In the heart of Nigeria, specifically the south-eastern escarpment of the Jos Plateau, the Ngas people have been preserving and celebrating their rich cultural heritage for over 35 years through a festival known as Pusdung. This cultural extravaganza, meaning “Great Day,” symbolises the coming together of Ngas people from all over the world to celebrate their shared identity. The history of Pusdung is deeply rooted in the Ngas Youth Movement, dating back to 1978. It has grown into a renowned cultural event that promotes unity and development within the Ngas community.
The seeds of Pusdung were sown in 1978 when the Ngas Youth Movement was established. A decade later, in 1988, members of this movement recognised the need to bring Ngas speakers worldwide together to celebrate their cultural heritage. Many younger Ngas had grown up away from their native land, often lacking exposure to their language, dances, songs, and other cultural elements. This realisation led to the inaugural gathering on May 14, 1988, marking the birth of Pusdung, a symbol of Ngas’ unity and cultural pride.
Since its inception, Pusdung has evolved into a highly renowned cultural festival, earning the distinction of being the premier cultural event on the Plateau. The festival has grown in size and significance, drawing attention from within and beyond Plateau State. People from all over Nigeria and even foreign countries plan their visits around Pusdung, captivated by the vibrant aspects of Ngas’ culture, including dances, songs, and local cuisine.
Pusdung is not merely a platform for cultural expression; it has evolved into a comprehensive event encompassing a week-long series of activities under the guidance of the Ngas Development Association (NDA), the overarching body of the Ngas community. These activities include seminars, workshops, lectures, prayers, and a carnival, culminating in the grand celebration itself. In recent years, competitions such as beauty pageants, innovation contests, hiking, and football matches have been incorporated to promote initiatives in various areas of endeavour. This multifaceted approach aims to foster cultural heritage and economic, social, and educational development within the Ngas community.
Under the visionary leadership of David Barji, this year’s Pusdung was transformed into a truly exceptional experience. With a keen eye for innovation, the event adopted a contemporary approach that breathed new life into cherished traditions. The event took place on Saturday, October 7, 2023, at the Mini Stadium in Pankshin, Plateau State, and attendees were treated to a plethora of fresh and groundbreaking ideas that reinvigorated cultural practices.
One notable achievement was the attainment of a record-breaking online audience of 25, 000 viewers via streaming platforms on the Viewpoint Nigeria and Ngas’ Nation Facebook pages throughout the event. This initiative aimed to connect with Ngas people in the global diaspora who couldn’t physically attend this year’s Pusdung.
Beyond innovation, Pusdung, under David Barji, also created a sense of unity and community. This year’s event fostered connections among participants and attendees, building bridges between generations and backgrounds. Through carefully curated activities and thoughtful programme design, Pusdung became more than just a cultural celebration; it became a platform for fostering understanding, appreciation, and a sense of togetherness among all who participated.
Pusdung holds a special place in the hearts of the Ngas people. It is a testament to their commitment to preserving their cultural identity and promoting their holistic well-being. The festival represents a profound sense of unity and oneness among Ngas speakers worldwide, transcending geographical and generational boundaries. It fosters a sense of belonging and cultural pride, especially among the younger generations, who may have grown up far from their ancestral homeland.
Pusdung is not just a cultural festival; it is a celebration of unity, identity, and progress. As Pusdung continues to evolve and thrive, it remains a vibrant and enriching experience that encapsulates the essence of Ngas’ culture at its finest. This “Great Day” not only celebrates the Ngas people’s roots but also propels them forward towards a brighter, culturally rich future.