The sons and daughters of Nupeland recently celebrated what unites them as a people. The homogeneity of their culture and tradition. ABU NMODU writes on the events that took place on that day.
Nupe Day, celebrated by the Nupes under the traditional leadership of the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, gained more prominence some few years back, when the Etsu Nupe made it an avenue to strengthen Nupe’s unity beyond state boundary.
Though Nupes are predominantly in Niger State, the Nupe Day Celebrations go beyond the state as they attract people from all walks of life, while every Nupe sons and daughters at home and in the diaspora look forward to the day.
The Nupe Day is organised to coincide with June 26 of every year. The day is special in the history of the Nupes, because, according to both oral and written narrations, it was the day the Nupe army defeated the Royal Niger troops which made incursion and expansionist moves to the area.
In honour of the day every year, the Nupes are gathered to come face to face with their culture, which also affords the Etsu Nupe and other traditional rulers the opportunity to discuss issues bordering on the development of the land and the people.
Celebrating the day also affords the Etsu Nupe the opportunity to honour those who have distinguished themselves and have also contributed to the growth and development of Nupeland, as well as the society at large.
As expected, this year’s celebration kicked off on June 21, 2013 at the IBB University, Lapai, with a public lecture. It was followed the same day at Bida by an agro show that showcased the economic potential of Nupe kingdom.
At the lecture, delivered by Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and titled “Exploring Central Bank of Nigeria’s Special Intervention in Agriculture for the Transformation of Nupe Land”, the CBN boss stated that Nupeland was known for massive rice production and that, if well encouraged, could feed the whole of West Africa.
Mallam Sanusi, represented by his Director of Development Financing, Paul Nduka, disclosed that there are a lot of packages initiated by the Central Bank to encourage agriculture which the people of Nupeland could cash in on to encourage agro production, especially rice.
Sanusi stated that in view of the potential and the strategic location of Nupe Kingdom and her comparative advantage in production of rice, sorghum, maize and fish, Nupeland is capable of providing adequate food for Nigeria and other African countries.
He recalled that in the 80’s, rice from Nupeland was very popular in Nigeria and called on investments in the value chain of rice production in the area through engaging the youths.
If one doubted the position of the CBN governor then at the agric show, later that same day in Bida, one would not but agree with him because of what was on display.
The next day, June 22, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Abubakar turbaned nine distinguished personalities as part of the activities to mark the Nupe Day celebration.
The Etsu Nupe turbaned the former Governor of Kwara State, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki as Turakin Raya Kasan Nupe; the former governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris as Sardauna Raya Kasan Nupe and Hajiya Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi as Soniyan Alkalai Nupe.
Others are Honourable Abdulmalik Dagachi Usman Cheche as Dan-Mutawalin Nupe; Suleyman Abdu Ndanusa as Jarin Nupe; Professor Cleopas Angaye as Zumuntan Nupe; Alhaji Abdulkhadiri Salihu Muhammad Muwo as Dan Madaki Nupe, and Hajiya Hauwa Ahmed Nnaduka as Jebanchi Nupe.
Amidst the pulsating rhythm of the Nupe music, known for its coolness, the turbaning took place with well-wishers of those turbaned trying to outdo each other. But one thing was clear, they all appreciated the gesture of the Etsu Nupe in recognising one of their own with the turbaning.
There was no doubt that the awardees had contributed greatly in their various ways to the growth of Nupeland. For instance, Professor Cleopas Angaye from Bayelsa State, who was turbaned as Zumuntun Nupe, had done his youth service in 1973 at the Government College, Bida, where he offered himself selflessly in teaching young Nupes.
Also on June 26, the grand finale day, the Deputy Governor of Niger State was turbaned as Wali Raya Kasan Nupe along with the PDP Niger State Chairman, Hon. Mahmud Abduraham Enagi as Sardauna Ayuka Nupe and Mallam Abubakar Zukogi as Madaki Raba Nupe.
The uniqueness of Nupe Day 2013 was the fact that the celebration attracted Nupes from neighbouring states of Kogi and Kwara and led by their traditional rulers who submitted and paid homage to the Etsu Nupe as symbol of Nupe unity.
The Etsu Patigi, Alhaji Abdullahi Chata, from Kwara State, who spoke on behalf of other traditional rulers, said that the Nupe people are ready to blow their trumpet as the Nupes are the cradle of Nigeria unity, known for their dedicated work for the progress of the society.
He eulogised the fatherly role of the Etsu Nupe in bringing all sons and daughters of Nupeland together to showcase their culture and unity to the world as a united people known for their good work and respect for humanity.
At the second-phase turbaning ceremony, the Royal Father of the day and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, stated that the celebration of Nupe Day has shown the strong will of the Etsu Nupe to strengthen the unity among the Nupes and other groups in Nigeria.
“One who identify with their brothers, Almighty Allah will pay you, because we can only be our brother’s keeper. We appreciate today as Nupe Day, because if we love ourselves, we will not have problems, not only in this country, but the world as a whole,” the Sultan said.
While saying that the Etsu Nupe has shown the desired love for his people by gathering them annually to identify with their culture and foster unity among themselves, the Sultan said, “the celebration of Nupe Day would further make the people understand why we are all created distinctly in the world.”
According to him, “Whoever is here today is a Nupeman, because we have all come to identify with Nupe people and their culture”.
The position of the Sultan was also captured in the speech of the former Governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki, who was turbanned as Turakin Raya Kasan Nupe while responding on behalf of other recipients.
Saraki said the Etsu Nupe has shown that he is a peaceful traditional ruler, who has worked tirelessly to maintain his stand for the unity of Nigeria, promising that all the recipients would be good ambassador of Nupeland.
Also speaking on behalf of those turbaned in the second turbaning, the Deputy Governor of Niger State, Honourable Ahmed Musa Ibeto, thanked the Etsu Nupe for the honour done them.
He said Etsu Nupe was able to bring about unity in the celebration of Nupe Day by not only honouring the Nupes, but also going as far as Niger Delta to recognise the contributions of individuals to the development of the society.
To Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, “Our traditional leaders symbolise those elements that define us as a people, and we must hold them in high esteem at all times, to encourage other people to respect us”.