NIGER COMMUNITY COMES ALIVE FOR NUPE DAY
Bida, a sprawling town in Niger State will on Saturday play host to national and foreign dignitaries, especially the Nupe, from all over the world. The event is the second National Nupe Day celebration.
The idea of setting aside a day to celebrate a town is definitely not new in the southern parts of the country. But in the North, it is still quite novel.
On Saturday, sons and daughters of Nupe will be coming together to discuss issues that concern their ethnic nationality, especially the revival of their age long culture and tradition.
The Nupe are spread across the country, but they are more predominant in Kwara, Kogi and Niger states.
Historical accounts revealed that the Nupe kingdom, which was founded by Tsoede in 1465, also has historical links with the Hausas of Katsina and Kano States as well as the people of Borno. The kingdom also comprises other related groups like the Beni, Benu, Kusopa, Dibo, Ganagana, Kakanda, Bassa, Cekpan, Kede and Kupe.
The first time the ethnic nationality met was in the 1990s. That was when their leaders agreed that it was time for a Nupe State to be created and named Ndaduma State with headquarters in Bida. Bida is the largest Nupe town and the traditional headquarters of the Nupe kingdom with a population of over 600,000 people.
In 2009, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar introduced the National Nupe Day and picked June 26 as the day the event would be held annually. ?
The date is to commemorate the day Nupe warriors repelled British colonial forces from their soil on June 26, 1896.
The major reason for the holding of the Nupe Day is for the reawakening of their culture and tradition that are gradually going extinct as a result of religion.
The Nupe are known for their very rich culture and tradition. The Nupe traditional way of marriage, which is very unique, has also been taken over by the adoption of Islam as the religion of the people.
The mystery surrounding the Igunu, a local masquerade now adopted by the Yoruba, is still not known till today and this great culture has almost died because the people no longer cared about it.
There is also the famous Bida brass and Masaga works. There is a myth that the materials and factory equipment will not work elsewhere once they are taken from their present site in Bida.
On Saturday, Nupe sons and daughters will in Bida attempt to find a middle ground between the practice of their religion and the sustenance of their culture and tradition.
Niger State governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu has already set the tone for all ethnic groups in the state to revive their culture and tradition and hold on to them jealously notwithstanding the religion they practise.
Since the administration came to office in 2007, it has always given top priority to the promotion of the peoples' tradition and culture. An example is the revival of the Sallah traditional durbar by the government, which has since become an annual event in all the emirate headquarters in the state.
The durbar, called Hauwa Bariki in Nupeland, provides avenues for relaxation. People from all walks of life throng the emirate headquarters to witness captivating displays by beautifully dressed horses. The durbar also provides a lot of revenue, with tourists patronising local hotels and buying locally made goods.
Aliyu believes that one of the ways of achieving the government's vision of making the state one of the top three most developed economies in the country by the year 2020 is for all sectors of the economy, including culture, to be developed to a state that they will earn revenue for the government and at the same time generate employment.
The government has revived most of the tourism sites in the state, including the famous Gurara Waterfalls and the relics of the colonial masters at Zungeru. It has also been in dialogue with the governors of the South Eastern States on how to complete the Zik Centre at Zungeru, an edifice started by the military in the town where Nigeria's first ceremonial president was born. ?
As a prelude to the event, a fund-raising ceremony for the construction of a Nupe Cultural Centre was held in Abuja where over N200m was realised.
The centre, when completed, would serve as a museum for all Nupe artifacts and an international resource centre where information about the ethnic nationality could be accessed.
Alhaji Yabagi Sani, Chairman of the local organizing committee, said the cultural centre which would be equipped with modern communication and Information Technology gadgets, would be located at Bida.
The main event will be preceded by a cultural and award night on Friday, while the traditional and famous Nupe durbar would be on display. ?
Prominent Nigerians would also be turbaned by the Etsu Nupe for their contributions to the development of the kingdom and Nigeria in general.
Governor Aliyu and his wife, Jumai, would be turbaned as the Sodangi Nupe (the caring leader) and Garkuwan Matan Nupe (Nupe woman leader) respectively.