On the hills of southern Kaduna, Nigeria, the Oegworok (Kagoro) people eagerly await the arrival of the new year, not just for the promise it holds, but for the grand spectacle known as the Afan National Festival. As the first rays of sunlight pierce through the misty dawn on every first of January, the village awakens to the sound of drums and joyful chants, marking the beginning of a day filled with tradition and celebration.
Hunters clad in traditional attire gather at the outskirts of the village, their faces painted with intricate patterns that tell stories of their ancestors. Armed with age-old weapons, they venture into the lush forests, their senses heightened as they embark on a symbolic hunt. This hunt is not just about capturing prey, but about connecting with nature and preserving the ancient bond between man and the wild.
Back in the village, excitement builds as the Chief’s Palace Square transforms into a vibrant tapestry of colours and sounds. The air is thick with the aroma of delicious native delicacies being prepared by skilled hands, each dish carrying generations of culinary expertise. The cooking competition ignites friendly rivalries as villagers proudly showcase their culinary prowess, striving to create dishes that honour their heritage and tantalise the taste buds.
As the sun climbs higher in the sky, the beating of drums grows more intense, signalling the arrival of the cultural dances. Dancers, adorned in traditional attire and adorned with vibrant beads, sway to the rhythm of the music, their movements telling stories of love, bravery, and unity. The mesmerising dance routines captivate onlookers, transporting them to a time when tradition was the thread that wove the fabric of their lives.
Amidst the jubilant festivities, the village elders and leaders gather to offer blessings and gratitude for the past year and seek blessings for the year ahead. The Chief, adorned in regal attire, delivers a heartfelt speech that resonates with the hearts of the Oegworok people, emphasising the importance of unity, culture, and heritage.
As the sun sets, the festivities culminate in a breathtaking display of fireworks that light up the night sky, symbolising hope, dreams, and a bright future. The Afan National Festival draws to a close, leaving behind cherished memories and a renewed sense of pride in the Oegworok people’s rich cultural heritage.
And so, as the Oegworok people retire to their homes, their hearts are filled with a deep sense of fulfilment and anticipation for the next year’s Afan National Festival, a testament to their unwavering commitment to preserving their traditions and celebrating the essence of who they are.
Annually, the festival attracts participants and visitors from the neighbourhood and different parts of the country including traditional, political and religious leaders.
The Afan festival is said to have been observed over 400 years, and rated as the oldest and glamorous festival in Kaduna State.