5 Yearly Celebrated Cultural Festivals in Nigeria: A Spotlight

by Adeyemi Ezra
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Cultural festival.

 In Nigeria, that part of our culture that remains greatly cherished and practised despite civilization is the celebration of cultural festivals. These festivals are ever distinct, valued and largely celebrated as they continually serve as a bond of unity among the Nigerians. 

Nigerian cultural festivals are worth the hype people give them. The uniqueness, peculiarity and sacredness make it even more dignifying and respected. Tourists from all over the world now visit Nigeria annually to witness these colourful festivals.

In this piece, you’ll get to know more about some annually celebrated cultural festivals in Nigeria. 

5 Yearly Celebrated Cultural Festivals in Nigeria 

  • Ojude-oba festival 

The glamour and significance associated with this festival make it rank high amongst the most celebrated and sponsored cultural festivals in Nigeria.  Ojude-oba festival is unique to the Yoruba people of  Ijebu-ode in Ogun State, the Southwestern part of Nigeria. It is an age-long tradition that has been in existence for 100 years. 

It is an ancient festival held in the forecourt of the monarch, and it is celebrated yearly to showcase the cultural, religious, social and military prowess of the Ijebu land. The festival falls on the third day of the Eid-el-Kabir also known as “Ileya.” 

In Ojude-oba, an homage is paid to His Royal Majesty, the Awujale of Ijebu land. It is usually a performance to behold as different age groups in different styles and attires take turns to pay homage to the king.  

Awujale, the custodian of his people, is a symbol of unity, dignity and identity for the Ijebu people. The period is usually used to show appreciation to the king and promote their cultural values. 

The festival is not just celebrated, it also draws tourists to witness the beauty and hospitality of the land. Ojude-oba remains the most glamorous spiritual festival in Ijebuland, as it celebrates culture, fashion, glamour, candour, beauty and royalty.

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  • New yam festival

The New Yam Festival is another yearly celebrated cultural festival in Nigeria among the people of southeastern regions. It is popular among different tribes in Nigeria – the Idoma, Igbo and Yoruba, among others with unique names tied to it. 

Igbo people call it “Iriji-Mmanwu,” “Iwa ji,” “Iri ji,” or “Ike ji.” The Yorubas, particularly the Ekitis call it “Odun Ijesu,” while the Kogis call it “Igede.” The festival is renowned for its celebration of agricultural produce. 

The event symbolizes the end of a harvest and the commencement of the next farming cycle. With colourful costumes, cultural dances and masquerade displays, the festival is usually filled with lots of excitement. The aim of the new yam festival is majorly to celebrate nature and show gratitude to the ancestors of the land for providence and abundance.  

This celebration is usually all about giving thanks for the harvest and traditional rites that will help in the new planting season. One major rite practice peculiar to this festival is that it is only the new yam harvested that can be cooked during the festival as all old yams must have been consumed or discarded before the festival. 

However, the Yorubas believe that the festival must be celebrated to determine the destiny of the community.

  • Argungu fishing festival

This festival is specifically unique to the Kebbi people, known as “Kebbawa.” It is a fishing and cultural festival with ancient significance. Historically, the festival played the role of reducing tensions and decreasing the cross-border raids that had long existed between the neighbouring communities. To date, the festival continues to preserve tradition and promote culture.

It is marked with religious rites, such as sacrifices, and prayers and cultural activities full of amusing displays of aquatic activities like swimming, water relays, canoe races and other numerous captivating moments. The major event in the festival’s celebration is the fishing competition coupled with mystical and supernatural events. All these make it even more spectacular and respected. 

The custodian of the Matan Fada River, who is also the river fishing official, is called “Hussaini Makwashe.” He is a very powerful being and he determines the commencement of the festival and summons fishes in the river to the festival. The fish are invited like humans from other rivers connected to the Grand River and are expected to be around before the competition commences.

Argungu festival has not stopped being a remarkable event that draws people from near and far to celebrate and witness the event. As it attracts thousands of people as tourists, it has continued to be a significant source of foreign exchange. 

  • Osun-osogbo festival

Osun-osogbo festival is one of the most popular cultural and spiritual festivals in Nigeria. It brings people from all walks of life seeking solutions to their problems to worship the Osun River. It is held in Osun State between July and August which spans two weeks.

It is celebrated at the Sacred Osun groove in honour of the river goddess coupled with traditional rites, the “Iwopopo” rite to cleanse the land, the lighting of the 500-year old sixteen-point lampIna Olojumerindinlogun, and finally the “Ibroriade,” the final stage. 

  • Eyo festival

A regional Yoruba festival, otherwise known as “Adamu Orisha Play”  is peculiar to the indigenes of Lagos State, Nigeria. It is a traditional masquerade display celebrated at Lagos Island (Isale Eko) usually to celebrate the Oba

In the past, it used to be celebrated when an Oba or a notable Lagosian died to escort his soul. But nowadays, it is held to install a new Oba or during a special occasion like memorable or funeral ceremonies. 

The festival has significantly drawn the attention of tourists and people all over the world and has increased tourism in Lagos. 

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With a dive into some of the annually celebrated cultural festivals in Nigeria, our culture is indeed highly celebrated and cherished regardless of civilization. Remarkably, festivals do not just preserve our cultural heritage but also increase tourism, bringing people from far and near to appreciate the Nigerian culture.

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Edited by Priscilla Ajayi.

About Author

Adeyemi Ezra
Adeyemi Ezra
A content writer, copywriter and fictional author. I like to explore writing on lifestyle, entrepreneurship and many more with valuable and highly insightful contents that relates with prospects to educate and motivate.

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