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Frills, thrills of Egbira hunting festival

Monday, December 27, 2021, witnessed yet another annual Irewha cultural hunting festival of the Egbira in Shafa-Abakpa community in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa…

Monday, December 27, 2021, witnessed yet another annual Irewha cultural hunting festival of the Egbira in Shafa-Abakpa community in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, a neighbouring village to Abaji Area Council in the FCT.  Aso Chronicle’s reporter was there to capture the event.

The youth of the community came out under various age grades in their large numbers, adorned in their hunting garbs wielding locally fabricated guns slung over their shoulders, while their black hunting attire gave them a fierce look.

The youths, who were led by an elderly hunter, after three days in the bush hunting, marched in a procession with their catch from the bush into the venue of the event.

The hunting festival, our reporter gathered, was held last on December 26, 2017, due to security challenges and the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, in Shafa-Abakpa community, Aso Chronicle further learnt that it was the first village where missionaries settled on a hill at the back of the community during the colonial period.

This, they said, gives the community an advantage over its neighbours among the Egbira ethnic groups in both Nasarawa and Kogi states.

It was gathered that the coming of the Christian missionaries to the village also enhanced their quest for western education which gave it reputable people such as a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Suleiman Galadima, a former Rector of Kaduna Polytechnic, Eng Isah Danjuma, retired Architect Jafaru Isah, of FCDA, current FCT APC state chairman, Alhaji Abdulmalik Usman, retired judge of Nasarawa state, Shari’a court and a host of others among its indigenes.

The Ohimani-Emani of Shafa-Abakpa community, His Royal Highness (HRH) Alhaji Hussaini Usman Kyafi, while speaking on the history of the Irewha cultural hunting festival, said it was initiated centuries ago, backed by ‘Ikaka’ a great hunter nicknamed ‘Ada-Ugbe’ meaning ‘father of hunting’ due to his bravery and expertise.

He said the hunting festival has today been transformed into an event that attracts people from within and outside the country who come home every December end.

“Unfortunately, we could not hold the hunting festival after that of 2017 due to insecurity and the outbreak of the COVID-19, until this year. And by God’s grace, we shall continue with the festival as security continues to improve,” he said.

The monarch explained that the festival was aimed at fostering peace and harmony among not only the Egbira ethnic group but other ethnic groups across Nasarawa and Kogi states.

He commended the governor of Nasarawa State, Eng Abdullahi Sule, speaker of the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi, as well as other sons and daughters of the chiefdom for their support in seeing that the event was held successfully.

Also speaking, the speaker of Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi, who was the chairman of the occasion, said the event will go a long way to revamp the Egbira cultural heritage which, he noted, was almost going into extinction.

The speaker, who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Ahmed Baba Yahaya, said the festival is also an avenue for fostering peace, unity and speedy growth of the community.

He commended the state government for giving priority to issues of security across the state, and the organizers of the event for making it colourful.

On his part, the Ohimegye of Opanda-Umaisha kingdom, His Royal Highness (HRH) Alhaji Usman Abdullahi, said he was elated that the Egbira cultural hunting festival, which he stopped in 2017 due to security challenge was held this year.

He emphasised the need for all the Egbira speaking people to continue to live in peace with each other.

Aso Chronicle reported that the event witnessed representatives of various village chiefs and traditional rulers, from neighbouring Kotonkafe Local Government Area of Kogi State, Ona of Abaji, His Royal Majesty (HRM) Alhaji Adamu Baba Yunusa, among others.

At the end of the event, gifts of motorcycles, mattresses and electronic gadgets were presented to some hunters that caught big animals.

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