For nearly two weeks, the Nupe nation, friends, family and admirers have been in a celebratory mood ahead of the 71st birthday and ecstasy of his 20th anniversary on the throne of his forebears. The Etsu Nupe and paramount ruler of the Nupe people, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, CFR is celebrated globally for his uncommon humility, charisma, empathy, philanthropy, inclusivity, humanism and patriotism. The euphoria that today’s event has generated should not be surprising, for, in the last five decades, this debonair monarch has bestrode the military, traditional and public scene with excellence and nectar appeal .
At every tum, he has been distinguished and exceptional, exuding a genius that is intimidating in every sense of the word. There is no section of the Nigerian public space in which the influence of Etsu Yahaya Abubakar has not been felt. There is no sphere of human endeavour that has not engaged his attention. During his days in the Army, Etsu Yahaya Abubakar inspired awe, not just with his physical presence, but with the depth of the knowledge of his job, and his complete mastery of the fine points of military tradition.
He demonstrated the extent to which a military officer can be successful in his art, provided he brings to it, a complete, single-minded devotion.
As a father to all, Etsu Yahaya Abubakar has had to take a generous interest in the career of young people who passed through his tutelage, providing for them the benefit of his wisdom, experience and expertise in many respects. It is not exaggeration to conclude that it is self-evident that the Etsu’s strength lies in the maintenance of peace which has served as a catalyst for sustained growth and development of his kingdom. It is to his credit that in the last 20 years reign has been peaceful and ceaseless progress and prosperity for all !
Aside keeping the peace in his domain, the Etsu has been a unifying factor across Niger State in his capacity as the permanent Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers; a role he has played with uncommon humility and carriage.
Beyond the shores of Niger State, Etsu Yahaya Abubakar has forged unity and cooperation amongst the Nupe people of Niger, Kwara and Kogi States as well as FCT. Keen watchers of developments in Nupe kingdom in the last two decades can attest to the fact that in spite of the continuous effort to obliterate African cultural practices by agents of western civilization, the Nupes are enjoying a renaissance.
The Etsu has made this possible through the symbolic celebration of the Annual Nupe National Day in Bida, the headquarter of the Nupe nation. During the annual event which takes place on the 26th day of June every year, the Etsu Nupe with the support of his colleague-Etsus of Patigi, Agaie, Lafiagi, Lapai, Tsaragi, Tsonga, Kupa-Abugi and Bassa-Nge superintend symbolic exhibition of culture and reliving of age long traditions.
The 26th day of June marks the day when the British Army was defeated by Nupe warriors led by the then Etsu Nupe Abubakar on the 26th day of June 1896. The British Protectorate in Lokoja had approached the Bida Military camp at Ogidi in the present Kogi State resulting in the defeat of British Constabulary and the Union Jack was seized by the Nupe Cavalry.
Every year, the festival starts with prayers in both mosques and churches, respectively on Friday and Sunday in the first and last day of the event, and the Etsu Nupe then leads the event to discuss the rich cultural heritage of his people. Other programmes usually lined up to mark the day include lectures on issues concerning Nupe’s history, background, culture and development, at the end of which merit awards and traditional titles and other forms of recognitions are given to deserving sons and daughters of Nupeland.
The Gani is an annual traditional wrestling festival where men display their strengths. A strong confident person comes out and challengers file out and he chooses who he feels like taking on. It normally attracts large crowds from different parts of Nupe land and beyond.
The two never mix as the confluence progresses down until after several kilometers where the influence of other smaller tributaries alter the natural process.
Embedded in the cultural revival effort by the Etsu Nupe includes the effort by the Etsu’s council to keep the world abreast of happenings in Nupe Kingdom through a robust engagement with the media on the key social and mystical powers of Nupes that have made the people very popular, especially the Ndakogboya Masquerades. Not to be missed is the traditional horse racing competition which now holds annually at the Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar Race Course, Bida.
Virtually, all Trado Al rulers across the nation are always at home with our dear Etsu – Nupe. When the history of Nigeria is written, Etsu Yahaya Abubakar’s name shall be etched in gold, surely.
– Kuta, a Professor, is the Magatakarda Nupe and author of “The Nupe People of Nigeria”.