We welcome the revival of Nwunyo Festival – Bethel Moseglad

In a joyous revival of tradition and community spirit, the Nwonyo Fishing and Cultural Festival returned to the shores of Nwonyo Lake in Ibi, Taraba State, on the 19th and 20th of April 2024. After a twelve-year hiatus, this beloved event was brought back to life under the visionary leadership of His Excellency, Dr. Agbu Kefas, the Executive Governor of Taraba State, to the delight of locals and visitors alike.

 

The two-day extravaganza was a celebration of Taraba’s rich cultural heritage and the timeless tradition of fishing that has sustained communities for generations. From dawn until dusk, the festival grounds buzzed with excitement as attendees immersed themselves in a diverse array of activities that catered to every interest and age group.

 

*Unique Offerings*

One of the festival’s highlights was the thrilling swimming challenge, where competitors showcased their aquatic prowess in a display of strength and skill. Against the backdrop of Nwonyo Lake’s glistening waters, participants raced towards victory, cheered on by spectators lining the shore.

 

Throughout the event, the air resonated with the rhythmic beats of cultural dance performances, showcasing the vibrant diversity of Taraba’s indigenous cultures. From the graceful movements of the Jukun to the energetic steps of the Mambilla, Itchen, Ndola, kaka, Mumuye, Kuteb, and others each performance served as a tribute to the rich tapestry of traditions that define the region.

 

Dance enthusiasts were treated to captivating performances that explored themes of heritage, identity, and community, while citation ceremonies honoured individuals who have made significant contributions to preserving Taraba’s cultural legacy.

 

However, it was the grand finale fish-catching competition that truly captured the imagination of attendees. With a brand-new car up for grabs, courtesy of the festival organizers, fishermen and women cast their nets with determination and precision, hoping to reel in the catch of a lifetime.

*Prayers*

The festival’s return was met with widespread enthusiasm, drawing a mammoth crowd of participants and spectators from Taraba State, Nigeria, and beyond. Among the notable figures in attendance were Lt. Gen. T. Y. Danjuma (GCON), who served as Chairman of the occasion, His Excellency, Ahmadu Fintiri, Executive Governor of Adamawa State, and the Ambassador of Namibia to Nigeria.

 

Governor Kefas, accompanied by his wife, graced the event with his presence, alongside the three senators from Taraba State, the Commissioner of Tourism from Rivers State, and esteemed guests from England, Kenya, and other nations. Honourable members of the State House of Assembly and royal majesties from across Taraba State and beyond also lent their support to the festival, underscoring its significance as a unifying force within the community.

 

As the sun set on the shores of Nwonyo Lake, casting a golden glow over the festivities, it was evident that the Nwonyo Fishing and Cultural Festival had succeeded in not only celebrating Taraba’s rich heritage but also fostering unity and camaraderie among its people. In the spirit of tradition and unity, attendees departed with cherished memories and a renewed sense of pride in their cultural identity, eagerly awaiting the next instalment of this beloved event. We want it sustained.

 

*Socioeconomic Benefits:*

• Economic Growth: The festival is expected to boost the local economy through increased tourism, creating job opportunities, and stimulating trade in the region.

 

• Cultural Preservation: The festival showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Ibi community, promoting cultural exchange and understanding among diverse ethnic groups.

 

• Tourism Development: The event will put Taraba State on the global tourism map, attracting visitors from across the world and showcasing the state’s natural beauty and cultural richness.

 

• Community Engagement: The festival fosters community engagement, promoting unity and social cohesion among the people of Ibi and beyond.

• Cultural Exchange: The festival provides a platform for cultural exchange between local and international participants, enriching the cultural landscape of Nigeria.

 

• Tourism Promotion: Most importantly reviving this landmark event is a great avenue to call people’s attention to what Taraba can offer when it comes to art, culture and tourism potentials ranging from Mambilla Plateau (the most beautiful part of West Africa) with its hundreds of unique and breathtaking waterfall, the highest Mountain (Chappal waddi), Highest settlement, highest rock all above sea level in west Africa, the biggest tea plantation in Africa, and lots more to Gashaka Gumti National park(the largest and most biodiverse national park in West Africa) to hot spring source at Karim Lamdo, to the magnificent beauty of Kashimbilla Dam and many more attractions that make Taraba Nature’s gift to the nation.

 

*Areas of Improvement*

• Infrastructure Development: Upgrading infrastructure, such as roads, accommodation, and amenities, to enhance the festival experience.

• Marketing and Promotion: Effective marketing and promotion to attract more participants and spectators.

 

• Cultural Programming: Expanding cultural programming to include more performances, workshops, and exhibitions.

 

• Community Involvement: Encouraging greater community involvement in the organization and planning of the festival.

 

• Sustainability: Ensuring the festival’s sustainability through environmental impact assessments and waste management strategies.

*Gratitude*

We at NatureConnects (the indigenous tour operator in Taraba state) extend our heartfelt gratitude for reviving the Nwunyo Fishing and Cultural Festival after a 12-year hiatus. Your tireless efforts and commitment to preserving our cultural heritage have brought joy and unity to our people. The successful event at Nwunyo Lake on April 19-20, 2024, is a testament to your leadership and vision.

 

• To Lt. Gen. T. Y. Danjuma (GCON), Chairman of the occasion, we thank you for your guidance and support.

• To His Excellency, Ahmadu Fintiri, Executive Governor of Adamawa State, we appreciate your presence and encouragement.

• To His Excellency, Dr. Agbu Kefas, Executive Governor of Taraba State and your wife, we thank you for your unwavering support and participation throughout the two-day event.

• To the Ambassador of Namibia to Nigeria, the three senators from Taraba State, the Commissioner of Tourism from Rivers State, and tourists from England, Kenya, and other nations, we appreciate your presence and interest in our cultural festival.

• To the Honourable members of the State House of Assembly, we thank you for your support and contributions.

• To the Royal Fathers led by His Majesty the Aku-Uka of Wukari, we express our gratitude for your blessings and guidance.

• To the Commissioner of Ecotourism in Taraba State and his committee, we commend your hard work and dedication to making the festival a success.

• Lastly, to everyone who contributed to the success of the event in one way or another and to all the participants, your presence made the event a reality.

Thank you all for your contributions to the revival of our cultural heritage. May this festival continue to unite and promote our rich cultural diversity.

 

We urge the Taraba State government to sustain this landmark event by:

 

• Providing necessary funding and support.

• Establishing a festival planning committee to ensure continuity, which will be all-encompassing, including the local organisers from the immediate community, private tour operators / promoters, and government officials.

• Encouraging private sector investment and sponsorship.

• Promoting the festival through national and international marketing campaigns.

• Ensuring community engagement and participation in the planning process.

 

By sustaining the Nwonyo Fishing and Cultural Festival, we can harness its potential for economic growth, cultural preservation, and tourism development, ultimately benefiting the Ibi community, Taraba State, and Nigeria as a whole.

 

– Bethel Moseglad is the facilitator of Nature Connect

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