in the north of the country which may put both the tourists and general public at risk.

Recently, Custodian of the Matan Fada River, (Sarkin Ruwa) Alhaji Hussaini Makwashe, raised an alarm over the deplorable state of the Matan River itself, which is the major venue of the festival.

According to Makwashe, the structures and facilities at the river were rotting away from initial government neglect and now the floods which also hit the Argungu community in Kebbi State, as a result of the river breaking its banks and destroying many properties located by the river that also served as event centres for the festival.

It therefore remains to be seen the extent of government response at reviving a festival which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors and competitors alike annually from the West African sun-region and overseas in search of the biggest catch.

Having already attained international status, the festival began in 1934, to mark the end of the centuries old hostilities between the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kebbi Kingdom. The two empires had fought for centuries, and the conflicts only ceased with the arrival of the British.

The Argungu fishing festival is the culmination of a four-day cultural event which also attracts Heads of States and Governments in West Africa, first class traditional rulers from neighbouring Niger, Benin Republic, and Chad as well as Emirs and Chiefs from across the country; members of the diplomatic corps; captains of industries; top government functionaries; tourism aficionados and enthusiasts to the Land of Kanta.

The Matan Fada River though small is restricted to fishing all-year and hence, is well stocked with fish for the fishing festival.

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