The Argungu Fishing Festival

By Guido Trombetta on 7:37 AM ,
argungu fishing festival

More than 30.000 fisherman had taken part to the annual Argungu fishing festival in Nigeria's Kebbi state. People from all west africa has come to partecipate to the main event: the fishing contest in the waters of the river Mata Fada, using nets and traditional gourds made with calabashes a sort of punpkin dried and hollowed. The fisherman who take the biggest fish wins a prize of 7000 dollars, a huge amount of money for nigerian people.

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All photos are by Reuters and AFP/Getty images via Daylife


8 Response to 'The Argungu Fishing Festival'

  1. Anonymous'> March 21, 2008 at 8:12 PM

    Argungu Fishing Festival (AFF) - Nigeria champion fisherman jailed. Rivals thought the winner was a bit fishy

    Posted By Prince Kabir Abubakar, Webmaster,

    The gills showed the fish was long dead - The Emir of Argungu

    The winner of a prestigious Nigerian fishing festival has been stripped of his title and thrown in jail after rivals complained he cheated. Click this link,, for his picture.

    The 66kg (10st 6lb) fish that won the competition in Argungu, in northern Kebbi State, was already dead when it came out of the water, officials said.

    Bello Yakub has been arrested and will appear before a magistrate next week.

    The monster fish netted him prizes worth $33,000, including a car and a ticket to go on the Hajj pilgrimage.

    It is thought the fish may have been caught in the much larger Niger River and brought to Argungu, where fishing is banned except during the festival.

    "Other fishermen claimed he was not really one of them," the Emir of Argungu, Samaila Mera, said.

    "We investigated and found that he couldn't have taken it from the river in Argungu because the gills showed the fish was long dead."

    The BBC's Hassan Sahabi who was at the festival says this may seriously damage the reputation of an event considered a major tourist attraction in Nigeria.

    Mr Yakub had told reporters this was the first time he had won in more than 30 attempts.

    "I just hope I can use the prize money for something good," he said.

    The festival has been held regularly, along with an agricultural show and other cultural displays, since 1934.

    Tens of thousands of fishermen wade through the water, which reaches chin-high in parts, dragging nets along the bottom.

    Fish are placed inside a hollowed out calabash - a kind of dried pumpkin.

    From LEADERSHIP News Online:

    The winner of the just concluded Argungu International Fishing Festival Competition, Malam Bello Ya'u, has been stripped of the title and detained by the Police in Argungu for cheating in the contest.

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Ya'u caught the biggest fish, weighing 65.95kg at the grand finale, held on Saturday. Ya'u received a brand new Honda Car from Maltina, two Hajj Seats to Saudi Arabia, one each from Kebbi State Government and Argungu Emirate Council and a television set from MTN.

    Ya'u, however, lost the title and prizes for refusing to swear by the Holy Quran to defend an allegations that he smuggled a dead fish into the river a day before the competition.

    Confirming this development to NAN in his palace today, the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Sama'ila Mera, said he personally investigated the case and found that the suspect with one Zazzagawa, committed the offence. He said the two suspects, who were handed over to the Police, had since confessed their crime and that appropriate actions would be taken against them.

    The emir dismissed the assertion that the incident would negatively affect the festival and Argungu Emirate.

    "We must expose this kind of cheating because our tradition and culture hate cheating and hence we will not accept this to happen here," he said.

    NAN reliably learnt that the person who came second, with a catch of 62kg, would be crowned as the champion.

    NAN reports that the car won by Ya'u has been confiscated and parked at the premises of the Emirate Council.

    Efforts to speak to either Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in-charge of Argungu or Commissioner of Police in Kebbi State, Alhaji Muktari Ibrahim, on the incident proved abortive. While the DPO refused to comment, the commissioner did not answer telephone calls to him.

    More than 30,000 fishermen from within and outside Nigeria participated in the competition.

    COMMENT from Prince Kabir:

    I ATTEMPTED TO RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO COMMENT ON THIS SERIOUS ISSUE, BUT I, OBVIOUSLY, FAILED. As the webmaster of both and, I played some roles (albeit very little) in the publicity and promotion of this year\'s festival. I also know, first-hand, how much efforts the chairman of the organizing committee for the festival (the Kebbi State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Aliyu) put in to ensure the festival became a success, and it was.

    This scandal, if verified to be true, through due process of course, will have very serious consequencies, both negative and positive. On the one hand, if the allegation is confirmed, it will be reasonable to wonder if this is the first time an episode like this occured. This, will in-turn necessitates further inquiry into the matter. On the other hand, this issue may end up being a blessing in disguise. I have always believed that the festival should be handled strickly by private sector, with the Kebbi State\'s Government performing oversight functions. It is no secret that governmets, the world over, do not do very well when it comes to administration of events like the Argungu International Fishing Festival. I just wish a competent business entity will be given the chance to run the festival, with the government playing ONLY supervisory role. We have people/firm right here in Kebbi (if that may be the problem/concern) who have the competence and the integrity to carry out the needed functions successfully, but who knows why that option is not a preference? That may be perhaps because a prophet is usually not respected at home. We usually respect others, like Japanese, Chinese, Germans, Russians, etc. Kebbi Web Hosting, LLC, a Kebbi Indegenous company Registered and Headquartered in Maryland, USA has all it takes to deliver in making the Argungu Festival not only \"419\" proof, but also truly International (with a capital \"I\") event in this 21st century information age.

    My heart bleeds, knowing what I know and what I believe is capable of being done for Kebbi and Nigeria through this festival\'s potentials, and I am a Kebbian, a Kebbite, a Kebbician, or whatever else you may want to refer me as. But I guess there is a process we all have to go through, no matter how painful, before we can have the vision or the will to do things proactively right, through our own local people. It is the same story about local versus foreign coaches in the Nigerian soccer arena.

    On the issue of Mallam Bello Yakub or Ya\'u, depending on what is the correct version of his family name, the guy is definately a disgrace to the Kebbi, Nigerian, and even world community. In giving the devil his worth though, I commend him (Bello) for at least refusing to swear by the Qur\'an one way or the other about the allegation against him, presumably he knows something that we don\'t. I wish some of our so-called leaders can borrow a leaf from Bello, even at his lowest moment he stayed true to the scripture. Bello may be a thief, but he is not blinded enough to sale his soul to the devil for material wealth, unlike..., we all know who (unless we are deceiving ourselves).

    It is my opinion that we look at this fiasco as a collective failure and responsibility to be fixed, instead of concentrating only on finger pointing. If you have a big mouth to raise issues (this is welcomed) make sure that you propose viable solutions to go with them. Talk is cheap.

    How Kebbi State and Argungu Fishing Festival go from here will depend on the political will of the guys in charge. Lucky for us, I know for a fact, my good friend, His Royal Highness, the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samai\'la Muhammadu Mera will not let this unfortunate event to affect his spirits solely negatively. If anything, knowing him well, he will take this event and use it to turn things around and make the festival event better, overall. This young Emir loves challenges, he does not shy away from them, instead he confronts them, with wisdom.

    Your Highness we are all counting on you, that\'s apart from my own expectations of you from what I personally know you are made up.

    Next year\'s will prove my assessment right, in-sha-Allah.

    Prince Kabir is the President/CEO of Kebbi Web Hosting, LLC and All Africa Web Hosting based in Maryland, USA.


  2. Guido Trombetta'> March 21, 2008 at 10:52 PM

    Thank you Prince Kabir for the updated news.


  3. Econworld'> September 17, 2008 at 4:28 PM

    Thank you . The photographs are wonderful. I have lived in Argungu for almost 9 years teaching at the Sama Secondary School from 1980. I enjoyed the wonderful fishing Festival very much. It is unique in every sense and Iam very happy that it is being celebrated well.
    Presently Iam living in Mumbai, India. I would like to greet all great people of Argungu. I had many good friends there.
    G.S. panikar
    The Economics Club, Mumbai,


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