Yobe State Steadily Expanding the Frontiers of Tourism
The Mauyi-Ganga Fishing Festival
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Without controversy, Yobe State ranks the leading home of fishing cultural festival in the country, where the state is building a steady capacity in the tourism industry, with a second fishing cultural festival, knowns as the Mauyi-Ganga Fishing Festival, believed to be fast assuming a great tourist potential.
Coming next to Argungun Fishing Festival, Yobe State’s world recognised cultural festival, there are strong indications that the present Yobe State Government is leaving nothing to chance to develop the Mauyi-Ganga Fishing Festival into a frontline tourism activity, designed to expand its socioeconomic frontiers.
Fishing festivals in parts of the northern region has for over a century been at the front row of cultural renaissance, with Yobe State currently leading in fishing fiestas, attracting dignitaries, admirers and tourists from far and near.
Alternatively known as the Bade Fishing Festival, the Mauyi-Ganga Fishing Festival has become a historic event to reckon with, steadily growing into a national cultural activity. Although the Mauyi-Ganga Fishing Festival was revived in February last year, after it was last held over 24 years ago, those whose business it is to know say it has been around for 60 years.
The 2020 edition was held at the ancient Gogaram Village of old Bade headquarters of Yobe State, while the recent one held at the same venue amid pomp and funfair, equally attracted a mammoth crowd, including traditional rulers, dignitaries and state actors.
Sources familiar with the Mauyi-Ganga or Bade fishing festivals inform that prior to the resuscitation of the event, each villages in the kingdom carried out its separate fishing festivities; dating back as far as 1956; which was hitherto tagged the Mauyi-Ganga Fishing Festival, believed to have originated at the Alkamaram River.
Record has it that Mauyi-Ganga has its origin in a folklore tied around a drummer from some distant history. According to Alhaji Mamman Suleiman, the Maji Dadi of Bade, who is also Secretary Bade Emirate Council, Mauyi-Ganga were ideas that originated from a drummer in time immemorial.
According to him, there was a huge tamarind tree at the bank of the Mauyi River where rural dwellers usually gathered and played. Narrating the birth of the tradition, Alhaji Suleiman said, “It happened that after having some moments of fun, a drummer had forgotten his drum and was asked by his colleagues as he entered into the village the where about of the drum”, adding:
“A drum was among the valuable items because it has been used to entertain and pass powerful messages among communities.” The drummer reportedly replied that he was not sure whether he left it at the bank of the river. The villagers were said to have returned to the river in search of the missing drum.
He said as they got there they saw the drum hanged on a tamarind tree and they called out “Mauyi-Ganga.” Translated, “Mauyi” means to hang while “Ganga” mean drum; and therefore “Mauyi-Ganga” means the drum was hanged.
According to reports, the Secretary of Bade Emirate Council said since then, the place was named Mauyi-Ganga and has been utilized to host annual fishing festival, attracting tourists from within and outside the state.
Until recently, the festival was solely financed by the traditional ruler of Bade, the Mai of Bade, but with the establishment of Bade Native Authority, it started to provide small grants, whilst well wishers including prominent sons and daughters of Yobe State, are said to be offering some personal assistance, as the current state government is said to have expressed interest to grow the Mauyi-Ganga Fishing Cultural Festival.
This year’s edition which lasted two days marked the 38th edition since inception. The two day event witnessed exhibitions in traditional dances, hunters’ display, spear throwing, swimming on calabash and fishing competition among others.
Persons with the biggest fish catch always go home with some reward. Although the Mauyi-Ganga Fishing Cultural Festival is presently not as big as the Argungun Fishing Festival, a native, Saidu Yusuf, says it has great potential to become a national and international event.
The Bade Fishing Festival started in 1938 during the reign of Mai Aji, initially just as a fishing festival, but over the years it evolved into a full blown fishing and cultural festival.
In 1975, it was recognized as an annual festival by the North Eastern government, enjoying state support including the building of pavilion and guests chalets. Under the current Yobe State government, it has enjoyed some support under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, recognized as a festival with potential to grow the state’s tourism sector.
It is believed that through the support of the current Senate President, Ahmad Lawal, a Federal Road is currently been constructed from Gasamu to the festival location by federal road maintenance agency (FERMA).
As the nation faces certain fundamental and economic restructuring, Yobe State asides its rich natural endowment, has the largest reserve of tourism potential including fishing and cultural festivals.
The state’s tourism sector well attended to can develop and grow a significant part of its GDP, amid showcasing its other vast potentials to advantage.