Untitled Document
The Durbar (Military parade) festival dates back to hundreds of years when the emirates, traditional/indigenous political entities in northern Nigeria used horses in warfare.  Each town, district and noble household was expected to contribute a regiment to the defence of the emirate.  Once or twice a year, the emirates military chiefs would invite the various regiments for a Durbar for the Emir and his chiefs. During the parade, regiments would show case their horsemanship, their preparedness for war and that loyalty to the Emirate.  Today, the Durbar has become a festival celebrated in honour of visiting dignitaries.  The Durbar takes place in most major cities in northern Nigeria to mark two important Muslim festivals, Id-el fitri, commemorating the end of the holy week of fasting and Ramadan and Id el Kabir.  Durbars are truly magnificent and spectacular events, featuring gaily adorned horses and camels, traditional songs, remarkable dances and colourful parades.
This grand annual spectacle involves traditional methods of fishing dating back to the 16th century.  The festival takes place in Argungu, a riverside town in Kebbi State between February and March.  During the festival, hundreds of local men and boys go into the river equipped with large fishing nets.  Canoes full of drummers and men rattling huge seed -filled gourds to drive the fish to shallow waters accompany them.  Fish, ranging from giant Nile Perch to the peculiar Balloon Fish, are harvested in abundance.  Diving and Swimming competitions, canoe racing, wild duck hunting, traditional wrestling and boxing are other attractions, which further heighten the thrill and excitement of the festivities.  After the competitions, there is entertainment, featuring drinking, singing and dancing until the early hours of the morning.
The  Eyo festival is unique to Lagos.  It is widely believed that the festival is the forerunner of the modern day carnival in Brazil.  On Eyo day, the main highway in the heart of the city of Lagos is closed to traffic in order to allow the long procession of the Eyo Masquerades to make its way to the palace of the traditional ruler of Lagos, the Oba, where all the participants pay him homage.  Eyo festivals take place whenever occasion and tradition demand, but it is usually held as the final burial rites ceremony for a highly regarded traditional chief.
In Adamawa State, the Sharo or Shadi (flogging contest), is believed to have originated as a traditional rite of passage to manhood among the Jaful Fulani.  During the Sharo festival, bare-chested bachelor contestants, escorted by beautiful girls, thunderous  cheers and drumming, come out brandishing whips, in frightening poses against their opponents.  When the lively drumming, singing, cheers, self-praises, festivities and general excitement reach a fevered pitch, it is time for the flogging competition.  Opponents must endure each other’s flogging without wincing or showing pain, lest they be branded cowards.
The Atilogwu  Dance is a dazzling art form by the Igbos in Anambra State.  Atilogwu is a vigorous dance which literally means, “is there magic in this?”.  It combines elements of gymnastics and acrobatics with foot-stomping rhythms.  Young men who undergo rigorous training before presenting the dance in public perform the dance during important festivals and grand social occasions.  Atilogwu has become a celebrated signature of Nigerian culture, performed with pride around the world.

Osun, a deity, was one of the wives of Sango, former King of Oyo and god of thunder in Yoruba mythology.  She is worshipped in Yoruba land, particularly around the river Osun basin.  The water of the Osun is credited with fertility properties for barren women.  The Osun deity ´s most important sanctuary is in Osobgbo, in a palace shrine, where the chief priest performs rites and rituals in her honour.


Iriji-Mmanwu or Masquerade festival is staged in Enugu state in August.  The festival features a lively display of over two thousand masquerades from different parts of Igboland and other states in Nigeria.  Masquerades are considered, in Igbo tradition, to be reincarnated dead ancestors endowed with supernatural powers.  The unique shapes, sizes and colourful attire of the masquerades, as well as their rhythmic dances and acrobatic displays, make the festival on astounding and memorable event.

« Back