Argungu international fishing and cultural festival is a four day ceremony held near the Matan Fada River in North West Nigeria. This fishing festival began in 1934 as a mark of the end of hostility between the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kebbi kingdom. The festival takes place between late February and early March as a mark of the end of the growing season and the start of the fishing season.
The Argungu festival has been taking place every year for decades. It involves bare hand fishing competition among thousands of fishermen equipped with a hand net and large gourd. At the sound of a gun thousands of fishermen race towards the Mata Fadan River leaping into the water to begin their search for the winning freshwater fish. This is the main cultural event among the Argungu in Kebbi State in Northwestern Nigeria. As the fishermen carry on with their work women keep them entertained through beating of drums and singing the Kebbawa traditional rhythm. The fisherman with the biggest catch wins the fishing competition.
Argungu festival is held as a celebration of life and a way of conserving the natural resources. It’s also part of an ancient fertility ritual which from the point of view of the local Kebbawa people is the most important aspect of the occasion.
The four day event begins with an agricultural show, traditional Kebbawa entertainments, water sport displays and fishing competition at Mata Fadan River. Before the onset of the festival custodians of the river, ‘Sarkin Ruwa’ have to ensure it is safe. Sarkin Ruwa does this through performing sacrifices to the river to gain its permission.